Saturday, August 06, 2005
Blaming the Mosques for the Sins of Governments - by Ramzy Baroud
Blaming the Mosques for the Sins of Governments
by Ramzy Baroud
The deadly terror attacks in Egypt's Sharm el-Sheik Red Sea resort in July and the earlier October 2004 bombings at two other Red Sea resorts seem to have disrupted the consistency of the rationale that links the current terrorism upsurge in the Middle East to the US war effort in Iraq.
The Christian Science Monitor newspaper attempted to neatly package the ongoing debate in the West on the root causes of political and ideological terrorism within two primary schools of thought. One school links terror directly to the war on Iraq, another believes that terror groups are ideologically, rather than politically motivated, thus reinforcing the "clash of civilizations" argument.
The civilization argument, as dissected by the Monitor, contends that the Sharm el-Sheik terror – directed at Westerners regardless of the role played by their governments to aid the Iraq war effort – is a perfect case in point. "The Mecca for Westernized Egyptian and European tourists was targeted for the sin of being a beachhead of a globalized, tolerant culture in Arab Muslim territory," it maintained.
In Egypt itself, the debate is taking on another distinctive, yet equally flawed approach. The Associated Press, for example, reported that some Egyptians are now openly examining the link between culture and extremism, highlighting the assertion that mosques and schools (madrassas) should be blamed for promoting Islamic extremism. The Egyptian debate, while unique in some ways to that country, is a recreation of the ongoing and dubious intellectual scuffle over the role of the madrassas in Pakistan in molding and forging terrorists from an early age.
Not only do these arguments fail to candidly inspect a variety of other factors that might have contributed to the spread of terrorism, but they imprudently encourage measures that will most probably give terrorists more fuel to carry on with their mission of violence, cajoling additional recruits and resources.
Cultural and religious intolerance is certainly not unique to the Middle East, nor is terrorism itself. If madrassas supposedly elucidate the motives behind the militancy of al-Qaeda and the Taliban, what will one make of terrorism in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Spain (Basque separatism prior to the train bombing), and Northern Ireland? It is not as if the list ends there. To the contrary, it barely begins. The truth is that Middle East terrorism became a globalized phenomenon after many regions around the world – that are neither Arab nor Muslim – experienced their share of deadly terror. It goes without saying that the rise of al-Qaeda and its support networks worldwide have not in any way contributed to the decline of terrorism elsewhere. In fact, many innocent people continue to fall victim to terrorism in many other regions and in large numbers. The quandary is that the victims are often not Westerners, thus their plight is either entirely neglected or hastily stated by the world media and then quickly forgotten.
Using the same logic, if the root cause of terrorism is indeed cultural and religious intolerance – advocated in some Islamic schools and mosques – then why aren't young American neoconservatives and fundamentalist evangelicals blowing themselves up in crowded Libyan or Sudanese streets? Or why are suicide bombings a prevalent practice employed by Palestinians against Israelis, and not the other way around?
While unofficial terrorism – as opposed to official, state-sponsored terror – can inflict untold hurt, it is often a frantic retort to political, cultural, religious, ideological and even physical oppression and violence. Unprovoked terror, at least in much of the Middle East, if considered objectively, is unheard of. Thus, violence in most instances trails behind often greater acts of violence; the Iraqi insurgent (a terrorist according to the prevailing Western media interpretation and a resistance fighter as considered by many Arabs) was, in some ironic way, an American discovery: without a violent invasion and occupation, Iraqis would have had no reason to fight back. By the same token, without an Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and the subsequent violence wrought upon the Palestinians, Palestinians would have had no particular interest in blowing themselves up.
If Islamic religious extremism truly produced terror in a complete vacuum, it would make little sense for an Iraqi woman to be the first suicide bomber following the invasion in March 2003, considering that most extremists forbid women from taking part in physical jihad. It would be equally baffling if one recalls that communist Palestinian revolutionaries are the ones who indeed spearheaded Palestinian terrorism in the 1970s, decades before Hamas was even conceptualized.
Needless to say, a Jewish settler need not blow himself up, nor does a neocon enthusiast, for they simply don't have to, as their religious and cultural ideals of intolerance are carried out on a much greater scale through the official policies and practices of their respective governments. Hence, the war in Iraq, which has killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians, is arguably by far the greatest act of terrorism experienced in many years.
As for the case of Egypt, veteran Egyptian journalist, Ayman El-Amir, writing for Al-Ahram Weekly articulated it best: Terrorism (as a consequence of political ostracism, not religious fanaticism) is fomented "not in the mosque or the madrassas but in solitary confinement cells, torture chambers, and the environment of fear wielded by dictatorial regimes as instruments of legitimate governments."
It's here where any genuine inquiry into the root causes of terrorism should begin, and most likely, conclude.
Find this article at:
BG: If anyone, including a Democrat would speak the truth about 9/11, and other subjects, the obstensible "complicated rhetorical minefield" would not be so dangerous. I'm sick of all these words (by reporters, bloggers, pundits, commentators) parading as [my quoted phrase] "thoughtful analysis".
Frontpage Magazine, the right-wing publication founded by David Horowitz, has been conducting a symposium with several experts on how well the Iraq War is going.
The discussion, which presumably was staged via e-mail, began with several panelists taking umbrage at Steven Vincent, a war correspondent working in Basra, Iraq, because he gave the war a letter grade of B-minus and Iraqi quality of life an F:
Judging the conflict by Saddam's removal -- and thank Allah the monster is gone -- is setting a pretty low bar. I mean, let's face it: military-wise Iraq was not Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. Then you have to factor in U.S failures, such as not sealing the borders or halting the looting -- not to mention the fact that American military tactics have widely alienated the very people we liberated. Something's not working right.
Frontpage managing editor Jamie Glazov berated Vincent for not giving the war an A:
You blame America that you can't leave your hotel. But Mr. Vincent, sorry, you can't leave your hotel because the terrorists are a threat to you. Blame the terrorists, not America. ...
An F to America for the quality of Iraqis' lives? The terrorists are waging war on the country and doing everything in their power to destroy the quality of life. We need to blame the terrorists for that, not the side that is sacrificing its young boys and girls to give Iraq liberty and to nurture and protect its growth. The premise here is the height of the pathology of anti-Americanism -- blaming America for what the terrorists are doing.
The symposium was abruptly cancelled when word arrived that Vincent had been kidnapped and executed in Basra.
His last exchange with Glazov:
Vincent: You can blame terrorists all you want for ruining Iraq, but at the end of the day, it's our responsibility to make things right -- or at least get Iraqis to do the job themselves. Oh, and Jamie? You damn well better feel sorry I can't leave my Basra hotel without Iraqi protection -- because last year I could. Six months after the January 30th elections, lawlessness in this city is on the rise, whether by Iranian agents, rogue policemen or opportunistic tribal gangs. Hmmm, considering the bang-up job the Bits are doing here, I think I'll lower my estimation of the war effort to a C+.
Glazov: Sheesh. Okay Steven, I'm almost afraid what will happen in the next round of this discussion.
I remarked just yesterday …
Bob Felton @ 11:21 am
… that the transformation of the Republican party into the political arm of the conservative evangelical movement had much to do with the vapid shrillness of worn-out hacks like Brent Bozell, the disintegration of a sane center that created a void for extremists to fill and — What do you know? — now come multiple examples with the morning headlines.
Drudge reported yesterday that the New York Times was looking into the adoption by Supreme Court nominee John Roberts of his 2-children; the Times has confirmed the report.
What on earth could that be about? Foreign adoptions are notoriously slow, cumbersome, and expensive, and my guess is that they were looking for indications that he pulled strings to hasten matters. Though children die of starvation daily in one South American pesthole after another, prospective parents often wait years for children to become available. If he had found an underhanded way to expedite things, it wouldn’t take much imagination to turn it into a tale of misused privilege and fire-up a ruckus.
But would it evidence a deal-killing character defect? I am myself an adoptive father, and forced myself to remain (mostly) quiet through 3-years of bureaucratic insanity in the course of an expensive but relatively uncomplicated domestic adoption. If somebody had told me that a few-hundred bucks would expedite things I would probably have held my nose and paid the bribe just to be rid of the bureaucrats and make my wife happy. So I don’t think that adoption irregularities are necessarily problematic.
It was a cheap, nasty, shot in the dark, and the editor who detailed a reporter to look into the adoption owes the Roberts family an apology.
Mean time, disgust with the destructive conduct of so much of the media is affirmed.
Columnist Robert Novak stalked off the set of CNN’s Inside Politics last evening following a testy exchange with James Carville, the slimy, one-time advisor to Bill Clinton who successfully adapted Big Lie propaganda techniques to American politics.
“This is bullsh**,” Novak said — and he’s right. It is bullsh**. It has been bullsh** for years — thanks, in substantial part, to the faux gladiatorial antics of such as Novak. Live by the noise, die by the noise, I guess.
They have finally sunk so low that they disgust even themselves.
And now comes James Dobson with his own deranged message of Epic Conflict: stem-cell research, he says, is just like the medical research of the Nazi death camps.
Dobson’s comments were part of a two-show series on embryonic stem-cell research. The second episode aired Thursday.
“But I have to ask this question,” Dobson said during Wednesday’s program. “In World War II, the Nazis experimented on human beings in horrible ways in the concentration camps, and I imagine, if you wanted to take the time to read about it, there would have been some discoveries there that benefited mankind.”
Unless ethics and morality guide scientific research, “you get what happened in Nazi Germany,” Dobson said.
It is hard to overstate the recklessness of Dobson’s remark. First, he is one of the nation’s most prominent anti-abortion figures, and a psychologist; he must know that such statements will be interpreted by nascent Eric Rudolph’s as moral sanction to get busy and start killing “Nazis” for Jesus.
Second, he is wrong on the science and the history. The Nazi medical experiments were the work, mainly, of sadistic perverts, conducted in secret, and made no pretense of finding “cures” for anything — besides non-Aryanism, that is. Contrarily, stem-cell research has already yielded real benefits to real human beings, and has been accompanied by extensive public consideration of the ethical issues.
And then he went further and took a cheap, needless shot at Nancy Reagan.
Dobson then homed in on Nancy Reagan, wife of the late President Ronald Reagan, and their son Ron Reagan, who are outspoken supporters of embryonic stem cell research. “Claude, I have watched from a distance how firmly President Bush has approached this subject and how uncompromising he has been. He’s under tremendous pressure from the media, from the Nancy Reagans of the world and the Ron Reagans of the world and from, now, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and the House.”
Good grief! If there’s any woman anywhere who is a model for intelligent, selfless, dignified, stand-by-her-man devotion — cherished Christian behavior — it’s Nancy Reagan — especially during the last decade of Ronald Reagan’s life.
And Dobson presumes to offhandedly dismiss “the Nancy Reagan’s of the world"? I would that there were a great many more Nancy Reagan’s in the world.
Nature abhors a vacuum, and the void left by the disintegration of the news media into endless cataracts of manufactured drama has been filled by Dobson and his minions, heralds of a different drama, though it proceeds with the same formula as all the others: Conflict. Dobson offers not only the Epic Conflict between Good and Evil — thus his too-frequent references to nazism and the Klan — he invites participation. Yes! You, too, can be a part of the conflict! Instead of watching those television bores beat each other senseless in front of the cameras before adjourning to the bar for a few companionable highballs, just follow him into the voting booth and vote for the God of Calvin and watch the wicked scatter!
It’s sad. Dobson has made a ridiculous figure of himself, though in fact he is a man of great and worthy achievement. Whatever one thinks of Dobson’s politics, it’s small to deny him credit for the creation of Focus on the Family and for the good work it does. The ministry is loved by millions, and not without reason. It’s no trick at all to find people — perhaps on your own street, and certainly in your own church — who tell stories of hopelessness relieved, problems solved, welcome comfort, for the cost of a few minutes-long telephone call to Colorado Springs.
Nor should it be denied that much of the Ministry’s success stems from Dobson’s genial, common-sensical persona. But it seems now that it was only a persona, a face he wore for his fans. There is nothing likeable about James Dobson the political activist.
He should stick to what he’s good at.
BG: It was unbelievable as wire service reports were reporting this with headlines about how FCC was loosening rules.
Not sure how bad the result of this could be. Guess I should be happy for the moment that I'm using Bell South.
London CCTV Evidence: Please Yank My Chain
Dick Fojut has written Ken Livingstone, mayor of London, and several British publications demanding the police and the Israeli security company Verint release CCTV video footage of the London subway bombings. Of course, the British government will do no such thing, as the United States government refuses (nearly four years later) to release the video footage (taken by a nearby security camera) of the supposed plane hitting the Pentagon. If indeed the London CCTV footage contained images of Muslims with explosive backpacks, we’d see it run 24/7 on Fox News and the BBC. But since no such footage exists, we are expected to believe whatever nonsense the Brits tell us, same as were expected to believe the fairy tale of cave-dwelling Muslims attacking New York and Washington. It should be noted that the cameras at Newark and Dulles airports were confiscated by the FBI, according to Michael Taylor, president of American International Security Corp, and an FBI spokesman later said he knew nothing about this.
In other words, the video imagery of the nine eleven hijackers disappeared, although there exists two video clips of Mohammed Atta and Abdul Aziz al-Omari passing through security at the Portland airport (and also selected video stills of Atta and al-Omari at a gas station, an ATM, and Wal-Mart), although this proves absolutely nothing and does not place the pair on flight 77 departing from Boston. None of the original passenger manifests of the hijacked planes carry any of the names of the alleged hijackers (see passenger names here, here, here, and here) or did the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, tasked with identifying the bodies, find any Arab remains, according to Thomas R. Olmsted, M.D, an ex-Naval line officer and a psychiatrist. In short, there is no documentary evidence Arabs hijacked and crashed airplanes on nine eleven. And now in London the government is pulling the same scam, claiming crazed Pakistanis are responsible for suicide bombings killing over 50 people and yet providing no evidence of this.
But what is really disturbing is that millions of people believe these cock and bull stories and do not require evidence before allowing their governments to invade small defenseless countries (linked to terrorist events, again without sufficient evidence) or methodically dismantle civil liberties (it would appear, at least in the United States, most people have a vague understanding at best of their civil liberties and the Bill of Rights). Many citizens are not only ill-informed, they are largely unsuspicious of government—in fact, they seem to believe government will protect them, would not lie to them, or kill them for political reasons.
» Home > Politics > London CCTV Evidence: Please Yank My Chain 6 Comments so far Leave a comment
Let me make this clear, this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the guy we have imported (deport the bastard Tony) to run the London Undergound is ex (if there is such a thing) CIA.
It is important to understand that there are legal issues, sub judice, habeus corpus, scandalum magnatum to consider , not to mention the procedures for providing copies, electronic imagery, video, hand painted pictures or otherwise contrary to Section 224 (b) of the Regulations covering ” London Transport Pictures - Criminal Evidence, Proceedings which might embarass the Gubment Act” the guy who has the keys died unexpectedly is on holiday, nobody really knows how this thing works, and maybe the cleaner wiped it clean, anyway if and when we think it would be useful we’ll make sure you get to see it.
Meanwhile we’ve just been told by Dame Ian Blair to get ready for another public execution “incident” …
Glad to be of assistance.
Have a nice day. Comment by ziz 08.06.05 @ 9:02 am
Pretend you were a legitimate journalist interested in using credible information for your articles for a second.
You receive an email asking you to do a story on a topic which references a number of other stories on a website. What is the very first thing you check ?
That’s right… the front page of said website. After all nobody wants to get a legitimate looking tip about under-counting of 7000 US military fatalities in Iraq only to find the website recommends “there was no holocaust” books and the author is a known forger.
You think references to Rense in request like that would actually do anything other than taint all future requests for the exact same investigation as coming from kooks ? Comment by pyrial 08.06.05 @ 9:08 am
What can you say Kurt? The Media have systematically dumbed down the world poplulace over a period of time. Nobody questions anything now. They’re too busy watching Oprah and driving to soccer games with ‘Support the Troops’ stickers. The only solution is the draft. Things have to get alot worse before they get better any better. When the average joe is shipped off to another country and starts to see the truth, when brothers,sons, fathers start dying on a much larger scale than MAYBE, just MAYBE people might wake up and smell the coffee.
We are already living in Police States which are becoming more repressive by the day. I am seriously thinking of moving to some chaotic third world country where the Govt doesnt have a plan to microchip your ass. As far as Western countries goes the party is over….the slide into hell continues but noone wants to know. Comment by dario 08.06.05 @ 9:21 am
“Legitimate” as in accepted by the corporate media. Rense runs a few articles questioning the Holocaust, meanwhile Fox runs “articles” making excuses to kill thousands of people in Iraq. Brainwashing runs deep, pyrial, and you seem to be our primary specimen. Comment by Kurt 08.06.05 @ 9:40 am
But what is really disturbing is that millions of people believe these cock and bull stories and do not require evidence …Many citizens are not only ill-informed, they are largely unsuspicious of government—in fact, they seem to believe government will protect them, would not lie to them, or kill them for political reasons.
So in summary you think that citizens should demand video evidence and that they are not suspicious enough.
Meanwhile your two previous articles relate to a video being released and it not being good enough because you are too suspicious. Comment by pyrial 08.06.05 @ 9:49 am
You missed the point, probably on purpose. The FBI confiscated the video at Logan and Dulles and all we have are a few stills and a short clip from Portland, and none of the other hijackers. This does not make you suspicious? Or maybe you don’t need evidence because you are all too willing to believe Arabs did it and want revenge. If you have other reasons, please let us know. Comment by Kurt 08.06.05 @ 9:56 am
Blood and Gravy
By Chris Floyd
Published: August 5, 2005
It's easy to forget sometimes -- amid all the lofty talk of geopolitics, of apocalyptic clashes between good and evil, of terror, liberty, security and God -- that the war on Iraq is "largely a matter of loot," as Kasper Gutman so aptly described the Crusades in that seminal treatise on human nature, "The Maltese Falcon." And nowhere is this more evident than in the festering, oozing imposthume of corruption centered around the Gutman-like figure of Vice President Dick Cheney.
Yes, it's once more unto the breach with Halliburton, the gargantuan government contractor that still pays Cheney, its former CEO, enormous annual sums in "deferred compensation" and stock options -- even while he presides over a White House war council that has steered more than $10 billion in no-bid Iraqi war contracts back to his corporate paymaster. This is rainmaking of monsoon proportions. Indeed, the company's military servicing wing announced a second-quarter profit spike of 284 percent last week -- a feast of blood and gravy that will send Cheney's stock options soaring into the stratosphere.
But although Halliburton has already entered the American lexicon as a byword for rampant cronyism, the true extent of its dense and deadly web of graft is only now emerging, most recently in a remarkable public hearing that revealed some of the corporation's standard business practices in Iraq: fraud, extortion, brutality, pilferage, theft -- even serving rotten food to U.S. soldiers in the battle zone.
By piecing together bits from the fiercely suppressed reports of a few honest Pentagon auditors and investigators, a joint House-Senate minority committee (the Bushist majority refused to take part) has unearthed at least $1.4 billion in fraudulent overcharges and unsourced billing by Cheney's company in Iraq. Testimony from Pentagon whistleblowers, former Halliburton officials and fellow contractors revealed the grim picture of a rogue operation, power-drunk and arrogant, beyond the reach of law, secure in the protection of its White House sugar daddy.
One tale is particularly instructive: Halliburton's strenuous efforts to prevent a company hired by the Iraqis, Lloyd-Owen International, from delivering gasoline into the conquered land from Kuwait for 18 cents a gallon. Why? Because LOI's cost-efficient operation undercuts Halliburton's highway-robbery price of $1.30 a gallon for the exact same service.
But how is Halliburton able to interfere with the sacred process of free enterprise? Well, it seems that Cheney's firm, a private company, has control over the U.S. military checkpoint on the volatile Iraq-Kuwait border, and it also has the authority to grant -- or withhold -- the Pentagon ID cards that are indispensable for contractors operating in Iraq. (Even contractors who, like LOI, are working for the supposedly sovereign Iraqi government.) Halliburton used these powers to block LOI's access to the military crossing -- which provides quick, safe delivery of the fuel -- for months. Then the game got rougher.
In June, Cheney's boys blackmailed LOI into delivering some construction materials to a Halliburton project in the friendly confines of Fallujah: no delivery, no "golden ticket" Pentagon card, said Halliburton. They neglected to tell LOI that convoys on the route had been repeatedly hit by insurgents in recent days. And sure enough, LOI's delivery trucks were ripped to shreds just outside a Halliburton-operated military base. Three men were killed and seven wounded. But that's not all. An e-mail obtained by investigators revealed that Halliburton brass had expressly prohibited company employees from offering any assistance to the shattered convoy.
Halliburton extended this milk of human kindness to its food services as well. The firm had to bring in Turkish and Filipino guest workers to feed U.S. soldiers, because the happily liberated Iraqis couldn't be trusted not to blow up their benefactors. The Cheneymen treated these coolies as befitted their lowly station: They packed them into tents with sand floors and no beds, and literally fed them scraps from the garbage. When the peons complained, Halliburton sacked the subcontractor, who had been buying bargain produce and meat from the locals, and hired an American crony to ship in food all the way from Philadelphia.
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U.S. soldiers weren't treated much better. Employees testified that Halliburton brass had ordered them to serve spoiled and rotten food to soldiers, day in and day out. Meanwhile, Halliburton brass were reserving choice cuts for the big beer-soaked barbecues they threw for themselves two or three times a week. They also billed the taxpayer for 10,000 "ghost meals" per day at a single base: The food was phantom, but the rake-off was real. Meanwhile, any employee who made noises about exposing the fraud to auditors was threatened with transfer to a red-hot fire zone, like Fallujah or Saddam's hometown, Tikrit.
All of this criminal katzenjammer -- and much, much more -- was authorized at the highest levels, as top procurement brass and Pentagon officials confirmed. Cheney's office kept tabs on Halliburton's bids while Pentagon warlord Don Rumsfeld "violated federal law," the committee noted, by directly intervening in the procurement process to eliminate all possible rivals and to make sure Cheney's employer got the guaranteed-profit gig. Rumsfeld's office also removed oversight procedures for the dirty deals and ignored repeated warnings from Pentagon auditors about Halliburton's blatant, persistent, pervasive fraud. And the money keeps rolling in. Just last month, Don and Dick ladled another $1.75 billion dollop of pork gravy into Halliburton's bowl.
For this they have made a holocaust in the desert sands, sacrificing tens of thousands of innocent lives: for cheap, greasy graft; for grubby pilfering; for the personal profit of Richard B. Cheney and the whole pack of Bushist jackals gorging themselves on blood money.
Halliburton's Questioned and Unsupported Costs in Iraq Exceed $1.4 Billion
House-Senate Minority Staff Repot, June 27, 2005
Halliburton Overcharges in Iraq: Transcript of Hearing
Federal News Service, June 27, 2005
Halliburton announces 284 percent increase in war profits
Halliburton Watch, July 25, 2005 http://www.halliburtonwatch.org/news/earnings072205.html
Contract Abuse Alleged in Iraq
Los Angeles Times, June 28, 2005
Cheney's Boundless War Profiteering
The Age (Australia), July 30, 2005
Copyright © 2005 The Moscow Times. All rights reserved.
URL of this page: http://context.themoscowtimes.com/story/155115/
BG: What a misleading headline by Newsweek. They are desperate.
Here's what this boils down to: Miami Herald reporter was working on important corruption story. Reporter caught major local figure red-handed. Recorded a conversation with the culprit on tape. Culprit commits suicide publicly. Taping without two party permission is illegal in Florida. Reporter is dismissed.
Newsweek, desperate for attention, runs headline and story.
Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches
August 05, 2005
"What Have We Done?"
As the blood of US soldiers continues to drain into the hot sands of Iraq over the last several days with at least 27 US soldiers killed and the approval rating for his handling of the debacle in Iraq dropping to an all-time low of 38%, Mr. Bush commented from the comforts of his ranch in Crawford, Texas today, “We will stay the course, we will complete the job in Iraq.”
Just a two hour drive away in Dallas, at the Veterans for Peace National Convention in Dallas, I’m sitting with a roomful of veterans from the current quagmire.
When asked what he would say to Mr. Bush if he had the chance to speak to him, Abdul Henderson, a corporal in the Marines who served in Iraq from March until May, 2003, took a deep breath and said, “It would be two hits-me hitting him and him hitting the floor. I see this guy in the most prestigious office in the world, and this guy says ‘bring it on.’ A guy who ain’t never been shot at, never seen anyone suffering, saying ‘bring it on?’ He gets to act like a cowboy in a western movie…it’s sickening to me.”
The other vets with him nod in agreement as he speaks somberly…his anger seething.
One of them, Alex Ryabov, a corporal in an artillery unit which was in Iraq the first three months of the invasion, asked for some time to formulate his response to the same question.
“I don’t think Bush will ever realize how many millions of lives he and his lackeys have ruined on their quest for money, greed and power,” he says, “To take the patriotism of the American people for granted…the fact that people (his administration) are willing to lie and make excuses for you while you continue to kill and maim the youth of America and ruin countless families…and still manage to do so with a smile on your face.”
Taking a deep breath to steady himself he continues as if addressing Bush first-hand; “You needs to resign, take the billions of dollars you’ve made off the blood and sweat of US service members….all the suffering you’ve caused us, and put those billions of dollars into the VA to take care of the men and women you sent to be slaughtered. Yet all those billions aren’t enough to even try to compensate all the people who have been affected by this.”
These new additions to Veterans for Peace are actively living the statement of purpose of the organization, having pledged to work with others towards increasing public awareness of the costs of war, to work to restrain their government from intervening, overtly and covertly, in the internal affairs of other nations and to see justice for veterans and victims of war, among other goals.
I type furiously for three hours, trying to keep up with the stories each of the men shared….about the atrocities of what they saw, and committed, while in Iraq.
Camilo Mejia, an army staff sergeant who was sentenced to a year in military prison in May, 2004 for refusing to return to Iraq after being home on leave, talks openly about what he did there:
“What it all comes down to is redemption for what was done there. I was turning ambulances away from going to hospitals, I killed civilians, I tortured guys…and I’m ashamed of that. Once you are there, it has nothing to do with politics…it has to do with you as an individual being there and killing people for no reason. There is no purpose, and now I’m sick at myself for doing these things. I kept telling myself I was there for my buddies. It was a weak reasoning…because I still shut my mouth and did my job.”
Mejia then spoke candidly about why he refused to return:
“It wasn’t until I came home that I felt it-how wrong it all was and that I was a coward for pushing my principles aside. I’m trying to buy my way back into heaven…and it’s not so much what I did, but what I didn’t do to stop it when I was there. So now it’s a way of trying to undo the evil that we did over there. This is why I’m speaking out, and not going back. This is a painful process and we’re going through it.”
Camilo Mejia was then quick to point towards the success of his organization and his colleagues. “When I went back to Iraq in October of 2003, the Pentagon said there were 22 AWOL’s. Five months later it was 500, and when I got out of jail that number was 5,000. These are the Pentagons’ numbers for the military. Two things are significant here-the number went from 500-5,000 in 11 months, and these are the numbers from the Pentagon.”
While the military is falling short of its recruitment goals across the board and the disaster in Iraq spiraling deeper into chaos with each passing day, these are little consolation for these men who have paid the price they’ve had to pay to be at this convention. They continue to pay, but at the same time stand firm in their resolve to bring an end to the occupation of Iraq and to help their fellow soldiers.
Ryabov then begins to tell of his unit firing the wrong artillery rounds which hit 5-10 km from their intended target.
“We have no idea where those rounds fell, or what they hit,” he says quietly while two of the men hold their heads in their hands, “Now we’ve come to these realizations and we’re trying to educate people to save them from going through the same thing.”
After talking of the use of uranium munitions, of which Ryabov stated 300 tons of which were used in the ’91 Gulf War, and 2,200 tons and counting having been used thus far in the current war, he adds, “We were put in a foreign country and fire artillery and kill people…and it shouldn’t have even happened in the first place. It’s hard to put into words the full tragedy of it-the death and suffering on both sides. I feel a grave injustice has been done and I’m trying to correct it. You do all these things and come back and think, ‘what have we done?’ We just rolled right by an Iraqi man with a gunshot in his thigh and two guys near him waving white flags….he probably bled to death.”
Harvey Tharp sitting with us served in Kirkuk. His position of being in charge of some reconstruction projects in northern Iraq allowed him to form many close friendships with Iraqis…something that prompts him to ask me to tell more people of the generous culture of the Iraqi people. His friendships apparently brought the war much closer to home for him.
“What I concluded last summer when I was waiting to transfer to NSA was that not only were our reasons for being there lies, but we just weren’t there to help the Iraqis. So in November of ‘04 I told my commander I couldn’t take part in this. I would have been sent into Fallujah, and he was going to order me in to do my job. I also chose not to go back because the dropping of bombs in urban areas like Fallujah are a violation of the laws of warfare because of the near certainty of collateral damage. For me, seeing the full humanity of Iraqis made me realize I couldn’t participate in these operations.”
Tharp goes on to say that he believes there are still Vietnam vets who think that that was a necessary war and adds, “I think it’s because that keeps the demons at bay for them to believe it is justified…this is their coping mechanism. We, as Americans, have to face the total obvious truth that this was all because of a lie. We are speaking out because we have to speak out. We want to help other vets tell other vets their story…to keep people from drinking themselves to death.”
When he is asked what he would say to Mr. Bush if he had a few moments with him, he too took some time to think about it, then says, “It is obvious that middle America is starting to turn against this war and to turn against you…for good reason. The only thing I could see that would arrest this inevitable fall that you deserve, is another 9/11 or another war with say, Iran. There are some very credible indications in the media that we are already in pre-war with Iran. What I’m trying to do is find a stand Americans can take against you, but I think people are willing to say ‘don’t you dare do this to us again.’ My message to the American people is this-do you want to go another round with these people? If not-now is the time to say so.”
The men are using this time to tell more of why they are resisting the illegal occupation, and it’s difficult to ask new questions as they are adding to what one another share.
“I didn’t want to kill another soul for no reason. That’s it,” adds Henderson, “We were firing into small towns….you see people just running, cars going, guys falling off bikes…it was just sad. You just sit there and look through your binos and see things blowing up, and you think, man they have no water, living in the third world, and we’re just bombing them to hell. Blowing up buildings, shrapnel tearing people to shreds.”
Tharp jumps in and adds, “Most of what we’re talking about is war crimes…war crimes because they are directed by our government for power projection. My easy answer for not going is PTSD…but the deeper moral reason is that I didn’t want to be involved in a crime against humanity.”
Ryabov then adds, “We were put in a foreign country to fire artillery and kill people…and it shouldn’t have even happened in the first place. It’s hard to put into words the full tragedy of it-the death and suffering on both sides. I feel a grave injustice has been done and I’m trying to correct it. You do all these things and come back and think, what have we done?”
Michael Hoffman served as a Marine Corps corporal who fought in Tikrit and Baghdad, and has since become a co-founder of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
“Nobody wants to kill another person and think it was because of a lie. Nobody wants to think their service was in vain,” says Hoffman.
His response to what he would say to Mr. Bush is simple, “I would look him straight in the eye and ask him ‘why?’ And I would hold him there and make him answer me. He never has to deal with us one on one. I dare him to talk to any of us like that, one on one, and give us an answer.”
Hoffman then adds, “What about the 3 year old Iraqi girl who is now an orphan with diseases and nightmares for the rest of her life for what we did? And the people who orchestrated this don’t have to pay anything. How many times are my children going to have to go through this? Our only choice is to fight this to try to stop it from happening again.”
Earlier this same day Mr. Bush said, “We cannot leave this task half finished, we must take it all the way to the end.”
However, Charlie Anderson, another Iraq veteran, had strong words for Bush. After discussing how the background radiation in Baghdad is now five times the normal rate-the equivalent of having 3 chest x-rays an hour, he said, “These are not accidents-the DU [Depleted Uraniaum]-it’s important for people to understand this-the use of DU and its effects are by design. These are very carefully engineered and orchestrated incidents.”
While the entire group nods in agreement and two other soldiers stand up to shake his hand, Anderson says firmly, “You subverted us, you destroyed our lives, you owe us. I want your resignation in my hand in the next five minutes. Get packin’ Georgie.”
Posted by Dahr_Jamail at August 5, 2005 07:17 AM
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Halliburton Secretly Doing Business with Key Member of Iran’s Nuclear Team
By Jason Leopold
August 5, 2005
Scandal-plagued Halliburton, the oil services company once headed by Vice President Dick was secretly working with one of Iran’s top nuclear scientists on natural gas related projects and, allegedly, selling the scientists’ oil company key components for a nuclear reactor, according to Halliburton sources with intimate knowledge of both companies’ business dealings.
Just last week a National Security Council report said Iran was a decade away from acquiring a nuclear bomb. That time frame could arguably have been significantly longer if Halliburton, which just reported a 284 percent increase in its fourth quarter profits due to its Iraq reconstruction contracts, was not actively providing the Iranian government with the financial means to build a nuclear weapon.
Now comes word that Halliburton, which has a long history of flouting U.S. law by conducting business with countries the Bush administration said has ties to terrorism, was working with Cyrus Nasseri, the vice chairman of Oriental Oil Kish, one of Iran’s largest private oil companies, on oil development projects in Tehran. Nasseri is also a key member of Iran’s nuclear development team.
“Nasseri, a senior Iranian diplomat negotiating with Europe over Iran's controversial nuclear program is at the heart of deals with US energy companies to develop the country's oil industry”, the Financial Times reported.
Nasseri was interrogated by Iranian authorities in late July for allegedly providing Halliburton with Iran’s nuclear secrets and accepting as much as $1 million in bribes from Halliburton, according to Iranian government officials.
It’s unclear whether Halliburton was privy to Iran’s nuclear activities. A company spokesperson did not return numerous calls for comment. A White House also did not return calls for comment.
Oriental Oil Kish dealings with Halliburton became public knowledge in January when the company announced that it had subcontracted parts of the South Pars natural gas drilling project to Halliburton Products and Services, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Halliburton that is registered in the Cayman Islands.
Following the announcement, Halliburton announced the South Pars gas field project in Tehran would be its last project in Iran. The BBC reported that Halliburton, which took in $30-$40 million from its Iranian operations in 2003, "was winding down its work due to a poor business environment."
In attempt to curtail other U.S. companies from engaging in business dealings with rogue nations, the Senate approved legislation July 26 that would penalize companies that continue to skirt U.S. law by setting up offshore subsidiaries as a way to legally conduct business in Libya, Iran and Syria, and avoid U.S. sanctions under International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is part of the Senate Defense Authorization bill.
"It prevents U.S. corporations from creating a shell company somewhere else in order to do business with rogue, terror-sponsoring nations such as Syria and Iran," Collins said in a statement.
"The bottom line is that if a U.S. company is evading sanctions to do business with one of these countries, they are helping to prop up countries that support terrorism - most often aimed against America," she said.
The law currently doesn’t prohibit foreign subsidiaries from conducting business with rogue nations provided that the subsidiaries are truly independent of the parent company.
But Halliburton’s Cayman Island subsidiary never did fit that description.
Halliburton first started doing business in Iran as early as 1995, while Vice President Cheney was chief executive of the company and in possible violation of U.S. sanctions. According to a February 2001 report in the Wall Street Journal, "Halliburton Products & Services Ltd. works behind an unmarked door on the ninth floor of a new north Tehran tower block. A brochure declares that the company was registered in 1975 in the Cayman Islands, is based in the Persian Gulf sheikdom of Dubai and is "non-American." But, like the sign over the receptionist's head, the brochure bears the company's name and red emblem, and offers services from Halliburton units around the world." Moreover, mail sent to the company’s offices in Tehran and the Cayman Islands is forwarded to the company’s Dallas headquarters.
Not surprisingly, in a letter drafted by trade groups representing corporate executives vehemently objected to the amendment saying it would lead to further hatred and perhaps incite terrorist attacks on the U.S and “greatly strain relations with the United States’ primary trading partners.”
"Extraterritorial measures irritate relations with the very nations the U.S. must secure cooperation from to promote multilateral strategies to fight terrorism and to address other areas of mutual concern," said a letter signed by the Coalition for Employment through Exports, Emergency Coalition for American Trade, National Foreign Trade Council, USA Engage, U.S. Council on International Business and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "Foreign governments view U.S. efforts to dictate their foreign and commercial policy as violations of sovereignty, often leading them to adopt retaliatory measures more at odds with U.S. goals.”
Still, Collins’ amendment has some holes. As Washington Times columnist Frank Gaffney pointed out in a July 25 story, “the Collins amendment would seek to penalize individuals or entities who evade IEEPA sanctions — if they are "subject to the jurisdiction of the United States."
“This is merely a restatement of existing regulations. The problem with this formulation is that, in the process of purportedly closing one loophole, it would appear to create new ones. As Sen. Collins told the Senate: "Some truly independent foreign subsidiaries are incorporated under the laws of the country in which they do business and are subject to that country's laws, to that legal jurisdiction. There is a great deal of difference between a corporation set up in a day, without any real employees or assets, and one that has been in existence for many years and that gets purchased, in part, by a U.S. firm. It is a safe bet that every foreign subsidiary of a U.S. company doing business with terrorist states will claim it is one of the ones Sen. Collins would allow to continue enriching our enemies, not one prohibited from doing so.”
Going a step further, Dow Jones Newswires reported that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sent letters in June to energy corporations demanding that the companies disclose in their security filings any business dealings with terrorist supporting nations.
“The letters have been sent by the SEC's Office of Global Security Risk, a special division that monitors companies with operations in Iran and other countries under U.S. sanctions, which were created by the U.S. Congress in 2004,” Dow Jones reported.
The move comes as investors have become increasingly concerned that they may be unwillingly supporting terrorist activity. In the case of Halliburton, the New York City Comptroller's office threatened in March 2003 to pull its $23 million investment in the company if Halliburton continued to conduct business with Iran.
The SEC letters are aimed at forcing corporations to disclose their profits from business dealings rogue nations. Oil companies, such as Devon Energy Corp., ConocoPhillips, Marathon Oil Corp. and Occidental Petroleum Corp. that currently conduct business with countries that sponsor terrorism, have not disclosed the profits received from terrorist countries in their most recent quarterly reports because the companies don’t consider the earnings “material.”
Devon Energy was until recently conducting business in Syria. The company just sold its stake in an oil field there. ConocoPhillips has a service contract with the Syrian Petroleum Co. that expires on Dec. 31.
Jason Leopold is the author of the explosive memoir, News Junkie, to be released in the spring of 2006 by Process/Feral House Books. Visit Leopold's website at www.jasonleopold.com for updates.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization.
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An American Scandal: The True Story behind the Killing of 14 U.S. Marines in Haditha.
Dijla Waheed/ Communicated from Baghdad by Dr. Fadhil Badran
Today, Pentagon officials have concluded it was a massive roadside bomb that killed 14 Marines in the western city of Haditha! Some people were astonished and surprised by the announcement of this news. Many of us have multiplied this number by 4. All people were correct with respect to their surprise and expectation. But where is the truth?! Why did the American Administration and the Pentagon officials go out now and acknowledge this big loss in one operation?! What’s next to this declaration which disappointed the American’s public opinion including those who were pro-Bush and those who were beating the drums of war?
The key answer for these questions is the people of Haditha who had witnessed the whole event or some of it. Here is what they had to say – yesterday- and their stories have been confirmed today by the American pronouncement.
Following the retreat of the American troops from the areas of Haditha and Haqlania as a result of a massive fire and brave assault by the Iraqi resistance forces, the American Marines have kidnapped some old men, a little girl and some men who were praying in nearby mosques and held them as hostages. The Americans have also observed the retreat and redeployment of the resistance fighter around the towns and behind the enemy lines. The defeated Marines have tried the day before yesterday to trap the resistance fighters in ambushes installed in places they expected the fighters would pass through. The best of the Marine’s engineering officers have participated in the installation of the ambushes. However, they did not know that they were being watched ever since they entered the area by the resistance reconnaissance. The resistance fighters then attacked the Marines and killed three and took ten of them as prisoners of war, five of them were engineering officers. The resistance fighters have released one wounded Marine soldier in order to let him go and inform his commanders – who were in the neighbouring area- that the fighters were ready to negotiate the release of the Americans if the Americans were ready to release the old men and the little girl from Haditha who were taken hostages by the retreated Marines.
The criminal Marines have answered the resistance fighter by a new attack using all kinds of weapons including helicopters and cannon boats in an attempt to surround the freedom fighters. The brave Iraqi freedom fighters responded to the attack and lost four of their comrades. They then retreated and took with them the ten American prisoners. The freedom fighter realised that the Americans forces did not respect or even tried to preserve the souls of the best of their officers and soldiers. They also remembered the crimes committed by the American forces and their intelligence against Iraqi prisoners of war a few months ago. Namely, the Americans have tortured and killed in cold blood some captured Iraqi resistance fighters and threw them in the river over the Haditha-Haqlania Bridge which is now call the martyr’s bridge. The Iraqi freedom fighter had then no choice but to kill the American prisoners of war and threw them in the river the same way as the Americans previously did -over the same bridge- just to remind them about the crimes they have committed against the Iraqi prisoners of war and to let them bear the responsible for the lost lives of their comrades as a result of their refusal to negotiate the terms for their safe release.
Now, what the American forces gonna do when most of their officers have already been informed about what had happened? The death of the ten American officers – who were considered to be some of the best-, could have been prevented. How would the American Administration stop or prevent the spread of this scandal among its forces? How would it cover up the killing of ten of its best officers which had occurred before the naked eyes of hundreds of Marines and inhabitants of Haditha and Haqlania? They were not mercenaries from Latin America, South East Asia or Africa, they were Americans?! Therefore, the criminal American Administration has chosen to announce about their death today, 36 hour after their killing! The faked story about their killing by a roadside bomb was designed to cover up the failure to save their lives. The next step expected to be taken by the American occupation force following this announcement is the commitment of a new war crime against the innocent civilians in Haditha and Haqlania as a cowardly vengeance act in order to deviate the attention of the mass media away from their failure and unwillingness in rescuing their colleagues.
BG: Offbeat, Interesting?
Rights laws to be overhauled as Blair says 'the game has changed'
By Colin Brown and Marie Woolf
Published: 06 August 2005
Extremist clerics could be expelled and mosques closed in the most sweeping changes to Britain's human rights laws for more than a decade to meet the new threat from Islamic terrorism.
Tony Blair warned "the rules of the game are changing" as he announced the measures at a special press conference in Downing Street yesterday. He made it clear the measures marked a watershed for Britain's attitude to freedom of speech, which could affect our way of life forever.
"Coming to Britain is not a right and even when people have come here, staying here carries with it a duty," he said. "That duty is to share and support the values that sustain the British way of life. Those who break that duty and try to incite hatred or engage in violence against our country and its people have no place here."
But the tough measures threatened to break the cross-party consensus over the political response to the London bombings, while human rights campaigners warned the proposals could threaten "the fundamental values of democracy".
The Commons will be recalled for two days in September for an emergency debate, which the Prime Minister hopes will show a united front against the terrorists, and answer criticism that the MPs were away on holiday while Britain was at high alert.
New grounds for deportation, including fomenting or glorifying terrorism, published yesterday by Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, will make it easier for Britain to expel extremists. The grounds for deportation are being widened to allow the Mr Clarke to expel those involved in extremist websites, bookshops, centres and networks which recruit, train or incite terrorist attacks.
Powers are to be increased to allow the Government to vet Muslim clerics applying to come to this country to preach, and to close down mosques being used by extremists. Even those already naturalised as Britons could be stripped of their nationality and expelled, if they are found to be engaged in extremism.
Civil rights groups accused Mr Blair of "sowing the seeds of discord" and threatening the basis of democracy and freedom of speech. The Liberal Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy, said that there would be no rubber stamp for the measures in Parliament. Mr Blair admitted that he would have had trouble introducing some of the measures a few months ago, but that the bombings had changed the public mood in Britain. "To be frank, what has changed in the past four weeks since the attacks on 7 July is that people now understand that when we warned of the terrorist threat it is not mere rhetoric, it is real."
It could lead to the removal of many of the high-profile clerics and their followers who have been causing outrage by preaching hatred. Mr Blair said it would be "more than a handful", and it could lead to fresh efforts to extradite alleged terrorists who have been using Britain as a safe haven, including Algerians, who have been wanted by the French.
"I'm sorry, but people can't come here and abuse our good nature," he said. "They can't come here and start inciting young people here to kill British people. There is no point kidding ourselves about this problem in our communities. It is there and it has to be rooted out."
Officials said the new offences could not be retrospective, but inflammatory remarks made in the past could be used to deport known fanatics.
Mr Blair will directly challenge the courts to allow the deportation of extremist clerics who have used a judgment in the European Court of Human Rights in 1996 to resist being removed from this country. Under the Chahal case, the courts have upheld appeals by Muslim fundamentalists who claimed under Article 3 of the Human Rights Act that they should be allowed to stay in this country, because they could be tortured if they were returned to their home countries.
But Mr Blair said since the bombings in London, the Government could now insist that Article 2 of the HRA giving the right to life should override the rights of individuals not to be expelled. If the judges refuse to uphold this interpretation, Mr Blair said the Government would change the human rights legislation to force the courts to comply.
w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m
Last update - 15:16 06/08/2005
U.S. Presbyterian Church targets five companies with Israel links
By Haaretz Service and News Agencies
A Presbyterian committee accused five companies of contributing to "ongoing violence that plagues Israel and Palestine" and pledged to use the church's multimillion-dollar stock holdings in the businesses to pressure them to stop.
The move Friday follows a vote last year by leaders of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to put economic pressure on companies that profit from Israeli policy in the West Bank and Gaza.
The Church said the companies were selected based on its own developed criteria, namely companies which "support and maintain the occupation; establish, expand, or maintain Israeli settlements; support or facilitate violent acts by Israelis or Palestinians against innocent civilians; and support or facilitate the construction of the Separation Barrier."
The group named heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar, communications giant Motorola, military contractor United Technologies, and electronics manufacturer ITT Industries - all of which are firms who have been contracted to supply the Israel Defense Forces.
The Church also listed international banking conglomerate Citigroup, which was cited in April by The Wall Street Journal for "having moved substantial funds from charities later seen to be fronts funneling money to terrorist organizations," including "funds [which] ended up as payments to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers."
"We have chosen these companies because we believe that they can make changes that will increase the possibilities for a just peace in the region," said Carol Hylkema, who heads a Church subcommittee spearheading divestiture from companies with links to Israel.
"As shareholders of these companies, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) calls on them to act responsibly," she said.
In a press release, the USPC said it hopes to engage in dialogue and forms of public pressure on shareholders "so that these corporations might change their business practices which inflict harm on the innocent, and delay movement toward a just peace."
"If these dialogues fail, we may conclude that our investments are not being used for activities that support the broad mission of the Church," said church official Bill Somplatsky-Jarman. "At that point, divestment is an option that the General Assembly may consider."
The moves comes months after the World Council of Churches, the main global body uniting non-Catholic Christians, encouraged members to sell off investments in companies profiting from Israeli control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Council's Central Committee, meeting in Geneva in February, praised the U.S. Presbyterian Church for examining the possibility of divestment in Israel similar to the financial boycott it used against the apartheid regime in South Africa two decades ago.
The Presbyterian threat, which echoes divestment debates at some U.S. universities, has set off a wave of dissent in the church and angered American Jewish leaders.
But the Central Committee highlighted the divestment push and encouraged other member churches to consider doing the same. The New York Times reported Friday that the Episcopal Church U.S.A. and the United Church of Christ, among others, have praised the move and are also considering divestment as a means of swaying Israeli policy.
"This action is commendable in both method and manner, uses criteria rooted in faith, and calls on members to do the `things that make for peace'," the Central Committee said of the Presbyterian Church's move, quoting St. Luke's Gospel. "Economic pressure, appropriately and openly applied, is one such means of action."
It was not clear how many of the WCC's 342 Protestant and Orthodox member churches would heed the call.
However, in what appears to be a hardening of some Christian groups' stance on the conflict, the Disciples of Christ passed a resolution in July calling on Israel to take down the separation fence, with other churches considering similar resolutions, the Times said.
"Multinational corporations have been involved in the demolition of Palestinian homes," the WCC statement said, adding that they were also involved in "the construction of settlements and settlement infrastructure on occupied territory, in building a dividing wall which is also largely inside occupied territory, and in other violations of international law."
The Presbyterian Church's General Assembly last July called for a "phased, selective divestment" beginning no earlier than July 2006. A dissident group is asking church leaders to place a moratorium on the project as early as next month.
No companies have been singled out, but a report naming the most likely targets is due in August.
Human rights groups have urged Caterpillar Inc., the world's largest maker of construction machinery, to stop selling bulldozers to the Israel Defense Forces, saying they are used to wreck innocent Palestinians' homes in Gaza and the West Bank.
The occupation "is at the center of the cycle of violence in the region, whether it is suicide bombings or the displacement caused by the occupation... and impedes a peaceful solution to that conflict," the committee now selecting possible divestment targets said recently.
It is unclear how much of the church's $8 billion portfolio - investments covering pensions and other holdings controlled by its leadership - might be at issue.
Jewish groups are clearly upset. The New York Times reported that some of them have accused the Church of anti-Semitism.
"Instead of talking about peace, we're talking about Presbyterians," David Elcott, director of inter-religious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, said this month. "They have deflected conversation in a very negative way."
The move was also condemned by the Anti-Defamation League. "As we have said repeatedly in conversation with Presbyterian Church leaders," National Director Abraham Foxman said in a statement, "divestment policies are counterproductive and a detriment to the newly revived peace initiative between the Israelis and Palestinians, and fundamentally flawed as a mechanism for resolving the conflict. Divestment hurts not only Israel, but has economic impact on Palestinians as well."
The 2.5 million-strong church, the ninth largest in the U.S., represents most U.S. Presbyterians.
The New York Times
August 6, 2005
Ugandan Leader Hints at Foul Play in Ex-Rebel's Air Crash
By MARC LACEY
YEI, Sudan, Aug. 5 - President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda said Friday that the helicopter crash that killed John Garang, the Sudanese rebel leader who became vice president, might not have been an accident and that an international inquiry would determine the truth.
"Some people say accident," said Mr. Museveni, whose presidential helicopter was ferrying Mr. Garang, a longtime friend and ally, from Uganda to Sudan last Saturday night when it went down on a hillside in a remote area of Sudan. "It may be something else. I am looking at all the options, all the possibilities."
Most officials in the region, including an array of rival Sudanese politicians, have said all indications were that the helicopter crashed because of bad weather. Still, to conclusively determine the cause, the Sudanese authorities have assembled an investigative team that includes experts from the United States, Uganda, Kenya and Britain. Russia, which manufactured the helicopter, an M1-172, and the United Nations will also take part.
Some Western diplomats saw the remarks by Mr. Museveni as an attempt to deflect criticism from his government, which allowed the helicopter to fly despite the late hour and apparently did not check the weather along the route, which was stormy. Fourteen people died in the crash, including Mr. Garang, his security staff and Ugandan military officers.
Speaking Friday at a memorial service for Mr. Garang in this border town, Mr. Museveni praised the aircraft and raised the prospect of foul play.
He said that the helicopter had sophisticated equipment that enabled it to fly at night and in inclement weather, and that he had used it for a short flight just half an hour before Mr. Garang boarded it for Sudan.
"Either the pilots panicked in spite of the plane having good conditions, or there was this side wind, or the instruments didn't work, or there was an external factor," he said. "The inquiry has to look at all that."
Mr. Museveni's comments came as days of rioting continued in Khartoum, the capital, where followers of Mr. Garang accused the Islamist government of orchestrating his death to eliminate an opponent. There have also been clashes in Juba, where Mr. Garang's funeral will take place Saturday.
To quell violence, Mr. Garang's widow, Rebecca, said on Monday, "It is an accident and God's plan."
Mr. Museveni's remarks raising the prospect of foul play had no immediate effect, as most of the thousands of people gathered in Yei to pay tribute to Mr. Garang did not understand English. But his speculation was expected to be widely reported in the local news media.
"The Big Man stated that the aircraft was in good condition," said Atem Akuien, 32, a local journalist who was swayed by what he heard. "Now we have suspicions. Maybe it was the people in Khartoum."
After 21 years as a rebel, Mr. Garang joined Sudan's government last month as vice president as part of a historic peace pact. His death has destabilized the peace effort.
Officials say Mr. Garang flew last Friday on a charter plane from Nairobi, Kenya, to Entebbe International Airport in Uganda for a meeting with Mr. Museveni. From Entebbe, he took a helicopter to Mr. Museveni's ranch, southwest of the capital. After discussions that lasted until Saturday, Mr. Museveni took a short trip on the helicopter. He sent the helicopter back to the ranch to pick up Mr. Garang, who was eager to return to his base in New Site, Sudan, near the border with Kenya.
With Mr. Garang aboard, the helicopter flew to Entebbe, refueled and left for Sudan about 5 p.m. Saturday. As it was approaching New Site about 6:30 p.m., the pilot sent word to the authorities that bad weather had made a landing there impossible. The pilot apparently indicated that he would find another place to land.
The authorities then lost contact with the helicopter. Its wreckage was found Sunday strewn over a hillside near New Site.
A local religious leader, Paride Taban, said he had spoken to villagers who saw the helicopter in the sky that night and later saw flames. He said he was convinced that the crash had been caused by the storm.
"They said they saw a helicopter coming," he said. "It was hovering, and there was rain and clouds. After the light disappeared, a flame came up. That was the end."
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It had mixed reviews with kids since it was so dark it kind of freaked some out. But under four is free so that was a nice surprise. My daughter enjoys the movie, Nemo, so meeting Crush (sea turtle from movie) was a huge treat for her. We were lucky and went first thing in the AM and when we left around lunch time there were easily 200+ people waiting in line.
Uploaded by -Angela on 5 Aug '05, 11.30am PDT.
It's one of my favorites, taken this year near Enoshima Japan.
Shot with a Nikomat & f1:1.4 50 mm lens, Fuji 1600 speed film.
I decided to upload it to see how it would do in the Flickr "Delete me!" group.
Now, if you're not familiar with the group, the point of it is to pull no punches - no nice comments just because I seem like a nice guy or need encouragement or because it's an "OK" picture. The photo has to stand on its own. It has to be really good.
I hope my friends and family aren't too shocked by the comments, which tend to be along the lines of "Utter crap! This snapshot made me want to gouge my eyes out. voted DeleteMe!"
(They are saying to delete it from the group pool, not from Flickr... "SaveMe" is how you tag something you like...)
It's just a game. Hopefully, there will be some constructive criticism, too.
I promise you all that my feelings won't be hurt...
Ok, have at it!