Iraqi Clerics Unite in Rare Alliance 
By Anthony Shadid 
Washington Post 

Sunday 17 August 2003 

U.S. Fears Shiite, Sunni Cooperation Will Bolster Resistance 

NAJAF, Iraq, Aug. 16 -- A popular Sunni Muslim cleric has provided grass-roots and financial
support to a leading anti-American Shiite cleric, a rare example of cooperation across Iraq's
sectarian divide that has alarmed U.S. officials for its potential to bolster festering resistance to
the American occupation, senior U.S. and Iraqi officials say. 

The ties mark one of the first signs of coordination between anti-occupation elements of the
Sunni minority, the traditional rulers of the country, and its Shiite majority, seen by U.S. officials
as the key to stability in postwar Iraq. 

The extent of the cooperation remains unclear between Ahmed Kubeisi, a Sunni cleric from a
prominent clan in western Iraq, and Moqtada Sadr, the 30-year-old son of a revered Shiite
ayatollah assassinated in 1999. But ideologically and practically, it represents a convergence of
interests between the two figures, who were left out of the Iraqi Governing Council named last
month and, in their own communities, have emerged as influential if still minority voices of
opposition to the four-month-old occupation. 

Supporters of the two clerics acknowledged cooperation, but denied there was any financial

U.S. officials say they are especially worried that such cooperation will strengthen Sadr. U.S.
officials were taken by surprise by the young cleric's rise to prominence and have remained
publicly dismissive of his influence. But they privately acknowledge his support among the
poorest and most alienated in cities such as Baghdad and Basra -- a constituency that has long
played a role in Iraqi politics -- and express frustration over their inability to curb his influence at
a time of growing criticism of U.S. reconstruction efforts. 

"This is a political challenge, and it is a distraction, and it keeps the show from getting on the
road," said a senior U.S. official in Baghdad, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "We cannot
afford the distraction." 

Kubeisi, a charismatic speaker and respected religious scholar, enjoys support in
conservative Sunni regions as a political and spiritual leader. Since the fall of the Sunni-led
Baath Party, he has emerged as one of a handful of figures seeking to speak on behalf of the
Sunni community, which has been left largely leaderless and adrift since the war. 

The senior official said reports of financial support from Kubeisi to Sadr -- widely circulating
among Iraqi officials -- came from U.S. intelligence in Iraq. According to one report, Kubeisi
provided Sadr with $50 million, though the official cautioned that it was "unevaluated

"He's getting a lot of money from Sunnis. I can't put a figure on it, but it's really a lot of
money," he said. 

Maj. Rick Hall, the executive officer of the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, said the support was
confirmed to him by Iraqi sources, though he had no specific figure. He called the reports "very

"We feel very confident" that Sadr had meetings with Kubeisi and "we believe reports we are
told are true, reports of him receiving financing," Hall said at the Marines' base in Najaf, one of
Iraq's holiest Shiite cities. 

A senior official with the 25-member Governing Council, who spoke on condition of
anonymity, described the financing as "100 percent true" and said it was common knowledge
among Iraqi politicians and parties on the council. 

U.S. officials declined to say where the money was coming from, but the Iraqi official said he
believed it came from private individuals in the Persian Gulf, whose conservative, Sunni Muslim
states have viewed with anxiety the prospect of a Shiite-dominated government in neighboring
Iraq. By supporting the most radical Shiite elements, he said, they hope to prevent a united
Shiite front in the contest for postwar power. 

U.S. and Iraqi officials offered different assessments of how Sadr's group may have spent the
money. At least some of it, they said, appears to have gone to supporters, part of the social
welfare that has proved remarkably effective with Islamic groups elsewhere in the Arab world. 

Hall said he believes it has been used in part to bring supporters from Baghdad and other
Sadr strongholds to the Friday prayers in Kufa, near Najaf. The senior Iraqi official said he
believed money was going to powerful tribes in southern Iraq, long a key source of support for
the competing ayatollahs who vie for influence and supporters from their base in Najaf. 

The U.S. and Iraqi officials said they believe Kubeisi has also encouraged followers from the
restive cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in western Iraq -- the region where he draws his greatest
support -- to attend Sadr's Friday sermons in Kufa. 

Those sermons, which have at times drawn tens of thousands of supporters over the past
month, have served as a key public venue for Sadr. Wearing a white funeral shawl to signify his
willingness to sacrifice himself, he has railed against the Governing Council, calling it a tool of
the U.S. occupation that should be dissolved, and repeatedly urged the creation of a religious
army, albeit unarmed. 

Mustafa Yaacoubi, a spokesman for Sadr, denied the reports that Sadr has received money
from Kubeisi. He said the group raises its funds entirely from religious taxes and then, only from
inside Iraq. Another spokesman, Adnan Shahmani, has put the taxes at $65,000 a month. 

Taghlib Alusi, a spokesman for Kubeisi, who is currently in the United Arab Emirates, also
denied that money had gone to Sadr. "There's no truth to it," he said. Sadr "has a lot of money.
There's no need for Sheik Ahmed to give it to him." 

But Alusi acknowledged cooperation between the two, beginning with a meeting in Najaf in
late April. He said Sadr had sent a delegation from Najaf to Baghdad two weeks ago to explore
greater cooperation. In the interests of sectarian harmony, he said that Kubeisi has encouraged
his followers to pray with Shiites, who traditionally worship in separate mosques. 

"We are friendly and we are brothers," he said. 

Beyond their roles as religious officials, Kubeisi and Sadr share little in background. Kubeisi,
who had a long, if ambivalent relationship with Hussein, went into exile in the United Arab
Emirates in 1999. He returned soon after Baghdad fell on April 9 and then electrified a crowd of
Sunni Muslims with a speech that warned U.S. troops their time was limited in Iraq. 

"You are the masters today," he said. "But I warn you against thinking of staying. Get out
before we force you out." 

Sadr, the son of Mohammed Sadiq Sadr, who was killed with his two sons by Hussein's
government, has inherited at least part of his father's popular, largely youthful following. His
group, dominated by junior clerics engaged in grass-roots work and community organizing,
remains one of the few mass-based movements in Iraq and draws on the deeply resonant
symbols of Shiite suffering and martyrdom. In the past month, he has become increasingly vocal
in his opposition to the occupation. 

Both Kubeisi and Sadr have preached unity among Shiites and Sunnis. Those divisions run
deep in the history of Iraq, where the Sunni minority has long dominated and Shiites were often
brutally repressed by Hussein. 

Both have also run afoul of U.S. authorities. U.S. officials criticized Kubeisi's newspaper, Al
Sa'a, when it published a report in June about soldiers raping two Iraqi girls. U.S. officials said
the story was false. Last week, soldiers visited Kubeisi's office after the newspaper published a
story -- disputed by them -- that said U.S. soldiers had killed six children in Baghdad's Shiite
neighborhood of Kadhimiya. 

The senior U.S. official said authorities were also on the verge of closing a religious and
anti-Baathist newspaper they said belonged to Sadr. Last month, it published a list of 134 Iraqis,
many of them former senior government figures and party officials. The list declared them "tails
of Saddam's tyrannical regime and his gang who will be caught by our hands sooner or later"
and promised "the worst torture." Yaacoubi denied the newspaper, "The Echo of Sadr," was
published by Sadr's group. 

In the broadest terms, the senior U.S. official said he worried that funding from Kubeisi would
add to Sadr's ability to organize his supporters, creating what he called an obstacle to U.S.
efforts to oversee a new Iraqi government and constitution. 

In Basra, for example, a group linked to Sadr holds one-third of the seats on the local
council. While it denied having any hand in riots there earlier this month, it nevertheless
supported the protests and warned of more. In a statement, it also accused British troops who
control the city of depriving the population of basic services as part of "the enemy's conspiracies
and imperialist schemes." 

"He's a populist, a critic and a rabble-rouser and he's gotten awful, awful close to the line,"
the senior U.S. official said of Sadr. He added, "If the Shiites end up in an eye-gouging,
ear-biting dispute among themselves, that's going to be bad for them, and it will certainly retard
the progress that is supposed to be accomplished at a time in Iraq when time is important." 

Reluctant to act themselves, U.S. officials have turned to Iraq's most senior Shiite clerics,
also known as mujtahids, who have privately dismissed Sadr as a figure with no religious
standing but are hesitant to publicly criticize him. Traditionally, the clergy have sought to keep
disputes among themselves, projecting an image of unity. Given Sadr's lineage from a long and
storied clerical family and his street support, the clerics seem unwilling to pick a fight with a
potentially unpredictable and even violent outcome. 

"We're watching him and some of the big mujtahids are watching us and we're both hoping
the other does something," said the U.S. official. 

Yaacoubi, the Sadr spokesman, said U.S. officials had no reason to act against the group
and accused occupation forces of trying to provoke them, most recently when a helicopter
knocked down a religious banner in Baghdad last week. In sermons and statements, aware of
the crackdown it might bring, Sadr's followers have assiduously avoided any call to arms. 

"Until now, we can say our office hasn't trespassed any red lines," Yaacoubi said in the
group's headquarters in Najaf, which sits along a winding alley near the shrine of Imam Ali, one
of Shiite Islam's most revered figures. 

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to
those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and
educational purposes.)


Up to 5,000 Could Have Died in French Heat Wave, Official Says
The Associated Press

Monday 18 August 2003

PARIS - France's health minister said Monday that up to 5,000 people could have died during the
summer's heat wave but the exact number of heat-related deaths would not be known for several

Health Minister Jean-Francois Mattei is facing calls for his resignation over the handling of
heat-related deaths amid criticism that the government did not react quickly enough to avoid the crisis.

The health ministry has estimated that between 1,600 to 3,000 people - mostly elderly - died from
heat-related causes starting on Aug. 7 as Europe was hit by a record heat wave.

Last week, Patrick Pelloux, the head of France's emergency physicians' association and a leading
critic of the government's response, said as many as 5,000 people could have died from heat stroke,
dehydration and other effects of the withering heat.

Mattei, asked about the assertion on RTL radio, said: "It's a hypothesis - it's plausible - but it's only a

Doctors' groups and the Socialist opposition have taken aim at Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin's
government, saying it did not react quickly enough to the prospect of heat-related deaths.

But lawmakers from the ruling UMP coalition have blamed a law enacted by Socialists when they
were in power that limits France's working week to 35 hours. They say the law left medical centers and
hospitals short-staffed at the height of the crisis.

The government has said many of the deaths were among elderly people left at home by family
members who left on holiday. Much of France shuts down in August.

Earlier this month, parts of France suffered in temperatures of 104 degrees and higher, but
temperatures have since cooled to more normal levels. 


Ahnuld, Ken Lay, George Bush, Dick Cheney and Gray Davis
By Jason Leopold

Sunday 17 August 2003

Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t talking. The Hollywood action film star and California’s GOP
gubernatorial candidate in the state’s recall election has been unusually silent about his plans for
running the Golden State. He hasn’t yet offered up a solution for the state’s $38 billion budget deficit,
an issue that largely got more than one million people to sign a petition to recall Gov. Gray Davis. 

More important, however, Schwarzenegger still won’t respond to questions about why he was at the
Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills two years ago where he, former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan
and junk bond king Michael Milken, met secretly with former Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay who was
touting a plan for solving the state’s energy crisis. Other luminaries who were invited but didn’t attend
the May 24, 2001 meeting included former Los Angeles Laker Earvin “Magic” Johnson and supermarket
magnate Ron Burkle. 

While Schwarzenegger, Riordan and Milken listened to Lay’s pitch, Gov. Davis pleaded with President
George Bush to enact much needed price controls on electricity sold in the state, which skyrocketed
to more than $200 per megawatt-hour. Davis said that Texas-based energy companies were
manipulating California’s power market, charging obscene prices for power and holding consumers
hostage. Bush agreed to meet with Davis at the Century Plaza Hotel in West Los Angeles on May 29,
2001, five days after Lay met with Schwarzenegger, to discuss the California power crisis. 

At the meeting, Davis asked Bush for federal assistance, such as imposing federally mandated price
caps, to rein in soaring energy prices. But Bush refused saying California legislators designed an
electricity market that left too many regulatory restrictions in place and that’s what caused electricity
prices in the state to skyrocket. It was up to the governor to fix the problem, Bush said. However,
Bush’s response appears to be part of a coordinated effort launched by Lay to have Davis shoulder the
blame for the crisis. It worked. According to recent polls, a majority of voters grew increasingly
frustrated with the way Davis handled the power crisis. Schwarzenegger has used the energy crisis and
missteps by Davis to bolster his standing with potential voters. While Davis took a beating in the press
(some energy companies ran attack ads against the governor), Lay used his political clout to gather
support for deregulation. 

A couple of weeks before Lay met with Schwarzenegger in May 2001, the PBS news program
“Frontline” interviewed Vice President Dick Cheney, whom Lay met with privately a month earlier.
Cheney was asked by a correspondent from Frontline whether energy companies were acting like a
cartel and using manipulative tactics to cause electricity prices to spike in California. 

“No,” Cheney said during the Frontline interview. “The problem you had in California was caused by a
combination of things--an unwise regulatory scheme, because they didn't really deregulate. Now they’re
trapped from unwise regulatory schemes, plus not having addressed the supply side of the issue.
They've obviously created major problems for themselves and bankrupted PG&E in the process.” 

A month before the Frontline interview and Bush’s meeting with Davis, Cheney, who chairs Bush’s
energy task force, met with Lay to discuss Bush’s National Energy Policy. Lay, whose company was
the largest contributor to Bush’s presidential campaign, made some recommendations that would
financially benefit his company. Lay gave Cheney a memo that included eight recommendations for the
energy policy. Of the eight, seven were included in the final draft. The energy policy was released in
late May 2001, after Schwarzenegger, Riordan and Milken met with Lay and after the meeting between
Bush and Davis and Cheney’s Frontline interview. 

The policy made only scant references to California's energy crisis, which Enron was accused of
igniting, and did not indicate what should be done to provide the state some relief. Cheney said the
policy focused on long-term solutions to the country's energy needs, such as opening up drilling in the
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and freeing up transmission lines. That's why California was ignored in
the report, Cheney said. 

What’s unknown to many of the voters who will decide Davis’s fate on Oct. 7, the day of the recall
election, is that while Cheney dismissed Davis’s accusations that power companies were withholding
electricity supplies from the state, one company engaged in exactly the type of behavior that Davis
described. But Davis would never be told about the manipulative tactics the energy company engaged. 

In a confidential settlement with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, whose chairman was
appointed by Bush a year earlier, Tulsa, Okla., based-Williams Companies agreed to refund California
$8 million in profits it reaped by deliberately shutting down one of its power plants in the state in the
spring of 2000 to drive up the wholesale price of electricity in California. 

The evidence, a transcript of a tape-recorded telephone conversation between an employee at
Williams and an employee at a Southern California power plant operated by Williams, shows how the
two conspired to jack up power prices and create an artificial electricity shortage by keeping the power
plant out of service for two weeks. 

Details of the settlement had been under seal by FERC for more than a year and were released in
November after the Wall Street Journal sued the commission to obtain the full copy of its report.
Similarly, FERC also found that Reliant Energy engaged in identical behavior around the same time as
Williams and in February the commission ordered Reliant to pay California a $13.8 million settlement. 

Had the evidence been released in 2001 when Davis accused energy companies of fraud it would have
helped California’s case and voters may have viewed the governor more positively. But if FERC were to
publicly release the details of the Williams settlement it wouldn't have jibed with Bush's energy policy,
which was made public instead in May 2001. It's highly unlikely that Bush, Cheney and members of
the energy task force were kept in the dark about the Williams scam, especially since the findings of
the investigation by FERC took place around the same time the policy was being drafted. 

But Davis was still causing problems for Lay. California’s power woes had a ripple effect, forcing other
states to cancel plans to open up their electricity markets to competition fearing deregulation would
lead to widespread blackouts and price gouging. For Enron, a company that generated most of its
revenue from buying and selling power and natural gas on the open market, such a move would
paralyze the company. 

Fearing that Davis would take steps to re-regulate California’s power market that Lay spent years
lobbying California lawmakers to open up to competition, Lay recruited Schwarzenegger, Riordan,
Milken, and other powerful business leaders like Bruce Karatz, chief executive of home builder
Kaufman & Broad; Ray Irani, chief executive of Occidental Petroleum; and Kevin Sharer, chief
executive of biotech giant Amgen. 

The 90-minute secret meeting Lay convened took place inside a conference room at the Peninsula
Hotel. Lay, and other Enron representatives at the meeting, handed out a four-page document to
Schwarzenegger, Riordan and Milken titled “Comprehensive Solution for California,” which called for an
end to federal and state investigations into Enron’s role in the California energy crisis and said
consumers should pay for the state’s disastrous experiment with deregulation through multibillion rate
increases. Another bullet point in the four-page document said “Get deregulation right this time --
California needs a real electricity market, not government takeovers.” 

The irony of that statement is that California’s flawed power market design helped Enron earn more
than $500 million in one year, a tenfold increase in profits from a previous year and it’s coordinated
effort in manipulating the price of electricity in California, which other power companies mimicked, cost
the state close to $70 billion and led to the beginning of what is now the state’s $38 billion budget
deficit. The power crisis forced dozens of businesses to close down or move to other states, where
cheaper electricity was in abundant supply, and greatly reduced the revenue California relied heavily

Lay asked the participants to support his plan and lobby the state Legislature to make it a law. It’s
unclear whether Schwarzenegger held a stake in Enron at the time or if he followed through on Lay’s
request. His spokesman, Rob Stutzman, hasn’t returned numerous calls for comment about the
meeting. For Schwarzenegger and the others who attended the meeting, associating with Enron,
particularly Ken Lay, the disgraced chairman of the high-flying energy company, during the peak of
California’s power crisis in May 2001 could be compared to meeting with Osama bin Laden after 9-11
to understand why terrorism isn’t necessarily such a heinous act. 

A person who attended the meeting at the Peninsula, which this reporter wrote about two years ago,
said Lay invited Schwarzenegger and Riordan because the two were being courted in 2001 as GOP
gubernatorial candidates. A week before the meeting, Davis signed legislation to create a state power
authority that would buy, operate and build power plants in lieu of out-of-state energy companies, such
as Enron, that the governor alleged was ripping off the state. 

For Enron’s Lay, the timing of the meeting was crucial. His company was just five months away from
disintegrating and he was doing everything in his power to keep his company afloat and the profits
rolling in. 

It wasn’t until Enron collapsed in October 2001 and evidence of the company’s manipulative trading
tactics emerged that FERC began to take a look at the company’s role in California’s electricity crisis.
Since then, memos written by former Enron traders were uncovered, with colorful names like “Fat Boy”
and “Death Star,” that contained the blueprint for ripping off California. 

Enron’s top trader on the West Coast, Timothy Belden, the mastermind behind the scheme, pleaded
guilty in December to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and has agreed to cooperate with federal
investigators who are still trying to get to the bottom of the crisis. 

California is still demanding that FERC order the energy companies to refund the state $8.9 billion for
overcharging the state for electricity during its yearlong energy crisis. But FERC says California is due
no more than $1.2 billion in refunds because the state still owes the energy companies $1.8 billion in
unpaid power bills. 

Davis, who refused to cave in to the demands of companies like Enron even while Democrats,
Republicans and the public criticized him, was right all along. Maybe Californians ought to cut Davis
some slack. 


Jason Leopold ( spent two years covering California's energy crisis as
bureau chief of Dow Jones Newswires. He is currently working on a book about the crisis.



by Greg Palast

Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, "The Best Democracy Money
Can Buy" (Penguin USA) and the worstseller, "Democracy and Regulation," a
guide to electricity deregulation published by the United Nations (with T.
MacGregor and J. Oppenheim).

I can tell you all about the ne're-do-wells that put out our lights tonight.
I came up against these characters -- the Niagara Mohawk Power Company --
some years back. You see, before I was a journalist, I worked for a living,
as an investigator of corporate racketeers. In the 1980s, "NiMo" built a
nuclear plant, Nine Mile Point, a brutally costly piece of hot junk for
which NiMo and its partner companies charged billions to New York State's
electricity ratepayers.

To pull off this grand theft by kilowatt, the NiMo-led consortium fabricated
cost and schedule reports, then performed a Harry Potter job on the account
books. In 1988, I showed a jury a memo from an executive from one partner,
Long Island Lighting, giving a lesson to a NiMo honcho on how to lie to
government regulators. The jury ordered LILCO to pay $4.3 billion and,
ultimately, put them out of business.

And that's why, if you're in the Northeast, you're reading this by
candlelight tonight. Here's what happened. After LILCO was hammered by the
law, after government regulators slammed Niagara Mohawk and dozens of other
book-cooking, document-doctoring utility companies all over America with
fines and penalties totaling in the tens of billions of dollars, the
industry leaders got together to swear never to break the regulations again.
Their plan was not to follow the rules, but to ELIMINATE the rules. They
called it "deregulation."

It was like a committee of bank robbers figuring out how to make
safecracking legal.
But they dare not launch the scheme in the USA. Rather, in 1990, one devious
little bunch of operators out of Texas, Houston Natural Gas, operating under
the alias "Enron," talked an over-the-edge free-market fanatic, Britain's
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, into licensing the first completely
deregulated power plant in the hemisphere.

And so began an economic disease called "regulatory reform" that spread
faster than SARS. Notably, Enron rewarded Thatcher's Energy Minister, one
Lord Wakeham, with a bushel of dollar bills for 'consulting' services and a
seat on Enron's board of directors. The English experiment proved the
viability of Enron's new industrial formula: that the enthusiasm of
politicians for deregulation was in direct proportion to the payola provided
by power companies.

The power elite first moved on England because they knew Americans wouldn't
swallow the deregulation snake oil easily. The USA had gotten used to cheap
power available at the flick of switch. This was the legacy of Franklin
Roosevelt who, in 1933, caged the man he thought to be the last of the power
pirates, Samuel Insull. Wall Street wheeler-dealer Insull creator of the
Power Trust, and six decades before Ken Lay, faked account books and ripped
off consumers. To frustrate Insull and his ilk, FDR gave us the Federal
Power Commission and the Public Utilities Holding Company Act which told
electricity companies where to stand and salute. Detailed regulations
limited charges to real expenditures plus a government-set profit. The laws
banned "power markets" and required companies to keep the lights on under
threat of arrest -- no blackout blackmail to hike rates.

Of particular significance as I write here in the dark, regulators told
utilities exactly how much they had to spend to insure the system stayed in
repair and the lights stayed on. Bureaucrats crawled along the wire and,
like me, crawled through the account books, to make sure the power execs
spent customers' money on parts and labor. If they didn't, we'd whack'm over
the head with our thick rule books. Did we get in the way of these
businessmen's entrepreneurial spirit? Damn right we did.

Most important, FDR banned political contributions from utility companies --
no 'soft' money, no 'hard' money, no money PERIOD.

But then came George the First. In 1992, just prior to his departure from
the White House, President Bush Senior gave the power industry one long
deep-through-the-teeth kiss good-bye: federal deregulation of electricity.
It was a legacy he wanted to leave for his son, the gratitude of power
companies which ponied up $16 million for the Republican campaign of 2000,
seven times the sum they gave Democrats.

But Poppy Bush's gift of deregulating of wholesale prices set by the feds
only got the power pirates halfway to the plunder of Joe Ratepayer. For the
big payday they needed deregulation at the state level. There were only two
states, California and Texas, big enough and Republican enough to put the
electricity market con into operation.

California fell first. The power companies spent $39 million to defeat a
1998 referendum pushed by Ralph Nadar which would have blocked the de-reg
scam. Another $37 million was spent on lobbying and lubricating the campaign
coffers of legislators to write a lie into law: in the deregulation act's
preamble, the Legislature promised that deregulation would reduce
electricity bills by 20%. In fact, when San Diegans in the first California
city to go "lawless" looked at their bills, the 20% savings became a 300%
jump in surcharges.

Enron circled California and licked its lips. As the number one life-time
contributor to the George W. Bush campaign, it was confident about the
future. With just a half dozen other companies it controlled at times 100%
of the available power capacity needed to keep the Golden State lit. Their
motto, "your money or your lights." Enron and its comrades played the system
like a broken ATM machine, yanking out the bills. For example, in the
shamelessly fixed "auctions" for electricity held by the state, Enron bid,
in one instance, to supply 500 megawatts of electricity over a 15 megawatt
line. That's like pouring a gallon of gasoline into a thimble -- the lines
would burn up if they attempted it. Faced with blackout because of Enron's
destructive bid, the state was willing to pay anything to keep the lights on.

And the state did. According to Dr. Anjali Sheffrin, economist with the
California state Independent System Operator which directed power movements,
between May and November 2000, three power giants physically or 
economically" withheld power from the state and concocted enough false bids
to cost the California customers over $6.2 billion in excess charges.

It took until December 20, 2000, with the lights going out on the Golden
Gate, for President Bill Clinton, once a deregulation booster, to find his
lost Democratic soul and impose price caps in California and ban Enron from
the market.

But the light-bulb buccaneers didn't have to wait long to put their hooks
back into the treasure chest. Within seventy-two hours of moving into the
White House, while he was still sweeping out the inaugural champagne bottles
George Bush the Second reversed Clinton's executive order and put the power
pirates back in business in California. Enron, Reliant (aka Houston
Industries), TXU (aka Texas Utilities) and the others who had economically
snipped California's wires knew they could count on Dubya, who as governor
of the Lone Star state cut them the richest deregulation deal in America.

Meanwhile, the deregulation bug made it to New York where Republican
Governor George Pataki and his industry-picked utility commissioners ripped
the lid off electric bills and relieved my old friends at Niagara Mohawk of
the expensive obligation to properly fund the maintenance of the grid system

And the Pataki-Bush Axis of Weasels permitted something that must have
former New York governor Roosevelt spinning in his wheelchair in Heaven:
They allowed a foreign company, the notoriously incompetent National Grid of
England, to buy up NiMo, get rid of 800 workers and pocket most of their
wages - producing a bonus for NiMo stockholders approaching $90 million.

Is tonight's black-out a surprise? Heck, no, not to us in the field who've
watched Bush's buddies flick the switches across the globe. In Brazil,
Houston Industries seized ownership of Rio de Janeiro's electric company.
The Texans (aided by their French partners) fired workers, raised prices,
cut maintenance expenditures and, CLICK! the juice went out so often the
locals now call it, "Rio Dark."

So too the free-market cowboys of Niagara Mohawk raised prices, slashed
staff, cut maintenance and CLICK! -- New York joins Brazil in the Dark Ages.

Californians have found the solution to the deregulation disaster: re-call
the only governor in the nation with the cojones to stand up to the
electricity price fixers. And unlike Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gov. Gray Davis
stood alone against the bad guys without using a body double. Davis called
Reliant Corp of Houston a pack of "pirates" --and now he'll walk the plank
for daring to stand up to the Texas marauders.

So where's the President? Just before he landed on the deck of the Abe
Lincoln, the White House was so concerned about our brave troops facing the
foe that they used the cover of war for a new push in Congress for yet more
electricity deregulation. This has a certain logic: there's no sense
defeating Iraq if a hostile regime remains in California.

Sitting in the dark, as my laptop battery runs low, I don't know if the
truth about deregulation will ever see the light --until we change the dim
bulb in the White House.


See Greg Palast's award-winning reports for BBC Television and the Guardian
papers of Britain at 
Contact Palast at his New York office:

...R O N


THE MIDDLE-FINGER NEWS - Saudi Blackout Money
Sticking It To The Poobahs - News So Hot You Can Fry Eggs
by Sherman H. Skolnick 8-15-3

Daddy Bush had a falling out with private business partner, Saddam Hussein. 
and the rest is called Persian Gulf War One. The Bush Crime Family is having a 
divorce from the Saudi Royals, and it is called the Great Black-Out of 2003. 

With the true nature unraveling of the U.S./British high-level crazies having 
created the monstrous disaster called 
9-11, the Saudis are not standing still while the Bushies and the Carlyle 
Group blame it on supposed "terrorist" hi-jackers financed by the Saudis. Part 
an espionage/political assassination-type trick, called The Parallel Track, 
the Arabs now realize they were all the latter-day "Lee Harvey Oswalds", purely 

What to do? Simple. The Saudis, until now paid for their oil treasure in 
"U.S. Dollars", have on deposit in U.S. money center banks, mainly New York, 
than One Trillion Dollars. The largest such, Citibank New York, has as its 
heaviest shareholder, with the Rockefellers, a top-member of the Saudi royals. 

The U.S. Treasury got wind of the Saudi plan for Thursday, August 14, 2003, 
to begin the wire-transferring of 98 Billion Dollars. The recipients? Why, 
French banks and other enterprises in Quebec and through Toronto, Canada. In 
greater part, that is, the French Rothschilds, official bankers of the Vatican. 

Shortly after noon of U.S. Financial Doomsday, the U.S. Treasury ordered 
their unit, Internal Revenue Service, Manhattan, to immediately revert to back-
power. This according to a wire service story used once and later, dropped 
down the Orwell "1984" media hole. Three hours later, began the greatest 
U.S./Canadian black-out, blamed by the U.S. monopoly press on the Canadian side 
Niagara power. The Canadians immediately rejected the fake U.S. explanation of 

"lightning" strike. That the treacherous Brits, 
and the Queen of England, having recently bought into a key portion of the 
U.S. grid, and tied to the Bushies, remains generally unknown. 

So in a State of Emergency, by a created mess, the Saudi money escape, for 
now, has been blocked. 

Just earlier than the U.S. Treasury command, the Financial Times of London, 
showed how Federal Reserve Commissar, Alan Greenspan, is trapped in a U.S. Bond 
Collapse, causing interest rates to spike, (according to some, perhaps worse 
than 21-1/2 per cent, for the most solvent creditors, as in 1981). 

Now what? Perhaps a new fabricated crisis. Such as, a strange ship entering 
New York Harbor with "nuclear terrorists". Or, maybe thirty nuclear suitcase 
bombs (code-named "Red Mercury") known to be located in or near Manhattan. The 
problem? Simple. Stop the Saudis. The oil-soaked, spy-riddled pro-British 
American monopoly press can hollar that the Saudi royals are secretly financing 
Iraqi underground killing our troops. 

The solution? By U.S. Military force, divide up Saudi Arabia. The non-oil 
western part with the two religious sites, to house the Royals. The eastern 
seized for oil for the U.S. and such. 

Can there be any question that the U.S. Treasury had prior knowledge of the 
Great Black-Out of 2003? Does the Treasury intend to finger the Vatican plan to 
seize Jerusalem as their capital? Or admit the Saudi attempted money escape? 
Or admit that the Bush Crime Family should be arrested for treason against the 
American people?