Wednesday, March 01, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY, March 1 2006 IRAQ NEWS SECURITY INCIDENTS Twenty three people killed and 58 wounded, mostly civilians, when parked car bomb goes off near police checkpoint in eastern Baghdad. Three people killed and seven wounded when U.S. choppers bomb houses surrounding provincial building in Ramadi, after they had been attacked by gunmen. At least one Iraqi policeman killed and 10 abducted when convoy carrying police back from training course in Sulaimaniya was ambushed by gunmen. Three policemen killed and five wounded when their patrol was ambushed by gunmen in Riyad, 60 km southwest of Kirkuk. Bomb hidden under car detonates as police patrol passes near downtown Tahrir Square. Police were unharmed but three civilians died and 15 were injured. Two people killed and 10 wounded when bomb in car explodes near bus station in central Baghdad. Body of Shiite cleric found handcuffed, blindfolded and shot in the head near Sunni mosque in Baghdad's Dora neighborhood. Mortar shells fall on three houses in town of Mahmoudiya, 20 miles south of Baghdad, killing three civilians. Mortar shell slams into Qadisiyah neighborhood in west Baghdad, killing a woman and wounding a child. Parked car explodes close to Sunni mosque in northeast Baghdad. No casualties reported. Goldsmith kidnapped by gunmen in Baiji. Gunmen in car shoot three men dead as they walk to carpentry jobs in Baquba. Eight civilians wounded when roadside bomb explodes near an oil tanker in southern Baghdad district of al-Dura. Nine bodies found in western side of Baghdad riddled with bullets. OTHER NEWS U.S. soldier dies in non-combat incident. Sistani meets at his house Moqtada al-Sadr, who denies sending his Mehdi Army militia against Sunni targets. Death toll in Iraq since Samarra bombing vigorously debated: Prime Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari said yesterday that the death toll provided to The Washington Post by Baghdad morgue workers -more than 1,300 dead since last Wednesday - was "inaccurate and exaggerated." Al-Jaafari said the toll was 379. Gen. Ali Shamarri of the Interior Ministry statistics department put the toll at 1,077. U.S. and Iraqi officials offered figures yesterday both higher and lower than Al-Jaafari's count. The U.S. military said it had confirmed 220 deaths. Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a military spokesman in Iraq, said the country's joint Iraqi-U.S. operations center reported receiving accounts of 365 civilian deaths, and said officials at the center believed the count could reach about 550. On Monday, workers at Baghdad's main morgue said that more than 1,300 bodies had been brought in since the previous Wednesday and that 200 to 300 bodies remained unclaimed at the morgue. Washington Post reporters saw several dozen bodies on the floors and on gurneys and tables in the entry halls outside of the main morgue rooms. All the dead appeared to be victims of violence, as did the men in photographs of what morgue workers said were the unclaimed dead. Yesterday, the acting director of the morgue, Qais Hassan, denied the morgue had received 1,300 bodies, according to the Reuters news agency. He said the morgue had received only 309 bodies. However, even that figure, added to the more than 80 deaths in cities outside Baghdad reported by news media from Wednesday to Monday, exceeds the 379 deaths nationwide that Al-Jaafari cited. Iraq's main Sunni Muslim religious organisation accuses government and U.S. forces of involvement in attacks by militiamen and calls on community to protect its mosques: "Our brothers in all areas must protect their mosques as the government has failed to do so," Abdul Salam al-Qubaisi, spokesman for the Muslim Clerics Association, told a news conference broadcast live on Al-Jazeera television. Qubaisi angrily listed alleged attacks on Sunnis across Iraq and accused Shi'ite police of attacking the Baghdad home of the group's head, Harith al-Dari, on Saturday, wounding some of Dari's nieces. Qubaisi showed a group of children with bandages on their legs and arms and lying on beds. He said they had been wounded in the attack. He said Shi'ite police had showed up at Dari's house to arrest him and that when the guards opposed them a shootout erupted. He also said reports of Shi'ite families fleeing homes in the violent Baghdad Sunni suburb of Abu Ghraib were exaggerated. Jill Carroll being held by Islamic Army in Iraq: Interior Minister Bayan Jabr, who is in charge of Iraq's police, also said he believed the 28-year-old freelance reporter for The Christian Science Monitor is still alive, although the deadline set by her captors for the U.S. to meet their demands expired Sunday. Three videotapes provided by the kidnappers to Arab satellite television stations identified the group holding her as the previously unknown "Revenge Brigades." She was seized Jan. 7 in Baghdad and her translator was killed. However, Jabr told Iraqi television that he believes Carroll is being held by the Islamic Army in Iraq, one of the country's principal insurgent groups. Jabr is among the most controversial figures in Iraq because of allegations his ministry sanctions "death squads" that have kidnapped and assassinated Sunni civilians. Iraq's oil exports rise: Iraq's oil exports rose to 1.42 million barrels per day in February from 1.1 mln bpd in January, a top Iraqi oil official said on Wednesday, even though shipments from northern oilfields have been halted for weeks. Under former president Saddam Hussein Iraq shipped around 1.7 million bpd. Guards responsible for protecting Iraq's oil pipelines arrested on suspicion of aiding resistance: The arrests, which follow surveillance, deal another blow to Baghdad's long frustrated effort to ship oil from the giant northern oilfields of Kirkuk to world markets and earn revenue to rebuild. Iraqi security forces raided the headquarters of Brigade 16 on Tuesday and arrested a number of men deployed by the defence ministry to guard pipelines linking the capital with the northern oil city of Kirkuk, interior ministry sources said. "We have been watching them and we believe that some gave help and assistance to insurgents to blow up pipelines in the north," an interior ministry source told Reuters. "We raided their headquarters yesterday and we have arrested some." The source did not say how many arrests were made. It was the second time in weeks that members of the 16,000 strong force have been arrested for suspected involvement in attacks by insurgents. Saddam tells judges he ordered trials of Shiites eventually executed in the 1980s, says their lands should be confiscated, but insists those actions are not criminal: The former Iraqi leader also said his co-defendants should be freed, and he alone should be tried for the crackdown in southern Dujail after a 1982 assassination attempt on Saddam. He said the men simply were following orders. "Where is the crime?" Saddam asked the court. "Is referring a defendant who opened fire at a head of state, no matter what his name is, a crime?” "If there is a law issued by Revolutionary Command Council that calls for confiscating land, then try the chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council. He is present," said Saddam, who was the head of the council, a main institution of his regime. Chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman was about to adjourn the session when Saddam asked to speak. After 15 minutes, the judge adjourned the session until March 12. World Health Organization concerned about suspected human case of bird flu in Diyala governorate: "This case is very close to the symptoms of the two people killed by bird flu in northern Iraq last month and we need to urgently check this sample also because it's in an area far from the others reported so far," said Naeema al-Gasser, WHO representative for Iraq. Meanwhile, samples tested from 50 suspected patients in the northern city of Sulaimaniyah and Missan governorate in the south were confirmed negative, according to al-Gasser. Two fatal human cases of bird flu have been reported so far in Raniyah, a village close to the Turkish border. REPORTS Study: One third of US troops returning from Iraq need at least one mental health consultation and one in five diagnosed with combat-induced psychological problems: The rate of mental trauma in Iraq veterans compares with 11.3 percent for soldiers and marines returning from Afghanistan and 8.5 percent for those deployed in other troublespots, according to research conducted by Charles Hoge, a physician at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland. The study is published in the March 1 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association. O'Reilly Says Get Out Of Iraq: During the February 20 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Bill O'Reilly suggested that the United States "hand over everything to the Iraqis as fast as humanly possible" because "[t]here are so many nuts in the country, so many crazies, that we can't control them." O'Reilly then claimed that the "big mistake" was actually "the crazy-people underestimation." As Media Matters for America has documented, during a November 30, 2005, appearance on NBC's Today, O'Reilly called those advocating immediate withdrawal from Iraq "pinheads" and compared them to Hitler appeasers. Comment: T During the American war in Vietnam, fundamentalist preachers in Bloomington, Indiana would occasionally show up on the court house square Saturdays to preach the war up as a great battle against "Godless, atheistic Communism" and then stick out their hands for money. Not long after Tet, they began to preach that "God almighty never meant for our American boys to go off to Godless Vietnam; they should come home," and then stick out their hands for money. That meant something. That meant they knew what got them followers, and money, and what didn't. And they were in the money getting business, which is what a lot of religion is. And O'Reilly is no different. Germany supplied US with key Iraqi defence plans before invasion: An explosive report, published in yesterday's New York Times and based on a dossier compiled by the US Joint Forces Command, disclosed that in February 2003, German intelligence agents supplied the US military with details of Saddam Hussein's plans to defend Baghdad. The Iraqi defence plan was unveiled at a meeting of senior Iraqi commanders in December 2002. It included plans to mass troops in defensive rings around the capital, and to form a last-ditch "red line" of Republican Guard troops who were ordered to hold out to the end. The report said a German intelligence officer based in Qatar passed a copy of the Iraqi defence plan and a sketch of the operation to an official of the US Defence Intelligence Agency, a month before American troops entered Iraq. The US dossier was cited as noting that the sketch of the Iraqi defences was "provided to the Germans by one of their sources in Baghdad". Yesterday's disclosures also appeared to directly contradict the findings of a new German government report on the extent of its Iraq-based agents' collaboration with US intelligence. The report, released last week in response to a series of leaks about alleged German-US secret service complicity, concluded that German agents had supplied only limited information to the US, which was designed to prevent civilian targets from being bombed. THREE POLLS CBS poll: Bush's approval hits all-time low, pessimism about Iraq rises to new high: Mr. Bush's overall job rating has fallen to 34 percent, down from 42 percent last month. Fifty-nine percent disapprove of the job the president is doing. For the first time in this poll, most Americans say the president does not care much about people like themselves. Fifty-one percent now think he doesn't care, compared to 47 percent last fall. Just 30 percent approve of how Mr. Bush is handling the Iraq war, another all-time low. By two to one, the poll finds Americans think U.S. efforts to bring stability to Iraq are going badly - the worst assessment yet of progress in Iraq. Even on fighting terrorism, which has long been a strong suit for Mr. Bush, his ratings dropped lower than ever. Half of Americans say they disapprove of how he's handling the war on terror, while 43 percent approve. In a bright spot for the administration, most Americans appeared to have heard enough about Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident. 60% worldwide fear terror threat is worse after Iraq war: The survey of 41,856 people in 35 countries, commissioned by the BBC World Service and published today, found about 60% of those polled shared this view. Only 12% thought the war had reduced the chances of an attack, with 15% saying it had no effect either way. In Britain, 77% of those questioned thought the terrorist threat had risen since the 2003 invasion. There was overall support in 20 countries for US-led forces to withdraw from Iraq in the next few months unless there was a specific request by the Iraqi government for them to stay. Steven Kull, director of the Programme on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, which helped conduct the survey between last October and January, said: "Though the Bush administration has framed the intervention in Iraq as a means of fighting terrorism, all around the world most people view it as having increased the likelihood of terrorist attacks." The biggest pullout call came in Argentina, where 80% favoured this. Those most in favour of US-led forces staying until Iraq was stable were the US and Afghanistan 58%, Australia 57% and Britain 56%. 72% of U.S. troops in Iraq say end war in 2006: An overwhelming majority of 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year, and nearly one in four say the troops should leave immediately, a new Le Moyne College/Zogby International survey shows. The poll, conducted in conjunction with Le Moyne College's Center for Peace and Global Studies, showed that 29% of the respondents, serving in various branches of the armed forces, said the U.S. should leave Iraq "immediately," while another 22% said they should leave in the next six months. Another 21% said troops should be out between six and 12 months, while 23% said they should stay "as long as they are needed." The troops have drawn different conclusions about fellow citizens back home. Asked why they think some Americans favor rapid U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, 37% of troops serving there said those Americans are unpatriotic, while 20% believe people back home don't believe a continued occupation will work. Another 16% said they believe those favoring a quick withdrawal do so because they oppose the use of the military in a pre-emptive war, while 15% said they do not believe those Americans understand the need for the U.S. troops in Iraq. The wide-ranging poll also shows that 58% of those serving in country say the U.S. mission in Iraq is clear in their minds, while 42% said it is either somewhat or very unclear to them, that they have no understanding of it at all, or are unsure. While 85% said the U.S. mission is mainly "to retaliate for Saddam's role in the 9-11 attacks," 77% said they also believe the main or a major reason for the war was "to stop Saddam from protecting al Qaeda in Iraq." The survey shows that most U.S. military personnel in-country have a clear sense of right and wrong when it comes to using banned weapons against the enemy, and in interrogation of prisoners. Four in five said they oppose the use of such internationally banned weapons as napalm and white phosphorous. And, even as more photos of prisoner abuse in Iraq surface around the world, 55% said it is not appropriate or standard military conduct to use harsh and threatening methods against insurgent prisoners in order to gain information of military value. COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS Dis-appointment in Samarra: It seems extremely likely that the attack on the religious shine at Samarra was the work of those attempting to cause a civil war in Iraq leading to its destruction as a unified country. An eyewitness report confirms Americans were in control of the area when the bombs were set. That would be American troops operating on behalf of the American neocons, who, despite some recent setbacks, are proceeding with their original Israeli plan without interruption. Iraqi Shi'ites would hardly blow up their own shine (nor would the Shi'ite Iranians, who in addition like the way things are going in Iraq without this added complication), Sunnis wouldn't do it because they would be aware of the retaliation it would cause, and, despite some warblogger opinion, it is not al Qaeda's style to attack a Muslim shrine. The insurgency wants to remove the occupiers, and this attack just strengthens the occupiers, who of course can't leave while the Iraqis are in so obviously incapable of looking after themselves. That leaves the Israelamericans, who have the characteristics of being capable of doing the deed, being the only group that benefits from it, and having security forces in the area (means, motive, and opportunity). There is nobody in Iraq or the Middle East who doesn't know who really was behind the attack. The most telling incident wasn't the attack itself, but the execution of a group of Iraqis, Sunnis and Shi'ites, who were driving to attend a rally of national reconciliation. There were intercepted on the road by people who set up a fake checkpoint outside of Baghdad, pulled from their cars, and summarily slaughtered. The provoking incident and the violent prevention of positive Iraqi steps to prevent civil war are part of the same conspiracy. Who would want to stop reconciliation? More pointedly, who uniquely has the ability to identify the reconciliation group, and immediately mobilize to block the road? The combination of technical ability and desire to stop reconciliation points to only one group, the neocon operators in Iraq and their allies in the Iraqi government. The Yinon plan - one also favored by parts of the American establishment including Leslie Gelb - of breaking Israel's possible enemies into small, unthreatening statelets, continues. I must say that the independent media have done a damn good job in exposing the sham that is the 'civil war' in Iraq. However, before we get all righteous, the corporate/state media still need to be called to task over their distorted and misleading coverage, replete with every stereotype; ethnic, religious, 'tribal', et al, as well their predictable 'I told you so' bullshit and predictions of doom. Many commentators on the left have pointed to the 'fortuitous' timing of the blast coming as it did hot on the heels of the videos of the beatings of Iraqi youth by British troops and more horrific images of the treatment of detainees in Abu Ghraib by US forces. As night follows day, every time there is a 'PR disaster' for the occupiers, some diversion is engineered to divert us from the crisis that has become the 'liberation' of Iraq. Undoubtedly, the bombing bears all the hallmarks of a so-called black-ops, after all the entire area surrounding the mosque was supposedly under occupation control in a 'free-fire' zone, so how come a handful of men were able to penetrate a cordon of heavily armed occupation forces? Predicably, Western pundits are now predicting all-out 'civil war' between Sunni and Shiite but then they started doing that back in 2003, shortly after the disastrous invasion and occupation. But what does the puppet government stand to gain from triggering a civil war? Nothing: everything points to Western, that is, USUK involvement in an effort to Balkanise the country, which as many have pointed out, has been intrinsic to USUK strategic doctrine in Iraq for the past six years. "This is a terrorist act that is aimed to fan a sectarian strife among Iraqis", said Sheikh Ahmed Daye, member of the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars. The Occupation-appointed president Jalal Talabani said: "We are facing a major conspiracy that is targeting Iraq's unity. We should all stand hand in hand to prevent the danger of a civil war". Others in the puppet government have pointed the finger at the U.S. Ambassador in Baghdad for inciting the violence and for interfering in Iraqi political and domestic affairs. Thousands of ordinary Iraqis took to the streets throughout Iraq denouncing the U.S. and Israel. Divide and rule, a tactic that has been used for centuries especially by British colonialism and every act of the occupiers since March 2003 points to this as the central strategy of the USUK. "[W]e have widespread evidence that the outside forces are attempting to instigate a civil war here and Iraqis are conscious of that and have made determined effort not to respond to it" - Dr. Saad Jawad, a political scientist at Baghdad University. Most tellingly, the desecration of the mosque has had the opposite effect than the one intended; far from dividing Sunni and Shiite, it has in fact united them, once more revealing just how out of touch the occupiers are with the Iraqi people. A vision of hell: In September 2002 Secretary General of the Arab League Amr Moussa warned that the invasion of Iraq would "open the gates of hell." Here's a vision of that hell as reported this month by journalist Tom Lasseter of Knight Ridder Newspapers, embedded with the U.S. Army in Samarra:
Five soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division scrambled down, pulled two of the insurgents' bodies from the reeds and dragged them through the mud. "Strap those motherf-----s to the hood like a deer," said Staff Sgt. James Robinson. The soldiers heaved the two bodies onto the hood of a Humvee and tied them down with a cord. The dead insurgents' legs and arms flapped in the air as the Humvee rumbled along. Iraqi families stood in front of the surrounding houses. They watched the corpses ride by and glared at the American soldiers.
This stark image is as good a metaphor as any for the current military and political posture of the U.S. and its allies in the Middle East. Across the region-and beyond- Arabs and Muslims are now glaring at U.S. power in the same way as those Iraqi families glared at the soldiers of the 101st Airborne. With its war on terror, the U.S. is frittering away the last vestiges of its moral authority in the Middle East. Its influence increasingly rests on military might alone-and that is not enough to ensure a peaceful end to all this, as the deteriorating situation in Iraq demonstrates. After the events of the past week it should be clearer than ever that Washington and London's fanciful political strategies in Iraq and the region are as full of vitality and potential as the limbs of those dead insurgents flapping in the air atop a U.S. Army Humvee. "They" are called Iraqis: This is the war of the Iyahs, as American troops call the cluster of hard-bitten towns named Mahmudiyah, Yusufiyah, Latifiyah and Iskandariyah that over the last two years became insurgent strongholds. (Ebel's 101st Division brigade running Patrol Base Swamp and operating southwest of Baghdad is attached to the 4th Infantry Division, which has responsibility for the Baghdad area.) Here in the area south and west of Baghdad, the push by the Army's 4th Infantry was launched in recent months to give the capital some breathing space. "My job, above all things, is to keep them out of Baghdad," said Capt. Andre Rivier, the Swiss-American commander of Patrol Base Swamp. [And there, in one sentence, you find the classic blind stupidity of this defeated Imperial war of occupation. "They" are impossible to "keep out of Baghdad," because "they" live in Baghdad. "They" were living in Baghdad for centuries before Bush launched his doomed effort to occupy Iraq. "They" are called Iraqis, and, at last count, there are about five million of "them" in Baghdad. So what does keeping "them" out of Baghdad mean? Nothing. Why are these soldiers dying? For no reason at all. In vain. For no rational purpose. The resistance is huge in Baghdad, and always has been. Duh.] A new hero in the neighborhood: On Saturday, I took the day off and spent it at home resting, studying for the TOEFL and the GRE and hanging out with my friends whose main subject at that day was the Baghdad Sniper. Baghdad Sniper is a man who shoots US soldiers with his silent guns. He fires once and vanishes just like ghosts. There is never a follow-up shot, never a chance for US forces to identify him. It's a matter of seconds. You'll never hear it. In my neighborhood, a new phenomenon is incredibly increasing. CDs with videos of this ghost shooting at the US soldiers in Baghdad are being sold and exchanged by young men and teenagers who are incredibly interested in that mysterious sniper. As people say, he uses silent guns in his shooting and he never missed a target. On August 5 of last year, the Guardian published a story about the sniper. The Guardian's Rory Carroll quoted Specialist Travis Burress, 22, a sniper with the 1-64 battalion based in Camp Rustamiyah, saying "He's good. Every time we dismount I'm sure everyone has got him in the back of their minds. He's a serious threat to us." "Juba" is the nickname applied to that sniper by the U.S. military in Iraq. He is alleged to be an accurate sniper, having killed and wounded up to several dozen U.S. soldiers. He fires only once and disapperas from his position, leaving behind no evidence of his whereabouts. According to the CDs and internet posted videos I watched, the Baghdad Sniper waits for soldiers to dismount, or stand up in a Humvee turret, and then shoots. He has killed from 200 meters away. Ok now, to be more frank, this sniper becomes a "hero" in my neighborhood. Yesterday, there was a group of young men gathering in an internet café watching series of his attacks on a website called, Ogrish. "He is so brave," one young man said. "He is not a terrorist. He kills the occupiers only," the other said with his both eyes concentrated on the computer's monitor. Images of US soldiers being shot by that sniper was aired on Aljazeera more than once, specially in the period before I went to the U.S. The only indication that Juba is the same individual each time in these incidents is a single bullet casing and a note left behind at the location where he is believed to have been. The message, in Arabic, "What has been taken in blood cannot be regained except by blood. Baghdad Sniper". These items were found only after nearby buildings. "Juba's" existence, however, is not proven. He may not exist, or he could be a combination of many different insurgents. It is also possible that Coalition forces have killed one or more "Jubas," but each time a new one emerges. The more the boss gets upset the less realistic judgments are passed up the line: According to an article in the February 13 issue of U.S. News & World Report, President George W. Bush reportedly reacted to a "darkly pessimistic assessment of the situation in Iraq" written by the CIA's Baghdad station chief in mid-2004 by remarking: "What is he, some kind of defeatist?" The president's sharply negative reaction to what was one of the most refreshingly frank assessments on the situation in Iraq is notable. It begs the question: What, then, was the president's reaction to the July 2004 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) addressing the troubled future of governance in Iraq, released roughly at the same time? It was a report labored over by many intelligence analysts, including this writer and Paul Pillar-then National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia-and others from across official Washington and the military. President Bush's comment dramatizes one of the most daunting challenges facing analysts and supervisors throughout the U.S. intelligence community. Although policymakers frequently say they want the most objective analysis they can get-the truth, as best we can see it- in reality, their reaction to assessments that run counter to expectations is all too often to shoot the messenger. More commonly, such negative reactions produce a snowball effect in which the more the boss gets upset when receiving "bad news," the less such painfully realistic judgments are passed up the line or read and taken seriously if they are. The result is often a policymaker who becomes even more isolated from the basics he or she needs in order to make an informed judgment. And that is the first step down the slippery slope toward mistake and miscalculation. Indeed, this negativity has become so common among senior officials that it has given rise to yet another problem: the temptation among subordinates within the intelligence community to engage in self-censorship. When it become clear, for example, during the coordination of an NIE in late 2003 on violence and instability in Iraq that prospects for tamping down the insurgency were unexpectedly grim, the senior official chairing the meeting looked around at his fellow intelligence analysts and exclaimed rhetorically, "How can I take this upstairs?" to then-CIA Director George Tenet. Clearly, given the continued gravity of the situation in Iraq, with respect to the insurgency, terrorism, governance and the economy, the administration must take frank-and often pessimistic-assessments more seriously. Repeated promises that go unfulfilled, statements of "progress" in the face of sustained violence, repeated delays in reconstruction and continued Iraqi governmental dysfunction, brutality and corruption are partly the result of leaders replacing hardheaded analysis with wishful thinking. BEYOND IRAQ Caracas restricts air traffic between USA and Venezuela: The tense relations between the US and Venezuela, have hit a new low after the South American country said it will not allow flights by Delta Air Lines and Continental Airline to or from the US. It said it would also restrict flights by American Airlines. The Venezuelan National Civil Aviation Agency (INAC) said it will reduce the number of flights between the two countries. It cited the decade long ban placed on some Venezuelan airlines by the US Federal Aviation Administration because of safety violations. It said it decided to respond in a like manner and will limit US airlines from its airports from March 1. In a statement justifying its action INAC said it had "exhausted all conciliatory avenues with the US aviation authorities" and blamed Washington for not respecting the bilateral aviation accord that allows equal rights to Venezuelan airlines. A US Department spokesperson said Venezuela should have notified Washington before taking such action. Washington has for long been at logger heads with the country's left-wing president Hugo Chavez. It responded to Venezuela's statement yesterday saying it would consider "appropriate responses" if the country went ahead with flight suspensions. Tutu: Muslim Anger Not Just About Cartoons: The furor over the Prophet Muhammad drawings is a small part of an expanding divide between Islam and the West, or what international leaders such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu described as the "symptom of a more serious disease." Attending a U.N.-sponsored conference aimed at healing the deepening rift, Tutu and 19 other delegates agreed that key ways to bridge the chasm were reaching out to young people and providing more education. Even then, they agreed it would take years of dialogue and practical steps before the rift can be healed. "What has happened and the aftermath has been seen as a symptom of a more serious disease," said Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner. "Had relationships been different, one, the cartoons might not have happened, or if they had, they probably would have been handled differently." Tutu noted that freedom of expression also came with some obligations. "Imagine if the subject had been the Holocaust and it had been treated in a way that the Jews had deemed offensive and the reaction of the Danish government and international community had been as it is now," he said. He lamented the negative stereotyping of Muslims and wondered why North Ireland's Protestants and Catholics, the Oklahoma City bombers or even the Nazis had never been labeled "Christian terrorists." "Look at the Ku Klux Klan, who use a cross as their symbol and propagate hatred against others and encourage lynching. And yet we never hear someone say, 'There's an example of how Christianity encourages violence,'" Tutu said. U.S. plan to divide Iran: The US and Britain have torn apart Iraq and now they want to do the same to Iran. The US military has been studying ethnic and religious tensions in Iran as part of its preparations for war. The study was commissioned by the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity (MCIA), which specialises in producing intelligence for low ranking soldiers. This suggests that plans for war are advanced. According to the Financial Times, the military wants to determine attitudes towards the central government and examine if Iran is prone to the same tensions that are tearing Iraq apart. As with the planning for the war in Iraq, the Pentagon has recruited exiles to help with its survey. A similar group of Iraqi exiles told the Bush administration that US soldiers would be welcome when they invaded, and fed them false information about weapons of mass destruction. The US plans for Iraq involved dividing the country into semi autonomous regions dominated by ethnic groups, and distributing government ministries according to sect. The result has been to drive Iraq towards civil war. Among the exile groups surveyed by the military are the Kurdish Democratic Party, who support the occupation in Iraq, and the followers of the deposed Iranian royal family, who hope a US invasion will restore the _monarchy. Many groups representing Iran's minorities refused to co-operate with the study because they fear the US is planning to break up the country. A similar study on Iraq by the MCIA produced "culture smart cards" that are handed out to US troops in Iraq. The cards instruct soldiers how to distinguish between ethnic and religious groups, and provide useful instructions in Arabic such as "surrender", "do not resist", and "lie on your stomach". Among the notes on the smart cards are a brief guide to ethnic and religious groups that describe Sunni Muslims as hostile to Shias because they blame them for "undermining the mythical unity of Islam", while "Kurds are distrustful of Turkmen as they have competing claims over Kirkuk". The Protocols of the Elders of Dubai: Some Americans are all in a huff because some multinational company owned out of Dubai is going to police some of their ports. No one wants to admit to being an anti-Arab racist, so the reason for the complaints has to be cloaked in some mumbo-jumbo about involvement in terrorism. In particular, the racists have latched onto the fact that a small amount of the millions spent on the 9-11 plot came from a wire transfer from a bank in Dubai. Holy shit! Those cunning Arabs and their ongoing efforts to undermine our 'Western values'. The Arabs have banks! They have wire transfers! Is Dubai supposed to close its banking system to make the world safe from terrorism? Were they supposed to somehow know that his particular guy making this particular transfer should have been stopped? More sophisticated racists - James Ridgeway seems to have survived the right-wing takeover of the Village Voice quite well - have now created a mega-theory of Dubai perfidy, setting it up as the center of a world-wide illegal guns, drugs and terrorism organization. Everything follows from the fact that an arms dealer is based in Dubai (or course, there aren't any arms dealers anywhere else!). It's apparently the new version of the SPECTRE organization from James Bond films (this kind of thing is part of what gives me the creeps about Sibel Edmonds). This is so silly it's hardly worth commenting on, except for the fact that some who should probably know better are now playing the same tune. What is the difference between this kind of theory and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion? Crazed grand conspiracy theories are no longer permissible if a powerful group is the subject, but are wonderful if Arabs are the conspirators. The Dubai conspiracy is apparently going to be to use the American ports to fill the United States up with illegal drugs and illegal arms. Finally, the American people will have illegal drugs and arms! Then they'll fill all the ships up with terrorists and blow up the entire country! You might think this would be bad for business if you are trying to run an international port security company, but the Arab love for terrorism knows no bounds. The real problem with Dubai, or course, is that it's a little too much of a success story. It doesn't fit the Zionist model of what Arabs are supposed to be like. Bush is right on this one - although one might legitimately question why port security isn't handled by government - and his opponents, even those who think of themselves as being on the 'left', are racists. Selling off America: US Government statistics indicate the following percentages of foreign ownership of American industry: · Sound recording industries - 97% · Commodity contracts dealing and brokerage - 79% · Motion picture and sound recording industries - 75% · Metal ore mining - 65% · Motion picture and video industries - 64% · Wineries and distilleries - 64% · Database, directory, and other publishers - 63% · Book publishers - 63% · Cement, concrete, lime, and gypsum product - 62% · Engine, turbine and power transmission equipment - 57% · Rubber product - 53% · Nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing - 53% · Plastics and rubber products manufacturing - 52% · Plastics product - 51% · Other insurance related activities - 51% · Boiler, tank, and shipping container - 50% · Glass and glass product - 48% · Coal mining - 48% · Sugar and confectionery product - 48% · Nonmetallic mineral mining and quarrying - 47% · Advertising and related services - 41% · Pharmaceutical and medicine - 40% · Clay, refractory, and other nonmetallic mineral products - 40% · Securities brokerage - 38% · Other general purpose machinery - 37% · Audio and video equipment mfg and reproducing magnetic and optical media - 36% · Support activities for mining - 36% · Soap, cleaning compound, and toilet preparation - 32% · Chemical manufacturing - 30% · Industrial machinery - 30% · Securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investments and related activities - 30% · Other food - 29% · Motor vehicles and parts - 29% · Machinery manufacturing - 28% · Other electrical equipment and component - 28% · Securities and commodity exchanges and other financial investment activities - 27% · Architectural, engineering, and related services - 26% · Credit card issuing and other consumer credit - 26% · Petroleum refineries (including integrated) - 25% · Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments - 25% · Petroleum and coal products manufacturing - 25% · Transportation equipment manufacturing - 25% · Commercial and service industry machinery - 25% · Basic chemical - 24% · Investment banking and securities dealing - 24% · Semiconductor and other electronic component - 23% · Paint, coating, and adhesive - 22% · Printing and related support activities - 21% · Chemical product and preparation - 20% · Iron, steel mills, and steel products - 20% · Agriculture, construction, and mining machinery - 20% · Publishing industries - 20% · Medical equipment and supplies - 20% Thus it shouldn't surprise us that the cons have sold off our ports as well, and will defend it to the bitter end. They truly believe that a "New World Order" with multinational corporations in charge instead of sovereign governments will be the answer to the problem of world instability. And therefore they must do away with quaint things like unions, a healthy middle class, and, ultimately, democracy. QUOTE OF THE DAY: "God help this country when somebody sits at this desk who doesn't know as much about the military as I do." - Dwight Eisenhower, Republican U.S. president, supreme Allied commander in Europe in World War II


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