Shuttle Disaster is a Sign from God

Human flesh falling on Palestine, Texas is an eerie

Ernesto Cienfuegos
La Voz de Aztlan

Los Angeles, Alta California - February 3, 2003 - (ACN)
In a bizarre and eery coincidence, small pieces of
human remains rained over the beautiful village of
Palestine, Texas soon after the Shuttle Columbia
disintegrated over the state. Mrs. Patricia Hernandez,
who found some of the remains, was traveling in her
vehicle back to Palestine from a funeral in Houston
when she noticed a fire in the sky. She heard a loud
noise and "felt an intense rumbling like an earthquake."
After arriving home, she noticed that two of her
windows were broken, apparently from the sonic boom
the Shuttle made in its ill fated re-entry into the
atmosphere. In here backyard, she noticed her German
Shepherd chewing on a small chunk of flesh she assumed
was part of one of the astronauts.

Members of the Oklahoma Army National Guard are now in
Palestine, Texas, to help secure and identify debris
from the space shuttle Columbia. Spokeswoman Michelann
Ooten says the 20 members of the 63rd Civil Support
team were deployed during the night. She says they
arrived in Palestine about 4:30 this morning where
they'll help with recovery of items from the doomed

Officials of NASA agreed to allow an Israeli Defense
Forces expert to participate in the examination and
identification process of the body parts found in the
area. The IDF attache in the United States, Major
General Moshe Ivri-Sukenik, said that he had stressed
to NASA the significance Israel and the Jewish
religion placed on the identification of the body
parts of the Jewish Astronaut Ilan Ramon and his
burial in Israel. Ivri-Sukenik said Israel wished to
play an active role in the search and identification
operation of body parts.

NASA reported yesterday that remains from all seven
astronauts on the doomed shuttle Columbia have been
found. NASA official Bob Cabana said on Sunday, "We
found remains from all the astronauts". Cabana is the
director of flight crew operations. "It's still in the
process of identification," he added

Astronauts' remains have been found all the way from
Palestine to Hemphill, Texas near the Louisiana state
border. The Shuttle Columbia crew cabin had an upper
and a lower level. The two women, the pilot and the
commander rode in the upper level. The Israeli and the
remaining two astronauts rode in the lower level. The
three in the lower level most probably fell on the
beginning of the debris area.

There is now much conjecture, because of the
background of IDF Colonel Ilan Ramon and the nature of
his mission on Shuttle Columbia, that the disaster is
a message from God. Colonel Ramon participated in
dropping bombs on Palestinian civilians and the
killing of women and children. His mission on the
Shuttle was of a military nature. About 75% of all
Shuttle missions are military in nature. Whatever he
was doing on the Shuttle must have been related to
"biological warfare" or "nuclear weapons" because
there is now a medical panic in eastern Texas where
the debris fell.

Hospitals can not keep up with the number of people
coming in with a "mysterious flu" after breathing the
dust raining down on them. Emergency crews from the
Palestine Fire Department set up a decontamination
station behind Palestine Regional Medical Center (PRMC)
in Palestine and the military has now moved in to
quarantine the area. PRMC Director Lynn Scribner said
the hospitals EMTs were directing all people into the
hospital through the main entrance. "We are trying to
get all the people coming into the hospital in one
place so we'll know where to direct them," Scribner
said Saturday afternoon. "Those who have come within
200 feet of any material are asked to come to the
hospital where they can be treated by emergency
personnel." Palestine Fire Department Emergency
Management Coordinator Randall Shoulders said
firefighters are scrubbing people down in a makeshift
station and then bagging their clothes. "We have the
personnel and the equipment out here in case someone
has been contaminated," Shoulders said. "We even have
a Geiger counter ready.

In addition, eight people have been treated for burns
and respiratory problems at San Augustine area
hospitals according to Billy Smith who is an emergency
management coordinator for three East Texas cities.

Dale Higginbotham, disaster relief chairman with the
American Red Cross, said his agency was "standing
ready" to help area residents in any way they can.

This is not the first time that an astronaut of Jewish
descent has brought the Space Shuttle Program bad luck.
On the only other Space Shuttle disaster, there was an
American women of Jewish descent on the crew named
Judith Resnick. In this tragedy that occurred on
January 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up
soon after launching.

It is time for the American people to begin meditating
about what USA policies in the Middle East are doing
to the Palestinian people and about what George Bush
is about to do to Iraqi civilians. There is a God!
Many call him Dios and others call him Allah. Dios,
iversal being,
Creator of the entire universe. He does from time to
time intervene in our affairs. He works in mysterious
ways but always he gives signs.

The brilliant Jewish "explorer of inner space" Carl
Jung wrote of synchronicities in the lives of human
beings and of the "collective unconscious".
Synchronicities, according to Jung, are those pesky
little "meaningful coincidences" that often occur
during times of crisis. Perhaps the "meaningful
coincidence" involving the Jewish astronaut and
Palestine, Texas is a way of God talking to us.

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NASA Probes
'Electric Zap' Mystery Photo
Former Astronaut Wowed By Image 
Snapped By California Astronomer
By Joe Kovacs


That was astronaut Tammy Jernigan's stunned reaction last night when she
viewed a photo of what appears to be space shuttle Columbia getting zapped by
a purplish electrical bolt shortly before it disintegrated Saturday morning. 

"It certainly appears very anomalous," Jernigan told the San Francisco
Chronicle. "We sure will be very interested in taking a very hard look at this." 

The photo was one of five captured by an amateur astronomer in San Francisco
who routinely snaps pictures of shuttles when they pass over the Bay area. 

The pictures were taken just seven minutes before Columbia's fatal demise. 

The Chronicle reports that top investigators of the disaster are now analyzing
the startling photograph to try to solve the mystery. 

The photographer continues to request his name be withheld, adding he would
not release the image publicly until NASA has a chance to study it. 

"[The photos] clearly record an electrical discharge like a lightning bolt flashing
past, and I was snapping the pictures almost exactly ... when the Columbia may
have begun breaking up during re-entry," the photographer originally told the
paper Saturday night. 

Late yesterday, the space agency sent Jernigan - a former shuttle flyer and now
manager at Lawrence Livermore Laboratories - to the astronomer's home to
view the image, and have the Nikon 880 camera brought to Houston today. 

It was slated to be flown to the Johnson Space Center by a NASA T-38 jet this

Jernigan reportedly asked the astronomer about the f-stop setting on his lens,
and how long he kept the shutter open - apparently some four to six seconds. A
tripod was used to steady the camera, and the shutter was triggered manually. 

"In the critical shot," states the Chronicle, "a glowing purple rope of light
corkscrews down toward the plasma trail, appears to pass behind it, then cuts
sharply toward it from below. As it merges with the plasma trail, the streak
itself brightens for a distance, then fades." 

"I couldn't see the discharge with my own eyes, but it showed up clear and
bright on the film when I developed it," the photographer previously said. "But
I'm not going to speculate about what it might be." 

David Perlman, science editor for the Chronicle, called the photos "indeed

"They show a bright scraggly flash of orange light, tinged with pale purple, and
shaped somewhat like a deformed L," he wrote. 

Jernigan no longer works for NASA, though she's a veteran of five shuttle
missions in the 1990s. Ironically, on her final flight, the orbiter's pilot was Rick
Husband, who was at the helm at 9 a.m. EST Saturday when Columbia broke
apart during re-entry into the atmosphere. 

"He was one of the finest people I could ever hope to know," Jernigan said. 

According to her NASA biography, Jernigan graduated from Stanford in 1981
with a bachelor's degree in physics. She went on to earn master's degrees in
engineering science and astronomy from Stanford and UC-Berkeley
respectively. She also holds a doctorate in space physics and astronomy from
Rice University. 

She's spent over 63 days above the Earth, completing 1,000 orbits, and having
walked in space for nearly eight hours during her final mission aboard shuttle
Discovery in 1999. 

Before flying on shuttles, she was a research scientist in the theoretical studies
branch of NASA Ames Research Center, working on the study of bipolar
outflows in the region of star formations, gamma ray bursters and shock-wave
phenomena in the interstellar medium. 

Regarding the Columbia disaster, the space agency is additionally investigating
reports of possible remnants found in the West, including California and

"Debris early in the flight path would be critical because that material would
obviously be near the start of the events," said Michael Kostelnik, a NASA
spaceflight office deputy. 

Joe Kovacs is executive news editor for

(Interesting article related to Electric Zap)
Carl Jenkins 
Global user
(3/10/00 12:35:34 pm)
Sun storms may zap Earth's electric power systems 

Sun storms may zap Earth's electric power systems 

Source: Bangor Daily News Bangor, ME
Publication date: Mar 09, 2000

On March 13, 1989, writes Robert Zimmerman in last August's issue of Star Date, a massive
power grid that supplied electricity 

to over 6 million residents of Quebec suddenly crashed. Nor were the problems confined to
Quebec as about 200 U.S. utility companies experienced similar, although less severe, equipment

At the same time, a New Jersey nuclear facility had three transformers explode that cost $8
million to replace while high above Earth the GOES-7 satellite burned out half its solar cells,
cutting its effective service life by half. What was going on? 

The disruptions were not due to some James Bond-like attack by terrorists but the sun
undergoing a gigantic eruption called a coronal mass ejection. It caused huge amounts of
charged particles and energy to crash into the earth, overwhelming electric grids and related

The sun's activity peaks on a roughly 11-year cycle, and the next expected peak comes this
year. Many solar experts are warning that the results could prove disastrous for everything from
satellites to wireless telephones. That solar storms can affect Earth's electrical power systems
should come as no surprise, says Sten Odenwald in the March 2000 issue of Sky & Telescope. 

In the 1800s, solar storms sometimes induced sufficient current in telegraph lines that messages
could be sent without the use of batteries. In fact, writes Odenwald, this is the crux of the
problem; the nation's electrical grid makes an excellent conductor for the currents produced by
solar storms. But the storms produce direct current while the electric grid is designed to operate
off alternating current. The surge of DC current causes transformers to heat up and fail if safety
switches do not shut down the system. 
The Quebec shutdown was a case of the system protecting itself while the spectacular explosion
of a 230,000-volt transformer in British Columbia was an instance of the safety system not
reacting in time. Circuitry in satellites and other space vehicles is also at risk from the energy of
solar storms. 
Odenwald mentions the $200 million Telstar satellite that had a massive power failure in 1997
and the 1998 loss of a PanAmSat Galaxy 4 satellite that temporarily shut down service to 45
million wireless pagers in North America. Causing the present concern is not the fact that the
sun's behavior is any different today from what it always has been but that more electronics
exist to be affected by it. 
During the last peak cycle in 1989-90, there were only 102 operating satellites and the United
States had 3 million wireless phone users. Today there are over 1,000 satellites, with three-
quarters of these in the $80 billion communications market, and around 50 million wireless phone
users. These numbers, combined with the interconnecting electrical gridwork covering North
America, could be a disaster waiting to happen if a particularly powerful storm were to strike. 

NASA also has its concerns as work on the International Space Station picks up. An astronaut's
career radiation dose is 400 rem, a figure roughly equal to 20,000 chest X-rays. Being caught
outside the space station as the aftermath of a solar storm passes by could expose astronauts to
so much radiation that their careers would be at an end. 

So what is a solar storm? In 1826, German astronomer Heinrich Schwabe began what was to
become a 43-year study of the sun's surface. Over the years he found that the number of
sunspots, dark areas moving across the face of the sun, appeared to peak every 11 years. These
spots, often far larger than 
Earth's diameter, are dark because they are cooler than surrounding areas of the sun. They are
indicative of complex electromagnetic interactions taking place in the interior of the sun, and are
still not fully understood, but it is known that these interactions can give rise to a veritable zoo of
solar phenomena including flares, prominences, sunspots, coronal holes and coronal mass
ejections, or CMEs. 

Of these by far the most important, from Earth's perspective, are the CMEs. During a CME,
billions of tons of matter and energy are spewed from the sun at speeds of several million miles
per hour. When this reaches Earth about four days later, it often interacts with the planet's
magnetic field to produce the spectacular celestial shows called aurorae or northern and
southern lights. 

But, says Ron Zwicki of the Space Environmental Center, "all hell breaks loose," with the
nation's power, communications and guidance systems. As with hurricanes, nothing can be done
to prevent solar storms from striking, but steps can be taken to lessen their impact if there is
sufficient warning. 

According to Gary Taubes, writing in a recent issue of Science, two spacecraft are in orbit that
will help with the predicition of "space weather." SOHO monitors activity at the sun's surface
while ACE keeps an eye on the solar wind, i.e., the rapidly moving cloud of charged particles
heading Earthward after a CME. 
Other satellites are in the planning stage but, as Goddard Space Flight Center's Jim Green
recently remarked at a solar research conference, "Our ability to forecast solar events remains
no better than 50-50. We could do as well flipping a coin." Which means that power companies
and owners of communication satellites can only hold their breath and see what damage this
latest cycle of solar activity will cause. 

Clair Wood taught physics and chemistry for more than a decade at Eastern Maine Technical
College in Bangor. 

Publication date: Mar 09, 2000
2000, NewsReal, Inc.


Back to Main News Page


BBC | Leaked Report Rejects Iraqi al-Qaeda Link 
Wednesday 05 February 2003 

There are no current links between the Iraqi regime and the al-Qaeda network, according to an official
British intelligence report seen by BBC News. 

The classified document, written by defence intelligence staff three weeks ago, says there has been
contact between the two in the past. 

But it assessed that any fledgling relationship foundered due to mistrust and incompatible ideologies. 

That conclusion flatly contradicts one of the main charges laid against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein by
the United States and Britain - that he has cultivated contacts with the group blamed for the 11 September

The report emerges even as Washington was calling Saddam a liar for denying, in a television interview
with former Labour MP and minister Tony Benn, that he had any links to al-Qaeda. 

Peace prospects 

It also comes on the day US Secretary of State Colin Powell goes to the United Nations Security
Council to make the case that Iraq has failed to live up to the demands of the world community. 

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is also ratcheting up the rhetoric in the ongoing crisis over Saddam's
alleged weapons of mass destruction, saying the prospect of a peaceful outcome was "diminishing" by the

He said he could not believe the Iraqi regime would be "this stupid" not to disarm. 

If we had a relationship with al-Qaeda and we believed in that relationship, we wouldn't be ashamed to
admit it 

It says al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden views Iraq's ruling Ba'ath party as running contrary to his
religion, calling it an "apostate regime". 

"His aims are in ideological conflict with present day Iraq," it says. 

Gilligan says that in recent days intelligence sources have told the BBC there is growing disquiet at the
way their work is being politicised to support the case for war on Iraq. 

He said: "This almost unprecedented leak may be a shot across the politicians' bows." 

Iraqi co-operation 

Mr Straw insisted that intelligence had shown that the Iraqi regime appeared to be allowing a permissive
environment "in which al-Qaeda is able to operate". 

"Certainly we have some evidence of links between al-Qaeda and various people in Iraq," he told BBC
Radio 4's Today programme. 

But he conceded: "What we don't know, and the prime minister and I have made it very clear, is the
extent of those links. 

"What we also know, however, is that the Iraqi regime have been up to their necks in the pursuit of
terrorism generally." 

He added: "The use of force to enforce the will of the UN, now, I'm afraid, is more probable, but it is not
inevitable and the choice essentially is one for Saddam Hussein and his regime." 

French President Jacques Chirac, as he met Mr Blair on Tuesday, called for UN weapons inspectors to
be given more time, saying "there is still much to be done in the way of disarmament by peaceful means". 

But Mr Straw said "endless" calls for more time were "futile" and risked being a "cop-out". 

Both the US and UK are pushing for a second UN Security Council resolution soon, which could
authorise force against Iraq. 

Colin Powell has said the dossier of evidence against Iraq he is presenting to the Security Council will
be "a straightforward, sober and compelling demonstration" that Baghdad is deceiving UN weapons
inspectors and failing to disarm. 

TV interview 

Saddam Hussein himself denied on Tuesday having any weapons of mass destruction. 

He told Mr Benn in the interview broadcast by Channel 4 News: "These weapons do not come in small
pills that you can hide in your pocket. 

"These are weapons of mass destruction and it is easy to work out if Iraq has them or not." 

Denying any connection with al-Qaeda, he said: "If we had a relationship with al-Qaeda and we believed
in that relationship, we wouldn't be ashamed to admit it." 

(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

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Another update from ZNet. This time two replies from ZNet commentators to 
Powell's Presentation. There are more on ZNet... -- 
and other new materials there too, of course -- on Powell, on antiwar work, on 
the recent WSF, and on many other issues. 

Please visit...and please also consider our Sustainer Program...

Thank you...

(You can add and remove names for ZNet Updates on the ZNet top page...)


Powell's Presentation
It was like something out of Beckett
By Robert Fisk

Sources, foreign intelligence sources, "our sources," defectors, sources, 
sources, sources. Colin Powell's terror talk to the United Nations Security 
Council yesterday sounded like one of those government-inspired reports on the 
front page of The New York Times - where it will most certainly be treated with 
due reverence in this morning's edition. It was a bit like heating up old soup. 
Haven't we heard most of this stuff before? Should one trust the man? General 
Powell, I mean, not Saddam.

Certainly we don't trust Saddam but Secretary of State Powell's presentation 
was a mixture of awesomely funny recordings of Iraqi Republican Guard telephone 
intercepts la Samuel Beckett that just might have been some terrifying little 
proof that Saddam really is conning the UN inspectors again, and some ancient 
material on the Monster of Baghdad's all too well known record of beastliness. 
I am still waiting to hear the Arabic for the State Department's translation of 
"Okay Buddy" - "Consider it done, Sir" - this from the Republican Guard's 
"Captain Ibrahim", for heaven's sake - and some dinky illustrations of mobile 
bio-labs whose lorries and railway trucks were in such perfect condition that 
they suggested the Pentagon didn't have much idea of the dilapidated state of 
Saddam's army.

It was when we went back to Halabja and human rights abuses and all Saddam's 
old sins, as recorded by the discredited Unscom team, that we started eating 
the old soup again. Jack Straw may have thought all this "the most powerful and 
authoritative case" but when we were forced to listen to Iraq's officer corps 
communicating by phone - "yeah", "yeah", "yeah?", "yeah..." - it was impossible 
not to ask oneself if Colin Powell had really considered the effect this would 
have on the outside world.

>From time to time, the words "Iraq: Failing To Disarm - Denial and Deception" 
appeared on the giant video screen behind General Powell. Was this a CNN logo, 
some of us wondered? But no, it was CNN's sister channel, the US Department of 

Because Colin Powell is supposed to be the good cop to the Bush-Rumsfeld bad 
cop routine, one wanted to believe him. The Iraqi officer's telephoned order to 
his subordinate - "remove 'nerve agents' whenever it comes up in the wireless 
instructions" - looked as if the Americans had indeed spotted a nasty new 
little line in Iraqi deception. But a dramatic picture of a pilotless Iraqi 
aircraft capable of spraying poison chemicals turned out to be the imaginative 
work of a Pentagon artist.

And when General Powell started blathering on about "decades'' of contact 
between Saddam and al-Qa'ida, things went wrong for the Secretary of State. Al-
Qa'ida only came into existence five years ago, since Bin Laden - "decades" ago 
- was working against the Russians for the CIA, whose present day director was 
sitting grave-faced behind General Powell. And Colin Powell's new version of 
his President's State of the Union lie - that the "scientists" interviewed by 
UN inspectors had been Iraqi intelligence agents in disguise - was singularly 
unimpressive. The UN talked to scientists, the new version went, but they were 
posing for the real nuclear and bio boys whom the UN wanted to talk to. General 
Powell said America was sharing its information with the UN inspectors but it 
was clear yesterday that much of what he had to say about alleged new weapons 
development - the decontamination truck at the Taji chemical munitions factory, 
for example, the "cleaning" of the Ibn al-Haythem ballistic missile factory on 
25 November - had not been given to the UN at the time. Why wasn't this 
intelligence information given to the inspectors months ago? Didn't General 
Powell's beloved UN resolution 1441 demand that all such intelligence 
information should be given to Hans Blix and his lads immediately? Were the 
Americans, perhaps, not being "pro-active" enough?

The worst moment came when General Powell started talking about anthrax and the 
2001 anthrax attacks in Washington and New York, pathetically holding up a 
teaspoon of the imaginary spores and - while not precisely saying so - 
fraudulently suggesting a connection between Saddam Hussein and the 2001 
anthrax scare.

When the Secretary of State held up Iraq's support for the Palestinian Hamas 
organisation, which has an office in Baghdad, as proof of Saddam's support for 
"terror'' - there was, of course, no mention of America's support for Israel 
and its occupation of Palestinian land - the whole theatre began to collapse. 
There are Hamas offices in Beirut, Damascus and Iran. Is the 82nd Airborne 
supposed to grind on to Lebanon, Syria and Iran?

There was an almost macabre opening to the play when General Powell arrived at 
the Security Council, cheek-kissing the delegates and winding his great arms 
around them. Jack Straw fairly bounded up for his big American hug.

Indeed, there were moments when you might have thought that the whole chamber, 
with its toothy smiles and constant handshakes, contained a room full of men 
celebrating peace rather than war. Alas, not so. These elegantly dressed 
statesmen were constructing the framework that would allow them to kill quite a 
lot of people, the monstrous Saddam perhaps, with his cronies, but a 
considerable number of innocents as well. One recalled, of course, the same 
room four decades ago when General Powell's predecessor Adlai Stevenson showed 
photos of the ships carrying Soviet missiles to Cuba.

Alas, today's pictures carried no such authority. And Colin Powell is no Adlai 

World reaction 


A "typical American show complete with stunts and special effects" was Iraq's 
scathing dismissal of General Powell's presentation. Mohammed al-Douri, above, 
Iraq's UN ambassador, accused the US of manufacturing evidence and said the 
charges were "utterly unrelated to the truth. 

"No new information was provided, merely sound recordings that cannot be 
ascertained as genuine," he said. "There are incorrect allegations, unnamed 
sources, unknown sources." 

Lt-Gen Amir al-Saadi, an adviser to Saddam Hussein, said the satellite pictures 
"proved nothing". On the allegation that Iraq had faked the death certificate 
of a scientist to shield them from UN inspectors, he added: "If [General 
Powell] thinks any of those scientists marked as deceased is still in 
existence, let him come up with it." 


Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, left, praised General Powell for his 
"powerful and authoritative case". He said the presentation "laid bare the 
deceit practised by the regime of Saddam Hussein, and worse, the very great 
danger it represents. 

"Secretary Powell has set out deeply worrying reports about the presence in 
Iraq of one of Osama bin Laden's lieutenants, al-Zarqawi, and other members of 
al-Qaida, and their efforts to develop poisons. 

"The recent discovery of the poison ricin in London has underlined again that 
this is a threat which all of us face. 

"Saddam is defying every one of us ... He questions our resolve and is gambling 
that we will lose our nerve rather than enforce our will." 


France called for the number of inspectors to be tripled and the process beefed 
up. Dominique de Villepin, the Foreign Minister, above, said inspections should 
continue but under "an enhanced regime of inspections monitoring". Iraq must 
also do more to co-operate including allowing flights from U-2 spy planes. 
"The use of force can only be a final recourse," he said. 


China said the work of the inspectors should continue. Tang Jiaxuan, the 
Foreign Minister, said immediately after General Powell's presentation: "As 
long as there is still the slightest hope for political settlement, we should 
exert our utmost effort to achieve that." 


Inspections should continue, Igor Ivanov, the Foreign Minister, above, said. 
More study was needed of the evidence presented by General Powell, he added. 
Meanwhile, inspections "must be continued". 


The Powell presentation and the findings of the weapons inspectors "have to be 
examined carefully", said Joschka Fischer, the Foreign Minister. "We must 
continue to seek a peaceful solution." 


Binyamin Netanyahu, the Foreign Minister, left, said: "We've known this a long 
time. We've shared intelligence with the US, and I think the US has shared some 
of that today." General Powell "laid bare the true nature of Saddam Hussein's 
regime, and I think he also exposed the great dangers ... to the region and the 

Powell's Case
By Phylliss Bennis

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the UN Security Council 
on February 5 wasn't likely to win over anyone not already on his side. He 
ignored the crucial fact that in the past several days (in Sunday's New York 
Times and in his February 4th briefing of UN journalists) Hans Blix denied key 
components of Powell's claims.

Blix, who directs the UN inspection team in Iraq, said the UNMOVIC inspectors 
have seen "no evidence" of mobile biological weapons labs, has "no persuasive 
indications" of Iraq-al Qaeda links, and no evidence of Iraq hiding and moving 
material used for Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) either outside or inside 
Iraq. Dr. Blix also said there was no evidence of Iraq sending scientists out 
of the country, of Iraqi intelligence agents posing as scientists, of UNMOVIC 
conversations being monitored, or of UNMOVIC being penetrated.

Further, CIA and FBI officials still believe the Bush administration is 
"exaggerating" information to make their political case for war. Regarding the 
alleged Iraqi link with al Qaeda, U.S. intelligence officials told the New York 
Times, "we just don't think it's there."

The most compelling part of Powell's presentation was his brief ending section 
on the purported al Qaeda link with Iraq and on the dangers posed by the al 
Zarqawi network. However, he segued disingenuously from the accurate and 
frightening information about what the al Zarqawi network could actually do 
with biochemical materials to the not-so-accurate claim about its link with 
Iraq--which is tenuous and unproven at best.

A key component of the alleged Iraq-al Qaeda link is based on what Powell said 
"detainees tell us...". That claim must be rejected. On December 27 the 
Washington Post reported that U.S. officials had acknowledged detainees being 
beaten, roughed up, threatened with torture by being turned over to officials 
of countries known to practice even more severe torture. In such circumstances, 
nothing "a detainee" says can be taken as evidence of truth given that people 
being beaten or tortured will say anything to stop the pain. Similarly, the 
stories of defectors cannot be relied on alone, as they have a self-interest in 
exaggerating their stories and their own involvement to guarantee access to 
protection and asylum.

In his conclusion, Powell said, "We wrote 1441 not in order to go to war, we 
wrote 1441 to try to preserve the peace." It is certainly at least partially 
true that the UN resolution was an effort to "preserve the peace," although it 
is certainly not true that the U.S. wrote 1441 to preempt war. Rather, the Bush 
administration intended that the resolution would serve as a first step toward 

Finally, the "even if" rule applies. "Even if" everything Powell said was true, 
there is simply not enough evidence for war. There is no evidence of Iraq 
posing an imminent threat, no evidence of containment not working. Powell is 
asking us to go to war--risking the lives of 100,000 Iraqis in the first weeks, 
hundreds or thousands of U.S. and other troops, and political and economic 
chaos--because he thinks MAYBE in the future Iraq might rebuild its weapons 
systems and MIGHT decide to deploy weapons or MIGHT give those weapons to 
someone else who MIGHT use them against someone we like or give them to someone 
else who we don't like, and other such speculation. Nothing that Powell said 
should alter the position that we should reject a war on spec.

(Phyllis Bennis <> is a Middle East analyst for Foreign 
Policy In Focus (online at and a senior analyst at the Institute 
for Policy Studies.)

Back to Main News Page


February 5 - February 11, 2003

Dance Fight Revolution

a Brazilian martial art/artform comes to Baltimore

By Ericka Blount Danois

When Wendell Rawlings Drove up to his sister's
apartment complex in Northwest Baltimore's Coldspring
Newtown neighborhood the day after Thanksgiving, he
saw two guys running in a wooded area nearby. As soon
as he got out of the car, he knew he had made a
mistake--the two young men, neither of whom could have
been older than 15, were wearing masks. One was
carrying a sword.

Even after being stabbed in the back, Rawlings put up a
fight, suffering another sword blow to the throat; the scar
that now stretches down his neck like a winding railroad track is a visible reminder of the ordeal that
landed him in the hospital for three days. 

The fact that the muscular, athletic Rawlings survived the attack could be taken as a testament to his
self-defense skills as a practitioner of capoeira, the African-Brazilian martial art. But more
importantly, he says, he could have avoided the incident by following what he has learned in
capoeira--that is, if the game doesn't look right, don't play it. 

"If someone looks antsy or his body language is strange, I won't play a game of capoeira with him,"
says Rawlings, who wears a kufi skullcap and sometimes closes his eyes while he talks, intent on
getting his point across. "When I saw those two kids chilling where they weren't supposed to be, I
should have just drove away. I shouldn't have got out to play that game." 

His friend and fellow capoeira enthusiast Jason Harris thinks that such incidents are the reason
capoeira classes are needed in Baltimore. "It can be a physical outlet for youth and it also expands
your mind," says Harris, who notes that students of capoeira also learn the cultural history of the
movement during classes. "We want to take capoeira to the community. Of course it won't change
everything in Baltimore, but it might help." 

During a capoeira demonstration at the Sankofa Dance Theater studio on Clipper Mill Road, it's easy
to see why it is as much an art form as a martial art. Break dancers, house-club heads, and kung-fu
fighters alike might recognize some of the moves. A capoeirista's spindly but strong body twirls in
unison with the rhythms of the berimbau, a Brazilian percussion instrument; he marks time before
advancing on his opponent. He circles, like a boxer preparing for the knockout punch, never taking
his eyes off the eyes off his challenger. But just when it seems he would land a strike, he does a
backward somersault, dives into a headstand, and retreats from his opponent. 

The local capoeira movement began last year when Baltimore native Rawlings and Connecticut-born
transplant Harris grew tired of commuting to the International Capoeira Angola Foundation in
Washington. On Oct. 12, Rawlings and Harris organized an orientation meeting at the Coldspring
Community Center to ascertain local interest in capoeira. When more than 30 people showed up,
they knew they could start classes here and found a location at the Sankofa space. Classes were
scheduled to start in early January, but the attack on Rawlings (who is only now able to play capoeira
again) set things back until this month. 

When Harris was growing up in Hartford, Conn., in the early 1980s, he says he sported Pumas and
broke down cardboard boxes for break-dancing battles with his crew. When he discovered capoeira
being taught to a class of young people in Harlem, he says it felt like home. 

"Battling, uprocking, spinning on your hands and head--all of it is part of capoeira," Harris says. "We
may not be able to conclusively say break dancing is derived from capoeira, but they are both
African-derived movement arts." 

Capoeira made its North American debut in New York in the early '70s, a few years before break
dancing evolved. Whether or not breaking actually evolved from capoeira, there is no question that
both involve improvisation and both came out of a need for oppressed people to use creativity to
react to life as they knew it. "[Playing capoeira] is just like starting a cipher in hip-hop," Rawlings
says. "It is similar to breaking, but it is more comparable to two rappers battling." 

The origins of capoeira lie in present-day Angola's Bantu cultures, where it began as a martial art.
When enslaved Africans were brought to Brazil, they brought capoeira with them and preserved the
form under the disguise of a dance or game, allowing slaves to practice martial arts in front of their
enslavers. Slaves then used the art as a weapon of resistance during revolts and in defense of
quilombos, free communities of runaway slaves. "It is an art enslaved Africans used to free
themselves--not just physically, but mentally," Rawlings says. 

Capoeira was outlawed in Brazil in the 1930s and practiced in secret until the '70s, according to
Sylvia Robinson, treasurer of the Washington chapter of the International Capoeira Angola
Foundation. It was during the '70s that Grupo Capoeira Angola Pelourinho was founded in Brazil to
preserve the tradition by Mestre ("master") Cobra Mansa, Mestre Jurandir Nascimento, and
Contramestre (one step below a master) Valmir Damasceno. 

To begin a game, you form a circle (a roda--pronounced "hota"). Two fighters take their places in
front the person playing the gunga (the berimbau with the biggest gourd), usually the highest-ranking
mestre, who controls the game. Other instruments include the atabaque (drum), the pandeiro
(tambourine), and the agogo (a two-toned bell). 

The tempo of the game is set by how fast or slow the music plays. Everyone begins singing in
Portuguese--traditional songs that often reflect the political and socioeconomic situations in
Brazil--and they begin to clap. Two players get in the middle. The only parts of their bodies that can
touch the floor are their hands, heads, and feet, all used as support. Despite its physical dimension,
trickery or outsmarting your opponent is the main offense. The object is for the players, or
capoeiristas, to use finesse, guile, and technique to maneuver their opponents into a defenseless
position, where they can then be kicked, head-butted, or elbowed in a real game; in practice, players
don't actually strike their opponents. Today, capoeira is more about style than hurting anyone. There
is no official decision; everyone in the circle will know who won the game--whoever exhibits the most
skill in smoothly outsmarting his opponent. 

"The whole thing is to play a beautiful game," Rawlings says. "It is like some people have a vast
vocabulary and can put it in a beautiful poem. It is like a rapper going against another rapper, like
watching [Michael] Jordan playing basketball. It is like a physical game of chess." 

"You need a lot of upper-body strength to do it. I was sore by the time I got out of there," says
Kendra Banks, a friend of Rawlings who attended the orientation in October. "And you can't just
stand on the sidelines and watch--they are quick to tell you the only way you can learn is to do it." 

Baltimoreans will soon get their chance to do it thanks to Harris and Rawlings, who met soon after
Harris and his wife moved to Baltimore in 2001. They found they were both not only interested in
capoeira but also interested in bringing it to Baltimore. 

"Wendell [Rawlings] is obsessed with capoeira," Banks laughs. "We'll be at a party and he will just
bust a move." 

Despite the informal nature of the game, Harris and Rawlings have official sanction behind their
efforts. They had to obtain approval from Grupo Capoeira co-founder Mestre Cobra Mansa--with
whom both Harris and Rawlings have studied in Washington and who teaches capoeira around the
world--to start classes in Baltimore. While Harris and Rawlings will be the leaders and handle the
logistics of the Baltimore class, Mansa will visit the classes periodically, and student teachers from the
Washington branch of the International Capoeira Angola Foundation will teach on a weekly basis.
But for the game to flourish, every participant has to get involved. 

"Capoeira has a communal aspect to it," Harris says. "It is not where you go into the mountains to
learn and come back a master. You have to play with other people to learn."

Baltimore capoeira classes start at the Sankofa Dance Theater on Feb. 10. For more information, call (410) 274-2357.
In addition, Jason Harris and Wendell Rawlings participate in a demonstration given by the International Capoeira Angola
Foundation at the Walters Art Museum on Feb. 8 at 3:30 p.m.

Back to Main News Page


* Featured speakers and performers
* 71 Feeder Marches
* Feeder March map
* What to Bring With You on February 15
* Change In 2/15 NYC Antiwar Contingent
* CCDS Contingent on Feb 15 NYC
* Campuses Say No to War


Featured speakers and performers on February 15 include:

Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Harry Belafonte
Danny Glover
Julian Bond
Phyllis Bennis
Susan Sarandon
Pete Seeger
Rosie Perez
Angela Y. Davis
Dennis Rivera
Ruth Messinger
Welfare Poets
Kim Gandy
Congressman Dennis Kucinich
Poets from Def Poetry Jam


Feeder Marches

Many groups are gathering at different spots in the city and
marching together to the February 15 "World Says No to War"

Click here for a map of feeder marches

For information on feeder marches and the law, see "Know Your
Rights: Demonstrating in New York City" by the New York Civil
Liberties Union. In general, marching on the sidewalk without a
permit is legal so long as you do not obstruct pedestrian traffic.
Marching in the street without a permit would be an act of civil
disobedience. Feeder march organizers are encouraged to
contact the National Lawyers Guild ( and the
Peoples Law Collective ( for legal observers.

Feeder March Summary Links (71 total):
- Colombia Block
- Staten Island Ferry
- War Resisters League
- NYC People of Color
- United NY Youth Bloc
- Support Palestine Feeder
- Green Party Feeder
- Washington Heights
- CUNY Student Marches
- Jersey City Feeder
- Bronx Action
- Multi-Faith March
- LIRR Peace Trains
- Peace Ride/Bike Bloc
- Educators Feeder
- GLAMericans March
- Free Signs Feeder
- Jewish Contingent
- Buddhist Contingent
- Bronx Feeder March
- Anti-Capitalist Bloc
- PeaceWilliamsburg March
- National Lawyers Guild
- New Jersey Peace Train
- Saturday's Warriors March
- CUNY Grad Center
- Connecticut Contingent
- Militant Mothers Block
- Irish American Contingent
- Socialist Party Contingent
- WVPeace March
- Animal Liberationists
- Tibetans Against War
- Not In Our Name March
- VeteransAssembly
- Times Square 3pm
- Performing Arts March
- Grand Central Feeder
- Harlem Freedom Hall Feeder
- Mardi Gras Carnival Bloc
- Chicago Humanist Feeder
- Brooklyn Parents for Peace
- WBAI Listener Contingent
- Queer Anti-War Contingent
- Take Back the Future March
- Anarchist Red & Black Contingent
- Lower East Side Contingent
- Filipino American Contingent
- Northern Manhattan Coalition
- Teachers College Peace Rally
- Housing & Green Space Feeder
- Doctors, Nurses & HCW's March
- Interfaith Ministers for Peace
- Anti-Corporate Media March
- NW New Jersey Peace
- Gay & Lesbian Task Force
- NYC Labor Against the War
- Poets for Peace
- Garden State Peace Train
- Planet/EcoErotic Noise Brigade
- Unitarian Universalists for Peace
- Feeder March
- St. Francis Xavier Contingent
- Bergen County Feeder March
- Kids and Parents Contingent
- AFSC-Quaker Feeder March
- CODEPINK Women for Peace
- Bread & Puppet March
- Democratic Socialists(DSA) March
- Massachusetts Feeder March
- Right Is Wrong March


What to Bring With You on February 15

The rally in New York is shaping up to be massive, peaceful, and
powerful -- and bringing along a few extra items can help ensure that
it's also comfortable and fun.

1.Information. Shortly before leaving for the protest, check this
website and print out the latest information about locations of
feeder marches, bathroom facilities and other crucial data. Be sure
that you have the legal contact number for the day: 212-679-6018.

2.Common sense about hypothermia. Assume that the day will be cold,
and possibly snowy. Dress appropriately, in layers, with special
attention to your head (a hat!) and feet (comfortable boots and socks
to keep your feet warm and dry).

3.Your component of the people's sound system. Bring a radio, tune
into WBAI (99.5) which will broadcast the whole program, and extend
the sound system: the sound system for the rally will be good, but
given the huge numbers expected at the rally, it may need some help.

4.A cell phone, if you have one. there will be a huge crowd, and the
logistics will be complex. Don't get lost from the friends, family or
group you want to protest with. Be sure that you have cell phone
numbers for others in your group so that you can reestablish
communication if you are separated. Program the National Lawyers
Guild legal contact number into your phone -- 212-679-6018 -- and
call it if you see any arrests happen.

5.Food and water: Although there are innumerable restaurants in
midtown Manhattan, it may not be convenient to leave and return from
the rally site. Bring water and energizing snacks with you.

6.A backpack or tote bag to put this all in as you walk to and from
the rally. We've been told that the NYPD may ask to search bags
people are bringing to the rally. You are not legally required to
open your bag for a search, but you may want to keep this possibility
in mind as you pack.


Visit our website at for much
more information about the February 15 demonstration: transportation,
housing, you name it.


Change In 2/15 NYC Antiwar Contingent

Yesterday, the NYPD informed march organizers that it will NOT hold
spots for specific contingents to assemble at the 1 Ave. rally site.
As a result, labor WILL NOT BE ABLE TO ASSEMBLE on 1st Ave. @ 60-63
streets, or at any other predetermined 1 Ave. site.

To ensure a coherent presence, the labor contingent WILL *LEGALLY*
ASSEMBLE as previously-announced:

11 a.m. Grand Army Plaza (Manhattan), northwest corner of Fifth
Avenue at 59 St. (Subways: N/R/W to 5 Ave., 4/5/6 to 59 St., F to
57 St.)

11:30 Sharp. **LEGAL** feeder march (i.e., on sidewalk, if
necessary) to 1 Ave. rally site.

Labor speakers at the rally:
**Dennis Rivera, Pres., 1199SEIU
**Larry Cohen, Exec. VP, CWA
**Brenda Stokely, Pres., AFSCME DC 1707; Co-Convener NYC Labor
Against the War

BRING YOUR UNION'S BANNERS! Please RSVP by return e-mail your union's
attendance and expected number of participants!


**AFM L.1000
**AFSCME DC 1707
**AFT Local 3882
**APWU NY-Metro/Local 10
**Bergen Co. (NJ) CTLC
**CWA District 1
**CWA Local 1180
**Federation of Union Reps.
**IAM Lodge 340
**NJ Labor Against the War
**NJ Industrial Union Council
**NY Taxi Workers Alliance
**NY Teachers Against the War
**NYC Labor Against the War
**NWU/UAW Local 1981
**Org. of Staff Analysts
**PACE Local 1-149
**PSC-CUNY/AFT Local 2334
**TWU Local 100
**UAW Region 9A NYC
**UNITE Local 169
**UUP/AFT Local 2190
**Working Families Party

NYC Labor Contact:
Michael Letwin--917.282.0139


CCDS Contingent on Feb 15 NYC

CCDS Members and Friends:
SOCIALISM'S contingent at the Feb. 15th anti-war protest rally in New
York City. We will assemble on 1st Ave at 52nd St. on the NW corner.
The rally is scheduled for 12:00 noon. We will begin gathering at
11:00 AM.
Look for our banner. For more information, call the CCDS's national
office at (212) 868-3733 or send email to
Pat Fry for the National Executive Committee.


Campuses Say No to War

Relocated to larger space due to overwhelming demand...
Campuses Say No To War!!
Tickets Now Available - $5 ($10-$20 Solidarity)
February 15th at 8pm
Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers (21st & 12th Avenue-M23 bus or A,C,E

Speakers : Scott Ritter (former weapons inspector), Medea
Benjamin (Global Exchange), Amy Goodman (Democracy Now), Anthony
Arnove (editor of Iraq Under Siege), Michael Letwin (NYC Labor
Against the War), Mike Marquesee (British Stop the War Coalition),
Rania Masri (Southern Peace Action), Dhalia Hashad (ACLU), Ahmed
Shawki (editor of International Socialist Review), Marla
Brettschneider (Jews for Racial and Economic Justice), Hany Khalil
(Racial Justice 9-11), Nelly Bailey (Harlem Tenants Association),
Youth Bloc, Minou Arjomand (Campus Antiwar Network), Hamid Dabashi
(Professor), Monica Tarazi (Arab Anti-Discrimination Center),
David Cline (Veterans for Peace)

Peformers: Def Poetry Jam, Welfare Poets, Alvin Ailey Dancer,
VTek, Performers from the Broadway Musical Rent, Stephan Smith,
Captain Deathwhistle and the Thumpists

Due to overwhelming demand, the evening student event "Campuses Say
No to War" has been relocated from Barnard College to Pier Sixty at
the Chelsea Piers. Pier Sixty is located at 21st Street & 12th
Avenue in Manhattan and can accomodate 1,750 people. Therefore,
tickets are now available for this previously sold-out event.
However, we expect tickets to continue to sell quickly, so reserve as
soon as possible by emailing: The event
will be held at 8pm but we are asking people to begin arriving by
7:15 in order to guarantee space. Housing can be reserved for
students coming in from out of town by emailing:

This event is to help build connections and networking among student
anti-war groups. It will be educational, inspirational and fun. It
is also a fundraiser for the first national conference of the Campus
Anti-War Network to be held in Chicago from February 22nd-23rd.
Therefore, we are asking people to pay between $5 and $20 for tickets
to defray the costs of the event as well as sponsor a bus to Chicago.

We look forward to seeing you at this amazing event!

In solidarity,
Jennifer Roesch
On behalf of the Columbia Anti-War Coalition
Endorsed by: Campus Anti-War Network, United for Peace and
Justice, Peace Action, NJ Independent Alliance, Columbia
University Student Governing Board, Turath, Muslim Students
Association, Columbia University Sikh Society, International
Socialist Organization, Columbia Student Solidarity Network,
Columbia Queer Alliance, Columbia UNICEF, United Students of Color


>> Number of cities around the world holding anti-war protests on
Feb 15 or 16: more than 300

>> Date when NYC organizing began in earnest: Jan. 7

>> Number of pieces of literature distributed by UFPJ as of Feb. 7:
more than 900,000

>> Number of leaflets downloaded off the internet for photocopying:
more than 14,000

>> Number of organizing packets distributed throughout the country:

>> Number of people leafleting throughout New York City last
weekend: more than 250


* Updates from United for Peace and Justice
* Stand Up for Your Right to March - Wed. Federal Appeals Court
* This has been an extraordinary week in the history of civil
liberties - New York Civil Liberties Union
* NYC Unions Demand Right to March Against the War
contingent at the Feb. 15th anti-war protest rally


Important Feb. 15 Updates

Dear Friend of United for Peace and Justice:

Lots of important information in this update: 1) We have a permit to
rally 2) Court hearing on Feb 15 march permit appeal 3) Revised
leaflets available 4) "The People's Sound System" 5) We need
volunteers! 6) Feeder marches 7) Some statistics about the Feb 15
mobilization ========================================== 1) RALLY
LOCATION We have a permit to rally on February 15 on First Avenue
stretching north from 49th Street. This rally will be massive,
powerful, peaceful, legal, and safe. We are continuing to fight for
our right to march as well.

2) COURT HEARING Our attorneys from the New York Civil Liberties
Union filed an appeal on Monday, February 10 against Federal Judge
Barbara Jones' shocking ruling that the NYPD may deny our right to
march anywhere in New York City.

We expect to hear later today when the hearing for this appeal will
be. It will take place at the Federal Courthouse at 40 Centre Street
in Manhattan; we will be asking our supporters to come rally outside
and fill the courtroom inside.

In the meantime, visit this page on our website for suggestions of
how you can keep raising a ruckus about this attack on our First
Amendment rights:

3) REVISED LEAFLETS AVAILABLE Updated leaflets that include our
rally location for February 15 are available for downloading on our
website. English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, French, and Creole
versions are available.

We *really* need your help spreading the word about the rally
location. Please download and photocopy these leaflets and put them
up everywhere you can think of!

Some updated leaflets are also available at the UFPJ office, 330 W.
42nd St, 8th floor.

4) "THE PEOPLE'S SOUND SYSTEM": Bring portable radios to February
15, and tune in to WBAI (99.5 FM), which will broadcast the entire

While we plan to provide a good sound system, the number of
participants will be so large that a "people's sound system" of
thousands of radios will ensure that everyone can clearly hear the
exciting program and be tuned in to important information.

Boombox, walkman, or crystal radio -- if your portable radio can
tune into 99.5 FM, you'll be able to take part, broadcasting the
program across the city.

If you're coordinating a feeder march or other event in the city,
listening to this broadcast can also help ensure that you're up to
date with any late-breaking news on the day of the event.

5) WE NEED VOLUNTEERS! We need a thousand volunteers for Feb 15th,
so please sign up for a volunteer task for the day (ONLY ONE) by
contacting the appropriate person (see below) or by stopping by the
UFPJ office (330 W 42nd street, 8th floor) any time between 9am-9pm
during the week.

>> SECURITY: We need lots of volunteers to be Marshalls for crowd
control and for keeping the peace on Feb 15th. Please leave a
message for Carlito Rovira at 917-241-1569 as soon as possible so
you can begin your training.

>> ON-SITE FUNDRAISING: We need hundreds of volunteers to collect
money on Feb 15th. If you can please contact Arun Aguiar at the UFPJ
office: 646-473-8935

>> ARTS & CULTURE: Work with street theater groups and large
puppets! Please contact Megan Riley:

>> NON-SPECIFIC FEB 15: Willing to work wherever we need volunteers
the most. Please contact Gina Feldman

6) FEEDER MARCHES Many different groups are planning feeder marches
to the February 15 rally location. For information on meeting
locations and much more, visit:

If you're not already on our email list, you can receive future
updates like this one about the February 15 mobilization by visiting

Thanks for your support -- we can still prevent this war, and
together we will win the right to march.

Sincerely, The February 15 organizing staff of United for Peace and


Stand up for your right to march! The Federal Appeals court will
hold a hearing tomorrow morning, Wednesday, February 12, to consider
our lawsuit appeal. We need as many people as possible to come show
their support -- both in the courtroom and at a rally outside. If
you are in the New York City area, please come to this important

WHAT: Stand up for your right to march WHEN: 9:30AM, Wednesday,
February 12 WHERE: 40 Centre Street, across from Foley Square
SUBWAY: N/R to City Hall, 4/5/6 to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall

The hearing is on the 17th floor, and the rally will take place on
the sidewalk outside the courthouse.

Remember -- we have a permit for a rally on February 15, on First
Avenue stretching north from 49th Street. That is not being
contested in the lawsuit; the rally will go forward no matter what.

The lawsuit concerns our right to march as well. On Monday, February
10, Federal Judge Barbara Jones ruled that the NYPD can deny United
for Peace and Justice's request for a march permit for February 15.
Our lawyers from the New York Civil Liberties Union filed an
immediate appeal, which will be heard tomorrow, February 12.

Thanks for your support!

The February 15 organizing staff of United for Peace and Justice


New York Civil Liberties Union

This has been an extraordinary week in the history of civil
liberties - and the outcome is not yet clear. I write to update you
on 2 developments.

1. Anti-war march permit appeal (United for Peace and Justice v.
City of New York)

Tomorrow morning at 10 AM, the NYCLU will urge the US Court of
Appeals for the 2d Circuit (40 Foley Sq), to reverse the lower court
decision and order the City of New York to grant a permit for the
anti-war march on February 15. The NYCLU will argue that the city
ban on political marches of over 1000 people violates the First
Amendment. This City's frontal assault on our fundamental right to
protest goes to the core of our democracy.

Because this is such an important case I have attached a copy of our
brief to the court of appeals.

Chris Dunn will argue the appeal for the NYCLU.

I am gratified at the outpouring of support for our front line
defense of civil liberties at this critical juncture. Civil
liberties members and supporters have come forwarded to provided
invaluable assistance in the appeal and have advocated for our
position with policy makers and in the public arena.

Despite the short notice, the Brennan Center and the Center for
Constitutional for Rights will be filing amicus briefs.

2. Handschu decree modified

Today the US District Court Judge Haight issued a ruling modifiying
the Handschu settlement that for over 15 years had served as an
important protection against the pervasive police surveillance,
disruption and punishment of lawful political activity. The decision
was a decidedly mixed bag.

The Court rejected the City's initial request for unbridled
authority to spy on wholly lawful political activity, except in the
case of public events, without any suspicion of criminal activity.
But the Court granted the City's request to abandon some of the
procedural protections - the requirement that the police department
maintain a paper trail that documents political surveillance
activities and the justifications for it - that had served as an
impediment to abuse.

The opinion leaves many issues unanswered and the NYCLU, along with
co-counsel Paul Chevigny, Jed Eisenstein, Franklin Siegel and Marty
Stolar will continue to litigate the matter aggressively to maximize
protections for dissent. Art Eisenberg is handling this matter for
the NYCLU.

3. VOLUNTEERS NEEDED on Sat. to hand out leaflets at the anti-war
rally about the NYCLU's BILL of RIGHTS DEFENSE CAMPAIGN and to urge
people to protest the City's repressive policies. We will also be
distributing our pamphlet "YOUR RIGHT TO DEMONSTRATE IN NYC" at the
feeder marches. Volunteers should contact Erica Gangsei 212-344-3005
x243 or

Donna Lieberman Executive Director New York Civil Liberties Union
125 Broad St. NY 10004 212-344-3004 x232


NYC Unions Demand Right to March Against the War

Contact: Michael Letwin, 917.282.0139

Press Advisory: NYC Unions Demand Right to March Against the War

WHEN: February 12, 2003, 12 Noon

WHERE: 1199SEIU, 330 W. 42 St., 8 floor

**Dennis Rivera, President, 1199SEIU 
**Roger Toussaint, President, TWU Local 100 
**Barbara Bowen, President, PSC-CUNY
**Michael Letwin, Co-Convener, NYC Labor Against the War; Former
President, UAW Local 2325/Association of Legal Aid Attorneys 
**Bill Henning, Second V.P., CWA Local 1180 
**Julie Kushner, Sub-Regional Director, UAW Region 9A 
**Bhairavi Desai, NY Taxi Workers Alliance
**Mike Marqusee, UK Stop the War Coalition; National Union of
**Representatives of AFSCME DC 37, Working Families Party, and other NYC-area 

WHAT: Labor leaders will call on Mayor Bloomberg to grant a march
permit for February 15 antiwar protests, and announce plans to
mobilize union members against the war


at Grand Army Plaza, northwest corner of Fifth Avenue at 59 St.
11:30 Sharp. Legal feeder march. 12 Noon. Labor contingent
assembly at First Avenue, between 60-63 Streets.

NYC-AREA LABOR ENDORSERS (list in formation):
**AFSCME DC 1707
**AFT Local 3882
**APWU NY-Metro/Local 10
*CWA District 1
**CWA Local 1180
**Federation of Union Reps.
**IAM Lodge 340
**NJ Labor Against the War
**NJ Industrial Union Council
**NY Taxi Workers Alliance
**NY Teachers Against the War
**NYC Labor Against the War
**Org. of Staff Analysts
**PACE Local 1-149
**PSC-CUNY/AFT Local 2334
**TWU Local 100
**UAW Region 9A NYC
**UNITE Local 169
**UUP/AFT Local 2190
**Working Families Party


CCDS Members and Friends:

SOCIALISM's contingent at the Feb. 15th anti-war protest rally in
New York City.

We will assemble on 1st Ave at 52nd St. on the NW corner. The rally
is scheduled for 12:00 noon.

We will begin gathering at 11:00 AM. Look for our banner.

For more information, call the CCDS's national office at (212)
868-3733 or send email to

Pat Fry for the National Executive Committee.


Feb. 15 - Why It Matters That "You" Be There

As many of you know, the next big anti-war mobilization will be on
Saturday, February 15, and this is my pitch on why it matters that
*you* be there.

The anti-war movement is huge and it is growing. And it is having an
effect. Fifty city councils have passed anti-war resolutions. A
significant portion of the labor movement--for the first time in U.S.
history--has taken a stand and is mobilizing against war. A majority
of mainline churches have come out in opposition. And millions of
people have marched in the streets, most recently 200,000 to 300,000
in Washington and 150,000 in San Francisco on January 18. And in
Europe the opposition is even stronger.

You know all this already because you read portside. I am certain I
don't need to convince you of the absurdity or immorality of the war
on Iraq. But what I want to do is persuade you that reports of its
inevitability have been greatly exaggerated. Resistance is NOT
futile, and it IS making a difference. The madmen in Washington may
go ahead with their invasion, but the anti-war movement has clearly
stiffened the spine of European leaders, it is having a measurable
effect on U.S. opinion polls, and--who knows?

February 15 will be a historic day. There are worldwide protests
being planned--"the world says no to war"--from Bangkok to Belfast
and Sao Paulo to Sydney and dozens of cities in between on at least
five continents. It is estimated that upwards of 10 million people
will demonstrate that day, making it the single biggest protest is
world history ever. The main U.S. event will be in New York CIty.
(There will also be an event on February 16 in San Francisco.)

Details on the march route are still being hashed out with the NYPD.
You can get the latest at, or call them at
646-473-8935. Please come to New York that day, and bring your
family, neighbors, friends and co-workers. If you can, pick up some
posters or flyers from the mobilization office; they are at 330 W.
42nd St., 8th floor.

I am sure that you, like me, are very busy, but I hope you will join
me in taking time away from other work to do the work of peace on
February 15, and to help make history.

In solidarity,

Dorothee Benz
CWA Local 1180 communications director, co-founder of UNION Ink


Feb 15 materials available


French and Creole translations of the February 15 "World Says No to
War" leaflet are now available on the United for Peace & Justice
website at:
We already have English, Spanish, and Korean versions.

We (finally!) have good supplies of leaflets in the UFPJ office and
are in the process of getting leaflets to distribution centers around
the city. A list of distribution centers will be circulated when they
are up and running. The coordinator for these centers is

The UFPJ office is located at 330 W. 42nd Street, 8th floor (between
8th & 9th Avenues). Phone: (646) 473-8935 hours: 9-9 weekdays, 10-6

United for Peace & Justice just gotten big deliveries of stickers,
buttons, and posters promoting the February 15 "World Says No to War"
protest. They are available in our office.

We're urgently in needs of funds to pay for the many costs associated
with this protest, so we are suggesting the following donations:
STICKERS 25 for $1
BUTTONS 2 for $1
POSTERS $1 each, 6 for $5, 12 for $10, 25 for $20


A Longtime Antiwar Activist, Escalating the Peace

By Chris Hedges - The New York Times, page B-2, Feb. 04, 2003

LESLIE CAGAN is willing to count many things. She will count the
billions the United States will spend if it goes to war in Iraq. She
will count the dead. She will count the oil companies that line up
for the spoils. She will count the nations that turn their backs on
this country in anger. And she will, on Feb. 15, count the
demonstrators who are to gather in Manhattan and three dozen cities
around the globe to rally to stop the war. She will count all this.
She is counting now.

But Ms. Cagan will not count down the days until a war. She is an
apostate, an unbeliever, a heretic to those who preach the gospel of
glory and power and empire. They count one way. She counts another.

"This may be our last chance to stop the war," she said. "If it
starts, it will be much harder to end. If marches do not work, we
will escalate. We will have to do things to disrupt the normal flow
of life in this country. There will have to be more civil
disobedience. If bombs are being dropped on other people in our name
and with our tax dollars, we will do what we can to make sure these
bombs do not get there."

Ms. Cagan, 55, is the co-chairwoman of United for Peace and Justice,
the umbrella group that is organizing the protests. The city has
refused to grant her a parade and rally permit for more than 10,000
people. She and other coalition representatives have scheduled a
second meeting with the Police Department and the city's corporation
counsel today.

"If we do not get a parade and rally permit for over 100,000, we will
go to court," she said.

Ms. Cagan, in a zippered sweatshirt and baggy jeans, sat in a small
corner cubicle set up in space donated by the Local 1199/S.E.I.U
health and hospital workers' union on 42nd Street. Her graying hair
was chopped and cut in what looked like a studied snub of hair
stylists. The rows of fluorescent lights overhead were turned off
"because it gives people headaches." And in the gloomy half light of
the room, her face was lit up by the backlight of her Apple computer.

She has kept ideological leanings out of the protest. The fliers
being distributed are simple and direct, with the slogan "The World
Says No to War," along with a list of cities from Copenhagen to Rome
that will also see protests on that date. The first call for
demonstrations on Feb. 15 was issued by the European Social Forum.

She is one of the grandes dames of the country's progressive
movement. As a student at New York University in 1968, she did not
drop out because that would have made it "harder to organize on
campus." She graduated with a degree in art history to become a
professional organizer, emerging as a national figure in the antiwar

But unlike others who cleaned themselves up, got a conventional job
and looked back on protest as one of the dalliances of youth, she
kept at it. She alternated between managing independent, left-wing
political campaigns, like Mel King's Congressional run in Boston, to
working in the lesbian-gay rights movement, the antinuclear movement
and the campaign to normalize relations with Cuba.

"I am not a pacifist," she said. "I am a scaredy-cat. I can't imagine
going up against the military might that we can unleash on other
countries. But I believe people have a right to self-defense. I hope
that if I had been in the Spanish Civil War I would have found the
courage to fight back."

HER organizational skills are prodigious. Young women and men leaned
into her cubicle every few minutes to get checks signed, confirm
meeting times and pass on messages. Outside her office, a group of
activists were seated in a semicircle, backpacks strewn across the
floor and buttons on their shirts reading "No Blood for Oil,"
passionately debating tactics. On the wall were sheets of white paper
with the names of speakers who have agreed to address the
demonstrators in Central Park after the march, including Archbishop
Desmond Tutu, Julian Bond, Patti Smith and poets from "Def Poetry

There are some 300 volunteer groups currently passing out hundreds of
thousands of fliers across the city in languages from Creole to
Arabic to Chinese. If they are as warmly embraced as Ms. Cagan
insists they are, her math may soon mean a lot.

"The difference between this antiwar protest movement and the Vietnam
antiwar movement is that we have a huge grass-roots campaign before
the war has even begun," she said. "Our volunteers on the subway are
approached by strangers requesting leaflets."

Life as an activist is not easy. The pay is meager, the job security
poor and the stress, especially given the effort to hold together
fractious and opinionated groups, tremendous.

At the end of the day, which can run quite late, she takes the subway
to the Brooklyn home of her partner, Melanie Kaye-Kantrowitz, and
does a most unactivistlike thing. She watches television, and not
public television.

"After trying to save the world from war and holocaust I need a
distraction," she said. "I like `Law and Order.' I like `E.R.' I like
all those shows. I watch `Judging Amy.' I watch New York 1, CNN and
MSNBC. It is what everyone else watches. And while I may be an
activist, I have to speak the same language, to see what everyone
else sees. I have to be able to talk to people."


Working Families Party Resolution against U.S. Military Action
against Iraq

Whereas, military action by the United States against Iraq would
bring death and suffering to Americans as well as to innocent Iraqis,
punishing Iraqis and not their dictator; and U.S. action would also
increase instability in the region, become an excuse and a precedent
for other nations to also take lawless aggressive actions, and
increase the likelihood of future terrorist attacks throughout the
world by fueling anti-U.S. sentiment; and

Whereas, the war in Iraq will cost hundreds of billions of dollars
(former Bush economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey estimated the cost at
as much as $200 billion), a cost that will come at the direct expense
of working families; and also will divert urgently needed funds from
job creation, healthcare and education; and ...

Whereas, there is growing opposition to war in Iraq as shown by
Congress being flooded with hundreds of thousands of calls and
letters opposing the war during the recent debate on the war
resolution; tens of thousands of people demonstrating against the war
in at least three dozen cities and towns on October 6, including
25,000 in Central Park, and 1.5 million in Italy; 100,000 people
demonstrating against the war in Washington, DC, on October 26, while
another 60,000-80,000 demonstrated in San Francisco, 10,000 in St.
Paul, 8,000 in Seattle, thousands in Denver and Chicago, additional
demonstrations in Maine and Vermont, and internationally, 10,000 in
Berlin, with demonstrations in 70 other German towns as well, 4,000
in Amsterdam, 1,500 in Copenhagen, 1,000 in Stockholm, and additional
demonstrations in Rome, London, Tokyo, San Juan and Mexico City; and
over 27,000 U.S. scholars signing an anti-war letter; students
mobilizing on college campuses; four U.S. generals publicly opposing
unilateral U.S. action in Iraq; and

Whereas, opposition to the war is also growing within the labor
movement and among community organizations; AFL-CIO President John
Sweeney recently wrote to Congress expressing concern that "the
sudden urgency for a decision about war and peace" has as much to do
with the political calendar as with the situation in Iraq. It is an
apparent contradiction that there is no similar urgency to take
action to address the economic crisis that is also inflicting
immediate suffering on so many of our people." Mr. Sweeney further
called for assurances that "war is the last option, not the first,
used to resolve this conflict." In addition, more and more local
unions, central labor bodies and community organizations are speaking
out each day as they consider it their duty to act on a matter that
directly threatens their members and families;

Therefore be it resolved, that the Working Families Party oppose the
current drive for war, oppose U.S. military action in Iraq, and
oppose the Bush doctrine of "preemptive strikes;" and ...

Be it further resolved, that the Working Families Party support the
growing anti-war sentiment among the people of the United States and
publicize its own current opposition to war in Iraq; and

Be it further resolved, that the Working Families Party send copies
of this resolution to Senator Charles Schumer, Senator Hillary
Clinton and the New York State Congressional Delegation and express
dismay at their votes in favor of the war resolution in the face of
massive opposition from their constituents.

[Full resolution at: ]

Back to Main News Page


January 17, 2002


(SafetyAlerts) - The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today proposed new warnings for the labels of over-the-counter vaginal
contraceptive drugs that contain the spermicide nonoxynol 9. The warning would state that vaginal contraceptives containing
nonoxynol 9 do not protect against infection from HIV (human immunodeficiency virus, the AIDS virus) or other sexually
transmitted diseases (STDs). 

The proposed label warnings would also advise consumers that the use of vaginal contraceptives containing nonoxynol 9 can
increase vaginal irritation, which may actually increase the possibility of transmitting the AIDS virus and other STDs from infected

FDA's proposed labeling statements are based on recent studies using nonoxynol 9, including data from a four-year World Health
Organization study of 991 HIV-negative sex workers in Africa and Thailand. The study, whose final results were recently
published, showed nonoxynol 9 to be ineffective in the prevention of HIV infection.

Nonoxynol 9 works as a vaginal contraceptive by damaging the cell membrane of sperm. It has been shown in laboratory studies
to damage the cell walls of certain organisms that cause STDs and to be active against some STD-causing bacteria and viruses.
On the basis of data that are described in the labeling proposal, FDA believes that this same membrane-damaging effect can
harm the cell lining of the vagina and cervix, thereby increasing the risk of STD transmission. 

FDA's proposed warning labeling for these vaginal contraceptive products containing nonoxynol 9 is being published in today's
Federal Register. The agency is requesting public comment, for the next 90 days, on the proposed labeling statements and on
the most effective way to present this new warning.

Interested parties may send written comments to the Dockets Management Branch (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration,
5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. Submit electronic comments to'CONTINUE'.

Source: FDA

Back to Main News Page


WHO Issues Mad Cow/CJD 
World Control Guidelines
By Health Newswire reporters

LONDON -- Governments around the world have been issued with guidelines
to help contain the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy better known
as BSE or "mad cow disease" and its human form, variant CJD. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a document setting out
measures that should be taken in order to protect people from eating beef
infected with BSE. The guidelines will be distributed to governments and
consumer associations. 

WHO recommends that even countries with no recorded cases of the disease
should look at the guidelines because of the long incubation period of the illness,
and the wide distribution of contaminated feed through international trade. 

The recommended measures include checking cattle feed to make sure it does
not contain protein from animal carcasses, regularly screening cattle for BSE,
slaughtering cattle at a young age to reduce the risk of variant CJD
transmission, and destroying the brain and spinal cord, as well as rigorously
enforcing safe slaughterhouse practices. 

The UK has recorded more than 180,000 cases of BSE since it was first
detected in 1986, and has introduced stringent controls on meat processing to
try and eliminate the disease from the food chain. But since then, it has spread
to a number of mainly European countries. 

Variant CJD was first detected in humans in 1996 and was linked to the BSE
epidemic in cattle. Scientists blamed the spread of the disease to humans on the
consumption of contaminated meat and other food products from cattle. 

Since then, variant CJD has been linked to more than 100 human deaths most
of them in the UK and has sparked fears of a future epidemic. 

However, these fears have receded with the release of latest UK surveillance
figures, which show that confirmed new cases of the disease have fallen from a
high of 28 in 2000 to 17 in 2002. 

Bovine products considered safe to eat or use include milk and milk products,
as well as gelatin and collagen prepared exclusively from hides and skins. 

HMG Worldwide 2003 

Back to Main News Page


Strange 'Electrical Flashes' 
Photographed Near Shuttle
Astronomer Captures 'Electrical Phenomena' Near Columbia's Track

An astronomer who regularly photographs space shuttles when they pass over
the San Francisco Bay area has captured five "strange and provocative images"
of Columbia as it was re-entering the atmosphere. 

The San Francisco Chronicle reports the images "appear to be bright electrical
phenomena flashing around the track of the shuttle's passage." 

"They clearly record an electrical discharge like a lightning bolt flashing past,
and I was snapping the pictures almost exactly ... when the Columbia may have
begun breaking up during re-entry," the photographer, who asked not to be
identified, told the Chronicle. 

The photos were snapped with a Nikon 8 camera using a tripod. 

Though the space scientist is not making the pictures public immediately, he
invited the newspaper to view the images on his home computer this weekend. 

David Perlman, science editor for the Chronicle, calls the photos "indeed

"They show a bright scraggly flash of orange light, tinged with pale purple, and
shaped somewhat like a deformed L," Perlman writes. "The flash appears to
cross the Columbia's dim [white trail formed in the wake of the craft], and at
that precise point, the [white trail] abruptly brightens and appears thicker and
somewhat twisted as if it were wobbling." 

"I couldn't see the discharge with my own eyes, but it showed up clear and
bright on the film when I developed it," the photographer said. "But I'm not
going to speculate about what it might be." 

Meanwhile, an Australian astronomer working in California says he saw what
could be tiles falling off the orbiter as it flew over the Golden State. 

"After the first few flashes I thought to myself that I knew the shuttle lost tiles
as it re-entered and quite possibly that was what was going on," Anthony
Beasley told ABC News. 

Beasley was north of Los Angeles when he made his report, indicating the
shuttle possibly began to disintegrate above California. 

If Beasley is correct, it indicates the shuttle began to disintegrate on the West
Coast above California. 

The Australian reported how the astronomer witnessed "a couple of flashes"
and "things clearly trailing" Columbia. 

"I think that after the particularly bright event I started to wonder whether or
not things were happening how they should," Beasley said. 

Space experts said tiles falling off the shuttle would be too small to be detected
by NASA radar. 

"It leads in the direction that tile loss or some type of structural loss like that
was likely to be a cause," former shuttle astronaut Norm Thagard told ABC.
"But it still doesn't rule out other possibilities."

Back to Main News Page


Experts Warned Of Budget Cuts, Safety Concerns

By R. Jeffrey Smith, Joby Warrick and Rob Stein

February 2, 2003;

The thunderous explosion of Columbia over central Texas
yesterday was presaged by a drumbeat of warnings by
government auditors and experts who voiced concerns about
lapses in oversight and deferred safety improvements for
NASA's aging fleet of space shuttles.

Although "safety first" was the watchword of shuttle
launches, aerospace engineers have repeatedly complained
that belt-tightening and shifting priorities were denying
Columbia and the three other shuttles the necessary upgrades
and improvements.

As recently as last April, the chairman of the Aerospace
Safety Advisory Panel warned Congress that NASA's management
of the shuttle program had drawn "the strongest safety
concern the panel has voiced" in 15 years. "I have never
been as worried for space shuttle safety as I am right now,"
said Richard Blomberg, who was then chairman of the panel.

None of this was supposed to happen. The last lethal shuttle
disaster, 17 years ago, provoked calls for revolutionary
changes in the program's management. The agency promised
that safety would henceforth be put far ahead of all other
considerations, including budget constraints, the demands of
its users and political pressures.

"We will never launch when it is unsafe," Fred Gregory, then
NASA's director of space flight, promised the House science
and space subcommittee nine months ago.

While none of those who issued warnings pointed specifically
to a defect immediately known to be implicated in
yesterday's disaster, they warned repeatedly that safety was
losing the battle for scarce NASA funds. The program's 40
percent budget decline over the past decade had undermined
its ability to guarantee flawless performances, they said.

NASA's response was mostly to say it disagreed: The problems
were not that bad; safety was still the top priority; and
the number of shuttle "anomalies" or defects was dropping
fast. "NASA will continue to ensure that an adequate staff
and shuttle workforce" is available to maintain a perfect
record, Gregory promised.

But safety experts have long said NASA's claim that safety
was improving stemmed from an illusion. The shuttle, they
said, was an aging, balky and delicate space truck that
exceeded NASA's own risk limits for manned flight. Time was
not its friend.

The ungainly glider was created in the 1970s through a
marriage of adventurous design and well-known technology,
and it was considered underfunded from the outset. By all
accounts, the program has never really embraced the past
decade's stunning advances in aerospace engineering and
safety testing.

After the shuttle Challenger exploded on launch in 1986, for
example, numerous safety advisers urged that a crew ejection
capsule be added to save lives even in the midst of
calamity. "There is a clear need . . . to develop a plan to
address the absence of an escape system by either upgrading
the space shuttle or initiating a program with a realistic
timetable to replace it," the Aerospace Safety Advisory
Panel concluded last year.

NASA has studied the problem for years, but the costs of
retrofitting such a device kept it from acting. As a result,
Columbia's crew had no choice but to follow the craft's fate
as it broke up around the point of reentry into Earth's

No new shuttle has been in development, and, in fact, many
of the most recent safety alarms stemmed from the agency's
recent plan to try to extend the life of the current
shuttles by an additional 25 years. Blomberg warned, in
particular, that budget-tightening compelled the shuttle
program to spend most of its resources on current operations
while planned improvements, including some that would
"directly reduce flight risk," were deferred or eliminated.

"The concern is not for the present flight or the next or
perhaps the one after that," Blomberg said last April. "One
of the roots of my concern is that nobody will know for sure
when the safety margin has been eroded too far."

"Repeated government and contractor hiring freezes" during
the shuttle's operating life "have led to a lack of depth of
critical skills" that become more troubling as the system
ages, Blomberg said.

In an implied criticism of Congress and the White House, the
panel said in its most recent published report that NASA's
budgets were "not sufficient to improve or even maintain the
safety risk level of operating the space shuttle. Needed
restorations and improvements cannot be accomplished under
current budgets and spending priorities."

In mid-2001, five of the nine members of the aerospace
advisory panel and two consultants were asked to step down
after NASA changed its charter and required rotating
memberships. They were replaced, but the year "was one of
significant upheaval on the panel," the panel said in a
report last March.

The most detailed independent assessment of shuttle safety
in recent years, completed in March 2000, pointed to
specific problems that analysts yesterday said may have
played a role in Columbia's breakup around the time of its
reentry into Earth's atmosphere.

It called for scrutiny of wiring problems in "difficult-to-
inspect regions" of the Columbia shuttle, in particular, a
problem that NASA said it had fixed. It also said that NASA
was not using the latest scientific techniques to find and
fix structural cracks and other consequences of routine
aging. The panel said further that NASA was not working hard
enough to find and fix corrosion beneath the tiles that
protect the shuttle from intense heat during reentry, and
that the agency was not working hard enough to find a way to
probe or study portions of each shuttle's structure -- one-
tenth, on average -- that are entirely inaccessible.

"The large reduction in NASA quality assurance inspectors
for each shuttle is very disturbing," said the panel, which
was chaired by Henry McDonald, director of NASA's own Ames
Research Center.

Some of the safety alarms stemmed from what experts have
described as inadequate NASA oversight of those parts of the
program that have been privatized. Just three days ago, for
example, the General Accounting Office (GAO) described
NASA's management of its major contractors as "weak" and
"debilitating," and accused the space agency of placing
"little emphasis on end results [or] product performance."

The GAO report was the latest in a series by the
congressional auditing agency faulting NASA's management of
major programs, including the shuttle. Weak contract
management had been ranked as a "high-risk" problem at NASA
since at least 1990, the report said.

The increased fiscal pressure on NASA is partly the result
of steep budget cuts over the past decade. Funding for NASA
and other civilian agencies involved in the space program
was slashed by $1 billion in fiscal 2002, while Defense
Department spending on space programs rose by $600 million,
according to a recent study by the Aerospace Industries
Association, an industry trade group.

"The civil space program that NASA runs has been neglected
for a generation, and as a consequence we find ourselves
flying increasingly aged technology," said Loren Thompson, a
defense industry analyst for the Lexington Institute, a
think tank.

In 1996, NASA turned over space shuttle flight operations to
the United Space Alliance, a private firm owned by Boeing
Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. Under pressure from the
Clinton administration and Congress to cut costs, NASA had
gradually shifted many responsibilities to the private

United Space is now considered the prime contractor for the
space shuttle program and manages about a third of the
program's budget. In addition to its role as part of United
Space, Bethesda-based Lockheed also provides many crucial
functions, including construction of the external tank that
feeds liquid propellant to the shuttle's three main engines.
It also develops the electronic systems that perform
navigation, guidance and flight control for the space
program and manages data collection, said spokesman Tom

While NASA managers have described their contractor
oversight as adequate, NASA's Office of Inspector General
disagreed. "The lack of systematic and well-documented
contract surveillance is a particular area of concern," the
inspector general said in a report last June.

In response to such reports, NASA has sometimes sought
increased funding, added backup systems and new safety
routines, and has taken other steps designed to bolster its
already complex procedures for preventing accidents. But
NASA has always acknowledged that the program would never be
100 percent reliable.

After the post-Challenger safety upgrades, NASA estimated
there was a 1-in-250 chance of catastrophic failure and
fatalities. "The shuttle is a wonderful machine, but it is
at that left-hand bar of risk to humans," Sam Venneri, head
of NASA's aerospace technology office, said in congressional
testimony last year.

John Pike, a director of and a longtime
critic of the agency's shuttle management, said even this
estimate is speculative. "NASA has been wildly unrealistic
about shuttle reliability. If you go back and look at their
reliability estimates, I think that they basically just made
them up," Pike said.

"There's a statistical chance every time you launch that
there could be an accident. This is just a very hard thing
to do," John Logsdon, director of the Space Policy Institute
at George Washington University, said yesterday. "It's only
in retrospect that you can say that it wasn't enough.
Second-guessing is easy. Hindsight is wonderful."

"What people have done to keep an old system flying is just
amazing. But it's an old system. At some point, they had to
expect something to go wrong," said Donna Shirley, a former
Mars exploration manager at NASA and now an instructor in
aerospace engineering at the University of Oklahoma in
Norman. "It's remarkable that they've kept it going this

Brian Chase, executive director of the National Space
Society, noted that NASA had also struggled with aging
support facilities crucial for maintaining the fleet.
"There's definitely been concern about the facilities on the
ground," Chase said. "Everything from rusting pipes to
crumbling concrete."

Staff writer Eric Pianin contributed to this report.

2003 The Washington Post Company

Back to Main News Page



By David Bacon

Feb 2, 2003, posted to Portside

GOMEZ PALACIOS, DURANGO (1/27/03) -- For decades, US
workers have been told their wages were too high -- that
higher labor costs would force their employers to move to
Mexico. Now Mexican workers, whose numbers on the border
have mushroomed in the last three decades, are on the
receiving end of the same threat. This time the bogeyman is

Beginning with the Asia Pacific Economic Conference,
hosted by Mexico in Cabo San Lucas in November, a rising
media chorus in both Mexico and the US has argued that
Mexico is losing a low-wage competition with China. Plants
have closed and moved as a result, the argument goes.

"With the advances of the giant Asian power," says
Rolando Gonzalez Barron, national president of the Maquila
Export Industry Association, "all these companies are trying
to compete with China with cheap labor." He advises factory
owners to move to southern Mexico, where wages are much
lower. "The border has no possibility of competing with

There is no doubt about the extent of the sharp
economic crisis now affecting border plants. Gonzalez
announced last April that 300,000 workers had been laid off
on the border in 2001 and the first months of 2002. Marco
Antonio Tomas of Mexico City's Center for Labor Research
(CILAS) puts the current number laid off at 400,000. Until
the crisis hit, the maquiladora industry, almost all in
north Mexico, employed over 1,300,000 workers, according to
the association.

Only two actual plant closures have been cited as
evidence, however. One, a factory making computer monitors
for Phillips North America in Juarez, shut over the summer,
costing about 600 jobs. Production moved to Suzhou, China.
Phillips, however, has another twelve border plants, and
increased investment in many of them last year. In another
case, Canon closed an older facility making inkjet printers,
moving production to southeast Asia.

While some media estimates repeat employer
assertions that maquiladora workers earn as much as
$2.00-$2.50 per hour, and compare this to 35/hour in China,
the actual average maquiladora wage is generally about $6-8
per day. Meanwhile, a study by the Economics Faculty of
the National Autonomous University in Mexico City says
Mexican wages have lost 81% of their buying power. Twenty
years ago, it says, the minimum wage could pay for 93.5% of
a family's basic necessities, while today it only buys

Another study cosponsored by the Coalition for
Justice in the Maquiladoras and the Interfaith Center for
Corporate Responsibility found that at the minimum wage, it
took a maquiladora worker in Ciudad Juarez almost an hour to
earn enough money to buy a kilo (2.2 pounds) of rice, and a
worker in Tijuana an hour and a half. By comparison, a
dockworker driving a container crane in the Los Angeles
harbor can buy the rice after 3 minutes at work, and even an
undocumented worker at minimum wage in LA only has to labor
12 minutes for it.

Nevertheless, maquiladora workers say they get the

Nelly Benitez, who worked until recently at one of
Sony's three huge plants in Nuevo Laredo, says the company
openly threatened to move to China if workers didn't accept
cuts in wages and benefits. "The company began threatening
to move to China when they began lowering the wages and
benefits in 2001," she recalls. "Weekly salaries were
reduced from about 800 pesos to 600 pesos [for a six-day
week]. We used to get a ride to and from work on company
busses, since almost no one owns a car, and often we get off
work late at night. Now we can only get a ride one way, not

Benitez says that Sony is still bringing new
machines into the plant to make batteries and
microcassettes. But after starting production, the number
of people working each machine is then cut. "For example, if
they start with five, they'll eventually fire three, and the
other two have to continue running it."

Sony has also transformed its workforce. Until the
recession hit, each of its four plants employed about 2,600
people, who were permanent company employees. Now, say
Benitez and Tomas, the number has been reduced to 1500
apiece. The majority are temporary hires, laid off right
before they acquire permanent status under Mexican law, at
the end of 90 days. "They never became permanent
employees," Benitez says, and therefore have no right to
severance pay, housing benefits, or status under labor law.

According to Martha Ojeda, director of the Coalition
for Justice in the Maquiladoras, which encompasses
organizations in the US, Mexico and Canada who assist
maquiladora workers in organizing themselves, the China
threat is being used far beyond the maquiladora industry.
The World Bank and the administration of President Vicente
Fox have proposed modifying Mexican labor law to eliminate
many of its historic protections for workers. "They're
promoting a policy of fear, in which workers are told that
it's better to see five pesos in wages cut to three, than to
lose their jobs entirely," Ojeda explains. "This is
combined now with an effort to change the labor law itself.
If we don't accept their reform, the companies say they'll
take their investment elsewhere."

The reforms under discussion include the kinds of
things happening in the Sony plant. "Companies want the
unlimited ability to hire temporary workers, who never
acquire seniority, benefits or labor rights," Ojeda adds.
"This is what already exists in the maquiladoras. They're
using the maquiladoras as the model for what they want to do
with workers in the rest of the economy."

Rising anti-Chinese hysteria in the maquiladora
industry, however, is obscuring a basic fact. The border
industry has tied the Mexican economy so tightly to the US
market that when consumers in the north stop buying, workers
from Tijuana to Matamoros lose their jobs by the thousands.
When the US economy catches a cold, the saying goes, Mexico
comes down with pneumonia.

While the maquiladora industry would like workers to
look east to China to find the source of their problems, and
enter into a wage-cutting race to the bottom, "where we
really need to look is north," Benitez concludes.

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Bush, bin Laden, BCCI and the 9/11 Commission


January 31, 2003

When George W. Bush's first choice to head an "independent" probe into the Sept.
11 attacks--suspected war criminal Henry Kissinger--went down like a bad
pretzel, he quickly plucked another warm body from the stagnant pool of
Establishment worthies who are periodically called upon to roll out the
whitewash when the big boys screw up.

Kissinger's replacement, retired New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean, was a "safe
pair of hands," we were assured by the professional assurers in the mainstream
media. The fact that he'd been out of public life for years--and that he hadn't
collaborated in the deaths of tens of thousands of Cambodians, Chileans and East
Timorese--certainly made him less controversial than his predecessor, although
to be fair, Kissinger's expertise in mass murder surely would have given the
panel some unique insights into the terrorist atrocity.

But now it seems that Kean might possess some unique insights of his own.
Fortune Magazine reports this week that both Kean and Bush share an unusually
well-placed business partner: one Khalid bin Mahfouz -- perhaps better known as
"Osama bin Laden's bagman" or even "Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law."

Kean, like so many worthies, followed the revolving door out of public service
into lucrative sweetheart deals and well-wadded sinecures on corporate boards.
One of these, of course, is an oil company--pretty much a requirement for White
House work these days. (Or as the sign says on the Oval Office door: "If your
rigs ain't rockin', don't come a-knockin'!") Kean is a director of Amerada Hess,
an oil giant married up to Saudi Arabia's Delta Oil in a venture to pump black
gold in Azerbaijan. (The partnership is incorporated in a secretive offshore
"tax haven," natch. You can't expect a worthy like Kean to pay taxes like some
grubby wage slave.)

One of Delta's biggest backers is the aforesaid Mahfouz, a Saudi wheeler-dealer
who has bankrolled some of most dubious players on the world scene: Abu Nidal,
Manuel Noreiga, Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush. Mahfouz was also a front for
the bin Laden family, funneling their vast wealth through American cut-outs in a
bid to gain power and influence in the United States.

One of those cut-outs was Mahfouz factotum James Bath, a partner in George W.'s
early oil venture, Arbusto. Bath has admitted serving as a pass-through for
secret Saudi money. Years later, when Bush's maladroit business skills were
about to sink another of his companies, Harken Energy, the firm was saved by a
$25 million investment from a Swiss bank--a subsidiary of the Bank of Credit and
Commerce International (BBCI), partly owned by the beneficent Mahfouz.

What was BCCI? Only "one of the largest criminal enterprises in history,"
according to the U.S. Senate. What did BCCI do? "It engaged in pandemic bribery
of officials in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas," says journalist
Christopher Bryon, who first exposed the operation. "It laundered money on a
global scale, intimidated witnesses and law officers, engaged in extortion and
blackmail. It supplied the financing for illegal arms trafficking and global
terrorism. It financed and facilitated income tax evasion, smuggling and
prostitution." Sort of an early version of the Bush Regime, then.

BCCI's bipartisan corruption first permeated the Carter Administration, then
came to full flower in the Reagan-Bush years. The CIA uncovered the bank's
criminal activities in 1981--no great feat, considering how many of its own
foreign "associates" were involved, including the head of Saudi intelligence,
Kamal Adham, brother-in-law of King Faisal. But instead of stopping the
drug-runners and terrorists, the agency decided to join them, using BCCI's
secret channels to finance "black ops" all over the world.

When a few prosecutors finally began targeting BCCI's operations in the late
Eighties, President George Herbert Walker Bush boldly moved in with a federal
probe directed by Justice Department investigator Robert Mueller. The U.S.
Senate later found that the probe had been unaccountably "botched"--witnesses
went missing, CIA records got "lost," all sorts of bad luck. Lower-ranking
prosecutors told of heavy pressure from on high to "lay off." Most of the big
BCCI players went unpunished or, like Mahfouz, got off with wrist-slap fines and
sanctions. Mueller, of course, wound up as head of the FBI, appointed to the
post in July 2001--by George W. Bush.

In the late 1990s, U.S. authorities identified Mahfouz as a major financier of
his brother-in-law's extracurricular activities. He denied it, but the spooked
Saudis put him on ice, charging him with, of all things, bank fraud. He's now
under "house arrest"--or rather, "palatial mansion arrest"--but still wheeling
and dealing with Kean and Delta and other worthies. Indeed, one of Mahfouz's
hirelings--the director of a Pakistani bank he owns--sits on the advisory board
of our old friend the Carlyle Group, cheek by jowl with the firm's most
celebrated shill: George Herbert Walker Bush.

Somehow we doubt that worthy Kean will poke very hard at the nexus of
intersections between his own business partner, Mahfouz, and the bin Ladens, the
Bushes, the Saudi royals, Saddam, the CIA and BCCI. We've only scratched the
surface here, but even this cursory glance makes the current world crisis look
less like some grand geopolitical "clash of civilizations" and more like a nasty
falling out among thieves, with rival mafias--who sometimes collude, sometimes
collide--now duking it out for turf, cloaking their murderous criminality with
pious rhetoric about freedom, security, jihad and God.

Chris Floyd is a columnist for the Moscow Times and a regular contributor to
CounterPunch. He can be reached at:

Copyright 2003. All rights reserved. CounterPunch is a project of the
Institute for the Advancement of Journalistic Clarity.

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