Flash Gordon Left Me The Keys

The TEST OF ALL MOTHERS

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

 
Have A Good Afternoon...Today's soccer news from around the world
Pompey back in top flight (Tue Apr 15)


Portsmouth's 15-year wait for a return to the top flight of English football finally came to an end. . . .more . . .


Fulham to stay at Loftus Road (Tue Apr 15)


Fulham fans, already suffering from the stress of a relegation dogfight, received another blow when the club confirmed they will be playing their home games at Queen's Park Rangers' Loftus Road ground for another season. . . .more . . .


Wales on tenterhooks over Azerbaijan ban (Tue Apr 15)


Azerbaijan's suspension from world football is causing sleepless nights in Wales. . . .more . . .


FA give Eriksson ally the chop (Tue Apr 15)


One of England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson's closest aides at the English Football Association has been made redundant. . . .more . . .


Top German clubs back Bayern punishment (Tue Apr 15)


Germany's professional football clubs gave their resounding backing to sanctions taken by the German football league(DFL) against Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich over a secret deal with KirchMedia. . . .more . . .


"Different" Dugarry urged to stay at Birmingham (Tue Apr 15)


French World Cup winner Christophe Dugarry, who scored his first goal for Birmingham since his move from Bordeaux in January at the weekend, has been urged to extend his stay at the Midlands outfit. . . .more . . .


Kaiserslautern say 'auf wiedersen' to Basler, Koch and Koch (Tue Apr 15)


Kaiserslautern announced they would not be renewing the contracts for three of the Bundesliga club's stalwarts. . . .more . . .


Argentina beckons for Guingamp's Fabbri (Tue Apr 15)


Guingamp defender Nestor Fabbri has turned down a twelve-month extension to his contract with the French first division side in his bid to join a team in his native Argentina next season, the club said. . . .more . . .


Fergie tells United to put their foot on the accelerator (Tue Apr 15)


Sir Alex Ferguson has demanded a Formula One performance from his Manchester United squad at Highbury. . . .more . . .


Beckham and Barthez ready to face Gunners firing line (Tue Apr 15)


Manchester United duo David Beckham and Fabien Barthez have won their battles with injury and will be fit to face Arsenal in the potential Premiership title-decider at Highbury. . . .more . . .


De Boer lets fly at Celtic moaners (Tue Apr 15)


Rangers' star Ronald de Boer has branded Old Firm rivals Celtic moaners for protesting over fixture congestion. . . .more . . .


England delay ticket sales as UEFA mulls fan ban (Tue Apr 15)


English football authorities have delayed the sale of tickets for England's Euro 2004 qualifier against Slovakia in June in case they are forced to play the match behind closed doors. . . .more . . .


FIFA rejects Roberto Carlos appeal (Tue Apr 15)


Football's governing body FIFA rejected an appeal from Brazilian wing-back Roberto Carlos against a provisional ban stopping him playing for his country. . . .more . . .


Gunners recall heavy artillery for title decider (Tue Apr 15)


Arsenal are set to have all their big guns firing as they seek to stop Manchester United's title surge in its tracks at Highbury. . . .more . . .


Cantona backs United to pip Gunners at the post (Tue Apr 15)


Manchester United legend Eric Cantona is predicting a draw for his old club in the Highbury showdown against Arsenal. . . .more . . .


Barthez injury scare but Keane winning his fitness battle (Mon Apr 14)


Manchester United goalkeeper Fabien Barthez is suffering from a toe injury picked up in his side's 6-2 win over Newcastle United at the weekend. . . .more . . .


Leverkusen's coach offers to stand down (Mon Apr 14)


Thomas Horster, coach of last year's Champions League and German league runners-up Bayer Leverkusen, tendered his resignation. . . .more . . .


Santos to replace Boloni as Sporting Lisbon coach: report (Mon Apr 14)


Former FC Porto coach Fernando Santos will replace Laszlo Boloni as manager of under-performing Sporting Lisbon at the end of the season, it was reported. . . .more . . .


Russia's soccer tsar Spartak Moscow in money laundering scandal (Mon Apr 14)


Russia's perennial soccer champians Spartak Moscow came under fire amid reports that the team's managers laundered millions of dollars from profitable sales of players to Europe's superclubs. . . .more . . .


Rayo Vallecano sack coach Benitez (Mon Apr 14)


Spanish league tailenders Rayo Vallecano have sacked their Paraguayan coach Gustavo Benitez, the first division side confirmed. . . .more . . .


Coly set to flower in Birmingham (Mon Apr 14)


Senegal international Ferdinand Coly is on track to finally make his mark on English football, Birmingham manager Steve Bruce says. . . .more . . .


Kluivert keeps door open on Italy return (Mon Apr 14)


Barcelona's star Dutch striker Patrick Kluivert is refusing to rule out a return to Italy where he spent one disastrous season with AC Milan. . . .more . . .


Maldini has surgery on broken nose (Mon Apr 14)


AC Milan defender Paolo Maldini had surgery on his broken nose which he suffered in the 1-0 win over local rivals Inter Milan at the San Siro. . . .more . . .


Rummenigge quits German national team working group (Mon Apr 14)


Bayern Munich president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge resigned Monday from the German national team working group after a dispute between the Bundesliga giants and the German football league (DFL). . . .more . . .


Becks to stay at United, club says (Mon Apr 14)


Manchester United have said there is no truth to the stories that David Beckham will be sold to Real Madrid in the summer. . . .more . . .


FA probe Warnock ref complaints (Mon Apr 14)


The Football Association (FA) said they were probing Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock's remarks about referee Graham Poll following his sides FA Cup semi-final loss to Arsenal. . . .more . . .


Lennon hit by abuse (Mon Apr 14)


Celtic's former Northern Ireland international midfielder Neil Lennon claimed that a minority of supporters have driven his father away from Parkhead. . . .more . . .


Architect of Bayern's weekend downfall sought by Schalke (Mon Apr 14)


French international Johan Micoud, who scored the only goal in Werder Bremen's surprise defeat of Bayern Munich at the weekend, is being wooed by Schalke 04. . . .more . . .


Keane winning fitness battle (Mon Apr 14)


Manchester United captain Roy Keane is winning his fight to be fit for the English Premiership tie against Arsenal at Highbury. . . .more . . .


Wenger says Seaman staying at Highbury (Mon Apr 14)


Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was full of praise for veteran keeper David Seaman after the England international produced a brilliant save to secure a 1-0 FA Cup semi-final win over Sheffield United at Old Trafford. . . .more . . .


 

“The Right's Opportunity”The impressive first-round victory of Alvaro Uribe in Colombia’s recent presidential election represents an important turning point for Colombia and Latin America as a whole. Until now, the political center of gravity of the region’s democracies was clearly to the left of center. With Uribe’s election, Colombia becomes the first democratic country to elect a “hard liner” as its leader.

This does not mean that Latin America has lacked for presidents willing to crack down on guerrillas and criminal groups intent on subverting democratically elected governments. The problem has been that governments willing to use force against such groups have generally been military regimes. As a result, civilian regimes, in their efforts to differentiate themselves from their military counterparts, have tended to favor negotiated solutions to challenges by armed groups operating outside of the constitutional framework. Furthermore, negotiated and military solutions to problems have usually been regarded as mutually exclusive, rather than potentially complementary and reinforcing.

The problem was compounded by the fact that conservative candidates, when they did appear, usually had little to say about ameliorating the abysmal poverty and inequality that characterize Latin America. Instead, such candidates were seen as representatives of a privileged elite that was intent on maintaining its wealth and lifestyle. The short-lived Carmona administration in Venezuela, although not elected, reinforced this stereotype. The obvious exception is the election of Vicente Fox, who was the candidate of a right-of-center party. In that case, the voters were willing to overlook that fact in order to defeat the party that had controlled Mexico’s presidency for over 70 years. The fact that Fox leaned heavily on left-of-center advisors also helped.

There were extenuating circumstances in the case of Uribe’s election as well. Colombians would never have chosen the hard-line candidate without having first lived through the sincere but spectacularly unsuccessful efforts of President Andrés Pastrana to achieve a negotiated settlement with the main guerrilla group, the FARC, from a position of military weakness. Pastrana’s failure finally allowed Colombian voters to support a candidate who called for the outright defeat of the guerrillas.

What makes President-elect Uribe especially interesting, however, is his broad political agenda, which includes policies associated with both the right and the left. While calling for a doubling in the size of the military, he also has welcomed negotiations with the guerrillas, but only if they first lay down their arms. He also has stopped romanticizing the left-wing guerrillas by refusing to treat them differently from the right-wing ones. He supports the neo-liberal economic reform agenda, but also advocates additional reforms specifically to help Colombia’s poor. And he has pledged to double the size of the police, while calling for a strengthening of the rule of law in order to combat crime and corruption and to restore a sense of personal security to all Colombians.

Although Colombia is in a class by itself in terms of the guerrilla threat, the problem has already spilled over into neighboring countries. In addition, crime, corruption and dysfunctional judicial systems are undermining support for democracy throughout the region. The gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen, and neo-liberal reforms are wrongly being blamed for a variety of social and economic ills. Because of the traditional weakness of the democratic right in Latin America, dissatisfaction with incumbents tends to move public opinion toward populist, left-of-center alternatives. Perhaps Colombia can show Latin America that there can also be a right-of-center option- one that is both democratic and responsive to the needs of the population.





 
The Colombian Connection.... In mid-March, Valmore Locarno Rodriguez and Victor Orcasita were riding from their jobs at the Loma coal mine in northern Colombia. Locarno and Orcasita were president and vice president of the union at the mine, a local of Sintramienergetica, one of Colombia's two coal miners' unions. As the company bus neared Valledupar, 30 miles from the mine, it was stopped by 15 gunmen, some in military uniforms.

They began checking the identification of the workers, and when they found the two union leaders, they were pulled off the bus. Locarno was hit in the head with a rifle butt.

One of the gunmen then shot him in the face, as his fellow workers on the bus watched in horror. Orcasita was taken off into the woods at the side of the road. There he was tortured. When his body was found later, his fingernails had been torn off.

Leading a union often means losing a job, even blacklisting. In many countries, it can bring imprisonment by governments who view unions as a threat to the social and economic elite. But the most dangerous country by far is Colombia, where labor activism is often punished with death. By mid-May, 44 Colombian trade union leaders already had been murdered this year. Last year, assassinations cost the lives of 129 others. According to Hector Fajardo, general secretary of the United Confederation of Workers (CUT), the country's largest union federation, 3,800 trade unionists have been assassinated since 1986. Out of every five trade unionists killed in the world, three are Colombian.

U.S. energy, trade and military policies are contributing to the devastation of the country's labor movement. Bush administration energy policies encourage the use of coal in U.S. power plants, and millions of tons are now mined for export by U.S. corporations in the midst of Colombia's civil war. Free market economic reforms, pushed by the International Monetary Fund, are provoking a wave of resistance by Colombian labor, which is being met by violent repression. And U.S. military aid provided by Plan Colombia supports activities by right-wing paramilitary groups, who in turn target trade union leaders.

The Loma mine is owned by Drummond Co., a multi-national corporation based in Birmingham, Alabama. Drummond opened the mine in 1994, and it is now Colombia's second largest. At first, according to Ken Zinn of the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM), Drummond promised its U.S. workers that it wouldn't import Colombian coal to compete with its U.S. operations.

But since 1994, Drummond has closed five mines in Alabama, laying off 1,700 members of the United Mine Workers. Its one remaining U.S. mine employs about 500 miners.

Alabama used to export coal--13 million tons in 1996, mostly from Drummond mines.

Last year's exports totaled only 3 million tons. But 5 million tons of Colombian coal crossed the Alabama State Docks in Mobile last year. It was bound for plants operated by the Alabama Power Co., a division of the Southern Co., which also operates generating facilities in Florida and Mississippi. The plants were formerly fueled by Drummond's U.S. mines. Another half million tons went to the Alabama Electrical Cooperative. At the Loma mine, production rose 4 million tons in 2000, to a total of 11.8 million, after the company built a huge drag line. The company expects to sell 15 million tons next year, and 25 million tons by 2006. For Drummond the transfer has resulted in substantial savings on labor costs. A union miner in Alabama earns $18 an hour, or $3,060 a month, plus benefits.

At the Loma mine, wages range from about $500 to $1,000 a month.

Mineworkers Vice President Jerry Jones says Drummond transferred operations to Colombia "knowing that country's hostile political climate and egregious human rights violations."

Colombia is the world's fourth-largest coal exporter-- it shipped 30 million tons of coal in 2000, worth $794 million. Coal is the country's third-largest source of export earnings. Last year the government's mines in central Colombia were privatized as part of economic reforms mandated by the IMF, and sold to a consortium of South African, Swiss and British investors for $384 million. The formerly state-owned Cerrejon Norte mine, the largest export mine in the world, is now operated as a joint venture between the government and Exxon Mobil Corp. Conditions for Colombian miners are some of the world's most dangerous. An April 27 blast at the Cana Brava mine in Santander province killed 15 miners. In October 1997, another explosion buried 16 coal miners alive in El Diviso mine, near Cucuta.

Drummond clearly sees an interest in supporting a Bush administration policy that encourages the increased use of coal in electrical generation. And it sees U.S. military intervention in Colombia in its interest as well. "We are in support of the Colombian Plan and the U.S. efforts in the drug war," Mike Tracy, a Drummond spokesman, told journalist Stephen Jackson, writing in the Latin American Post.

That support translated into a $50,000 donation by Drummond to the Republican National Committee last July; $25,000 to the National Republican Congressional Campaign; and $20,000 to the National Republican Senate Campaign last October.

Overall, the coal industry dumped $3.8 million into the 2000 elections, and gave 88 percent of it to Republicans. In turn, the Bush campaign pursued a "cars and coal" strategy to win mining states, among others, based on an industry-friendly perspective. (And after the election, the administration dropped a campaign pledge that it would back carbon-dioxide emissions reductions from coal-fired power stations. That policy change has a big impact on the Alabama plants burning Colombian coal.)

On November 3, Bush told a crowd in West Virginia, where he would beat Al Gore four days later, that "coal is going to energize America." He didn't promise, however, that it would be mined in the United States.

Colombia's rightist paramilitary army, the United Self-Defense Group (AUC), was blamed for the murders of Locarno and Orcasita by the local police commander.

According to Ken Zinn of the ICEM, the AUC had issued a number of death threats against the leaders of the union at the Loma mine, accusing them of being in league with the country's main guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). "In the conflict a lot of assumptions are made quickly," explains Rafael Albuquerque, who represents the International Labor Organization in Colombia. "One of those assumptions is that many union leaders support the guerrillas."

The region has been the scene of intense conflict between the FARC and the AUC. The guerrillas allegedly levy a 10 percent tax on coal moving by rail out of the mine, which Drummond has refused to pay, and the 215-mile rail line to Puerto Drummond on the coast was bombed five times in the last year. In response, company President Gary Drummond visited Colombian President Andres Pastrana last year to demand increased protection.

Locarno and Orcasita themselves had repeatedly pleaded with the company for protection. In a meeting just a week before the assassinations, the union demanded that Drummond provide security for its workers, and that the company abide by a previous agreement allowing them to sleep overnight at the mine. The company ignored the agreement and refused to allow the men to stay. Protesting the deaths of their leaders, 1,200 miners at Loma briefly stopped working.

The mining union leaders have not been the only targets of the AUC. On March 22, just days after the murders in Valledupar, two leaders of the Colombian electrical workers union, Andres Granados and Jaime Sanchez, were gunned down. In mid-March, Eugenio Sanchez Diaz, a union activist in the oil town of Barrancabermeja, was dragged from his home and shot in the street. On the last day of March, Jaime Alberto Duque Castro, leader of the El Cairo Cement Workers Union, was kidnapped by armed gunmen.

Another union leader, Ricardo Orozco, vice president of the Colombian Hospital Workers Union, had his name on a list of 50 union leaders in Barranquilla, which was circulated by the paramilitary death squads. He was shot by a gunman in April, and his death was followed by two days of national labor protest.

Robin Kirk, who monitors human rights abuses in Colombia for Human Rights Watch, says that there are strong ties between the paramilitaries and the Colombian military.

"The Colombian military and intelligence apparatus has been virulently anti-Communist since the '50s," she says, "and they look at trade unionists as subversives--as a very real and potential threat. Generally they see groups on the left as linked to the ideology that led to the formation of guerrilla groups."

Violence against trade unionists is part of a larger context of violence against community leaders and human rights activists. According to the Colombian Commission of Jurists, 6,000 Colombians were killed as the result of social and political violence in 2000. The CCJ attributes 80 percent of the killings to the paramilitaries, 15 percent to the guerrillas and 5 percent directly to the government. But Roberto Molino of the CCJ says that "in the case of the paramilitaries, you cannot underestimate the collaboration of government forces."

The Colombian government also views union activity as a threat because it challenges its basic economic policies. The Pastrana administration is under pressure from the IMF and World Bank to cut the public sector budget, causing mass terminations, along with cuts in education, health care and pensions. In January, finance minister Juan Manuel Santos announced measures that would close many state agencies, laying off 42,000 workers.

The money would be used to pay the country's debt to foreign banks and lending institutions, making Colombia more attractive to foreign investors. In March, the General Confederation of Democratic Workers organized a 24-hour strike of 700,000 workers, including 300,000 teachers and education employees, protesting the layoffs. On June 7, tens of thousands of Colombian workers took to the streets in marches across the country opposing the IMF.

The Colombian Federation of Educators (FECODE) struck on May 15 for 48 hours over Santos' proposal to cut the education budget by $340 million. FECODE President Gloria Ines Ramirez predicted that the cuts would deprive 500,000 Colombian children of an education, and 3 million people have already signed petitions opposing them. Heath care workers also joined the strike. "We will not allow the government to make budget cuts for two of the most important necessities for our poorest sector simply to pay interest on the foreign debt," Ines declared.

Being a teachers union activist in Colombia is as dangerous as being a coal mine leader. Since 1986, 418 educators have been murdered. In just one week in early May, Dario de Jesus Silva, a 22-year veteran teacher in Antioquia, and Juan Carlos Castro Zapata, another school worker in the same province, were assassinated. Both were activists in the teachers' union ADIDA. On May 14, Julio Alberto Otero, a university lecturer and union activist, was also killed.

The IMF mandate for privatization has been just as bitterly resisted. The union for workers at the government corporation EMCALI, which provides garbage, water and electricity to Cali city residents, has fought the company's sell-off. One of the union's activists, Carlos Eliecer Prado, was killed in May. "Colombian trade unionists have been targeted by dark forces moving inside the state," a union statement warned. "They seek to silence through assassination, eviction or terror those who are against privatization and those who defend human rights."

The wave of death and violence is made possible by growing U.S. aid to the Colombian armed forces. Under Plan Colombia, the United States has funneled more than $1 billion into the country, almost entirely in the form of military assistance. Colombia is the third-largest recipient of U.S. military aid in the world. The money funds a dirty war against all critics of the Colombian social and economic order, including unionists.

This spring, the United Steelworkers sent a formal delegation to Colombia in the wake of the murders of Locarno and Orcasita. The delegation met with leaders of the CUT. After the delegation made its report, Steelworkers President Leo Gerard warned the U.S. government, "We are strongly opposed to the amount of military aid being sent to the Colombian army when trade unionists and innocent people are being killed by the very military forces we are financing."

The Steelworkers' criticism follows a position taken by the AFL-CIO last year, which also called for ending military assistance. Labor's strong reaction to the Colombian murders stands in contrast to its relative silence during the Reagan administration-sponsored wars in Central America in the '80s. During that era, Cold War anti-communism led AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland to try to suppress widespread criticism of U.S. foreign policy in union ranks. Kirkland and other labor conservatives accused most Colombian unions of being too left-wing. In turn, the Colombians, like many Third World labor federations, accused the AFL-CIO of supporting only anti-communist unions that defended U.S. foreign policy.

Today, U.S. unions want relations with all sectors of Colombian labor, and use a single standard in calling for the defense of unions under attack. "Trade union rights are human rights, and our union will fight to protect them everywhere," Gerard says. "We demand that the Colombian government protect all trade unionists in their country and do everything in its power to bring these assassins to justice."


 
COLOMBIA: US fuels dirty war against unionsThe Bush administration’s call to step up US reliance on fossil fuels, especially coal, is producing more than environmental consequences. One of the main countries now a source for coal burned in US power plants is Colombia. And in Colombia, US energy, military and trade policies are becoming intertwined with devastating consequences for the country's labour movement.

Leading a union often means losing a job, even blacklisting. In many countries, it can bring imprisonment by governments which view unions as a threat to the social and economic elite. But in some countries, election to union office carries even greater peril. The most dangerous country by far is Colombia, where labour activism is often punished with death.

Forty-four Colombian trade union leaders had been violently murdered this year alone. Last year's assassinations cost the lives of 129 others. According to Hector Fajardo, general secretary of the country's largest union federation, the Unified Confederation of Workers (CUT), 3800 trade unionists have been assassinated in Colombia since 1986. Out of every five trade unionists killed in the world, three are Colombian, according to a recent US union report.

US unions increasingly point to a network of US policies which they believe contribute to the targeting of Colombian unionists. US military aid provided by Plan Colombia often supports activities by right-wing paramilitary groups, which in turn target trade union leaders. Bush administration energy policies encourage the use of coal in US power plants, and millions of tonnes are now mined in the midst of Colombia's civil war by US corporations. And free-market economic reforms, pushed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), are provoking a wave of resistance by Colombian workers which is being met by violent repression.

In mid-March, Valmore Locarno Rodriguez and Victor Hugo Orcasita were riding from their jobs at the Loma coal mine in northern Colombia. Locarno Rodriguez and Orcasita were chairperson and vice-chairperson of the union at the mine, a local of Sintramienergetica, one of Colombia's two coal miners' unions. As the company bus neared Valledupar, 48 km from the mine, it was stopped by 15 gunmen, some in military uniforms. They began checking the identification of the workers, and when they found the two union leaders, they were pulled off the bus.

Locarno was hit in the heat with a rifle butt. One of the gunmen then shot him in the face, as his fellow workers on the bus watched in horror. Orcasita was taken off into the woods at the side of the road. There he was tortured. When his body was later found, his fingernails had been torn off.

Protesting the deaths, 1200 miners at Loma stopped work.

The Loma mine is owned by a US multinational corporation, Drummond Company, based in Birmingham, Alabama. Drummond opened the Loma mine in 1994, and it is now Colombia's second largest.

At first, according to Ken Zinn, North American regional coordinator of the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions, the company promised workers in its US mines that its Colombian coal wouldn't be imported into the US to compete with its US operations. But since 1994, Drummond has closed five mines in Alabama, laying off 1700 members of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). Its one remaining US mine employs about 500 miners.

Last year, five million tons of Colombian coal crossed the Alabama State Docks in Mobile. It was bound for plants operated by the Alabama Power Company, a division of the Southern Company, which also operates generating facilities in Florida and Mississippi. The plants were formerly fuelled by Drummond's US mines. Another half million tons went to the Alabama Electrical Cooperative.

Alabama used to export coal — 13 million tons in 1996, mostly from Drummond mines. Last year's exports totalled only three million tons. At the Loma mine, production rose by four million tons in 2000, to a total of 11.8 million, after the company built a huge drag line. The company expects to sell 15 million tons next year, and 25 million tons by 2006.

For Drummond the transfer has resulted in substantial savings on labour costs. A UMWA miner in Alabama earns US$18 per hour, or US$3060 per month, not counting benefits. At the Loma mine, the four wage classifications range from 1,500,000 to 2,100,000 pesos a month, about US$477-955.

Drummond, says UMWA vice-president Jerry Jones, transferred operations to Colombia "knowing that country's hostile political climate and egregious human rights violations". Conditions for Colombian miners are some of the world's most dangerous. An April 27 blast at the Cana Brava mine in Santander province took the lives of 15 miners. In October of 1997, another explosion buried 16 coal miners alive in El Diviso mine, near Cucuta.

Colombia is the world's fourth-largest coal exporter — it shipped 30 million tons of coal in 2000, worth US$794 million. Coal is the country's third-largest source of export earnings.

The Cerrejon Norte mine is the largest open-pit producer in Latin America. Formerly state-owned, it is now operated as a joint venture between the government and Exxon Corporation. It accounts for half Colombia's total output, and is the largest export mine in the world. Last year the government's mines in central Colombia were privatised as part of economic reforms mandated by the IMF, and sold to a consortium of South African, Swiss and British investors for US$384 million.

Drummond clearly sees an interest in supporting a Bush administration policy which encourages the increased use of coal in electrical generation. And it sees US military intervention in Colombia in its interest as well. "We are in support of the Colombian Plan and the US efforts in the drug war", Mike Tracy, a Drummond spokesman, told independent journalist Stephen Jackson.

That support translated into a US$50,000 donation by Drummond to the Republican National Committee last July. Overall, the coal industry dumped US$3.8 million into the 2000 elections, and gave 80% of it to Republicans. In turn, George W. Bush’s campaign pursued a "cars and coal" strategy to win mining states, among others, based on an industry-friendly perspective.

On November 3, days before the election, candidate Bush told a West Virginia crowd that "coal is going to help energise America". He didn't promise, however, that it would be US-mined coal. And after the election, the administration dropped a campaign pledge that it would back carbon-dioxide emissions reductions from coal-fired power stations. That policy change has a big impact on the Alabama plants burning Colombian coal.

Responsibility for the murders of Locarno and Orcasita was laid at the feet of Colombia's rightist paramilitary army, the United Defence Groups (AUC), by the police commander for Cesar province, Hugo Alfono Cepeda. He told Colombian television network RCN that "it appears that it's attributable to paramilitaries who operate in the region". According to Ken Zinn, the AUC issued a number of death threats against the leaders of the union at the Loma mine, accusing them of being in league with the country's main guerrilla group, the FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).

The region has been the scene of intense conflict between the guerrillas and the AUC. The FARC allegedly levies a 10% tax on coal moving by rail out of the mine, which Drummond has refused to pay, and the 344-km rail line to Puerto Drummond on the coast was bombed five times in the last year. In response, Drummond president Gary Drummond visited Colombian President Andres Pastrana last year to demand increased protection.

“In the conflict, a lot of assumptions are made quickly”, says Rafael Albuquerque, who represents the International Labour Organisation in Colombia, "One of those assumptions is that many union leaders support the guerrillas."

Locarno and Orcasita made repeated pleas to the company for protection. In a meeting just a week before the assassinations, the union demanded that Drummond provide security for its workers, and that the company abide by a previous agreement allowing them to sleep overnight at the mine. The company ignored the agreement and refused to allow the men to stay.

But while coal mine union leaders were clearly targets, they're not the only ones.

Just days after the murders in Valledupar, two leaders of the Colombian electrical workers’ union, Andres Granados and Jaime Sanchez, were gunned down March 22. In mid-March, Eugenio Sanchez Diaz, a union activist in the oil town of Barrancabermeja was dragged from his home and shot in the street. On the last day of March, Jaime Alberto Duque Castro, leader of the El Cairo Cement Workers’ Union, was kidnapped by armed gunmen. Amnesty International accused the AUC of responsibility.

Another assassinated union leader, Ricardo Orozco, vice-president of the Colombian Hospital Workers' Union, had his name on a list of 50 union leaders in Barranquilla, which was circulated by the paramilitary death squads. He was shot by a gunman in April, and his death was followed by two days of national labour protest.

The AUC is held responsible by unionists for almost all of the trade union assassinations. Robin Kirk, who monitors human rights abuses in Colombia for Human Rights Watch, says that there are strong ties between the AUC and the Colombian military. "The Colombian military and intelligence apparatus has been virulently anti-communist since the 1950s", she says, "and they look at trade unionists as subversives — as a very real and potential threat. Generally they see groups on the left as linked to the ideology that led to the formation of guerrilla groups."

The AUC, which by numerous press accounts, operates in cooperation with the military, is backed by some elements of the business elite behind the scenes. "There are powerful economic interests that support the paramilitaries", Kirk says, "and they do target trade unionists, and attack union leaders again and again."

Violence against trade unionists is part of a larger context of violence against community leaders, human rights activists, and advocates for social change generally. According to the Colombian Commission of Jurists, 6000 Colombians were killed as a result of social and political violence in 2000. The CCJ attributes 80% of the cases to the paramilitaries, 5% directly to the government, and 15% to left-wing guerrillas. Roberto Molino of the CCJ told a delegation of US unionists, that "in the case of the paramilitaries, you cannot underestimate the collaboration of government forces".

Kirk draws a distinction between union assassinations by the AUC and union members killed by guerrillas. "The guerrillas sometimes kill people who belong to unions because they believe they are cooperating with the AUC. But the paramilitaries kill them because they are trade unionists."

The Colombian government also views union activity as a threat because it challenges its basic economic policies. President Pastrana is under pressure from the IMF and World Bank to cut the public sector budget, causing the mass terminations, along with cuts in education, health care and pensions.

In March, the General Confederation of Democratic Workers organised a 24-hour strike of 700,000 workers, including 300,000 teachers and education employees, protesting mass layoffs.

The Colombian Federation of Educators (FECODE) struck again on May 15 for 48 hours, over a proposal to cut the education budget by US$340 million. "If this bill is approved, it will have a very negative effect on educators and health care workers throughout Colombia", said FECODE president Gloria Ines Ramirez. Heath care workers also joined the strike. On June 7, tens of thousands of Colombian workers took to the streets in marches across the country, opposing the IMF.

Being a teacher union activist in Colombia is as dangerous as being a coal miners' leader. Since 1986, 418 educators have been murdered. In just one week in early May, Dario de Jesus Silva, a 22-year veteran teacher in Antioquia, and Juan Carlos Castro Zapata, another school worker in the same province, were assassinated. Both were activists in the CUT teachers' union ADIDA. On May 14, Julio Alberto Otero, a university lecturer and union activist, was also killed.

The wave of death and violence is made possible by growing US aid to the Colombian armed forces. Under Plan Colombia, the US has funnelled over US$1 billion into the country, almost entirely in the form of military assistance. Colombia is the third-largest recipient of US military aid in the world.

Both Colombian and US unions say this money funds a dirty war against all critics of the Colombian social and economic order, including unionists.

Earlier this year, the United Steel Workers of America sent a formal delegation to Colombia in the wake of the murders of Locarno Rodriguez and Orcasita. Led by attorney Dan Kovalik, the delegation met with leaders of the CUT. After the delegation made its report, Leo Gerard, USWA president, warned the US government that "we are strongly opposed to the amount of military aid being sent to the Colombian Army when trade unionists and innocent people are being killed by the very military forces we are financing".




 
New Mapping to take place after thundersorm...
 
Scandalous ActionMaybe you think of Meg Ryan as the queen of chick movies, but if you saw how she handled a machine gun in Courage Under Fire, you'll see the inner action hero just waiting to come out. While she's not physically involved in the action of Proof of Life, her persona provides a strong human core to the complicated plot that ensues.

Ryan plays Alice Bowman, wife of engineer Peter (David Morse) who is tired of their charity work in third world countries. But just as she's trying to talk him into going home, he's kidnapped by South American militia and held for ransom. Enter negotiator Terry Thorne (Russell Crowe) to strut around like he owns the place while planning Peter's rescue.

The action is more brief spurts than extended action scenes, but here it is spelled out: The opening shows Thorne rescuing a hostage amidst tanks, rockets and 'splosions. Then there's the hostage-taking which has a little shooting. Peter is sent across a rope over a deep canyon with jagged rocks at the bottom. Some terrorists fire their guns at random to scare the prisoners.
Back home, there's a nice testosterone standoff when Thorne takes over for the local negotiators. Then in the camp, a terrorist shoots at Peter as he stands stone cold, staring death in the face and saying, "Hey death, how's it going?" A bomb goes off in the local market. Things get much more tense as the film's climax approaches, but to go into more detail would spoil some of the strongest scenes.

That said, this is a thinking action movie. The focus is really the cat and mouse game Thorne plays with the terrorists. Alice is our guide to his technique, questioning the seemingly grave risks Thorne take with her husband's life, refusing terrorist demands and even provoking them sometime. The relationships raise the stakes for the action situations that ensue.

When Alice and Peter have a marital spat early in the film, it sounds like a real couple fighting, and possibly could have come from out-takes of When a Man Loves a Woman (which I liked, please forgive my sensitive side.) That scene is important though because when Peter becomes a prisoner, we see the most extreme situation their fundamental differences put them in. Also, between Alice and Thorne, she must accept the differences in their personalities to let him handle things the professional way.

Yeah, there's this real-life scandal going on about the movie, but tabloids schmabloids. The film provides no insight into the real relationship between Ryan and Crowe. It is, however, a fascinating character study amidst a hard-core hostage crisis, which is pretty cool to me. It's also nice to see David Caruso again, this time as a wisecracking warmonger who gets to fire lots of big guns! If that's not proof of this movie's life, what is? I don't know what that means, but next week check out my interview with director Taylor Hackford. Subscribe to my newsletter to be notified when that interview posts, and other updates.

Read it...123



 
I really am looking for Americana dating back to a Free Puerto Rico... The Loving French Reappear...
..
AMERICANA 2003, A RENEWABLE SUCCESS FOR THE 5TH EDITION

Many thanks to everyone!

Though AMERICANA 2003 has not been finished for long, we have already noted some impressive results. Eight thousand participants from Quebec, Canada and 57 other countries visited the exhibit booths set up by some 350 exhibitors and benefited from the knowledge of 272 guest speakers. Ten million dollars in spinoffs are expected to be generated over the next three years for companies that participated in the International Business Matchmaking Forum. The success of this 5th edition is the result of the hard work put in by the entire RÉSEAU Environnement team and by its associates, as well as the participation of many volunteers. We cannot thank the guest speakers and exhibitors enough for having captivated and informed the participants so thoroughly. We are also very grateful for the support of the Quebec and Canadian governments, the latter through the Climate Change Action Fund, which is AMERICANA’s principal partner. Finally, we would like to thank sponsors such as Hydro-Québec, SAQ, VIA Rail Canada, SNC Lavalin Environment and Infrastructures Québec.
We invite you to join us again at the next edition of AMERICANA, from April 6 to 8, 2005, at the Palais des Congrès de Montréal.





 
Lets Take a Smoke Break... I have the Entire Pacific Fleet On My Ass...
InStone, Inc. was born out of Mike’s love for cigar labels. He was introduced to them at a Long Beach Coin & Collectibles Show. He was impressed with the beauty, intricacy and detail of the artwork. Not surprisingly we learned that many famous artists of their day were responsible for creating these beautiful works of art. Please admire these labels as the mini-masterpieces that they are.

Learning of the painstaking process used to make these labels only added more interest. To think that they printed these labels with giant Bavarian stone carvings (using one stone for each color) is amazing. That arduous and costly process surely could not be duplicated today. That alone makes them a truly unique collectible.

The haphazard, almost accidental way that various image titles have survived over these many years is a mystery. Finding people who have them stashed in an attic, found in an old warehouse or tucked away in the family bible is like a treasure hunt. Labels from the 1800s that have managed to survive and maintain their beauty are indeed rare.

These labels come from an exciting period of this country’s history, 1870-1930. Many of the labels depict the rich history and flamboyance of America at that time. The diversity of the subject matter is remarkable; there are labels for every collector! Many people collect them just as cigar labels. Some collect them to frame as works of art. Still others find ways to integrate them into their own creative endeavors. Whatever your interest, we hope that you will find a label that you’re looking for.

Mike travels extensively looking for cigar labels. We are always buying! We are always looking for more beautiful and interesting labels to add to our inventory.

We are a small company that wants to share our love of these beautiful cigar labels with you. We strive to deliver friendly, courteous service. We offer a wide price range so that we hope to appeal to the beginning collector as well as the more discriminating collector who has been collecting for years. If you are a beginner, welcome to cigar label collecting! Please browse our site and enjoy the many images that we have to offer.


 
The Tigris... Secrets That Lie Under The River Are Still Unknown To All... The best hideout in Baghdad...When the Gulf War ended, looters smuggled thousands of artifacts out of Iraq. Many other priceless monuments from thousands of years old civilizations were left lying around to be destroyed carelessly and casually. With the new U.S. - Iraq war, the spectre looms of smart bombs hitting thousands upon thousands of archaeological treasure troves. This is such a serious concern that the Pentagon employed a team of archaeologists to mark out the precious spots. Even assuming the team had enough information from earlier trips to the area to map everything, and assuming the Pentagon had enough time to apply the data, there would still be the probability that no matter how smart the bombs, they would occasionally err. But that is not the case, and there are many archaeological sites in Iraq that haven't been explored. There is a real likelihood of massive destruction of six or seven thousand-year-old treasures from the cradle of the world's civilizations -- Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.

MESOPOTAMIAN CONTRIBUTIONS TO CIVILIZATION
Archaeologist McGuire Gibson of the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute said, "People don't understand that Iraq is more important than Egypt in world heritage. The whole country is an archaeological site."
• Denver Post 1/26/03 "The cradle of civilization," by Kit Miniclier


Mesopotamia (where Iraq is now) was the source of much of what we take for granted. While the wheel, writing, irrigation, dying, and religion may have developed independently elsewhere, Mesopotamia invented beer and the following trappings of civilization:




 
Just another bad cold...

Many Americans are worried about the spread of SARS, the mysterious, deadly respiratory illness sweeping China and Hong Kong. What do you think?

"More than 100 people have died worldwide from SARS! More than 100 people! 100!"
Lori Petruso
Teacher

"Will stopping this virus once again require the mass smothering of chickens in plastic trash bags? Just wondering."
Dan George
Plumber


"You have to wonder what monstrosity the Orient will unleash on humanity next. I mean, SARS, anime, Toyotathons..."
Frank Banks
Systems Analyst

"From now on, I'm making sure to steer way the hell clear of the Chinatown section of my city, just like I always have."
Todd Cassell
Attorney


"With its limited exposure and 4 percent fatality rate, SARS lies somewhere between rubella and a NASCAR crash on my list of death fears."
Alicia Green
Florist

"Did you say terrorists were behind SARS? Wow, I thought you said that. I'll just repeat that until they know what actually causes it."
Timothy Conn
Factory Worker



 
Clinton Emotionally Ready To Start Getting
Blow Jobs Again
NEW YORK—Five years after the Monica Lewinsky scandal, former president Bill Clinton announced Tuesday that, at long last, he is emotionally ready to start receiving blow jobs again. "It has been a long, difficult road, but I am finally at a point in my life where I can receive oral sex from a woman again," Clinton told reporters. "After many years of soul-searching and intensive therapy, I am now able to enjoy getting blown without all that painful emotional baggage overshadowing what should be a wonderful experience."


 
Plundering not a surprise, experts say
Looting a perk of warfare since time of Roman legionnairesMilitary historians say the rash of looting in Iraq is a predictable consequence of the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime that should run its course in a few days when beleaguered civilians literally exhaust the opportunities for plunder.

"We've just let the lid off a pressure cooker," said John Pike, with GlobalSecurity.org, a defense policy think tank in Washington, D.C. "It would have been astonishing if we hadn't seen this."

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld took a similar tack toward the looting, telling reporters in Washington, D.C., on Friday that "stuff happens."

As unseemly as it might appear for television viewers to see the apparent chaos in Baghdad and other occupied cities, Ohio State University Professor Allan Millet said U.S. and British forces have little choice but to stand aside -- because to stop the looting, soldiers would have to shoot civilians.

"Imagine Al-Jazeera covering that," Millett said, referring to the Arab television station that is viewed widely throughout the Middle East.

But Millett, one of the world's foremost authorities on warfare, compared the current looting spree to episodes familiar to Americans, such as the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles.

"These things usually exhaust themselves after a few days," he said.

Looking back at the long, tragic tale of warfare, historians say looting has always been an unfortunate consequence of conflict, whether perpetrated by conquering armies, self-styled partisans or liberated civilians.

John Mueller, another Ohio State University professor and warfare expert, said the Romans, for instance, didn't offer legionnaires a salary and benefits package.

"Looting and pillaging was a standard way of paying them," Mueller said.

Right up through the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century, it was more or less expected that victorious soldiers, often recruited from prisons, would get to enjoy "the spoils of war," Mueller said.

The American Civil War was punctuated by repeated instances of looting which, though not sanctioned by the authorities, was nevertheless practiced by uniformed soldiers and irregular partisans on both sides, said historian William Garrett Piston of Southwest Missouri State University.

Pinston's speciality is the brutal, irregular warfare that began in the 1850s in Kansas and Missouri, and continued right through and after the war, with armed bands on both sides of the slavery divide attacking the lands and the peoples on the other side.

"Pro- and anti-slavery advocates both used politics as a cover for theft," Piston said, in an orgy of violence and reprisal that continued long after the South surrendered. In fact legendary outlaws like Jesse James were former wartime partisans who never put down their guns, Piston said.

By the time of the world wars of the 20th century, looting by soldiers was officially frowned upon -- but practiced by both the Germans, who filled warehouses with stolen art and jewelry, and by the eventually victorious allies.

One of the noted cases of American military law is the upholding, in 1946, of the conviction of two U.S. army officers for stealing jewelry from conquered Germans. At their court martial, the officers argued they should be cleared because looting was so commonplace, but the court was unpersuaded, and the ringleader drew a 15-year sentence.

More analogous to the Iraq situation was the reaction of French, Belgian and other civilians in cities liberated by the Allies after D-Day.

"In the Second World War, almost every major city in Europe went through some sort of phase of payback," said Ohio State University's Millett. The first manifestation of these civilian uprisings was the looting of food and other items in short supply. But that property liberation was quickly followed by revenge against collaborators and informers, Millett said.

"There are many, many accounts of Americans appalled by members of the (French) Resistance going after women who had slept with German soldiers," he said.

Indeed, if the past is any precedent, reprisals are likely to follow looting as the next chapter in Iraq's story.

"Thus far it doesn't appear the revenge factor has kicked in," Millett said.

But Pike said he thinks it's only a question of time before the Kurds in the north, who were gassed by Hussein, and the Shiites in the south, long oppressed by the Sunni minority, will look to even local scores.

"There's plenty of payback coming," Pike said, predicting "considerable vendettas and revenge killings."



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


 
Understanding The Fourth Infantry Division's Tactical InternetOver the last decade, one of the top priorities of the U.S. Army has been the establishment of a digital information network. This allows the Army to pass critical battlefield data to every member of its force that is connected to the network, thus enabling it to react faster and get inside the decision loop of an opposing force. This network is called the Tactical Internet (TI) and it provides the location of friendly troops and enemy troops through a complex system of wireless communication components.

GPS

Global Positioning Satellites have a huge role in the TI. They provide the locations of friendly and enemy forces on the ground. Friendly forces use a Precision Lightweight GPS Receiver (PLGR) to transmit their location to GPS satellites. GPS coordinates for enemy forces are provided when they are spotted by allied troops, planes, helicopters or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

AIRBORNE SICGARS

Just as Link-16 allows Navy and Air Force pilots to see an on-screen representation of the battlefield, Army helicopter pilots use an airborne version of SINCGARS (see description below) to connect to the TI. The system, in conjunction with other components, allows pilots to provide close air support to troops on the ground by enabling them to distinguish friendly forces from enemy forces.

LINK-16

Aircraft from the Navy or Air Force can tap into the TI unsing a communications data link called Link-16. Pilots get an accurate picture of the battlefield with friendly and enemy forces indicated bia GPS coordinates. The system goies a long way in helping avoid friendly fire incidents. Pilots who spot previously unidentified enemy forces can transmit their position to other friendly forces via the TI using Link-16.

SINCGARS

The Single Channel Ground and Airborn Radio System is the Army's primary combat net radio. It serves as the first link of communication between troops using the TI. It can send and receive voice or email-type data communications. It can be mounted in vehicles and aircraft or worn as a backpack by individual soldiers. SINCGARS works in conjunction with PLGRs to update GPS coordinates whenever data is sent or received.

EPLRS

The second link in the TI's communication chain is the Enhanced Position Location Reporting System. Mounted primarily in command vehicles, it distributes the data and voice communications transmitted by SINCGARS. Providing a fatter pipe for information to flow through, it basically functions like a router in a computer network, gathering and feeding data up and down the chain of command.

NTDRS

The third link in the TI's communication chain is the Near-Term Data Radio System. It is the fattest data pipe on the battlefield. Just as the EPLRS routes data sent via SINCGARS, the NTDR gathers the data from multiple EPLRS modules and distributes it up and down the TI. NTDRS are located at Tactical Operations Centers (TOCs) which are basically command posts that are positioned at various points near and around the battlefield.

FBCB2

The tangible result of all this data transfer is seen in the Force 21 Battle Command Brigade and Below System. The hardware and sofltware assembles all the data flowing around the battlefield and provides an on-screen, real-time display of the battlefield. Friendly forces are shown in one color (usually blue) and enemy forces are sown in another (usually red). It is mounted in nearly every vehicle and at every TOC.

POINT-TO-POINT DATA TRANSFER

Data a relayed over the TI via a point-to-point network using SINCGARS to send and receive information and EPLRS and NTDRS to be sure that information is delivered to the proper location. For example, if an Apache pilot spots enemy troops he could send a vice or text message via SIN GARS to all the friendly forces in the area. The signal simply bounces from one radio to the next until everyone in the network gets the message and sees the enemy's position displayed on the FBCB2 system.

If a unit is disabled, the data signal is simply rerouted to the next point in the network.

Command vehicles equipped with EPLRS can handle and route greater amounts of data more efficiently than vehicles equipped only with SINCGARS.

TOCs receive the most information. To be sure they can route this data properly, they're equipped with NTDRS which provides the greatest amount of bandwidth in the TI.

GRAPHIC: PHOTO, GRAPHIC; (1) Color Photo - SINCGARS (soldier with hand held radio); (2) Color Photo - EPLRS; (3) Color Photo - NTDRS; (4) Color Photo - FBCB2 - (computer) GRAPHIC (GRAPHICS); (5) Color Graphic / Illustration by John D. Telford / Post-Dispatch - POINT-TO-POINT DATA TRANSFER; GLOBAL POSITIONING SATELLITE; F/A - 18E SUPER HORNET; AH-64D APACHE LONGBOW; M1A2 ABRAMS MAIN BATTLE TANKS; TACTICAL OPERATIONS CENTER (TOC); Sources: ITT Industries, Raytheon, U.S. Army, GlobalSecurity.org. The Washington Post. National Defense Magazine, Federation of American Scients Military Analysis Network, Jane's International Defense Review; Post-Dispatch research: Anne Wickersham and John D. Telford



 
Anti-war grumps, whiners, et cetera;
Bloopers and blunders on the war in Iraq"We've gotten rid of [Saddam Hussein]. I suppose that's a good thing."
Howard Dean, former Vermont governor

*

"This nation is about to embark upon the first test of a revolutionary doctrine applied in an extraordinary way at an unfortunate time. The doctrine of preemption the idea that the United States or any other nation can legitimately attack a nation that is not imminently threatening but may be threatening in the future is a radical new twist on the traditional idea of self defense. It appears to be in contravention of international law and the U.N. Charter."
Sen. Robert Byrd

*

"So, they haven't been able to confirm reports [Saddam] was taken to Tikrit, and then Mosul, and then hopefully Syria."
NBC's Katie Couric.

*

"Insisting on a regime change before lifting economic sanctions goes beyond the legal mandate of U.N. policy and is not authorized by any U.N. resolution. We need to lure Iraqi compliance with a meaningful economic inducement, not merely threaten them with military force."
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

*

"In lieu of unilateral attack, we ought to support the reintroduction of an intrusive, unfettered inspection regime into Iraq, backed by a force of multinational soldiers."
NAACP Chairman Julian Bond

*

"I think that it's very important to have as pillars of our foreign policy promoting democratic values [and] stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. But I think that there are other ways to go about it than to have thousands of people killed on both sides."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

*

"I have not been a supporter of his. I did not vote for him. And I was very critical of what he did here ... And I must say that fortunately, he's president and I'm not. It appears as though he did the right thing and I didn't think he was doing the right thing."
Andy Rooney of "60 Minutes"

*

"Iraq was not responsible for 9-11, for al Qaeda's role in 9-11, for the anthrax attacks on our country; this administration has not made its case for war. We must rescue this nation from a war that is wrong, that is unjust, that is immoral."
Rep. Dennis Kucinich

*

"A direct attack could suck the oxygen out of just about everything else the United States was doing, not only in the war on terrorism but also in all other diplomatic, defense and intelligence relationships."
Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward

*

"The recent government in America I just find disgusting. The idea that George Bush could run a baseball team successfully, he can't even speak. I just find him an embarrassment. I was over here when the election was on, and I couldn't believe it and I'm 76 years old. Then, when the Supreme Court came in and turned out to be a totally political animal, the last shred of any naivete that was left in me has gone. When I see an American flag flying, it's a joke."
Film director Robert Altman

*

"For me as an American, the most painful aspect of this is that I believe that [the Bush] administration has taken the events of September 11 and has manipulated the grief of this country, and I think that's reprehensible."
Actor Dustin Hoffman

*

"It's ludicrous to expect the whole world to follow what [George W. Bush and Tony Blair] want. ... America doesn't have the right to tell other people what to do. To say the whole world has to fall into line is you-know-what. I hope more people will rise up."
Director Spike Lee

*

"[President Bush and his administration are] misguided ... and I think they are men who are possessed of evil. Mr. Bush is not a man of honor. I think he has a very selfish, arrogant point of view. I think he is interested in power. I think he believes his truth is the only truth."
Actor Harry Belafonte

*

"With every passing day it is more evident that the allies made two gross military misjudgments in concluding that coalition forces could safely bypass Basra and Nasiriya and that Shiite Muslims in southern Iraq would rise up against Saddam Hussein."
R.W. Apple of the New York Times

*

"Unilateral action on the part of the United States, or in partnership with Great Britain, would for the first time set our nation on the bloodstained path of aggressive war, a sacrilege upon the memory of those who fought to defend this country. America's moral authority would be undermined throughout the world. It would destabilize the entire Persian Gulf and Middle East region. And it would signal for Russia to invade Georgia; China, Taiwan; North Korea, the South; India, Pakistan."
Rep. Dennis Kucinich

*

"As I explained to my mom in terms of the present war, we are living under fascist statism in the United States, with its related Imperialist ambitions running roughshod over peoples that have no desire to be 'democratized'... But our leaders gloss over the war and carnage by speaking of 'democracy' and 'unity' in pretty and tempting tones, and they assign the main propaganda duty to a soft-spoken Texan who can't possibly come off as anything but well-intentioned, laid-back and humanitarian. After all, if you are going to try and sell mass murder, do your best to see that the bulk of the target market buys the product."
Karen De Coster, self-described paleolibertarian freelance writer

*

"The fact is the number of Americans in favor of going to war with Iraq plummets down to only 39 percent in the latest Zogby poll when the prospect of 'thousands of American casualties' is added to the question. And such a bloody outcome is very likely given the kind of urban warfare it's going to take to oust Saddam."
Columnist Arianna Huffington

*

"Saddam would like to provoke the Israelis into nuking Baghdad. If the Israelis nuked Baghdad a few hours after the war starts, that changes everything."
John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org

*

"Across the Muslim world, a war that has not even begun is turning people against the United States. The danger is that many Muslims will see this war as an unprovoked attack on them and their religion."
ABC correspondent, John Yang

*

"George W. Bush needs to immediately reassess his war plan, bring in more combat troops, and heed the advice of his fighting generals on the ground rather than his team of mainly chicken-hawk advisers and immediately readjust his tactics. He needs to get real and apply the lessons learned from the Russians in Chechnya and the Israelis in Lebanon."
Col. David Hackworth

*

"Hopefully then, he won't make the same mistake of another Texas president who didn't sack his Sec. Defense and Joint Chiefs chairman straight away for their screw-ups an error so egregious it cost our country almost 60,000 American lives and LBJ his presidency."
Col. David Hackworth

*

"As an American I've always been proud. I have a [U.S. flag] pin. I was embarrassed to wear it."
Sen. Dianne Feinstein

*

"Yes, [President Bush] is racist. We all knew that, but the world is only finding it out now."
Actor Danny Glover

*

"By some demented form of logic, the men, women and children of Iraq are relegated to 'collateral damage' as the dogs of war slouch toward Baghdad,"
Actor Martin Sheen

*

"This nation will go into debt to destroy lives and people on the other side of the world while here at home we face a financial disaster."
Actor Ed Asner

*

"Mr. Bush is a fictitious president waging terrorism."
Director Michael Moore

*

"You can't beat your enemy anymore through wars; instead you create an entire generation of people revenge-seeking."
Actor George Clooney

*

"In the name of fear and fighting terror we are giving the reigns of power to oil men more interested in a financial bottom line than a moral bottom line."
Actress Susan Sarandon

*

"All the prowar experts say it's no problem, that Iraq sits on so much oil that it will eventually be a very wealthy country. But when Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rumsfeld, and Meyers [sic] all say the same thing while not asking Americans to change our behavior, the question remains dangerously open. Is Iraq's oil for the Iraqi people or is it really for our interstates and the Indianapolis 500?"
Boston Globe columnist Derrick Jackson

*

"... few could oppose those portions of the Bush doctrine that would extend the benefits of freedom, democracy, prosperity and the rule of law to the far corners of the globe. Unfortunately, these goals were overshadowed by an arrogant, go-it-alone stance and an aggressive claim to the right to use pre-emptive action against threatening states."
New York Times editorial



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


 
Analysis: Syria: US rattles the sabre but prepares for peaceThe accusations coming from all corners of the Bush administration sound familiar - developing weapons of mass destruction while consorting with terrorists. It appears as if the case against Syria is being made in the same way as the prosecution of Iraq was put together in the months before the war on Saddam Hussein.

There is, however, no sign the US has any real intention of starting another conflict at a time when it is preparing a presidential re-election campaign against a backdrop of growing military, diplomatic and political fatigue.

The Pentagon, where several leading officials believe that the toppling of Saddam could be the first of a string of dominoes to fall, has put together contingency plans for a Syrian operation, as well as a detailed indictment of the Ba'athist government in Damascus. But talk of a war with Syria has been quashed at the highest levels, the Guardian has learned. Not only are the state department and Britain staunchly opposed to such an adventure, so is the US military - now faced with messy nation-building and counter-insurgency operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Most importantly, the White House has decided it is not interested, at least not until the 2004 election.

Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, has repeated his claims that Syria is harbouring fleeing Iraqi officials with increasing degrees of certainty in recent days, suggesting he had "scraps of intelligence" last week and then insisting there was "no question" of the accuracy of the claims on Sunday.

However, there is apparently no hard evidence that any familiar faces from Baghdad have surfaced in Damascus - only a presumption that they would try to escape across the Syrian border.

"This is a shot across Syria's bows," said a diplomat in Washington. "It's telling Bashir Assad (the Syrian president) that if you were thinking of welcoming them in, don't do it."

The Pentagon's charge that Iraq transferred its chemical and biological weapons to Syria for safekeeping before the war has been treated with similar scepticism by British officials and by some US administration officials.

"I don't believe there is any real concern there," said an intelligence source in Washington.

On the other hand, the charges that Syria has its own advanced chemical weapons programme are longstanding and have more credibility. With significant help from Russia, Damascus is reported to have produced stockpiles of sarin and VX nerve gas and to have "weaponised" them in missile warheads. It has also recently moved long range Scud-C missiles within range of Israel's major cities. The Scud-Cs are thought to be too inaccurate to be effective with conventional warheads. However, a chemical warhead fired in the general direction of a city would be sufficient to cause havoc.

"There is very good evi dence that Syria has a very substantial and sophisticated chemical weapons capability," said Jonathan Tucker, a chemical weapons specialist at the US Institute for Peace.

However, Syria has had a chemical arsenal for decades, and, unlike Iraq, has shown no sign of being ready to use it. It is not a signatory to the Chemical Weapons convention and so is not in violation of any international treaties in maintaining the arsenal.

The link between Damascus and extremist Islamic groups such as Hizbullah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, has also been a permanent feature of the regime. There has been much speculation in Washington, so far unsubstantiated, of links between Hizbullah and al-Qaida. Richard Armitage, at the state department, referred to Hizbullah recently as the "A Team" of terrorism.

Hizbullah is likely to emerge as a new focus of the administration's "war on terror" but that battle is more likely to be fought with a combination of economic pressure on the group's sponsors - particularly in Damascus - and intelligence and special forces operations.

At most, the war on Hizbullah may involve air strikes on its bases in Lebanon's Beka'a valley, a Shia stronghold. But even that could prove explosive while US troops are trying to calm a Shia majority in Iraq.

The biggest argument against going to war in Syria is political. The presidential campaign will kick off in earnest on Labor Day, September 1, this year. Although George Bush is enjoying currently high approval ratings (71% according to a News-week poll over the weekend), they are not as high as his father's ratings at his hour of triumph in the 1991 Gulf war.

Furthermore, there are signs that his popularity is brittle, and does not translate into support for his domestic policies. According to the same poll, more Americans (46%) disapprove of the president's handling of the economy than approve (44%).

Karl Rove and the rest of the president's political handlers are determined the younger Bush will not make the same mistakes as the elder, by appearing to ignore the domestic economic needs of the nation.

There is no sign in the US that the military is preparing for a new fight. Two aircraft carriers, the Kitty Hawk and the Abraham Lincoln, are being ordered home, and the navy is hard-pressed to replace them. One of the heavy armoured divisions slated to deploy in the region, the Texas-based 1st Cavalry Division, has been told to stay put for the time being.

There are plenty of other troops on standby in the region, or on the way, including the 4th Infantry Division and the 1st Armoured Division, although they are seen as being a follow-on force to relieve the 3rd Infantry and the marines.

A more important bottleneck is the supply of ordnance. It will also take many months for the US to rebuild its arsenals of Tomahawk cruise missiles and satellite-guided smart bombs, the principal weapons used in the opening stages of the air war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"The military might have the infrastructure in the region, but they don't have the stuff they'd like to use," said Patrick Garrett, a military analyst at GlobalSecurity.org, a Washington based thinktank.

"Nobody in the military has really thought about going to war against Syria up to now. And we haven't had the advantage of a 12-year air war against the Syrians."

By the time the invasion began on March 20, Iraq's air defences had been worn down by heavy bombing over many years to enforce the northern and southern no-fly zones. More importantly, the 350,000-strong Iraqi army had never recovered from the destruction inflicted on it in the 1991 Gulf war, and it had been worn down by low pay and brutal treatment.

The Syrian army by contrast is well-trained and well-equipped.

Top: a Syrian protester with sign behind reading: 'Today Iraq. Whose turn tomorrow?'; and Tony Blair with President Bashir in Syria in 2001 Photographs: Hussein Malla/AP; Alastair Grant/AP



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U.S. expected to withdraw nearly all of its forces from Saudi Arabia after Iraq war RIYADH, Saudi Arabia _ The United States, which has had a military presence in Saudi Arabia for more than a decade, is expected to follow through on plans to withdraw nearly all of its forces after the Iraq war to help maintain U.S.-Saudi relations, American officials and Middle East experts said.

A senior diplomat, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Knight Ridder that several thousand personnel at Prince Sultan Air Base are likely to be pulled out within months after the United States officially declares victory in Iraq.

The base, about 80 miles south of Riyadh, the Saudi capital, is being used to run the air war in the U.S.-led military campaign.

But widespread Arab opposition to the war is putting intense pressure on the pro-American monarchy that governs Saudi Arabia. Saudi officials publicly deny that they have allowed the U.S. military to use the air base for anything more than enforcing no-fly zones.

"They undoubtedly will not be sad to see our military leave that base when the time comes," said the diplomat. The U.S. departure from the Saudi-owned base will presumably be "a matter of months and not years," he said.

The decision is not surprising because having combat troops in Saudi Arabia has a downside for the United States, too. Osama bin Laden has used the presence of non-Muslim troops in an important land of Islam to rationalize attacks on U.S. targets around the world. Before the war, Secretary of State Colin Powell said the defeat of Saddam would let the United States "change the presence levels of American troops throughout that region."

U.S. combat aircraft flew hundreds of missions from Prince Sultan during the 1991 Gulf War and remained on the base to enforce a United Nations-imposed no-fly zone in southern Iraq. It also served as the command post for the air campaign in Afghanistan.

While the use of Saudi territory has been crucial during the current conflict, defense analysts said, the military's withdrawal after the war would have no substantial impact on U.S. security interests in the region _ especially since Iraq has been removed as a threat.

The United States will continue to maintain Army forces in Kuwait, a Navy base in Bahrain and air operations in Qatar and possibly the United Arab Emirates.

Victory over Saddam also has given the United States at least temporary control of air bases in Iraq, which could be used for strikes against two neighboring countries, Iran and Syria, that the Bush administration regards as potential trouble-makers.

In the build-up to 1991 war, Saudi officials allowed more than 500,000 U.S. military personnel into the oil-rich Arab kingdom after Saddam's forces invaded Kuwait, raising fears that the Iraqis also would invade Saudi Arabia.

The United States wants to help the Saudi royal family calm the anti-American mood among Saudi citizens. Saudi Arabia is an important Middle Eastern ally that controls a fourth of the world's oil supply and is in position to influence some of its more radical Arab neighbors.

"Given their relationship with us, it would seem to make sense for the United States to withdraw its forces," said Patrick Garrett, an analyst with Globalsecurity.org, an online military research organization. "The Saudis are obviously not pleased about the U.S. presence."

Gregory Gause, director of the Middle East Studies program at the University of Vermont, said Saudi leaders were "forced to make a stark choice" between yielding to rising anti-American sentiments or complying with the U.S. request to provide a base for air operations.

In the end, he said, the Saudis chose to quietly help a powerful ally by granting the request while, at the same time, publicly opposing the war. Saudi officials floated an unsuccessful peace initiative days after the war started.

This week, Saudi leaders will seek to influence Iraq's future by hosting two meetings of Arab leaders in Riyadh. The six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council _ Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman _ will meet Tuesday. Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal also has invited ministers from other countries bordering Iraq _ Iran, Syria and Turkey _ to a conference Friday.



 
Evidence?¡?
WASHINGTON _ If Saddam Hussein had a hidden arsenal of banned biological and chemical weapons as alleged, American forces in Iraq should be able to find evidence in the next several weeks, weapons experts say.

"That's a time frame that's reasonable," said Joseph Cirincione, a weapons proliferation specialist with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a research organization. "By then they should be able to go to the remaining sites they are interested in and should have gotten some serious information from former Iraqi officials and scientists."

Bush administration officials said war was imperative because Saddam had to be disarmed before he could use the weapons against Americans or give them to terrorists. The officials have maintained that the intensive search of Iraq, a country the size of California, will yield proof that Iraq never destroyed or turned over the weapons to inspectors. Iraq claimed that it no longer had them.

No such weapons have been used or found in Iraq.

"If you believe the Bush administration's claims, that's very surprising," said David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington and a former U.N. inspector in Iraq. "They always said that Iraq had large stocks of chemical and biological weapons and that Iraq had a very active weapons program that accelerated in the last year."

Cirincione said: "We have all assumed that Saddam had some chemical or biological weapons. But none of us really know."

American troops uncovered 11 containers Monday that they said could be used as chemical and biological laboratories. The containers had been buried near an artillery ammunition plant in southern Iraq. Weapons experts said that such a discovery could point to a clandestine weapons program, but they are withholding judgment until they learn more.

Secretary of State Colin Powell told the U.N. Security Council earlier this year that Iraq had mobile laboratories, but chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said inspectors had found no evidence of them.

The hunt for weapons of mass destruction, led by U.S. Special Forces and by the U.S. 75th Exploitation Task Force _ a unit of intelligence officials from the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency that reports directly to Central Command _ has gone to a "very small percentage of a very extensive list of known locations" where such weapons might be, Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, vice director for operations with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Monday.

On Sunday, Gen. Tommy Franks estimated that the search would cover 2,000 to 3,000 sites. He acknowledged that tests on some suspected weapons turned out to be "false positives," including a site about 60 miles south of Karbala where military officials initially believed they had discovered a nerve agent. That find turned out to be a commercially available pesticide.

Larger American teams will inspect greater numbers of suspected sites in coming weeks, McChrystal said. As the fighting winds down, "we will have more forces available, and we'll have a more secure environment in which we can get to these locations more easily," he said.

A new government and growing stability also would make it easier to interview Iraqi scientists and technicians who would have first-hand knowledge of a covert weapons program.

Jafar Jafar, who led Iraq's efforts to build a nuclear bomb, surrendered outside Iraq on Sunday. Saddam's top scientific adviser, Gen. Amer Hammoudi al-Saadi, surrendered in Iraq on Saturday. At the time, he insisted that Iraq had no banned chemical or biological weapons.

Weapons experts say al-Saadi could be trying to negotiate amnesty or a role in a new Iraqi government. Or he could be telling the truth.

"I think that there is some anxiety that the Iraqis may have basically liquidated the program and destroyed all traces of it," said John Pike, a military analyst with GlobalSecurity.org, a research group.

Reliable intelligence is necessary to unlock the secrets of Saddam's alleged weapons program, Cirincione said. "Iraq is a large country, and these weapons are relatively small." Production facilities should be easier to locate, he said, because they leave biological and chemical traces nearly impossible to scrub off.

He and other weapons experts hope the search is completed quickly so that scientists and technicians don't slip any of the weapons and materials out of chaotic Iraq and into the hands of terrorists. They argue that international inspectors should be brought in to speed the process and lend it credibility.

"The Pentagon doesn't want anyone else involved. They are mad at (chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans) Blix and (chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed) ElBaradei," Albright said. "It's one thing to be mad at them, but it's another to delay us knowing that we have weapons of mass destruction under control in Iraq."



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How to Attack a TaterBy Mark Thompson and Timothy J. Burger/Washington, With reporting by Michael Weisskopf/Doha

This is the big one," crackled the voice in the headsets of the four crew members. They were flying at nearly 30,000 ft. above western Iraq in a B-1B Lancer shortly before 3 p.m. last Monday. The message, from the controller aboard a nearby AWACs command plane, sent a thrill through the B-1 as Captain Sloan Hollis redirected the black, needle-nose plane toward Baghdad at 500 m.p.h. for an afternoon rendezvous with Saddam Hussein.

The B-1, which had just refueled in midair, had been out on another mission, but then came a scintillating tip. For the previous few weeks, Baghdad's tony Mansur district, home to many of the Iraqi regime's elite, had been "crawling" with U.S. special forces and Iraqi informants working for the CIA, according to a U.S. official. On Monday afternoon, a non-American source reported to U.S. intelligence that he or she had seen Saddam and his entourage enter a compound--near the popular al-Saa restaurant--that was a known gathering place for Iraqi intelligence officials. The U.S. was still not sure that Saddam had survived a March 19 bombing aimed at killing him, but the thinking, says an intelligence official, was "just in case he didn't die before, let's have him die again."

After the AWACs radioed the B-1 the location of its new target, aircraft commander Captain Chris Wachter and his crew set about triple-checking the coordinates with the controller. "We want to make sure that we're able to be very precise with our weapons, much like, say, a sniper rifle where it's one shot, one kill," says Wachter. There was silence in the cockpit as crew members handled their assigned tasks. "When we got the word that it was a priority leadership target, you get kind of an adrenaline rush," says Lieut. Colonel Fred Swan, senior weapons-system officer on the plane. "But then you fall back to your original training that says, 'Hey, let's get the job done.'"

The B-1, nicknamed "Seek and Destroy," had to get within striking range, past Iraqi air defenses that remained potent. F-16 fighter jets and an EA-6B jamming plane made sure that no Iraqi missiles would get a good shot at the Baghdad-bound B-1. The crew never saw their target; the cloud cover below stretched for miles. But satellites were the real eyes of the mission. For this strike, U.S. Central Command called for two 2,000-lb. smart bombs known as JDAMs, then doubled the order. A JDAM, once loaded with coordinates, is guided to its kill by global-positioning-system satellites that put it within feet of its target point.

As the B-1 approached the target, its computers calculated the release point and dropped two penetrating JDAMs, which detonated a split second after hitting the ground, enough time to drive deeply into any underground bunkers. A pair of standard JDAMs followed three seconds later. Just 45 minutes had elapsed from the Saddam sighting to the bombing. During that time, Saddam was not seen leaving the premises, though U.S. officials acknowledge he could have departed via an underground tunnel.

The attack unleashed an 8500[degrees]F fireball and a shock wave that sliced the flesh, collapsed the lungs, exploded the sinuses and burst the arteries of anyone in its path. Neighbors say at least 14 bodies have been pulled from the crater left by the explosion. A senior American official says the U.S. has made an initial survey of the site but has not yet gone through it "stone by stone." Determining if Saddam died in the rubble may take a while; the U.S. isn't known to have any of his DNA to verify his demise. It could try to identify his remains by comparing DNA samples from the blast with those of relatives willing to relinquish some saliva or hair--or with some plucked from their shower drains. --By Mark Thompson and Timothy J. Burger/Washington. With reporting by Michael Weisskopf/Doha

BOX STORY:

On the Trail of Saddam

Quick reaction to an intelligence tip, as well as four tons of precision munitions, may have buried Saddam Hussein's regime in a smoldering crater in a Baghdad neighborhood

ON THE GROUND
A tip about Saddam's location is forwarded to the U.S. operations center in Saudi Arabia. Once the strike is approved by Central Command, the coordinates are transmitted to an Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) plane

IN THE AIR
The AWACS receives the target coordinates and passes this information to a B-1B bomber over western Iraq. The bomber crew triple-checks the coordinates and arms four 2,000-lb. (907-kg) JDAMs

THE DROP
The B-1B's computers first release two hard-target-penetrating bombs, followed three sec. later by two bombs with greater explosive power. Only 12 min. pass from the B-1B's receipt of the coordinates to the bombs hitting their target

B-1B LANCER
The backbone of America's long-range bomber force, the B-1B can reach speeds of 900-plus m.p.h. (1,448 km/h) and flies at 30,000 ft. (9,144 m). Its three weapons bays can accommodate as many as 24 JDAMs --Wings extend for takeoff and landing --Wings retract for high subsonic and supersonic speed

JDAM
The Joint Direct Attack Munition is a guidance tail kit that attaches to a conventional bomb. Steered by its tail fins, it uses the global positioning system (GPS) to guide the bomb to a target Penetrating JDAMs --Conventional warhead --Strakes (stabilizers) --GPS guidance kit

BUSTING THE BUNKER

THE FIRST set of bombs, hard-target penetrators laden with metal, drive deep into the ground before exploding, destroying underground structures

BY EXPLODING underground, the bombs concentrate the destruction on the target area, limiting collateral damage

THE SECOND pair of guided bombs, each loaded with 945 lbs. (429 kg) of explosives, destroy what is left

Sources: U.S. Air Force, AP, Globalsecurity.org

GRAPHIC: COLOR PHOTO: JAMES NACHTWEY--VII FOR TIME, THE SITE Rescue workers amid the rubble of the Baghdad compound where Saddam may have been; COLOR DIAGRAM: TIME GRAPHIC BY ED GABEL; BAGHDAD PHOTO: EARTHVIEWER.COM|DIGITALGLOBE




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