Thursday, March 23, 2006

A whole load of News

Hey! It's been awhile since I've updated, I'm really sorry! Here are some really important articles. Check them out and spread it around!

Bush makes false claim about Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda




Olbermann: "Who does the President think he's F'n kidding?"


Crooks and Liars | March 21 2006

I know it's hard to believe Mr. President, but they have these things know that actually record what you say and are able to play back what they record. Even after a long period of time. Keith Olbermann and Countdown supply the evidence.

Today in his speech in Cleveland:

Bush: "First-just if I might correct a misperception, I don't think we ever said, at least I know I didn't say that there was a direct connection between September 11th and Saddam Hussein."

In days gone by-SOTU-three years ago:

Bush: "Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaeda."

Now-anyone listening and watching his speech back then would make that connection easily enough since al-Qaeda was responsible for 9/11-don't you think? Keith analyzes it very nicely.

Olbermann: "Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda in the same sentence separated by seven words. Sept. 11th and Saddam Hussein -two sentences later, separated by six words. In a moment Craig Crawford joins me to discuss the fundamental remaining question. Who does the President think he's F'n kidding?


VeriChip Corporation Expands Infrastructure Rollout of VeriMed Patient Identification System - 172 New Physicians Elect to Offer VeriMed ID System to Patients

VeriChip Corporation, a subsidiary of Applied Digital, announced that 172 new physicians registered to provide the VeriMed Patient Identification System to select patients at the recently completed American Medical Directors Association (AMDA) 2006 Annual Symposium held March 16-19 in Dallas. Overall, since the FDA granted clearance of VeriChip for medical applications, 232 doctors have elected to provide the System. 80 hospitals and medical facilities nationwide previously agreed to adopt the VeriMed Patient Identification System for patient identification.

"We believe the strong acceptance that the VeriMed Patient Identification System achieved at this key industry conference represents a significant step in developing widespread acceptance of VeriChip," said VeriChip Corporation Chief Executive Officer Kevin McLaughlin. "It is essential for physicians, who will be implementing the implantation process, to recognize the important role that the VeriChip can play in providing immediate access to medical records in critical care situations. Moreover, while some early adopters learn of VeriMed on their own, we expect many patients to first learn of VeriMed from their physicians. Last year, we signed up many new hospitals at the American College of Emergency Physicians' Scientific Assembly. We will continue to target leading healthcare industry events as a cost-effective way to rapidly expand adoption of the VeriMed Patient Identification System."

VeriMed is the first and only FDA-cleared patient identification system using implantable RFID technology, consisting of a handheld reader, a microchip approximately the size of a grain of rice (containing a unique 16-digit ID number), and a secure, patient database. Using the handheld reader, healthcare professionals are able to securely obtain a patient's unique ID contained in the microchip in their right arm. They then look up the ID in a patient-designated, secure healthcare information database - either through the facility's electronic medical record system or through VeriChip's secure Web site. For the thousands of patients presenting in emergency departments each day either unconscious or unable to communicate for themselves due to medical conditions, VeriMed offers a secure, rapid and accurate solution to accessing their medical information.

About VeriChip Corporation

VeriChip Corporation, headquartered in Delray Beach, Florida, develops, markets and sells radio frequency identification, or RFID, systems used to identify, locate and protect people and assets. VeriChip's goal is to become the leading provider of RFID systems for people in the healthcare industry. VeriChip sells passive RFID systems for identification purposes and active RFID system for local-area location and identification purposes. VeriChip recently began to market its VeriMed patient identification system which is used to rapidly and accurately identify people who arrive in an emergency room and are unable to communicate. VeriChip's VeriMed patient identification system uses the first human-implantable passive RFID microchip, the implantable VeriChip, cleared for medical use in October 2004 by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

About Applied Digital - "The Power of Identification Technology"

Applied Digital develops innovative identification and security products for consumer, commercial, and government sectors worldwide. The Company's unique and often proprietary products provide identification and security systems for people, animals, the food supply, government/military arena, and commercial assets. Included in this diversified product line are RFID applications, end-to-end food safety systems, GPS/Satellite communications, and telecomm and security infrastructure, positioning Applied Digital as the leader in identification technology. Applied Digital is the owner of a majority position in Digital Angel Corporation.


Actor Charlie Sheen Questions Official 9/11 Story


Calls for truly independent investigation, joins growing ranks of prominent credible whistleblowers

Alex Jones & Paul Joseph Watson/Prison Planet.com | March 20 2006

Actor Charlie Sheen has joined a growing army of other highly credible public figures in questioning the official story of 9/11 and calling for a new independent investigation of the attack and the circumstances surrounding it.

Over the past two years, scores of highly regarded individuals have gone public to express their serious doubts about 9/11. These include former presidential advisor and CIA analyst Ray McGovern, the father of Reaganomics and former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury Paul Craig Roberts, BYU physics Professor Steven Jones, former German defense minister Andreas von Buelow, former MI5 officer David Shayler, former Blair cabinet member Michael Meacher, former Chief Economist for the Department of Labor during President George W. Bush's first term Morgan Reynolds and many more.

Speaking to The Alex Jones Show on the GCN Radio Network, the star of current hit comedy show Two and a Half Men and dozens of movies including Platoon and Young Guns, Sheen elaborated on why he had problems believing the government's version of events.

Sheen agreed that the biggest conspiracy theory was put out by the government itself and prefaced his argument by quoting Theodore Roosevelt in stating, "That we are to stand by the President right or wrong is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

"We're not the conspiracy theorists on this particular issue," said Sheen.

"It seems to me like 19 amateurs with box cutters taking over four commercial airliners and hitting 75% of their targets, that feels like a conspiracy theory. It raises a lot of questions."

Sheen described the climate of acceptance for serious discussion about 9/11 as being far more fertile than it was a couple of years ago.

"It feels like from the people I talk to in and around my circles, it seems like the worm is turning."

Suspicious collapse of buildings

Sheen described his immediate skepticism regarding the official reason for the collapse of the twin towers and building 7 on the day of 9/11.

"I was up early and we were gonna do a pre-shoot on Spin City, the show I used to do, I was watching the news and the north tower was burning. I saw the south tower hit live, that famous wide shot where it disappears behind the building and then we see the tremendous fireball."

"There was a feeling, it just didn't look any commercial jetliner I've flown on any time in my life and then when the buildings came down later on that day I said to my brother 'call me insane, but did it sorta look like those buildings came down in a controlled demolition'?"

Sheen said that most people's gut instinct, that the buildings had been deliberately imploded, was washed away by the incessant flood of the official version of events from day one.

Sheen questioned the plausibility of a fireballs traveling 110 feet down an elevator shaft and causing damage to the lobbies of the towers as seen in video footage, especially when contrasted with eyewitness accounts of bombs and explosions in the basement levels of the buildings.

Regarding building 7, which wasn't hit by a plane, Sheen highlighted the use of the term "pull," a demolition industry term for pulling the outer walls of the building towards the center in an implosion, as was used by Larry Silverstein in a September 2002 PBS documentary when he said that the decision to "pull" building 7 was made before its collapse. This technique ensures the building collapses in its own footprint and can clearly be seen during the collapse of building 7 with the classic 'crimp' being visible.

The highly suspicious collapse of building 7 and the twin towers has previously been put under the spotlight by physics Professor Steven Jones and Kevin Ryan of Underwriters Laboratories, the company that certified the steel components used in the construction of the World Trade Center towers.

"The term 'pull' is as common to the demolition world as 'action and 'cut' are to the movie world," said Sheen.

Sheen referenced firefighters in the buildings who were eyewitnesses to demolition style implosions and bombs.

"This is not you or I watching the videos and speculating on what we saw, these are gentlemen inside the buildings at the very point of collapse."

"If there's a problem with building 7 then there's a problem with the whole thing," said Sheen.

Bush's behavior on 9/11

Sheen then questioned President Bush's actions on 9/11 and his location at the Booker Elementary School in Florida. Once Andy Card had whispered to Bush that America was under attack why didn't the secret service immediately whisk Bush away to a secret location?

By remaining at a location where it was publicly known the President would be before 9/11, he was not only putting his own life in danger, but the lives of hundreds of schoolchildren. That is unless the government knew for sure what the targets were beforehand and that President Bush wasn't one of them.

"It seems to me that upon the revelation of that news that the secret service would grab the President as if he was on fire and remove him from that room," said Sheen.

The question of how Bush saw the first plane hit the north tower, when no live footage of that incident was carried, an assertion that Bush repeated twice, was also put under the spotlight.

"I guess one of the perks of being President is that you get access to TV channels that don't exist in the known universe," said Sheen.

"It might lead you to believe that he'd seen similar images in some type of rehearsal as it were, I don't know."

The Pentagon incident

Sheen outlined his disbelief that the official story of what happened at the Pentagon matched the physical evidence.

"Show us this incredible maneuvering, just show it to us. Just show us how this particular plane pulled off these maneuvers. 270 degree turn at 500 miles and hour descending 7,000 feet in two and a half minutes, skimming across treetops the last 500 meters."

We have not been able to confirm that a large commercial airliner hit the Pentagon because the government has seized and refused to release any footage that would show the impact.

"I understand in the interest of national security that maybe not release the Pentagon cameras but what about the Sheraton, what about the gas station, what about the Department of Transportation freeway cam? What about all these shots that had this thing perfectly documented? Instead they put out five frames that they claim not to have authorized, it's really suspicious," said Sheen.

Sheen also questioned how the plane basically disappeared into the Pentagon with next to no wreckage and no indication of what happened to the wing sections.

Concerning how the Bush administration had finalized Afghanistan war plans two days before 9/11 with the massing of 44,000 US troops and 18,000 British troops in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and in addition the call for "some catastrophic and catalyzing event - like a new Pearl Harbor," as outlined in the PNAC documents, Sheen stated, "you don't really put those strategies together overnight do you for a major invasion? Those are really well calculated and really well planned."

"Coincidence? We think not," said Sheen and he called the PNAC quotes "emblematic of the arrogance of this administration."

A real investigation

Sheen joined others in calling for a revised and truly independent investigation of 9/11.

Sheen said that "September 11 wasn't the Zapruder film, it was the Zapruder film festival," and that the inquiry had to be, "headed, if this is possible, by some neutral investigative committee. What if we used retired political foreign nationals? What if we used experts that don't have any ties whatsoever to this administration?"

"It is up to us to reveal the truth. It is up to us because we owe it to the families, we owe it to the victims. We owe it to everybody's life who was drastically altered, horrifically that day and forever. We owe it to them to uncover what happened."

Charlie Sheen joins the rest of his great family and notably his father Martin Sheen, who has lambasted for opposing the Iraq war before it had begun yet has now been proven right in triplicate, in using his prominent public platform to stand for truth and justice and we applaud and salute his brave efforts, remembering Mark Twain's quote.

"In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, brave, hated, and scorned. When his cause succeeds however, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot."

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Please feel free to contact us about this story at mediaonly@infowars.com

Listen to the entire Charlie Sheen interview right now for free by clicking here.


Huge Reaction To Sheen 9/11 Story


Linked on Drudge, later removed

Paul Joseph Watson/Prison Planet.com | March 21 2006

Yesterday's Charlie Sheen story, in which the actor went public with his grave suspicions about the official story of 9/11, received widespread interest across the Internet and was even linked on the Drudge Report for a time, a news website that gets more traffic than the New York Times.

Our observations will now center around the question of if any mainstream outlets will pick up the story or seek to interview Mr. Sheen regarding his comments. The story is obviously big enough to be of interest to a wide readership but its context may cause establishment controlled media to shy away in journalistic cowardice.

Prominent alternative website Rense.com carried the story as did many others but who will be the first aside from Drudge to give the issue mainstream spotlight?

The story appeared on Drudge shortly after 6pm CST and our servers began receiving hits from millions of readers. A link from Drudge regularly overloads even medium sized mainstream websites and they go offline for hours. Despite a little slowdown, we managed to ride the wave fairly comfortably until Drudge mysteriously killed the link after 10pm CST.

We had even replaced our usual format page with a bare bones printer-friendly style version to ensure maximum speed and delivery of the page, so it is unlikely Drudge (pictured below) removed the link because of bottlenecked traffic. We speculated that another webmaster had posted the link and Drudge personally removed it upon seeing it.

Whatever the reason for the removal, the story still received huge traction and we expect it to again garner interest across the Internet today.

The mainstream media pour over stories about Mr. Sheen's personal life whether real or manufactured yet will they remain silent when Sheen actually discusses something serious?

Carlos Santana is all over the news today for criticizing George Bush and the Iraq war yet Charlie Sheen has gone much further, if the media ignores this story it is proof positive of a cover-up.

In many ways a Hollywood celebrity stepping forward and making these comments receives more attention than a former government official or physics professor because the information is wrapped in a package that is instantly recognizable to a wide audience.

The danger is that some are dangerously ill-informed, such as Madonna, who dismissed 9/11 as "ambiguous" yet focused all the attention on Hurricane Katrina and kept the argument firmly within a left-right paradigm prison.

Charlie Sheen on the other hand took the time to educate himself thoroughly on the real issues of 9/11 before going public with his doubts about the official story.

There are several very high profile actors and film producers who are well aware of the entire New World Order agenda and have directed their artistic talents into exposing that agenda through the guidance of popular culture.

This is a real movement and it is growing, unlike the Madonna's and their ilk, who are simply riding a wave which will wash away as rapidly as their mock ego-driven political opinions when a Democrat gets back in the White House.

Our hope is that Sheen's stance, which is by no means a rarity for him or his family who have been politically engaged for decades, will encourage other high profile celebrities to use their platform to educate America and the world on the serious issues that face us and the real perpetrators of global terrorism.

Please feel free to contact us about this story at mediaonly@infowars.com


Kissinger: ''America's global strategy benefits from the Indian participation in building a new world order."

Zee News | March 21 2006

The civilian nuclear agreement reached by the United States and India ''promises to make a seminal contribution to international peace and prosperity, '' according to former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

He has welcomed the agreement as ''an unprecedented level of cooperation and interdependence between the two powers''.

''In a period preoccupied with concerns over terrorism and the potential clash of civilisations, the emerging cooperation between the two great democracies, India and the us, introduces a positive and hopeful perspective,'' said Kissinger who served as Secretary of state to then President Richard Nixon, between 1973 and 1977.

''Too often America's India policy is justified as a way to contain China. But the reality has been that so far, India and America have found it in their interest to maintain a constructive relationshiop with China,'' Kissinger wrote in the Washington Post yesterday.

''America's global strategy benefits from the Indian participation in building a new world order. But India will not serve as America's foil with China, and will resent any attempts to use it in that role,'' he added.

Kissinger suggested that the scope of the nuclear cooperation should avoid the rhetoric and the reality of a nuclear arms race in which China could be tempted to support nuclear programmes in Iran and Pakistan as a counter-weight.

The goal should be an Asia that navigates between an unacceptable hegemony by any power and an arms race that replicates in Asia the tragedies of Europe, only with fiercer weapons and even vaster consequences, he added.

The US-Indo nuclear deal, reached by US President George W Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gives energy-starved India access to long-denied civilian nuclear technology in return for placing a majority of its nuclear reactors under international safeguards.


Identity cards a 'present' to terrorists and criminals, spy heroine says

JAMES KIRKUP / Scotsman | March 21 2006

A NATIONAL identity card scheme will be a "present" to terrorists, criminal gangs and foreign spies, one of Britain's most respected former intelligence agents has told ministers.

The warning from Daphne Park, who served for 30 years as a senior controller for MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service, came as the parliamentary power struggle over the identity cards bill dragged on.

The House of Lords once again defeated the government last night. Peers backed a joint Conservative and Liberal Democrat amendment that would prevent ministers making identity cards compulsory until at least 2011.

It is the fourth time the Lords have sent the bill back to the Commons in a parliamentary ping-pong game that could go on for months.

At issue is the "voluntary" nature of the proposed card. Labour ministers insist that the cards will be optional, but also want to create a rule meaning that anyone renewing a passport after 2008 must also buy an identity card.

Opponents argue that is "compulsion by stealth" and question Labour's mandate for the scheme. The Labour manifesto at last year's election promised the cards would be "voluntary at first".

Baroness Scotland, speaking for the government in the Lords, insisted that MPs have already voted for the document link and that should stand.

"The Commons did discuss this issue," she said. "This is not compulsion by stealth as has been suggested."

While ministers have hinted at using the Parliament Act to force the ID cards bill through the Lords, peers insist they will continue to resist.

The former MI6 agent will be a key part of that resistance.

Baroness Park, who was made a peer by Margaret Thatcher, passed a withering verdict on the proposed cards, ridiculing ministers' suggestions that the system will make people safer. In fact, she said, the complete opposite is true.

"The very creation of such an enormous national identity register will be a present to terrorists; it will be a splendid thing for them to disrupt and blow up," she said.

"It will also provide valuable information to organised crime and to the intelligence services of unfriendly countries. It will be accessible to all of these," she said.

The warning about the risk of foreign spying comes at a time when MI5, the domestic security service, has cut its counter-espionage budget, prompting concerns among MPs who oversee the UK intelligence services.

Baroness Park concluded: "I find it extraordinarily difficult to believe why anyone would voluntarily and enthusiastically come forward and say: 'Do let me join this dangerous club'."

Baroness Park is not the first former intelligence officer to question the value of a national ID card. Dame Stella Rimington, the former head of MI5, last year said she did not believe the cards would make Britain any safer from terrorist attack; they would quickly be copied, she said.

Whereas Dame Stella's background was in combating internal threats, especially the IRA, Baroness Park has extensive experience of foreign intelligence operations.

Now in her eighties, her career began during the Second World War, when she volunteered for service and was assigned to train Resistance fighters who were being parachuted into France in the run-up to D-Day.

When the war ended, she was posted to Berlin where she was ordered to locate and secure German military scientists before they fell into the hands of advancing Russian forces.

That work brought her to the attention of MI6, who made extensive use of her services using the Cold War.

Although she has repeatedly refused invitations to publish her memoirs, many of Baroness Park's exploits as a spy are in the public domain - she is something of a living legend in the British intelligence community.

Among her Cold War postings were extensive service in Moscow, running agents inside the Soviet regime. During the Vietnam war, she was a covert operative in Hanoi.

She is also known to have been in Congo during the turbulent 1960s, at one point smuggling a defecting official out of the country in the boot of her car.


BBC: Concerns over Military and Police merging



BBC / Matthew Davis | March 21 2006

The recent killing of an unarmed Virginia doctor has raised concerns about what some say is an explosion in the use of military-style police Swat teams in the United States.

Armed with assault rifles, stun grenades - even armoured personnel carriers - units once used only in highly volatile situations are increasingly being deployed on more routine police missions.

Dr Salvatore Culosi Jr had come out of his townhouse to meet an undercover policeman when he was shot through the chest by a Special Weapons and Tactics force.

It was about 2135 on a chilly January evening. The 37-year-old optometrist was unarmed, he had no history of violence and displayed no threatening behaviour.

But he had been under investigation for illegal gambling and in line with a local police policy on "organised crime" raids, the heavily armed team was there to serve a search warrant.

As officers approached with their weapons drawn, tragedy struck. A handgun was accidentally discharged, fatally wounding Dr Culosi.

Two months on, investigations into the incident are still continuing, a delay which Dr Culosi's family says is compounding the "horror and burden of it all".

Salvatore Culosi Sr, the dead man's father, told the BBC: "I never knew him to carry so much as a pocket knife so it bewilders me how a detective could spend three months investigating my son and not know he is a pussy cat.

"If anything comes out of this it must be that another family does not experience this pain and anguish for absolutely no reason.

"Policy needs to change so these kinds of accidents never occur again."

'Excessive force'

Peter Kraska, an expert on police militarisation from Eastern Kentucky University, says that in the 1980s there were about 3,000 Swat team deployments annually across the US, but says now there are at least 40,000 per year.

"I have no problem with using these paramilitary style squads to go after known violent, armed criminals, but it is an extreme tactic to use against other sorts of suspects," he said.

Mr Kraska believes there has been an explosion of units in smaller towns and cities, where training and operational standards may not be as high as large cities - a growth he attributes to "the hysteria" of the country's war on drugs.

"I get several calls a month from people asking about local incidents - wrong address raids, excessive use of force, wrongful shootings - this stuff is happening all the time," he adds.

Every wrongful death of a civilian, or criminal killing of a police officer, fuels the complex and emotive argument over the way the United States is policed.

Those who reject criticism of the use of Swat teams argue that the presence of the units actually prevents violence through the credible threat of overwhelming force.

John Gnagey, executive director of the National Tactical Officers Association, told the BBC: "What we find is that when Swat teams go out, shootings go down.

"We don't see it as escalating anything. We see it as reducing violence."

The NTOA rejects Mr Kraska's figures and says the actual number of deployments is far lower, but says there is a need for national training standards.

An NTOA study of 759 Swat team deployments across the US, found half were for warrant service and a third for incidents where suspects had barricaded themselves in a building - 50 were for hostage situations.

When criminology professor David Klinger looked at 12 years of data on Swat teams in 1998, he also found the most common reason for calling out teams was serving warrants, but that the units used deadly force during warrant service only 0.4% of the time.

Recruitment video

Last year the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) commissioned music video director JC Barros to make them a 10-minute film - To Protect and Serve - that would "get young men and women excited" about a career with the force.

More action film than recruitment video, it follows two LAPD officers who - in one day - capture a robbery suspect, are first on the scene when a gun-toting man takes a woman hostage, mediate a fight, and help to find a young kidnap victim.

Along the way they are supported by colleagues from bike patrol, K-9 dog teams, air support and, of course, the Swat team.

But Mr Kraska sees such initiatives as reflecting a changing culture of police work.

"These elite units are highly culturally appealing to certain sections of the police community. They like it, they enjoy it," he says.

"The chance to strap on a vest, grab a semi-automatic weapon and go out on a mission is for some people an exciting reason to join - even if policing as a profession can - and should - be boring for much of the time.

"The problem is that when you talk about the war on this and the war on that, and police officers see themselves as soldiers, then the civilian becomes the enemy."


Death Squads on the Prowl; Iraq Convulsed by Fear

PATRICK COCKBURN | March 21 2006

Iraq is a country convulsed by fear. It is at its worst in Baghdad. Sectarian killings are commonplace. In the three days after the bombing of the Shia shrine in Samarra on February 22 , some 1,300 people, mostly Sunni, were picked up on the street or dragged from their cars and murdered. The dead bodies of four suspected suicide bombers were left dangling from a pylon in the Sadr City slum.

The scale of the violence is such that most of it is unreported. Iyad Allawi, the former prime minister, said yesterday that scores were dying every day. "It is unfortunate that we are in civil war. We are losing each day, as an average, 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more," he said. "If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is."

Unseen by the outside world, silent populations are on the move, frightened people fleeing neighborhoods where their community is in a minority for safer districts.

There is also a growing reliance on militias because of fears that police patrols or checkpoints are in reality death squads hunting for victims.

Districts where Sunni and Shia lived together for decades if not centuries are being torn apart in a few days. In the al-Amel neighbourhood in west Baghdad, for instance, the two communities lived side by side until a few days ago, though Shias were in the majority. Then the Sunni started receiving envelopes pushed under their doors with a Kalashnikov bullet inside and a letter telling them to leave immediately or be killed. It added that they must take all of their goods which they could carry immediately and only return later to sell their houses.

The reaction was immediate. The Sunni in al-Amel started barricading their streets. Several Shia families, believed to belong to the Shia party, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri), were murdered later the same day the threatening letters were delivered.

"The local Sunni suspected those Shias of being behind the letters," said an informant. "Probably they called in the local resistance and asked them to kill the Sciri people."

One effect of the escalating sectarian warfare is to strengthen the Sunni insurgency as their own community desperately looks to its defenses.

It is not as if life was not already hard enough before the latest escalation in communal violence. Three years ago, most Iraqis were glad to see the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, even if they did not like the US occupation, because they wanted normal lives. They had been living in a state of war since 1980 when the Iraqi leader invaded Iran. They then had eight years of bloody conflict followed by the invasion of Kuwait, defeat by the US-led coalition, the Shia and Kurdish uprisings of 1991 and then 12 years of UN sanctions.

Instead of improving, life in Baghdad has become far more dangerous than it was under Saddam Hussein. Every facet of daily living is affected.

In the last few days, temperatures have started to soar in Iraq and people would normally be buying summer clothes. But in the shopping district of al-Mansur last week few people were on the streets. Many shops were closed because their owners are too frightened to leave their homes.

But even staying in your own house carries problems. In the torrid heat of the Iraqi summer people are dependent on air conditioning to make life tolerable. But Baghdad gets only three or four hours of electricity a day. Almost everybody has a generator, large or small, depending on what they can afford. But the price of petrol, still heavily subsidised by the government, tripled before Christmas. One friend called Mohammed complained: "Either I wait seven or eight hours in a queue to buy the fuel or I get it on the black market. But black market fuel means that I would have to spend $7-8 a day to run my generator and I simply can't afford that." Mohammed added that he had just spent 10 hours, 5 am until 3pm, queuing to buy a bottle of gas which he, like most Iraqis, use for cooking.

Iraqis have been compelled to find ways of going on living even in the most testing conditions but even their resolution is beginning to weaken.

Mohammed's brother had a job in a company selling air-conditioning units. Since this is the beginning of the summer on the Mesopotamian plain - one of the hottest places on earth - it should be a good business, but the brother has just lost his job. The company he worked for was owned by a Kurd. His life was threatened and he shut down the company before moving to Jordan with his family.

Iraqi political parties have now spent three months since the election on 15 December trying to form a government. But ask an Iraqi on the street what he wants from a new government and many reply: "What government? It never does anything for us." Supply of electricity, clean water and sewage disposal are all down from 2003. The only improvement is in electricity supply outside Baghdad but even this is sporadic. In Kurdistan, the only peaceful part of Iraq, electrical supply is currently only a few hours a day. Everywhere there are men beside the road selling black-market petrol smuggled in from Iran. Turkey has cut off supplies of refined fuel because it has not been paid.

All Iraq is suffering, but Baghdad and the central provinces are turning into a slaughter house. Normal life has long been impossible. The symbol of post-Saddam Iraq is the blast wall, giant grey concrete blocks placed end to end to create fortifications of medieval appearance. They have come to dominate Baghdad and most other Iraqi cities. They protect US positions, police and Iraqi army posts and all government buildings. They also strangle streets leading to traffic gridlock at notorious choke points.

Some Iraqis are living better than before 2003. Teachers and government officials are earning $200 a month where they used to earn $10.

There are also Kurds and Shia inhabiting provinces north and south that they wholly dominate. But elsewhere, Iraqis live lives of chromic insecurity.

In al-Khadra, a Sunni neighbourhood in west Baghdad, for instance, the insurgents are waging two wars at the same time, one against the Americans and the other against Shia militiamen, some of whom work for the Ministry of the Interior.

Last week, Sunni guerrillas attacked a car which they claimed was carrying CIA agents in a road tunnel and killed those inside. Two days later, they ambushed a convoy of vehicles of the Badr Group, the Shia militia. Four of the militiamen were killed and petrol was poured over their bodies and set alight. Soon afterwards, a bus was spotted abandoned by a highway. At first it was thought it might contain a bomb. Instead it had a more grisly cargo, the bodies of 18 Sunni tortured and killed. In districts such as al-Khadra, the civil war has already begun.


Former judge attacks anti-terror laws

AAP | March 21 2006

Australia's new counter-terrorism laws are a Pandora's box that could lead to the creation of a police state, says former Federal Court judge Marcus Einfeld.

Sweeping counter-terrorism powers became law in early December, allowing terrorist suspects to be detained without charge for up to 14 days, along with controls on their movement and communication for up to 12 months.

They also update sedition laws, giving police tougher search and seizure powers and allowing greater use of security cameras.

Speaking at a symposium at the University of Western Sydney, Justice Einfeld QC questioned how many fundamental human rights Australians were expected to give up in the interests of protection.

"Despite protests from groups as diverse as extreme left activists to members of the Liberal Party itself, and critical debate at the highest academic levels, the government has seen fit to expand on legislation that many have decried as archaic," he told the gathering.

"They are a Pandora's Box of possible abuses if used incorrectly.

"How far do we allow ourselves to be led away from fundamental liberal and democratic tenets in the name of fighting terrorism?"

Justice Einfeld said that last week a section of a website belonging to a social commentator was reportedly shut down at the behest of the Australian government.

The site had run a mock version of the prime minister's own website, with a fake speech in which John Howard apologised for violating human rights and international law, Justice Einfeld said.

"Incredulous though it may seem to us, living in a democracy as we are, our government alleged that the site was `too similar' to their own," he said.

"How this constitutes a threat to our national security, or falls within sedition laws or even might `incite other to terrorism' is not only beyond me, but a serious question for us all to consider."

Justice Einfeld said the laws would "result in increasing levels of state control over our lives".

"Binding our own country in webs of anti-terrorist measures that leave our own citizens at risk of state-sanctioned punishment for no cause, is not a way forward," he said.

Alluding to the Cole inquiry investigating $300 million worth of kickbacks paid to Saddam Hussein's regime, Justice Einfeld also questioned the morality of a government that may have knowingly funded terrorists.

"Many of these (terrorist) countries have been backed and financed by the US and other western powers, including Australia whose own very personal contribution to terrorist regimes via the Australian Wheat Board is now believed by every taxi driver in the country," he said.

"Apparently political transparency is a democratic ideal to which we only pay lip service these days."

Justice Einfeld said Australians had "turned a blind eye to `security measures' that border on autocratic".


Carlos Santana Speaks Out Against Bush

Carlos Santana quoted his old friend Jimi Hendrix in an anti-war message here Monday and said his philosophy is the antithesis of President George W. Bush's.

"I have wisdom. I feel love. I live in the present and I try to present a dimension that brings harmony and healing," the 58-year-old rock icon said. "My concept is the opposite of George W. Bush."

Santana, speaking to Peruvian journalists ahead of a Tuesday concert, said young people's opposition to the war in Iraq is reaching the dimensions of the anti-Vietnam war sentiment in the 1970s.

"There is more value in placing a flower in a rifle barrel than making war," he said. "As Jimi Hendrix used to say, musical notes have more importance than bullets."

In 1971, Santana was prevented from performing in Peru by the military dictatorship, which deemed his music an "alienating" force. Santana returned to perform in 1995.

© 2006 Associated Press.




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