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Canada: NoMD * US/Iran * Dollar * ElectionReform

25 February 2005

"America will never be destroyed from the outside.

If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."

-- Abraham Lincoln

1) Canada opts out of U.S. defense shield
- - U.S. Says 'Thousands' of Missiles Missing
2) Scott Ritter: US attack on Iran planned for June
3) The Dollar - The Warning
4) Tackling Election Reform

- - Invitation by Howard Dean, DNC. Chair

Editor's Notes:

Finally, a real victory for the peace movement and the sovereignty of Canada. This Country, with much pressure from the US, stated unequivocally that they will not participate with the US on its missile defense, since it engages the "weaponization" of outer space and expands the arms race. This is a critical step for real peace and security. Meanwhile, Canada will focus its attention on more productive measures for security on the ground. The second part of this item makes clear sense that this would be a better approach for the US, which admits to "Thousands' of Missiles Missing."

The second item includes an article with startling claims by Scott Ritter that the US has plans to attack Iran. Item 3 is about the warning shot of the dollar's demise, and item 4 is more on election reform and the democratic process in the US. Your participation is invited, and essential for reclaiming a lost USA democracy.


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1) Canada opts out of U.S. defense shield

- - U.S. Says 'Thousands' of Missiles Missing

- - Canada opts out of U.S. defense shield
Posted on Thu, Feb. 24, 2005
Associated Press

TORONTO - Prime Minister Paul Martin said Thursday that Canada would not join the contentious U.S. missile defense program, a decision that will further strain brittle relations between the neighbors but please Canadians who fear it could lead to an international arms race.

Martin, ending nearly two years of debate over whether Canada should participate in the development or operation of the multibillion-dollar program, said Ottawa would remain a close ally of Washington in the fight against global terrorism and continental security.

He said he intended to talk to President Bush later Thursday and that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had been informed of the decision earlier this week.

A State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States had been informed beforehand of the decision, adding that Washington expects that cooperation with Canada will continue on a wide variety of issues.

Talking to reporters several minutes after his foreign minister first announced the move in the House of Commons, Martin said Canada would instead focus on strengthening its own military and defense in proposals laid out Wednesday in the federal budget.

"Canada recognizes the enormous burden that the United States shoulders, when it comes to international peace and security," Martin said. "The substantial increases made yesterday to our defense budget are a tangible indication that Canada intends to carry its full share of that responsibility."

The federal budget presented to the House of Commons calls for $10.5 billion in the next five years to increase the country's beleaguered armed forces - including an additional 5,000 soldiers and 3,000 reservists - the largest commitment to defense in two decades. It also called for another $807,950 to improve Canada's anti-terrorism efforts and security along the unarmed, 4,000-mile border with the United States.

When Bush visited Canada in December, he surprised Ottawa by making several unsolicited pitches for support of the defense shield, which is in the midst of testing interceptors capable of destroying incoming missiles targeted at North America.

Martin, who leads a tenuous minority government, has said Ottawa would not support what he called the "weaponization of space." Though he initially supported joining the program when he was a candidate for the Liberal leadership, Martin has retreated, since polls indicate that a majority of Canadians oppose it. Many believe that the umbrella, when fully implemented, could lead to an international arms race.

The Bush administration has tried to make a public show of understanding that Martin heads up a minority government that could fall over such a contentious debate. A senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Thursday the U.S. had hoped Canada would remain, but the decision to drop out of the missile defense scheme was their government's.

But U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci told reporters he was perplexed over Canada's apparent decision, which he said effectively would allow Washington to decide what to do if a missile was headed toward Canada.

"We simply cannot understand why Canada would in effect give up its sovereignty - its seat at the table - to decide what to do about a missile that might be coming towards Canada," the outgoing ambassador, who had vigorously urged Canada to sign on the plan, told reporters in Ottawa immediately after Martin's announcement.

Martin insisted his decision had not relinquished Canada's sovereignty and that Ottawa would expect to be consulted what to do about any missile passing over Canada.

Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew, however, indicated the ultimate decision had always been in U.S. hands.

"Would it have been otherwise?" he replied when asked whether Canada's refusal to join means the country now officially relies on the United States for protection.

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- - U.S. Says 'Thousands' of Missiles Missing
Posted: Thu Feb 24, 5:37 PM ET - Politics - AP

By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer

WASHINGTON - It has been known for years that thousands of light and lethal shoulder-fired missiles are in black-market circulation. What is not known is exactly who has them and whether many have fallen into the hands of terrorists or criminals.

A worrisome puzzle, it explains why the United States and Russia signed an agreement Thursday to cooperate in destroying surplus Soviet-era SA-7s and other portable anti-aircraft missiles. The smallest of these are durable, relatively cheap and easy to smuggle.

The United States also has understandings with several other countries, including Nicaragua, Bosnia, Cambodia and Liberia (news - web sites), for Washington to provide technical assistance or money to destroy anti-aircraft missiles.

The State Department estimates that about 1 million shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles have been produced worldwide since the 1950s. The number believed to be in the hands of "nonstate actors," such as terrorist groups, is "in the thousands," the department says..

[Article Truncated]

For this complete AP article and link-resources, see:

2) Scott Ritter: US attack on Iran planned for June

Scott Ritter says US attack on Iran planned for June
Written by Mark Jensen

Saturday, 19 February 2005

On Friday evening in Olympia, former UNSCOM weapons inspector Scott Ritter appeared with journalist Dahr Jamail. -- Ritter made two shocking claims: George W. Bush has "signed off" on plans to bomb Iran in June 2005, and the U.S. manipulated the results of the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq....


United for Peace of Pierce County (WA)
February 19, 2005

Scott Ritter, appearing with journalist Dahr Jamail yesterday in Washington State, dropped two shocking bombshells in a talk delivered to a packed house in Olympia's Capitol Theater. The ex-Marine turned UNSCOM weapons inspector said that George W. Bush has "signed off" on plans to bomb Iran in June 2005, and claimed the U.S. manipulated the results of the recent Jan. 30 elections in Iraq.

Olympians like to call the Capitol Theater "historic," but it's doubtful whether the eighty-year-old edifice has ever been the scene of more portentous revelations.

The principal theme of Scott Ritter's talk was Americans' duty to protect the U.S. Constitution by taking action to bring an end to the illegal war in Iraq. But in passing, the former UNSCOM weapons inspector stunned his listeners with two pronouncements. Ritter said plans for a June attack on Iran have been submitted to President George W. Bush, and that the president has approved them. He also asserted that knowledgeable sources say U.S. officials "cooked" the results of the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq.

On Iran, Ritter said that President George W. Bush has received and signed off on orders for an aerial attack on Iran planned for June 2005. Its purported goal is the destruction of Iran's alleged program to develop nuclear weapons, but Ritter said neoconservatives in the administration also expected that the attack would set in motion a chain of events leading to regime change in the oil-rich nation of 70 million -- a possibility Ritter regards with the greatest skepticism.

The former Marine also said that the Jan. 30 elections, which George W. Bush has called "a turning point in the history of Iraq, a milestone in the advance of freedom," were not so free after all. Ritter said that U.S. authorities in Iraq had manipulated the results in order to reduce the percentage of the vote received by the United Iraqi Alliance from 56% to 48%.

Asked by UFPPC's Ted Nation about this shocker, Ritter said an official involved in the manipulation was the source, and that this would soon be reported by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist in a major metropolitan magazine -- an obvious allusion to New Yorker reporter Seymour M. Hersh.

On Jan. 17, the New Yorker posted an article by Hersh entitled The Coming Wars (New Yorker, January 24-31, 2005). In it, the well-known investigative journalist claimed that for the Bush administration, "The next strategic target [is] Iran." Hersh also reported that "The Administration has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran at least since last summer." According to Hersh, "Defense Department civilians, under the leadership of Douglas Feith, have been working with Israeli planners and consultants to develop and refine potential nuclear, chemical-weapons, and missile targets inside Iran. . . . Strategists at the headquarters of the U.S. Central Command, in Tampa, Florida, have been asked to revise the military's war plan, providing for a maximum ground and air invasion of Iran. . . . The hawks in the Administration believe that it will soon become clear that the Europeans' negotiated approach [to Iran] cannot succeed, and that at that time the Administration will act."

Scott Ritter said that although the peace movement failed to stop the war in Iraq, it had a chance to stop the expansion of the war to other nations like Iran and Syria. He held up the specter of a day when the Iraq war might be remembered as a relatively minor event that preceded an even greater conflagration.

Scott Ritter's talk was the culmination of a long evening devoted to discussion of Iraq and U.S. foreign policy. Before Ritter spoke, Dahr Jamail narrated a slide show on Iraq focusing on Fallujah. He showed more than a hundred vivid photographs taken in Iraq, mostly by himself. Many of them showed the horrific slaughter of civilians.

Dahr Jamail argued that U.S. mainstream media sources are complicit in the war and help sustain support for it by deliberately downplaying the truth about the devastation and death it is causing.

Jamail was, until recently, one of the few unembedded journalists in Iraq and one of the only independent ones. His reports have gained a substantial following and are available online at

Friday evening's event in Olympia was sponsored by South Puget Sound Community College's Student Activities Board, Veterans for Peace, 100 Thousand and Counting, Olympia Movement for Justice & Peace, and United for Peace of Pierce County.

--Mark Jensen is a member of United for Peace of Pierce County.


For the complete posting, updated ( Saturday, 19 February 2005 ):

3) The Dollar - The Warning

Dollar: The Warning
By Philippe Reclus
Le Figaro

Thursday 24 February 2005

A rumor, refuted several hours later, was enough to raise a fever on the foreign exchange planet. By allowing the idea to gain currency that it could reduce its dollar reserves, the Central Bank of South Korea has just provoked a good shake-up on the foreign exchange markets. In itself, the episode could be considered purely marginal. In the background, the spectacular plunge in the greenback this rumor occasioned resonates like a brutal revelation.

For those who were in doubt, it came to say that the period of calm observed in the markets since the beginning of the year was only a parenthesis. A remission.

Far from having killed their old demons, trading rooms have, in fact, spent two months with their weapons loaded and at the ready while they waited to understand Bush Administration declarations of intention on the political economic front. The pause is over. The feverishness currency traders have demonstrated the last few days with regard to the dollar confirms the end of the truce. The same phenomenon reveals their doubts about the White House commitment to restore order to an American economy that, with its abysmal budgetary and trade deficits, puts the equilibrium of the entire global economy in danger.

At the moment, no other news appears to be capable of drawing the markets out of this obsession. Not the transatlantic economy's tonus, which should push investors into massive dollar purchases. Nor the progressive increases in interest rates offering a more generous remuneration on United States' currency.

The markets stick to single warning signals. Nothing says that George W. Bush's commitments to deficit reduction will be ratified by Congress. The reductions in taxes have been made permanent. The bill for the war in Iraq should grow still heavier. Add to that the bill for oil which can only aggravate the deficits more, given the new surge in crude prices.

The market's apparent calm was deceptive. It was, in any case, no guarantee that the dollar would interrupt its fall. Nothing has been settled as of today. In fact, there is every indication that the greenback could be the number one problem for the world economy in 2005.

This warning shot intervenes at the very moment George W. Bush is visiting Europe. Given their divisions, Europeans, moreover, have few resources and little legitimacy with which to induce their American partner to wrestle down its financial problems. Unless they should demonstrate their own determination to make their own economies more competitive, to be in a better position to confront the great disorder in the currency markets. And to play a full role in the dialogue of the big world economies in which Asia weighs ever more heavily opposite the American giant. On these conditions, Europe will be able to participate in rather than submit to what, on the level of currencies, is also a competition for global leadership.

4) Tackling Election Reform

- - Invitation by Howard Dean, DNC. Chair

- - Tackling Election Reform
The New York Times | Editorial

Tuesday 22 February 2005

After a second consecutive presidential election marred by significant flaws in the mechanics of voting, it's time for Congress to take a hard look at fixing the system. Two Senate bills aim to do that. A Republican-sponsored bill is narrowly tailored around making electronic voting more reliable. A more ambitious bill, sponsored by the Democrats, would take on a broad array of problems, from long lines at the polls to odious maneuvers aimed at keeping people from voting. Both bills would greatly improve the functioning of American democracy.

The Republican bill, introduced by Senator John Ensign of Nevada, would focus on the most critical weakness in the system by requiring that electronic voting machines produce voter-verifiable paper records of the votes cast. The paper records would take precedence when there were inconsistencies.

Mr. Ensign's bill does not go as far as another paper-trail bill that has been introduced in the House by Representative Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat. That bill is preferable because it includes other safeguards, like requiring an audit of some paper records as a spot-check for the electronic totals. Still, Mr. Ensign's bill would be a good step, and its Republican sponsorship and narrow focus could give it real momentum in this Congress.

The Democratic Senate bill, introduced last week by Senators Hillary Clinton, Barbara Boxer, John Kerry and Frank Lautenberg, is now the gold standard for election reform. It would require not only paper records, but recounts in 2 percent of all polling places or precincts, and restrictions on political activity by voting machine manufacturers.

The bill would also take on lines at the polls - which stretched up to 10 hours this year - by requiring standards for the minimum number of voting machines per precinct. It would limit the states' ability to throw out voter registration forms and provisional ballots on technicalities, and prevent them from using onerous identification requirements to turn away eligible voters. And it would strike a blow against vote suppression by outlawing the use of deception - like fliers giving the wrong date for a election - to keep people from voting.

Some important big-picture reforms would also be made by that Democratic Senate bill. It would make Election Day a holiday, freeing up people to vote and serve as poll workers, and it would require states to allow early voting. It would bar chief election officials, including secretaries of state, from engaging in partisan politics. And it would require states to restore the vote to felons who have paid their debts to society; many of them are now barred from voting.

Election reform should not be a partisan issue. No member of Congress should be satisfied with a system in which voters are forced to wait in line for hours or to vote on unreliable machines. Americans from across the political spectrum were moved to see Iraqi voters going to the polls last month. Congress should take that idealism and direct it toward making our own election system the best it can be.

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Contact Congress today in support of the VOTER Act!
For information and to take action, visit:

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- - Invitation by Howard Dean, DNC. Chair

Dear Fellow Democrat,

Tell me what you think about the plan for the future of our Party:

The staff and I have been reading through thousands upon thousands of replies to my letter last week, and I wanted to report back to you on what people are saying about the plan for the future of our party:

Two things struck me as I read what grassroots Democrats like you have to say.

One was the honesty I heard about your very practical concerns at the local level -- many wrote about starting a local party organization, or living in a heavily Republican area where it has been hard to get the resources to make a difference.

But we will meet those challenges -- because what stood out even more was the overwhelming energy and excitement at the grassroots of our party. So many Democrats can't wait to get started -- they want to grow our party from the ground up.

And that's exactly what we're going to do.

I've included below a few of the messages from people like you. Please take the time to read them, and to become part of this conversation yourself:

I'm traveling this week and next week -- to exactly the kind of places where we need to start building. I'm just leaving upstate New York, where folks concerned about jobs and fiscal responsibility are learning that you can't trust Republicans with your money.

And I'm on my way to Kansas and Mississippi to talk to Democrats about how to take our agenda and values out into their communities.

But our party will only succeed if you work to build it in your community. Your commitment can make it happen.

Thank you.

Governor Howard Dean, M.D.
Chairman, Democratic National Committee

You can read the plan and offer your feedback at:

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