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  • Government considering dismantling BBC

    Government considering dismantling BBC

    Sun Feb 15, 4:01 AM ET

    LONDON (AFP) - The government is considering a plan to break up the BBC and remove its independent status in the wake of a bitter row with the state-funded broadcaster over the Iraq (news - web sites) war, a report said.

    AFP/File Photo

    Government papers detailing possible changes to the BBC's structure proposed breaking it into separate regional entities for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, The Sunday Times said.

    The documents, which the newspaper said had been drawn up by "senior civil servants", also suggested that the job of ensuring the BBC's impartiality could be taken away from the corporation's board of governors.

    The BBC, which is independently run despite being financed by public money through a compulsory television licence, is currently facing perhaps the worst breakdown in relations with the government in its 82-year history.

    The dispute came after a BBC radio report alleged in May last year that Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites)'s government deliberately exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction in a pre-war dossier.

    Government weapons expert David Kelly was later identified as the anonymous source of the charge. Kelly killed himself soon afterwards.

    An inquiry into Kelly's death, led by judge Lord Brian Hutton, concluded last month that the BBC's story had been "unfounded", a verdict which forced the corporation to apologise, with the corporation's chairman and director general resigning.

    According to The Sunday Times, the new plans for the BBC will bring accusations that "the government is gearing up to exploit the fall-out from the Hutton inquiry".

    Plans being considered include giving a government media watchdog greater control over the BBC's output, closing BBC outlets which are not considered "public service" and even forcing the corporation to share some of its licence fee revenue with other broadcasters.

    Such a move would most likely prompt public concern, given that the BBC is still generally revered in Britain for being impartial and accurate.

    Opinion polls after the Hutton inquiry was published showed that many people considered its verdict a "whitewash", and that they trusted the BBC far more than they did Blair and his ministers.
    Yahoo! News Wed, Feb 18, 2004
    Last edited by #1GROUPIEBITCH!; 02-19-2004, 11:18 AM. Reason: because

  • #2
    Governor's Proposed Homeland Security Bill Under Fire


    Audits Of Fire Safety Records Required

    POSTED: 10:01 am EST February 18, 2004
    UPDATED: 10:17 am EST February 18, 2004

    PROVIDENCE -- Legislation intended to strengthen the state's security measures drew criticism from a civil rights group that said the proposed law threatens free speech and academic freedom.

    Gov. Don Carcieri's new homeland security law would create new felony charges, require annual safety audits of every public school and close some public records, including those that show whether businesses comply with state Fire Safety Code requirements.

    The bill, which Carcieri introduced last week, also resurrects World War I-era laws that make it illegal to "speak, utter, or print'' statements in support of anarchy; speak in favor of overthrowing the government; or to display "any flag or emblem other than the flag of the United States'' as symbolic of the U.S. government.

    The director of the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, Steven Brown, called the proposal "extraordinarily dangerous'' and "a return to McCarthyism, when people had to be careful what they said or what organization they belonged to.''

    The organization released on Tuesday a 13-page critique of Carcieri's proposal.

    Jeff Neal, the governor's spokesman, said the legislation is based on laws that have been enacted in several states including New York, Virginia, Florida and Massachusetts.

    Neal was quoted as saying, "In a post-9/11 America, state governments have a responsibility to update their homeland security laws in order to protect their citizens'' .

    Brown wrote in his critique that the proposed law has "enormous ramifications for political protest, freedom of association, academic freedom and the public's right to now.''

    One issue is Carcieri's definition of terrorism. The governor's bill defines terrorism as "a violent act or an act dangerous to human life'' that is "intended to: intimidate or coerce a civilian population; influence the policy of a unit of government by intimidation or coercion; or affect the conduct of a unit of government by murder, assassination, kidnapping or aircraft piracy.''

    The language is similar to the USA Patriot Act, a federal law passed after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Critics contend that law, which clarifies and increases the powers that federal agents have when investigating crimes, threatens civil rights.

    Neal said despite the similarities, Carcieri's definition of terrorism was based not on the Patriot Act but on a state law passed in 1996.

    Brown also criticized the bill's expansion of laws on the books since World War I that make it illegal, for example, to teach or advocate anarchy.

    Brown said the laws are "blatantly unconstitutional'' and "dormant.''

    Four pages of Carcieri's 18-page bill deal with weapons of mass destruction, making it illegal for anyone to employ a weapon of mass destruction, a crime punishable by life in prison.

    Brown said federal law already prohibits the release of weapons of mass destruction, and cases of that magnitude would be more properly tried as federal crimes.

    But Neal said: "We cannot assume that someone else will take care of this problem for us. We have a responsibility to enact laws for ourselves.''
    Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


    • #3


      • #4
        Nato happy to ignore explosion in Afghan opium output


        Nato happy to ignore explosion in Afghan opium output, says Russia

        Richard Norton-Taylor and agencies
        Monday February 9, 2004
        The Guardian

        Nato is turning a blind eye to the flourishing opium trade in Afghanistan to ensure the support of warlords in the struggle to maintain security in the country, Russia's defence minister has claimed.
        Sergei Ivanov said Afghanistan was now producing nine times the quantity of drugs it did under the Taliban.

        "It is understandable that by allowing drug peddling in Afghanistan, the [Nato] alliance ensures loyalty of warlords on the ground and of some Afghan leaders," he said.

        "Nevertheless, the drug flow from Afghanistan is posing a serious threat to the national security of all of the central Asian CIS [confederation of independent states] and Russia. It results from the absence of a truly international approach toward stabilisation in Afghanistan."

        Mr Ivanov was speaking at an international security conference in Munich where Nato countries, including Britain, debated whether to increase their military presence in Afghanistan.

        His comments came as at least 20 people were reported killed and 40 wounded in north-eastern Afghanistan in clashes over the payment of taxes on the opium poppy crop.

        The Munich meeting coincided with an international conference in Kabul, called to discuss ways to combat the trade.

        The Afghan poppy crop is estimated to be the raw material for 90% of the heroin in Britain, but little ends up in the US.

        The UN estimates that Afghan opium production last year amounted to a record 3,600 tonnes - an increase of 6% on the previous year - and said that surveys of farmers suggested that a further increase was likely this year.

        UN officials have voiced concern because the crop is spreading to parts of the country where it has not been grown before.

        The UN Office on Drugs and Crime has estimated that the output could be worth $2.3bn (£1.25bn). The country's total official exports to its neighbour Pakistan are worth about one-sixtieth of that.

        Whitehall officials privately accuse the US of giving a low priority to the issue, as it needs the warlords to help combat Taliban and al-Qaida remnants and other Islamist fighters.

        Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary, told the Munich conference that Britain had offered to lead an expanded Nato peacekeeping mission in northern Afghanistan. "We are prepared to take command of the northern region group," he said.

        Officials said Britain would lead a network of Nato military teams based in five or six cities across a swath of northern territory. The US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said that five such teams of 80 to 300 soldiers could be in place by June, when national elections are due.

        However, the US has made it clear that the mandate for Nato's peacekeepers would be separate from that of US troops in search of al-Qaida fighters and Osama bin Laden.

        Official sources told Reuters yesterday that the latest clashes involving the opium trade involved the forces of two government commanders in the Argo district.

        The Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press said fighting had not stopped until Sunday morning in a dispute between the two commanders about who would receive a tax on the district's poppy crop.

        About 100 members of the security forces have been sent from Faizabad, the provincial capital of Badakhshan, to stop the fighting, authorities said, adding that the locals wanted the central government to step in because they did not trust provincial officials.


        • #5
          Pentagon Cooking Casualty Counts?

          The untold story of the thousands of injured U.S. military personnel now being treated for wounds in German hospitals can finally be revealed . . .
          Here are some excerpts…

          Atop a densely wooded hill overlooking this small town near the French border lies the sprawling Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC), where some 12,000 U.S. service men and women have been brought to receive primary medical treatment before being flown to military hospitals in the United States.
          During the first Gulf War, from 1990-1991, LRMC treated 4,000 American casualties. The invasion and occupation of Iraq, called Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the worldwide “war on terror” begun in Afghanistan, or Operation Enduring Freedom, have resulted in three times as many—some 12,000 service members—being evacuated to Landstuhl and repatriated for medical treatment.
          Lt. Col. Richard Jordan, a physician, who directs the Deployed Warrior Medical Management Center at Landstuhl, oversees the coordination of all medical evacuations from the Middle East. I interviewed him in his hospital office on Feb. 5 and he told me the following:
          “Since the first plane arrived from Iraq on March 16, 2003, we have evacuated 11,400. We’ve been very busy. The most we had in one day was 168 [wounded]. We have had 60-hour weeks. We’re saving lives.”
          February statistics from the Deployed Warrior Medical Management Center show that 11,652 soldiers from Iraq and Operation Enduring Freedom have been treated at Landstuhl. Of these, only 1,232—roughly one in 10—returned to duty; 10,420 required further medical treatment
          On the issue of LRMC provided psychological counseling for the seriously wounded soldiers and amputees, she pointed out that “ time is very short” and most of the wounded are moved on to the United States in a matter of days. She admitted that amputees are still in a state of shock.
          Casualty figures released on Feb. 3 by the Department of Defense from the invasion and occupation of Iraq indicate a significant gap with the figures I was given at the hospital.
          Lt. Col. Jordan said Landstuhl had received 11,400 from Iraq, while the Pentagon has only reported a total of 2,996 U.S. wounded in the occupation of Iraq.
          Asked about the seeming scarcity of images of wounded U.S. military personnel in the mass media, she said there were “plenty of them.”


          • #6
            Russia launches nuclear war games

            Hindustan Times

            Russia notified the United States on Tuesday that it has launched war games that involve the test launch of intercontinental missiles and flights by its heavy nuclear bombers.

            Deputy Chief of Staff General Yury Baluyevsky said the manoeuvres were a standard annual event and dismissed several newspaper reports that they would be the largest since the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991.

            "Russia has not received any statements from the United States about any violations in the course of the strategic command post exercises that are now being conducted," he told reporters.

            Baluyevsky said the exercises involved all six military regions that divide the massive country and involve both sea and ground-based nuclear missile test launches.

            He flatly dismissed media reports that heavy Russian nuclear bombers would drop mock missiles over the Atlantic Ocean -- a move likely to draw loud protests from the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

            But the General stressed that the exercises were being conducted "in order to prevent aggression and military pressure being applied to Russia."

            Some political analysts speculate that the exercises are being staged to boost President Vladimir Putin's image as a military commander ahead of March 14 presidential elections.

            Baluyevsky said Russia's military budget grew by 16 per cent this year compared to 2003, without providing any figures.


            • #7
              Bush News


              Ellen Mariani: 'Bush knew and let it happen'
              9/11 widow files suit detailing 'a deadly and evil mixture of the Bush and bin Laden regimes'

              Joyce Lynn

              On September 10, 2001, Ellen Mariani and her husband Louis "spent their last day together as husband and wife on this earth."

              At about 8 a.m. the next day, September 11, George W. Bush sat down for his daily briefing, which included references to the heightened terrorist risk reported throughout the summer but "contained nothing serious enough to call National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice." The briefing ended about 8:20 a.m.

              At 9:05 a.m., Chief of Staff Andrew Card walked up to Bush, who was with a classroom of second graders at Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, and reportedly whispered in his ear: "A second plane has hit the World Trade Center. America is under attack."

              For the next 7 to 18 minutes, Bush continued to talk with the children about a goat story as Mariani's husband, who was a passenger on United Airlines Flight 175, crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

              Mariani's husband was murdered as the commander-in-chief dallied in a second grade classroom reading a story about a pet goat.

              This is Ellen Mariani's description of her personal nightmare in the daring suit she filed last month against Bush; his father, George H. W. Bush, and top administration officials, calling them "aiders and abettors and conspirators" who "intentionally and deliberately failed to prevent the 9/11 attacks."

              Mariani alleges the defendants "let the attacks happen for one chilling reason: to profit personally or politically from the so-called 'International War on Terror.'"

              "The reasons why 9/11 occurred are no longer a national security risk, but a national security disgrace and tragedy," Mariani declares.

              Mariani believes Bush "allowed the attacks to take place to compel public anger and outcry to engage our nation and our military men and women in a preventable international war on terror for personal gains and agenda."

              Challenging the official version of 9/11, Mariani claims in her 62-page filing that Bush and his father "hold the answers" to why 9/11 occurred.

              In the April 2002 article, "Misguided White Guy," this publication pointed out the possibly corrupt financing cycle of policy and profit by G.H.W. Bush and cronies from his tenure in government. Some of these people are high officials in the current administration or executives in Bush's private business ventures.

              This publication put forth the argument in the article "Law of Conspiracy; Conspiracy of Silence" in October 2002 that Bush and other top administration officials were guilty of the same conspiracy to commit murder of which they accused John Walker Lindh, the American found with the Taliban in Afghanistan, because they remained silent before, during, and after the events of 9/11. The article argued that if Bush administration officials deliberately withheld information for political or financial gain they could be charged under the law of conspiracy.

              A range of theories about what happened on 9/11 has emerged. The Bush administration's story is that a guy with a long grizzled beard living in a cave in Afghanistan surprised the $40 billion a year U.S. intelligence community by hijacking domestic airplanes and crashing them into symbols of U.S. economic dominance and war. Independent journalists, researchers, and activists have put forth evidence to support scenarios that Bush knew about 9/11 and let it happen (Mariani's suit) and/or that 9/11 was an inside job-an operation of shadow elements of the U.S. government.

              In a personal letter to Bush released with the filing, Mariani writes, "On the morning of the attack, you and members of your staff were fully aware of the unfolding events, yet you chose to continue on to the Emma E. Booker Elementary School to proceed with a scheduled event and 'photo op.'" (Excerpts of the letter follows this article.)

              In addition to Bush, other defendants include George H.W. Bush, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, vice president, and president of the U.S.; Vice President Richard Cheney; Attorney General John Ashcroft; Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld; CIA Director George Tenet; Department of Transportation secretary Norman Y. Mineta; chairman of the board of the Council on Foreign Relations Peter G. Peterson; National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, and special master of the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 Kenneth R. Feinberg.

              Since Mariani filed a civil action last September 12, she says a 'firestorm" has erupted around Bush's refusal to comply with the commission investigating 9/11. As a result, on November 26, Mariani filed an amended complaint that includes obstruction of justice.

              Mariani charges the defendants violated the U.S. Constitution and provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. Mariani, who lives in New Hampshire, filed her suit (case no. 03-5273) in the Federal District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were signed in Philadelphia, which is in the Eastern District.

              Philip Berg, Mariani's lawyer, was a former deputy attorney general of Pennsylvania and candidate for governor of Pennsylvania. He has woven information from independent 9/11 researchers, activists, and his own investigation into a spellbinding tale that alleges decades of Bush family malfeasance. (Philip J. Berg, Esquire, 9/11 For The Truth, 706 Ridge Pike, Lafayette Hill, PA 19444-1711, 610-825-3134, [email protected])

              Kyle F. Hence, co-founder of the activist organization 9/11 CitizensWatch, has worked closely with Mariani and other victim families. He said about Mariani's case, "We feel that it is a very important legal action that could, if nothing else, bring more focus on the issues the media continue to largely ignore." ([email protected])

              Edward Hurley of the Sarah McClendon Study Group, which sponsored a press conference with Mariani and Berg at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, last month, said Mariani's suit presented "a richly documented case for criminal negligence if not complicity at the highest reaches of our government."

              The Mariani complaint is online at www.911forthetruth.com

              Mariani asserts Bush, Cheney, and Rice have engaged in a "pattern of criminal activity and obstruction of justice" in violation of the public trust and laws of the United States to achieve their personal goals and agendas."

              Mariani claims that by influencing national security policy as public officials or private citizens the Bush family has profited in arms and oil. She says the pattern dates back to their dealings with Nazi Germany during World War II.

              "This historical context will shock Americans who depend on the mainstream media for their political information," Mariani states.

              Mariani says the key to the charges is George H. W. Bush and his government involvement as CIA director (1976-1977), vice president (1980-1988), and president (1989-1992), as well as his subsequent business relationships. The latter includes his association with the Carlyle group, an equity fund that deals with weapons manufacturing.

              Information about the Bush family history is beginning to surface in the media, including the book, American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush by Nixon White House aide Kevin Phillips (January 2004) and Republican John Buchanan's challenge to Bush in the New Hampshire primary which has 9/11 and war profiteering at its core.

              According to Mariani's filing, just as Adolph Hitler played "the anti-communist card to win over skeptical German industrialists," the Bush family melds political and business interests. "As history and evidence proves, the Bushes got their start as key Hitler supporters," the suit claims.

              Mariani says Prescott Bush, George H.W. Bush's father, was Hitler's "propaganda manager" in New York until Franklin D. Roosevelt confiscated his holdings under the Trading With the Enemy Act.

              She asserts George H. W. Bush's long government involvement and his business relations with the bin Laden family yield "a deadly and evil mixture of the Bush and bin Laden regimes." She says Bush also conducted *personal business and national security deals" with another alleged terrorist, Saddam Hussein.

              Mariani asserts that in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, "Defendants were allies with Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein during the former Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan and Iran-Iraq war respectively." She says during these times "personal and political deals were made and it is believed upon discovery, these dealings hold the truth" about 9/11.

              The complaint says Cheney still holds Halliburton stock options totaling more than $26 million. Halliburton passed the Standard & Poor's Index by nearly 40 percent during the past year because of millions of dollars in Department of Defense contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

              She maintains G.H.W. Bush's share in the Carlyle Group's defense-related profits will show similar appreciation since Bush launched the so-called "War on Terror. "

              Mariani reserves blistering anger for Kenneth Feinberg, administer of the compensation fund of the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act. Mariani calls the fund "a ploy" to silence lawsuits that could expose Bush's failure to prevent the 9/11 attacks.

              She said Feinberg allowed the Red Cross to stall donations to victim families to increase the families' financial difficulties. "Many just decided to give up and submit to Feinberg's fund in return for absolving the government of future accountability," Mariani charges.


              • #8

                The deadline for 9/11 families to file claims with the fund has passed. Of the official 2,976 deaths, 2,851 families filed claims, forsaking future litigation against the government, airlines, airports, or security firms.

                Mariani asserts if G.W. Bush, the Department of Defense, and NORAD had responded "expeditiously" and according to protocol, her husband and "thousands of other innocent people might still be alive today."

                She said as president [sic], G.W. Bush is "solely responsible" for "lapses" in intelligence leading to 9/11. A joint House and Senate Intelligence Committee last July attributed these "lapses" to the CIA and FBI.

                Mariani asserts 9/11 has served as "a pretext for a never-ending war against the world, including preemptive strikes against defenseless, but resource rich countries." It also has served as a pretext for "draconian measures of repression" in the U.S., including the Department of Homeland Security and USA PATRIOT Act.

                The suit outlines historical roots of war-provoking deception such as Operation Northwoods, which the Joint Chiefs of Staff proposed in 1962. It included a plan for the U.S. to shoot down civilian airplanes and blame the act on Fidel Castro as a pretext for launching a war against Cuba. The Kennedy administration nixed the plan.

                Other war-propelling hoaxes include the sinking of the Maine; the bombardment of Pearl Harbor, which evidence indicates President Roosevelt knew about, and the Gulf of Tonkin "provocation," which led to escalation of the Vietnam conflict.

                Less than a month after the February 27, 1933, Reichstag fire, which the Nazis blamed on the Communists, Hitler became Supreme Commander of Germany setting the stage for the repression and horror that followed.

                To substantiate the foreknowledge claim, the suit says on August 6, 2001, one month before the 9/11 attacks, Condoleezza Rice provided a written brief to Bush at his Texas ranch that warned Osama bin Laden might hijack U.S. aircraft.

                The suit claims "the single most damning indictment" was the failure of the Department of Defense/NORAD to follow normal military protocol as standard procedure. "It is a matter of routine procedure for fighter-jets to intercept commercial airliners to regain contact with the pilot.

                "Flights 175, 77, and 93 had the same pattern of delays in notification and in scrambling fighter jets, delays that are unimaginable considering a plane had, by this time, already hit the World Trade Center."

                Mariani also charges Peter G. Peterson, chairman of the board of the Council on Foreign Relations, provided Bush and other officials "with critical national security advice contrary to the best interests of the American Public."

                Mariani said she hopes "revealing the truth of 9/11" will mean no longer can "so few control so many for self-gain and personal agendas."


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