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26 September 2006

Deutsche Oper's birthday present to Wolfgang

Well, this really blows dead rats. It's Mozart's 250th Birthday Year, and
Deutsche Oper is cancelling "Idomeneo" scheduled for November.

There is worse classical music news. In the United States, shopping malls that were having trouble with hordes of unsupervised teenage mischief-makers found that piping classical music -- Mozart, J.S. Bach -- through the mall speakers is a very effective Youth Repellent, the Youth don't want to hang at the shopping mall anymore, the horrible geezer music is just too icky, the mall just isn't fun anymore.

But this really blows dead rats. I'm out of here. I'm hopping the Zeta Beam to Planet Vleeptron for a few days. The Dwingeloo Galactic Opera is putting on Alban Berg Week, "Lulu" and "Wozzeck" back to back.

No one could possibly object to that.

Meanwhile, lots of people never make it to the last paragraphs of a news story, they figure the story said all the important stuff in the first few grafs. So in case you're feeling weary and may not make it to Das Ende, here's a little bonbon from the penultimate paragraph:

Berlin was one of the few cities to vote against Hitler in 1933

Something to think about when you're planning a Euro trip. I sure had a metric shitload of fun there. Stayed at The Savoy. So did Thomas Mann!

"Wir suchten schon unser vertrautes Savoy Hotel in der Fasanenstrasse auf. Ein kleines Hotel ..., aber so sympathisch und behaglich." -- Thomas Mann

A deutsches production of Weil's "One Touch of Venus" was playing across the Strasse. I wouldn't have missed that place for anything.

So no posts for a few Earth Days. While I'm in Another Galaxy, please Leave A Comment. About anything.

~ ~ ~

International Herald Tribune (Paris)
Tuesday 26 September 2006

Berlin opera canceled
after religious threats

by Judy Dempsey, International Herald Tribune

BERLIN -- Fearing religiously motivated attacks, one of Germany's most prestigious opera houses on Tuesday canceled all further performances of Mozart's "Idomeneo," citing "incalculable risks" to the public after receiving anonymous threats.

The cancellations by the Deutsche Oper, affecting four scheduled performances in November, dealt a blow to Berlin's long tradition of artistic freedom, and were roundly criticized by top government officials.

The opera is about Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, who exacts a cruel allegiance. But in this production, by the noted director Hans Neuenfels, one of the last scenes shows the protagonist presenting the severed heads of several religious figures: not only Poseidon, but also Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad.

"Neuenfels is a secularist who does not believe religion solves the problems of the world," said André Kraft, a spokesman for the Komische Oper, a more innovative opera house, where Neuenfels is engaged in another Mozart production.

The decision provoked a barrage of criticism from Chancellor Angela Merkel's governing coalition of conservatives and Social Democrats. It accused the opera house, opened in 1912, of bowing to intimidation at the expense of defending cultural expression.

But the Deutsche Oper's general manager, Kirsten Harms, said her main concern was "the safety of the public and the safety of the performers."

"I received information in August that there had been an anonymous threat," Harms said at a packed and often acrimonious press conference in the foyer of the Deutsche Oper.

Harms, who was appointed in 2004 after directing a less-well-known opera house in the northern port city of Kiel, said the Berlin police had made an assessment about the threats and then informed the city government's interior office.

"It would have been an incalculable risk for the public and employees if Deutsche Oper went ahead with 'Idomeneo,'" Harms said.

But leading politicians skewered her decision, some saying it was laughable, others saying it was giving in to religious fanatics.

The German interior minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, who has taken a hard line on terrorism but at the same time is leading attempts to integrate Germany's largest Muslim communities, said the decision was "mad" and "unacceptable." He spoke to reporters in Washington, where he was holding security talks with his U.S. counterparts.

Schäuble, who was responsible for organizing security during the World Cup this past summer in Germany, is conducting an Islamic conference in Berlin on Wednesday, as part of the government's strategy to start a dialogue with a community that comprises 3.2 million of Germany's 81 million people.

Wolfgang Börnsen, culture spokesman for Merkel's conservative bloc in the Bundestag, Germany's lower house of Parliament, accused the Deutsche Oper of "falling on its knees before the terrorists." The cancellation, he said, "damages the freedom of art if you stop a production that is critical of religion out of fear of the possibility of a terrorist attack."

Ekin Deligöz, a leading member of the opposition Greens Party, also lashed at the decision.

"We are talking about music, about opera," said Deligöz, a Muslim. "It shows they don't trust the immigrants who have nothing to do with terrorism. There is a generation of immigrants who are open, who do not like fundamentalism."

Harms repeatedly declined during the 50-minute news conference to say which religious group had threatened the storied Berlin opera house.

Instead, she referred to the official Deutsche Oper statement, which said that "some scenes of 'Idomeneo,' which addressed Islam alongside the other great world religions, presently constitute an incalculable threat to the opera house." It did not go into detail.

Asked whether "Idomeneo" would be permanently off the program at the Deutsche Oper, Harms said: "No. It will remain on the program. We will perform it later."

Asked whether the same production would be performed, she hedged: "We will use the same director."

Harms did say that she had to consider the political and diplomatic aspects of "this complex issue."

Harms was asked whether her decision had been influenced by the controversy and subsequent riots by Muslims against the publication of cartoons early in the year showing the Prophet Muhammad wearing a headdress packed with explosives, or more recently the remarks by the German-born pope, Benedict XVI, about Islam that sparked anger in the Muslim world.

She replied curtly, "I already explained the security concerns."

Rolf Bolwin, director of the Association of the German Stage, an umbrella organization for opera and theater, said that it was "a very difficult situation."

"We have had the experience of the pope's speech and the Danish cartoon," Bolwin said. "The issue is how concrete was the danger for Deutsche Oper."

The Deutsche Oper had been a beacon for opera lovers, particularly during the Cold War years. During that time, the then-West German federal authorities lavishly subsidized the arts and made West Berlin a showcase, in contrast to the drab and gray eastern part.

The Deutsche Oper, which then had a more traditional approach to staging operas, attracted prominent conductors like Karl Böhm and Lorin Maazel.

Berlin was one of the few cities to vote against Hitler in 1933, and during the Cold War, the arts flourished in the divided western half, thanks to generous subsidies from the federal government.

Since the reunification of the two Germanys 16 years ago, Berlin has become one of the most culturally lively and creative cities, despite its high unemployment and huge debts.

- 30 -

CRUMMY OLD WINE: another Tuttle ... Buttle. Guy seemed like a Muslim or Arab or Turk or something. Asian guy. Looked suspicious.

The terrible terrorist is Tuttle. A fly's guts on Form 122/G changed the T to a B, so that night the anti-terror squad hauls a guy named Buttle away and gives his wife a receipt. The Ministry of Health is slow faxing over Buttle's medical files, which say he has a weak heart. He dies while being tortured. It's a comedy. (From Terry Gilliam's 1985 movie "Brazil.")

Guy had a Muslim-ish name, what did he expect?

After the Arar Commission Report, a retired senior RCMP official said he thought the Report contained too many specific details of how Canada and the USA fight the war on terror, details which would help the terrorists.

Well ... that would certainly be true if he meant specific details of smart, clever, sophisticated ways USA and Canadian intelligence and anti-terror agencies identify and neutralize terrorists.

But is it aiding terrorists to reveal how incompetent and blundering these agencies are? How they can't seem to find their ass with a flashlight? How they could fuck up a wet dream?

I guess so. The morning of the Big Game, if the Coach finds out that half your opponents spent all night getting drunk and partying with crack whores, that probably helps the Coach focus today's Game Plan. Probably gives him an unfair edge.



Dressed head to toe in black, including masks, they blindfold and cut the clothes off their new captives, then administer an enema and sleeping drugs. They outfit detainees in a diaper and jumpsuit for what can be a day-long trip. Their destinations: either a detention facility operated by cooperative countries in the Middle East and Central Asia, including Afghanistan, or one of the CIA's own covert prisons ...

Our enemies in the War on Terrorism are terrible, horrible people. The things they do disgust decent people throughout the world.

If it is possible to win the War on Terrorism, can it be done, should it be done, or must it be done by doing things as disgusting and horrible as, or more disgusting and more horrible than the things terrorists do?

Can you see a time in the near future in which it's pretty much impossible to tell the difference between Us and Them?

Have you seen Terry Gilliam's 1985 movie "Brazil"?

~ ~ ~

The Washington Post (DC USA)
Sunday 4 December 2005
Page A-1

Wrongful Imprisonment:
Anatomy of a CIA Mistake

German Citizen Released After Months in 'Rendition'

by Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer

In May 2004, the White House dispatched the U.S. ambassador in Germany
to pay an unusual visit to that country's interior minister. Ambassador Daniel R. Coats carried instructions from the State Department transmitted via the CIA's Berlin station because they were too sensitive and highly classified for regular diplomatic channels, according to several people with knowledge of the conversation.

Coats informed the German minister that the CIA had wrongfully imprisoned one of its citizens, Khaled Masri, for five months, and would soon release him, the sources said. There was also a request: that the German government not disclose what it had been told even if Masri went public. The U.S. officials feared exposure of a covert action program designed to capture terrorism suspects abroad and transfer them among countries, and possible legal challenges to the CIA from Masri and others with similar allegations.

The Masri case, with new details gleaned from interviews with current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials, offers a rare study of how pressure on the CIA to apprehend al Qaeda members after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has led in some instances to detention based on thin or speculative evidence. The case also shows how complicated it can be to correct errors in a system built and operated in secret.

The CIA, working with other intelligence agencies, has captured an estimated 3,000 people, including several key leaders of al Qaeda, in its campaign to dismantle terrorist networks. It is impossible to know, however, how many mistakes the CIA and its foreign partners have made.

Unlike the military's prison for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- where 180 prisoners have been freed after a review of their cases -- there is no tribunal or judge to check the evidence against those picked up by the CIA. The same bureaucracy that decides to capture and transfer a suspect for interrogation -- a process called "rendition" -- is also responsible for policing itself for errors.

The CIA inspector general is investigating a growing number of what it calls "erroneous renditions," according to several former and current intelligence officials.

One official said about three dozen names fall in that category; others believe it is fewer. The list includes several people whose identities were offered by al Qaeda figures during CIA interrogations, officials said. One turned out to be an innocent college professor who had given the al Qaeda member a bad grade, one official said.

"They picked up the wrong people, who had no information. In many, many cases there was only some vague association" with terrorism, one CIA officer said.

While the CIA admitted to Germany's then-Interior Minister Otto Schily that it had made a mistake, it has labored to keep the specifics of Masri's case from becoming public. As a German prosecutor works to verify or debunk Masri's claims of kidnapping and torture, the part of the German government that was informed of his ordeal has remained publicly silent. Masri's attorneys say they intend to file a lawsuit in U.S. courts this week.

Masri was held for five months largely because the head of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center's al Qaeda unit "believed he was someone else," one former CIA official said. "She didn't really know. She just had a hunch."

The CIA declined to comment for this article, as did Coats and a spokesman at the German Embassy in Washington. Schily did not respond to several requests for comment last week.

CIA officials stress that apprehensions and renditions are among the most sure-fire ways to take potential terrorists out of circulation quickly. In 2000, then-CIA Director George J. Tenet said that "renditions have shattered terrorist cells and networks, thwarted terrorist plans, and in some cases even prevented attacks from occurring."

After the September 2001 attacks, pressure to locate and nab potential terrorists, even in the most obscure parts of the world, bore down hard on one CIA office in particular, the Counterterrorist Center, or CTC, located until recently in the basement of one of the older buildings on the agency's sprawling headquarters compound. With operations officers and analysts sitting side by side, the idea was to act on tips and leads with dramatic speed.

The possibility of missing another attack loomed large. "Their logic was: If one of them gets loose and someone dies, we'll be held responsible," said one CIA officer, who, like others interviewed for this article, would speak only anonymously because of the secretive nature of the subject.

To carry out its mission, the CTC relies on its Rendition Group, made up of case officers, paramilitaries, analysts and psychologists. Their job is to figure out how to snatch someone off a city street, or a remote hillside, or a secluded corner of an airport where local authorities wait.

Members of the Rendition Group follow a simple but standard procedure: Dressed head to toe in black, including masks, they blindfold and cut the clothes off their new captives, then administer an enema and sleeping drugs. They outfit detainees in a diaper and jumpsuit for what can be a day-long trip. Their destinations: either a detention facility operated by cooperative countries in the Middle East and Central Asia, including Afghanistan, or one of the CIA's own covert prisons -- referred to in classified documents as "black sites," which at various times have been operated in eight countries, including several in Eastern Europe.

In the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the CTC was the place to be for CIA officers wanting in on the fight. The staff ballooned from 300 to 1,200 nearly overnight.

"It was the Camelot of counterterrorism," a former counterterrorism official said. "We didn't have to mess with others -- and it was fun."

Thousands of tips and allegations about potential threats poured in after the attacks. Stung by the failure to detect the plot, CIA officers passed along every tidbit. The process of vetting and evaluating information suffered greatly, former and current intelligence officials said. "Whatever quality control mechanisms were in play on September 10th were eliminated on September 11th," a former senior intelligence official said.

J. Cofer Black, a professorial former spy who spent years chasing Osama bin Laden, was the CTC's director. With a flair for melodrama, Black had earned special access to the White House after he briefed President Bush on the CIA's war plan for Afghanistan.

Colleagues recall that he would return from the White House inspired and talking in missionary terms. Black, now in the private security business, declined to comment.

Some colleagues said his fervor was in line with the responsibility Bush bestowed on the CIA when he signed a top secret presidential finding six days after the 9/11 attacks. It authorized an unprecedented range of covert action, including lethal measures and renditions, disinformation campaigns and cyber attacks against the al Qaeda enemy, according to current and former intelligence officials. Black's attitude was exactly what some CIA officers believed was needed to get the job done.

Others criticized Black's CTC for embracing a "Hollywood model" of operations, as one former longtime CIA veteran called it, eschewing the hard work of recruiting agents and penetrating terrorist networks. Instead, the new approach was similar to the flashier paramilitary operations that had worked so well in Afghanistan, and played well at the White House, where the president was keeping a scorecard of captured or killed terrorists.

The person most often in the middle of arguments over whether to dispatch a rendition team was a former Soviet analyst with spiked hair that matched her in-your-face personality who heads the CTC's al Qaeda unit, according to a half-dozen CIA veterans who know her. Her name is being withheld because she is under cover.

She earned a reputation for being aggressive and confident, just the right quality, some colleagues thought, for a commander in the CIA's global war on terrorism. Others criticized her for being overzealous and too quick to order paramilitary action.

The CIA and Guantanamo Bay

One way the CIA has dealt with detainees it no longer wants to hold is to transfer them to the custody of the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay, where defense authorities decide whether to keep or release them after a review.

About a dozen men have been transferred by the CIA to Guantanamo Bay, according to a Washington Post review of military tribunal testimony and other records. Some CIA officials have argued that the facility has become, as one former senior official put it, "a dumping ground" for CIA mistakes.

But several former intelligence officials dispute that and defend the transfer of CIA detainees to military custody. They acknowledged that some of those sent to Guantanamo Bay are prisoners who, after interrogation and review, turned out to have less valuable information than originally suspected. Still, they said, such prisoners are dangerous and would attack if given the chance.

Among those released from Guantanamo is Mamdouh Habib, an Egyptian-born Australian citizen, apprehended by a CIA team in Pakistan in October 2001, then sent to Egypt for interrogation, according to court papers. He has alleged that he was burned by cigarettes, given electric shocks and beaten by Egyptian captors. After six months, he was flown to Guantanamo Bay and let go earlier this year without being charged.

Another CIA former captive, according to declassified testimony from military tribunals and other records, is Mohamedou Oulad Slahi, a Mauritanian and former Canada resident, who says he turned himself in to the Mauritanian police 18 days after the 9/11 attacks because he heard the Americans were looking for him. The CIA took him to Jordan, where he spent eight months undergoing interrogation, according to his testimony, before being taken to Guantanamo Bay.

Another is Muhammad Saad Iqbal Madni, an Egyptian imprisoned by Indonesia authorities in January 2002 after he was heard talking -- he says jokingly -- about a new shoe bomb technology. He was flown to Egypt for interrogation and returned to CIA hands four months later, according to one former intelligence official. After being held for 13 months in Afghanistan, he was taken to Guantanamo Bay, according to his testimony.

The Masri Case

Khaled Masri came to the attention of Macedonian authorities on New Year's Eve 2003. Masri, an unemployed father of five living in Ulm, Germany, said he had gone by bus to Macedonia to blow off steam after a spat with his wife. He was taken off a bus at the Tabanovce border crossing by police because his name was similar to that of an associate of a 9/11 hijacker. The police drove him to Skopje, the capital, and put him in a motel room with darkened windows, he said in a recent telephone interview from Germany.

The police treated Masri firmly but cordially, asking about his passport, which they insisted was forged, about al Qaeda and about his hometown mosque, he said. When he pressed them to let him go, they displayed their pistols.

Unbeknown to Masri, the Macedonians had contacted the CIA station in Skopje. The station chief was on holiday. But the deputy chief, a junior officer, was excited about the catch and about being able to contribute to the counterterrorism fight, current and former intelligence officials familiar with the case said.

"The Skopje station really wanted a scalp because everyone wanted a part of the game," a CIA officer said. Because the European Division chief at headquarters was also on vacation, the deputy dealt directly with the CTC and the head of its al Qaeda unit.

In the first weeks of 2004, an argument arose over whether the CIA should take Masri from local authorities and remove him from the country for interrogation, a classic rendition operation.

The director of the al Qaeda unit supported that approach. She insisted he was probably a terrorist, and should be imprisoned and interrogated immediately.

Others were doubtful. They wanted to wait to see whether the passport was proved fraudulent. Beyond that, there was no evidence Masri was not who he claimed to be -- a German citizen of Arab descent traveling after a disagreement with his wife.

The unit's director won the argument. She ordered Masri captured and flown to a CIA prison in Afghanistan.

On the 23rd day of his motel captivity, the police videotaped Masri, then bundled him, handcuffed and blindfolded, into a van and drove to a closed-off building at the airport, Masri said. There, in silence, someone cut off his clothes. As they changed his blindfold, "I saw seven or eight men with black clothing and wearing masks," he later said in an interview. He said he was drugged to sleep for a long plane ride.


Masri said his cell in Afghanistan was cold, dirty and in a cellar, with no light and one dirty cover for warmth. The first night he said he was kicked and beaten and warned by an interrogator: "You are here in a country where no one knows about you, in a country where there is no law. If you die, we will bury you, and no one will know."

Masri was guarded during the day by Afghans, he said. At night, men who sounded as if they spoke American-accented English showed up for the interrogation. Sometimes a man he believed was a doctor in a mask came to take photos, draw blood and collect a urine sample.

Back at the CTC, Masri's passport was given to the Office of Technical Services to analyze. By March, OTS had concluded the passport was genuine. The CIA had imprisoned the wrong man.

At the CIA, the question was: Now what? Some officials wanted to go directly to the German government; others did not. Someone suggested a reverse rendition: Return Masri to Macedonia and release him. "There wouldn't be a trace. No airplane tickets. Nothing. No one would believe him," one former official said. "There would be a bump in the press, but then it would be over."

Once the mistake reached Tenet, he laid out the options to his counterparts, including the idea of not telling the Germans. Condoleezza Rice, then Bush's national security adviser, and Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage argued they had to be told, a position Tenet took, according to one former intelligence official.

"You couldn't have the president lying to the German chancellor" should the issue come up, a government official involved in the matter said.

Senior State Department officials decided to approach Interior Minister Schily, who had been a steadfast Bush supporter even when differences over the Iraq war strained ties between the two countries. Ambassador Coats had excellent rapport with Schily.

The CIA argued for minimal disclosure of information. The State Department insisted on a truthful, complete statement. The two agencies quibbled over whether it should include an apology, according to officials.

Meanwhile, Masri was growing desperate. There were rumors that a prisoner had died under torture. Masri could not answer most questions put to him. He said he steadied himself by talking with other prisoners and reading the Koran.

A week before his release in late May 2004, Masri said he was visited in prison by a German man with a goatee who called himself Sam. Masri said he asked him if he were from the German government and whether the government knew he was there. Sam said he could not answer either question.

"Does my wife at least know I'm here?" Masri asked.

"No, she does not," Sam replied, according to Masri.

Sam told Masri he was going to be released soon but that he would not receive any documents or papers confirming his ordeal. The Americans would never admit they had taken him prisoner, Sam added, according to Masri.

On the day of his release, the prison's director, who Masri believed was an American, told Masri that he had been held because he "had a suspicious name," Masri said in an interview.

Several intelligence and diplomatic officials said Macedonia did not want the CIA to bring Masri back inside the country, so the agency arranged for him to be flown to Albania. Masri said he was taken to a narrow country road at dusk. When they let him off, "They asked me not to look back when I started walking," Masri said. "I was afraid they would shoot me in the back."

He said he was quickly met by three armed men. They drove all night, arriving in the morning at Mother Teresa Airport in Tirana. Masri said he was escorted onto the plane, past all the security checkpoints, by an Albanian.

Masri has been reunited with his children and wife, who had moved the family to Lebanon because she did not know where her husband was. Unemployed and lonely, Masri says neither his German nor Arab friends dare associate with him because of the publicity.

Meanwhile, a German prosecutor continues to work Masri's case. A Macedonia bus driver has confirmed that Masri was taken away by border guards on the date he gave investigators. A forensic analysis of Masri's hair showed he was malnourished during the period he says he was in the prison. Flight logs show a plane registered to a CIA front company flew out of Macedonia on the day Masri says he went to Afghanistan.

Masri can find few words to explain his ordeal. "I have very bad feelings" about the United States, he said. "I think it's just like in the Arab countries: arresting people, treating them inhumanly and less than that, and with no rights and no laws."

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this article.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

24 September 2006

the Mountains of Beef & Butter, and the Lake of Wine

write address and affix
postage stamp on reverse side

patakaegonrwinkisch said...

You mean this Cassis De Dijon thingy ? There is something going on, and I must adimt that it has gone off my radar (sorry, but there is just toooo much news out there nowdays). I'll do some research, I'm The Man On The Ground, that's what I'm here for, innit ?

Not just leaving stupid comments with fake silly names and annoying everyone else to leave a comment, but gettin' down to the nitti-gritty, and give somethign back to the blogger community , innit ?

Sun Sep 24, 03:06:55 PM 2006


Fooey. You made me actually have to do research. No, it's not the Cassis de Dijon decision. But thanks for that, I learned lots tonight.

When I visit Europe to see the Lakes of Wine, I'll also get to see the Beef and Butter Mountains! I can't wait to buy postcards and t-shirts and snow globes!!!

They blame the Lake of Wine on CH, you haven't been drinking enough Beaujolais.

~ ~ ~

Last Updated: Friday, 2 December 2005, 15:35 GMT

Q&A: Common Agricultural Policy

The Common Agricultural Policy is regarded by some as one of the EU's most successful policies, and by others as a scandalous waste of money.

A series of reforms has been carried out in recent years, and the current round of World Trade Organization negotiations could result in further changes.

The CAP has also been a battleground in the dispute over the EU's 2007-13 budget. In the first half of 2005, the UK was demanding guarantees of reduced farm spending before it would agree to cuts in its rebate.


Agriculture has been one of the flagship areas of European collaboration since the early days of the European Community.

In negotiations on the creation of a Common Market, France insisted on a system of agricultural subsidies as its price for agreeing to free trade in industrial goods.

To increase productivity
To ensure fair living standards for the agricultural community
To stabilise markets
To ensure availability of food
To provide food at reasonable prices
From Treaty of Rome, article 39

The Common Agricultural Policy began operating in 1962, with the Community intervening to buy farm output when the market price fell below an agreed target level.

This helped reduce Europe's reliance on imported food but led before long to over-production, and the creation of "mountains" and "lakes" of surplus food and drink.

Click here to see the beef and butter mountains

The Community also taxed imports and (from the 1970s onward) subsidised agricultural exports. These policies have been damaging for foreign farmers, and made Europe's food prices some of the highest in the world.

European leaders were alarmed at the high cost of the CAP as early as 1967, but radical reform began only in the 1990s.

The aim has been to break the link between subsidies and production, to diversify the rural economy and to respond to consumer demands for safe food, and high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection.


The cost of the CAP can be measured in two ways: there is the money paid out of the EU budget, and the cost to the consumer of higher food prices.

The EU will spend 49bn euros (£33bn) on agriculture in 2005 (46% of the budget), while the OECD estimates the extra cost of food in 2003 at 55bn euros.

The CAP budget has been falling as a proportion of the total EU budget for many years, as European collaboration has steadily extended into other areas. It has been falling as a proportion of EU GDP since 1985.

EU member states agreed in 2002 that expenditure on agriculture (though not rural development) should be held steady in real terms between 2006 and 2013, despite the admission of 10 new members in 2004.

This means that the money paid to farmers in older member states will begin to decline after 2007. Overall, they will suffer a 5% cut in the 2007-13 period.

If Romania and Bulgaria are paid out of the same budget when they join in 2007 or 2008, that will entail a further cut of 8% or 9%, the Commission says.

Agricultural expenditure declined slightly in 2004, as compared with 2003 but has jumped in 2005 as a result of the admission of 10 new members. Under the European Commission's budget proposals for 2007-13, it will peak in 2008/2009, in nominal terms, then decline until 2013.


France is by far the biggest recipient of CAP funds. It received 22% of the total, in 2004.

Spain, Germany and Italy each received between 12% and 15%.

In each case, their share of subsidies was roughly equivalent to their share of EU agricultural output.

Chart showing main beneficiary countries of CAP funds
Ireland and Greece on the other hand received a share of subsidies that was much larger than their share of EU agricultural output - twice as large in Ireland's case.

The subsidies they received amounted to about 1.5% of gross national income, compared to an EU average of 0.5%.

The new member states began receiving CAP subsidies in 2004, but at only 25% of the rate they are paid to the older member states.

However, this rate is slowly rising and will reach equality in 2013. Poland, with 2.5m farmers, is likely then to be a significant recipient of funds.

Most of the CAP money goes to the biggest farmers - large agribusinesses and hereditary landowners.

The sugar company Tate and Lyle was the biggest recipient of CAP funds in the UK in 2005, raking in £127m (186m euro).

It has been calculated that 80% of the funds go to just 20% of EU farmers, while at the other end of the scale, 40% of farmers share just 8% of the funds.


Until 1992, most of the CAP budget was spent on price support: farmers were guaranteed a minimum price for their crop - and the more they produced, the bigger the subsidy they received.

The rest was spent on export subsidies - compensation for traders who sold agricultural goods to foreign buyers for less than the price paid to European farmers.

1992: Direct payments and set-aside introduced
1995: Rural development aid phased in
2002: Subsidy ceiling frozen until 2013
2003: Subsidies decoupled from production levels and made dependent on animal welfare and environmental protection
2005: Sugar reform tabled

Q&A: Sugar subsidy reform

But in 1992 the EU began to dismantle the price support system, reducing guaranteed prices and compensating farmers with a "direct payment" less closely related to levels of production.

Cereal farmers were obliged to take a proportion of their land out of cultivation in the "set-aside" programme.

In 1995, the EU also started paying rural development aid, designed to diversify the rural economy and make farms more competitive.

Additional reforms in 2003 and 2004 further "decoupled" subsidies from production levels and linked payments to food safety, animal welfare, and environmental standards.

However, three areas - sugar, wine, fruit and vegetables - have yet to be reformed. Further reform of the dairy sector is planned for the period after 2014.

Rural development funding, which currently accounts for about 13% of the total agriculture budget, is set to increase to 25% before the end of the decade.

In international trade negotiations, the EU has offered to cut all export subsidies, as long as other countries do so too. Big cuts in import tariffs are also being discussed.


The crops initially supported by the CAP reflected the climates of the six founding members (France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries).

Chart showing CAP spending

Cereals, beef/veal and dairy products still account for the lion's share of CAP funding, but the southern enlargements of the 1980s brought new crops into the system.

Cotton farmers received 873m euros in 2003, tobacco farmers got 960m euros, and silkworm producers 400,000 euros.

Payments to olive farmers in 2003 (at 2.3bn euros) were larger than those to fruit and vegetable farmers (1.5bn euros), sugar producers (1.3bn euros) or wine producers (1.2bn euros).

Producers of milk and sugar are subject to quotas, which they must not exceed.

Wine is a special case: the EU provides funds to convert surpluses into brandy or fuel - a process known as crisis distillation - and payments to replace poor quality with high quality vines.


Critics argue that the CAP costs too much and benefits relatively few people.

pie-chart showing breakdown of eu expenditure

How the money is spent
Only 5% of EU citizens - 10 million people - work in agriculture, and the sector generates just 1.6% of EU GDP.

Supporters of the CAP say it guarantees the survival of rural communities - where more than half of EU citizens live - and preserves the traditional appearance of the countryside.

They add that most developed countries provide financial support to farmers, and that without a common policy some EU countries would provide more than others, leading to pressure for trade barriers to be reintroduced.

The importance of farming to the national economy varies from one EU country to another. In Poland, 18% of the population works in agriculture, compared with less than 2% in the UK and Belgium. In Greece, agriculture accounts for more than 5% of GDP, whereas in Sweden the figure is just 0.6%.

The number of people working on farms roughly halved in the 15 older EU member states between 1980 and 2003.

About 2% of farmers leave the industry every year across the EU, though falls of more than 8% were registered between 2002 and 2003 in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia and the UK.

At the same time, the average age of farmers is rising. In 2000, more than half of individual farmers in the 15 countries that then made up the EU were aged 55 or over.

Farmers and their employees often work very long hours for little money. Many farms would be unprofitable if EU subsidies were withdrawn.

[Chart showing beef and butter mountains]


Friday 6 September 2002 08:02 GMT 09:02 UK

France's unwanted wines

Jostling for space - French wines compete with wines from all over the world

by Paul Whitfield in Paris

Travel about twenty minutes north of Lyon, in eastern France, and you'll soon find yourself surrounded by the squat rows of vines that mark out wine country.

Welcome to Beaujolais: a region to warm the heart, and eventually redden the nose, of wine-lovers the world over.

But there is trouble in this paradise.

With all of these regions the high quality wines are doing well, but the cheaper wines are not selling out.

Graham Martin, Wine and Spirit Education Trust

Just as the 2002 harvest is about to begin, the region's wine co-operatives have revealed that they still have a lake of unwanted 2001 wine.

Wine into vinegar

The Union Interprofessionelle des Vins du Beaujolais (UIVB) is an association of wine growers and merchants formed to protect and promote Beaujolais wines.

It said that about 7% of the total 2001 production will have to be destroyed, distilled or sent to vinegar makers.

For anyone who enjoys wine, it is heartbreaking news.

Michelle Rougier, general manager of the UIVB said: "The wine is grade three, the lowest grade. It is being destroyed to preserve the image of the brand and out of respect to the consumer."

That may be true, but the unwanted wine is testament to a bigger problem: production of Beaujolais wines is peaking just as demand falls.

Graham Martin, a teacher at London's Wine and Spirit Education Trust, and a resident of Mille Lamartine in Macon just outside of Beaujolais, said: "The region has lost sales in key markets.

"Some of the more conscientious wine makers are responding by cutting production and increasing quality.

"But others are just grape growers; they are producing right up to their yield limits and shoving it down to the co-ops."

Falling sales

Sales in Germany and Switzerland, traditionally two of the biggest markets for Beaujolais, plummeted by as much as 20% last year.

Much of the decline has resulted from the growing popularity of low-cost eastern European wines, particularly those from Hungary and Bulgaria.

These are wines that compete with the lower end French wines - such as those in the Beaujolais lake.

The news is not all bad for Beaujolais.

Britain is doing its bit for the regions sales.

Beaujolais consumption in the UK was up 26% last year and is already up a further 10.5% over 2002.

French vineyard
This year's crop is also expected to be huge

The US, Japan and Sweden have also bought more wine in recent years.

But these successes have not been enough to offset the lost sales and there is a fear in Beaujolais that after 45 years of growth, the regions' sales may be in long-term decline.


For Beaujolais' 4,200 wine makers, the problem is about to be compounded.

The 2002 harvest begins at the end of this week, on 6 and 7 September, and according to the UIVB it will be as big as the 2001 harvest.

Beaujolais' co-operatives are running out of time to get rid of the old wine to make way for the new; raising the likelihood that the wine will be destroyed not sold.

And whatever happens to the 2001 wines there is every chance that the unwanted wine lake will be back again this time next year.

The region's wine-makers are yet to come up with a co-ordinated plan to boost sales and no talk of cutting production is taboo.

Mr Martin said: "Some of the wine makers are taking matters into their own hands. There are some individuals that are actively marketing their labels, others have chosen to harvest only the better grapes and so cut their yields, but there is no concerted effort."

Muscadet and Bordeaux

Unfortunately for France's wine makers the story of Beaujolais' unwanted wine is not isolated.

Other famous wine regions, most notably Muscadet and Bordeaux, are rumoured to be accruing their own stockpiles.

Wine bottles
Wine drinkers are looking to eastern Europe

Mr Martin said: "With all of these regions the high quality wines are doing well, but the cheaper wines are not selling out. They are being overproduced and they are coming under competition from Eastern Europe and, in the case of Bordeaux, Chile and Australia."


The UIVB admits overproduction is a problem.

Mr Rougier said that about 50 million to 60 million hectolitres (6.6bn to 8bn bottles) of excess wine is produced throughout the world each year.

"It is a problem for everyone, the competition is harder, but we have advantages.

"Our wine is appellation (government quality certified), so it is very controlled. And we have the Gamay grape which is special to this region. It is a very good advantage if we know how to use it."

Until Beaujolais' growers work that out, it seems the most that we can do is continue to drink generously.

See also:

23 Apr 02 | Business
Chile's wine industry revamps its image
05 Aug 02 | Business
Romania puts sparkle into wine trade
Internet links:
Wine and Spirit Education Trust

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Bob's Bad Memory / Just Try Saying No / Don't Try This At Home

Make t-shirt or hang on wall.
Also click maybe.
No, don't click, nothing will happen.

Earlier, using nothing more certifiably trustworthy than our Wet Organic Memory, Vleeptron mentioned a Royal Canadian Mounted Police D.A.R.E. officer who died of an overdose of heroin he'd filched from the police evidence locker.

I was wrong; my memory is only partially reliable. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police D.A.R.E. officer died of an overdose of heroin and cocaine which he'd filched from the police evidence locker.

Shooting heroin and cocaine at the same time is known as Speedballing. It appeals to personalities who own two TV sets and like to watch "First Men on the Moon" with their right eye while watching "Journey to the Center of the Earth" with their left eye.

The Vleeptron Youth Drug Advice Program (V.Y.D.A.P.) recommends that you don't shoot heroin, and you don't shoot cocaine, and absolutely don't shoot them both at the same time.

We attach this Cautionary Tale designed to scare the shit out of teenagers.

V.Y.D.A.P. has commissioned a scientific study to determine whether our drug education program gets better results than D.A.R.E.'s drug education program, so we can apply for a federal grant. We'll let you know what we find out.

We wish to point out, however, that we feel we are at an unfair disadvantage in promoting our program to school administrators.

When we visit school administrators to show them our curriculum and what we have to offer, we park our Toyota 4x4 light pickup in the Visitors Lot and are wearing a wristwatch and a suit and tie.

When D.A.R.E.'s pitchmen and pitchwomen visit the principal, they shriek up to the front entrance of the school with flashers and sirens and are wearing a loaded 10mm Glock automatic pistol, handcuffs, pepper spray, sometimes a Taser, a nightstick and a badge, usually issued by the police department where the principal lives. Just Try Saying No to the marketing personnel under those circumstances.

D.A.R.E. was invented in 1983 by Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates, who, following a series of religious and political miracles and a big race riot, is no longer the Police Chief of Los Angeles. Wikipedia reports:


The most common complaint is that [D.A.R.E.] is ineffective, and that there is no proof that students who go through the DARE program are any less likely to use drugs.[5]

The U.S. Department of Education concluded in 2003 that the DARE program is ineffective and now prohibits its funds from being used to support it. (Zernike) The U.S. Surgeon General's office, the National Academy of Sciences, (Zernike) and the U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) have also concluded that the program is ineffective. (Kanof) The GAO also concluded that the program is sometimes counterproductive in some populations, with those who graduate from DARE later having higher rates of drug use. Studies by Dr. Dennis Rosenbaum, and by the California Legislative Analyst's office (Bovard) found that DARE graduates were more likely than others to drink alcohol, smoke tobacco and take illegal drugs.


The Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada)
Saturday 17 February 2001

Coroner, Police And
Family Remain Baffled
By Officer's Death

by Kim Lunman

Courtenay, British Columbia -- An anti-drug-crusading police officer took heroin and cocaine from a Vancouver Island RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] detachment a day before he died of an overdose that Mounties yesterday called a tragic "death by misadventure."

Constable Barry Schneider took cocaine and heroin from police exhibits on Oct. 25 and Nov. 28 -- the day before his daughter found him collapsed on the family's kitchen floor from what everyone in Courtenay assumed was a heart attack. It was revealed last month the 43-year-old drug-awareness officer died of a heroin overdose and had cocaine in his system.

Police told a news conference Friday there was no forensic evidence Constable Schneider was a previous or long-term user of illicit drugs.

"Having considered all of the circumstances, this tragic event is likely 'death by misadventure' in the form of an accidental overdose, or the remote possibility of suicide could also not be eliminated," Corporal Grant Learned said.

A criminal investigation concluded there was no foul play but the coroner is investigating and the cause of Constable Schneider's death last Nov. 29 remains undetermined. It is not yet known how he ingested the drugs, which were probably consumed within three hours of his afternoon death.

The case remains an unsettling mystery in the small Comox Valley town where the handsome family man and 23-year force veteran preached against the evils of drugs and received a hero's funeral.

News of his drug death dropped like a bombshell on this seaside community of 20,000, located 200 kilometres north of Victoria. The coroner initially said Constable Schneider died of a heart attack but tests found lethal amounts of heroin and cocaine in his system.

Investigators revealed yesterday that cocaine and heroin were found in Constable Schneider's police vehicle in a carrying case the day after his death but say there was no evidence of drugs at his home. Further tests are expected to determine whether the lethal drugs came from the detachment samples.

Cpl. Learned said records showed Constable Schneider took the drugs from drug exhibits on Oct. 25 and Nov. 28 without filing the proper forms.

"There was no evidence at the time that Constable Schneider's administrative omission in accessing the drug exhibits was either willful or malfeasant," Cpl. Learned said. "He was a police officer of unquestioned character and integrity, with an exemplary service record."

Staff Sergeant Chuck Doucette, head of the RCMP's drug-awareness program in British Columbia, said Constable Schneider had access to drug exhibits for educational seminars.

Constable Schneider drove around town in a police car emblazoned with the words "Say no to drugs" and lectured educators and addiction counsellors. Newspaper stories and photographs about the Drug Abuse Resistance Education [D.A.R.E.] program were showcased along with his golf clubs and fishing gear at his funeral, which was held in Canadian Forces Base hangar in Comox to accommodate nearly 700 mourners. The program aimed to prevent young people from taking drugs.

His death has left his colleagues, friends and family baffled.

"There are many unanswered questions that only he knows the answers to," Inspector Dave Zack of the Courtenay RCMP detachment said.

Constable Schneider, who was married with two daughters, spent most of his career in the RCMP drug sections in Burnaby, Vancouver and Bella Bella before he was transferred several years ago to Vancouver Island's Comox Valley. He was widely regarded as a role model.

"He was beyond reproach," said Greg Phelps, a friend and spokesman for Constable Schneider's family. "Talk to anybody in the community. Talk to anybody that he served with. This was a guy who was dedicated to his job. That's why we're all so shattered by this. This guy ate, slept and breathed the DARE program in the time that he was with it."

Courtenay Coroner Glenn Partridge said microscopic tests on body tissue samples showed no previous long-term illicit drug use by Constable Schneider. Tests also ruled out the presence of crack cocaine in his system.

"There was no indication of addiction to illicit drugs," said Mr. Partridge, who refused to say whether there was any evidence of an addiction to prescription drugs, citing privacy issues.

There has been speculation about Constable Schneider's health after reports surfaced that he was taking painkillers.

A coroner's inquest has not been ruled out, Mr. Partridge said.

Mr. Phelps said the family does not want to disclose the officer's medical history.

"He believed that drugs are dangerous and his death obviously proves that point," the family said in a written statement released yesterday. "We remember him as 'a person,' someone who loved and was loved. We ask that you look to Barry and remember him not as he died but as he lived, in God's eyes."

- 30 -

attempted Japanese

I just know bad things are going to happen if I try to do this, but I'm going to try anyway.


Deru kugi wa utareru

is Japanese for: The nail that sticks up gets pounded down.

Which is a saying that warns against acting like or being perceived as a non-conformist. "Don't make waves" is a comparable English saying.

What's hard or difficult to figure out without visiting there is whether Japan is more addicted to or obsessed with conformity than the USA is.

Certainly conformity -- the wish not to be perceived as an Up Nail -- is the domestic handmaiden of Bush's strange, violent, hostile, bullying military and foreign policy. Something so flawed and so fragile and so fraught with lethal peril could only continue this long in an environment where an unusually large number of people are terrified to speak candidly about what they see when they look at the emperor's new clothes.

Since the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration has depended very heavily on voter and Congressional conformity, and on portraying those -- Cyndy Sheehan, for example -- who starkly oppose the war in Iraq as practically treasonous.

23 September 2006

Vleeptron wishes you all Ramadan Kareem / Ramadan Mubarak / l'Shana Tova / Happy Rosh Hashona

My familiarity with Islamic calligraphy is so pathetic that this may be the Islamic world's equivalent of the $2 Hallmark card, but it's the image we filched last Ramadan, and we still think it's pretty, so it's the one we're running today. Ramadan begins Sunday. Kareem means Happy, Mubarak means Blessed, like Hebrew Baruch (which happens to be my Hebrew name, so there).

As they usually do, the beginning of Ramadan collides on the calendar with Rosh Hashona, the Jewish New Year, and I have every reason to believe that the new Hebrew year commencing Saturday (1st day of the month Tishrei) is 5767. If you have a problem with this, please Leave A Comment.

Last year I briefly filched a gorgeous Ramadan image from an art professor in Pittsburgh, but she got annoyed and requested that I remove it, which I dutifully and promptly did. I ask you all to sit in judgment and determine which was the worse sin: Mine for filching, or hers for suspiciously denying the world the chance to see her artistic beauty.

Ramadan is the name of this month in the Islamic calendar, and it was during Ramadan that the Prophet Muhammed first began receiving the text which would be recorded as the Holy Quran from Heaven. He preached that during this month the gates of Heaven would be open, and the gates of Hell would be closed.

I will not use this post to comment on the state of relations between the Great Faiths of Earth, particularly those three which all sprang from the same spiritual well and the same Patriarchs and Prophets in the Middle East.

But I would like to say that on Planet Vleeptron at this moment, Christian, Muslim and Jew are all living in respect, brotherhood and sisterhood, community, cooperation, and scrupulous non-violence. I can look out my window at the main intersection in Poortown Parva and see the Synagogue, the Mosque, the Cathedral and the Church, I can see the Imam nodding and smiling at the Rabbi, I can see the Minister chatting on the sidewalk with the Priest.

What a whack planet that is.

Yet still even more Youth Science / The Nail That Sticks Up Is Soon Hammered Down

Click, learn Science(raw liver not shown)

Okay, I like this version. 14% less junky, with clearer symbology.

You have every right to ask: What Time Unit is Bobby using?

In trying to Reproduce Bobby's Science Fair Project, do you shock the flatworms 3 Years after you turn the light on over their tank?

No, because if it was Years or Months or Days, I wouldn't have used a stopwatch symbol, I'd have used a calendar.

So it boils down to Hours or Minutes or Seconds. The Time Unit Bobby used in the Science Fair Project is specified in the text. You may begin Attempting to Reproduce now.

Let me know how things work out. You may wish to submit your findings to an extremely famous scientific journal, "The Journal of Irreproducible Results." I am sure there is a great deal of material from tJoIR on the Web. The people who crank out tJoIR also, I think, award the annual Ig Nobel Prize for the sciences, for over-achievements like Cold Fusion (M. Fleischmann, S. Pons, University of Utah, 1989).

~ ~ ~

Unusually Intelligent Children
who regularly show signs of Being Different in any way should be beaten up on the playground frequently, while the teacher's back is turned, while she is having a smoke behind the dumpster.

In explaining or portraying their national attitude toward Non-Conformity, the Japanese have (or are alleged to have) a saying:

The nail that sticks up
is soon hammered down.

There have been a couple of notorious incidents in the last decade of playground murders of classmates who were not cooperating with their peers' hammering-down program, and were still sticking up.

I think the only distinction between the Japanese program toward Non-Conformity and the American program is that we forgot to dignify our program with a Koan. Here the slogan is "I really hate you and I'm gonna beat the shit out of you now."

For what it's worth, and I am not retro-morphing my recollections, I was never successfully bullied. Several techniques are now taught to American schoolchildren about how to respond to bullying. I developed a technique called Don't Fuck With The Crazy Guy.

It wasn't designed to appeal to the bully's pity or sense of humane treatment toward the emotionally unbalanced. Rather it was an announcement, in small Anglo-Saxon words that even a bully could understand clearly, that The Crazy Guy would respond to any act of bullying or intimidation with a large volume of Very Bad Things of a surprising, unspecified nature. It always worked. Whether it will always work for You, Bobby makes no guarantees. You could end up the victim of a notorous playground murder.

I like one anti-bullying technique apparently taught in some public schools these days. When a bully starts to do his or her Thing, if he/she is thoughtful enough to do it in full view of everyone in broad daylight, a mob of the victim's peers surround the victim -- a Group Hug sort of supportive gesture -- and make it clear that now the bully will have to take on not just one victim, but eight.

One way that police department D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) programs desperately try to keep themselves in public schools (the school budget pays for it) is to have retro-added trendy lessons in Anti-Violence and Anti-Bullying to their traditional core curriculum of Just Say No To Drugs. So public school kids are marched into a classroom to learn that violence and bullying are bad from a woman or a guy who is wearing a fully-loaded 10mm Glock automatic pistol and carrying a nightstick, handcuffs, pepper spray and maybe a Taser.

Perhaps this explains why Ghandi was only partially successful in his societal and political ambitions, why more people did not sign on to his program of Non-Violent Passive Resistance. He wasn't packing.

D.A.R.E. can no longer support itself with direct grants from the federal government. A few years ago, someone with a quirky sense of humor in Congress got a law passed that forbids the federal government from funding any program which cannot quantitatively demonstrate that it achieves its stated mission. D.A.R.E. has never been able to prove that kids who took D.A.R.E. classes have a lower rate of drug use than kids who didn't take D.A.R.E. classes, and a few studies have suggested that D.A.R.E. grads actually do more drugs than non-D.A.R.E. kids.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP)
is mostly thousands of American college kids defending themselves on their various campuses from the brutal youth-bashing puritanical fascist crap that gets slung at them by the War On Drugs. So many of them had been forced to attend D.A.R.E. class when they were younger that for the last couple of years, they've begun styling themselves as "The D.A.R.E. Generation." D.A.R.E. can indeed demonstrate that it turns its students into lifetime political drug policy reformers, starting very shortly after the D.A.R.E. classes end. Although it wasn't D.A.R.E.'s original intention, D.A.R.E. apparently teaches kids to want to grow up and legalize drugs.

An RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or Mountie) D.A.R.E. school classroom officer in British Columbia died a few years ago of an overdose of heroin he'd been filching from the police evidence locker. It won't be hard to find the story if anybody wants me to. It was Very Noisy.

There's a classic study of American Non-Conformity and Conformity called "The Lonely Crowd" (1953) by a sociologist named David Riesman. Riesman divided humans into two categories: Inner-Directed and Other-Directed.

Other-Directed people sniff around and wet their fingers and are constantly listening to other people before they decide how to act or vote or speak or buy clothes.

Inner-Directed people skip that phase and act, vote, speak and dress pretty much the way The Voice Inside Their Head recommends.

I saw a bumper sticker yesterday pretty much like this:

You're Just Jealous
Because You Don't Have
a Voice In Your Head
Telling You What to Do

One very troubled guy in my homeroom came to the conclusion that I had given him the Evil Eye -- malojo -- and announced he was going to meet me after school. Ours was a large school with a half-dozen entrances, so I asked him which entrance he'd meet me at after school. This shook him a little, but he said Chesapeake Street. "Bring a book," I advised him. "I'm certainly not going to be anywhere near Chesapeake Street at 3 o'clock."

It begins to dawn on me at this point that being an Inner-Directed person and a sticking-up nail wouldn't have been nearly as much Fun if American Society had celebrated Non-Conformity rather than punished Non-Conformists so systematically and violently.

Logically, what have I been whining about all these years? What have I been fantasizing about? An America where 83 percent of its people were Non-Conformists?

Oddly enough, 83 percent of all residents of Vleeptron are Non-Conformists. I've heard it's even worse on Yobbo and Hoon.

~ ~ ~

In a very closely related development, the local NBC television affiliate, WWLP-22, has, after 45 years, pulled the plug on "As Schools Match Wits," its weekly quiz show in which teams from three different high schools throughout the Connecticut River Valley of western Massachusetts compete.

Until now, in all its ownership incarnations since I've lived within its broadcast or cable range, WWLP has been so pathetic a television station that I've just tried to pretend it wasn't there. The Remote was first introduced about the time I moved up here, so it's always been really easy just to change the channel. The uninspired, ethically challenged, community toxifying, money-slobbering and just plain stoopid stunts they regularly pull in the guise of television broadcasting have rarely managed to bother me overmuch. It's only television, and NBC hasn't had a great many offerings I'd actually classify as Don't Miss or Must Watch. Letterman switched from NBC to CBS, so ...

WWLP's daytime lineup is particulary extraordinary and community-enriching, just like your NBC or ABC or CBS or Fox or WB (big changes here this week I think) affiliate's daytime lineup.

WWLP is an acronym for its megalomaniacal Napoleonic founder William L. Putnam, though he sold the station to somebody else a long time ago. When not generously intimidating and imposing his will on and broadcasting his smiling visage to all the television screens in the greater Springfield area, Mr. Putnam was an accomplished alpinist.

But he did take a notable interest in public education, meddling in the public education sphere so regularly and forcefully that he eventually ended up getting a new Springfield high school named for him. I'm guessing he was a regular hit guest speaker at high school graduations, and on William L. Putnam Appreciation Day. Schools that knew how to kiss Bill's dupa (he liked it anti-clockwise) got Nice Stuph from the owner of the NBC affiliate. Career administrators with ambitions to rise in 20 school districts hereabouts could do worse than Kiss the Great Dupa.

"As Schools Match Wits" was probably Young Bill Putnam's original idea, although it was a pretty off-the-rack concept which lots of network local affiliates cloned back in the 1960s.

But ASMW had Bill's particular stench of Other Direction and bland, patriotic American conformity. You could watch ASMW for decades and never collide with a Surprise. Every weekend afternoon, the screen would light up with nine bright high school Youths, Kelley and Todd, Art and Louisa, and as the years went by, the occasional Sagmat and Rodrigo. Not a lot of color on ASMW, and when it did stray beyond white, it was usually jaune.

But ASMW just broadcast whatever 3 Youths each competing high school selected and sent them, so you couldn't blame the show's blanchenesse on Bill. They had some long-running arrangement with a respected Professional Educator who made sure all the answers on the back of the question cards were kosher, and made instant real-time judgments about Tifani's unexpected answer. (Tifani was usually Right and the Answer Card was Wrong, or Not Right Enough. Sometimes it took a commercial break to verify that Tifani'd been right all along, and the score was dutifully upgraded.)

Q. What's the word for a political
district shaped like a salamander?

EXTRA CREDIT: For whom was it named?

Those sorts of questions. Nothing to get a brain hernia over.

And every weekend during the school year for 45 years, nine of the brightest, smartest, brainiest, politest high school kids in a 50-mile radius, competing ferociously for their school, desperately trying to hit the buzzer first with the right answer to tough questions. Not a whiff of video or audio inapproriateness, the Gwen Stefani and Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson look never made it onto the airwaves.

Now "As Schools Match Wits" is no more. Kaput. Quoth WWLP: Nevermore.

According to the assistant cheese at the station, recent federal requirements that all programs be broadcast with built-in subtitles for the hearing-impaired imposed such financial hardship on ASMW, one of WWLP's very few locally-produced programs, that it finally broke the budget, and management pulled the plug.

News shows weren't much of a problem, because nearly all the text had already been entered into the computer and could easily be transferred to the required subtitles. But ASMW, with its unique back-and-forth MC-contestant dialogue, was too expensive to transcribe. ASMW always had corporate sponsors, but no one was willing to pony up the extra money needed for the subtitles to satisfy the federal requirements.

The weekend hour will doubtless be put to good use with a network sports feed. People like football more than they like smart, competitive academic students anyway. There's more violence in football. There was never any violence on "As Schools Match Wits." Bad waste of a weekend broadcasting hour.

So kids in my neighborhood who want to become rocket scientists or doctors or biologists or mathematics professors will henceforth have to do it without the local support and exposure and confidence-building that ASMW provided for almost half a century.

Somebody Leave A Comment and tell me to Get Real, Pops, get with Modern Times. Who the fuck wants to watch academically smart high school kids busting their heads about stuff in books? Nobody wants to buy beer and cheap crap watching a show like that.

22 September 2006


The film "Brazil" begins when a bureaucrat swats a fly buzzing around his office, and the dead fly guts splatter on a government form, and change the name TUTTLE to BUTTLE. That night a government anti-terror squad, all its agents in black and wearing masks to hide their faces, crashes into Mister Buttle's apartment, throws a chain and leather hood over his head, hands an official receipt to his wife, and drags him away to a detention center, where he's tortured to death.

"Brazil" was directed by Terry Gilliam, written by Tom Stoppard and Charles McKeown. It's set in the near future.

It was released in 1985, so if you watch it now -- and I can't recommend it strongly enough -- it's set in the recent past.

It's about the war between terrorists and government anti-terrorist police. It's extremely difficult to tell the difference between the terrorists and the government anti-terrorist police. It's a comedy. Here's a bit of dialogue from "Brazil":


Inside there is a connecting door to he next door room but the only person in the immediate room is a pleasant-looking FEMALE TYPIST, wearing headphones, chewing gum and typing with great facility. Sam approaches the Typist who, busily typing, twinkles a greeting (mimed) and silently mouths the words...

It won't be long now.
(she carries on typing)
Sam nods, and stands quietly by her. He can hear tiny sounds coming through her headphones. He looks down at the piece of paper in the typewriter. He reacts a bit strangely, perhaps even winces. We see the close up of the words being struck crisply on paper.

AHHHH, Oh God... No, don't... UHH, please... I... STOP!! I can't stand... AIIEEEE.

(quietly, still typing)
Can I help you?

She is looking at Sam helpfully, holding one of the earphones away from her ear. From this earphone we can just hear quietly...

Oooooooh... aaaaaahhh... please... arrrrrghhhh no...please... Oh God, No... No, stop, I don't know...

I'm looking for Officer 412/L.

What cost are we willing to pay to keep fighting the war on terror -- at least the way we've been fighting it so far?

You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs, of course, but how many eggs can we go on breaking, and what's an egg worth?

Or, to put the metaphor in focus: You can't fight terrorism without abducting a few perfectly innocent citizens and sending them to police-state dictatorships to be tortured for ten or eleven months.

Here is where we've arrived. Anyone who's known to be a Muslim now lives under a permanent cloud of government suspicion, and is fair game for any kind of government action.

In a past era in Europe, the Designated Detested Ethnic/Religious Group under the permanent cloud of government suspicion -- at least the most populous group -- were Jews. For about ten years all over Europe, being a Jew was a Flee or Hide or Die deal.

For about five years, being an American citizen of Japanese ancestry earned you an automatic place in a government concentration camp, in wooden barracks, behind barbed wire. During World War II, no citizen of Japanese ancestry was ever convicted of a crime against the US war effort.

Now, in the USA and so sadly in Canada, being a Muslim -- having one of those Muslim-ish names -- is the only credential you need to find yourself under the shadow of the cloud.

You have legal rights as a Canadian or American citizen.

But when push comes to shove, when the war on terror throws the leather hood over your head, you'll have far fewer rights than a non-Muslim citizen.

I can't predict how long the black cloud will hover over Canadian and American Muslims. It's one of those History Things.

Twenty years from now, an entirely different ethnic or religious group may be the ones who have to flee or hide as a target of political pressures on the bureaucrats charged with doing things that the government can sell to the public as making us safer.

Ramadan begins on Sunday 24 September. I wonder how many Muslims in North America will sit this Ramadan out, stay at home, and not want to be seen with hundreds of other Muslims at the mosque.

There was once certainly a time and a place where a Jew would have been wise to stay away from the synagogue on Yom Kippur. (Rosh Hashanah is Saturday-Sunday 23-24 September, Yom Kippur is Monday 2 October.)

There isn't much solidarity, political or spiritual, between Muslims and Jews these days. That's certainly an advantage to the politicians and bureaucrats who design and wage the war on terror. It's easier for government flying monkeys to swoop down on a Muslim and fly him 6000 miles away to be tortured for 10.5 months when only other Muslims are screaming bloody murder about it -- and they have to be very cautious about how loudly and how rudely they complain.

Exactly how could an objective, uninvolved person ascertain with confidence and certainty that the war on terror isn't actually a war against Muslims? What's "the smoking gun" that proves this isn't about Christendom's deepest and oldest feelings about Islam?

Or are we politically afraid even to ask that question?

Because we're genuinely afraid, and being politically manipulated because we're genuinely afraid.

Then there is the dismal question of how well the war on terror works.

In movies and television dramas about terrorists, a phone rings in a secret government office, and brilliant and dedicated (and young and handsome and beautiful) anti-terrorist specialists use computers and satellites and high-tech surveillance techniques to identify the terrorists and thwart their evil schemes. Americans are safe again in 60 minutes or 101 minutes.

Well, I can't tell you how well the war on terror is really working.

That's a secret.

Already, hours after the release of the Canadian government's Arar Commission Report, a retired senior Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer expressed his discomfort with the report, because he thinks it's told the terrorists too many secret details about how Canada and the USA wage the war on terror.

Yes, this essay is concerned about people, their fundamental rights, their right to face police and courts with the right to defend themselves, to be represented by a lawyer, to have the right of habeas corpus -- the right to petition a judge to challenge the government over the detention of any human being.

But this essay is equally concerned with who and what the United States will be and who and what Canada will be if the war on terror continues to work the way it does, and no politician or caucus of politicians says clearly: No, that's enough, that's too much.

We could win the war on terror and find that we've become indistinguishable from al-Qaida, from the Taliban, from the one-party police-state tyranny of Syria.

What did we stand for before 9/11? Why did Chinese human-rights protesters in Tiananmen
Square in 1989 choose the Statue of Liberty as the papier mache symbol of what they wanted?

What have we become five years after 9/11? What will we be seven years after 9/11?

When the war on terror is over, will the government give back all the rights and protections they temporarily suspended? Will the government give back some of the rights they temporarily suspended?

Will the government tell us clearly and fully which rights they suspended?

The most soothing lullabye at times like this is: "Well, I'm not a Muslim, so I have nothing to worry about. This doesn't concern me."

Don't read the stuff below just to make me happy. Naturally what happened to this guy will Never happen to you. But if it Ever does, I've emphasized a Very Useful Practical Tip that you should pay close attention to.

This is the story of a Canadian citizen named Buttle.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Maher Arar

This article documents a current event.
Information may change rapidly as the event progresses.

Maher Arar (born 1970) is a Canadian software engineer born in Syria. On September 26, 2002, during a stopover in New York en route from Tunis to Montreal, Arar was detained by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service who were acting upon information supplied by the RCMP[1]. Despite carrying a Canadian passport, he was deported to Syria in accordance with a U.S. policy known as "extraordinary rendition". Arar was then held in solitary confinement in a Syrian prison where, according to a Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice Dennis O'Connor, he was regularly tortured until his eventual release and return to Canada in October 2003. The episode strained Canada-U.S. relations and resulted in the creation of a public inquiry in Canada "into the actions of Canadian officials dealing with the deportation and detention"[2] of Arar. The commission's final report cleared Arar's name and was sharply critical of the RCMP and other Canadian government departments.

Early life and career

Arar, who holds both Canadian and Syrian citizenship, moved to Canada at the age of 17 in 1988 to avoid mandatory military service.

Arar earned a bachelor's degree in computer engineering from McGill University and a master's degree from the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (a branch of the Université du Québec) in Montreal. At the time of his deportation Arar was employed in Ottawa as a telecommunications engineer. He is married to Monia Mazigh, who has a Ph.D. in finance from McGill. They have two young children: Barâa and Houd.

Arar speaks French, English and Arabic.

Detention and deportation

On September 26, 2002, Arar was returning to Montreal from a family vacation in Tunisia. During a stopover at JFK Airport he was detained by United States immigration officials. They claimed that Arar was an associate of Abdullah Almalki, a Syrian-born Ottawa man whom they suspected of having links to the al-Qaeda terror organization, and they therefore suspected Arar of being an al-Qaeda member himself. When Arar protested that he only had a casual relationship with Almalki (having once worked with Almalki's brother at an Ottawa high-tech firm), the officials produced a copy of Arar's 1997 rental lease which Almalki had co-signed. The fact that US officials had a Canadian document in their possession was later widely interpreted as evidence of the participation by Canadian authorities in Arar's detention.

He was deported to Syria on October 7 or 8. The Canadian government was notified on October 10, 2002 and Arar was later discovered to be in the Far'Falastin detention center, near Damascus, Syria.

The deportation was condemned by the Canadian government and by groups such as Amnesty International. On October 29, 2002, the Canadian foreign affairs department issued a travel advisory strongly cautioning Canadians born in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya and Sudan against travel to the United States for any reason. The advisory prompted US conservative Pat Buchanan to describe Canada as "Soviet Canuckistan".

The American ambassador to Canada, Paul Cellucci, later told Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham that all Canadian passport holders would be treated equally. In November 2002, Canadian privacy commissioner George Radwanski recommended that birthplace information be removed from all Canadian passports, in part because of fears of profiling in the United States and other countries. The recommendation was not implemented, but Canadian passport regulations already allowed citizens to request that this field be left blank.


Arar was imprisoned in Syria for 10 1/2 months, during which time he claims he was tortured and forced to sign a false confession which purported that he had trained in Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. The Canadian government accepts Arar's allegations as fact, and the Commission of Inquiry agreed that he had been tortured. However, the United States Attorney General has stated that he has seen no evidence other than Arar's own account that Arar was tortured. Arar says that he was kept in a 3-foot by 6-foot, dark, underground cell, beaten and threatened with electrocution. He was further traumatized by overhearing other prisoners being tortured.

He had some visits from diplomatic officials, but he did not tell them that he was being tortured until their seventh visit, after which conditions improved for him. His explanation for waiting was that his jailers were in the room during the visits and that they had warned him beforehand not to discuss his treatment or he would be punished.

Arar's wife, Monia Mazigh conducted an active campaign in Canada to secure his release.

Release and subsequent controversy

Arar was released on October 5, 2003, 374 days after his deportation to Syria. He returned to Canada, reuniting with his wife and children.

After Arar's release, the controversy continued over his treatment by the US and over the role that Canadian police and government officials may have played in his deportation and interrogation. The United States claimed that the RCMP had provided them with a list of suspicious persons that included Mr. Arar.[3] It was also discovered that Canadian consular officials knew that Arar was in custody in the United States but did not believe that he would be deported. The Canadian government maintains that the decision to deport Arar to Jordan was made by American officials alone.

The Canadian New Democratic Party continued to push for a full judicial inquiry. In December 2003, Ambassador Cellucci said that American domestic security would trump respect of Canadian citizenship and that the United States would not change its policy on deportations to third countries.[4] Prime Minister Paul Martin replied by demanding that Canadian passports be respected.[5]

In January 2004, Arar announced that he would be suing then American Attorney-General John Ashcroft over his treatment,[6] but the US government invoked the rarely-used State Secrets Privilege in a motion to dismiss the suit. The government claimed that to go forward in an open court would jeopardize the United States' intelligence, foreign policy, and national security interests.

On January 21, 2004, the RCMP searched the residence of Ottawa Citizen journalist, Juliet O'Neill as part of a related investigation into leaks from security sources.[7][8] On November 12, 2004, an Ottawa judge ruled that the RCMP must reveal much of the information that was used to justify the search. The material was sealed by a justice of the peace at the request of the police.

At a summit meeting in Monterrey, Mexico, on January 13, 2004 Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin and U.S. President George Bush reached an agreement, sometimes referred to as the Monterrey Accord, which obliged the United States to notify Canada before deporting a Canadian citizen to a third country. However, according to a news story in the Toronto Globe and Mail, Stephen Yale-Loehr, lawyer and adjunct professor of immigration and asylum law at Cornell University told the Arar inquiry "the Canada-U.S. agreement prevent a recurrence of the Arar affair is ineffective and legally unenforceable."[9]

Arar's wife, Monia Mazigh, ran unsuccessfully as the NDP candidate in the Ottawa South riding in the 2004 federal election.

TIME magazine chose Arar as Canadian Newsmaker of the Year for 2004.

On February 16, 2006, Brooklyn District Court Judge David Trager dismissed Arar's lawsuit against members of the George W. Bush administration.[10] Although Trager discounted legal arguments by the defendants, he based his decision on national security grounds, not legal reasons.

Official investigations into Arar's case

Garvie report

On September 25, 2004, the results of an internal RCMP investigation by RCMP Chief Superintendent Brian Garvie were published. Though the version released to the public was censored, the Garvie report documented several instances of impropriety by the RCMP in the Arar case. Among its revelations were that the RCMP was responsible for giving American authorities sensitive information on Arar with no attached provisos about how this information might be used. Also, Richard Roy, the RCMP liaison officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs, may have known of the plan of deporting Arar to Syria but did not contact his supervisors. Additionally, Deputy RCMP Commissioner Garry Loeppky lobbied hard, in the spring of 2003, to convince his government not to claim in a letter to Syria, that it "had no evidence Arar was involved in any terrorist activities" because Arar "remained a person of great interest."

In response to the Garvie report, Arar said that the report was "just the starting point to find out the truth about what happened to me" and that it "exposes the fact that the government was misleading the public when they said Canada had nothing to do with sending me to Syria."

Public inquiry

On February 5, 2004, the Canadian government established a commission of inquiry under Dennis O'Connor, Associate Chief Justice of Ontario to investigate and report on the actions of Canadian officials.

On June 14, 2005, Franco Pillarella, Canadian ambassador to Syria at the time of Arar's deportation, said that at the time he had no reason to believe Arar had been badly treated, and in general had no reason to conclusively believe that Syria engaged in routine torture. These statements prompted widespread incredulity in the Canadian media, and former Canadian UN ambassador responded to Pillarella asserting that Syria's human rights abuses were well known and well documented by many sources.

On September 14, 2005, the O'Connor commission concluded public hearings after testimony from 85 witnesses. The US ambassador at the time of the incident, Paul Cellucci, refused to testify.

On October 27, 2005 a fact-finder appointed by the Arar inquiry released a report saying that he believed Arar was tortured in Syria. He said that Arar had recovered well physically but was still suffering from psychological problems caused by his mistreatment.

The final report, released on September 18, 2006, categorically states that there is no evidence linking Arar to terrorist activity, that the RCMP passed false information on to US authorities, and that the RCMP leaked untrue information to damage his reputation. The report also confirms that he was tortured while in Syria. [11]

When asked about the report and if he thought the U.S. Department of Justice owed Arar an apology, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales responded by saying that:

Well, we were not responsible for his removal to Syria, I'm not aware that he was tortured, and I haven't read the Commission report. Mr. Arar was deported under our immigration laws. He was initially detained because his name appeared on terrorist lists, and he was deported according to our laws. Some people have characterized his removal as a rendition. That is not what happened here. It was a deportation. And even if it were a rendition, we understand as a government what our obligations are with respect to anyone who is rendered by this government to another country, and that is that we seek to satisfy ourselves that they will not be tortured. And we do that in every case. And if in fact he had been rendered to Syria, we would have sought those same kind of assurances, as we do in every case.[12]

US denials

Robert H. Tuttle, the US ambassador to Britain told the BBC:

"I don't think there is any evidence that there have been any renditions carried out in the country of Syria. There is no evidence of that. And I think we have to take what the secretary Condoleezza Rice says at face value. It is something very important, it is done very carefully and she has said we do not authorise, condone torture in any way, shape or form."[13]

See also

* Extraordinary rendition


1. ^
2. ^
3. ^
4. ^
5. ^
6. ^
7. ^ 404 error. Toronto Star. Retrieved on 2006-09-19.
8. ^ O'Neill, Juliet (22 January 2004). CJFE calls on government to rein in the RCMP after raid on journalist's home. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE). Retrieved on 2006-09-19.
9. ^ Tandt, Michael Den (June 8 2005). "Deportation pact useless, inquiry told". The Globe and Mail: A10. Retrieved on 2006-09-19.
10. ^ Harper, Tim, "U.S. ruling dismisses Arar lawsuit", Toronto Star, Feb. 17, 2006. Retrieved on 2006-09-19.
11. ^
12. ^ Transcript of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and Federal Trade Commission Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras at Press Conference Announcing Identity Theft Task Force Interim Recommendations. U.S. Department of Justice (September 19, 2006).
13. ^ US embassy close to admitting Syria rendition flight, The Guardian, December 27, 2005

External links


* Maher Arar's official site
* "Maher Arar: Timeline", CBC, updated October 27, 2005
* Arar Commission official site
* Legal Filings in Maher Arar's lawsuit against John Ashcroft From the Center for Constitutional Rights
* Interview with Arar on the Disappeared In America website
* Falsehoods led to man's torture, report says

News coverage
Wikinews has news related to:
U.S. flight logs back Maher Arar's claims, The New York Times finds

* Explanation offered for his Detention
* CBC News early report
* CBC News report
* CBC - Maher Arar reported freed
* Canada starts an investigation
* BBC - Interview with Robert Baer about the role of the CIA in the Middle East

Retrieved from ""

Categories: Current events | 1970 births | Living people | Syrian people | Canadians deported | Arab Canadians | Foreign relations of Canada | Muslim Canadians | People from Ottawa | McGill University alumni | Torture victims | Public inquiries

* This page was last modified 19:09, 21 September 2006.
Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.


The Washington Post (Washington DC USA)
Friday 22 September 2006
Page A14

Gonzales Revisits
Deportation Remarks

Department Aims to Clarify Comments
on Case of Canadian Sent to Syria

by Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's claim this week that the Justice Department was not responsible for sending Canadian software engineer Maher Arar to a Syrian prison in 2002 was the result of imprecise wording by Gonzales and a misunderstanding by those who reported his remarks, according to a Justice Department spokeswoman.

The matter turns on the meaning of the word "we."

[US President George] Bush acknowledged the existence of secret CIA prisons abroad Sept. 6, 2006, as he called for the authority to try prisoners by military commissions.

On Tuesday, a day after a Canadian government commission concluded that the Syrian-born Arar was "interrogated, tortured and held in degrading and inhumane conditions" for 10 months after being falsely accused of terrorist ties, Gonzales was asked whether the department owed him "an apology."

"Well, we were not responsible for his removal to Syria," Gonzales replied. "I'm not aware that he was tortured, and I haven't read the commission report."

Gonzales was aware that in 2002 the Immigration and Naturalization Service arranged Arar's removal from the United States and his delivery to Syria after he was accused of ties to al-Qaeda, spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos said. The INS has since been transferred from the Justice Department to the new Department of Homeland Security and is known as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Since Arar was officially deported, Scolinos said, his case was "an immigration-related issue." She said Gonzales was trying to "make that point" because "immigration matters are no longer handled by the [Justice] Department."

On the question of torture, Scolinos said, "My understanding is that the U.S. government received what they believed to be reliable assurances that he would be treated humanely, consistent with international treaties and conventions." Gonzales, she said, was "emphasizing that point."

Arar, now 36 and living in Canada, sued the U.S. government in federal court, but the case was dismissed on national security grounds. He filed a notice of appeal Sept. 12, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights, a legal group that is handling his case.

The possibility of further litigation may have limited what the Justice Department is prepared to say on the matter, said some U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the matter.

Canada's House of Commons unanimously agreed Wednesday that "apologies should be presented" to Arar on behalf of Canada. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who earlier acknowledged that Arar had been done "an injustice," balked at going that far, saying it might influence negotiations with Arar's lawyers over possible compensation.

Arar's ordeal began in New York City on Sept. 26, 2002, a year after the al-Qaeda attacks there. Changing planes on his return trip to Canada after visiting Tunisia with his family, he was arrested on what the commission concluded was false information, provided to the FBI by Canadian law enforcement, that he had al-Qaeda connections. After being held for 12 days, he was flown in a government plane to Jordan and transported over land to Syria, the nation he had left as a 17-year-old.

U.S. officials later confirmed that the order to deport him was signed by then-Deputy Attorney General Larry D. Thompson. They said it would be "prejudicial to the interests of the United States" to send Arar home to Canada, despite his Canadian citizenship.

The Canadian government was not informed until he was gone.

U.S. law prohibits sending anyone, even on national security grounds, to a country where he or she is likely to be tortured. Although the State Department has long branded Syria a human rights violator, then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft responded to Canadian protests by saying the Syrian government had assured that Arar would be treated humanely.

On Tuesday, Gonzales also repeated the administration's denial that Arar's removal was part of the practice of secret "renditions" of terrorism suspects to third countries where they could be more aggressively interrogated. "That is not what happened here," he said. "It was a deportation."

Even if Arar "had been rendered to Syria," he said, "we would have sought those same kind of assurances" against torture.

- 30 -

Correspondent Doug Struck in Toronto and staff researcher Julie Tate in Washington contributed to this report.