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  The Importance of Being | Reflections on life in a world gone mad

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Above Top Secret: 9/11 Pentagon strike was a 757?!

It's been awhile now since I've added anything to my blog, but that doesn't mean the world has become a boring place. Hooboy! Bush is gunning for Iran, Sharon is in a coma, the US economy has never looked worse (and now people are actually talking about it!), and the controversy over what really hit the Pentagon on 9/11 is still alive and well.

It seems that the folks at Above Top Secret REALLY REALLY don't want to believe that there was no way it was a 757 that hit the Pentagram on September 11th, in spite of the fact that the available evidence points to anything BUT a 757 hitting the building that fateful day.

The folks at my favorite news site, Signs of the Times, have released a totally rational and logical response to ATS's previous attempts to deny reality regarding the Pentagon strike. It's called Evidence That a Frozen Fish Didn't Impact the Pentagon on 9/11... and Neither Did a Boeing 757. For a site with so much alleged money and support, Above Top Secret has some god-awful analysis! In fact, you could hardly call it analysis. Hmm... Is ATS disinfo? Who knows. What I do know is that Signs of the Times's Joe Quinn gives an insightful dissection of CatHerder's (ATS's) "analysis" of what hit the Pentagon. Here's a snippet or two:
ATS: Here is the hole in the building - it's been reported by at least a dozen different sources (including conspiracy theory sites) to be a 16 to 20 foot hole. That is really interesting when you take into account the fact that the 757 body is 12 ft 4in wide and 13 ft 6in high. (Here is where I was mistaken in the past, like so very many others I was led astray by the HEIGHT of the aircraft, which is actually the measurement from the wheels-down to the tip of the tail. That measurement is for aircraft hangar clearance, not the SIZE of the aircraft.) The 757 is basically a cylinder that is 13 feet across. It then should not be surprising that it would create something around a thirteen foot hole in the side of the building.

SOTT: Here is the next twist. The Boeing 757 is not simply a 13ft wide cylinder; if it were, then the damage to the Pentagon might be more plausible. The reality, however, is that a Boeing 757 is a 13ft wide, 155 ft long cylinder with a tail fin that extends 45 ft into the air. Add to that the fact that there are two 6 ton steel engines slung under each wing about 6 feet to each side of the cylinder body. The wings extend out on each side for 50ft + making for a total aircraft width of 125 feet, a total length of 155 ft and a maximum height of 45 ft. It comes as no surprise then that this large commercial aircraft weighs in at over 90 tons fully loaded. On take off from Washington Dulles airport, Flight 77 weighed approximately 82 tons.

The above nonsensical argument would have you believe that the only thing to consider is a "13 ft wide cylinder" that just magically lost everything else, or that everything else just "folded up" and flew inside the building plastered to the side of that 13 ft cylinder. Even if the wings could do that, we are still left with the two 6 ton engines that were NOT dropped off on the lawn, and which, together, are as wide as the cylinder body!

...

While the "cylinder body" that our author keeps referring to is indeed 13ft 6in high, he omits the fact that the engines extend 5 feet below the body and over six feet to either side, meaning that, if the aircraft were actually able to successfully fly at just 1 inch above the ground (highly unlikely), the height of the "cylinder body" above the ground would be at least 18 ft 6 inches! Let us repeat that: if a Boeing 757 were actually able to fly at just 1 inch above the ground, the height of the "13 ft cylinder body" would be at least 18 feet 6 inches! Now, add to that the fact that the plane also includes those two bothersome 6 TON engines, AND a tail fin that protrudes 25 feet above the top of the cylinder body making for a total aircraft height of just less than 40 feet with wheels up. Obviously then, we can reasonably expect that the damage to the facade of the Pentagon would have extended up to this height IF it was a 757 that hit the building.

...

There are without doubt many sincere U.S. and other citizens and web site owners who promote the official story about 9/11 because they believe (or perhaps need to believe) that the government is telling the truth. Equally certain is the fact that there are many US citizens and website owners who know for sure that the government story is false, yet have been consciously recruited to push this story on the public. Members of the latter group are simply doing their job, but their influence is most directly felt among members of the former group who want to believe the official story.

Having said that, after reading through the long ATS thread that followed the posting of "CatHerders" article, I have come to the tentative conclusion that the ATS website is just one more government-funded damage control operation, albeit a very subtle one. I will explain why I came to this conclusion.

CatHerders article was received with much fanfare on the ATS forum, and much debate and analysis ensued with the thread finally reaching 125 pages. As the discussion and debate raged, it became apparent that many were convinced by CatHerder's article, but just as many were not. On the 8th page of the thread, two of the three owners of the ATS website weighed in and attempted to silence the naysayers with some large fonts and guilt trips. For example, "SkepticOverlord", "one of the three ATS amigos and co-owner of Abovetopsecret.com" wrote:

"It's very disappointing to see ignorance embraced like this [referring to those who were not embracing Catherders article as "the truth"]

Why? Because the real information is not wrapped up in an exciting Flash animation with angry metal grind? [referring, undoubtedly, to our Pentagonstrike Flash]

Shall we change our motto?

Ignorance Embraced [the ATS motto is "deny ignorance" which seems to be a twist on the QFG motto: Knowledge Protects, Ignorance Endangers.]

I still remember speaking to my brother (who was on the highway at the time) calling me that evening, haunted by the memory of a brief glimpse of faces in the windows of the 757. Especially when he discovered his friend was on the flight later that day.

This is a sad moment for ATS. I feel like I now see faces."

Very moving. Very manipulative, too. "Springer", another Co-owner, then added the following:

PITIFUL... "CH" (Catherder) has proven his/her POINT beyond much of anything that even comes close to logic... But ALAS, as S.O. (other ATS co-owner) Points out, it is NOT wrapped up in a pretty flash animation filled with BUNK so it must NOT be beleived... [another obvious reference to the Pentagon Flash.]

Sad Day for ATS indeed..."

Yes indeed, there's nothing like subjecting your subscribers to a little guilt trip to get them in line...

After reading the rest of Signs of the Times's article here, you'll definitely think twice about the reliability and honesty of the folks at Above Top Secret...

Sunday, July 03, 2005

The Sound of Silence: Bush's Fort Bragg Speech

During Bush's recent speech at Fort Bragg, it seems there was a glaring lack of applause from the soldiers present:

Troops' Silence at Fort Bragg Starts a Debate All Its Own

By DAVID E. SANGER, New York Times

WASHINGTON, June 29 - So what happened to the applause?

When President Bush visits military bases, he invariably receives a foot-stomping, loud ovation at every applause line. At bases like Fort Bragg - the backdrop for his Tuesday night speech on Iraq - the clapping is often interspersed with calls of "Hoo-ah," the military's all-purpose, spirited response to, well, almost anything.

So the silence during his speech was more than a little noticeable, both on television and in the hall. On Wednesday, as Mr. Bush's repeated use of the imagery of the Sept. 11 attacks drew bitter criticism from Congressional Democrats, there was a parallel debate under way about whether the troops sat on their hands because they were not impressed, or because they thought that was their orders.

[...]

Republicans moved quickly to respond to what was becoming a significant embarrassment.

Capt. Tom Earnhardt, a public affairs officer at Fort Bragg who participated in the planning for the president's trip, said that from the first meetings with White House officials there was agreement that a hall full of wildly cheering troops would not create the right atmosphere for a speech devoted to policy and strategy.

"The guy from White House advance, during the initial meetings, said, 'Be careful not to let this become a pep rally,' " Captain Earnhardt recalled in a telephone interview. Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, confirmed that account.

As the message drifted down to commanders, it appears that it may have gained an interpretation beyond what the administration's image-makers had in mind. "This is a very disciplined environment," said Captain Earnhardt, "and some guys may have taken it a bit far," leaving the troops hesitant to applaud.

After two presidential campaigns, Mr. Bush has finely tuned his sense of timing for cueing applause, especially when it comes to his most oft-expressed declarations of resolve to face down terrorists.
But when the crowd did not respond on Tuesday , he seemed to speed up his delivery a bit. Then, toward the end of the 28-minute speech, there was an outbreak of clapping when Mr. Bush said, "We will stay in the fight until the fight is done."

Terry Moran, an ABC News White House correspondent, said on the air on Tuesday night that the first to clap appeared to be a woman who works for the White House, arranging events. Some other reporters had the same account, but Captain Earnhardt and others in the back of the room say the applause was started by a group of officers.

Let's think about this... Public opinion of Bush is at an all-time low, and I suspect the REAL percentage of those Americans who are not happy with George is more like 80%. Almost no one I talk to anymore is happy with Bush. The mainstream media widely - and quite rationally - predicted that Bush's speech would be turned into what amounts to a pep rally to get the American people to stand on the president's side again concerning the Iraq issue.

Now, what are the chances that the White House would tell US commanders to be careful not to let Bush's speech become a pep rally?! Bush's Brain (aka Karl Rove) no doubt selected a military venue specifically because he expected the troops to rally behind their commander-in-chief. The idea, then, is that we would all watch the speech and the cheering troops on TV, and get all fired up and patriotic and support Bush's mad crusade again. So, the White House's claims that they actually requested a subdued military audience go completely against the grain - and against common sense.

Then we have the little tidbit about how Bush sped up his delivery when he wasn't getting the desired response. Oops!

Finally, an ABC News correspondent claims that the first woman to clap was apparently an events coordinator for the White House.

If the "official version" of Bush's speech is a bunch of bull as I and many others I've heard from suspect, then Bushy has a big problem. The silence of US soldiers at a speech by their commander-in-chief can mean only one thing: they ain't happy.

But if US military leaders are backing up White House claims that the silence was intentional, then that would mean that your average US soldier is also none too happy with much of the senior military leadership. Now, lots of people are saying that Bush's next move will be to attack Iran. But how do you expand the so-called war on terror when the troops in the field are turning against their corrupt leaders?

Why, you set the Reichstag on fire... again...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Help Stop the Corporate Media!

Many of us in America already know just how controlled and biased the corporate media in our country is today. While most of us have turned to alternative news sources, especially those on the internet, we have not really done anything to stop the corporate media in its tracks. With the pressure that the Bush administration is no doubt feeling at the moment, now is the time to act. And here is how we can do it:

    WE MUST STOP FUNDING THE ENEMY
    AND THE ENEMY IS OUR CORPORATE MEDIA!

    We cannot continue to battle the beast while we finance its very existence!

Successful mobilization of the masses by organizations such as Moveon.org has proved two things; 1. Congress does not represent its constituency; and 2. Protests and petitions do not work!!!

During these past 5 years, the American people have spoken out time and time again only to be completely ignored by those who are supposed to represent them in this republic that we so inaccurately call a democracy. It is painfully obvious that the people who are in office use their power for their own personal purposes. They represent only their sponsors, the corporations and other money-based centers of influence that finance their careers. As a result, the collective voices of the people are irrelevant and have no impact, no matter howloud or organized they are. Currently, the corporate media and the easily manipulated voting machines can keep politicians in power so that they need no longer fear an Election Day revolt from the people whom they ignore and undermine on a daily basis.

We are not going to use this space to list the surreal state of media affairs as it exists today. This web site has more than 350 pages of reference material if you need a refresher course. Suffice it to say that it has become frightening to watch the level of deception taking place on out TV sets each day. The amount of information that has been withheld from or misrepresented to the public is beyond criminal at this point.

Our democracy, our environment, our economy and our humanity can not survive if the people of this nation continue to be drawn into thefictional world created by the corporate media.

The time has come to use the only legal and non-lethal tool left available to the public.

We must counter the weapons of the power elite that has hijacked our democracy and taken control of the nation. Believe it our not, thattool is MONEY! In this case, however, we are not asking you to spend your money; we are asking you to withhold it!

WE MUST STOP FUNDING THE ENEMY - AND THE ENEMY IS OUR CORPORATE MEDIA!

TvNewsLIES is calling for an all out, 100% boycott of corporate news. We are asking our readers to do the following:

  1. Cancel all subscriptions to the corporately owned newspapers & magazines
    that have been complicit in deceiving the public about the many crimes
    committed by the Bush administration and about the many outrageous
    actions taken by our Congress to undermine our democracy, our
    environment and our civil rights while they put forth an agenda that is
    designed to hand ownership of our nation to a few wealthy individuals
    and corporations.

  2. Call your cable company and cancel the following news channels: all CNN
    networks (CNN Headline News and CNN International), all FOX networks
    that air news including your local FOX affiliate. (It is all right to
    keep the entertainment based channels. Trash TV never resulted in
    fascism!), and all network and local stations that purport to air news,
    including ABC, NBC (including MSNBC), & CBS.
NOTE:

You can have your cable company block any channel you request. You need not cancel the rest of your service. If there are massive cancellations our voices will be heard. [And if they don't let you cancel individual channels, cancel your service completely. They'll all get the idea soon enough, especially with the economy the way it is...]

Where will you get your information if you comply with our request?
You can replace the cherry picked news that is spoon fed to you by the corporate media with the news harvesters on the Internet who collect important news items from around the globe and compile them in one place so that you can get a real sense of what is going on.

Suggested sites for real news: (we apologize to the many other good sites not mentioned here ) : Whatreallyhappened.com, Buzzflash.com, Counterpunch.org, Signs-of-the-Times.org, Guerrilla News Network, Rense.com, Informationclearinghouse.com, uruknet.com, and our TvNewsLIES.org’s news portal.

What else must you do? Search the Internet for organizations or websites that list the corporate sponsors of the news networks. Make every attempt to boycott goods and services produced by these
companies. Seek out progressive, socially and environmentally conscious businesses and direct your business to them.

It is time to act! Stop supporting our enemies.
Start supporting the people who have dedicated their lives to making this world a better place. If it inconveniences you, so be it. Make the sacrifice. If it costs you an extra dollar to subscribe to an independent newspaper, make the sacrifice and help us to regain our nation.

We are proud of the fact that TvNewsLIES is one of the many individuals and groups who have sacrificed a great deal to fight for this nation by acting as its troops of truth. Support the troops of truth! Support us! Stop supporting your enemies!

IT'S TIME TO STOP TALKING AND TO START DOING SOMETHING. STOP COMPLAINING AND ASKING WHAT YOU CAN DO! TVNL JUST TOLD YOU HOW YOU CAN HELP. ACT NOW TO HELP FIGHT THE LIES AND DECEPTIONS OF THE CORPORATE MEDIA! STOP PAYING THE MEDIA TO BRAINWASH THIS NATION!

HELP RECLAIM THE NATION BY WITHHOLDING YOUR MONEY FROM THOSE WHO DO US HARM! IT IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE WEAPON WE HAVE!

WE CANNOT CONTINUE TO BATTLE THE BEAST WHILE WE FINANCE ITS VERY EXISTENCE!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS AND WEBMASTERS:

Please copy or link to this article. This has to be widely distributed in order to be effective. If you copy this you do not have to link back to this site or credit TvNews
LIES.org, although it would be deeply appreciated. The important thing is to get people to stop financially supporting our enemies in the media! We encourage all webmasters and bloggers to copy this message. We seek nocredit as long as we have helped the cause.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Is The Draft Already Here?

Two recent articles on military recruiting:


They Won't Go


By BOB HERBERT
Published: June 13, 2005

George W. Bush is in no danger of being ranked among the nation's pre-eminent commanders in chief. Not only has he been unable thus far to win the war in Iraq, but on his watch significant sectors of the proud U.S. military have been rapidly deteriorating.

The Army reported on Friday that it had fallen short of its recruitment goals for a fourth consecutive month. The Marines managed to meet their recruitment target for May, but that was their first successful month this year.


Scrambling to fill its ranks, the Army is signing up more high school dropouts and lower-scoring applicants.


With the war in Iraq going badly and allegations of abuse by military personnel widespread, young men and women are increasingly deciding that there's no upside to a career choice in which the most important skills might be ducking bullets and dodging roadside bombs.

The primary reason the U.S. went to an all-volunteer military in 1973 was to ensure that those who did not want to fight wouldn't have to. That option is now being overwhelmingly exercised, discretion being the clear choice over valor. Young people and their parents alike are turning their backs on the military in droves.

The Army is so desperate for even lukewarm bodies that it is reluctant to release even problem soldiers, troops who are seriously out of shape, or pregnant, or abusing alcohol or drugs. And it is lowering standards for admission to the junior officer ranks. For example, minor criminal offenses that previously would have been prohibitive can now be overlooked.


At the same time Army recruiters have been chasing high school kids with such reckless abandon that a backlash is developing among parents who, in many cases, want the recruiters kept out of their children's schools.


"To the extent that we think students are threatened by recruiters, it's our job to intervene," said Amy Hagopian, a co-chair of the Parent-Teacher-Student Association at Garfield High School in Seattle. Ms. Hagopian, who has an 18-year-old son, complained that recruiters too often put the hard sell on impressionable high school youngsters without informing them of the potential dangers of a life in the military.


Recruiters with the gift of gab go into the schools with a glamorous pitch, bags full of goodies for the kids (T-shirts, donuts, key chains) and a litany of promises they often can't keep. The kids don't hear much about their chances of being maimed or killed, or the trauma that often results from killing someone else.

(A soldier's job is to kill. I can still hear the drill sergeants in basic training screaming at us decades ago: "What are you? What are you?" And we'd scream back: "Killers! Killers!" And the sergeants would say, "What is your purpose?" And we would shout: "To kill! To kill!")

The Army, frantically searching for solutions, is offering enlistments as short as 15 months and considering bonuses worth up to $40,000. But it may be facing a problem too difficult for any amount of money to overcome. Americans are catching on to the hideousness and apparent futility of the war in Iraq. Five marines were killed in a single bomb attack in western Iraq on Thursday. On Friday, a front-page Washington Post headline described the effort to rebuild the Iraqi military as "Mission Improbable."

A Washington Post-ABC News poll last week found that nearly three-quarters of Americans believe the number of casualties in Iraq is unacceptable, and 60 percent believe the war was not worth fighting.

There's something frankly embarrassing about a government offering trinkets to children to persuade them to go off and fight - and perhaps die - in a war that their nation should never have started in the first place. It's highly questionable whether most high school kids are equipped to make an informed decision about joining the military, which is exactly why they're targeted. The additional knowledge and maturity gained in the first few years after high school make it easier for a young man or woman to make a wiser, more meaningful choice, pro or con.

The parents of the kids being sought by recruiters to fight this unpopular war are creating a highly vocal and potentially very effective antiwar movement. In effect, they're saying to their own children: hell no, you won't go.


If you think that one is shocking, check out this one:


When Marine recruiters go way beyond the call


By SUSAN PAYNTER
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER COLUMNIST
Wednesday, June 8, 2005

For mom Marcia Cobb and her teenage son Axel, the white letters USMC on their caller ID soon spelled, "Don't answer the phone!"

Marine recruiters began a relentless barrage of calls to Axel as soon as the mellow, compliant Sedro-Woolley High School grad had cut his 17th birthday cake. And soon it was nearly impossible to get the seekers of a few good men off the line.

With early and late calls ringing in their ears, Marcia tried using call blocking. And that's when she learned her first hard lesson. You can't block calls from the government, her server said. So, after pleas to "Please stop calling" went unanswered, the family's "do not answer" order ensued.

But warnings and liquid crystal lettering can fade. So, two weeks ago when Marcia was cooking dinner Axel goofed and answered the call. And, faster than you can say "semper fi," an odyssey kicked into action that illustrates just how desperate some of the recruiters we've read about really are to fill severely sagging quotas.

Let what we learned serve as a warning to other moms, dads and teens, the Cobbs now say. Even if your kids actually may want to join the military, if they hope to do it on their own terms, after a deep breath and due consideration, repeat these words after them: "No," "Not now" and "Back off!"

"I've been trained to be pretty friendly. I guess you might even say I'm kind of passive," Axel told me last week, just after his mother and older sister had tracked him to a Seattle testing center and sprung him on a ruse.

The next step of Axel's misadventure came when he heard about a cool "chin-ups" contest in Bellingham, where the prize was a free Xbox. The now 18-year-old Skagit Valley Community College student dragged his tail feathers home uncharacteristically late that night. And, in the morning, Marcia learned the Marines had hosted the event and "then had him out all night, drilling him to join."

A single mom with a meager income, Marcia raised her kids on the farm where, until recently, she grew salad greens for restaurants.


Axel's father, a Marine Corps vet who served in Vietnam, died when Axel was 4.

Clearly the recruiters knew all that and more.

"You don't want to be a burden to your mom," they told him. "Be a man." "Make your father proud." Never mind that, because of his own experience in the service, Marcia says enlistment for his son is the last thing Axel's dad would have wanted.

The next weekend, when Marcia went to Seattle for the Folklife Festival and Axel was home alone, two recruiters showed up at the door.

Axel repeated the family mantra, but he was feeling frazzled and worn down by then.The sergeant was friendly but, at the same time, aggressively insistent. This time, when Axel said, "Not interested," the sarge turned surly, snapping, "You're making a big (bleeping) mistake!"

Next thing Axel knew, the same sergeant and another recruiter showed up at the LaConner Brewing Co., the restaurant where Axel works. And before Axel, an older cousin and other co-workers knew or understood what was happening, Axel was whisked away in a car.

"They said we were going somewhere but I didn't know we were going all the way to Seattle," Axel said.

Just a few tests. And so many free opportunities, the recruiters told him.

He could pursue his love of chemistry. He could serve anywhere he chose and leave any time he wanted on an "apathy discharge" if he didn't like it. And he wouldn't have to go to Iraq if he didn't want to.

At about 3:30 in the morning, Alex was awakened in the motel and fed a little something. Twelve hours later, without further sleep or food, he had taken a battery of tests and signed a lot of papers he hadn't gotten a chance to read. "Just formalities," he was told. "Sign here. And here. Nothing to worry about."

By then Marcia had "freaked out."

She went to the Burlington recruiting center where the door was open but no one was home. So she grabbed all the cards and numbers she could find, including the address of the Seattle-area testing center.

Then, with her grown daughter in tow, she high-tailed it south, frantically phoning Axel whose cell phone had been confiscated "so he wouldn't be distracted during tests."

Axel's grandfather was in the hospital dying, she told the people at the desk. He needed to come home right away. She would have said just about anything.

But, even after being told her son would be brought right out, her daughter spied him being taken down a separate hall and into another room. So she dashed down the hall and grabbed him by the arm.

"They were telling me I needed to 'be a man' and stand up to my family," Axel said.

What he needed, it turned out, was a lawyer.

Five minutes and $250 after an attorney called the recruiters, Axel's signed papers and his cell phone were in the mail.

My request to speak with the sergeant who recruited Axel and with the Burlington office about recruitment procedures went unanswered.

And so should your phone, Marcia Cobb advised. Take your own sweet time. Keep your own counsel. And, if you see USMC on caller ID, remember what answering the call could mean.



Gosh, it looks like the draft is already in progress. They're just going about it a bit differently this time around...

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Fallujah Massacre - Your Tax Dollars at Work!

Check out this image, allegedly from the BBC:



A larger version can be found here. Apparently, a reader sent the image in to Signs of the Times along with the following comments:

From A Reader: I'm trying one more time to send you the satellite image of Fallujah that I got on 03, December, 2003. As you know, the U.S. bombing of the city continued for another 2 or 3 weeks after that, but no additional aerial or satellite images were allowed to escape.

This image was in the BBC's earliest morning web news, which I receive at precisely 1:05 a.m. each and every morning. (The Brits do love to be punctual...) I was following the tiny drops of news from Fallujah very closely, and I went to the BBC site at once when I saw the article's subtitle "Satellite image shows extensive damage to Fallujah as U.S. continues battle with insurgents."

BBC news feature links expire after 30 days, normally, but this one was gone after 30 minutes. An article about Fallujah showing the effects of U.S. bombing "in areas controlled by insurgents" was there instead, and NO image was shown. It got yanked off just that fast.


In looking at the larger version of the image, it seems that the entire city was obliterated except for tiny portions in the lower left and lower right corners. And all to get the "insurgents"... The thing is, if Fallujah was an insurgent stronghold, what are we to make of the following?

Stories from Fallujah

Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches
Feb 8 2005

These are the stories that will continue to emerge from the rubble of Fallujah for years. No, for generations…

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the doctor sits with me in a hotel room in Amman, where he is now a refugee. He'd spoken about what he saw in Fallujah in the UK, and now is under threat by the US military if he returns to Iraq.

"I started speaking about what happened in Fallujah during both sieges in order to raise awareness, and the Americans raided my house three times," he says, talking so fast I can barely keep up. He is driven to tell what he's witnessed, and as a doctor working inside Fallujah, he has video and photographic proof of all that he tells me.

"I entered Fallujah with a British medical and humanitarian convoy at the end of December, and stayed until the end of January," he explains, "But I was in Fallujah before that to work with people and see what their needs were, so I was in there since the beginning of December."

When I ask him to explain what he saw when he first entered Fallujah in December he says it was like a tsunami struck the city.

"Fallujah is surrounded by refugee camps where people are living in tents and old cars," he explains, "It reminded me of Palestinian refugees. I saw children coughing because of the cold, and there are no medicines. Most everyone left their houses with nothing, and no money, so how can they live depending only on humanitarian aid?"

The doctors says that in one refugee camp in the northern area of Fallujah there were 1,200 students living in seven tents.

"The disaster caused by this siege is so much worse than the first one, which I witnessed first hand," he says, and then tells me he'll use one story as an example.

"One story is of a young girl who is 16 years old," he says of one of the testimonies he video taped recently, "She stayed for three days with the bodies of her family who were killed in their home. When the soldiers entered she was in her home with her father, mother, 12 year-old brother and two sisters. She watched the soldiers enter and shoot her mother and father directly, without saying anything."

The girl managed to hide behind the refrigerator with her brother and witnessed the war crimes first-hand.

"They beat her two sisters, then shot them in the head," he said. After this her brother was enraged and ran at the soldiers while shouting at them, so they shot him dead.

"She continued hiding after the soldiers left and stayed with her sisters because they were bleeding, but still alive. She was too afraid to call for help because she feared the soldiers would come back and kill her as well. She stayed for three days, with no water and no food. Eventually one of the American snipers saw her and took her to the hospital," he added before reminding me again that he had all of her testimony documented on film.

He briefly told me of another story he documented of a mother who was in her home during the siege. "On the fifth day of the siege her home was bombed, and the roof fell on her son, cutting his legs off," he says while using his hands to make cutting motions on his legs, "For hours she couldn't go outside because they announced that anyone going in the street would be shot. So all she could do was wrap his legs and watch him die before her eyes."

He pauses for a few deep breaths, then continues, "All I can say is that Fallujah is like it was struck by a tsunami. There weren't many families in there after the siege, but they had absolutely nothing. The suffering was beyond what you can imagine. When the Americans finally let us in, people were fighting just for a blanket."

"One of my colleagues, Dr. Saleh Alsawi, he was speaking so angrily about them. He was in the main hospital when they raided it at the beginning of the seige. They entered the theater room when they were working on a patient…he was there because he's an anesthesiologist. They entered with their boots on, beat the doctors and took them out, leaving the patient on the table to die."

This story has already been reported in the Arab media.

The doctor tells me of the bombing of the Hay Nazal clinic during the first week of the siege.

"This contained all the foreign aid and medical instruments we had. All the US military commanders knew this, because we told them about it so they wouldn't bomb it. But this was one of the clinics bombed, and in the first week of the siege they bombed it two times."

He then adds, "Of course they targeted all our ambulances and doctors. Everyone knows this."

The doctor tells me he and some other doctors are trying to sue the US military for the following incident, for which he has the testimonial evidence on tape.

It is a story I was told by several refugees in Baghdad as well…at the end of last November while the siege was still in progress.

"During the second week of the siege they entered and announced that all the families have to leave their homes and meet at an intersection in the street while carrying a white flag. They gave them 72 hours to leave and after that they would be considered an enemy," he says.

"We documented this story with video-a family of 12, including a relative and his oldest child who was 7 years old. They heard this instruction, so they left with all their food and money they could carry, and white flags. When they reached the intersection where the families were accumulating, they heard someone shouting ‘Now!' in English, and shooting started everywhere."

The family was all carrying white flags, as instructed, according to the young man who gave his testimony. Yet he watched his mother and father shot by snipers-his mother in the head and his father shot in the heart. His two aunts were shot, then his brother was shot in the neck. The man stated that when he raised himself from the ground to shout for help, he was shot in the side.

"After some hours he raised his arm for help and they shot his arm," continues the doctor, "So after awhile he raised his hand and they shot his hand."

A six year-old boy of the family was standing over the bodies of his parents, crying, and he too was then shot.

"Anyone who raised up was shot," adds the doctor, then added again that he had photographs of the dead as well as photos of the gunshot wounds of the survivors.

"Once it grew dark some of them along with this man who spoke with me, with his child and sister-in-law and sister managed to crawl away after it got dark. They crawled to a building and stayed for 8 days. They had one cup of water and gave it to the child. They used cooking oil to put on their wounds which were of course infected, and found some roots and dates to eat."

He stops here. His eyes look around the room as cars pass by outside on wet streets…water hissing under their tires.

He left Fallujah at the end of January, so I ask him what it was like when he left recently.

"Now maybe 25% of the people have returned, but there are still no doctors. The hatred now of Fallujans against every American is incredible, and you cannot blame them. The humiliation at the checkpoints is only making people even angrier," he tells me.

"I've been there, and I saw that anyone who even turns their head is threatened and hit by both American and Iraqi soldiers alike…one man did this, and when the Iraqi soldier tried to humiliate him, the man took a gun of a nearby soldier and killed two ING, so then of course he was shot."

The doctor tells me they are keeping people in the line for several hours at a time, in addition to the US military making propaganda films of the situation.

"And I've seen them use the media-and on January 2nd at the north checkpoint in the north part of Fallujah, they were giving people $200 per family to return to Fallujah so they can film them in the line…when actually, at that time, nobody was returning to Fallujah," he says. It reminds me of the story my colleague told me of what he saw in January. At that time a CNN crew was escorted in by the military to film street cleaners that were brought in as props, and soldiers handing out candy to children.

"You must understand the hatred that has been caused…it has gotten more difficult for Iraqis, including myself, to make the distinction between the American government and the American people," he tells me.

His story is like countless others.

"My cousin was a poor man in Fallujah," he explains, "He walked from his house to work and back, while living with his wife and five daughters. In July of 2003, American soldiers entered his house and woke them all up. They drug them into the main room of the house, and executed my cousin in front of his family. Then they simply left."

He pauses then holds up his hands and asks, "Now, how are these people going to feel about Americans?"

Put yourself and your family in their shoes. What would you think of an occupying force in the US that did all that to you, your family, and your city? You'd probably be pretty angry. You might even take up arms against the occupiers.

So much for the so-called "insurgents".

So much for freedom and democracy for the Iraqi people.


Monday, April 25, 2005

Bushwhacking America

Today I found the following article from the Rolling Stone web site linked from Signs of the Times:

Bush's Most Radical Plan Yet

With a vote of hand-picked lobbyists, the president could terminate any federal agency he dislikes

By OSHA GRAY DAVIDSON

If you've got something to hide in Washington, the best place to bury it is in the federal budget. The spending plan that President Bush submitted to Congress this year contains 2,000 pages that outline funding to safeguard the environment, protect workers from injury and death, crack down on securities fraud and ensure the safety of prescription drugs. But almost unnoticed in the budget, tucked away in a single paragraph, is a provision that could make every one of those protections a thing of the past.

The proposal, spelled out in three short sentences, would give the president the power to appoint an eight-member panel called the "Sunset Commission," which would systematically review federal programs every ten years and decide whether they should be eliminated. Any programs that are not "producing results," in the eyes of the commission, would "automatically terminate unless the Congress took action to continue them."

The administration portrays the commission as a well-intentioned effort to make sure that federal agencies are actually doing their job. "We just think it makes sense," says Clay Johnson, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, which crafted the provision. "The goal isn't to get rid of a program -- it's to make it work better."

In practice, however, the commission would enable the Bush administration to achieve what Ronald Reagan only dreamed of: the end of government regulation as we know it.
With a simple vote of five commissioners -- many of them likely to be lobbyists and executives from major corporations currently subject to federal oversight -- the president could terminate any program or agency he dislikes. No more Environmental Protection Agency. No more Food and Drug Administration. No more Securities and Exchange Commission...

The Sunset Commission would go even further.
The panel -- which will likely be composed of "experts in management issues," according to one senior OMB official -- will enable the administration to terminate entire government programs that protect citizens against injury and death. Consider what America might look like if Reagan had wielded such an anti-regulatory ax twenty years ago. Abolishing the EPA would have increased air pollution, causing tens of thousands of children to develop chronic respiratory diseases. Terminating the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would have eliminated many protections we now take for granted -- including air bags, child safety seats and automatic seat belts. And getting rid of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration would have forestalled workplace regulations that have prevented illnesses among millions of farmworkers.

Even if such regulations remain on the books, eliminating entire agencies would leave no one to enforce them. "And if there's no cop on the beat, who's going to follow the law?" says J. Robert Shull, senior policy analyst at OMB Watch.

The first hint of Bush's plan to create a commission surfaced only weeks after he won re-election last November. At an economic conference convened by Treasury Secretary John Snow, one panel member made the case for inserting a sunset provision into existing regulations. Such a move would "shift the burden of proof onto the regulations and require us to demonstrate that they're still needed," said Susan Dudley, director of regulatory studies at the Mercatus Center, a free-market think tank based in Washington, D.C....

Given its political gains last November, the administration is optimistic about winning approval in Congress. "The stars and the planets are aligned," Johnson recently declared, citing the solid Republican majority in Congress and the need to curb the soaring federal deficit.

But there may be a stumbling block.
The commission not only threatens the environment and public health -- it would also violate the constitutional separation of power between Congress and the executive branch, enabling the president to dismantle programs created by lawmakers. "Under the administration's proposal, Congress would relinquish its constitutional power to legislate," says Rep. Henry Waxman, a Democrat from California who has been the commission's most vocal opponent. "Power would be consolidated in the executive branch, and the legislative role would be emasculated."

Republicans already have a plan to counter such concerns. Under a bill expected to be introduced soon, the power to appoint the commission would be given to Congress rather than to the president -- simply transferring the authority from Bush to his GOP allies on the Hill. And if the commission is challenged in court, the administration is likely to drag out the fight until it has firmly established a conservative majority on the Supreme Court...


So, big deal - right? I mean, it's not like he can dismantle ANY federal group, right? Maybe not.

As some food for thought, check out this interesting exchange at Liberty Forum regarding a rather insidious use of the Patriot Act:

Patriot Act Being Used To Implement Currency Controls

The following exchange of letters appears on the Gold Eagle board in the
Gold Forum.

A letter to and reponse from Jim Sinclair:

Dear Jim:

My Bank in London called me today to inform me that in order to comply with
new US laws, they are halting all new services to American residents
(citizens?).

I can keep my accounts for the moment, but I cannot add any new currency
accounts or any other investment products to my portfolio. They will not
allow any US residents to open accounts in the future.

Just my thoughts but:

1. New bankruptcy law (last week)
2. Announcement that travel to other parts of North America will require a
passport (papers please)
3. New compliance standards for foreign banks (this past year)
4. Elimination of foreign accounts for US residents (one by one)

Currency controls have been initiated.

Regards,
Your "Anonymous Pal"

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

Dear "Anonymous Pal:"

I have cautioned the Community that financial privacy is all but a chapter
of history - with the exception of bullion coins.

Anyone attempting to open international bank accounts at major and reputable
non-US banks will run into the difficulties you have outlined, making it all
but impossible to accomplish even with the best of intentions.

The net result is an effective form of currency control as part of Patriot
Act II. This covert method of currency control is a preemptive strike at
what is coming when it is realized - as the Economist put it - that there is
no constituent support and therefore no real political will to reduce the US
Budget Deficit.

As a result, the dollar must decline. The result of a declining dollar is
logically a move towards other currencies which in itself is a form of
Gresham’s law.

Of all the possibilities you outline, there is only one that is in the
black: Patriot II will be just as effective as any currency control put into
law. This has significant implications for gold once all of this hits the
proverbial fan.

Regards,
Jim

Well, that's interesting, now isn't it? Of course, this is all being done in the name of "preventing terrorism", but what does terrorism have to do with my right to keep my money in an off-shore bank if I so choose? I'm not a criminal or a terrorist.

In fact, none of these latest moves on the part of the Bush administration has anything to do with terrorism. It is about control, plain and simple. And oh, do I wish it was just some crazy conspiracy theory! But let's face it: Bush wants the power to eliminate federal agencies he doesn't like for a REASON. If he didn't intend to use the new law, he wouldn't have pushed for it. Same thing for the Patriot Act. Even US citizens can be - and have been - detained without charge in the "War on Terror". The text of the Patriot Act and what is generally known as "Patriot Act II" give the executive branch and law enforcement officials a bunch of other frightening powers. Again, the powers would not have been granted if "they" weren't planning on using all of them at some point in the near future.

It makes me wonder about this article I read called The Beast and His Empire.
Here's a little excerpt:

Years ago it occurred to me that it was most peculiar that the United States was not taught as being included or mentioned in the great Biblical prophecies. Since it was apparent to me that it has become the most powerful and influential nation on the face of the planet, I thought this rather strange. This was due, as it was explained to me, to the fact that the prophecies concerned, mainly, the Jews and, having been delivered through Jews, primarily concerned those events which affected the Israeli people. Yet, we are talking about prophecies which are global in import. Again I say, if we are going to take, as a working hypothesis, the idea that prophetic abilities exist at all and that they can operate thousands of years into the future, then we must also accept that those same prophetic abilities will be able to perceive the major actors in the cosmic drama of the future. And, if the drama is played out on the stage of the entire globe, then we must understand that the discussion will, of necessity, involve the stars of the play...

Yes, indeedy. Based on the above articles, take a wild guess as to which role the US appears to be playing?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

I Smell a Rat: The New Nazi Pope

A new pope has been elected. From AFP:

The Roman Catholic Church elected Germany's Joseph Ratzinger, a staunch conservative, as its first new pope of the third millennium with the task of ushering its 1.1 billion followers into a new era.

The 78-year-old cardinal, the Vatican's doctrinal enforcer under John Paul II, will take the name Benedict XVI, the Vatican announced, and later said he would be inaugurated on Sunday...

I have to admit I was a bit surprised to see Ratzinger elected. It's no secret that he has a rather interesting past. From today's Signs of the Times:


Former Nazi Children Corps Member Elected Pope
SOTT

White smoke from the top of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, perhaps reminiscent of the fumes that billowed from concentration camp chimneys during WWII, has announced the election of Cardinal Ratzinger as the next leader of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics.

"Read my lips, the holy spirit selected me."

Hidden away in their secret conclave for the past 2 days, the 115 Cardinals finally opted for 78 year-old Ratzinger, who will henceforth be known as Pope Benedict XVI. Ratzinger appeared on the balcony of the Vatican palace to the cheers of the thousands of deluded yet devoted Pilgrims that thronged St Peter's square.


The appointment of Ratzinger, who has been head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - the Vatican's guardian of orthodoxy since 1981, is unlikely to be good news for a world already suffering from a "war on terror" spawned by extremist and racist views.

The New York Post informs us:

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger joined the Nazi children's corps in 1941 as a 14-year-old and was later an anti-aircraft gunner.

At one point, he guarded a factory where slaves from a concentration camp were forced to work. He was later shipped to Hungary, where he reportedly saw Jews persecuted.

Ratzinger, a staunch conservative dubbed "God's Rottweiler," has said he joined the Hitler Youth when membership became compulsory. He and his brother were later drafted but deserted. The cardinal claims he never fired a shot and that resistance would have meant death.

Not so, Germans from his hometown of Traunstein told The Times of London.

"It was possible to resist, and those people set an example for others," recalled Elizabeth Lohner, 84. "The Ratzingers were young — and they had made a different choice."

As noted, Ratzinger is known as the "guardian of orthodoxy", which is just another way of saying that he is a religious despot, determined to perpetuate the type of existential lies upon which most organised religions are based. Lies that have served for millennia to constrict and control the truth about the nature and reason for human life on earth.


It will be interesting to see the reaction of the Jewish community to the new pope.

The other strange item I noted while watching the news coverage of the new pope's first appearance is that the reporters mentioned several times that at 78, Ratzinger is unlikely to last very long. At one point, one announcer even remarked that perhaps Benedict XVI was only meant to be an "interim pope". It's like they're already prepping people for his death, for crying out loud! The whole thing has a slightly eerie feel to it...