Tuesday, March 27, 2007
US mortgage crisis forces homeowners to take refuge in their cars
THEY are victims of the United States' growing mortgage crisis - low-paid workers whose homes have been repossessed amid rising interest rates, a stagnant property market and a lax lending regime.
But in Los Angeles, where having a car is as essential as owning a home, many are sleeping in their vehicles to ensure a roof over their head.
Campaigners for the homeless expect more to hole up in their cars as they lose homes due to the problems that have dogged "subprime mortgages" - those granted to low-earners with little capital of their own.
The trend comes despite the fact that sleeping in a car is illegal in the Los Angeles area.
"The subprime meltdown is the kind of situation that pushes people into cars. It's a very common story," said Ruth Hollman, of Self-Help And Recovery Exchange, a group that helps homeless people.
Advocates hope Los Angeles will adopt programmes in place in cities such as Eugene, Oregon, and Santa Barbara, California, that enable people to live in cars while receiving services they need to get back on track.
"It's an old saying in social services that most people are one to six paychecks away from being homeless. But if you can't make your mortgage, it's more like a month or two," said William Wise, of the relief agency St Vincent de Paul of Eugene, which works to find overnight parking spots for homeless people.
Without such spots, people forced to sleep in their cars fear being towed and ticketed by police, as well as being attacked by thugs and facing public scorn.
Emily Love, 61, was sleeping in her car in Marina Del Rey, California, when two youths smashed her windscreen with a shopping trolley. A week later, she was back in the car.
After her car was attacked, the former teacher sat staring at the shattered glass. "I don't like to talk to the cops. They don't like people sleeping in their cars," she said in her car crammed with her possessions, including two cats.
Government figures say there are about 754,000 homeless people in the US, about 300,000 more than available beds in shelters and transitional housing.
Many of the temporarily homeless get into deeper trouble because they try to keep it quiet and do not seek help.
Philip Mangano, of the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, said he strongly opposed programmes that sanction living in cars.
"It's a national tragedy that we are resorting to these plans. It doesn't measure up to the promise of America," he said.
Mr Mangano has been working with cities to develop ten-year plans to end vagrancy through a new business- oriented approach that has cut homelessness in cities such as San Francisco and Philadelphia.
The number of people living in cars is hard to calculate, but Ruth Hollman said a recent estimate of 1,000 in Los Angeles was far below the actual figure. She said some people living in their cars pay gym memberships so they can shower, and attend training courses or have jobs. "One man I know goes to college and people there don't even know he's homeless," she said.
Monday, March 26, 2007
US struggles to avert Turkish intervention in northern Iraq
· Ankara claims Kurdish rebels preparing attacks
· Operations could wreck American peace strategy
London Guardian | March 23, 2007
The US is scrambling to head off a "disastrous" Turkish military intervention in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq that threatens to derail the Baghdad security surge and open up a third front in the battle to save Iraq from disintegration.
Senior Bush administration officials have assured Turkey in recent days that US forces will increase efforts to root out Kurdistan Workers' party (PKK) guerrillas enjoying safe haven in the Qandil mountains, on the Iraq-Iran-Turkey border.
Turkish sources said "hot pursuit" special forces operations in Khaftanin and Qanimasi, northern Iraq, were already under way. Murat Karayilan, a PKK leader, said this week that a "mad war" was in prospect unless Ankara backed off.
Fighting between security forces and Kurdish fighters seeking autonomy or independence for Kurdish-dominated areas of south-east Turkey has claimed 37,000 lives since 1984. The last big Turkish operation occurred 10 years ago, when 40,000 troops pushed deep into Iraq. But intervention in the coming weeks would be the first since the US took control of Iraq in 2003 and would risk direct confrontation between Turkish troops and Iraqi Kurdish forces and their US allies.
Several other factors are adding to the tension between the Nato partners:
· The firm Turkish belief that the US is playing a double game in northern Iraq. Officials say the CIA is covertly funding and arming the PKK's sister organisation, the Iran-based Kurdistan Free Life party, to destabilise the Iranian government.
· US acquiescence in plans to hold a referendum in oil-rich Kirkuk in northern Iraq. Turkey suspects Iraqi Kurds are seeking control of Kirkuk as a prelude to the creation of an independent Kurdistan.
· Plans by the US Congress to vote on a resolution blaming Turkey for genocide against the Armenians in 1915. Faruk Logoglu, a former ambassador to Washington, said that if the resolution passed, relations "could take generations to recover".
· Record levels of Turkish anti-Americanism dating back to 2003, when Turkey refused to let US combat forces cross the Iraq border.
The US is already fighting Sunni insurgents and Shia militias. Analysts say a surge in violence in northern Iraq, previously the most stable region, could capsize the entire US plan. But pressure on the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is also growing as a result of forthcoming elections. Military intervention was narrowly avoided last summer when he said that "patience was at an end" over US prevarication. Now conservatives and nationalists are again accusing him of not standing up to Washington.
"If they are killing our soldiers ... and if public pressure on the government increases, of course we will have to intervene," said Ali Riza Alaboyun, an MP for Mr Erdogan's Justice and Development party. "It is the legal right of any country to protect its people and its borders."
US support for Iranian Kurds opposed to the Tehran government is adding to the agitation. "The US is trying to undermine the Iran regime, using the Kurds like it is using the MEK [the anti-Tehran People's Mujahideen]," said Dr Logoglu. "Once you begin to differentiate between 'good' and 'bad' terrorist organisations, then you lose the war on terror." But he warned that military intervention might be ineffective and could be "disastrous" in destabilising the region. A recent national security council assessment also suggested that senior Turkish commanders were cautious about the prospects of success.
Daniel Fried, assistant secretary of state, said last week that the US was acting to assuage Turkish concerns. "We are committed to eliminating the threat of PKK terrorism in northern Iraq," he said.
General Joseph Ralston, the US special envoy dealing with the PKK issue, was less upbeat, admitting that "the potential for Turkish cross-border action" was growing. "We have reached a critical point in which the pressure of continued [PKK] attacks has placed immense public pressure upon the government of Turkey to take some military action. As the snows melt in the mountain passes, we will see if the PKK renews its attacks and how the Turkish government responds ... I hope the Turks will continue to stand by us."
But a Milliyet journalist, Kadri Gursel, said: "The US attitude has really pissed off the government and the army. The US really doesn't understand how exhausted and fed up they are.
Hagel: There are ways to deal with' a president who says 'I don't care'
Raw Story | March 26, 2007
Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who is considering running for president in 2008, stopped just short of threatening impeachment against President George Bush on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday morning.
Hagel has been a vocal critic of the war in Iraq and recently referenced impeachment in an interview published in April's edition of Esquire Magazine, telling Charles P. Pierce, "The president says, 'I don't care.' He's not accountable anymore. He's not accountable anymore, which isn't totally true. You can impeach him, and before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment. I don't know. It depends how this goes."
Hagel disagrees that "right now we're actually seeing the increase in forces actually start to deliver some results in Baghdad," as the White House has argued.
"No, I don't see that," Hagel told Stephanopoulos. "In fact, there are more incidents, not less. Sure, in parts of Baghdad, in overall Baghdad, over the last two or three weeks, we have seen some fewer, but not around the country. Look at what happened two days ago, one of the two vice presidents of Iraq was attacked there at his own compound and is lying mortally wounded in a hospital."
Hagel added, "No, it isn't getting any less dangerous, and the fact is that was predictable, the more American troops you flood into a zone, sure, you're going to see some immediate effect of that but that has nothing to do with the long-term or lasting effect. This solution in Iraq is not going to come by continuing to put more and more Americans in there because we're bogging ourselves down. We are further eroding our credibility and stature in the Middle East. It's going to make it more and more difficult for us to get out because we are going to have to get out."
Hagel mentioned that the Inspector General testified before Congress this week, and "reminded all of us that we have now spent almost a half a trillion dollars in Iraq," and "have put at least 40 billion in economic development there, [w]hich we don't know what we got out of it."
"There's still no oil law," Hagel added. "Billions of dollars have been ripped off, unaccounted for, and one more point on this -- over $12 billion of Iraqi money still sits in the accounts of the Iraqi government that they haven't spent. So something has to give here, George."
Hagel then expanded upon his "impeachment" comments in the Esquire interview.
"Well, any president who says 'I don't care' or 'I will not respond to what the people of this country are saying about Iraq or anything else' or 'I don't care what the Congress does, I am going to proceed,' if a president really believes that, then there are, what I was pointing out, there are ways to deal with that," Hagel said.
Hagel added, "This is not a monarchy."
"And you think that would be appropriate in this case?" Stephanopoulos asked.
Hagel hedged a little bit, "I didn't say that. I didn't call for it. I didn't predict it. What I was saying, I was laying out options here. No president can dictate to this country, nor should he. This is a constitutional form of government. We have three equal branches of government. No president is bigger than the other two. There are three co-equal branches of government. Article 1 of the Constitution is not the presidency. It's the Congress."
But the Republican senator again referred to impeachment when he said that "there are ways to deal with this."
"So what I was pointing out, George, is that there are ways to deal with this and I would hope the president understands that," Hagel said. "I mean, his comments this weekend, yesterday in his radio address were astounding to me. Saying to the Congress in effect, you don't belong in this. I'm in charge of Iraq."
Transcript of interview:
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, everyone. The White House and congressional Democrats squared off again this week with showdowns looming on Iraq war funding and the firing of those eight U.S. attorneys. And our headliner this morning is a man who often finds himself at odds with both sides, Senator Chuck Hagel. Welcome back, senator.
SEN. HAGEL: George.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to get to your presidential plans later in the interview but let's begin with Attorney General Gonzales and these documents that came out late Friday night which showed that he did attend at least one meeting where this U.S. attorney situation was discussed, but when the controversy bubbled up earlier this month he denied attending any meetings. Take a look at this.
ATTORNEY GENERAL ALBERTO GONZALES: (From videotape.) Like every CEO, I am ultimately accountable and responsible for what happens within the Department. But that is, in essence, what I knew about the process, was not involved in seeing any memos, was not involved in any discussions about what was going on. I never saw documents. We never had a discussion about where things stood.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Does the Attorney General have a credibility problem?
SEN. HAGEL: He does have a credibility problem. George, as you know because you've been in administrations, as well as your service over on Capitol Hill, we govern with one currency and that's trust. And that trust is all important and when you lose or debase that currency, then you can't govern. And I think he's going to have some difficulties. They've changed their stories. They've moved back and forth, and I have always believed and I've been in and out of this town a little bit, the only way to govern is be straightforward. Be honest. The stories will always come out. There are no secrets and it's not just because there's a bob Woodward in this town. Just be straight out, transparent and if you've got a problem, fix it but get out of it.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you explain his problems here? What do you think happened here?
SEN. HAGEL: I don't know if he got bad advice or if he was not involved in the day-to-day management. I don't know what the problem is but he's got a problem. You cannot have the nation's chief law enforcement officer with a cloud hanging over his credibility, and then you couple that with other recent events over there with the national security letter debacle with the FBI, the abuses of the Patriot Act, all within the purview of the Attorney General's scope of management, it's week after week there's another problem.
This needs to be addressed and I think the president makes a big mistake if he tries to make this a constitutional issue and make it a separation of powers issue. Fix the problem. Ronald Reagan did it. Bill Clinton did it. Other presidents have done it. Invoke executive privilege then say it's in the interest of the country to get to the bottom of this and fix it.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Those are two separate issues. I want to get to both. On the first, on the Attorney General himself, you said he has a deep credibility problem. You've pointed out all the other problems that have come up in the Justice Department over the last couple of years. Do you think he can still serve effectively as Attorney General?
SEN. HAGEL: Well, I do not, and I think the president is going to have to make a tough choice here. The president has a number of other big issues that he is going to be dealing with and dealing with right now. We've got the Iraq war issue that is continuing to deepen and worsen. We will be focused in the Senate this week on that issue. The House just passed a tough bill yesterday or Friday on the supplemental spending. We've got another dozen big issues out there that the president must govern on. He must focus on, and he must lead the country and the world on. And he surely cannot be burdened by his chief law enforcement officer under a cloud of credibility.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: You also mentioned the showdown over executive privilege. The White House said this week that they're willing to send up White House officials like Karl Rove to discuss this, but it has to be in private. It can't be under oath. One conversation only and no transcript. What do you think of those conditions?
SEN. HAGEL: Well, I don't think those are conditions. My goodness, isn't the objective here -- is to get to the bottom of the issue? Isn't the objective to find out the truth? Isn't the objective to be transparent and let the American people know what happened? What went wrong. If there is something that needs to be fixed, then let's find out what it is and let's fix it. The president has talked about those kind of things over the years, but to say you can't have a transcript, the American people should not understand or know what's going on, it not be done under oath, I just don't understand.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: So you just think he should invoke the privilege but then voluntarily send the officials up to testify?
SEN. HAGEL: That's the way I would do it and I think we have a very clear past record of other presidents taking that same course of action. President Reagan did that on Iran-Contra. "The Washington Post" has a story today which highlights your picture --
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks for reminding me, Senator! (Laughs)
SEN. HAGEL: And we are very appreciative of your selfless public service to our country, George.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Thank you.
SEN. HAGEL: But there are many examples of how presidents in the past have handled this and handled things like this very responsibly.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about Iraq. You mentioned the House Democrats passed their bill. Their version of the Iraq war funding bill this week which imposed benchmarks on the Iraqi government but also set a deadline for the removal of all U.S. combat forces. Can you sign on to that?
SEN. HAGEL: Well, I believe this, and I've said this from the beginning. There will not be a military solution to Iraq. The solution to Iraq will come as a result of a political accommodation by the people in Iraq, the Iraqi people, which will result in a political resolution. I have said also that I'm absolutely opposed to a further American military escalation in Iraq. That's what's going on here. And it's one of these, oh, by the way -- It's one of these gradual incremental-type oh, by the ways. We first heard the president's announcement on this a few weeks ago, 21,500 troops.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: The question is how do you stop it?
SEN. HAGEL: Well, I think the Congress is going to play a role now like we have not played before. You've already seen the House play that role. We will debate it this week in the Senate. Senator Jim Webb and I are going to introduce some legislation that will, in fact, have the force of law in the future involvement of our military, in our country and what conditions that future will be.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: So combining legislation, what kind of conditions are you going to try to impose?
SEN. HAGEL: It will be binding legislation, and it will be focused on deployment, redeployment, training, equipment. What we're doing to our force structure in this country is disastrous. We essentially are ruining our National Guard. We are destroying our Army. We're destroying our Marine Corps. We can't sustain this kind of not only deployment, but training tempo, and the consequences of that, you're seeing at Walter Reed Hospital, for example and the consequences of that, for example, dumbing down your United States Army. We are now in a situation, we're waiving criminal records, drug abuse records to entice people to join the Army. You are ruining a 30-year effort to produce, which we have, the best Army in the world.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm unclear on what exactly you're trying to do. Are you going to be setting an end date for U.S. involvement? I don't want to get too far ahead of Senator Webb on this. We have not announced what exactly those amendments will say. We will do that early next week, either tomorrow or Tuesday, but I would say that it does affect the outcome, the conditions of America's military involvement in Iraq.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, then, just to be clear, though, you cannot accept what the House passed, would you vote to strip those conditions from the legislation?
SEN. HAGEL: I would want to see what, in the end, I have to vote on. Let me put it this way, I will not accept the status quo. I will not continue to support with my vote the status quo. I am opposed to the president's current policy. I am opposed to the president's further escalation of America's military involvement. We are undermining our interest in the Middle East. We are undermining our military. We're undermining the confidence of people around the world in what we're doing. We have, clearly, a situation where the president has lost the confidence of the American people in his war effort. It is now time, going into the fifth year of that effort, for the Congress to step forward and be part of setting some boundaries and some conditions as far as --
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: But the White House has argued, Stephen Hadley was here last week, that right now we're actually seeing the increase in forces actually start to deliver some results in Baghdad. Don't you see that at all?
SEN. HAGEL: No, I don't see that. In fact, there are more incidents, not less. Sure, in parts of Baghdad, in overall Baghdad, over the last two or three weeks, we have seen some fewer, but not around the country. Look at what happened two days ago, one of the two vice presidents of Iraq was attacked there at his own compound and is lying mortally wounded in a hospital.
No, it isn't getting any less dangerous, and the fact is that was predictable, the more American troops you flood into a zone, sure, you're going to see some immediate effect of that but that has nothing to do with the long-term or lasting effect. This solution in Iraq is not going to come by continuing to put more and more Americans in there because we're bogging ourselves down. We are further eroding our credibility and stature in the Middle East. It's going to make it more and more difficult for us to get out because we are going to have to get out.
You know, we had the Inspector General testifying, our Inspector General, Mr. Bowen, he was testifying before the Congress this week. I met with him alone for an hour and a half. He reminded all of us that we have now spent almost a half a trillion dollars in Iraq. We have put at least 40 billion in economic development there. Which we don't know what we got out of it. There's still no oil law. Billions of dollars have been ripped off, unaccounted for, and one more point on this -- over $12 billion of Iraqi money still sits in the accounts of the Iraqi government that they haven't spent. So something has to give here, George.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: It is clear to me that you are angry about this and you also gave an interview to "Esquire" magazine this month, the April edition of "Esquire" magazine where you were quoted as saying, "the president says 'I don't care', he's not accountable anymore, he's not accountable anymore, which isn't totally true. You can impeach him. And before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment."
SEN. HAGEL: Well, any president who says "I don't care" or "I will not respond to what the people of this country are saying about Iraq or anything else" or "I don't care what the Congress does, I am going to proceed," if a president really believes that, then there are, what I was pointing out, there are ways to deal with that. This is not a monarchy.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: And you think that would be appropriate in this case?
SEN. HAGEL: I didn't say that. I didn't call for it. I didn't predict it. What I was saying, I was laying out options here. No president can dictate to this country, nor should he. This is a constitutional form of government. We have three equal branches of government. No president is bigger than the other two. There are three co-equal branches of government. Article 1 of the Constitution is not the presidency. It's the Congress.
So what I was pointing out, George, is that there are ways to deal with this and I would hope the president understands that. I mean, his comments this weekend, yesterday in his radio address were astounding to me. Saying to the Congress in effect, you don't belong in this. I'm in charge of Iraq.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: You're talking about the U.S. attorney controversy?
SEN. HAGEL: No, I'm talking about what he was referring to specifically in his radio address about what the House of Representatives did on Iraq.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Friday on Iraq, okay.
SEN. HAGEL: And essentially dismissing them. Now, he can disagree, of course. I understand that. That's his responsibility. But to dismiss them, the Congress by saying, "you don't have a role in this, you're irrelevant to this," he's getting some bad advice and I would suggest they all go back and reread the Constitution.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me talk to you about your own plans for the White House. You gave this press conference in Nebraska a couple weeks ago that you had the whole press corps come in, national press corps, and then essentially had nothing to announce and a lot of people were scratching his heads. I was, at the end of it, including the late night comics. Look what Jay Leno said.
TONIGHT SHOW HOST JAY LENO: (From videotape.) Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel, he's a Republican, called a press conference to announce he'll be making a decision about running for president sometime later in the year. So he called a press conference to say maybe later in the year he's going to say something important. This is the kind of bold, decisive leadership this country needs. (Laughter.)
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: What was that about?
SEN. HAGEL: Well, first of all, I didn't ask all the media to come. In fact, I don't think there was one network correspondent there except one from a cable news show. I told the people of Nebraska that I would make an announcement on a decision sometime early this year. I owed that to them. I thought about just putting out a press release, George, and saying this is what I'm going to do. Then I thought I don't think that's right. People deserve to understand why and I think the way to do that is just come before them. I went to Nebraska. We didn't make a big deal about it. We didn't ask people to come. We put out a one-paragraph statement. I didn't ask the party to come. My family wasn't there. It was the press who built this up. I didn't build it up.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: So what factors are in play now in your decision?
SEN. HAGEL: Same factors that have always been. Number one, I said I wasn't ready to make a decision about my political future. I don't work off of someone else's time line, George. I've never done that. I don't work off someone else's expectations.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: So you don't think it's too late to get in now? A lot of people looked at it and said, "He's not running."
SEN. HAGEL: Well, I'll make that decision. I can't worry about things I can't control. I do have a job now and that's an important job. I think if this town, all of us in elective office, paid a little more attention to focusing on the responsibilities we have now to govern and try to focus on, as I have and I'm going to continue to do, Social Security reform, entitlement reform, immigration reform, being just three bills that I've been leaders on, I'm going to come back and introduce new legislation on that -- those are jobs that need to be attended to and issues right now.
Now, I will make a decision when I think I'm ready and my family is ready. I can't control what the Nebraska people or the people of this country will do or will not do. I learned a long time ago to put my energies into things, George, that I can control. So I'm sorry if I didn't fulfill expectations of some people, but I never misled anybody on this.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, come back when you're ready to announce. Senator Hagel, thanks very much.
SEN. HAGEL: Thanks, George.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Michael Savage: Line U.S. border with tanks
Possible presidential candidate suggests dropping nukes on terrorist sanctuaries
Posted: March 18, 2007
9:25 p.m. Eastern
By Aaron Klein
© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com
Tanks keeping illegal immigrants from U.S. borders? Nukes dropped on terrorist sanctuaries? Iraqi insurgent strongholds barb-wired and then decimated?
That's just a glimpse into the future should ultra-opinionated radio host Michael Savage have his way and become the next leader of the free world.
The highly rated talker, whose books include "The Enemy Within" and "Liberalism is a Mental Disorder: Savage Solutions," announced last month he may leave the airwaves, join the political zoo and run for top office in the United States. Since then, over five million people affirmed they want him to seek the presidency, according to an online opinion poll conducted by Savage Productions.
In a WND interview today, the radio personality spelled out his official presidential policies on some of today's burning issues:
Regarding U.S. border control, Savage favors stationing the National Guard along America's periphery "with orders to shoot to kill."
"I'd also put tanks on the border if necessary. I'd reinforce the border after making sure we still have a border following so many years of having it melted down under George Bush," Savage said.
(Story continues below)
Savage's formula for winning the war on terror is simple: "My platform would be nuke 'em and rebuke 'em. Hit them hard. Hit them fast and get out of the Middle East. Teach them we are the most powerful nation on earth and when our interests and their interests conflict, we are going to win."
The talker maintains America can "absolutely" be victorious in Iraq.
He said as president he would "send maximum force into the Sunni triangle and after giving them 72 hours to evacuate their women and children, turn on the Sadr City area and not go door to door, but decimate the entire area after barb-wiring the place and letting the women and children out."
Following his prescribed military campaign, Savage said Iraq would be divided into four quadrants as determined by the League of Nations after World War I.
He then turned to Iran, calling it a "great nation of great people," but deeming Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "an anomaly, the Hitler of our time."
Savage advocated an international coalition unified against Ahmadinejad to ensure Iranians "have a chance to live in freedom and peace."
Savage said his presidential candidacy can do no harm, since the GOP in its current state is "incapable of winning." He knocked all the current Republican candidates as "good Republicans and bad conservatives. None of them evidence much of a conservative orientation."
While Savage is considering a run, vice-presidential candidates shouldn't be lining up just yet.
"I'm just exploring," he said in a previous online interview. "I could not continue to do my radio show. I've been told that once you've declared yourself a candidate and you're openly running, you have to give up your career in the media for obviously good reasons."
Savage, whose first books were published by WND, is now the nation's third-most popular talk-show host, reaching about 8 million fans listening on more than 370 stations weekly. His show is consistently ranked one of the nation's most influential, and is rated No. 1 in multiple major city markets, including his home base in San Francisco.
The Talk Radio Network host often sparks national news. Savage was credited with bringing the Dubai Ports World deal to national attention. The deal would have turned over U.S. port operations to the Middle Eastern company. A public outrage ensued, forcing Dubai Ports World to scuttle their plan.
Savage has written a series of best sellers. His latest, "The Political Zoo," is a satirical criticism of both Republicans and Democrats.
Are you a representative of the media who would like to interview the author of this story? Let us know.
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Thursday, March 22, 2007
Study details catastrophic impact of nuclear attack on US cities
Athens, Ga. – A new study by researchers at the Center for Mass Destruction Defense (CMADD) at the University of Georgia details the catastrophic impact a nuclear attack would have on American cities.
The study, which the authors said was the most advanced and detailed simulation published in open scientific literature, highlights the inability of the nation's current medical system to handle casualties from a nuclear attack. It also suggests what the authors said are much needed yet relatively simple interventions that could save tens of thousands of lives.
"The likelihood of a nuclear weapon attack in an American city is steadily increasing, and the consequences will be overwhelming" said Cham Dallas, CMADD director and professor in the UGA College of Pharmacy. "So we need to substantially increase our preparation."
Dallas and co-author William Bell, CMADD senior research scientist and faculty member of the UGA College of Public Health, examined four high-profile American cities – New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Atlanta – and modeled the effects of a 20 kiloton nuclear detonation and a 550 kiloton detonation. (For comparison, the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were in the 12 to 20 kiloton range). Bell explained that a 20 kiloton weapon could be manufactured by terrorists and fledgling nuclear countries such as North Korea and Iran, while a 550 kiloton device is commonly found in the arsenal of the former Soviet Union and therefore is the most likely to be stolen by terrorists.
The study, which took three years to complete and appears in the current issue of the International Journal of Health Geographics, combines data on the impact of the devices, prevailing weather patterns and block-level population data from the U.S. Census Bureau to provide a level of detail previously unavailable.
Among the study's findings:
- A 20-kiloton detonation would leave debris tens of feet thick in downtown areas with buildings 10-stories or higher. Roughly half of the population in downtown areas would be killed, mainly from collapsing buildings. Most of those surviving the initial blast in downtown areas would be exposed to a fatal dose of radiation.
- While the main effects from a 20-kiloton explosion would be from the blast and the radiation it releases, a 550-kiloton explosion would create additional and substantial casualties from burns. Such an explosion would superheat the blast zone, causing buildings to spontaneously combust. Mass fires would consume cities, reaching out nearly four miles (6.3 km) in all directions from the detonation site.
- A 550 kiloton detonation in New York would result in a fallout plume extending the length of Long Island, resulting in more than 5 million deaths.
- A 550 kiloton detonation in Washington, D.C. would destroy hospitals in the District, but its fallout plume would also incapacitate hospitals in Baltimore, nearly 40 miles away.
The researchers note that in all four cities studied, hospitals are concentrated in the area most likely to be destroyed. Another weak link is the inability of the nation's hospital system to treat the burn victims a 550-kiloton detonation would create. A 550-kiloton detonation in Atlanta, the least densely populated of the four cities studied, would result in nearly 300,000 serious burn victims.
"The hospital system has about 1,500 burn beds in the whole country, and of these maybe 80 or 90 percent are full at any given time," Bell said. "There's no way of treating the burn victims from a nuclear attack with the existing medical system."
Dallas acknowledges that the consequences of a nuclear attack would be grim, but stresses that there are ways that tens of thousands lives could be saved.
"If a nuclear detonation were to occur in a downtown area, the picture would be bleak there," Dallas said. "But in urban areas farther from the detonation, there actually is quite a bit that we can do. In certain areas, it may be possible to turn the death rate from 90 percent in some burn populations to probably 20 or 30 percent – and those are very big differences – simply by being prepared well in advance."
One intervention is to mount a public awareness campaign to teach civilians what to do in the event of a nuclear attack. Since radioactive plumes move downwind, a person can look up at the trees to see which way the wind is blowing and then flee perpendicular to the wind. Because the plumes are significantly longer than they are wide, moving as little as one to five miles perpendicular to the plume can mean the difference between life and death. People in areas upwind of the detonation site, on the other hand, are safest staying where they are.
"There are certain areas where people should flee," Dallas said. "But in most areas, it would be much safer for people to stay put."
Dallas said today's hospital burn units provide exemplary but time consuming care to burn victims, who typically arrive sporadically and in small numbers. A nuclear attack would bring a sudden surge of patients, but the medical system could dramatically minimize fatalities by training staff and equipping non-medical people to treat second-degree burn victims in much larger numbers. Dallas said the focus must be on cleaning the wounds to avoid fatal infections, administering painkillers and then moving on to the next patient. And all of this must occur in the field, since thousands of victims would not make it to a hospital.
"Under the current system and in these extraordinary conditions, they're going to be able to treat a hundred people well and not treat 99,900 people," Dallas said. "So we've got to change those gears."
On April 19, Dallas will address the United Nations for the second time in as many years. He will discuss options for repairing the crumbling sarcophagus surrounding the reactor that triggered the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. He also will discuss the consequences of a nuclear attack and what nations can do to prepare.
"We want to try to encourage people to pay attention to this, because it's not all the end of the world," Dallas said. "There are actually steps that one can take to save lives. But we're running out of time."
Note to editors: The complete study is available online at http://www.ij-healthgeographics.com/.
About the study authors
Cham Dallas, CMADD director and professor in the UGA College of Pharmacy, has a national and international reputation in toxicology and issues regarding weapons of mass destruction stemming from more than a decade of research, teaching and humanitarian efforts in Chernobyl-contaminated areas.
William Bell, CMADD senior research scientist and faculty member in the UGA College of Public Health, is an internationally recognized specialist in WMD modeling, mass casualty estimation and management and care of large numbers of internally displaced persons due to civil war or natural disasters. Bell deploys on short assignments in the early stages of major disasters. Recent deployments have included Sudan, Ivory Coast, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The Center for Mass Destruction Defense is funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CMADD is one of the CDC's Centers for Public Health Preparedness and is dedicated to reducing the casualties and social disruption from weapons of mass destruction events and natural disasters through engagement in planning, mitigation, risk analysis, professional training and the development of response capabilities and infrastructure. CMADD partner institutions include the University of Georgia, Medical College of Georgia, the American Medical Association and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School.
Top Interpol official warns of bioterror attacks
By Sunil K. Vaidya, Bureau Chief
Muscat: A top Interpol officer yesterday said that law enforcement agencies around the world should be prepared for a bioterrorist attack.
"Al Qaida could use chemical or biological weapons to perpetrate its terrorist actions," said Ronald K. Noble, Interpol Secretary General, to Gulf News on the sidelines of the Interpol Workshop on Preventing Bioterrorism, at a hotel here.
He said that the training material recovered from Al Qaida and information gathered from some of their captured operatives have convinced the world law enforcement community that the terrorist outfit has had plans to use chemical and biological weapons in their actions.
Matter of time
"Nobody really knows when Al Qaida will strike with chemical or biological weapons but it is just a matter of time before the terrorists believe they are ready," he said, adding that the only restraints the terrorists were facing was the technical complexity of operating them properly and effectively.
Justifying the fears of bioterrorism, Noble said: "In Iraq there have been no fewer than three chlorine bomb attacks, targeting innocent civilians, in the recent past. It is not difficult to imagine these attacks being extended from chemical to biological."
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
AFP News brief
US troops in Iraq want outby Bryan Pearson
For US troops from 9th Cavalry Regiment bumping around the dangerous streets of Baghdad in Humvees after dark on Monday, news that their deployment in Iraq could be extended fell like a hammer blow.
Their commanders had cautioned that their second one-year tour due to end in October could be prolonged while US President George W. Bush later warned troops it was too soon to "pack up and go home."
The expletives during the four-hour night patrol turned the air in the Humvee, already thick with cigarette smoke, a dark shade of blue.
"We just want to get out of here as soon as possible," said one vehicle commander in one of his few printable comments.
"It's because the Iraqi army is so scared that we have to come here to die," he added, asking not to be named.
"Ninety-five percent of Iraqis are good but five percent are bad. But the 95 percent are too weak to stand up to the five percent."
"Bush should send all the Death Row prisoners here and they can be killed fighting the terrorists. We've had enough," said another soldier, as the Humvee accelerated past a roadside car in case it exploded.
Added yet another, "Bush can come fight here. He can take my 1,000 dollars a month and I'll go home."
Commander of the night operation, Lieutenant Brian Long, said the anger was understandable.
"One of the men has five children, another has three. Another has a boy aged four -- he's missed two of those years. He'll never get them back," said Long.
"It is like the movie 'Groundhog Day'. Each day is the same and nothing ever changes," he added, referring to the 1993 movie in which the principal character is doomed to repeat the same day endlessly.
"It's tough. Everyone just wants to get home to their families," said the officer.
Bush, after speaking to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the top US military commander in Iraq, said in Washington that his new plan to pacify war-wracked Iraq would take months.
"It could be tempting to look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude our best option is to pack up and go home," Bush said, four years to the day after he announced that American troops were fighting to depose Saddam Hussein.
"That may be satisfying in the short run, but I believe the consequences for American security would be devastating," Bush said, warning that a US departure would spark chaos in Iraq which would engulf the region.
Platoon commander of the 9th Cavalry Regiment, Captain Christopher Dawson, said he understood the need for troops to stay in Iraq.
"We are starting to make a difference," he said. "The violence is dropping. We are training Iraqis to take over responsibility for their own security. We are helping them see their future ahead of them. It is in their hands."
But the lower ranks were in rebellious mood, especially after publication of a poll on Monday, commissioned by the BBC, ABC News, ARD German TV and USA Today, which showed only 18 percent of those questioned had confidence in US and coalition troops, while 78 percent opposed their presence.
"If no one wants us here we are quite ready to get out tomorrow," said the outspoken vehicle commander.
One of the few Iraqis the troops met during their night patrol -- most stay indoors once the 8pm curfew kicks in -- said he feared the day the US forces pulled out.
"They can stay for 100 years if they want," said Salam Ahmed, a security guard at a shoe warehouse on the outskirts of the city. "If they go, the bad guys will certainly come for me."
Monday, March 19, 2007
Bye Bye Israel
March 16, 2007
by Barry Chamish
On March 17, Rabbi Avi Cohen-Or, and his wife and daughter, died in their van on an icy road near Hebron. As soon as I saw his photo, I was shaken. This rabbi was the founder of a yeshivah that invited me to lecture on the Rabin assassination. He was my advocate. Then I looked at the accident. (see notes) The rabbi had to have been going 80 MPH on a dangerous ice-covered road to cause that crash. This wasn't an accident, I first thought, it had to be suicide. In fact, there was no accident or suicide. Rabbi Cohen-Or was murdered in the undeclared, but very real, war against the religious.
I know how it was done, because it was done to me.
In the year 2000 I was driving to a lecture in Bet Shemesh when my back left wheel collapsed. I managed to gain control of the car and pressed on my brakes. I had no brakes. I lifted the
emergency brakes. I had no emergency brakes. This was a miracle, maybe a divine miracle, but I managed, on a busy highway, without brakes or full steering, to coast the car to a stop. Later, after an inspired lecture, I brought a car full of my audience to see the damage. Lecture organizer David Morris photographed the wheel from all angles. All the while, a government van circled us.
The following people were prepared to testify that my car was sabotaged: two Bet Shemesh policemen, my garage owner, my insurance adjuster. In the end, the insurance company called my disaster, "a mechanical failure."
Rabbi Cohen-Or's death was of a similar "failure." A good mechanic could have fixed his gas, steering or brakes. A radio signal would speed the car, turn it or brake it into death.
Those who read me know that Israel's most prominent religious leaders are being killed. The leaders of the left wing of Israel don't suffer from accidents or suicides. The pro-settler community is being decimated by the non-stop loss of its most influential personalities and their families. Hardest hit appears to be the Lubavitch community which lost two more last week when a car, stopped at a light, was crushed by a "wayward" truck. The dead included an influential Rebbetzin whose name happened to be Schneerson, the same name as THE Lubavitch rabbi who was committed to stopping the "peace" in its tracks.
And here is where that peace is now inevitably leading.
BYE BYE ISRAEL
The lessons of the 2006 war were well learned in the war councils of Teheran, Damascus and Cairo. Egypt and Iran entered a missile race to see who could supply more rockets to Israel's enemies. Within barely a year of the war, over 20,000 new short and medium range missiles were aimed at Israel. When Syria entered the war on the third day, Israel was buried alive.
Day One - In a massive coordinated attack, some 6,000 missiles hit the Tel Aviv area, knocking out much of the military's operating and intelligence networks. Hundreds die in the rubble. The survivors are in panic. The Israeli government has left the country before the airport is overwhelmed first by terrified civilians, then by the enemy.
Day Two - Another 6,000 missiles are shot throughout the country, knocking out electricity and isolating army units into pockets, defeatable by anti-tank missiles. They are first attacked by the Palestinians and their missiles, then Israeli Arabs, then Arabs from everywhere.
Day Three - Syria enters the war and fires 10,000 rockets on its first day. Israel is now in sheer chaos; it has all broken down. In East Jerusalem, 140,000 Arabs march to the Jewish West. They have burned the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and are now streaming out from every gate. Many Jews run to the forests, but they'll die of thirst if they manage to evade capture and fatal abuse. The Western Wall is destroyed with its rabbis and worshipers forced to watch. They are led away in tears. None is ever seen again. With the enemy coordinated and Israel without a chain of command, the nation has already disappeared. The enemy first takes over isolated settlements, breaking their defenses and their wills. The men are hunted down. They are gathered together to watch their wives and children raped. Anyone who dares turn his eyes away is shot, if he's lucky, fatally. Those who survive will soon dangle from the nearest meat hooks or other useful slow death apparati.
Day Four - Word is out in Damascus, Cairo, Amman, and throughout the Middle East, that Israel is for the taking. The Zionist leaders were ready for flight and were gone. The people were left behind to be slaughtered. Syrian soldiers were now flushing "proud" Jewish soldiers out of the isolated IDF camps. Many of these soldiers were not going to fight to the end. They left the camps with their hands in the air, totally defeated. In the cities and towns, Israelis walked down shattered streets, looking for safety. There was none. It was better to be old and ugly and maybe get shot. For the attractive ladies dressed in top brands, death never came quickly enough. The lovely ladies of Judaism were mass raped, left to consider their fate in the ruins of their homes and then, maybe, shot only once through the head.
Day Five - America calls for a UN ceasefire, but it is too late. The men in their Peugeots are rushing to Israel for the treasure or the scraps; maybe they'll have to settle for a feeble old man. If nothing else, he would know the humiliation of being sodomized. The Jews had sat back, ignored reality and let their government sell out the nation's resources and defenses. They couldn't see that the Jews had been infiltrated and their leaders were betraying them to death. And they won't see it next time, when the third Holocaust begins.
(IsraelNN.com) Snow storms swept across Israel Thursday, sprinkling Jerusalem and the western Negev and blanketing Gush Etzion, the Golan Heights and Hevron with snow and hail.
The snow closed roads around the capital Thursday morning and led to a fatal car accident near Hevron in which Rabbi Avi Cohen-Or, 42, and his wife, Simcha, 38, were killed.
The accident took place at the Beit Anoun junction. The family's van skid on ice and collided with a bus on the slippery highway, killing the couple and injuring their daughter Gitit (bat Simcha) critically.
22 Adar 5767, 12 March 07 12:34
(IsraelNN.com) Yocheved Chein, wife of Chabad emmissary Rabbi Aharon Chein, will be buried Sunday night in Jerusalem. Chein, 44, was killed along with her mother Raisa Tzedek Schneerson, 62, in a fatal traffic accident Friday at the Yad Binyamin junction.
Chein, an Israeli member of Georgian community, was sent with her husband by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, to work with the community of Georgian immigrants in Forest Hills, NY.
The Rebbetzin and her mother, along with her husband, were on their way to the cemetery to visit the grave of the Rebbitzin's father, on his yahrtzeit. Chein's husband
And please go to my site www.thebarrychamishwebsite.com
I begin 10 minutes in. Push dial forward:
Go to my website and click media. You'll get 6 videos of Zion First: The Vatican's New Crusade Against Israel. If you like it, I'll send the 2-set DVDs to you for $20.
BOOK REVIEW: //BYE BYE GAZA//
At last I have my own copy of //Bye Bye Gaza// by Barry Chamish.
As always, Barry's most recent book is a tour de force of information, sources and quotes showing how the forces of Israel's elite have conspired to destroy the Jewish State – or at least its truly Jewish individuals and communities – and sadly how the majority of the 'Right' have ignored or spurned his warnings. I guess I have a minor axe to grind as all the Gush Katif pictures in the book – and on the cover – were taken/supplied by me!
It is true that most cannot handle the reports of murders, conspiracies and corruption in high places and rather than get their heads around it, they reject Barry's findings as exaggerated or even untrue.
Nothing could be further from the case as we know too well from the destruction of Gush Katif and the on going hope of many in high places, to empty Judea and Samaria of Jews and to allow the Vatican to take over Jerusalem and more...
But, I do hope that with all these provisos you will take this review and the book seriously – get it, read it and pass it around!
Gemma Blech - Jerusalem
black and white:
End of Days
E-mail me: Click on "View My Complete Profile" or try firstname.lastname@example.org. For Most Recent Post: Click on "End of Days" immediately above.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
The Other Shoe is DroppingI have been waiting for this to occur. Now that the Gog W. Administration is "negotiating" with Persia to provide it with an exit strategy from Iraq, the Saudis, who own this President, want their payment for keeping the price of oil stable enough so that the American economy does not shrink. The Saudis also want something for needing to accept a nuclear armed Persia at their doorstep. Gog W. or should I say Gog Sr. is more than happy to deliver. We are on a fast track for the "End Game" now. The powers at be want final status negotiations NOW not later. Now that this is happening, Yerushalayim will be the main issue on the table. The full remembrance is coming by Pesach, and now the world will be here to contest G-d's verdict. Bli neder, I will write more extensively about all this this week or the beginning of next week. I have been waiting for this all this winter. Hamas and Persia are dictating terms for Israel's surrender to the entire world, and now Armilus (Olmert) the wicked with his three percent approval rating will comply. Yes, that is right. The worst elected Prime Minister of any country in all of world history is looking for what the Israeli press calls "Etrog immunity" from his legal troubles. Attorney General "Snake" Mazuz surely will not prosecute him if he caves into Washington's demands. The divvying up of Yerushalayim is now on the table with no preconditions with regards to Hamas or Abbas stopping terror. How this speaks of HaShem's majesty that everything that He told us through His prophets is now falling into place!
Saturday, March 17, 2007
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TRUMP: BUSH 'PROBABLY THE WORST PRESIDENT IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES'
Fri Mar 16 2007 16:12:53 ET
Donald Trump goes off on President Bush in a scathing attack during an interview with Wolf Blitzer on the Friday edition of CNN's 'Situation Room.
"Well, I think Bush is probably the worst president in the history of the United States. And I just don't understand how [the Democrats] could have lost that election."
"Everything in Washington has been a lie. Weapons of mass destruction, it was a total lie. It was a way of attacking Iraq, which he thought was going to be easy and it turned out to be the exact opposite of easy. He reads 60 books a year. He reads a book a week. Do you think the president reads a book a week? I don't think so. He doesn't watch television. Now, one thing I know is when I'm on television, I watch, or I try. You do. Your own ego says, let's watch. Whether good or bad, you want to watch. He doesn't watch television. He's on television being interviewed by you or someone else, he doesn't watch. Does anyone really believe that?"
On Saddam Hussein:
"Whether they like him or didn't like him, he hated terrorists. He would shoot and kill terrorists. When terrorists came into this country, which he did control and he did dominate, he would kill terrorists. Now it is a breeding ground for terrorists."
Friday, March 16, 2007
Giuliani Law Firm Lobbies in Texas for Chavez-Controlled Citgo
By Henry Goldman and Jonathan D. Salant
March 14 (Bloomberg) -- Rudolph Giuliani's law firm lobbies for Citgo Petroleum Corp., a unit of the state-owned oil company controlled by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the U.S.'s chief antagonist in the Western Hemisphere.
Bracewell & Giuliani LLP registered to lobby for Citgo in Texas on April 26, 2005, less than a month after the former New York mayor joined the firm and became a name partner, state records show. Citgo renewed the contract in 2006 and 2007 and pays the firm $5,000 a month to track legislation. Giuliani doesn't lobby, the firm says.
The law firm's representation of Citgo comes as Chavez's relations with the U.S. have grown increasingly hostile. He has called President George W. Bush a ``devil'' and a ``madman'' and staged a mass, anti-American rally in Buenos Aires during Bush's trip to Latin America, which ends today.
Patrick Oxford, a managing partner at Bracewell & Giuliani, said Giuliani, a Republican presidential hopeful, has no dealings with the Venezuelan-owned oil company. ``He has not seen hide nor hair of Citgo,'' Oxford said.
Giuliani's presidential-exploratory committee released a statement that didn't address written questions asking whether he knew his firm did business with Houston-based Citgo and whether he considered it appropriate. The e-mailed statement discussed his views toward Chavez and energy policy.
``Mayor Giuliani has been clear and consistent -- Hugo Chavez is no friend of the United States,'' campaign spokeswoman Katie Levinson said in the statement. ``Chief among the reasons Chavez has so much influence around the world is our ongoing dependence on foreign oil.''
Giuliani, 62, has been active in business since leaving office at the end of 2001, making speeches, running a security- consulting company and an investment bank, and joining the Houston-based law firm. He hasn't yet had to file public disclosures of his client lists, income or holdings.
The U.S. State Department said in May that Venezuela was ``not fully cooperating with counter-terrorism efforts,'' and the U.S. government banned arms sales to the country.
Citgo has been fully owned by Venezuela's national oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), since 1990. Chavez, 52, who earlier this year won the authority to supersede the Venezuelan legislature, has the power to appoint and fire PDVSA's top executives and set policy for the company.
Citgo spokesman David McCollum said PDVSA supplies Citgo with crude oil to refine and sell. ``We do pay dividends to them as any subsidiary does to its parent company,'' he said.
Venezuela is the third-largest oil producer in OPEC.
Texas Ethics Commission filings show Citgo paid Bracewell & Giuliani between $75,000 and $150,000 in 2005-06 and will pay an additional $50,000 to $100,000 this year. The firm monitors such issues as environmental regulation and taxes, Oxford said.
Bracewell & Patterson, the predecessor firm to Bracewell & Giuliani, did legal work for PDVSA in the 1990s, before Chavez came to power, and for Citgo before Giuliani arrived in 2005, Oxford said.
Oxford called Citgo ``an old-time U.S. company,'' saying it pays U.S. taxes and employs 5,000 people in the U.S., mainly in Texas.
In September, 7-Eleven Inc., which once owned Citgo, dropped the oil company as its gasoline supplier, citing in part Chavez's hostile rhetoric toward the U.S.
Building an Image
The law firm's association with a Venezuelan company may affect Giuliani's image, which was burnished by his role in coordinating New York's response after the 2001 terrorist attacks, said Linda Fowler, a professor of government at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.
The question, Fowler said, ``is how Rudy reconciles his heroic role as mayor of a devastated New York with the less appealing image of the corporate shill.''
Giuliani forged his post-Sept. 11 persona with such acts as rejecting a $10 million contribution for disaster relief from Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdul Aziz, after the prince said the U.S. should ``adopt a more balanced stand toward the Palestinian cause.''
A Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial last month contrasted Giuliani's gesture with former U.S. Representative Joseph Kennedy II -- son of the late U.S. Senator Robert Kennedy and president of the nonprofit Citizens Energy Corp. Kennedy has appeared in television commercials thanking Venezuela for providing discounted oil to heat homes of low-income U.S. residents.
The Feb. 15 editorial reminded readers that Giuliani ``scorned money he considered tainted.''
To contact the reporters on this story: Henry Goldman in New York at ; Jonathan D. Salant in Washington at .
Thursday, March 15, 2007
FROM WND'S JERUSALEM BUREAU
Iran building guerrilla armies in Gaza
Israel admits truce exploited by Palestinians to prepare for war
Posted: March 14, 2007
10:11 a.m. Eastern
By Aaron Klein
© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com
Gaza terrorists (Photo: Defense-update.com)
GSS chief Yuval Diskin told the Knesset yesterday Palestinian advances during the cease-fire period will now make it more difficult for the Israel Defense Forces to confront Gaza's terror infrastructure.
In December, three weeks after the Nov. 23 truce was forged, WND quoted top Gazan terror leaders explaining they would use the truce to smuggle in weapons, increase the range of their rockets, construct underground bunkers, fortify military positions and build guerrilla armies.
(Story continues below)
Diskin said Hamas was sending hundreds of Gaza-based militants to Iran for prolonged periods of advanced training. He announced smuggling of weaponry into Gaza from the neighboring Egyptian Sinai desert recently increased six-fold and that Palestinian terror groups were taking advantage of the cease-fire to enhance rockets and create a complex system of underground bunkers.
Last week, Yoav Galant, chief of the IDF's Gaza-area division, told reporters the Gaza truce enabled Hamas to grow from a ragtag terror group into a well-organized militia resembling an army – complete with battalions, companies, platoons, special forces for surveillance, snipers and explosive experts.
Galant compared Hamas to the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia which last summer engaged in 33-days of confrontations with the IDF, bombarding northern Israeli population centers with thousands of rockets.
In November, Israel agreed to a truce with Gaza militants in which the Jewish state vowed to suspend anti-terror operations in the Gaza Strip in exchange for quiet. Since then, more than 160 rockets have been fired from Gaza, but the IDF has been restrained from operating in the territory.
Terror leaders admit copying Hezbollah
Three weeks after the November truce was forged, Palestinian terror leaders, including militants from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah organization, explained to WND they would use the cease-fire to create Hezbollah-like armies in the Gaza Strip.
"We are turning Gaza into south Lebanon," Abu Ahmed, northern Gaza leader for the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group told WND, referring to the area in Lebanon in which Hezbollah built military bases and a large rocket infrastructure.
"We learned from Hezbollah's victory that Israel can be defeated if we know how to hit them and if we are well prepared," Abu Ahmed said. "We are importing rockets and the knowledge to launch them, and we are also making many plans for battle."
The Brigades, the declared military wing of Abbas' Fatah party, took responsibility along with the Islamic Jihad terror group, for every suicide bombing in Israel the past two years.
Abu Abdullah, a leader of Hamas' so-called military wing, told WND in December his group is preparing for war against Israel.
"In the last 15 months, even though the fighters of Hamas kept the cease-fire, we did not stop making important advancements and professional training on the military level. In the future, after Hamas is obliged to stop the cease-fire, the world shall see our new military capabilities," said Abu Abdullah, considered one of the most important operational members of Hamas' Izzedine al-Qassam Martyrs Brigades, Hamas' declared "resistance" department.
Al Aqsa's Abu Ahmed said his group is receiving help from Hezbollah to import long-range rockets and train in guerrilla warfare tactics.
"We have warm relations with Hezbollah, which helps with some of the training programs," Abu Ahmed said. "We don't have anything to be ashamed of – that we are dealing with Hezbollah and that we are receiving training and information from them."
He said Hezbollah maintains cells in the Sinai.
"The Sinai is an excellent ground for training, the exchange of information and weapons and for meetings on how to turn every piece of land into usable territory for a confrontation with Israel," Abu Ahmed said.
Palestinians establishing Gaza war bunkers
Abu Ahmed said Palestinian groups are developing war bunkers inside Gaza similar to the underground Hezbollah lairs Israel found during the war in Lebanon.
"Our preparations include the building of special bunkers. Of course, we are taking into consideration that Gaza is not the same topography as Lebanon," Abu Ahmed said in December.
During its confrontation with Hezbollah, Israel destroyed scores of complex bunkers that snaked along the Lebanese side of the Israel-Lebanon border. Military officials said they were surprised by the scale of the Hezbollah bunkers, in which Israeli troops reportedly found war rooms stocked with advanced eavesdropping and surveillance equipment they noted were made by Iran.
Abu Ahmed said the most important "tool" in the Palestinian resistance arsenal was rockets. He said his group learned from Hezbollah that Israel can be defeated with missiles.
"We saw that with the capacity to bombard the Israeli population with hundreds of rockets every day we can change the strategic balance with Israel," he said.
WND reported exclusively last week Palestinian terror groups in Gaza claim they manufactured improved rockets that can travel deeper into the Jewish state, placing hundreds of thousands more Israelis within firing range of the Gaza Strip.
Abu Muhammad, a spokesman for the Islamic Jihad terror group, which has been responsible for recent rocket-fire, vowed his organization would continue launching rockets deeper into the Jewish state.
He told WND Israel would be "very surprised and astonished soon by our rocket capacities. We will not abide by any cease-fire."
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