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 Monday, February 28, 2005

2004 Presidential Election: Exit Polls were RIGHT , Election Result Was WRONG

 

A Corrupted US Presidential Election:
Despite what you may have heard, the Exit Polls were right

by

Steve Freeman and Josh Mitteldorf

Read here full article by Steve Freeman and Josh Mitteldorf

Recall the Election Day exit polls that suggested John Kerry had won a convincing victory?

The media readily dismissed those polls and little has been heard about them since. Many Americans, however, were suspicious.

Exit polls are highly accurate. They remove most of the sources of potential polling error by identifying actual voters and asking them immediately afterward who they had voted for.

The reliability of exit polls is so generally accepted that the Bush administration helped pay for them during recent elections in Georgia, Belarus and Ukraine.

Testifying before the House Committee on International Relations Dec. 7, John Tefft, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, explained that the Bush administration funded exit polls because they were one of the "ways that would help to expose large-scale fraud."

Tefft pointed to the discrepancy between exit polls and the official vote count to argue that the Nov. 22 Ukraine election was stolen.

President Bush prevailed by 3 million votes in the official, tallied vote count. But exit polls had projected a margin of victory of 5 million votes for Kerry.

This unexplained 8 million vote discrepancy between the election night exit polls and the official count should raise a Chinese May Day of red flags.

The U.S. voting system is more vulnerable to manipulation than most Americans realize.

Technologies such as electronic voting machines provide NO confirmation that votes are counted as cast, and highly partisan election officials have the power to suppress votes and otherwise distort the count.

Last November in the United States, as in Ukraine, the discrepancy between the presidential exit polls and the tallied count was far beyond the margin for error.

At the time, Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International, the two companies hired to do the polling for the National Election Pool (a consortium of the nation's five major broadcasters and the Associated Press), didn't provide an explanation for how this happened.

They promised, however, that a full explanation would be forthcoming.

On Jan. 19, on the eve of the inauguration, Edison and Mitofsky released their report, "Evaluation of Edison/Mitofsky Election System 2004," which generated headlines such as MSNBC's "Exit Polls Prove That Bush Won."

But, the report does nothing of the sort.

It restates a thesis that the pollsters previously intimated—that the discrepancy was "most likely due to Kerry voters participating in the exit polls at a higher rate than Bush voters." But the body of the report offers no data to substantiate this position.

In fact, data presented in the report serve to rebut the thesis, and bolster suspicions that the official vote count was way, way off.

Read here the comprehensive analysis of the Edison/Mitofsky report.

The report states that the difference between exit polls and official tallies was far too great to be explained by chance ("sampling error"), and that a systematic bias is implicated.

With that statement the pollsters confirm the discrepancy we initially documented.

The exit polls were based on more than 70,000 confidential questionnaires completed by randomly selected voters as they exited the polling place.

The overall margin of error should have been under 1 percent.

But the official result deviated from the poll projections by more than 5 percenta statistical impossibility.

Mitofsky and Edison summarily dismiss the possibility that the official count was wrong.

They reject the election fraud hypothesis because, they say, "precincts with touch screen and optical voting have essentially the same error rates as those using punch-card systems."

Indeed, they do. But this fact merely suggests that all three of these systems may have been corrupted.

Indeed, there is little question about problems associated with both punch card systems (recall the Florida debacle in 2000) and mechanical voting machines, which are generally unreliable, vulnerable to tinkering and leave no paper trail.

Further, data that are underplayed in the report provide support for the hypothesis that the election was stolen.

(1) The report acknowledges that the discrepancy between the exit polls and the official count was considerably greater in the critical swing states.

And while that fact is consistent with allegations of fraud (if you are going to
steal an election you go after votes most vigorously where they are most
needed), Mitofsky and Edison suggest, without providing any data or theory to
back up their claim, that this discrepancy is somehow related to media coverage.

(2) In light of the charges that the 2000 election was not legitimate, the Bush/Cheney campaign would have wanted to prevail in the popular vote.

If fraud was afoot, it would make sense that the president's men would steal
votes in their strongholds, where the likelihood of detection is small. Lo and
behold, the report provides data that strongly bolster this theory.

In those precincts that went at least 80 percent for Bush, the average
within-precinct-error (WPE) was a whopping 10.0—the numerical difference between
the exit poll predictions and the official count.

That means that in Bush strongholds, Kerry, on average, received only about
two-thirds of the votes that exit polls predicted.

In contrast, in Kerry strongholds, exit polls matched the official count
almost exactly (an average WPE of 0.3).

Other report data undermine the argument that Kerry voters were more likely to complete the exit poll interview than Bush voters.

If this were the case, then one would expect that in precincts where Kerry voters predominated, the cooperation rate would be higher than in pro-Bush precincts.

But in fact, the data suggest that Bush voters were slightly more likely to complete the survey: 56 percent of voters completed the survey in the Bush strongholds, while 53 percent cooperated in Kerry strongholds.

The exit polls themselves are a strong indicator of a corrupted election.

Moreover, the exit poll discrepancy must be interpreted in the context of more than 100,000 officially logged reports of irregularities during Election Day 2004.

For many Americans, if not most, mass-scale fraud in a U.S. presidential election is an unthinkable possibility.

But taken together, the allegations, the subsequently documented irregularities, systematic vulnerabilities, and implausible numbers suggest a coherent story of fraud and deceit.

What's more, the exit poll disparity doesn't tell the whole story. It doesn't count those voters who were disenfranchised before they even got to the polls.

  • The voting machine shortages in Democratic districts,
  • the fraudulent felony purges of voter rolls,
  • the barriers to registration, and
  • the unmailed, lost, or cavalierly rejected absentee ballots

- all represent distortions to the vote count above and beyond what is measured by the exit poll disparity.

The exit polls, by design, sample only those voters who have already overcome these hurdles.

The thesis of the Mitofsky/Edison exit poll report and the headlines that it generated are curiously detached from the numbers in the report itself.

Statisticians who have studied the exit polls find substantial evidence to support the thesis that the vote counts—not the exit polls—were inaccurate.

Apparently, the pollsters at Mitofsky and Edison have found it more expedient to provide an explanation unsupported by theory, data or precedent than to impugn the machinery of American democracy.

Unfortunately, their patrons in the media find it correspondingly preferable to latch onto a non-confrontational thesis, however implausible, than to even suggest the possibility of foul play.


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 Sunday, February 27, 2005

UPDATE: Australian Connection on Mossad's Passport Scandal in New Zealand

  by

Nick Hager
27 February 2005

Read here full article by NICKY HAGER

Australian intelligence officials knew the man at the centre of the Kiwi Israeli spy scandal was a long-time Mossad agent well BEFORE he began the New Zealand passport operation.

Since serving three months in prison in New Zealand, Elisha Cara has returned to Israel.

He resigned from Mossad and recently got a job as a manager in credit card company Visa Israel.

Cara set up a base in Sydney and travelled to and from New Zealand 24 times between October 2000 and March 2004 without any apparent interest from the local intelligence services.

Details of the case and confirmation of Cara's Mossad background have been leaked by Western Europe-based foreign intelligence sources.

The sources, none of whom are New Zealanders, reveal that Cara had headed another Mossad mission that went spectacularly wrong just two years before being put in charge of obtaining illegal New Zealand passports.

Cara's colleagues, Uriel Kelman and Zev Barkan (also known as Zev Bruckenstein), were also fulltime officers in Mossad, the 53-year-old agency with an estimated 1200 staff and headquarters about 10km north of Tel Aviv.

Cara was 50, Kelman, 30, and Barkan, 36, at the time of Cara and Kelman's arrests.

Their mission: to obtain "top quality" false passports for use in sensitive Mossad operations.

In contrast, the Israeli diplomat expelled from Canberra several weeks ago in mysterious circumstances, Amir Lati, is definitely not a Mossad agent, the sources say.

According to the sources, earlier in Cara's Mossad career he took part in a routine liaison meeting between Mossad and its "friendly counterparts" in Australia, exchanging views and sharing intelligence.

They say that it showed "complacency" in Mossad that the same officer was later used for a covert operation in a country where his name and face were known.

It also suggests that the Australian Security Intelligence Service and the New Zealand SIS are not being vigilant in their monitoring of Israeli spies.

The passport scam was uncovered only because of Mossad carelessness - using an agent without a New Zealand accent to talk to an immigration official.

Since Cara's presence provided clear evidence of Mossad links, it is unclear why the agents got away with a minimal three months' prison.

Government security agencies are sensitive about false passports being used by foreigners for illegal activities and Foreign Minister Phil Goff noted that Cara's passports could be for "an assassination in a third country".


New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and an ASIO spokesperson would not be drawn on Australia's prior knowledge of Cara.

The Australia-New Zealand operation was, according to the sources, aimed entirely at obtaining false passports for use in covert Mossad operations elsewhere on the world.

Cara's three years in Sydney were a normal part of the time-consuming preparations for important Mossad operations.

Former Mossad agent Victor Ostrovsky has described the different "qualities" of passports used by the agency: top, second, field operation and throwaway.

Top-quality passports - the kind Cara was tasked with obtaining in New Zealand - are real passports with a real person's name that can withstand official checks in the country of origin.

The passport operation employed full-time Mossad staff and local Jewish citizens (called sayanim) who help Mossad within foreign countries.

In New Zealand, one sayanim participant was apparently former Auckland Jewish Council member Tony Resnick.

The passport scam was discovered when the agents applied for a passport in the name of an Auckland man with cerebral palsy.

Agent Zev Barkan flew into New Zealand to have his photograph accompany the application, which would have provided a top-quality passport with the agent's face and the name of a real New Zealander.

The man with cerebral palsy belonged to St John Ambulance, where Resnick worked as an ambulance officer. Resnick's suspected role was finding identities for false passports.

He fled to Israel after Cara and Kelman were arrested.

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A Scientific Explanation Why George Bush became the Inevitable US President

  by

Phillip Adams


Phillip Adams
(For over 40 years Phillip Adams’ columns in major newspapers and magazine have provoked discussion and outrage. Billed as the "godfather" of the Australian film industry, his features include The Adventures of Barry McKenzie, Don's Party, The Getting of Wisdom, Lonely Hearts and We of the Never Never. He has written and presented many TV series. He played a key role in the establishment of the Australia Council and has been Chairman of the Film Radio & Television Board, the Australian Film Commission, Film Australia, the Australian Film Institute, the Commission for the Future and the National Australia Day Council. He’s currently a director of Adelaide’s Festival of Ideas, the Montsalvat Arts Society and is the Australian representative on the international committee of Index of Censorship, London. He was a foundation board member of the Don Dunstan Foundation. Honours include two Orders of Australia, the Senior ANZAC Fellowship, the Australian Humanist of the Year, the Golden Lion at Cannes, the Longford Award (for services to the film industry), the Henry Lawson Australian Arts Award and three honorary doctorates from Australian universities. The International Astronomical Union named “a minor planet orbiting the sun between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter Phillip Adams in 1997. He was recently elected one of Australia’s 100 National Living Treasures in a National Trust poll. For the last 15 years he’s presented ‘Late Night Live’, one of Australia’s most influential radio programs, on Radio National and Radio Australia. His columns in The Australian appear on the Op Ed page on Tuesday and in the Weekend Magazine. )

25 February 2005

Read
here full article by Phillip Adams in The Weekend Australian

I’ve been asked by a number of readers to explain how the United States - and the world - gets lumbered with a President like George W. Bush.

So I will provide a detailed, scientific explanation.

Bush is a statistical inevitability.

His arrival at the White House was a consequence of simple division by simple people. Or, if you prefer, a process of elimination.

  • First of all, you can eliminate half the population as the US is a long, long way from being ready to have a woman president - though some Democrats are talking up Hillary Clinton while Republicans counter with Condoleezza Rice.

  • Then you can eliminate all the African-Americans - even Colin Powell and Condoleezza - who haven’t got a snowball’s.

  • Apart from bland bigotry you’ve got all the white supremacists and Aryan Nation kooks who’d want to add a black candidate to such trophies as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Word is that’s why Mrs Powell insisted that her husband renege from the race a few years back.

  • Despite Al Gore’s selection of a Jew as his running mate, US anti-Semitism precludes getting nominated as top banana.

  • And unless Arnie Schwarzenegger can organise a change of the Constitution, you can also eliminate anyone and everyone who wasn’t born in the US. “From log cabin to White House” applies only to residents of American log cabins - not to those raised in similar structures in Finland, Norway, Siberia or Poland.
  • See how fast we’re whittling down the figures?

    Getting closer to George Bush, father or son?
  • Homosexuals need not apply. While there’s undoubtedly been the odd gay president - Abraham Lincoln has recently been “outed” - such sexual proclivities have had to be kept a deep, dark secret. You wouldn’t want the cross-dressing J. Edgar Hoover to find out. At this point in time, US straights have narrowed eyes when it comes to the queer guy.

  • Roman Catholics have been contenders since Jack Kennedy beat Quaker Nixon.
  • But for the foreseeable future you can eliminate Muslims, Zoastrians, Hindus, Sikhs, Druids, followers of the Norse gods, or Buddhists. Although, with Buddhism becoming so very popular in Hollywood, passionately embraced by the likes of Richard Gere and Oliver Stone, it’s only a matter of time until one sneaks under the radar. This will probably occur at a Democrat convention given that Christian fundamentalism is still de rigueur with the Republicans.
  • Atheists? No hope.
    In a nation where almost as many people go to church as shop at Wal-Mart, anyone who doesn’t claim to be born again would be out of the race long before Super Tuesday, probably before New Hampshire. Even candidates admitting agnosticism would have to hit the road.

  • As you can see, the pool of presidential possibilities is now little more than a puddle. And there’s a lot more draining, downsizing, filtering and elimination ahead of us.

    • While one of the greatest presidents was a polio victim who governed from his wheelchair, it’s hard to see the Americans of the 21st century, so obsessed with physical perfection that they’re all saving up for plastic surgery, going for an FDR. (Perhaps the American public would cop a paraplegic, provided the condition was a result of a war injury.)

    • Indeed, it’s hard to see them backing any candidate with a greater disability than dyslexia. Of course, the incumbent is dyslexic, so he has moved the goalposts just a little. Low intelligence? Hardly an impediment as, once again, the incumbent demonstrates.

    • Indeed, intellectual credentials would almost certainly be politically fatal. It’s okay to be bright - Bill Clinton was acceptable, Being very intelligent - indeed being very anything - rules you out.

    • The very young, very short, very fat are among the various “verys” that would preclude nomination, let alone election.

    This brings us back to physical appearance in the land of Narcissus.

  • You can pretty well eliminate anyone who isn’t regarded as physically attractive. Indeed, it helps to have had a prior career in Hollywood. For in the US, elections are won on television and a Bush will beat a Kerry as inevitably as a Kennedy will beat a Nixon.

  • And you can pretty well eliminate anyone who isn’t stinking rich. It’s not entirely inaccurate to suggest that, by and large, presidential elections have given voters a choice of millionaires.

  • So there you have it.

    Take the American population. Divide in half. Subtract large numbers of people in various categories and, lo and behold, you’ve got George Dubya.

    Think of it.

    Had he been female, gay, black, Jewish, an immigrant, an agnostic or overly endowed with intelligence, he’d still be what he was.

    A political mediocrity in Texas, being baled out of business failures by his father’s wealthy friends.


    Back in the Governor’s mansion, instead of being able to wage war all over the planet, George would be limited to setting records for the confirmation of death sentences - hundreds of them.

    If only he had been born in Australia, the world would be safe.

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    Japan becoming the US Lap Dog of the Far East, unsettling the Chinese Dragon

      by

    Kosuke Takahashi
    (Kosuke Takahashi is a former staff writer at the Asahi Shimbun and is currently a freelance correspondent based in Tokyo. He can be contacted at letters@kosuke.net. )

    REFERENCE BOX

    Click here

    HISTORY OF US INTERVENTIONS

    Save this website in Favorites for your future reference


    Other Breaking News

    • Now it is Syria's turn to be blamed for all Middle East conflicts. The Israel's defense minister on Saturday blamed Syria and a Palestinian militant group based there for a suicide bombing that killed four Israelis outside a Tel Aviv nightclub and shattered an informal truce, prompting him to freeze plans to hand over security responsibilities in the West Bank. Syria denied the charges. Read here for more

    • PRINCE Charles has complained that his future subjects have "tortured" him over his relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles . The prince's comments to BBC journalist Gavin Hewitt, included in a new book, would fuel concern at the public's growing disenchantment with the monarchy and the prince's suitability to become king. He reportedly snapped: "I thought the British people were supposed to be compassionate. I don't see much of it." The heir to the throne went on to complain bitterly that he was being "tortured" by people over his relationship. Read here for more

    • Nearly two years after being shot in the face by Israeli occupation soldiers, American peace activist Brian Avery has returned to Israel to seek justice. Avery, 26, plans to petition the Israeli High Court of Justice on Monday to launch an investigation into the shooting which left his face horribly disfigured.He is also seeking financial compensation for his extensive medical treatment. On 5 April 2003, Avery was in the West Bank town of Jenin to meet with colleagues when two Israeli military vehicles fitted with mounted machine guns approached them. Avery, who was wearing a fluorescent vest marked with the Arabic, Hebrew and English word for 'doctor', raised his arms in the air.A few seconds later a bullet ripped through his face, shattering his nasal bones, left eye, the whole left cheek area, and the upper and lower jaws. Read here for more

    • Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin is insisting that United States seek permission before firing any missiles over Canada. The insistence came Friday in response to warnings that Canada has abdicated part of its sovereignty by refusing to take part in the U.S. missile-defence project. The top American envoy to Canada - Paul Cellucci - says Canada would be "outside of the room" while the U.S. decided whether to fire at incoming missiles. But Martin said Friday: "We would expect to be consulted. "This is our airspace, we're a sovereign nation and you don't intrude on a sovereign nation's airspace without seeking permission." Read here for more

    • Russia is considering resuming sales of military equipment to the Palestinian Authority, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday.Read here for more

    • Fresh evidence has come to light suggesting that Tony Blair committed himself to war in Iraq nearly a year before the American and British assault in March 2003.The news will heighten the pressure on the Prime Minister to reveal how Britain was drawn into the conflict, in a week when a leading QC has called into question the legal advice on which the Government went to war. Such anxiety is felt in official circles that Special Branch detectives had questioned MPs over leaks, it emerged this weekend. Downing Street has consistently refused to disclose the date on which Mr Blair promised George Bush that Britain would join the US in an invasion of Iraq. But evidence obtained by the IoS suggests that it was as early as April 2002, when the Prime Minister met President Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.Read here for more


    • An American Jew Laments Decline in Jewish Influence: Across the world the Jewish lobby in America is accorded extraordinary power, almost to the mythic levels of guileful effectiveness once attributed to the British Secret Service. And in truth, MI6, as the Secret Service was also known, never approached the Jewish lobby in overall clout. But these days, if you read analyses by American Jews of where their power is headed, the tone is often dour and the forecast grim. They say, in the words of the American anti-Arab fanatic Daniel Pipes, "the golden age of the Jews" in America has passed its zenith. This may seem strange when there is universal recognition that George Bush may well be the most pro-Israel president in the nation's history, when the role of the so-called "neocons", usually short-hand for the more fanatical supporters of Israel in American public life, is identified as crucial in pushing for the war on Iraq and now on Iran, when pro Israel votes in the US Congress sweep through by margins of over 90 per cent. From a peak of 6 million American Jews, or 4% of the US population in 1950, Jews are now just about 5.2 million in number, according to the latest Jewish population surveys, or a bit less than 2% of the US population, and the trend points down to maybe three million in the next but one generation. The US Muslim population at between 1.8 and 2.9 million, with the total Arab/Muslim community "probably about 3.5 million, two thirds the size of the Jewish community." Read here for more


    24 February 2005

    Read here full article "Japan to become 'Britain of the Far East'" by Kosuke Takahashi

    Japan and the United States agreed last weekend in Washington to strengthen security and defense cooperation by setting "common strategic objectives" to deal with new threats such as terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

    The agreement spelled out for the first time a common strategic objective to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait - to China's anger and great embarrassment.

    The accord between the United States and Japan calling for strengthened bilateral military and security ties marks the evolution of the US-Japan relationship and signals a critical historic phase in the early 21st century.

    The US global military transformation is transforming Japan into a reliable and unswerving "Britain of the Far East".

    Britain is the United States' closest ally in the Western Hemisphere.

    The US wants Japan to become the Asian equivalent of the United Kingdom in the Eastern Hemisphere.

    Many analysts have pointed out Japan is becoming a linchpin, a key security outpost, in the United States' defense posture in the Asia-Pacific region.

    Right-leaning Japanese politicians and military planners in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), led by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, want Japan to assume a more assertive role on the world stage and change its low profile in international politics by shedding its strong pacifism enshrined in the post-World War II US-imposed constitution in the future.

    They view the current constitution with its limits on combat overseas as anachronistic, unrealistic and irresponsible in the current turbulent world.

    For ordinary Japanese, the issue of the consolidation and reduction of US military bases in Japan, especially in Okinawa, is more important than anything else.

    Japanese Defense Agency director general Yoshinori Ono agreed on a US proposal for advancing joint research on a theater missile defense (TMD) system to the development stage in fiscal 2006, potentially targeting North Korea's Nodong and Daepodong missiles as well as China's Dong Feng missiles.

    Many analysts have pointed out that this missile defense system will become the actual bulwark of the Japan-US security alliance in the future.

    China was upset by the statement, which also advocated resolving the Taiwan Strait conflict through peaceful dialogue and asked Beijing to be more "transparent" in military terms.

    China quickly criticized the US and Japan for meddling in its internal security affairs relating to Taiwan, which it considers part of China.

    Calling the US-Japan security alliance "a bilateral scheme spawned during the Cold War period", Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said,
    "The Chinese government and Chinese people firmly oppose the US-Japan statement on the Taiwan issue, which concerns China's sovereignty, territorial integrity and national security."
    Meanwhile, Taiwan cautiously welcomed the statement from the US and Japan that identified maintaining peace in the Taiwan Strait as a common security objective.

    Washington officials appear to have increasingly longed for closer defense relations with Japan that mirror the US-British special relationship in the past years, especially when Tokyo sent more than 1,000 Self-Defense Forces (SDF) personnel, mostly ground forces, to Iraq.

    From their perspective, Britain is the United States' closest ally in Europe and Japan is its closest ally in Asia.

    But unlike Britain, Japan still cannot fully be involved in US military operations.

    Article 9 of the Japanese constitution prohibits the use of force as a means of settling international disputes, and the SDF is authorized to fight only if Japan itself is invaded, and then only on Japanese territory or in the surrounding sea and air.

    For this reason, Japanese troops were deployed to Samawah, a southern Iraqi city, which the Japanese government claims as non-combat zone, strictly on a "humanitarian" mission.

    The 2003 Special Measures Law stipulates that the SDF can only be sent to areas where hostilities are not under way. To send troops into a combat zone would violate this law.

    Washington has urged Tokyo to amend Article 9 and to authorize the right to collective self-defense. (Japan's current official stance is that it has this right, but cannot invoke it under the current constitution.)

    Instructed by Koizumi, his LDP is currently mapping out a blueprint for amending the constitution by next November, when the party will mark the 50th anniversary of its founding. The LDP plans to release its constitutional amendment draft at that time.

    This idea of transforming Japan into "Britain of the Far East" is nothing new.

    Richard Armitage, the former US deputy secretary of state, who has extensive knowledge of Japan, once expressed this idea in a special report for the Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University (in Washington, DC): This report has since been commonly known as the Armitage Report, referring to Japan as the "Britain of the Far East".

    Many senior officials have adopted that concept and used the expression.

    Japanese hawks and some hardline Japanese military planners and politicians do not find this idea offensive, or even distasteful. This could lead to realizing their long-cherished wish to amend the constitution.

    Although this is little known among foreign observers, the LDP's founding charter at the birth of the party in 1955 includes the "establishment of Japan's own constitution" as the party's basic policy.

    Koizumi himself once said,
    "The founding spirit of the LDP was to establish Japan's own constitution ... After 50 years, it's about time for the LDP to consider how to amend the constitution and come up with an idea to raise national debate on the issue."
    By amending the constitution, they believe Japan will return to being a "normal" country again with the exercise of the right of collective self-defense and the full engagement in collective security arrangements such as those in the United Nations.

    They believe this also will mean the eventual removal of US troops from Japanese territory in the long term - a goal the LDP set forth in its founding policy statement of 1955, although at this time most conservative politicians recognize the strategic importance of having some local US military presence.

    The joint statement is just the beginning of Japan's new military posture and could mean that Japan will become much more closely aligned with and even involved in America's global strategies in the "war against terrorism".

    It holds major implications for Japan's future, including the amendment of Article 9 of its pacifist constitution in the coming years. The US drafted the current pacifist constitution, but now wants to scrap those pacifism provisions and urge combat by Japan if necessary.

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     Friday, February 25, 2005

    Must Read !: Foods Containing Sudan-1 Dye Recalled and Banned from sale in UK and EU

      The alert over ‘Sudan-1’, an illegal cancer-causing dye found in a UK-made sauce allegedly containing chilli powder imported from India in 2002, spread to 15 countries in two continents on Thursday.

    (READ BELOW on SUDAN-1 food dye) or click here

    Described as the biggest crisis to hit Britain’s food industry since ‘mad cow disease’ continued to grow, some food companies in the country admitted that adulterated chilli powder added to worcestershire sauce had been used in foods sent to hospitals and schools, The Guardian daily reported.

    According to the daily, food companies in

    • the US,
    • Canada,
    • Ireland,
    • France,
    • Denmark,
    • Italy,
    • Greece,
    • the Netherlands,
    • the Caribbean,
    • Belgium,
    • Austria,
    • Switzerland,
    • Cyprus and
    • Malta

    were among the 186 firms listed by premier foods as buyers of its Worcestershire sauce.

    About 120,000 bottles of Crosse and Blackwell worcester sauce were being withdrawn in the US and Canada.

    Two catering companies which dominate school supplies and have thousands of pubs, restaurants and clubs among their customers, have confirmed that they had supplied food which was listed in the recall.

    East Anglia food ingredients claimed that EW spice bought the contaminated powder from Gautam Export Corporation of Mumbai on September 12, 2002.

    This had been supplied by Volga Spice, also of Mumbai.

    The following are the list of products containing Sudan-1 that should NOT be consumed. Print it out

    (A) List published in HTML format.

    Affected product list 24 February 2005: 17.00
    Affected product list 22 February 2005: 16.10
    Affected product list 21 February 2005: 16.45
    Affected product list 21 February 2005: 12.15
    Affected product list 18 February 2005: 13.25

    (B) List published in PDF format (need Acrobat Reader to download)

    Affected product list 24 February 2005: 17.00
    Affected product list 22 February 2005: 16.10
    Affected product list 21 February 2005: 16.45
    Affected product list 21 February 2005: 12.15
    Affected product list 18 February 2005: 13.25

    Sudan-1 Dye

    SUDAN 1 is a red dye used to colour polishes, waxes and solvents.

    It isn't meant to be used in food, and has been banned as an additive in the European Union since 1995.

    Traces of it were found in a batch of Worcester sauce made by Premier Foods. The source of trouble was a contaminated batch of chilli powder, which went into Premier's Worcester sauce.

    That in turn was added to over 400 food products, which are now being recalled.

    Sudan I was first discovered in adulterated chilli products in May 2003.

    Since then the Food Standards Agency has been working to ensure that it has been kept out of the food chain.

    The UK Food Standards Agency said today the lists of the products affected included a NEW list of 146 products issued today, bringing the total of food products affected by Sudan-1 to 474.

    Click here for more details: Latest news; Advice; Background; Product lists; Timeline;Your questions answered; Related press releases;

    The Agency has contacted the major catering suppliers and they have withdrawn affected products . In addition, more than 150 smaller catering suppliers who received contaminated products have withdrawn products from their customers.

    Consumers are reminded that the risk is very small, that there is no risk of immediate illness but it is sensible not to eat affected products.

    Sudan I is a dye that should NOT be added to food and is banned in the UK and across the EU because it can contribute to an increased risk of cancer.

    At the levels present the risk is likely to be very small but it is sensible to avoid eating any food known to be contaminated. There is no risk of immediate ill health.

    The Agency is working with the industry and local authorities to ensure that any remaining affected foods are removed from sale. If you have any of these foods at home you are advised not to eat them and to contact the store you bought them from for a refund.

    Sudan 1 is a genotoxic carcinogen, which means that it can permanently alter the DNA in, say, a human liver cell. The study that links Sudan 1 to cancerous tumours was done in America 20 years ago.

    Background

    This dye was in a batch of chilli powder used by Premier Foods to manufacture a Worcester sauce, which was then used as an ingredient in a wide range of products.

    Since July 2003 all chilli powder imported into the UK has to be certified free of Sudan I.

    The FSA and local authorities randomly sample more than 1,000 consignments a year of imported chilli products. However, this batch predates this sampling programme and was uncovered after sampling of Worcester sauce produced by Premier Foods and exported to Italy.



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     Tuesday, February 22, 2005

    World Council of Churches says YES to Israeli divestment proposal

     

    Other Breaking News

    IRAN:An earthquake of 6.4 magnitude shook Iran's southeastern Kerman province today, the Iranian Red Crescent said. At least 400 people died, the British Broadcasting Corp. said. As many as 5,000 were hurt, Agence France-Presse reported. The U.S. Geological Survey said on its Web site that the quake was centered on a point 60 kilometers (35 miles) northwest of the city of Kerman, the province's capital, and struck at 5:55 a.m. local time. One village near Zarand city was completely destroyed, another was 80 percent damaged, Red Crescent spokesman Mostafa Mohejhejh said in a telephone interview from the agency's headquarters in Geneva. At least five other villages were also affected, he said.Read here for more

    Israel:Israel has been privately pressing Washington to solve the Iran nuclear problem in a hint that Tel Aviv may be left with no choice but to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities, defense officials say. Military analysts say the United States "would have no problem" taking out Iran's major nuclear facilities should it decide to launch a pre-emptive strike. The defense officials say Israel isn't putting its concerns about Iran in the form of a "you attack or we do" ultimatum to the United States. But they said senior Israeli officials often have raised the Iran problem during visits to Washington in the past 18 months.

    UK: British Jewish lobby group up in arms demonising Mayor of London. Defiant London Mayor Ken Livingstone has again refused to apologize for a tirade in which he accused a Jewish reporter of behaving like a Nazi concentration camp guard.Read here for more

    Israel released 500 Palestinian prisoners, loading them on buses and transporting them to drop-off points in the West Bank and Gaza, where they were reunited with crowds of family and friends.An additional 400 prisoners are to be freed in coming months, but yesterday's release was the largest in almost a decade. It is one of the steps that both sides are counting on to deepen the apparent trust between Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, and the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, who is seeking to cement support among Palestinian militant groups for a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Read here for more

    Australia: Australia will send another 450 troops to Iraq to provide security for Japanese military engineers in the southern province of Al Muthanna.Prime Minister John Howard said the troops would deploy in 10 weeks' time and stay for six months, followed by a second six-month rotation.Mr Howard said the decision could cost at least $250 million to $300 million a year.Greens Senator Bob Brown said Mr Howard misled voters at the last election by letting them believe Australia's involvement in Iraq would be scaled down."The reason the UK and Japan aren't sending more (of their own) troops is because it would create an uproar in London or Tokyo," Senator Brown said in Perth today."John Howard is saying 'Well, the prime ministers of Japan and the UK are not going to risk the electoral backlash but I've got an election over and done with, I will fill in using Australian troops'."This is John Howard indicating if other countries withdraw then (US President) George (W) Bush, give me a call."Read here for more

    Australia:Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable. We're sending MORE troops to Iraq Where is the mandate for that? Howard framed the Iraq war before and during the election around not bringing them home until the job was done. No 'cut and run'. He made no mention of sending in more - indeed he said we wouldn't be doing so and that we didn't have "the capacity" to do so even if we wanted to. Read here for more

    IRAQ: A US military column was completely wiped out in fierce fighting with Resistance forces according to the Mafkarat al-Islam correspondent in the town of al-Mundhiriyah, near the Iranian border, east of Ba'qubah. The correspondent, who was at the scene of the battle, wrote that a US column made up of eight vehicles came under Iraqi Resistance attack in the Jalabiyah area, known as the at-Tilal or hilly area, at 10pm Friday night. The Resistance fighters holed up in strongholds in the hills unleashed a sweeping attack on the US column, using missiles, pipe rockets, bazookas, and land mines that they had planted in the path of the American forces before their arrival. Four US tanks, three Humvees, and one armored vehicle were destroyed in the fighting that lasted two hours, the correspondent reported. Read here for more

    China:A Chinese weekly magazine issued in Beijing reported on February 21 that China feels a serious security threat from the fact that the U.S. is surrounding China, its potential antagonist, from three sides: east, west, and south. The weekly says that the U.S. considers Japan and Taiwan as the first encircling net in the east and accordingly tries to strengthen its military alliance with Japan, sell advanced weapons to Taiwan, and push forward the establishment of an air base in Shadidiao. Read here for more


    21 February 2005

    Read here full article

    The World Council of Churches (WCC) on February 21 urged its members to consider economic measures to oppose Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and praised the action of a U.S. denomination that has started a process of selective divestment from companies linked to the occupation. (see WCC Statement below)

    The WCC's main governing body said in a statement adopted during a February 15-22 meeting in Geneva:
    "Multinational corporations have been involved in the demolition of Palestinian homes....(they) are involved in the construction of settlements and settlement infrastructure on occupied territory, in building a dividing wall which is also largely inside occupied territory, and in other violations of international law.

    This action is commendable in both method and manner, uses criteria rooted in faith, and calls members to 'do the things that make for peace'..."

    The WCC's central committee commended the action of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in initiating a process of phased, selective divestment from multinational corporations involved in the occupation.

    It encouraged the WCC's 347 member churches "to give serious consideration to economic measures that are equitable, transparent and non-violent."

    Churches with investment funds had "an opportunity to use those funds responsibly in support of peaceful solutions to conflict", the WCC central committee noted. "Economic pressure, appropriately and openly applied, is one such means of action."

    Peter Weiderud, director of the WCC's commission on international relations, said the statement would also be brought to the church grouping's management in relation to the organization's own investment funds. "We need to review our policy," Weiderud told journalists.

    "This is about activities related to the illegal occupation of the West Bank and not a general policy with regard to Israel," Canon Trond Bakkevig, the moderator of the WCC's public issues committee, said when he presented the statement.

    The decision of the U.S. Presbyterian church in July 2004 to start a process of divestment caused a storm of reaction among U.S. Jewish groups and was criticized by some within the denomination itself.

    In defending the proposal, Presbyterian officials have said that the denomination has consistently affirmed Israel's right to security and has condemned terrorist acts against Israel.

    The WCC's governing body reaffirmed an earlier statement by the world church grouping that "criticism of the policies of the Israeli government is not in itself anti-Jewish."

    It noted the grouping had called for "effective international guarantees for the political independence and territorial integrity of all nations in the area, including Israel" and had affirmed Israel's "serious and legitimate security concerns."

    The Statement by the Council of Churches

    Certain economic measures for peace in Israel/Palestine

    The Public Issues Committee proposes Actions by the Central Committee on the following issues.

    The Public Issues Committee proposes the Central Committee to adopt the following minute on Israel/Palestine.

    Minute on Certain Economic Measures for Peace in Israel/Palestine.

    In the conflict in Israel and Palestine there is a renewal of hope although there is not yet a reduction of the threats that separate the parties to the conflict. Palestinians have now organized two elections with constructive effect, despite continuing occupation, and plan another at mid-year. The churches welcome that momentum is building for peace and for solutions which credibly engage those who must make peace, the powerful as well as the weak.

    The churches note the growing witness and impact of church engagement that includes both Israelis and Palestinians. The WCC-led Ecumenical Accompaniment Program (EAPPI) is present and supportive of both Palestinians and Israelis who suffer under current circumstances. There is also growing interest among churches in taking new actions that demonstrate commitment to and enhance prospects for a just, equitable and lasting peace in both Israel and Palestine.

    Notable among these are initiatives within churches to become better stewards of justice in economic affairs which link them to on-going violations of international law in occupied territory. The Central Committee takes note of the current action by the Presbyterian Church (USA) which has initiated a process of phased, selective divestment from multinational corporations involved in the occupation. This action is commendable in both method and manner, uses criteria rooted in faith, and calls members to do the "things that make for peace" (Luke 19:42).

    The concern here is to abide by law as the foundation for a just peace. Multinational corporations have been involved in the demolition of Palestinian homes, and are involved in the construction of settlements and settlement infrastructure on occupied territory, in building a dividing wall which is also largely inside occupied territory, and in other violations of international law being carried out beyond the internationally recognized borders of the State of Israel determined by the Armistice of 1949.

    In this 38th year of occupation the desire for a just and equitable peace is growing. For churches of the WCC such hopes are guided by positions and programmes that reflect a search for truth amid much trouble.

    The WCC has called, since 1969, for "effective international guarantees for the political independence and territorial integrity of all nations in the area, including Israel" and restated the concern at regular intervals, most recently in recognizing, in 2004, Israel’s "serious and legitimate security concerns".

    In 1992, the WCC Central Committee stated that "criticism of the policies of the Israeli government is not in itself anti-Jewish". During the Oslo peace process of the 1990s churches supported civil society projects of rapprochement between communities in conflict in the Holy Land.

    In 1995, the Central Committee established criteria for economic actions in the service of justice, namely, that these must be part of a broader strategy of peacemaking, address flagrant and persistent violations, have a clear and limited purpose plus proportionality and adequate monitoring, and are carried out transparently.

    In 2001, the WCC Executive Committee recommended an international boycott of goods produced in illegal settlements on occupied territory, and the WCC-related APRODEV agencies in Europe are now working to have Israeli settlement products fully and properly identified before shipment to the European Community in accordance with the terms of the EU’s Association Agreement with Israel.

    Yet illegal activities in occupied territory continue as if a viable peace for both peoples is not a possibility. We are not blind to facts and must not be complicit in them even unwittingly. The Central Committee, meeting in Geneva 15-22 February 2005 therefore:

  • encourages member churches to work for peace in new ways and to give serious consideration to economic measures that are equitable, transparent and non-violent;
  • persuades member churches to keep in good contact with sister churches embarking on such initiatives with a view to support and counsel one another;
  • urges the establishment of more and wider avenues of engagement between Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities pursuing peace;
  • reminds churches with investment funds that they have an opportunity to use those funds responsibly in support of peaceful solutions to conflict. Economic pressure, appropriately and openly applied, is one such means of action.

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     Monday, February 21, 2005

    Australia is Israel's Base for Spying Activities in Asia

      Read here full article in Sydney Morning Herald18 February 2005

    Israel uses Australia as a base to monitor the activities of potential enemies in the region, according to an American security expert.

    According to Paul Buchanan,who has worked for the US military and defence department,Israeli diplomats and local supporters involved in such espionage in Australia were part of a campaign to gather intelligence on anti-Israel activity in South-East Asia and the Pacific.

    "Australia and New Zealand are the first line of defence against an Islamist movement that operates in the Pacific Rim," said Buchanan, a senior lecturer in political studies at the University of Auckland.

    "They spend most of their time looking at Indonesia and Malaysia and now the smaller Pacific island countries."

    The Israeli diplomat expelled from Australia in December, and now linked to Australian Attorney-General Philip Ruddock's daughter, was likely involved in intelligence gathering towards that end, said Paul Buchanan.

    Canberra-based diplomat Amir Laty's visits to two alleged Israeli spies in custody in New Zealand last year, before his expulsion from Australia, suggested he was a "handler" of the pair, said the New Zealand-based academic.

    The most credible suspicion about Laty was that he was engaged in official covert intelligence gathering, Buchanan said, where a diplomat conducts spying operations under the guise of his official role.

    In his diplomatic capacity, Laty last year visited Israelis Uriel Zoshe Kelman and Eli Cara in an Auckland jail.

    Prime Minister Helen Clark accused the pair of spying. Convicted last year of passport fraud, they were later deported from NZ.

    Cara had been based in Australia as a travel agent and crossed the Tasman many times.

    On Friday Clark's office said there were diplomatic moves afoot between New Zealand and Israel to resolve the issue, which has damaged relations between the two nations.

    Buchanan said Clark had been foolish to confront Israel over the matter as the Jewish state would be less likely to share crucial intelligence with New Zealand.

    Australia had taken the right approach to quietly expel Laty without explanation, he said.

    "You do not want to jeopardise that relationship over a small diplomatic incident - the New Zealanders have."

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     Sunday, February 20, 2005

    Jesuit Priest: USA becoming a Nation of Pharisees, NOT a Nation of God

      by

    John Dear
    (John Dear is a Jesuit priest and the author/editor of 20 books including most recently, “The Questions of Jesus” and “Living Peace” . He lives in New Mexico.)

    Read here full article by John Dear, "Pharisee Nation" in Common Dreams

    History: Read here "Who were the Pharisees", and HERE and HERE

    February 15, 2005

    Last September, I spoke to some 2,000 students during their annual lecture at a Baptist college in Pennsylvania.

    After a short prayer service for peace centered on the Beatitudes, I took the stage and got right to the point. I said

    “Now let me get this straight. Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers,’ which means he does NOT say, ‘Blessed are the warmakers,’ which means, the warmakers are NOT blessed, which means warmakers are cursed.

    Which means, if you want to follow the nonviolent Jesus, you have to work for peace, which means, we all have to resist this horrific, evil war on the people of Iraq.”

    The place exploded. 500 students stormed out. So much for my speech.

    As I travel the country speaking out against war, injustice and nuclear weapons

      • I see many people consciously siding with the culture of war, choosing the path of violence, supporting corporate greed, rampant militarism, and global domination.

      • I see many others swept up in the raging current of patriotism.

    Since most of these people, beginning with the president, claim to be Christian, I am ashamed and appalled that they support war and systemic injustice, that they do it in the name of God, and that they feign fidelity to the nonviolent Jesus who gave his life resisting institutionalized injustice.

    I am reminded of Flannery O’Connor’s great book, “Wise Blood,” where her outrageous character Hazel Motes is so fed up with Christian hypocrisy that he forms his own church, the “Church of Christ without Christ,” “where the lame don’t walk, the blind don’t see, and the dead don’t rise.”

    That’s where we are headed today.

    I used to think these all-American Christians never read the Gospel, that they simply chose NOT to be authentic disciples of the nonviolent Jesus.

    Now, alas, I think they have indeed chosen discipleship, but not to the hero of the Gospels, Jesus. Instead, through their actions, they have become disciples of the devout, religious, all-powerful, murderous Pharisees who killed him.

    • We have become a culture of Pharisees.

    • We as a collective people have become self-righteous, arrogant, powerful, murderous hypocrites who dominate and kill others in the name of God, instead of practicing an authentic spirituality of compassion, nonviolence, love and peace.

    The Pharisees supported the brutal Roman rulers and soldiers, and lived off the comforts of the empire by running an elaborate banking system which charged an exorbitant fee for ordinary people just to worship God in the Temple.

    Since they taught that God was present only in the Temple, they were able to control the entire population. If anyone opposed their power or violated their law, the Pharisees could kill them on the spot, even in the holy sanctuary.

    Most North American Christians are now becoming more and more like these hypocritical Pharisees.
      • We side with the rulers, the bankers, and the corporate millionaires and billionaires.

      • We run the Pentagon, bless the bombing raids, support executions, make nuclear weapons and seek global domination for America as if that was what the nonviolent Jesus wants.

      • And we dismiss anyone who disagrees with us.

      • We have become a mean, vicious people, what the bible calls “stiff-necked people.”

      • And we do it all with the mistaken belief that we have the blessing of God.
    In the past, empires persecuted religious groups and threatened them into passivity and silence.

    Now these so-called Christians run the American empire, and teach a subtle spirituality of empire to back up their power in the name of God.

    • This spirituality of empire insists that violence saves us, might makes right, war is justified, bombing raids are blessed, nuclear weapons offer the only true security from terrorism, and the good news is not love for our enemies, but the elimination of them.

    • The empire is working hard these days to tell the nation--and the churches--what is moral and immoral, sinful and holy.

    • It denounces certain personal behavior as immoral, in order to distract us from the blatant immorality and mortal sin of the U.S. bombing raids which have left 100,000 Iraqis dead, or our ongoing development of thousands of weapons of mass destruction.
    Our Pharisee rulers would have us believe that our wars and our weapons are holy and blessed by God.

    In the old days, the early Christians had big words for such behavior, such lies. They were called “blasphemous, idolatrous, heretical, hypocritical and sinful.”

    Such words and actions were denounced as the betrayal, denial and execution of Jesus all over again in the world’s poor.

    But the empire needs the church to bless and support its wars, or at least to remain passive and silent.

    As we Christians go along with the Bush administration and the American empire, we betray Jesus, renounce his teachings, and create a “Church of Christ without Christ,“ as Flannery O’Connor foresaw.

    The first thing we Christians have to do in this time is NOT to become good Pharisees.

    Instead, we have to try all over again to follow the dangerous, nonviolent, troublemaking Jesus.

    I believe war, weapons, corporate greed and systemic injustice are an abomination in the sight of God. They are the definition of mortal sin. They mock God and threaten to destroy God’s gift of creation.

    If you want to seek the living God, you have to pit your entire life against war, weapons, greed and injustice--and their perpetrators. It is as simple as that.

    I submit that the only thing we know for sure about Jesus is that he was nonviolent and so, nonviolence is the hallmark of Christianity and the measure of authentic Christian living.

    Jesus commands that we love one another, love our neighbors, seek justice, forgive those who hurt us, pray for our persecutors, and be as compassionate as God.

    But at the center of his teaching is the most radical declaration ever uttered: “love your enemies.”

    If we dare call ourselves Christian, we cannot support war or nuclear weapons or corporate greed or executions or systemic injustice of any kind.

    If we do, we may well be devout American citizens, but we no longer follow the nonviolent Jesus.

    We have joined the hypocrites and blasphemers of the land, beginning with their leaders in the White House, the Pentagon and Los Alamos.

    Jesus resisted the empire, engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience in the Temple, was arrested by the Pharisees, tried by the Roman governor and executed by Roman soldiers.

    If we dare follow this nonviolent revolutionary, we too must resist empire, engage in nonviolent civil disobedience against U.S. warmaking and imperial domination, and risk arrest and imprisonment like the great modern day disciples, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day and Philip Berrigan.

    If we do not want to be part of the Pharisaic culture and do want to follow the nonviolent Jesus:

    • We have to get in trouble just as Jesus was constantly in trouble for speaking the truth, loving the wrong people, worshipping the wrong way, and promoting the wrong things, like justice and peace.

    • We have to resist this new American empire, as well as its false spirituality and all those who claim to be Christian yet support the murder of other human beings.

    • We have to repent of the sin of war, put down the sword, practice Gospel nonviolence, and take up the cross of revolutionary nonviolence by loving our enemies and discovering what the spiritual life is all about.
    .Just because the culture and the cultural church have joined with the empire and its wars does not mean that we all have to go along with such heresy, or fall into despair as if nothing can be done.

    It is never too late to try to follow the troublemaking Jesus, to join his practice of revolutionary nonviolence and become authentic Christians.

    We may find ourselves in trouble, even at the hands of so-called Christians, just as Jesus was in trouble at the hands of the so-called religious leaders of his day.

    But this very trouble may lead us back to those Beatitude blessings.

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     Saturday, February 19, 2005

    Scanning ...scanning ...scanning

      Australia: Lebanon claims it is searching for six people who flew from Beirut to Australia after the assassination of its former prime minister Rafik Hariri - leaving TNT traces on aircraft seats.

    The Herald understands that counter-terrorism officers from the Federal Police did interview a small number of Australians returning from Lebanon after the bombing, but a source dismissed reports that a dozen people suspected of being linked to the Beirut bombing had been arrested at Sydney Airport. Read here for more
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    USA:A threat by the biggest U.S. Presbyterian church group to dump investments in companies profiting from Israel's occupation of the West Bank and related strife has set off a wave of dissent in the church and angered American Jewish leaders.

    But those in the 2.5-million-member Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) backing the move see it as a response to human rights violations consistent with the approach it took against South Africa two decades ago when the group used divestment as a pocketbook weapon trying to fight apartheid.

    Israel's occupation "is at the center of the cycle of violence in the region -- whether it is suicide bombings or the displacement caused by the occupation ... and impedes a peaceful solution to that conflict," the committee now picking out possible divestment targets said recently.

    The church's General Assembly which set the matter in motion in July called for a "phased, selective divestment" beginning no earlier than July 2006, the next time the governing body meets. One dissident group, however, wants a moratorium placed on the whole project now and is asking the church's interim leadership to do so as early as next month. Read here for more
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Palestine: An Italian peace activist has suffered a broken jaw and concussion after being attacked by a group of Jewish settlers in southern West Bank, a peace group said.The incident occurred on Wednesday when a group of international peace activists were accompanying Palestinian shepherds as they grazed their flocks on their land, which lies near the Havat Maon settlement outpost at the southernmost tip of the West Bank.

    According to Sally Hunsberger, a US national working with the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) who witnessed the attack, two settlers approached her and two other Italian peace activists on a hillside near the outpost.

    Relations between the settlers and the Christian activists have never been good.

    Jewish settlers, indoctrinated by a staunchly anti-Christian ideology, routinely throw rocks and shout obscenities at them. Read here for more
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Israel: Palestinian woman has been forced to deliver her baby at an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank. The 25-year-old woman was forced to give birth to her baby at the Qalandia military checkpoint on Thursday after Israeli soldiers blocked her passage.

    It was the first time Aljazeera was on hand to record a woman in labour being prevented from proceeding to the maternity ward to deliver her child.


    Nivin with her newborn baby boy, Abd Allah

    The woman, a resident of Jerusalem, who gave only her first name, Nivin, found herself in labour at the checkpoint on her way to al-Quds hospital. Her pleas to Israeli occupation soldiers to allow her through were to no avail.

    "No offer of assistance came from the occupation soldiers, such as calling an ambulance" she said. Read here for more
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Iraq: Suicide bombers shattered a day of prayers at two Shia mosques and at a religious procession Friday, killing at least 27 people and injuring dozens more on on the eve of Shia Islam's most important holiday, officials said.
    Read here for more
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Iraq: The Pentagon has found that Iraqi insurgents can conduct up to 60 strikes a day and occasionally more, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Thursday."We've tracked the number of attacks per day and what they can do is 50 to 60 attacks that they are able to conduct countrywide, with spikes. And that seems to be their capacity," Air Force Gen. Richard Myers told the Senate Armed Services Committee.Read here for more
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Russia: Russian President Vladimir Putin says he is convinced Iran is NOT trying to develop nuclear weapons and that Russia will continue cooperating with Iran on its nuclear program, according to Russia's Interfax news agency.Read here for more
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Japan: The United States and Japan will declare Saturday for the first time in a joint agreement that Taiwan is a mutual security concern, according to a draft of the document. Analysts called the move a demonstration of Japan's willingness to confront the rapidly growing might of China.

    The United States has long focused attention on the Chinese government's threat to use military force against Taiwan if the island, which China views as a renegade province, moves toward independence. Until now, Japan has been content to let the United States bear the brunt of Beijing's displeasure.

    Japan has generally been inclined to sidestep conflict with China. But in recent years, China has dramatically modernized its military while expanding its sphere of influence in Asia on the strength of its booming economy. The effort to extend its reach has included exploring for natural gas near Japanese-claimed waters only 110 miles north of Taiwan and countering Japan's claims to exclusive economic zones in the Pacific.Read here for more
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Iran: A Russian deal to provide Iran with nuclear fuel in defiance of the United States was likely to rekindle fears of confrontation.

    Under the deal, spent fuel would be sent back to Siberian storage units after about a decade of use -- a condition Russia thinks should allay U.S. concerns that Iran could use the material to make weapons.

    Word of the Russian agreement came one day after Iranian state television shook world markets -- already worried about any possible U.S. or Israeli intervention -- by reporting an explosion near the Russian-built nuclear power plant.

    The explosion was later attributed to work during dam construction, but only AFTER reports of the blast were flashed around the world.

    Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rohani, saw a calculated campaign by the United States and the Western media. "Reports of a strike were false and are psychological warfare," against Iran's legitimate nuclear program, he said.Read here for more
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    China: China denounced a U.S. assessment that its weapons buildup is tilting the balance of power in the Taiwan Straits, and it said the comments sent the wrong signal to Taiwan, the self-governing island Beijing claims as its own. Porter Goss, the U.S. director of central intelligence, told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Wednesday that China's capabilities threaten U.S. forces in the region. Read here for more
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    United Nations: U.N. team monitoring sanctions on al-Qaida predicted Tuesday there will be an escalation in the brutality of terrorist attacks, saying the network remains determined to strike around the world. Terrorism involving al-Qaida and weapons of mass destruction remains among the paramount global threats, the team said in a report.

    Al-Qaida still had a strong interest in acquiring chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons, and it was only "a matter of time" before a successful attack occurs, the report said. Read here for more
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Lebanon:To understand who assassinated Rafik al-Hariri, don’t go further than the $1.5 billion US Embassy currently under construction in Baghdad. The new embassy, the largest of its kind in the world, will facilitate 1,800 employees and serve as the regional nerve center for American political and economic activity. What does this have to do with al Hariri?

    Hariri’s assassination provides the raison d'être for severing ties with Syria and for transforming Lebanon into a US vassal. This conforms nicely with Israel’s ambition to surround itself with non-threatening states as well as affording access to the vital water resources of Lebanon’s Wazzani River.

    In other words, the murder of al Hariri has created some extremely fortunate opportunities for both Israel and the US; merging seamlessly with their overall objectives in the region.

    If Washington’s plan to control Middle East oil does not succeed, the dollar is headed for the landfill. There’s no way that the world will continue to hold paper that represents $8 trillion worth of debt unless that happens to be the only way they can purchase the oil that’s essential to their industries.

    The Bush administration is on a tight “time-line” which requires ham-fisted tactics to play out on city streets in foreign capitals. The murder of al Hariri fits conveniently within this regional strategy.

    The likelihood that Syria was involved in the assassination is zilch.

    Few people realize that Syria provided more assistance in the first year of the war on terror after 9-11 than any other nation.

    That’s of little consequence now, as the US is on a mission to quickly integrate the entire region beneath the American standard. Read here for more
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    USA: The day after the State of the Union Address, two Interpol fugitives attended the "National Prayer Breakfast" held in Washington DC.

    The day before that, these fugitives from the law were the guests of honor at an hour-long meeting of the International Relations Committee on Capitol Hill, invited by ranking Democrat Tom Lantos (Calif.)

    You would think it would be hot news when wanted men being hunted by European police suddenly pop up in the US particularly on Capitol Hill and at events attended by the US president.

    Yet, there was NOT a single AP story in the US on any of this.

    Not a single national network television or radio news program even mentioned these facts.

    In fact, Google and LexisNexis searches four days after these events took place turned up only three newspaper articles on them anywhere in the entire country.

    Who are these fugitives from the law, wanted by Interpol, who are meeting at the highest levels of the US government?

    And why didn't we learn of them?

    Therein lies the story.

    They are Mikhail Brudno and Vladimir Dubov, Israeli-Russian partners in the giant Russian oil company Yukos. They, along with a number of their cronies, are wanted by Interpol for allegedly bilking Russian citizens out of billions of dollars.

    To elude Russian prosecution, these men have taken up residence in Israel.

    The fact is that Israel is an important factor in the ongoing, nation-shaking power struggle now going on in Russia.

    Yet AP virtually NEVER reports this connection.

    For example, a few months ago in a typical AP story on this power struggle:

    "Report: Russia again charges Berezovsky,"
    Moscow AP Bureau Chief Judith Ingram makes NO mention anywhere that Berezovsky is an Israeli citizen, or of his many connections to Israel.

    Such omissions by AP and large swaths of the American media leave Americans seriously disadvantaged in deciphering what is going on in Russia, and its profound significance for the world. Read here for more

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     Friday, February 18, 2005

    Must Read: Blog by Ward Harkawy, "Bush Beat"

      Read here Ward Harkawy's blog

    by

    Ward Harkawy

    IN A SCENE that could have come straight from a 21st century remake of Duck Soup, CIA Director Porter Goss and military nabobs told Congress on Wednesday that the U.S. occupation of Iraq is fueling a growing insurgency and creating fresh enemies throughout an increasingly resentful and angry Arab world.

    No shit.

    Too bad the Democrats didn't think of that argument before the 2004 election.

    As I noted in August, right after George W. Bush appointed Goss, "Do we have more reason to be nervous since we inflamed the Middle East with our invasion of Iraq? You won't hear [Tom] Ridge say that."

    Now, after the election, the Bush regime is saying what millions of others have been saying all along.

    Would that growing resentment and anger have anything to do with the fact that we're bombing Iraq into rubble and holding its people at gunpoint while we're splashing around in Saddam Hussein's swimming pools?

    Yes, Iraq is tough work. Naked pyramids aren't built in a day. It takes a religious devotion, like that expressed by Marine Lieutenant Colonel Gareth Brandl as he got ready to pulverize Falluja just after the November election:

    "The enemy has got a face. He's called Satan.

    He lives in Falluja. And we're going to destroy him."

    Thank God we have Porter Goss to help us in this time of crisis.

    You may recall that on the morning of 9-11, Goss (at the time the House member in charge of CIA "oversight") was having breakfast in D.C. with hijacker Mohammed Atta's bagman
    Yesterday, Goss told the Senate Intelligence Committee:

    "Islamic extremists are exploiting the Iraqi conflict to recruit new anti-U.S. jihadists. These jihadists who survive will leave Iraq experienced and focused on acts of urban terrorism.

    They represent a potential pool of contacts to build transnational terrorist cells, groups and networks in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries."

    A "pool of contacts"?

    I seem to recall that we called off our hunt for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, ordering our soldiers to dive into Iraq instead.

    And now we're drowning in a sea of anger? What a surprise.

    No one painted a grimmer picture yesterday than did Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby.

    Dana Priest and Josh White of the Washington Post laid it out:

    Jacoby said the Iraq insurgency has grown "in size and complexity over the past year" and is now mounting an average of 60 attacks per day, up from 25 last year.

    Attacks on Iraq's election day last month reached 300, he said, double the
    previous one-day high of 150, even though transportation was virtually locked down.

    The admiral also revealed to the senators something that has been common knowledge since even before the unjustified March 2003 invasion:

    "Our policies in the Middle East fuel Islamic resentment.

    Overwhelming majorities in Morocco, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia believe the U.S. has a negative policy toward the Arab world."

    The arrogant Bush regime has refused to acknowledge that basic fact until now, even though others have been saying it for years.

    Of course, the word "Israel" wasn't mentioned, even though at least a measure of peace in the Middle East can't be achieved until the Israeli-Palestinian death dance is halted—the current hype about a breakthrough is nothing but p.r., by the way.

    Regarding Iraq, as I noted in September, retired Marine General Anthony Zinni recalled the absurdity of the pre-invasion hype in early 2003 that somehow our ouster of Saddam Hussein, fervently sought by the right-wing Israeli government, would help stabilize the Middle East:

    The idea that we will walk in and be met with open arms. The idea that we will have people that will glom on to democracy overnight.

    The idea that strategically we will reform, reshape, and change the Middle East by this action—we've changed it all right.

    Zinni's one of the most trenchant observers of the Iraq debacle—he knew Saddam had to be dealt with, but he said publicly before the invasion that an invasion would be unjustified and that the intelligence didn't back it up.

    In an October 2002 speech that Salon's Eric Boehlert did a marvelous job with, as I've previously noted, Zinni took issue with the Bush regime's hawks, who have always downplayed the importance of Arab sentiment:
    "I'm not sure which planet they live on, because it isn't the one I travel."


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    Former Malaysian PM: The "Elephant in the Room" in the War Against Terrorism is Israel.

      Read here full article in Bernama

    According to former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir, the solution to the war against terrorism was to look at the root causes of all these acts of violence following the decision to take Palestine and give it to the Jews and expel the Palestinians from their own country without any compensation.

    Powerful countries would NOT act in settling the root causes of terrorism because they wanted to uphold Israel at any cost even if the whole world were threatened with terrorism.

    This was due to the Israelis having a strong hold on the most powerful nations, he said.

    On the Palestine-Israel ceasefire agreement, he had his doubts over Israel's commitment.


    16 February 2005

    Former Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad has predicted United States may use Israel as a proxy to launch an attack against Iran over the nuclear issue.

    The US would urge Israel to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities just like what the Tel Aviv regime did to Iraq initially before Washington launched the full-scale war in Iraq.

    "US seems to want other people to fight for them," he told reporters here in response to questions on the development of the Iran-North Korea nuclear issues.

  • The US would attack Iran because Iran had no weapon of mass destructions although such allegation were made against Tehran.

  • "They attacked Iraq because they know Iraq has no weapon of mass destruction," he told reporters here Wednesday.

  • However, the US was unlikely to attack North Korea although Pyongyang had openly declared that it possessed nuclear weapons. Furthermore, he said the US would exercise a little bit more careful in handling the North Korean nuclear issue because the country could do a lot of things with its weapons of mass destructions. He said,
    "North Korea, the agenda is different. It is not just weapons of mass destruction, there is also this element of hatred against Muslim.

    There is a religious element in this thing. If it is non-Muslim, the US will not attack,"

  • Mahathir said the US believed that it could do anything it liked to Muslim countries for several reasons:

    1. Muslim countries were divided
    2. there were some Muslim countries which supported the US against other Muslim countries and finally
    3. because Muslim countries were incapable of retaliation, he said.

    Muslim countries on the other hand would continue to fight and sabotage against each other, contributing to a worsening of the situation.

    "The Muslim world should go back to Islam. The teaching of Islam. The fundamental teaching of Islam that all Muslims are brothers and Muslims should not kill another Muslim," he said.

    He said the only retaliation the US might face was from non-governmental bodies such as Al-Qaeda which resorted to acts of terror.

    Dr Mahathir reiterated that the solution to the war against terrorism which was made by him since 1983 was to look at the root causes of all these acts of violence following the decision to take Palestine and give it to the Jews and expel the Palestinians from their own country without any compensation.

    However, he felt that powerful countries would not act in settling the root causes of terrorism because they wanted to uphold Israel at any cost even if the whole world were threatened with terrorism.

    This was due to the Israelis having a strong hold on the most powerful nations, he said.


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