Friday, August 31, 2007

Kennebunkport Warning: Hoax Shreds 'Credibility' Of Hoaxers -- But Who Are The Hoaxers?

[Controversy swirls. UPDATED TWICE: see below.]

The so-called "Kennebunkport Warning" is apparently a hoax on at least one level.

The Warning emerged from a gathering of anti-war and 9/11-truth activists in Kennebunkport, Maine, last weekend.

On Monday, Reprehensor at 911Blogger posted the text of the Kennebunkport Warning, as follows:
Massive evidence has come to our attention which shows that the backers, controllers, and allies of Vice President Dick Cheney are determined to orchestrate and manufacture a new 9/11 terror incident, and/or a new Gulf of Tonkin war provocation over the coming weeks and months. Such events would be used by the Bush administration as a pretext for launching an aggressive war against Iran, quite possibly with nuclear weapons, and for imposing a regime of martial law here in the United States. We call on the House of Representatives to proceed immediately to the impeachment of Cheney, as an urgent measure for avoiding a wider and more catastrophic war. Once impeachment has begun, it will be easier for loyal and patriotic military officers to refuse illegal orders coming from the Cheney faction. We solemnly warn the people of the world that any terrorist attack with weapons of mass destruction taking place inside the United States or elsewhere in the immediate future must be considered the prima facie responsibility of the Cheney faction. We urge responsible political leaders everywhere to begin at once to inoculate the public opinion of their countries against such a threatened false flag terror operation.

(Signed) A Group of US Opposition Political Leaders Gathered in Protest at the Bush Compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, August 24-25, 2007
Reprehensor lists ten "signatories", as follows:
Four of the so-called "signatories" (Jamilla El-Shafei, Cindy Sheehan, Dahlia Wasfi and Ann Wright) have stated that they did not sign this document.
Each of us were approached during the rally at the Kennebunkport event on August 25, 2007, to sign a statement calling for the immediate impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney. Since then, the statement has been altered and posted on the internet, making it appear as if we have evidence that this administration will carry out a "false-flag terror operation."

None of us have such evidence, and therefore, none of us signed a statement stating that we do.

We wish the authors of the document well in continuing much needed investigations of all aspects of 9/11.
Bruce Marshall has released a facsimile of the Kennebunkport Warning, which shows only seven signatures, not ten as originally claimed. In addition to the four who now say they didn't sign it, it also appears to have been signed by John Kaminski, George Paz Martin, and Bruce Marshall. But the signatures of Cynthia McKinney, Craig Hill and Webster Tarpley are missing.

Of the seven signatures shown on the facsimile, the third from the top, that of Ann Wright, appears to be anything but a signature. But don't take my word for it. Click on the image for a larger version and have a look. Does that look like a diplomat's signature to you? Not that this is the last word on the matter.

Arabesque has compiled a roundup of the charges and counter-charges, full of good links, and for which a tip of the frozen cap is definitely in order. I have a few quibbles with his conclusions; for instance he states that Webster Tarpley is lying and I don't see any proof of that. Please click here to read it.

UPDATE: Reprehensor has photos of several different copies of the document, each signed several times. Two of the photos shows the page signed (or not) by Jamilla El-Shafei, Cindy Sheehan, Dahlia Wasfi, Ann Wright, John Kaminski, George Paz Martin, and Bruce Marshall. From these photos, this page does not show any obvious signs of alteration. Not that this is the last word on the matter.

None of the other photos appear to show signatures of Cynthia McKinney, Craig Hill or Webster Tarpley.

Webster Tarpley says he and Bruce Marshall wrote the Warning, so there would have been no immediate need for either of them to sign the document themselves. But this doesn't explain why Cynthia McKinney and Craig Hill are also referred to as "signatories" when there doesn't appear to be any evidence that they signed it.

On Wednesday, Reprehensor wrote:
Note that McKinney's name is on not the document. She was not physically present to sign when the other signees were around. She gave her endorsement to Marshall verbally, according to Marshall.
Technically, if she gave a verbal endorsement, that doesn't make her a signatory, does it? Not that this is the last word on the matter.

I don't know what happened with Craig Hill. But I'll make a few inquiries and see what turns up.

I also don't know what happened with the four who say they didn't sign it, but I can speculate about the possibilities, can't I?

Maybe they read it too quickly, caught the bit about impeaching Cheney, got a rush of euphoria, signed their names, and honestly didn't realize what they'd signed until later. They appear to support the impeachment agenda but may not necessarily support the more speculative assertion that Cheney is getting ready to attack us. Or perhaps they're frightened of being called "conspiracy theorists" if they admit to having signed such a document.

On the other hand, maybe their signatures were lifted from another document and pasted on a copy of the Kennebunkport Warning. Technically, it's not hard to do such a thing, and even though Reprehensor's new photos do not appear to show signs of alteration, surely photos posted on the net are not conclusive.

It seems fairly clear that somebody (or more than one somebody) has made a big mistake here (or done deliberate mischief), but I can't be sure who it is.

Reprehensor has been in touch with Bruce Marshall on this issue and he says:
... every time I have challenged Marshall to produce evidence verifying his version of what happened in Kennebunkport, he has done so.

For those who listened to Tarpley's radio show last night, Marshall produced an eyewitness to the signing of the Kennebunkport Warning to tell what she saw. What she saw was Dahlia Wasfi physically sign the Kennebunkport Warning. The name of the eyewitness is Jeanine Weir of Vermont.
The more I think about it, the more I feel like changing my mind. In a previous version of this post, I was less uncertain.

Whatever happened, and however it happened, it's difficult to imagine it not driving a wedge into the dissident community. But it's even more difficult to imagine a community that needs a wedge less.

Until the next update (if any), I'll leave the last word with Reprehensor, despite the dire implications for the men at the top of my sidebar:
For conversation's sake, let's say that the Founding Fathers of the United States of America blew it. George Washington just couldn't get it together. Didn't quite make the trip across the Delaware on time. Sank halfway, etc., etc.
Please, Reprehensor! Lay it on thin, will you?
Can you imagine Benjamin Franklin, John and Samuel Adams, John Hancock and Thomas Jefferson getting together and deciding which parts of the Declaration of Independence that they didn't endorse?
UPDATE 2: Laurie Dobson has added a comment to the thread that's going about this subject at Daily Kos, and I quote:
Dear Editor,
I ran Camp Alex (Camp Casey Two) out of my farm during the Aug. 24-26 Peace Rally in K'port, Maine. I can verify the legitimacy of the Kennebunkport Warning. Many of us at the camp signed it--I saw the one with Sheehan and the others while it was in the process of being signed-before, during and after. It was the same as the one we all signed, which is posted on 911blogger.

I had at least 75 campers stay here who would probably be able to attest to their awareness of the document and many would be able to share their evidence, if they chose to get involved, to prove that the document was authentic. Fifty of us heard Bruce speak about it while we were waiting to board the bus to go to the peace rally. We were all, it seemed to me, in general agreement about the dire state of the nation due to the Cheney faction.

We were mostly all together at camp during much of the time when it was being signed at camp and many of us were witnesses to it being signed by others at the rally-- myself included, as I had a stage pass and was there at the stage tent when they were being asked to sign. There are pictures on the web which will verify my presence, talking to Kucinich's staff person, Michael Klein.

Based on emails I have received, it is obvious to me that the big name people are afraid, but I believe that they should not defame those who asked them to sign the petition.

In my view, this accusation of falsified documenting casts a cloud of suspicion over the brave efforts of those signators who are standing by their decision to sign the petition. I stand with those who signed it who are not backing down.

Laurie Dobson

The discussion continues here.

Bob Koehler: Piercing The Myth

Bob Koehler's most recent column is a really good one, but that's no surprise.

Presence of Mind: Piercing the myth of redemptive violence
“I knew the situation was serious. I was shaking all over. But I was amazed by the complexity of my mind — the most clear part was just the speed and agility of my mind. I immediately began talking to him in a calm voice and engaged in eye contact. But he was not in his eyes. He was in his own world — pointing a gun at me.”

Is this a good time to address the big lie? You know, the lie about our stark, raving helplessness in the face of armed danger and malevolence? Fortress Gun Nut has the whole country hostage to the big lie that a safe America is an armed America, and yet as our stockpile of weaponry, domestic and otherwise, increases, so does our fearfulness, and so does the danger.

And the heroes are often indistinguishable from the perps. We’re all heroes in our own minds. We all watch the movies and imbibe the whack ’n’ win culture. We all learn that real justice must be delivered at the point of a sword that is terrible and swift.

Christian theologian Walter Wink calls it the myth of redemptive violence, this self-evident conviction — as old as Mesopotamia, as current as the Saturday morning cartoons — that violence is effective and free of unwanted consequences. Six millennia of evidence to the contrary hasn’t changed anything because myth is impervious to empirical data. It’s born anew with every war, every special-effects extravaganza from Hollywood, every loner’s sad plot for revenge. And so many people profit from it.
Excellent stuff. And there's more where that came from...

Postcards From The GWOT Reveal A Vital Truth: 'We Should Start Over'

Dawn: 200 media employees killed in Iraq since 2003
At least 200 journalists and media workers have been killed in Iraq since the March 2003 US-led invasion of the country, Paris-based watchdog Reporters Without Borders said in a statement on Friday. The murder this week of an interpreter working for the US network CBS, brought the toll of media employees killed in Iraq to 200, the statement said.
CNN: U.S. lawmakers' plane fired upon
A U.S. military plane with three U.S. senators and a U.S. House member onboard came under rocket fire while leaving Baghdad, Iraq, for Amman, Jordan, Thursday night and had to take evasive maneuvers.

"I was looking out the window, a little small window, and I saw a shell or something," said Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama in a phone interview from Amman, where the plane landed safely. "And then I see a flare. Our plane started maneuvering and changing directions and shaking all around."

The rockets were "near misses," he told CNN affiliate WVTM in Birmingham, Alabama.
International Herald Tribune : U.S. cites 'secrets' privilege as it tries to stop suit on banking records
The Bush administration is signaling that it plans to turn again to a legal tool, the "state secrets" privilege, to try to stop a suit against a Belgian banking cooperative that secretly supplied millions of private financial records to the United States government, court documents show.

The suit against the consortium, known as Swift, threatens to disrupt the operations of a vital national security program and to disclose "highly classified information" if it continues, the Justice Department has said in court filings.

The "state secrets" privilege, allowing the government to shut down litigation on national security grounds, was once rarely used. The Bush administration has turned to it more than 30 times in terrorism-related cases, seeking to end public discussion of cases like the claims of an FBI whistle-blower and the abduction of a German terrorism suspect.
Washington Post: Justice Dept. Probing Whether Gonzales Lied
The Justice Department's inspector general indicated yesterday that he is investigating whether departing Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales gave false or misleading testimony to Congress, including whether he lied under oath about warrantless surveillance and the firings of nine U.S. attorneys.

The disclosure by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine in a letter to Congress signals an expansion of the department's internal investigations into Gonzales's troubled tenure, probes that were not previously known to be focused so sharply on the attorney general and his testimony.
New York Times: U.S. Says Company Bribed Officers for Work in Iraq
An American-owned company operating from Kuwait paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to American contracting officers in efforts to win more than $11 million in contracts, the government says in court documents.

The Army last month suspended the company, Lee Dynamics International, from doing business with the government, and the case now appears to be at the center of a contracting fraud scandal that prompted Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to dispatch the Pentagon inspector general to Iraq to investigate.
New York Times: Report on Iran’s Nuclear Activity Exposes Split
A report released Thursday showing a slow but steady expansion of Iran’s nuclear technology has exposed a new divide between United Nations arms inspectors and the United States and its allies over how to contain Tehran’s atomic program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said in its report that Iran was being unusually cooperative and had reached an agreement with the agency to answer questions about an array of suspicious past nuclear activities that have led many nations to suspect it harbors a secret effort to make nuclear arms. The agency added that while Tehran’s uranium enrichment effort is growing, the output is far less than experts had expected.

“This is the first time Iran is ready to discuss all the outstanding issues which triggered the crisis in confidence,” Mohamed ElBaradei, the I.A.E.A. director general, said in an interview. “It’s a significant step.”

But the Bush administration and its allies, which have won sanctions in the United Nations Security Council in an effort to stop Iran’s uranium enrichment, saw the latest report as more evidence of defiance, not cooperation.
Washington Post : White House Pushes Back on Iraq Report
An independent assessment concluding that Iraq has made little political progress in recent months despite an influx of U.S. troops drew fierce objections from the White House on Thursday...

A draft report by the Government Accountability Office concluded Iraq has satisfied three of 18 benchmarks set by Congress and partially met two others, a senior administration official said Thursday. None of those are the high-profile political issues such as passage of a national oil revenue sharing law that the Bush administration has said are critical to Iraq's future.

The GAO may alter some of its findings in response to administration arguments, one official said.
International Herald Tribune: U.S. panel will urge broad overhaul of Iraqi police
An independent commission established by Congress to assess Iraq's security forces will recommend remaking the 26,000-member national police force to purge it of corrupt officers and Shiite militants suspected of complicity in sectarian killings, administration and military officials said Thursday.

The commission, headed by General James L. Jones, the former top United States commander in Europe, concludes that the rampant sectarianism that has existed since the formation of the police force requires that its current units "be scrapped" and reshaped into a smaller, more elite organization, according to one senior official familiar with the findings. The recommendation is that "we should start over," the official said.

Report Says Fate Of Alleged Liquid Bomber Mastermind Will Be Decided Today!

After more than a year of detention, Rashid Rauf, alleged mastermind of the so-called "Liquid Bombers plot", will be brought before Pakistan's Federal Review Board later today, according to a report from the Daily Times.
“We will present Rashid Rauf and Raingzieb Ahmed before the Federal Review Board (FRB) on Friday, where the judges will decide the fate of their cases,” a law enforcement agency source told Daily Times on Thursday.
The report says:
Rauf was arrested on August 9, 2006, in Multan while headed for Rawalpindi.
If this is true, then one of the stories we've been told, that Rashid Rauf was tortured for several days before he revealed the names of the British co-conspirators, is false, because the 25 people arrested in Britain were picked up on the 9th and 10th of August. The alternative tale, that Rashid Rauf (or a friend) sent a text message to the British co-conspirators saying to go ahead with the plot, would appear to be the only remaining credible explanation, if it were credible at all. Only one of the people arrested last August had an airline ticket. Some had not even applied for passports. Were they expected to board planes without tickets of passports because they got a text message from a stranger in a foreign country?

According to the most recent reliable reports, Rashid Rauf is charged with possession of objects for the purposes of terrorism, specifically 29 bottles of hydrogen peroxide that supposedly threatens airliners traveling from the UK to the USA. He also faces charges of forgery and impersonation in regard to allegedly carrying false papers. But this is not considered a terrorist offense and the Federal Review Board, as I understand it, must dispose of the terror-related charge first.

Of the 25 Britons arrested last August 9th and 10th, ten have been released without charge and the remaining 15 are due to stand trial beginning in the spring of 2008. In another few hours we may know whether Rashid Rauf will be joining them.

But on the other hand, we may still know nothing. The Pakistani legal system has a way of moving people backwards. Detentions get extended, charges never actually get formalized, decisions get reversed and appealed and reinstated.

So for example, the terror-related charges against Rashid Rauf were dropped last December but quietly reinstated a short time later. He was brought to court several months after his arrest but the police had not yet filled out a proper charge sheet. He was promised a quick appearance months ago and instead the term of his detention has been repeatedly extended.

I will try to keep you posted on the strange and bogus case of Rashid Rauf, alleged mastermind.


nineteenth in a series.

7/7 Press For Truth Begins

Survivors and families of the victims of the 7/7 London subway bombings "began legal action on Thursday to force the British government to hold an independent inquiry" according to a report from Reuters, which says:
The group argues official accounts of the suicide bombings on London's transport system carried out by four young British Islamists have been insufficient, inaccurate and misleading.

The 7/7 inquiry group, made up of bereaved relatives and those who escaped the bombings, says the refusal to hold a public inquiry breaches the European Convention on Human Rights and intends to seek a judicial review of that decision.

Lawyers for the group said the papers were being served at the High Court on Thursday.
As some of us remember, the bombings happened more than two years ago and there has never even been the pretense of an investigation.

The attacks were transparently bogus at the time, so I beg to disagree with Cliff Tibber on one point:
"Firstly we say that the decision of the former Home Secretary (interior minister) not to order an inquiry was irrational," Cliff Tibber, head of litigation at Oury Clark, told Reuters.
Deciding not to order an inquiry after a blatantly false-flag attack is anything but irrational. It's deliberate obstruction of justice. But Cliff Tibber is exactly right on this point:
"Secondly there is a positive duty under article 2 of the Human Rights Act in these circumstances to order an inquiry." The first hearing at the High Court is unlikely to take place until October.
The British government's so-called "justification" for refusing to investigate is as lame as you can possibly imagine:
The government has rejected demands for an independent review of the bombings, which opposition politicians have also called for. It says an inquiry would distract stretched security services when Britain is at serious risk of attack.

"As we have consistently maintained, experience has shown that a fuller public inquiry can take years and divert huge resources," a Home Office spokeswoman said earlier this month.
We can spend billions and kill thousands in a war on terror to avenge this crime and prevent further such events, but we don't have the time or the money to find out what actually happened? It's rubbish, of course, and it smells just like the 9/11 variety, doesn't it?

The alleged suicide bombers allegedy put their bombs in their packs and carried them aboard the trains and buses they rode, and which then blew up. But pictures of the damage seemed to show the undercarriages blasted up rather than down. Oops! Better get rid of those pictures!
The 7/7 inquiry group says there are vital unanswered questions that need to be addressed, particularly how much the authorities knew about two of the bombers, ringleader Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer, before the attacks.

They were photographed, recorded and followed by intelligence operatives several times in early 2004 in the company of plotters who have since been jailed for planning attacks using fertilizer-based bombs.

The government said in the aftermath of the July 7 strikes that all the bombers were "clean skins" who had not previously crossed the authorities' radar.

The group says that means an inquiry is needed to determine whether the government had failed in its duty to protect life.
Reuters casts these questions -- questions surrounding the two alleged bombers the government allegedly knew about -- as if they were the heart of the matter. But they're only the beginning of it.
"We would very much like answers to the questions we have raised. We don't understand why we haven't received them," Jacqui Putnam, who was on board the train blown up by Khan, told Reuters.
Maybe distance is important, or maybe background, or maybe both ... but I do understand why they haven't received any answers. It's because the known facts don't fit the official fiction.

Why were there drills going on in the exact same stations at the exact same times as the bombs went off? Because that's the way false-flag attacks are organized. The drills provide cover for anyone who needs it.

Why was Benyamin Netanyahu, then Israeli Finance Minister and former Prime Minister, warned to stay in his hotel that morning, and who from Scotland Yard told him not to board the train in the nearby station which was about to explode? Why were reports of this incident available on the morning of 7/7 but not later -- how did they all suddenly disappear?

If you want more questions, watch this video.

Ludicrous Diversion

Then watch this one:

Mind The Gap

And now, if you want some answers, look here (or here).
How the Government Staged the London Bombings in Ten Easy Steps

Paul Joseph Watson/Prison Planet | July 13 2005

1) Hire a Crisis Management firm to set up an exercise that parallels the terrorist attack you are going to carry out. Have them run the exercise at the precise locations and at the very same time as the attack. If at any stage of the attack your Arabs get caught, tell the police it was part of an exercise.

2) Hire four Arabs and tell them they're taking part in an important exercise to help defend London from terrorist attacks. Strap them with rucksacks filled with deadly explosives. Tell the Arabs the rucksacks are dummy explosives and wouldn't harm a fly.

3) Tell four Arabs to meet up at London Underground and disperse, each getting on a different train. Make sure Arabs meet in a location where you can get a good mug shot of them all on CCTV which you can later endlessly repeat to drooling masses on television.
Paul nails it! You can read the rest (and click the links) here (or here).

Just in case you needed a reminder, this is it: 9/11 wasn't the only bogus terror attack.

Every large-scale attack underpinning the GWOT is full of fishy holes, just like this one.

And that's why refusing to hold an inquiry was the most rational thing the British authorities could have done.

Tom Toles: Shocked! Shocked!!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

CRUCIAL VIDEO : Dr. Steven Jones at 'Rebuilding America's Senses'

Here's another 9/11 video, but not just another 9/11 video, if you get my drift. It's Dr. Steven Jones, a physics professor formerly of BYU, discussing the results of his recent experiments regarding the destruction of the World Trade Center in a presentation so good, it easily overcomes some unfortunate production.

The audio gets wonky from time to time (but never for very long), and there are many occasions where I wanted to see what was being projected on the screen rather than Dr. Jones standing there speaking. But these are minor quibbles, and the negatives are vastly outweighed by the positive aspects of this video.

When I say the performance is good, I don't mean it's polished or professional -- quite the contrary. It's so down-to-earth, it's so clearly real -- I can't help thinking Steven Jones must have been a great professor.

He does all the wrong things right, in my view. He interrupts himself, he interjects funny little asides, he's got a lovely modest self-deprecating sense of humor, and it's clearly not forced or rehearsed -- the sincerity is just so obvious. He reminds me very strongly of the best teachers I ever knew, and the sort of teacher I stove to become, back in the days when I used slate to grind chalk into powder for my daily bread.

There's no flash here, no glitz; it's all straight from the heart. But it's not all heart; there's a very sharp mind at work here, too! The combination is fabulous, and you can see it from the opening moments of this video, where they're fumbling with the microphone and Steven Jones says "You might want to turn this up. I'm not Alex!"

You can hear Alex Jones laugh, as well as everyone else in the room. It's just one of many funny moments; I also loved his remark about his critics: "They call themselves debunkers!"

But this is not about humor, because what's really remarkable here is the content. Steven Jones is a real scientist; a bright and very curious man who knows how to design experiments that either confirm or refute particular hypotheses. He understands that if you want to learn, "it's helpful to do experiments."

And in this video he presents the results of a couple of his recent experiments -- or more accurately, a couple of series of experiments.

In the first series, he was trying to figure out what the orange molten metal was that was seen flowing out of the towers just before they collapsed. The official narrative says it was molten aluminum. Dr. Jones wondered if it would be possible to heat aluminum so hot that it would glow orange.

This is a perfect illustration of the scientific method at work. Dr. Jones was thinking, "If we can make aluminum glow orange then the official story is tenable on this point; otherwise not." And it was a well-designed experiment, because no matter what happened, he was guaranteed to learn something.

That's the whole point. You go in with an open mind, with all possibilities on the table, so to speak, and then you rule various possibilities either in or out, depending on what happens when you run the experiments. This is the way science works. Or at least this is the way science is supposed to work.

The second series of experiments was a bit more technical and therefore harder to explain, but it involved the small heavy metal spheres that were found in the dust that came from the towers. Dr. Jones devised a simple, elegant way to separate the metal from the rest of the dust, and he took some of that metal to be analyzed. He was trying to answer questions like: "What is this metal? Is it structural steel? Is it aluminum? Is it something else? Can we make something similar in the lab? Can we make something identical?"

And again he designed a series of very simple experiments to answer the questions. I'm not gonna give you all the answers; for that you'll have to watch the video. But as I've been saying, I think it will be time well spent.

So, without further ado, here's Dr. Steven Jones, speaking in April of this year, from the "Rebuilding America's Senses" conference held at the University of Texas at Austin:

VIDEO : Mike Gravel Explains The Similarities Between Iraq And Vietnam

Remember when George Bush used to say Iraq and Vietnam had nothing in common?

Do you also remember when George Bush used Vietnam as a parallel to "justify" staying in Iraq?

Mike Gravel remembers Vietnam, too. But he remembers it the way it was, not the way the president would like it to have been.

Watch. Listen. Learn.

I Like Mike!

Ready Or Not? Active Denial: Crowd Control Through Directed Energy

[UPDATED below]

The ray gun called "active denial" is in the news again; Here's my Australian friend, Gandhi, in full:

What If They Developed A Weapon That Was Too Horrible To Use?
Apparently the military in Iraq is screaming out for Raytheon's heat gun but the Pentagon won't let them use it:
The main reason the tool has been missing in action is public perception. With memories of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal still fresh, the Pentagon is reluctant to give troops a space-age device that could be misconstrued as a torture machine.

"We want to just make sure that all the conditions are right, so when it is able to be deployed the system performs as predicted — that there isn't any negative fallout," said Col. Kirk Hymes, head of the Defense Department's Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate.

Reviews by military lawyers concluded it is a lawful weapon under current rules governing the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a Nov. 15 document prepared by Marine Corps officials in western Iraq.

Private organizations remain concerned, however, because documentation that supports the testing and legal reviews is classified. There's no way to independently verify the Pentagon's claims, said Stephen Goose of Human Rights Watch in Washington.
There are unconfirmed rumours that the heat gun can kill when set to max.

And cost also appears to be a major issue: any such weapon would be a major target of the insurgency, and at several million dollars per machine (they wont say exactly what it costs) that could blow a major hole in the budget. The Pentagon has spent $62 million developing and testing the system, which now looks like a waste of money - maybe they should bring it to APEC, where it's less likely to get damaged?
The photo above is clearly a computer-generated "sketch" of the jeep-mounted ray-gun; the lower photo apparently shows what one actually looks like.

A few more quotes and links to flesh out the story:

SF Gate : Pentagon Nixes Ray Gun Weapon in Iraq (or here)
Prototype units have been assembled by the military, the most promising being a larger model that sits on the back of a flatbed truck. This single unit, known as System 2, could be sent to Iraq as early as next year, according to Hymes of the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate.

Hymes' office, which nurtures promising technologies that can be used by the military branches, plans to spend $9 million over the next two years on the effort.

Money for additional systems isn't likely to be available until 2010, when an Air Force command in Massachusetts is expected to take control of the program, he said.

Recognizing the potential market, defense contractor Raytheon has invested its own money to build a version that the company calls "Silent Guardian." Although Hymes said the Raytheon product "is not ready yet," company representatives say it is.
I find this disagreement a bit strange, but I still don't know what to make of it. I'd like to agree with Gandhi out of friendship if nothing else, but I can't quite convince myself he's right about why the Pentagon won't use it in Iraq, not to mention why this weapons system has apparently been slow-tracked.

It doesn't make sense to me that they'd worry about a non-lethal weapon being perceived (or portrayed) as an instrument of torture, when they don't seem to flinch about calling airstrikes on civilian residential areas. And while the cost per weapon may be high, I haven't really seen any indication that they're worrying much about money. So I want to suspend judgment for a while on why the development of this non-lethal weapon appears to have been slowed down intentionally.

A more cynical man might say the Pentagon is only interested in lethal weapons, except for PR purposes. A more paranoid writer might hint that the Pentagon wants to keep the "active denial" systems on the home front, for use against domestic protest, should any significant domestic protest ever develop.

January 25, 2007:
Sydney Morning Herald : 'Active denial' ray gun
The military calls its new weapon an "active denial system," but that's an understatement. It's a ray gun that shoots a beam that makes people feel as if they are about to catch fire.

Apart from causing that terrifying sensation, the technology is supposed to be harmless - a non-lethal way to get enemies to drop their weapons.

Military officials say it could save the lives of innocent civilians and service members in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

The weapon is not expected to go into production until at least 2010, but all branches of the military have expressed interest in it, officials said.

During the first media demonstration of the weapon yesterday, airmen fired beams from a large dish antenna mounted atop a Humvee at people pretending to be rioters and acting out other scenarios that US troops might encounter in war zones.

The device's two-man crew located their targets through powerful lenses and fired beams from 500 metres away. That is nearly 17 times the range of existing non-lethal weapons, such as rubber bullets.

Anyone hit by the beam immediately jumped out of its path because of the sudden blast of heat throughout the body.

While the heat was not painful, it was intense enough to make the participants think their clothes were about to ignite.
January 26, 2007:
Reuters Alternet : US eyes heat-beaming weapon by 2010 (or here)
"This is a breakthrough technology that's going to give our forces a capability they don't now have," Theodore Barna, an assistant deputy undersecretary of defense for advanced systems and concepts, told Reuters. "We expect the services to add it to their tool kit. And that could happen as early as 2010."

Documents given out during the demonstration said more than 600 volunteers were exposed to the ray a total of more than 10,000 times since testing began over 12 years ago. They said there had been no injuries requiring medical attention during the five-year advanced development program.
What about the first seven years?

SF Gate again:
The system was developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory in New Mexico. During more than 12 years of testing, only two injuries requiring medical attention have been reported; both were second-degree burns, according to the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate Web site.

American commanders in Iraq already have asked to buy Raytheon's device.

A Dec. 1, 2006, urgent request signed by Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Robert Neller sought eight Silent Guardians.

Neller, then the deputy commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq, called the lack of such a non-lethal weapon a "chronic deficiency" that "will continue to harm" efforts to resolve showdowns with as little firepower as possible.

Huggins, then chief of staff of the Multi-National Force in Iraq and now deputy commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, wanted 14 vehicles for missions ranging from raids to convoy escorts.

U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in Iraq from its base in Tampa, Fla., backed the request, saying it was "critical to build upon our success in the counterinsurgency battle," according to its memo to the Pentagon.

The vehicles were not delivered, however.

In an interview, Franz Gayl, who was Neller's science adviser until the unit returned in February, blamed an entrenched, "risk-averse" military acquisition system for moving too slowly.

Gayl calls the system a "disruptive innovation" — an unconventional piece of equipment that breaks new ground and therefore is viewed skeptically by the offices that buy combat gear.
This idea -- that ground-breaking gear could (or maybe even should) be rejected because it's "disruptive" -- may seem crazy, but it is one of the oldest and most commonly recurring themes in military history. Most famously, perhaps, Poland was crushed by the German Panzers at the beginning of WWII, after the Polish general staff had insisted that cavalry was the best way to defend their homeland.

Predictably, the men on horseback stood no chance against the tanks.

But I really don't get so much as a whiff of this being an operative factor here.

None of the stories ring true, exactly ... and maybe it's because they're all coming from sources that have proven untrustworthy (with the exception of Gandhi, of course -- and he may very well be right!)

But given the US military's track record of bombing hundreds of innocent civilians on the outside chance of killing one or two terrorists, I can't help wondering if the thinking at the command level goes something like this:

"If we almost-burn them for just a nanosecond or two, they'll get up and fight us again. But if we blow their heads off, we we'll never have to worry about retaliation."

I don't want to think like that. But on the other hand, given everything else we know about this war, and about this administration, and given the Pentagon's penchant for lying about everything all the time, it's hard not to speculate. And unfortunately, a good deal of yesterday's wild speculation has already become today's reality.

And maybe the blood they really don't want to spill is yours!

But somehow I doubt that, too. In a fog of propaganda, doubt is the only rational position. I doubt therefore I am. Or more properly, I doubt we'll see big protests in the USA anytime soon, but I'm almost certain that if such a thing does transpire, active denial will be there. The protesters would "only" need a non-violent method of disarming a ray gun more than a quarter of a mile away.

What do you think? Am I close to the mark here? Just a bit outside? Away wide?

I'd be especially interested in opinions of readers with military backgrounds. Maybe our friend Ranger Against War will be able to enlighten us ... I'll send him an email and we'll see what comes back.


UPDATE: The comments thread is already very good. There's a lot more from Bluebear2 (here and here). I should have linked to those posts earlier. Please pardon my negligence.

There's also a great comment from z-ee describing how to defeat these multi-million-dollar monsters:
Please,.. please,.. please,..

If any progressive writer delves into the subject of the "non-lethal" active denial control system such as Gandhi, Bukko, or Winter Patriot please mention and share the details of a low cost defeat system that renders the mobile active denial system a worthless piece of junk at best. Or at worst an expensive weapons system that the armed force uses against their opponent - and the opponent then bounces the bullet (energy ray) (ricochet if you will) back at the armed forces from which the danger came. Thus inflicting harm to the source from which the weapon system was initially launched.

The Active Denial Defeat System:

(These could be built into protest signs used at a demonstration and screwed onto the pole of the protest sign. If the Active Denial System is trotted out - unscrew the defeat system from the protest sign and bounce/reflect the energy beam back at the counter protester armed force.)

Items needed:

2 count - 2 feet X 3 feet piece of rigid cardboard or white (foam sandwiched) board.

Large sheets of gold or silver Mylar or heavy duty aluminum foil.



Duct tape the two boards together along the long edge. On one side mount the foil/mylar reflective surface. Fold at the duct tape seam so one foil side touches the other foil side. On the exposed outside surface make your protest sign and screw it to a hand pole.

Counter measure if the Active Denial System is deployed:

Dismantle the protest signs by unscrewing the board from the hand pole. Open the board at a 90 degree angle with the foiled side exposed toward the source of the Active Denial System. (Assume the squat position) Capture the energy rays into your reflector antenna to protect your fellow protesters - and bounce the energy ray in the direction of the counter protest government armed forces. The energy beam will now inflict harm upon them.

This counter measure should be published far and wide. This is built upon the engineering principals of a "reflector antenna" - more specifically a CORNER REFLECTOR ANTENNA.

Please see links,..


Corner Reflector Antenna

Reflector Antenna General Principals.
Thanks to BB2 and z-ee for helping us all out here.

One Good Thing Leads To Another

One of the best but most time-consuming aspects of the net is the way one good thing can lead to another, and another, and so on, until ... what was I talking about?

Oh yes! Last weekend, Robert Fisk and his 9/11 column inspired quite a few bloggers including my frozen self, and I tried to read as many of them as I could find. I quite enjoyed a post from RedPill8, a site I hadn't seen before, so I checked in via the comments and checked out the archives and in a matter of just a few minutes I found I had spent several hours there, reading and reading and reading... I've since added a link to the site on my sidebar, so it will be easy to get back to! (Hint, hint!)

The discussion in the comments thread has been interesting and I've been following it (and throwing in my two cents, of course). The highlight of the thread so far, not likely to be topped -- or even approached -- is a link to damien's hilarious and factual blog, OsamaBinBolt. Here's the background:
Andrew Bolt is a columnist at the Herald Sun newspaper in Melbourne, Australia. He works mostly in domestic social commentary and occasionally confronts international issues. He is right wing and hostile to left wing influences such as unions and the Australian television outlets SBS and the publicly funded ABC whose standards are high but whose staff are philosophically left wing. Bolt's general style is dismissive of those who don't agree with him

Normally this would be of no consequence. But recently Bolt has published an article denigrating 9/11 critics - those persons we normally call 'conspiracy' theorists. Laced with his denigration is a systematic program of misrepresentation of what these people say and a refusal to even consider the ideas they present.

We need to be clear: Bolt can hold whatever views he likes on 9/11, but he rejects the views of others in dishonest ways and he claims a higher moral ground. This invites unmasking.

Andrew Bolt regards himself as an authority on all things 9/11 and uncritically mouths the official version.
So damien gave him a series of short tests, all of which Bolt failed:
I wrote to him under my own name last year following his hatchet job on Fisk. The response was abusive. So I then wrote as --

Stephen Hadley - Pres. Bush's National Security Advisor (asking for Bolt's thoughts on Iraq)

Michael Ledeen - neocon (warning Bolt not to take Hadley's letter too seriously)

Col. Thomas Pappus - found guilty of offenses at Abu Ghraib (agreeing with Bolt that the torture was isolated)

Sibel Edmonds - an FBI translator and leading 9/11 conspiracy theorist (bemoaning 9/11 conspiracies)

Mike Feghali - Sibel's boss (sympathizing with correspondent Sibel Edmonds)

Douglas and Can Dickerson - Turkish spies identified by Sibel Edmonds (on holidaying in Turkey)

Sahtam Al Suqamis -- 9/11 hijacker who's passport was found in the street (it's hard for Muslims to get passports)

Amanda Keller -- Mohammed Atta's girlfriend (terrorists need girlfriends)

Wally Hilliard - owner of Huffman Aviation, home of the 9/11 terrorists

Bolt recognized none of these names. Absolutely NONE. Having styled himself as a 9/11 expert he was unable to recognize any of these historical persons from the events of 9/11. Bolt knows nothing. He is a fraud.
I'm sure Bolt is not the only fraud, but his unmasking is stunningly effective. You'll laugh -- or cry -- or both! -- as Andrew Bolt responds to the concerns of "Sibel Edmonds", "Michael Ledeen", "David Hicks", "Thomas Pappas", and the others, without ever giving any hint of any knowledge of any kind.

It's perfect: it reminded me of Don Novello as Lazlo Toth sending fan mail to Richard Nixon!

... speaking of which, and speaking of time-consuming, and speaking of one thing leading to another ...

At LV's blog the other day I clicked a link to an essay on 9/11 by an author using the pen name "Lazlo Toth", and once again only a few minutes elapsed while I spent hours reading "Wired for Terror: On the Trail of the “Men” Who Brought Down the Towers"

It's an excellent piece. Hint, hint. And speaking of one good thing leading to another, this is the first of a planned four-part series -- it's only the introduction! When the new parts are ready, I'm sure it won't take but another few minutes to spend a few hours soaking in them, too! Wow!

And all this is happening at Lazlo Toth's blog and that's at WTC Demolition dot com. Hint, hint!

These links are not all on my sidebar yet, but they will be soon.

Great stuff, guys! Why didn't you find me earlier??

Oh well, better late than never.

Many thanks all around, and tips of the frozen cap to Sean O'Neil as LV and Lazlo Toth and (Don Novello too) and damien and RedPill8.

Please check out some of these pages, and if you get the urge leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

VIDEO : Bob Fitrakis On Exotic Weaponry

Here's a video of Dr. Bob Fitrakis speaking about exotic weaponry at a 9/11 conference in Wisconsin.

I'm not an expert in this field and I have no preconceptions about the possible use of exotic weapons on 9/11. But I have read a lot from Dr. Fitrakis that I found compelling, and I'm interested in what he has to say here.

I hope you'll be interested as well, and as always I invite your comments.

(a tip of the frozen cap to Bill Giltner at Giltner Review.)

Tom Toles: It Would Be Wrong

It certainly would be wrong.

USA Today Keeps The Good News Flowing -- Whether It's Absurd Or Not

When the news is bad, you have to talk about something else, if you're in the news business. Thus USA Today reports on a fantastic, absurd notion, and treats it as if it were serious! As if Bush and his administration would ever take advice from a group that's probably already on their list of enemies -- especially when that advice involves reversing the course of their most successful endeavor.
Most U.S. troops can be withdrawn safely from Iraq in roughly one year and the Bush administration should begin planning the pullout immediately, according to a study released Wednesday.

With the exception mostly of two brigades of about 8,000 troops who would remain in the touchy Kurdish region in the north for a year, trying to guard against conflict with Turkey, the U.S. troops would be moved to Kuwait initially, sags the study by the Center for American Progress, a self-described "progressive think tank" headed by John D. Podesta, a former chief of staff to former President Clinton.
That's my emphasis, of course. Of course.
A brigade and an air wing of some 70 to 80 planes would remain in the Persian Gulf country indefinitely.
Indefinitely is a very long time.
Meanwhile, the withdrawal would give the United States leeway to add 20,000 troops to the 25,000 in Afghanistan trying to counter Taliban and al-Qaeda forces.
Hey! I've got an idea! How about, before we kill anyone else, we take some of that $50 billion Bush wants for more war and spend it on a new, independent, transparent investigation of the crimes of 9/11?

Yes, another $50 BILLION. No, I'm not kidding!
President Bush plans to ask Congress next month for up to $50 billion in additional funding for the war in Iraq, a White House official said yesterday, a move that appears to reflect increasing administration confidence that it can fend off congressional calls for a rapid drawdown of U.S. forces.

The request -- which would come on top of about $460 billion in the fiscal 2008 defense budget and $147 billion in a pending supplemental bill to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq -- is expected to be announced after congressional hearings scheduled for mid-September featuring the two top U.S. officials in Iraq. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker will assess the state of the war and the effect of the new strategy the U.S. military has pursued this year.

The request is being prepared now in the belief that Congress will be unlikely to balk so soon after hearing the two officials argue that there are promising developments in Iraq but that they need more time to solidify the progress they have made, a congressional aide said.

Some consideration is being given to trimming the new request by a few billion dollars, the White House official said. But, he added, "this is pretty close to a done deal." Almost all the spending is relatively noncontroversial, he added, with the vast majority of it necessary just to keep the U.S. military operating in Iraq. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to reporters, said that the supplemental requests are likely to be "rolled together" and considered as one package.
And I wanted to spend that money finding out what really happened on 9/11. Silly me. You see? I've spent a few minutes looking at USA Today and now they've got me doing it! Like Bush is gonna take suggestions from a cold blogger!

But meanwhile the false optimism rolls on, in a grotesque parody of what used to be considered the national discourse:
How fast the troops depart from Iraq and most of them go home depends largely on how much essential equipment goes along with the withdrawal, according to the study.

The troops could be out of Iraq in no more than three months if the equipment is left behind, a course not proposed in the study.
So it's come to this: How much essential equipment do you think the troops should take home with them?
Lawrence Korb, a former Pentagon official who specialized in manpower and logistics there from 1981 to 1985, said in an interview: "It is essential that the military begin planning for a phased withdrawal from Iraq now so it can be safely completed within 10 to 12 months."
Ha!! On what planet does a former Pentagon official get to lecture the Decider Guy on what's essential? Bush won't even take advice from current Pentagon officials!
If the plan is adopted and U.S. combat units deployed in Iraq were not replaced as they went home the Bush administration could conclude the withdrawal by the end of next July "and with much more care than they did the invasion and occupation," the report said.
The administration could conclude the withdrawal by the end of next July ... but they won't!

Why would they cut their excellent adventure short when it's going so well already?

But the longer the media whores can keep you thinking that a withdrawal may be in the works, the happier the Decider Guy will be. It might annoy a cold blogger or two, it might get another few thousand Americans killed, and it might cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands more Iraqis, but who matters most, anyway? All these people, or the Decider Guy?

Clearly USA Today knows the answer.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

VIDEO : Graeme McQueen Says The WTC Towers Didn't Collapse; They Disintegrated!

The towers didn't collapse? Where have I heard that before?

In my view, this calm, deliberate and completely rational presentation from Professor Graeme McQueen, from Hamilton, Ontario's McMaster University stands up very well against the various "arguments" advanced by those who would defend the "official narrative" of 9/11.

As always, whether or not you agree with me, your comments are most welcome.

Did Bush Just Declare War On Iran?

Larisa Alexandrovna:
I was so startled by the President's speech that I sent word to various sources of mine asking them if I was losing my mind or if the President had just declared war on Iran. The response was that I was indeed reacting appropriately, meaning, it appears the President has indeed declared war on Iran.
That's my emphasis and here's how he did it.

George Bush:
The murderers and beheaders are not the true face of Islam; they are the face of evil. They seek to exploit religion as a path to power and a means to dominate the Middle East. The violent Islamic radicalism that inspires them has two main strains. One is Sunni extremism, embodied by al Qaida and its terrorist allies. Their organization advances a vision that rejects tolerance, crushes all dissent, and justifies the murder of innocent men, women, and children in the pursuit of political power. We saw this vision in the brutal rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan, where women were publicly whipped, men were beaten for missing prayer meetings, and young girls could not go to school.

These extremists hope to impose that same dark vision across the Middle East by raising up a violent and radical caliphate that spans from Spain to Indonesia. So they kill fellow Muslims in places like Algeria and Jordan and Egypt and Saudi Arabia in an attempt to undermine their governments. And they kill Americans because they know we stand in their way. And that is why they attacked U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998, and killed sailors aboard the USS Cole in 2001 [sic]. And that is why they killed nearly 3,000 people on 9/11. And that is why they plot to attack us again. And that is why we must stay in the fight until the fight is won.

The other strain of radicalism in the Middle East is Shia extremism, supported and embodied by the regime that sits in Tehran. Iran has long been a source of trouble in the region. It is the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. Iran backs Hezbollah who are trying to undermine the democratic government of Lebanon. Iran funds terrorist groups like Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which murder the innocent, and target Israel, and destabilize the Palestinian territories. Iran is sending arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan, which could be used to attack American and NATO troops. Iran has arrested visiting American scholars who have committed no crimes and pose no threat to their regime. And Iran's active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.

Iran's actions threaten the security of nations everywhere. And that is why the United States is rallying friends and allies around the world to isolate the regime, to impose economic sanctions. We will confront this danger before it is too late.

Shia extremists, backed by Iran, are training Iraqis to carry out attacks on our forces and the Iraqi people. Members of the Qods Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are supplying extremist groups with funding and weapons, including sophisticated IEDs. And with the assistance of Hezbollah, they've provided training for these violent forces inside of Iraq. Recently, coalition forces seized 240-millimeter rockets that had been manufactured in Iran this year and that had been provided to Iraqi extremist groups by Iranian agents. The attacks on our bases and our troops by Iranian-supplied munitions have increased in the last few months -- despite pledges by Iran to help stabilize the security situation in Iraq.

Some say Iran's leaders are not aware of what members of their own regime are doing. Others say Iran's leaders are actively seeking to provoke the West. Either way, they cannot escape responsibility for aiding attacks against coalition forces and the murder of innocent Iraqis. The Iranian regime must halt these actions. And until it does, I will take actions necessary to protect our troops. I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran's murderous activities.
Needless to say, much of Bush's case against Iran is either false or at least unproven -- not to mention hypocritical. He and his administration have presented no credible evidence to support any of their claims; what else is new? So much else in this text is familiar as well. Bush he speaks -- as Presidents always do -- as if America can do no wrong. He acts as if American soldiers occupying foreign soil under false pretenses do not constitute legitimate targets. He hopes we will forget that the USA has brought more weapons, more instability, and more death to Iraq than the Iranians have even been accused of, never mind what's actually been proven against them.

Bush says Iran threatens a nuclear holocaust. Why? Because they appear to be this far away from developing nuclear power? They don't have any nuclear weapons. They're not even close to being able to produce one. Their fundamentalist leadership has declared nuclear weapons contrary to the will of Allah. So they may be entirely serious about wanting nuclear technology for purely peaceful purposes. On the other hand, what if they're lying? What if they did develop a nuclear weapon? Would that really be the end of the world?

In other words, would the Iranians suddenly launch a nuclear weapon, just because they had one? Surely the Iranian regime -- despicable though it may be -- has some self-preservation instinct. Surely they know their main enemy in the region could retaliate with overwhelming force. And would. Gladly.

Of course the president didn't bother to mention any of that. And he was so busy talking about nuclear holocaust, he didn't even have time to mention that American depleted uranium has already made huge areas of the Middle East uninhabitable forever!

This is all of a piece, and we've heard it all before. The government calls it "public diplomacy". Some call it "propaganda". I prefer the term "manure". Others may prefer an easier-to-spell synonym. But it all smells the same.

Is there any possible way this mad rush to war can be stopped?

Larisa hasn't given up hope:
If military men of honor do not follow orders, it can be stopped.
So neither will I. But an unprovoked attack on Iran has looked inevitable for almost a year. So the hope is thin at this point -- one or two molecules thick at the most, as my science adviser would say.

It's still there, but we're this close.

And if there's war with Iran, can domestic terror and martial law be far behind?


For much more detailed analysis, please see these posts at Larisa's blog:


Larry Johnson's fantastic analysis

OMG, Part 2

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Study Says US Plans Include Massive Full-Spectrum Assault On Iran

Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane report on a study which was
written by well-respected British scholar and arms expert Dr. Dan Plesch, Director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, and Martin Butcher, a former Director of the British American Security Information Council (BASIC) and former adviser to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament
and which says:
The U.S has the capacity for and may be prepared to launch without warning a massive assault on Iranian uranium enrichment facilities, as well as government buildings and infrastructure, using long-range bombers and missiles
Plesch and Butcher dispute conventional wisdom that any US attack on Iran would be confined to its nuclear sites. Instead, they foresee a "full-spectrum approach," designed to either instigate an overthrow of the government or reduce Iran to the status of "a weak or failed state." Although they acknowledge potential risks and impediments that might deter the Bush administration from carrying out such a massive attack, they also emphasize that the administration's National Security Strategy includes as a major goal the elimination of Iran as a regional power.
Of course there's more, and you can read it at Raw Story.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Tom Toles: We'll Have To Wash Ashore Somewhere

Greece Ablaze: Is This The Way The World Ends?

Peter Hammill:
The current affair gets to be my business,
I heard the news on the radio:
the sun on earth... what is this?
Is that the way that the crazy goes?
The Scotsman:
UP TO half of mainland Greece was in flames yesterday with firefighters battling to save the ancient site of the Olympic games and a 2,500-year-old temple of Apollo from wildfires raging through the country.

The death toll rose to at least 58 after five people were killed on the island of Evia, north of Athens, but it was feared many more may have perished in fires so large and intense they were visible from space.

New fires also broke out faster than others could be brought under control.

Officials believe that arson was responsible for many of the blazes and several people had been arrested. The government also announced a reward of up to £500,000 for anyone providing information that would lead to the arrest of an arsonist.
International Herald Tribune:
In late afternoon, [Maria Dimopoulos], 56, decided to lay down a bunch of white daisies on the spot where her cousins, Nikos and Maria Dimopoulos, the brother and sister, both in their 70s, died.

The three of them had been fleeing the fire together when a police officer stopped and urged them to get into his car. Dimopoulos did, but the other two did not want to leave their donkey, their only possession of value.

"I told you, 'Come with me!' " she said, laying the flowers down next to the dead donkey on the side of the road. "You wouldn't come. Why wouldn't you come?"
Attention tuned to the satellites,
looking down for an overview.
In the chapel of space we are acolytes.
In the battle of time we're all soldiers too
and the relative choir push the energy higher
Under fire.
International Herald Tribune:
The fire quickly ripped into Artemida, about three kilometers, or two kilometers, away. Residents piled into cars down the road toward Zaharo, the area's main town, on the Aegean Sea. Alexandropoulos, at the time in Zaharo, said he heard that the flames reached his village and called his mother, who was taking care of his son, Phillipos.

"I didn't even speak with her," he said. "I just said, 'I'm coming. Get going.' "

"I just didn't make it," he said.

He could not, according to several accounts, because fire swept across the road to the village, blocking off cars. Karta-Paraskevopoulos, her car full of her children and possibly others, turned around along with another car. In the smoke and confusion, there was an accident with other fleeing cars and a fire truck, which rolled over. Everyone in the convoy, several of them elderly, fled up a slope into the olive groves, where they died.

"I thought of nothing - just death," said Vassilis Mitros, 28, among a party who saw the bodies - he counted 24 - early the next morning.

Now the once-lovely hills are burnt to white ash and olive trees like blackened skeletons, planted after death. All but 14 of the 60 homes here were damaged or destroyed; in Artemida, 17 of the 70 houses were lost, though Karta-Paraskevopoulos's house was intact. The region normally produces 10,000 tons of oil, but nearly all the trees are now destroyed, along with countless livelihoods. Charred donkeys and chickens litter ruined farms.

"This village is literally wiped out," Bammi said. "It's not just those who have been killed. Those who are left have no fields to work in, no olive trees. They have nothing to look forward to."
International Herald Tribune:
A woman killed on Friday, her charred body found with her arms around her four children, might have been safe if she had stayed in her home. It was the only house left untouched by the flames in the village of Artemida in the western Peloponnese. The house's white walls and red tile roof were unscathed, surrounded by blackened earth.
The current affair gets to be all our businness,
it's filtered in through the T.V. screen.
The norm, the average...what is this,
when it goes blank what does that all mean?
And what's the drive of each individual?
And what's the way that the story ends?
Is it Mr. X, left as the last residual
holder of the flame, conscience of all men?
But he's so tense to expire
he throws himself on the wire
under fire.
The Scotsman:
In the early hours of the morning, church bells rang out the alarm in Kolyri and residents gathered their belongings and fled through the night.

They told how the blaze had covered 1¼ miles in just three minutes.

"It's hell everywhere," said resident Costas Ladas. "I've never seen anything like it."

Constantine Karamanlis, the Greek prime minister, has declared the entire nation in a state of emergency and national mourning and ordered flags to fly at half staff on government buildings.

The opening of the Greek premier football league, scheduled to start yesterday, was postponed until further notice as were a number of cultural and entertainment events.

Three weeks away from a general election, the government presented the country as under attack by "suspect interests", which it would not specify.

Mr Karamanlis said: "So many fires in different places and at the same time cannot be a coincidence. This is a national tragedy."

But the opposition socialist and communist parties blamed the government for incompetence and delays in taking action.
International Herald Tribune:
Greece's few remaining patches of forest rapidly were being rapidly incinerated, and the environmental consequences will be dire, experts said.

The worst of the fires are concentrated in the mountains of the Peloponnese in the south and on the island of Evia north of Athens. Strong winds blew smoke and ash over the capital.

"This is an immense ecological disaster," said Theodota Nantsou, WWF Greece Conservation Manager. "We had an explosive mixture of very adverse weather conditions, tinder-dry forests — to an extent not seen for many years — combined with the wild winds of the past two weeks. It's a recipe to burn the whole country."
The Scotsman:
THE weather has been causing worldwide havoc.

The US states of Idaho and California have, like Greece, been hit by wildfires, while Ohio, already suffering from flooding, was hit by tornados that left hundreds of thousands with no electricity.

Meanwhile, China, India and Romania have been suffering from severe flooding.

In the US, a mandatory evacuation was ordered for residents of more than 1,000 homes south of Ketchum in Idaho where a massive wildfire raged.

And in California, a seven-week-old wildfire has been burning in Santa Barbara county and a recommended evacuation has been put into effect.

In Ohio, beleaguered residents were picking up the pieces after tornado-bearing thunderstorms knocked out power across the state.

Powerful storms during most of the past week caused disastrous floods from south-eastern Minnesota to Ohio that were blamed for at least 18 deaths.

In China, the official Xinhua News Agency yesterday reported torrential rainstorms had triggered landslides and floods, killing at least 13 people.

In India, nearly 2,000 people have been killed by snake bites, drowning, diarrhoea and in house collapses since July when swollen rivers burst their banks, inundating huge areas in eastern India and Bangladesh. The death toll rose by 74 over the weekend.

Overnight rains also caused widespread flooding in Romania, when rivers overflowed, leaving about 1,400 people stranded in villages and forcing the evacuation of the 17th-century Sambata de Sus Monastery.
Peter Hammill's monsterpiece, "Mr. X (gets tense)", in full:
The current affair gets to be my business,
I heard the news on the radio:
the sun on earth... what is this?
Is that the way that the crazy goes?

Attention tuned to the satellites,
looking down for an overview.
In the chapel of space we are acolytes.
In the battle of time we're all soldiers too
and the relative choir push the energy higher
Under fire.

The sliding show in the macroscopic,
finger on the button pointing to progress.
The apparatus roll, no-one here can stop it,
too busy learning more - always knowing less.
Soon turkey-wrapped in the spaceman blanket
we'll offer up lame duck apologies
and settle down for the final banquet,
the gourmet dish of technology...
cryogenic device catches all human life
under ice.

The current affair gets to be all our businness,
it's filtered in through the T.V. screen.
The norm, the average...what is this,
when it goes blank what does that all mean?
And what's the drive of each individual?
And what's the way that the story ends?
Is it Mr. X, left as the last residual
holder of the flame, conscience of all men?
But he's so tense to expire
he throws himself on the wire
under fire.

Is this the way the world ends?
Under ice, under fire?
Has there been some mistaken design?
Under ice
got to find the human voice.
Lord, deliver us from Babel.

Special Pak/UK Extradition Agreement In The Works; Former Suspect's Assets Released; Lighters Now OK On Airplanes

A confused report from India that reached us over the weekend suggested that Britain and Pakistan had signed an extradition treaty. Negotiations over such a treaty have faltered in the past, reportedly because the British don't like the way the Pakistanis use capital punishment.

A subsequent report from Pakistan indicated they had merely signed an agreement to exchange a few prisoners.

A full extradition treaty would have been a breakthrough of sorts in the so-called "Liquid Bombers" case, as it could perhaps allow Britain to try the alleged ringleader, mastermind, and al-Q'aeda connection Rashid Rauf, who was arrested last August and is being held in Pakistan, where he still hasn't even had a proper court appearance.

Instead of an extradition treaty, officials are now talking about a one-time extradition agreement that would make Rashid Rauf available for trial in Britain, where he is wanted in connection with both the alleged airline bombing plot and the 2003 murder of his uncle.

In other "Liquid Bomber" news, the assets of Shazad Khuram Ali have finally been released. They were frozen on suspicion of fundraising for terrorism after he was arrested on August 10 of last year, and even though he was released without charge on September 6, his accounts remained under UK government control until they were finally released earlier this month.

They didn't have enough to charge him with any crime whatsoever, but they froze his assets for more than a year! What justifies this sort of treatment? This is as close to an explanation as we are likely to get:
A Treasury spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with ministry policy, said Ali's assets were released after consultation with police and intelligence officers.

"It is for the police and the intelligence agencies to make operational judgments about which tools to deploy in individual cases," the spokesman said. "Cases are always kept under review."
John Caruso at The Distant Ocean caught an amazing news item last month.
TSA will no longer ban common lighters in carry-on luggage starting August 4, 2007. Torch lighters remain banned in carry-ons.

Lifting the lighter ban is consistent with TSA's risk-based approach to aviation security. First and foremost, lighters no longer pose a significant threat.
So someone can now bring a device through security that lets them start a fire on the plane, but you can't bring enough water with you to put it out. Makes perfect sense to me. You might find yourself wondering why it is that "lighters no longer pose a significant threat" -- which apparently means they once did -- but good luck finding out from the TSA news release, which assiduously sidesteps the issue. Then again, maybe it's better not to probe too deeply, since it's actually quite comforting to learn that fire on an airplane is no longer dangerous!
How and why was this change made? Because that's the way Zippo wants it to be.

We've fallen so far through the looking glass that even the word "unbelievable" is too mild.

My mother-in-law called from the airport the other day; she was about to board an international flight and the security people confiscated a bottle of water she had bought to take with her. I said "That was a mistake, Mom. You should have brought a lighter!" She didn't think that was funny.

She said there was a big bin by the loading gate that was full of bottles of water. "Any lighters in there?" I asked. But she didn't think that was funny, either.

But what the heck? Since fire on an airplane is no longer dangerous, who needs water?


Eighteenth in a series.