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Signs of the Times

IMPEACH GEORGE BUSH! - Articles of Impeachment and the FAX number of your representative. Download, print and FAX.

The result of War

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This is War

Iraq Body Count


Stranger than fiction

Ark's Jokes

Excellent radio interviews

Q&A session with CIA Analyst Stephen Pelletiere

The maker of this flash presentation deserves a medal.

Pentagoon: I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag

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Not In Our Name

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The most successful tyranny is not the one that uses force to assure uniformity but the one that removes the awareness of other possibilities, that makes it seem inconceivable that other ways are viable, that removes the sense that there is an outside.
Allan Bloom The Closing of the American Mind

"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it." - Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural

It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong. --Voltaire--

Faith of consciousness is freedom
Faith of feeling is weakness
Faith of body is stupidity.
Love of consciousness evokes the same in response
Love of feeling evokes the opposite
Love of the body depends only on type and polarity.
Hope of consciousness is strength
Hope of feeling is slavery
Hope of body is disease. [Gurdjieff]

Life is religion. Life experiences reflect how one interacts with God. Those who are asleep are those of little faith in terms of their interaction with the creation. Some people think that the world exists for them to overcome or ignore or shut out. For those individuals, the worlds will cease. They will become exactly what they give to life. They will become merely a dream in the "past." People who pay strict attention to objective reality right and left, become the reality of the "Future." [Cassiopaea 09-28-02]


April 7, 2003 Today's edition of Brought to You by The Bush Junta, Produced and Directed by the CIA, based on an original script by Henry Kissinger, with a cast of billions....The "Greatest Shew on Earth," no doubt, and if you don't have a good sense of humor, don't read this page! It is designed to reveal the "unseen." If you can't stand the heat of Objective Reality, get out of the kitchen!


US forces deliberately attacked Russian convoy: Russian ambassador
The Russian ambassador to Iraq accused US forces of deliberately shooting at his convoy as it was fleeing Iraq for Syria, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.
The report, filed Monday from the Iraqi-Syrian border, said ambassador Vladimir Titorenko was lightly injured, with his arm hurt in the attack. "The Russian ambassador to Iraq Vladimir Titorenko thinks that the column of Russian cars, filled with diplomats and journalists, was deliberately attacked by the Americans," RIA Novosti wrote. more .....

Anglo-American special forces hit the Russian ambassadors convoy using Russian-made weapons to conceal the origin of the attackers to blame the Iraqis afterwards. According to the most recent data the column got ambushed almost 30 km to the west from the city on the territory occupied by the coalition, but moving fast it escaped from fire and made a few more kilometers where it was blocked by military jeeps. On attempting to establish contact with their crews it received fire again, then the jeeps vanished. more...

Russian Military Daily Report The IRAQWAR.RU analytical center was created recently by a group of journalists and military experts from Russia to provide accurate and up-to-date news and analysis of the war against Iraq.

April 6, 2003, 2000hrs MSK (GMT +4 DST), Moscow - By the morning of April 6th an uncertain and quickly changing situation has developed. Coalition divisions are continuing to advance toward the city outskirts. The 22nd and 15th expeditionary marine squadrons are trying to break into the region of military airport "Rashid" from south-east. Iraqis are holding the line along the Diyala river and currently the marines cannot capture beach-heads on the right bank more....


Robert Fisk : Aftermath of 1st Battle of Baghdad The aftermath of battle was everywhere. Burning trucks and armored personnel carriers, overturned Iraqi field guns, craters and blackened palm trees and — right in the middle of the motorway, just to the right of a cloverleaf interchange — the unmistakable hulk of an American Abrams M1A1 battle tank, barrel pointing impotently toward the highway, its turret a platform for grinning Iraqi soldiers.

There were five other US tanks destroyed, the Iraqi minister of information insisted later. So — to the Iraqis who drove through the streets of Baghdad, firing their automatic weapons into the air in joy — `twas a famous victory. And one with a heavy price to be paid in blood and life. By the time I turned up yesterday, the more obvious and terrible detritus of battle — the corpses and the blood and vomit — had been cleared away, but the Iraqi Army and the Pentagon did their best to cloak this little killing field with lies.

A thousand Iraqis killed, crowed the Pentagon. Fifty Americans killed, boasted the Iraqis, rather more modestly. Both sides admitted "casualties" and it must be for the reader to judge what these might have been. A 106mm Iraqi anti-tank gun, three armored personnel carriers — again Iraqi — and more than 25 military trucks and Katyusha launchers — yes, once more Iraqi — were scattered in burning embers on the plains of dust and earth around the motorway just seven miles from the center of Baghdad. Even as I clambered over this mass of tortured and still red-hot metal, the American pilots came back, their invisible jets howling through the air above the battlefield.

Then there was the American tank. It had a neat hole in its armor, almost certainly made by a 106mm gun — perhaps the very Iraqi artillery piece that I had just seen upside down in the muck two hundred meters away. I climbed onto the tank's sunken turret — the Abrams has a gun almost on a level with its hull to lower its target profile — and padded around the vehicle, peering into its hatch. No, there were no dead Americans inside. An Iraqi lieutenant claimed his men had taken three dead crew members from the vehicle earlier in the morning but there was no sign of human remains. more..

Arabs Fight US Troops Near Baghdad - Egyptians, Jordanians and Syrians are fighting alongside Iraqi troops against US forces moving on Baghdad, using tactics including suicide bombings which left two Marines dead, US officers said yesterday. One officer with the 1st Marine Division told AFP US troops fought a 10-hour battle with hundreds of such fighters southeast of Baghdad on Friday. "We were ambushed twice, and there were four suicide car bombings against tanks," the officer said. "There were nine casualties, including two Marines killed." The officer said contact was initially with some 150 black-clad fighters, but by the end of the battle around midnight 300 to 400 had been killed. "They kept bringing them in by the busload," he said. "It's a whole conglomerate of freedom fighters." From prisoners, they were revealed to be Egyptians and Syrians, the officer said.

Baghdad Besieged — US forces said they had almost encircled the battered Iraqi capital amid heavy bombardment and artillery fire yesterday, leaving hundreds of Iraqis dead or injured, while in northern Iraq 18 people were reported killed by "friendly fire" when US aircraft mistakenly bombed a US-Kurdish convoy. Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed Al-Sahaf said forces loyal to President Saddam Hussein continued to fight invading troops. "The valiant Republican Guards are encircling the enemy near the airport. We destroyed six tanks and damaged 10 others and killed 50 of the enemies' forces," he told a news conference. An Iraqi military spokesman said Iraqi forces had fired five missiles at US troops on the edge of the city. But US troops fighting to break President Saddam Hussein's hold on power said they had cut most approaches to the sprawling capital of five million people, the biggest prize in the 18-day-old war. "We're just about there," Col. Will Grimsley of the US 3rd Infantry Division said when asked if US forces controlled all access to the capital.

The War That May End the Age of Superpower The United States, like ancient Rome, is beginning to be plagued by the limits of power. This fact is tactically acknowledged by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Richard B Myers that the war plan should not be criticized by the press because it has been framed in a diplomatic and political context, not merely pure military considerations in a vacuum. They say that it is the best possible war plan politically, though it may be far from full utilization of US military potential. America's top soldier has criticized the uniformed officer corps for expressing dissent that seriously undermines the war effort. Such criticism is characterized by Myers as "bearing no resemblance to the truth", counterproductive and harmful to US troops in the field.

Only time will tell who will have the last laugh. The US Central Command (Centcom) has announced that the next phase with an additional 120,000 reinforcements will not begin until the end of April. That is three times the duration of the war so far. In Vietnam, the refrain of all is going as planned was heard every few weeks with self-comforting announcements that another 50,000 more troops would finish the job quickly.

There is no doubt the US will prevail over Iraq in the long run. It is merely a question of at what cost in lives, money and time. Thus far, a lot of pre-war estimates have had to be readjusted and a lot of pre-war myths about popular support for US "liberation" within Iraq have had to be re-evaluated. Time is not on America's side, and the cost is not merely financial. America's superpower status is at stake. more....

Birth of a new world order Last night the stray dogs were howling in southern Iraq, howling across the barren, war-torn, flat and scarred landscape. A landscape drenched in darkness, the darkness of warfare where no lights are allowed, lest military positions are revealed.

A darkness lit up only by the majesty of the stars, which feed on the blackness of the night and because of that are all the brighter.

I had fallen into a deep sleep, for just two hours. Sleep muddled with dreams of chemical warfare, soldiers, and strange phrases such as close aerial support. I was wedged into a five-foot (1.5m) wide military tent with a colleague's feet in my face, breathing dust, on the outskirts of Basra.

Assaulting the senses. Those were the few hours between the first British artillery fire into Basra, and the second. Artillery fire that makes the earth shake violently beneath your feet, that sends jolts into your chest, that spews up swirls of sand and dust that clog your eyes.

Artillery fire that assaults your every sense, that you dread, even from a safe position behind it. This night British troops were firing giant lights into Basra from the outskirts of the city. more

One of closest and brightest gamma ray bursts detected "from a source closer than any seen before," NASA NEWS RELEASE The Universe clearly works weekends; delivering one of the brightest and closest gamma ray bursts yet on Saturday, March 29, at 6:37 a.m. EST. NASA's High-Energy Transient Explorer (HETE) detected the burst, signaling the birth of a black hole, in the constellation Leo. For more than 30 seconds, the burst out shone the entire Universe in gamma rays, and its afterglow was still over a trillion times brighter than the sun two hours later.

This was the brightest burst yet detected by HETE and is in the top one percent of all bursts in terms of intrinsic brightness. Within seconds, HETE nailed down a location and subsequently relayed the coordinates to the astronomy community, allowing hundreds of scientists and amateur astronomers to join the observation, from Australia to Finland and across the ocean to America. Observations continue to pour in as scientists attempt to unravel what caused the burst. The region is still too bright to determine which galaxy this burst came from. "This was our biggest one ever, and it didn't get away," said Dr. George Ricker of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Mass., and principal investigator for the HETE mission. "With scores of observations now completed and more on the way, we should get a rather clear picture of what triggered this burst." Gamma ray bursts are the most powerful explosions in the Universe; likely caused by the death of a massive star, in which the core implodes to form a black hole. Bursts appear to occur randomly, and few last more than a minute, making them hard to study. more...


Gamma-ray burst, supernova connection confirmed CHANDRA X-RAY CENTER NEWS RELEASE Posted: March 24, 2003 Scientists announced today that they have used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to confirm that a gamma-ray burst was connected to the death of a massive star. This result is an important step in understanding the origin of gamma-ray bursts, the most violent events in the present-day Universe. **Snip** "Our observation of GRB 020813 supports two of the most important features of the popular supra-nova model for gamma-ray bursts," said Butler. "An extremely massive star likely exploded less than two months prior to the gamma-ray burst, and the radiation from the gamma-ray burst was beamed into a narrow cone." An analysis of the data showed that the ions were moving away from the site of the gamma-ray burst at a tenth the speed of light, probably as part of a shell of matter ejected in the supernova explosion. The line features were observed to be sharply peaked, indicating that they were coming from a narrow region of the expanding shell. This implies that only a small fraction of the shell was illuminated by the gamma-ray burst, as would be expected if the burst was beamed into a narrow cone. The observed duration of the afterglow suggests a delay of about 60 days between the supernova and the gamma ray burst. more..

And the C's tell us
Q: (L) Are supernova in any sense cyclical?
A: In a sense requiring higher senses.
Q: (L) Do supernova create portals to other universes?
A: The doors may be redirected.
Q: (L) Does any of this supernova business have anything to do with the constellation Leo as some people have suggested?
A: In a way.
Q: (L) In what way?

A: Through geometric configuration.
Q: (L) What do you mean 'through geometric configuration?'
A: Status of Trine.
Q: (L) You mentioned the importance of the Horsehead Nebula in relation to the symbol of the Knight. What is the significance of the Horsehead Nebula?
A: Keep up your search, as you are near.
Q: (L) What would be the effect of cosmic rays emitted by a supernova that is in some proximity to the earth on the human body?
A: Genetic splice of strand.
Q: (L) How close would a supernova have to be to have this effect?
A: 2000 light years.
Q: (L) So that either of these stars in Orion that are potential supernova prospects could have this effect since they are approximately 1500 light years away?
A: Yes.
Q: (A) Are we talking about effects that propagate with the speed of light, or effects that are superluminal and instantaneous?
A: Both, and slower as well.
Q: (L) What would be the effect that would be instantaneous?
A: Lesser.
Q: (A) Now this supernova that is supposed to explode soon, will it be soon in the sense of our SEEING it, that is the arrival of the light from this, or soon in the instantaneous sense?
A: Optically.
Q: (L) So, this supernova must have already occurred?
A: Yes.
Q: (L) And where did this supernova take place?
A: No dice, baby!
Q: (L) What clue can I follow to determine which star it is?
A: Instincts.
Q: (A) But, if it already occurred, then this means that the instantaneous effects have already been felt, even if it was lesser than the optical effects. It must have been recorded by anomalous changes in genes? (L) Is that true?
A: Close.
Q: (L) So what, in the records, should we be looking for?
A: Sign of struggle out of sequence with pre-ordained activities of Royal Blood Lines.
Q: (L) In other words, the usurpation of the blood lines?
A: Close.

International Red Cross worker executed by Taliban
- Before executing the International Red Cross worker, the Taliban gunmen made a satellite telephone call to their superior for instructions: Kill him?
Kill him, the order came back, and Ricardo Munguia, whose body was found with 20 bullet wounds last month, became the first foreign aid worker to die in Afghanistan since the Taliban's ouster from power 18 months ago.

The manner of his death suggests the Taliban is not only determined to remain a force in this country, but is reorganizing and reviving its command structure. There is little to stop them. The soldiers and police who were supposed to be the bedrock of a stable postwar Afghanistan have gone unpaid for months and are drifting away.
At a time when the United States is promising a reconstructed democratic postwar Iraq, many Afghans are remembering hearing similar promises not long ago. Instead, what they see is thieving warlords, murder on the roads, and a resurgence of Taliban vigilantism. "It's like I am seeing the same movie twice and no one is trying to fix the problem," said Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of Afghanistan's president and his representative in southern Kandahar. "What was promised to Afghans with the collapse of the Taliban was a new life of hope and change. But what was delivered? Nothing. Everyone is back in business."

Karzai said reconstruction has been painfully slow — a canal repaired, a piece of city road paved, a small school rebuilt. "There have been no significant changes for people," he said. "People are tired of seeing small, small projects. I don't know what to say to people anymore." When the Taliban ruled they forcibly conscripted young men. "Today I can say 'we don't take your sons away by force to fight at the front line,'" Karzai remarked. "But that's about all I can say."
Comment: Lies, Lies, The Weapons Of Mass Deception. Bush and his Gang's promise to "bring democracy" to Iraq is laughable. Afghanistan, a country one tenth the size of Iraq, to whose people Bush made the same promise, is still a shambles. Countrywide anarchy is characterized by a resumption of opium growing, trade in drugs, women and guns, while their US-puppet president, Karzai begs in Washington for funds Bush promised to rebuild his country.

Controlling the News In-House Memos on Television News Presentations
It has long been the strong belief of many Americans that their print and television media is subject to certain government oversight and, finally, control.

Recently, a mid-level executive of one of the three major American television networks sent on over 1500 pages of memos from the corporate offices of his network in New York to the head of their television news division. These memos contain a multitude of instructions concerning the presentation of national and international news for the network’s viewers.

Corporate is obviously subject to the opinions of various pressure groups, to include those of official Washington and the Jewish community. It would be impossible to show all of these revealing documents but selections are certainly possible. What is not possible, obviously, is to reveal either the name of the conscience-stricken media executive nor the company that employs him. These comments, therefore, can be accepted or rejected by the reader as they see fit. If the shoe fits, however, wear it.

(March 22):….it is not conducive to maintaining an overall neutrality in the Palestine uprisings to show any pictures of the American peacenik that was run over by the Israeli army bulldozer. This is only to be mentioned as a “tragic accident” for which the IDF “is truly saddened.”

(Feb 10)….It is not permitted at this point to use or refer to any film clips, stills or articles emanating from any French source whatsoever.

(Feb 26) It is expected that coverage of the forthcoming Iraqi campaign will be identical with the coverage used during Desert Storm. Shots of GIs must show a mixed racial combination….any interviews must reflect the youthful and idealistic, not the cynical point of view…the liberation of happy, enthusiastic Iraqis can be best shown by filming crowds of cheering citizens waving American flags. Also indicated would be pictures of photogenic GIs fraternizing with Iraqi children and handing them food or other non-controversial presents…of course, pictures of dead US military personnel are not to be shown and pictures of dead Iraqi soldiers should not show examples of violent death…also indicated would be brief interviews with English-speaking Iraqi citizens praising American liberation efforts…all such interviews must be vetted by either the White House or Pentagon before public airing.

(March 12) At this point in time, reference to North Korean military threats must be played down entirely. The Iraqi Freedom campaign has to be concluded in the public mind before proceeding with the next assault on the Evil Axis….

(March 26) US alliances with the Turkish/Iraqi Kurdish tribes should be played down. This is considered a very sensitive issue with the Turks and American arming and support of the Kurds could create a severe backlash in Ankara….Kurds should be depicted as ‘Iraqi Freedom Fighters” and not identified as Kurds…

(March 2) further references to the religious views of the President are to be deleted…

(March 15) photo opportunities of the President and members of his cabinet, especially Secretary Rumsfeld, with enthusiastic GIs….

(March 19) No mention, repeat, no mention, of Palestinian suicide bombers during the Iraqi operation….

(March 25) …no mention of either Wolfowitz or Pearle should be made at the present time.

(March 10)….pro-Government rallies are to be given the fullest coverage…if anti-Government demonstrations are shown, it is desired to stress either a very small number of “eccentrics” or shots of social misfits; i.e., with beards, tattoos, physical deformities, etc. Pro-Government supporters should be seen as clean cut with as many well-groomed subjects as possible….subjects should stress complete support for the President’s programs and especially support for American military units en route to combat…also interviews with photogenic family members of participating GIs stressing loyalty and affection…American flags are always a good prop in the background…

Britain admits there may be no WMD's in Iraq Well into the war that was supposed to rid Iraq of its alleged stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, a senior British official admitted on Saturday that no chemical, biological or nuclear weapons of mass destruction may after all be found. Making the startling confession in a radio interview, British Home Secretary, David Blunkett, added in the same breath that he would in any case rejoice the "fall" of Saddam Hussein and his regime - regardless of whether any weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq or not. The confession reconfirms the worst fears of opponents of the war that "weapons of mass destruction" is only a ruse for the US and the British to go to war against Iraq. At the very least the admission certainly deals a serious blow to the moral legitimacy that the US and the British have been seeking in prosecuting the war.



April 6, 2003 Today's edition of Brought to You by The Bush Junta, Produced and Directed by the CIA, based on an original script by Henry Kissinger, with a cast of billions....The "Greatest Shew on Earth," no doubt, and if you don't have a good sense of humor, don't read this page! It is designed to reveal the "unseen." If you can't stand the heat of Objective Reality, get out of the kitchen!

The Battle Of Baghdad 'Ever so slowly, the suburbs were turned into battlefields' Beside the highway, the Iraqi armoured vehicle was still smouldering, a cloud of blue-grey smoke rising above the plane trees under which its crew had been sheltering. Two trucks were burnt out on the other side of the road. The American Apache helicopters had left just a few minutes before I arrived. A squad of soldiers, flat on their stomachs, were setting up an anti-armour weapon on the weed-strewn pavement, aiming at the empty airport motorway for the first American tanks to come thrashing down the highway.

Then there were the Iraqi bodies, piled high in the back of a pick-up truck in front of me, army boots hanging over the tailboard, a soldier with an automatic rifle sitting beside them. Beside the highway, a squad of troops was stacking rocket-propelled grenades beside a row of empty shops as the ground beneath us vibrated with the impact of American air strikes and shellfire. The area was called Qadisiya. It was Iraq's last front line.

Thus did the Battle for Baghdad enter its first hours yesterday, a conflict that promises to be both dirty and cruel. Even the city's police force was sent to the front, its officers parading in a fleet of squad cars through the central streets, waving their newly issued Kalashnikov rifles from the windows.

What is one to say of such frantic, impersonal - and, yes, courageous - chaos? A truck crammed with more than a hundred Iraqi troops, many in blue uniforms, all of them carrying rifles which gleamed in the morning sunlight, sped past me towards the airport. A few made victory signs in the direction of my car - I confess to touching 145km an hour on the speedometer - but of course one had to ask what their hearts were telling them. "Up the line to death" was the phrase that came to mind. Two miles away, at the Yarmouk hospital, the surgeons stood in the car park in blood-stained overalls; they had already handled their first intake of military casualties.

A few hours later, an Iraqi minister was to tell the world that the Republican Guard had just retaken the airport from the Americans, that they were under fire but had won "a great victory". Around Qadisiya, however, it didn't look that way. Tank crews were gunning their T-72s down the highway past the main Baghdad railway yards in a convoy of armoured personnel carriers and Jeeps and clouds of thick blue exhaust fumes. The more modern T-82s, the last of the Soviet-made fleet of battle tanks, sat hull down around Jordan Square with a clutch of BMP armoured vehicles.

The Americans were coming. The Americans were claiming to be in the inner suburbs of Baghdad - which was untrue; indeed, the story was designed, I'm sure, to provoke panic and vulnerability among the Iraqis.

True or false, the stories failed. Across vast fields of sand and dirt and palm groves, I saw batteries of Sam-6 anti-aircraft missiles and multiple Katyusha rocket launchers awaiting the American advance. The soldiers around them looked relaxed, some smoking cigarettes in the shade of the palm trees or sipping fruit juice brought to them by the residents of Qadisiya whose homes - heaven help them - were now in the firing line.

But then there was the white-painted Japanese pick-up truck that pulled out in front of my car. At first, I thought the soldiers on the back were sleeping, covered in blankets to keep them warm. Yet I had opened my car window to keep cool this early summer morning and I realised that all the soldiers - there must have been 15 of them in the little truck - were lying on top of each other, all with their heavy black military boots dangling over the tailboard. The two soldiers on the vehicles sat with their feet wedged between the corpses. So did America's first victims of the day go to their eternal rest.

"Today, we attack," the Minister of Information, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, was to announced an hour later, and he reeled off a list of Iraqi "victories" to sustain his country's morale. Seven British and American tanks destroyed around Basra, four American personnel carriers and an American aircraft destroyed near Baghdad. At the airport, the Iraqis "confronted the enemy and slaughtered them". Or so we were told.

Well, an Iraqi friend of mine who lives near the airport told me that he had seen a tank on fire, a tank with a black "V" sign painted on its armour. The "V" is the American symbol of "friendly force", intended to warn their pilots from bombing their own soldiers by mistake. So this must have been an American tank.

But Mr Sahaf's optimism got the better of him. Yes, he told journalists in Baghdad, Doura was safe, Qadisiya was safe. Yarmouk was safe. "Go and look for yourselves," he challenged. Ministry of Information officials were ashen-faced. And when foreign correspondents were bussed off on this over-confident adventure, they were turned back at the Yarmouk hospital and the ministry buses firmly ordered to carry reporters back to their hotel.

But an earlier 35-minute journey around the shell-embraced suburbs proved one thing yesterday: that the Iraqis - up till dusk at least - were preparing to fight the invaders. I found their 155mm artillery around the centre of the city, close to the rail lines. One artillery piece was even hauled up Abu Nawas Street beside the Tigris by a truck whose soldiers held up their rifles and shouted their support for Saddam Hussein.

And all day, the air raids continued. It gets confusing, amid the dust and smoke, all these new targets and new pockets of ruination. Was the grey-powdered rubble in Karada a building yesterday, or was it struck last week? The central telephone exchange had taken another hit. So had the communications centre in Yarmouk. And then I noticed, along the front line where the Iraqi soldiers were preparing to become heroes or "martyrs" or survivors - the last an infinitely preferable outcome to the sanest of soldiers - how small craters had been punched into the flowerbeds on the central reservations.

Ever so slowly, the suburbs of Baghdad were being turned into battlefields.

Wailing Children, The Wounded, The Dead: Victims of the Day Cluster Bombs Rained on Babylon The wounds are vicious and deep, a rash of scarlet spots on the back and thighs or face, the shards of shrapnel from the cluster bombs buried an inch or more in the flesh. The wards of the Hillah teaching hospital are proof that something illegal -- something quite outside the Geneva Conventions -- occurred in the villages around the city once known as Babylon.

The wailing children, the young women with breast and leg wounds, the 10 patients upon whom doctors had to perform brain surgery to remove metal from
their heads, talk of the days and nights when the explosives fell "like grapes" from the sky. Cluster bombs, the doctors say -- and the detritus of the air raids around the hamlets of Nadr and Djifil and Akramin and Mahawil and Mohandesin and Hail Askeri shows that they are right.

Were they American or British aircraft that showered these villages with one of the most lethal weapons of modern warfare? The 61 dead who have passed through the Hillah hospital since Saturday night cannot tell us. Nor can the survivors who, in many cases, were sitting in their homes when the white canisters opened high above their village, spilling thousands of bomblets into the sky, exploding in the air, soaring through windows and doorways to burst indoors or bouncing off the roofs of the concrete huts to blow up later in the roadways.

Rahed Hakem remembers that it was 10.30am on Sunday when she was sitting in
her home in Nadr, that she heard "the voice of explosions" and looked out of the door to see "the sky raining fire". She said the bomblets were a black-grey colour. Mohamed Moussa described the clusters of "little boxes" that fell out of the sky in the same village and thought they were silver-coloured. They fell like "small grapefruit," he said. "If it hadn't exploded and you touched it, it went off immediately," he said. "They exploded in the air and on the ground and we still have some in our home, unexploded."

Karima Mizler thought the bomblets had some kind of wires attached to them
-- perhaps the metal "butterfly" that contains sets of the tiny cluster bombs and springs open to release them in showers.

Some victims died at once, mostly women and children, some of whose blackened, decomposing remains lay in the tiny charnel house mortuary at the back of the Hillah hospital. The teaching college received more than 200 wounded since Saturday night -- the 61 dead are only those who were brought to the hospital or who died during or after surgery, and many others are believed to have been buried in their home villages -- and, of these, doctors say about 80 per cent were civilians.

Soldiers there certainly were, at least 40 if these statistics are to be believed, and amid the foul clothing of the dead outside the mortuary door I found a khaki military belt and a combat jacket. But village men can also be soldiers and both they and their wives and daughters insisted there were no military installations around their homes. True or false? Who is to know if a tank or a missile launcher was positioned in a nearby field -- as they were along the highway north to Baghdad? But the Geneva Conventions demand protection for civilians even if they are intermingled with military personnel, and the use of cluster bombs in these villages -- even if aimed at military targets -- thus crosses the boundaries of international law.

So it was that 27-year old Asil Yamin came to receive those awful round wounds in her back. And so five-year-old Zaman Abbais was hit in the legs and 48-year-old Samira Abdul-Hamza in the eyes, chest and legs. Her son Haidar, a 32-year-old soldier, said the containers which fell to the ground were white with some red and green sometimes painted on them. ''It is like a grenade and they came into the houses," he said. "Some stayed on the land, others exploded."

Heartbreaking is the only word to describe 10-year-old Maryam Nasr and her five-year-old sister Hoda. Maryam has a patch over her right eye where a piece of bomblet embedded itself. She also had wounds to the stomach and thighs. I didn't realise that Hoda, standing by her sister's bed, was wounded until her mother carefully lifted the little girl's scarf and long hair to show a deep puncture in the right side of her head, just above her ear, congealed blood sticking to her hair but the wound still gently bleeding. Their mother described how she had been inside her home and heard an explosion and found her daughters lying in their own blood near the door. The little girls alternately smiled and hid when I took their pictures. In other wards, the hideously wounded would try to laugh, to show their
bravery. It was a humbling experience.

The Iraqi authorities, of course, were all too ready to allow us journalists access to these patients. But there was no way these children and often uneducated parents could manufacture their stories of tragedy and pain. Nor could the Iraqis have faked the scene in Nadr village where the remains of the tiny bomblets littered the ground beside the scorch marks. A crew from Sky Television even managed to bring a set of bomblet shrapnel back to Baghdad from Nadr with them, the wicked little metal balls that are intended to puncture the human body still locked into their frame like cough sweets in a metal sheath, They were of a black colour which glinted silver when held against the light.

Again, were the aircraft that dropped these terrible weapons American or British? The deputy administrator of the hospital and one of his doctors told a confused tale of military action around the city in recent days, of Apache helicopters that would disgorge special forces on the road to Karbala; one of their operations -- if the hospital personnel are to be believed -- went spectacularly wrong one night recently when militiamen forced them to retreat. Shortly afterwards, the cluster bomb raids began, although the villages that were targeted appear to have been on the other side of Hillah to the reported abortive American attack.

One thing was clear: there is no "front line" in the fighting around Babylon, that US forces strike into land around the Tigris river by air and then withdraw and Iraqi forces do much the same in the other direction. Only the Americans and British, of course, have air superiority -- indeed there is no evidence a single Iraqi aircraft has taken off since the start of the invasion -- so even the US and British officers back at Qatar headquarters can hardly claim the cluster bombs were dropped by Iraq.

The most recent raid occurred on Tuesday when 11 civilians were killed -- two of them women and three of them children -- in a village called Hindiyeh. A man sent to collect the corpses reported to the hospital the only living thing he found in the area was a hen. Iraqi bomb disposal officers were ordered into the villages yesterday afternoon to clear the unexploded ordnance.

Needless to say, it is not the first time cluster bombs have been used against civilians. During Israel's 1982 siege of west Beirut, its air force dropped cluster bomblets manufactured for the US Navy across several areas, especially in the Fakhani and Ouzai districts, causing civilians ferocious and deep wounds identical to those I saw in Hillah yesterday. Angry at the misuse of their weapons, which are designed for use against exclusively military targets, the Reagan administration withheld a shipment of fighter-bombers for Israel -- then relented a few weeks later and sent the aircraft anyway.

It is not easy to listen to Iraqi officials condemning the use of illegal weapons when the Iraqi air force has itself dropped poison gas on the Iranian army and on pro-Iranian Kurdish villages during the 1980-88 war against Iran. Outraged claims from Iraqi officials at the abuse of human rights sound like a bell with a very hollow ring. But something terrible happened around Hillah this week, something unforgivable and something contrary to international law. One hesitates, as I say, to talk of human rights in this land of torture but if the Americans and British don't watch out, they are likely to find themselves condemned for what they have always -- and rightly -- accused Iraq of: war crimes.

Kurds killed and BBC's Simpson hit in latest 'friendly fire' tragedy
Kurdish fighters hit in latest 'friendly fire' tragedy
In separate incident, Russian ambassador's convoy said to have been attacked after leaving Baghdad.
A US warplane bombed a convoy carrying US Special Forces and Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq on Sunday, killing several men, according to a BBC reporter with the troops.

BBC correspondent John Simpson said he counted at least 10 bodies amid the burning vehicles. "An American plane dropped the bomb right beside us. I saw it land about 10 feet (three meters) away," said Simpson.

Associated Press Television Network showed pictures of the bombing, near the town of Makhmur, in Kurdish territory about halfway between the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Kirkuk. Simpson, the BBC's World Affairs Editor, said the convoy contained between eight and 10 cars, two of which carried US Special Forces troops.

The BBC said Simpson had been wounded in the leg by shrapnel. His translator was seriously injured, and so was a senior Kurdish political figure, he said. "This is just a scene from hell here," Simpson said. "All the vehicles are on fire, there are bodies burning all around me, bits of bodies all around ... The Americans saw this convoy and they bombed it. They hit their own people." more...

Russian military intel update: War in Iraq, April 5 The situation on the US-Iraqi front is characterized by gradual reduction of American offensive activity. After the 3rd Mechanized Infantry Division tank forces had marched towards Baghdad and its vanguards reached the city from south and south-west, engineering fortification of their positions began, which indicates the end of the current stage of the campaign as well as the loss of offensive potential of American forces and necessity to rest and regroup. It is supposed that during the next two days the American command will attempt local strikes in order to improve and extend their positions on the south and, especially, south-west approaches to Baghdad (crossing the Baghdad – Samarra roadway) and begin bringing fresh forces from Kuwait.

As we supposed, during the last night Americans were moving 101st Airborne Division troops to help the 1st Mechanized Division that captured the airport of Baghdad yesterday morning. About 80 strike and transport helicopters and 500 marines were deployed there.

But all the efforts to reinforce the brigade with heavy armor failed as Iraqi started powerful artillery strikes at the transport routes and organized mobile firing groups on the roads. After reports about losing 3 tanks and 5 APCs on the route the American command had to pause the movement of the reinforcements by land.

Yesterday’s estimates of the forces concentrated here were overstated. After analysis of intercepted radio communications and reports of American commanders it was specified that at the airport there were only parts of the 1st brigade troops, up to 2 enforced battalions with the help of a self-propelled artillery division 3 thousand soldiers and officers strong, 60 tanks and about 20 guns.

Another battalion enforced with artillery crossed the Baghdad-Amman roadway and came into position at the crossroads to the south of the airport, near Abu-Harraib.

Soldiers of the 1st Mechanized Brigade spent almost all the last night in chemical protection suits, waiting for Iraqi to use their “untraditional weapons”. Apart from that, their positions were constantly shot with artillery and machine gun fire. The brigade commanders report that the soldiers are ultimately dead-beat, and are constantly requesting reinforcements.

About 10 armored units including 4 tanks were lost in this area yesterday. Up to 9 men were killed, about 20 wounded, at least 25 reported missing. Moreover, the status of a patrol group that didn’t arrive at the airport remains unclear. It is supposed that it either moved away towards Khan-Azad and took defense there or got under an ambush and was eliminated. It is now being searched for.

The losses of Iraqi were up to 40 men killed, about 200 captured (including the airport technical personnel), 4 guns and 3 tanks. Currently American reconnaissance squadrons are trying to dissect the suburban defenses with local sallies. At the same time, marine troops are approaching the south-east borders of Baghdad. Their vanguard units reached the outskirts of Al-Jessir and immediately tried to capture the bridge over a feeder of the Tigris, the Divala river, but were met with fire and stopped.

Commander of the 1st Expeditionary Marine Squadron colonel Joe Dowdy was deposed yesterday morning. As was revealed, the colonel was deposed “…for utmost hesitation and loss of the initiative during the storm of An-Nasiriya…”. This way the coalition command in Qatar found an excuse for their military faults by that town. The “guilt” of the colonel was in his refusing to enter the town for almost 3 days and trying to suppress Iraqi resistance with artillery and aviation, trying to avoid losses. As a result, the command additionally had to move the 15th squadron of colonel Tomas Worldhouser there, who had to storm the ferriages for almost 6 days, with about 20 of his soldiers killed, 130 wounded and 4 missing. The 1st Expeditionary Squadron lost no men at An-Nasiriya, but 3 marines died, as were reported, “by inadvertency” and about 20 soldiers got wounded.

Despite the fact that marines were able to capture one of the bridges at the south outskirt of An-Nasiriya, the ferriage across the Euphrates is still risky. Fights in the city are going on. The American command has to cover the ferriage with a company of marines enforced with tanks and artillery, up to 400 soldiers and officers strong. Every column passing across the bridge gets shot by Iraqis from the left bank and the marines have to cover it by setting smoke screens and delivering constant fire. A brigade group of the 101st Airborne Division is engaged in the combat but is unable to break the Iraqi resistance. Throughout the day 3 men were wounded, 1 soldier reported missing.

In An-Najaf, after 3 days of gunning and bombardment the 101st Airborne Division marines were able to advance towards the center of the town and are now fighting in the market region.

It is reported that 2 marines were killed and 4 wounded. 1 APC was destroyed with a RPG. At the same time there arrived information that during the last night most of the garrison (up to 3 thousand Republican Guardians of the “Medina” Division) left the town on cars for Karbala. Only militia remained in the town, covering the withdrawing main forces and continuing to resist.

All the attempts of American marines to advance into Al-Khindiya failed. After 1 APC from the vanguard was knocked out and more than 20 RPG shots at the column, the marines withdrew at their original positions. 2 soldiers were wounded and evacuated rearwards. American intelligence believes that no more than a battalion of Iraqis are defending the town. Their resistance remains, despite that the town has already been under siege for 8 days.

Americans were unable to capture the left-bank part of Al-Hillah. The 82nd Airborne Division troops are only capable of keeping a narrow “corridor” – across the outskirt of Al-Hillah with the bridge over the Euphrates. There is constant shooting in the town. Throughout the day in this region the coalition lost 1 men killed and 4 wounded.

A similar “corridor” is kept by marines in the Al-Kut town. But there is information that allows us to suppose that Americans were pushed away from the town last night. Continuous requests of artillery and aviation support and coordinates transmitted to the artillery HQ indicate that the combat occurred in immediate proximity to the American positions. 4 times ambulance helicopters flew into this region, and there hasn’t still been a report from the commander of the marine group that defends this area, which may indicate that he hasn’t yet have full information about his units.

The situation at Al-Diwaniyah, where a heavy combat has been going on for 3 days, has become a little clearer. Currently all American forces have been pushed away from the town. Early morning an American helicopter was attacked. Its crew died. Another helicopter was shot down and had to land to the east from Karbala. Information about its crew is being obtained.

The overall situation in the central region of Iraq is characterized by gradual reduction of the coalition activity and change to active defense. But extraordinary dispersion of the ground forces, their fragmentation (the biggest group now contains up to 12 thousand troops) create advantageous preconditions for Iraqi counter-attacks, but the air superiority of the coalition severely complicate such projects. If, due to weather conditions, the coalition forces lose their air support, it may have very dramatic consequences.

At the south of Iraq the British advance on Basra is losing its strength as well and may already stop during the next two days. Currently the British have been unable to achieve any serious success on this direction, and fights are only occur at the outskirts of the city.

The British command had to admit that it had underestimated the strength of Iraqi resistance and was unable to reveal the structure and number of Basra defenders fully and operatively. Currently in the city and the Fao peninsula, according to the British data, about 5 thousand of regular Iraqi military forces are defending (parts of 51st Mechanized Division of general Khaled Khatim Saleh al-Hashimi) and up to 5-7 thousand volunteers and militiamen. At the same time, British hopes for an armed Shia revolt have been ruined. The Shia leaders in Iran called their Iraqi coreligionists to fight against English and American “satanists” and “Zionists”, leaving British without their “best card” in the plan of capturing Basra. 3 men were killed and 8 wounded yesterday.

At the North of Iraq desultory fightings between Kurdish troops “peshmerga” and Iraqi forces are going on. The morning messages about the town Kalak captured have not been confirmed yet, and according to the radio surveillance data the actions only take place at the approaches of the town. For now, Kurds are mainly busy robbing neighboring villages and transporting the stolen goods into their basic regions. According to American special forces which have recently been replaced here, sometimes after capturing a village up to half of the Kurdish squadron abandon their positions. They load stolen property into captured cars and leave for their homes to be back next morning for new salvage.

But apart from clear marauding of “peshmerga”, the coalition command has more and more problems with keeping the decent moral level of their fighting soldiers. Spite and irritability are growing even in British troops, which were always “correct enough” towards the civilians on the occupied territories. In increasing frequency British soldiers show violence and rudeness towards civilians. At a recent consultation at the British HQ, a representative of the military police command pointed at the fact that even actions of arresting people suspected in underground activities occur with unnecessary violence and publicity, and resemble rather intimidation than special police operations. The command issued a special order regarding the required behavior in the occupied regions, but even after it had been published a few analogous incidents were registered.

An event that had happened 5 days before also received publicity at the coalition HQ. During a night “cleanup” in one of suburban houses near An-Nasiriya three marines shot a man and afterwards raped and shot his wife. The command got information about this accident from one of its informers. After interrogation the marines were sent to Qatar for additional investigations.

In increasing frequency commanders find things belonging to Iraqis in their soldiers’ rucksacks. The soldiers are discontent of their commanders attempting to cease this practice, and call those items “war salvage”. Currently the command is preparing a special order regarding this issue.

Jupiter's Moon Count Soars to 52 with Four New Discoveries The tally of Jovian moons has soared to 52 with the discovery of four small moons added to eight that were previously revealed last week. The total may represent roughly half of all the giant planet's satellites larger than 0.62 miles (1 kilometer). The discoveries were made by a team led by Scott Sheppard and David Jewitt of the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy. They came fast and furious, in three separate revelations beginning March 5. "We haven't even had a press release about the satellites," Jewitt said in an e-mail interview. "We just put up a web site and then we start getting calls from all over the world. People love this stuff, as we do."

Included in the latest batch are two rocks estimated to be just 0.62 miles (1 kilometer) in diameter. These are the first Jovian satellites calculated to be less than 2 kilometers. Jupiter has 29 moons that are no more than 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) wide and several more that aren't much bigger. These small satellites are thought to be captured asteroids or chunks of larger objects that broke apart, though their exact origins have not been determined. Many of them orbit in a direction opposite the planet's rotation. asked Jewitt if the tiny objects deserve to be called moons at all, or whether perhaps a new class of object should be conjured to account for the micromoons. more....

Bush Order Allows Quarantine of Pneumonia Cases WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush issued an executive order on Friday allowing the forced quarantine of patients with a mysterious new illness that has killed 80 people, as well as patients with other diseases such as Ebola. The order allows the Health and Human Services secretary to decide when such a quarantine is needed. It calls for the "apprehension, detention or conditional release of individuals to prevent the introduction, transmission or spread of suspected communicable diseases." It names Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which has affected a suspected 115 people in the United States and 2,400 worldwide, killing around 80. The order also names cholera, diphtheria, infectious tuberculosis, plague, smallpox, yellow fever and viral hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola, Lassa and Marburg.

Google-Watch - WHY WE TARGET GOOGLE The privacy struggle, which includes both the old issue of consumer protection and this new issue of government surveillance, means that the question of how Google treats the data it collects from users becomes critical. Given that Google is so central to the web, whatever attitude it takes toward privacy has massive implications for the rest of the web in general, and for other search engines in particular. Call it class warfare, if you like. Because that brings up the other major gripe that Google Watch has with Google. That's the PageRank problem -- the fact that Google's primary ranking algorithm has less to do with the quality of web pages, than it has to do with the "power popularity" of web pages. Their approach to ranking is anti-democratic, in that already-powerful pages are mathematically granted extra power to anoint other pages as powerful. It's not that we believe Google is evil. What we believe is that Google, Inc. is at a fork in the road, and they have some big decisions to make. This Google Watch site is trying to articulate, publicize, and even dramatize the situation at Google, and encourage more scrutiny of their operations. By doing this, we hope to play a small part in maintaining the web as an information tool that is more useful for the masses, than it is for the elites. That's why we nominated Google for a Big Brother award in 2003. more .....

Faultline Under LA Could Cause Huge Earthquake A recently discovered earthquake fault directly beneath downtown Los Angeles could devastate the city with a tremor 15 times as strong as the big quake in 1994, a study by the US Geological Survey shows. The most disturbing finding, published yesterday in the magazine Science, is that the so-called Puente Hills fault has a habit of triggering earthquakes measuring about 7.5 on the Richter scale, easily powerful enough to topple skyscrapers designed to withstand magnitudes of only 5. The consolation is that such earthquakes have hit the Los Angeles basin only four times in 11,000 years. But LA is a city forever teetering on the brink of disaster, at least in its own imagination.

Fear of "the Big One" is in the city's lifeblood, although for most of the 20th century the assumption was that the villain would be the San Andreas fault, which runs the length of California but steers 50 miles east of downtown LA. The Puente Hills fault, a so-called "blind thrust" fault because it is hidden by enveloping layers of rock that might one day be pushed up as much as eight feet, was discovered in 1999. The study establishes its history and shows that, unlike other faults, Puente Hills does not release its energy in small, frequent bursts but saves it up for massive tremors every 2,000 to 3,000 years.

The scientists who made the survey described the results as "very, very disturbing". LA's civic leaders may need to reconsider earthquake standards for downtown buildings, which house corporate and public offices employing hundreds of thousands of people. The 1994 earthquake, centered on Northridge in the northern LA suburbs, measured 6.7 on the Richter scale, an energy release roughly 15 times lower than a 7.5 quake. It killed 57 people, most of them trapped in a high-rise apartment complex, and caused $40 billion of damage.

Pentagon Defends Use of Civilian Clothes The Pentagon on Friday defended the use of some civilian clothes by U.S. special operations forces, a tactic used to help them blend in with the local population. Alleging war crimes, Bush administration officials complained bitterly last week that Iraqi paramilitary forces dressed as civilians, faked surrenders and used other battlefield ruses to kill American soldiers. Asked at a Pentagon press conference why it is OK for American commando troops to take off their uniforms, but a crime when the Iraqis did it, Defense Department spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said she thought American forces wear something that distinguishes them from civilians, but deferred the question for a later answer.. .more
Comment: Caught out again! The double standards of this administration is breath taking

Horrific Wounds Among US Soldiers Says Surgeon Area surgeon aids troops Boulder man operated on recently rescued POW in Germany By Lisa Marshall, Camera Staff Writer April 5, 2003 Friday morning: 57 dead; 16 missing; 7 captured. The daily White House press briefings and fuzzy real-time TV reports fall far short of conveying the brutality of war, says Boulder neurosurgeon Gene Bolles.

Bolles spent Thursday hunched over an operating table at Germany's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, repairing the broken back of Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch, who was rescued from an Iraqi hospital this week. The 19-year-old soldier will require aggressive rehabilitation, Bolles said, but is expected to recover well — one success story in a war full of tragedy.

"It really is disgustingly sanitized on television," said Bolles, who has spent the last 16 months as chief of neurosurgery at Landstuhl, the destination for the war's most wounded soldiers. As of Friday, 281 patients had been brought to Landstuhl since Operation Iraqi Freedom started, and plane-loads are arriving regularly. "We have had a number of really horrific injuries now from the war. They have lost arms, legs, hands, they have been burned, they have had significant brain injuries and peripheral nerve damage. These are young kids that are going to be, in some regards, changed for life. I don't feel that people realize that. These are young children; 18, 19, 20 with arms and legs blown off. That is the reality," said Bolles
Comment: . More cannon fodder for the cowardly, draft-dodging deserter Bush




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