Today's conditions brought to you by the Bush Junta - marionettes of their hyperdimensional puppet masters - 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!

May 28, 2003

As always, Caveat Lector!
The material presented in the linked articles does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the editors. Research on your own and if you can validate any of the articles, or if you discover deception and/or an obvious agenda, we will appreciate if you drop us a line! We often post such comments along with the article synopses for the benefit of other readers.

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Let The Games Begin
May 16

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"In the beginning of a change,
the patriot is a scarce and brave man, hated and scorned.
When his cause succeeds however,
the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot."
Mark Twain

"Fear not the path of truth,
fear the lack of people walking on it."
Robert Francis Kennedy

"I read the news today, oh boy..."
John Lennon

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 Address

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

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.

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


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US economy on verge of collapse, warns Democrat LaRouche

Fakir Chand in Bangalore

Lyndon H LaRouche, US economist and Democratic Party candidate for the 2004 presidential elections, has warned that the beleaguered United States economy would collapse in the near future due to the irrational fiscal and monetary policies being pursued by the Bush Administration even after the Iraq war and the 9/11 attacks.

LaRouche, who is in Bangalore to participate in the two-day 'International Conference on World Situation after Iraq War' told on Monday that the US dollar, which has been weakening against a basket currencies of late, was likely to erode further by another 25-50 per cent by this year-end.

"The US economy is on the verge of collapse due to the parasitical and monetary policies of the war-mongering Bush government. Its foreign exchange rate and monetary system are in the grip of serious crisis that may take the economy into a terminal state if remedial measures are not taken immediately," LaRouche stated.

Euro Soars to Record High Against Dollar

By David McHugh AP Business Writer

Frankfurt, Germany (AP) -- The euro soared to a record high against the dollar Tuesday in a major boost for many U.S. exporters but deepening the pain for the continent's struggling economy and American tourists in Europe.

The euro reached a high of $1.1932 in trading in Europe, breaking the old high of $1.1884 set Jan. 4, 1999, a few days after the euro began to circulate as the shared currency of 12 European countries.

Winners include the many U.S. companies that sell overseas, many of which have reported fatter earnings in recent weeks due to the weaker dollar.

Losers include Europe's export-fueled economy, whose pricing edge over U.S. competitors is vanishing, and American fanciers of European vacations and imported goodies like French wine and German sports cars.

They're going to pay more.

Is there really an Al-Qaeda group?

Syrian President says he doubts existence of the terrorists and their ability to launch attacks

KUWAIT CITY - Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview published on Sunday that he doubts the existence of Al-Qaeda, the terror group the US blames for the Sept 11, 2001 attacks and suspects of involvement in more recent strikes in Saudi Arabia and Morocco.

'Is there really an entity called Al-Qaeda? Was it in Afghanistan? Does it exist now?' Mr Assad told Al- Anba, a Kuwaiti daily.

He expressed doubts that the Al-Qaeda network was capable of organising attacks on such a large scale.

Osama bin Laden, the Saudi-born Islamic extremist who heads Al-Qaeda, 'cannot talk on the phone or use the Internet, but he can direct communications to the four corners of the world'? he asked.

'This is illogical.'

The Syrian leader's comments are not uncommon in the Arab world, where speculation is rife that the United States has manufactured or exaggerated the threat posed by Al-Qaeda in order to paint Muslims as dangerous.

Comment: There it is, from someone who should know. And the whole deal is not just "illogical" its downright farcical, but apparently the general population's appetite for swallowing crass and obvious BS knows no bounds.

"The greatest threat to our world and its peace comes from those who want war, who prepare for it, and who, by holding out vague promises of future peace or by instilling fear of foreign aggression, try to make us accomplices to their plans."
Hermann Hesse - Author (1877-1962)

North Korea warns Japan of "fatal fiasco" if it blindly follows US

AFP-Japan will "meet a fatal fiasco" if it continues to blindly follow US policy, Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.It said Japan's cabinet had approved a statement defending American use of cluster bombs in Iraq, saying the targets were "carefully selected" and that the US military "strove to prevent civilians from falling victim" to them."

This was nothing but Japan's shameful act of flattery and servile support for its master, the US," said the report Tuesday, quoting a commentary in the North Korean ruling party mouthpiece Rodong Sinmun."Japan's act of supporting and shielding the US use of weapons of mass destruction indicates that it will leave no means untried for overseas aggression as the US does," it said.

"The Japanese authorities are well advised to bear in mind that if they continue acting blindly to the tune of the US out of their senses, they will only meet a fatal fiasco," the report said...

Military investigation into ITN duo missing in Iraq


A military investigation into the disappearance of ITN cameraman Fred Nerac and translator Hussein Osman in Iraq during the war has been launched.

They have not been seen since a shooting incident involving coalition and Iraqi forces more than nine weeks ago, when veteran TV reporter Terry Lloyd was killed.

Since then, ITN has conducted its own investigations on the ground and has made repeated calls for help from the British military who control the area around Az Zubayr.A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman has confirmed the Royal Military Police is now conducting its own investigation.

ITN chairman Mark Wood said: "We have found out a good deal ourselves, but we need the skills and experience that only the Royal Military Police can offer to conduct a full and formal investigation.Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon told ITN earlier this month that a formal investigation could not begin until there was evidence of war crimes.

He now believes fresh evidence has come to light which suggests that an Iraqi war crime may have been committed, ITN has been told.The US military had opened an investigation into the incident, but the British authorities were criticised for lack of action.

ITN says its investigations, conducted by two former SAS soldiers on behalf of the company, produced evidence that at least one of its vehicles had been hit by both US and Iraqi forces in a firefight.The French cameraman and Lebanese translator were travelling in a two-car convoy with Terry Lloyd before they vanished on March 22, near Az Zubayr, in southern Iraq..

American Account of Killing of 2 Journalists Is Disputed

New York Times

WASHINGTON, May 27 — There is no evidence that American forces were fired on from the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad before they shelled the building, killing two of nearly 100 journalists staying there, a journalist advocacy group said today.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, which chronicles abuses against news personnel worldwide, said that its investigation of the April 8 incident concluded that the attack on the journalists, while not intentional, could have been avoided.Citing interviews with a dozen reporters who witnessed the event, the committee said that Pentagon officials and field commanders in Baghdad were aware that the Palestine Hotel was full of foreign journalists and were determined not to hit it.

"These senior commanders apparently failed to convey their concern to the tank commander who fired on the hotel," the committee said in its 11-page report.Administration officials have denied they erred in the decision to fire on the 17-story Palestine Hotel, on the eastern bank of the Tigris River.

The tank attack on the hotel killed Taras Protsyuk, a Ukrainian-born cameraman for Reuters, and José Couso, a Spanish cameraman. The journalists had been filming the fighting from the hotel balconies.Six days after the incident, the Pentagon spokeswoman, Victoria Clarke, notified the committee in writing that "coalition forces were fired upon and acted in self-defense by returning fire.

"In a letter to Spain's foreign minister, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said last month that the American tank had fired in response to "hostile fire appearing to come from a location later identified as the Palestine hotel." He called the use of force "justified" and "proportionate."[...]

Relatives of Mr. Couso, the Spanish cameraman, have filed suit against Sergeant Gibson, Captain Wolford and Colonel DeCamp, accusing them of war crimes for using excessive force against civilians, according to Pilar Hermoso, the family's lawyer."The civilian nature of these buildings and the fact that the international media was lodged there were known to the Anglo-American forces and to U.S. commanders," the plaintiffs charged in their suit.

US soldiers killed in checkpoint 'ambush'

17:49 Tuesday 27th May 2003
Associated Press

Gunmen killed two US soldiers when they opened opened fire on a checkpoint in the Iraqi town of Fallujah.

American troops returned fire, killing two attackers and capturing six Iraqis, according to US officials.Hours later, two US military police officers were injured, at least one seriously, after two attacks with rocket-propelled grenades on a Baghdad police station.

Fallujah residents say they're angry at the US presence. Street vendor Safa al-Jubair said: "We are 26 million Iraqis and we are all resisting and, God willing, occupation will end." [...]

Rumsfeld Echoes Notion That Iraq Destroyed Arms

May 28, 2003
New York Times

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld suggested publicly for the first time yesterday that Iraq might have destroyed chemical and biological weapons before the war there, a possibility that senior American officers in Iraq have raised in recent weeks.

Mr. Rumsfeld has repeatedly expressed optimism that it is just a matter of time, and of interviewing enough senior Iraqi scientists and former government officials, before military teams uncover the illicit arms that President Bush cited as a major reason for attacking Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein's rule.

While Mr. Rumsfeld repeated that assertion yesterday, he added, "It is also possible that they decided that they would destroy them prior to a conflict." Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the Army's 101st Airborne Division, now in northern Iraq, mentioned the same possibility two weeks ago.Senior defense aides insisted that Mr. Rumsfeld's response to a question after his speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in Manhattan yesterday broke no new ground, and that it was consistent with his past explanations.[...]

But the fact that Mr. Rumsfeld even raised the possibility that Iraq might have destroyed unconventional weapons before the war prompts new questions about the intelligence that President Bush and his senior advisers relied on to go to war, and about the credibility of the United States, defense analysts said yesterday.

"They don't have a good explanation, and therefore are trying to come up with as long a list as possible," said Joseph Cirincione, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. "But it's impossible to destroy or hide the quantities the administration said they had without our noticing it." [...]

U.S. forces find suspected gold cache in Iraq

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- For the second time in a week, U.S. troops have discovered what appears to be a cache of gold bars hidden in a truck, which could be worth just less than a quarter of a billion dollars, according to a Pentagon official.[...]

Pentagon officials said the gold will be kept safe by U.S. forces until an Iraqi government is set up and decides how to use it.

US rejects Iran nuclear denial


The United States has rejected Iranian denials that it is trying to develop nuclear weapons or harbouring al-Qaeda fugitives.

The reaction came as a meeting of top US officials due to discuss US policy on Iran was postponed.Iran is facing intense pressure from Washington on a number of issues, but US Secretary of State Colin Powell said contacts with the Islamic republic had not been stopped, as some reports had suggested."Our policies are well-known and I'm not aware of any changes in policy [on Iran]. We have contacts with them. They will continue," he said.[...]

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the arrests of several suspected al-Qaeda members in Iran on Monday did not quell concerns about the presence of members of Osama Bin Laden's network.

He also rejected Tehran's assertions that its extensive nuclear programme was exclusively designed for power-generating purposes. "We continue to have concerns that a nation that is awash in gas and oil would seek to produce peaceful nuclear energy," Mr Fleischer said.[...]

Proposed Legislation to end US Membership in UN

Just came across this Bill H.R. 1146 To end the membership of the United
States in the United Nations introduced by Mr. Ron Paul (R-Tx) and sent to
the Committee on International Relations.

The proposed legislation severs any and all connections with the UN and its
programs -- including peacekeeping forces and the World Health

Soldiers to sue as Gulf War illness strikes again
By Michael Evans, Defence Editor

THE Government is facing a fresh round of allegations concerning Gulf War syndrome, this time from service personnel committed to the latest military campaign against Iraq.
At least four soldiers, two of them reservists and two from the regular Army, have approached lawyers to seek advice about suing the Ministry of Defence after falling ill when they were given multiple vaccinations. Other servicemen contacted the same legal firm yesterday and described the same symptoms, which included breathing difficulties, skin rashes and depression.

Veterans who have been fighting for compensation since the 1991 Gulf War predicted yesterday that about 6,000 of the 45,000 British personnel committed to this year’s campaign could fall sick from the multiple doses of vaccines.

Tony Flint, of the National Gulf Veterans and Families’ Association, said he expected that up to 30 per cent of the 22,000 British troops given the anthrax jab and other inoculations would suffer ill-effects. He based this prediction on what he said was the American experience.

1,200 more in Canada under quarantine

Straits Times

TORONTO (AP) -- More than a thousand people were told to quarantine themselves at home on Tuesday due to possible exposure to a new cluster of Sars cases in Toronto, health officials said here.Ontario's chief medical officer of health Colin D'Cunha said on Tuesday that the authorities told an additional 1,200 people to quarantine themselves at home for 10 days due to possible exposure to the new Sars cluster.

The additions raised the overall quarantine figure to 3,442 and included 70 in the Muskoka-Parry Sound area, 150 km north of the city.The nine probable cases and 23 suspected cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome first identified last week put Canada's largest city back on the World Health Organisation's list of Sars-affected areas.Three more probable cases from the initial Toronto outbreak also remained hospitalised.[...]

Despite the spread of possible exposures, Dr D'Cunha stressed that all the known cases occurred in hospitals.'There's no evidence to date of community transmission,' he said.

AIDS Activist sues US governement

SAN DIEGO (Wireless Flash) -- An AIDS activist who is convinced the U.S. government is behind the spread of the virus is finally getting his day in court. Dr. Boyd Graves is suing the government for creating AIDS and will
finally present his case before a San Diego judge on June 27. [...]

Taiwan reports 14 new Sars cases, five more deaths

The Straits Times

TAIPEI (AFP) -- Taiwan's health authorities on Wednesday reported 14 new cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and five new deaths, taking the toll on the island to 81 from 610 cases.[...]

Up to 95 per cent of Sars cases on the island have come from outbreaks in hospitals...

Chrétien talks about Bush's differences


ATHENS - Prime Minister Jean Chrétien told reporters on a flight to Europe Tuesday, that he and the U.S. president have many opposing views on several matters.

Chrétien pointed out: "I am a Catholic and for abortion and he is not."

"He is right wing and running a big deficit (while) Canada has balanced its books and ensured the future of the Canada Pension Plan for the next 50 years by increasing contributions.

"Chrétien was headed to Athens to attend the annual Canada-European Union summit.Bush is "for capital punishment and I am not," the prime minister added.Chrétien and Bush spoke by phone on Monday, their first conversation in three months.

"Look, I don't have to speak to him every day and he doesn't have to speak to me," Chrétien said.He added the differences have not harmed the mutual $1-billion-a-day trans-border trade relation or Canada's reputation.

Chrétien pointed out that Canada is recognized for its global contributions and remains an influential voice internationally.

Dispute Arises Over Mideast Summit Date

Associated Press Writer

JERUSALEM - Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat stepped in to assert Tuesday that he not his prime minister — is in charge of the Palestinian side in negotiations with Israel, throwing plans for an Israeli-Palestinian summit into confusion.

The dispute underlined the power struggle between Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, the prime minister he grudgingly appointed under international pressure, as efforts to move forward on a new peace plan intensified.Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had been set to hold talks Wednesday on implementing the U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan — their second meeting since Abbas assumed office in April.

But at a meeting of the PLO executive committee, Arafat said he wanted to review Israeli proposals on security arrangements before approving another summit — raising the possibility of a delay, a member of the committee said on condition of anonymity.Afterward, Palestinian Cabinet Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo said the summit was on for Wednesday as planned.But Sharon aide Raanan Gissin denied that. "There will be no meeting Wednesday," he told The Associated Press. Israel Radio reported the summit would take place Thursday, but officials in Sharon's office said no date has been set. The Israelis had no further comment.[...]

Sharon on Tuesday clarified a comment that caused a stir a day before — when he referred to Israeli "occupation" in the West Bank for the first time, a term often used by Palestinians and their dovish Israeli backers.In a statement, Sharon said he was referring to Israeli rule over Palestinians as opposed to Israeli rule over the land, underlining his policy that Israel must retain strategic parts of the West Bank. Palestinians demand a total Israeli pullout.In a speech Tuesday, Sharon said, "We are not occupiers. This is the homeland of the Jewish people."[...]

In the West Bank, Israeli troops killed a 16-year-old they said was throwing a firebomb. Two children, ages 7 and 9, were critically wounded in clashes with the military, Palestinian hospital officials said.

Five Palestinian children, a Palestinian woman and a police officer were injured Tuesday after accidentally detonating explosives in the West Bank city of Hebron. The children found the explosives under a tree...

Roadmap or Road Kill?

By Kareem M. Kamel
Researcher - International Relations

[...] In essence, the "roadmap" can be seen as part of a US public relations campaign in the Middle East, to try to convince skeptics that the US is indeed engaged in the quest for Middle East so-called peace. The roadmap claims that it seeks reciprocal Palestinian and Israeli steps towards peace - beginning with Palestinian reform, an unconditional end to all Palestinian resistance to Israel, Israeli troop withdrawals, a freeze on settlement activity (not the dismantling of existing illegal settlements), and proceeding eventually to negotiations on an interim arrangement that would create a Palestinian state with provisional borders. [...]

Sharon the lion and the lamb

By Abraham Rabinovich

Is PM Sharon's acceptance of the peace plan just a political ploy or is it something that stems from an inner conviction?

JERUSALEM - In a land that has seen its share of miracles, Mr Ariel Sharon's apparent political conversion over the weekend is viewed with an astonishment normally reserved for phenomenon like the parting of the Red Sea.

Sharon "the bulldozer" was responsible for the construction of many settlements.
Some Israelis regard his sudden acceptance of the internationally-backed 'road map' as a tactical move, short on intent and long on rhetoric.

But it is precisely the rhetoric that is so astonishing.

Addressing members of his Likud Knesset faction, most of whom were balking at the peace plan's terms, Mr Sharon said on Monday that Israel's presence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip amounted to 'occupation'.

Though outsiders would regard this as a straightforward description, the Israeli right - of which Mr Sharon is a prominent member - has always viewed the conquest of the West Bank, heartland of biblical Israel, as a liberation of a land that belongs to the Jews.

'There are 3.5 million Palestinians living under occupation,' Mr Sharon told the right-wing Knesset members.

'Yes, occupation. It is bad for Israel and for the Palestinians and for the Israeli economy.'

Initial reaction among Israelis and Palestinians to Mr Sharon's embrace of the road map is that it is a political ploy.

If Palestinian terror does not derail the peace initiative, according to this view, Israeli reservations would have the same effect.

In reluctantly approving the peace plan on Sunday by a 12-7 vote with four abstentions, the Cabinet insisted on attaching to it 14 reservations, most of them unacceptable to the Palestinians.

What gives sceptics pause is Mr Sharon's new tone which appears to suggest that he is not being dragged into a peace process but that he is borne by an inner conviction.

US pressure, however, will play a major role and the planned summit meeting next week of Mr Sharon, President Bush and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas will be critical in determining how the peace process unfurls.

Even right-wing Israelis would have understood it if Mr Sharon had bowed to US pressure as a tactical necessity.

They would have expected some bland comment about seeking peace, accompanied by a wink suggesting that Palestinian terror will leave this peace plan in the dust, as with all previous ones.

Of course this is exactly what Sharon has been able to rely on to date, the seeminlgly incredible stupidity of Palestianas who continually shoot themselves in the foot by carrying out "suicide bombings" at precisely the right time to scupper the various peace processes and "unfortunately" forcing the Israelis to abandon any ideas of relinquising the occupied territories. Generally the suicide attacks are perpetrated by Hamas, a groups which, also conincidentally, was founded and financed by the Israeli government itself.

Arafat asserts authority, throwing plans for summit into confusion
03:29 AM EDT May 28

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in the West Bank city of Ramallah Monday. (AP/Muhammed Muheisen)

JERUSALEM (AP) - Palestinian President Yasser Arafat stepped in to assert Tuesday that he - not his prime minister - is in charge of the Palestinian side in negotiations with Israel, throwing plans for an Israeli-Palestinian summit into confusion.

The dispute underlined the power struggle between Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, the prime minister he grudgingly appointed under international pressure, as efforts to move forward on a new peace plan intensified.

Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had been set to hold talks Wednesday on implementing the U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan - their second meeting since Abbas assumed office in April.

But at a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization's executive committee, Arafat said he wanted to review Israeli proposals on security arrangements before approving another summit - raising the possibility of a delay, a member of the committee said on condition of anonymity.

Afterward, Palestinian cabinet member Yasser Abed Rabbo said the summit was on for Wednesday as planned.

But Sharon aide Raanan Gissin denied that. "There will be no meeting Wednesday," he told The Associated Press. Israel radio reported the summit would take place Thursday, but officials in Sharon's office said no date has been set. The Israelis had no further comment.

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said he had been told the Sharon-Abbas meeting was postponed "for technical reasons." And White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said he "would not be surprised if a bilateral meeting still took place in the near future."

The PLO executive member said that with the jockeying over the summit, Arafat was sending a message to the United States, Israel and Abbas that Arafat makes the decisions over negotiations.

Arafat has been fighting a rearguard action to limit Abbas' powers - objecting to the makeup of his cabinet, retaining control of most Palestinian security forces and keeping for himself the final word over peace moves.

The law that brought in Abbas in April limits his authority and gives the PLO executive the right of approval over negotiating steps with Israel. Arafat controls the executive, where Abbas is his deputy.

Israel and the United States have been seeking to sideline Arafat, charging that he is tainted by terrorism and has led his Palestinian Authority into corruption and inefficiency.

In an interview with the Israeli daily Haaretz, published on the newspaper's Web site late Tuesday, Abbas spoke out in support of Arafat.

"Arafat is the elected president of the Palestinian Authority and should not be isolated," he said, calling on Israel to release Arafat from a virtual house arrest in his West Bank headquarters.

Sharon and Abbas met on May 17, the first Israeli-Palestinian summit meeting since the violence erupted in September 2000. No agreements emerged.

Meanwhile, officials are arranging a three-way summit with U.S. President George W. Bush, Sharon and Abbas early next month, possibly in Jordan.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Tuesday that concrete results could be expected. Bush "would not bother coming all the way out here to leave without a decision of some kind," Shalom told Israel TV.

Abed Rabbo said he hoped the trilateral summit would result in implementation of the peace plan.

Jordan's information minister said Bush would hold a three-way summit as well as a separate meeting with Egypt and Jordan's leaders next week in Jordan. But the White House said Bush is still considering a number of possibilities.

Meanwhile, violence continued Tuesday.

In the West Bank, Israeli troops killed a 16-year-old they said was throwing a firebomb. Two children, ages 7 and 9, were critically wounded in clashes with the military, Palestinian hospital officials said.

Five Palestinian children, a Palestinian woman and a police officer were injured Tuesday after accidentally detonating explosives in the West Bank city of Hebron.

Late Monday, Israeli soldiers fired on four diplomatic vehicles in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, diplomats said. No one was hurt. Peter Lundberg, an official from the Swedish Consulate in Jerusalem, said two bullets hit the windshield of the Swiss Consulate's armoured car, and diplomatic cars of Sweden, Denmark and the European Union also came under fire.

The military expressed regret, saying soldiers fired to break up a crowd of Palestinians and bullets inadvertently hit the diplomat's vehicle.

The road map is a three-stage U.S.-backed plan that calls for the creation of a full Palestinian state in 2005. The first stage calls for a halt to violence. Israel conditionally accepted the plan Sunday, a month after the Palestinians approved the formula and insisted it be implemented unchanged.

At the United Nations, Secretary General Kofi Annan called Israel's acceptance of the road map "a very encouraging development."

Israel, however, has raised 14 reservations about the plan, including a demand that only the United States should oversee implementation of the road map - not the other members of the "Quartet" - the UN, Russia and the European Union.

"It is something we will tackle as we move forward," Annan said when asked about that demand.

Sharon on Tuesday clarified a comment that caused a stir a day before - when he referred to Israeli "occupation" in the West Bank for the first time, a term often used by Palestinians and their Israeli backers.

In a statement, Sharon said he was referring to Israeli rule over Palestinians as opposed to Israeli rule over the land, underlining his policy that Israel must retain strategic parts of the West Bank. Palestinians demand a total Israeli pullout.

Sharon said: "We are not occupiers. This is the homeland of the Jewish people."

In the interview, Abbas said he would not judge Sharon by his statements. "I know Sharon inside and out," said Abbas, who has met Sharon several times. "I'll believe him only when he implements the road map."

The Hardness of Condoleezza Rice: Huckstress of Israeli Myth


In an interview with the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot, National Security Adviser and daughter of a Presbyterian minister, Condoleezza Rice, recently expanded upon her Christian Zionist ideology. "I first visited Israel in 2000. I already then felt that I am returning home despite the fact that this was a place I never visited. I have a deep affinity with Israel. I have always admired the history of the State of Israel and the hardness and determination of the people that founded it."

While Rice does not elaborate on this "hardness and determination," or provide specifics, we can safely assume she is talking about Israel's relationship with the Arabs, both Palestinian and those surrounding the Zionist state. "Israel was a state who in the beginning was not given a chance to survive," Rice explained. "She survived mainly because of the hardness of the Israelis and their readiness to sacrifice their lives for the state."

Rice may know something about Russia, her area of expertise, but when it comes to the history of Palestine and Israel she appears to be seriously misinformed. Rice is simply perpetuating the overworked myth of hardscrabble Zionists rising above the hatred of duplicitous Arabs.

In fact, the British promoted the economic destabilization of the indigenous Palestinian economy in favor of Zionist settlers as a colonial tactic well before the creation of Israel. "The Mandatory Government granted a privileged status to Jewish capital, awarding it 90% of the concessions in Palestine," writes Ralph Schoenman (The Hidden History of Zionism). "This enabled the Zionists to gain control of the economic infrastructure (road projects, Dead Sea minerals, electricity, ports, etc.). By 1935, Zionists controlled 872 of a total of 1,212 industrial firms in Palestine. Imports related to Zionist industries were exempted from taxes. Discriminatory work laws were passed against the Arab workforce resulting in large scale unemployment and a substandard existence for those who were able to find employment."[...]

In the meantime, the Palestinians continue to suffer at the hands of rabid Likudites determined to realize a Greater Israel. Once again, the accused war criminal Ariel Sharon appears to hold out an olive branch, proclaiming on Israeli radio that to "keep 3.5 million people under occupation is bad for us and them... This can't continue endlessly. Do you want to remain forever in Ramallah, Jenin, Nablus?"

As Sharon made these seemingly reasonable comments, the ugly head of Israeli occupation reared once again: Samer Arar, an 11 year old boy from the West Bank village of Krawat Bani Zeid was executed for the crime of throwing stones.

Is it possible the killing of children is the sort of "hardness and determination" Condoleezza Rice had in mind when she mentioned her emotional attachment to the state of Israel?

The Bad Weather Over America

James Carroll
Boston Globe

WHEN WILL the bad weather end? Why the distance between what is and what ought to be? Where are Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction? If he was such a threat, why did his army perform so poorly? Does it matter where he is? If the war in Iraq was not about oil, why does the United States insist on its indefinite control? If the war was, instead, about democracy, why are the Iraqi people, including Saddam's proven enemies, excluded from authority? Is Iraq to be like Afghanistan, where war lords rule and heroin thrives? Are there more suicide-bombers now than ever? Has the American war on terrorism advanced safety? How did relations between the United States and its European allies become so fragile? Will history recognize the 21st century Anglo-American combine as a mere continuation of the 19th century British Empire? What do good intentions count for if they cut a wake of wreckage? And is the bad weather the result of an atmospheric low that will not lift without the answers? ....

Global Eye -- Devil's Advocate

By Chris Floyd

Too little attention has been paid to a remarkable declaration by George W. Bush in his State of the Union address last January. In between great lardbuckets of warmongering lies and vacuous preening, Bush also delivered this ringing passage: "We do not claim to know all the ways of Providence, yet we can trust in them, placing our confidence in the loving God behind all of life, and all of history."

Dismissed at first as either a bit of overheated rhetorical trumpery or else a slab of coded red meat thrown to his voracious "core constituency" on the hard Christian Right, Bush's declaration is in fact a powerful tool for understanding what otherwise seems to be the irredeemably chaotic nature of human reality. In essence, his masterful philosophy can be boiled down to this: "God did it."

For example, last week Iraqis began unearthing a mass grave that could contain up to 15,000 bodies of Shiites slaughtered during an uprising against Saddam Hussein in 1991. Some heretics might want to blame Saddam for this atrocity, or even assign partial blame to George H.W. Bush, who specifically called on these Shiites to rebel, then betrayed them, granting the just-conquered Saddam permission to use his full military might against the rebels, while a vast American army stood by, motionless, in Kuwait. But now, thanks to Bush Junior's revelation of divine agency behind every single act in history, we know that neither ex-CIA asset Saddam nor his long-time supporter and sugar daddy Bush Senior were in any way responsible for those corpses moldering in the desert wastes. God did it.

It's all so simple, isn't it? So blindingly clear, so infinitely comforting. Feel free to try it at home. Take any situation you please and run it through the patented George W. Bush God Did It meat-grinder. You'll find a neat little patty of moral clarity on the other end, ready to fry up in a creamy sauce of red wine, onions, amnesia and self-absolution.

Big event or private failing, it doesn't matter. That father who just slammed his infant's head into a wall? All part of God's plan -- for verily, His loving hand is behind all of life and all of history. The Holocaust? Surely it goes it without saying that those 6 million Jews weren't killed by the Nazi regime, nor that any of the American financial elitists -- such as the Bush Family -- who made millions of dollars bankrolling Nazi enterprises while American soldiers were dying on the battlefield, were in any degree responsible for what seemed to be their own actions. No, you poor, misguided, Satan-deceived wretches -- God did it, don't you see?

And the Sept. 11 attacks? Again, no true believer could ever hold Mohammed Atta or ex-CIA asset Osama bin Laden responsible -- especially not for an act which, as many Bushist evangelicals now openly avow, was a blessing for America, because it greatly augmented the powers and popularity of the man the Lord Himself has appointed to lead the nation -- yea, the world -- to a new Promised Land of peace and prosperity. No: God killed those 3,000 innocent people, He burned them, He crushed them, He flung them out of windows hundreds of meters in the air. It was His loving hand, that same hand behind all of life and all of history.

This divine principle applies equally to acts of omission, as well as commission. Consider Bush's "war on terror." It's true, the anthrax killer has not been caught. Osama bin Laden has not been caught (in fact, he's busier than ever). Mullah Omar has not been caught. Saddam Hussein has not been caught. It's true, Afghanistan has collapsed again into anarchy, rampant warlordism, fierce Islamic extremism, hopelessness, violence, despair. It's true, Iraq is collapsing into anarchy, incipient warlordism, fierce Islamic extremism, hopelessness, violence, despair.

But none of this has anything to do with the staggering, criminal incompetence of the Bush Regime in gutting legitimate domestic security measures at home -- both before and after Sept. 11 -- and launching mindless foreign adventures aimed largely at thrusting American military power into the world's oil regions, regardless of the consequences. No; it is without doubt the will of the loving God behind all of life and all of history.

When -- and if -- He wants these miscreants to be caught, they will be caught. For now, He is quite content to let them roam the earth and murder more innocent people. When -- and if -- He wants to relieve the suffering of the Afghan and Iraqi peoples, He will do it.

For now, He is happy to watch children blow themselves to pieces with brightly colored cluster bombs. There's nothing that His faithful servant, George W. Bush, can do about any of this. He is not to blame; God did it. We are all merely automatons, pushed hither and yon by the all-encompassing wisdom of His totalitarian order.

Yes, on the surface, this all sounds like the self-justifying moral onanism of a complacent, pampered, willfully ignorant upper-class twit -- but it is actually one of the most profound and earth-scorching expressions of religious nihilism ever uttered by a public figure. Stepping far beyond Nietzsche, who merely asserted that God is dead, Bush's philosophy declares that God is a lust-maddened, child-devouring demon, glutted with the blood and bones of the innocent; the malevolent agent of every atrocity ever committed in "all of life and all of history."

Does Jerry Falwell know about this?

Fourteen Defining Characteristics Of Fascism

By Dr. Lawrence Britt
Source Free

Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread
domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Supreme Court backs police in Miranda case

March 27, 2003
Associated Press

Washington — A fractured U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a police officer did not violate the rights of a gravely wounded farm worker by interrogating him at the hospital without reading him his Miranda rights.

Oliverio Martinez, however, may still be allowed to collect damages on grounds that his constitutional due-process rights were violated by the 1997 hospital-room questioning, the court said in sending the case back to California for more consideration.

Mr. Martinez was shot five times by police and then subjected to a lengthy interrogation as he awaited medical treatment. He was never told of his rights, and he says a police sergeant kept questioning him even after he said that he did not want to answer.Mr. Martinez, who was never charged with a crime, was left blind and paralyzed.Justice John Paul Stevens compared the interrogation to "an attempt to obtain an involuntary confession from a prisoner by torturous methods." [...]

Comment: First they install Bushy in the White House, and now they back police torture. The highest court in the United States - the supreme legal authority, the dispenser of justice, the protector of those wonderful freedoms enjoyed by all Americans - has been bought and paid for by the Bush Reich.

US money funding Uzbeki torture chambers

BELIEVE IT OR NOT: The Bush administration, in its zeal to put an end to Islamists in the country, is providing aid to the remnants of communist-era Brezhnevism


[...] The US condemned this repression for many years. But since Sept. 11 rewrote America's strategic interests in central Asia, the government of President Islam Karimov has become Washington's new best friend in the region.
The US is funding those it once condemned. Last year Washington gave Uzbekistan US$500 million in aid. The police and intelligence services -- which the US Department of State's Web site says use "torture as a routine investigation technique" has received US$79 million of this sum. [...]

Ashcroft hails Supreme Court action

By Michael Kirkland
UPI Legal Affairs Correspondent

(UPI) -- Attorney General John Ashcroft saluted the Supreme Court's rejection Tuesday of a challenge to closed deportation hearings for "special interest" aliens detained in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

He said the Justice Department now has successfully defended against repeated legal challenges to its post-Sept. 11 policies.Since the attacks, "the Department of Justice has used all legal tools available to disrupt and neutralize potential terrorist threats by removing dangerous individuals who have broken our nation's laws from the streets of our communities," Ashcroft said in a statement released after the Supreme Court's action."

Time and again, the department has successfully defended legal challenges to the tools we have used and actions we have taken to protect the American people. The Supreme Court today refused to disturb a 3rd Circuit ruling that is an important victory in support of our work to secure the nation."A media consortium in New Jersey had argued in the lower courts that the public and the media had a First Amendment right to know what was going on in the deportation hearings for "special interest" aliens.Though a federal judge in New Jersey agreed, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit disagreed. Tuesday, the Supreme Court let stand the appeals court decision without comment...

Found: Phoenix Program Documents

supplied and introduced by Douglas Valentine
author of The Phoenix Program

Created by the CIA in Saigon in 1967, Phoenix was a program aimed at "neutralizing" - through assassination, kidnapping, and systematic torture - the civilian infrastructure that supported the Viet Cong insurgency in South Vietnam. It was a terrifying "final solution" that violated the Geneva Conventions and traditional American ideas of human morality.

While researching the Phoenix Program for my book on the subject, I conducted over a hundred interviews and collected boxes full of documents from individuals, as well as from the State Department and Department of Defense. The most important documents provided by any one individual came from retired CIA officer Nelson Brickham, the man most responsibile for the creation of the Phoenix Program.

Luckily for history, Brickham kept copies of the documents he wrote while with the CIA; otherwise, there would be no documentary evidence of how Phoenix was actually created. During the evacuation of Saigon in April 1975, the CIA destroyed most of the documents it had about its assassination program, and none of what it kept at Langley headquarters can be obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests. This is no accident, for Phoenix is the model for the equally terrifying US homeland security aparatus.

Proposal: Webcams to keep homeland safe

SAN JOSE, California (AP) -- Jay Walker jump-started an online shopping craze by inventing, the Web site that lets people bid on airplane tickets and hotel rooms.

Now Walker is hoping his newest brainchild revolutionizes a completely different field: national security.The premise behind Walker's USHomeGuard is simple: America has 47,000 power plants, airports and other "critical infrastructure facilities.

"Walker believes a terrorist can get within 100 feet of most of them, unchallenged and undetected, and kill or injure thousands.But if onsite cameras beamed photos to the World Wide Web, Americans could monitor these sites from home. If they spied a potential attacker -- a masked man trying to scale a power plant fence, or a van parked next to a reservoir -- they could alert security agents with a click of the mouse. Agents would call local authorities and help avert disaster.

Walker envisions spotters getting up to $10 per hour, paid by the government agencies and companies that need protecting. He wants to sell USHomeGuard to the federal government for $1, then charge fees to run the system.Critics dismiss USHomeGuard as a doomed scheme that exploits September 11 paranoia. Others question the effectiveness of a security system built on the Internet -- itself vulnerable to hackers, power outages and congestion...

Airport rolls out biometric security

England (CNN) -- London City Airport has become one of the first in Europe to establish biometric security access for its 1,600 employees.

Initially the system will only be used for staff, although "it could easily be rolled out to include all passengers," Jenny Lloyd of London City Airport told CNN.The system, designed by identity management company Daon, uses fingerprint recognition and a photo ID card to identify a unique data pattern for each scan. Actual fingerprints are not stored to preserve privacy.

"It will make this airport one of the most secure in Europe," Oliver Tattan, Chief Executive Officer of Daon said in a statement.[...] "Biometrics have been used as just a single point system, but that's useless, it's like putting a door in the middle of a plain, people just walk round it," Tatton told Computing magazine.

The weak global economy is also taking its toll on the roll out of biometric initiatives. Many businesses and government agencies are postponing orders for new security systems or even updating existing ones.

[...] Earlier this month G8 states -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and Russia -- agreed to develop a new high-tech passport to help the fight against terrorism.However, Britain warned against rushing to meet a U.S. deadline of October 2004. The identity documents could include fingerprints and details of the bearer's iris, as well as a photograph.

Stating the Obvious

New York Times

The lunatics are now in charge of the asylum." So wrote the normally staid Financial Times, traditionally the voice of solid British business opinion, when surveying last week's tax bill. Indeed, the legislation is doubly absurd: the gimmicks used to make an $800-billion-plus tax cut carry an official price tag of only $320 billion are a joke, yet the cost without the gimmicks is so large that the nation can't possibly afford it while keeping its other promises.
But then maybe that's the point. The Financial Times suggests that "more extreme Republicans" actually want a fiscal train wreck: "Proposing to slash federal spending, particularly on social programs, is a tricky electoral proposition, but a fiscal crisis offers the tantalizing prospect of forcing such cuts through the back door."

Why the boom in drugs? CIA Bribe Neutralized Baghdad

A peek into how the US fights wars?

ARIS: These are not the smart bombs, intelligent bunker busters or the valiant US soldiers who fought well to capture the Iraqi capital and overthrow the regime of Saddam Hussein. These were the dollars of CIA, probably earned through the drugs, lavishly distributed amongst the Baathist leaders for a deal leading to the surrender Baghdad.

One of Saddam Hussein’s cousins, Special Republican Guard chief Maher Sufian Al-Tikriti, betrayed the deposed Iraqi leader by ordering his elite forces not to defend Baghdad after making a deal with the United States, the French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche reported yesterday.

Citing an Iraqi source close to Saddam’s former regime, the newspaper said that the general, responsible for defending the Iraqi capital, left Baghdad aboard a US military transport plane, bound for a US base outside Iraq.

His departure, along with that of a 20-strong entourage, came on April 8 — the day before US forces swept into Baghdad, and after US Marines announced that the general had been killed, the paper reported.

Before he left Baghdad, following the capture of the capital’s international airport on April 4, Sufian ordered his troops to lay down their weapons, another Iraqi general, Mahdi Abdullah Al-Dulaimi, was quoted as saying.

Sufian does not appear on the US military’s list of most wanted Iraqis, which names Barzan Al-Ghafur Sulayman Majid as commander of the Special Republican Guard.

An Arab diplomat told Le Journal du Dimanche that the plot was hatched more than a year before by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), noting: “Many suitcases filled with dollars were floating around.”

“Being cautious, those who accepted the deal only agreed to defect once the American soldiers were in sight. The signal was to be the taking of the airport in Baghdad,” the diplomat added.

In Baghdad, the US military said yesterday it had captured a suspected ringleader behind attacks on coalition troops in the flashpoint Iraqi city of Fallujah, and nabbed 17 others.

FlashBack: Hidden Agenda Behind the "War on Terrorism":

By Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research
May 20, 2002

US Bombing of Afghanistan Restores Trade in Narcotics

In 2000, the Taliban government under advice from the United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP) imposed a total ban on opium production. Prior to the ban, according to the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Afghanistan produced more than 70% of the world's opium in 2000, and about 80% of opiate products (meaning heroin) destined to the European market.1

The annual proceeds of the Afghan Golden Crescent drug trade (between 100 and 200 billion dollars) represented approximately one third of the worldwide annual turnover of narcotics, estimated by the United Nations to be of the order of $500 billion.2

In many regards, the trade in narcotics as well as the drug routes to the European and North American markets are considered to be "strategic". There are powerful financial interests behind the drug trade, which have a pervasive influence, behind the scenes, on the conduct of US foreign policy. These multibillion dollar revenues of narcotics were deposited in the Western banking system. Most of the large international banks -together with their affiliates in the offshore banking havens-laundered large amounts of narco-dollars. In other words, Afghanistan, the poorest country on earth, was the source of tremendous financial wealth derived from the drug trade to financial institutions, business syndicates and organised crime. Part of the drug related revenues accrue to the CIA, which continues to protect both the Asian and Latin American drug trade. Visibly, only a very small percentage of these revenues stays in Afghanistan.

Following the year 2000 ban on poppy production imposed by the Taliban government, opium production collapsed by more than 90 percent, leading to a dwindling drug trade and substantial losses to the inters underlying this multibillion dollar trade including Western financial institutions.3 The Northern Alliance became the main political force involved in protecting the production and marketing of raw opium.

The Drug Trade Restored by the US Puppet Regime

While oil and oil pipelines out of the Caspian sea basin were undoubtedly a factor, the bombing of Afghanistan also served to restore the multibillion drug trade, which is protected by the CIA. Immediately following the installation of the US puppet government under Prime Minister Hamid Kharzai, opium production soared, regaining its historic levels. According to the UNDCP, opium cultivation increased by 657 % in 2002 (in relation to its 2001 level). In 2001, opium cultivation had fallen to an estimated 7606ha.(See table below). It is currently estimated by the UNDCP to be of the order of 45 000 -65 000ha.

In the immediate wake of September 11, the price of opium in Afghanistan increased three-fold. By early 2002, the price (dollar/kg) was almost ten times higher than in the year 2000.

State of emergency declared in Peru

Last Updated Wed, 28 May 2003

LIMA, PERU - Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo declared a 30-day state of emergency across Peru on Tuesday.

"The country cannot be shut down," Toledo said in a televised address.

Peru has been crippled by a series of strikes by health care workers, farmers, teachers and judiciary personnel. On Monday, strikers disrupted traffic by placing boulders across stretches of highway and caused further mayhem by burning tires.

The farmers seek protection from imports and lower sales taxes on certain crops, while other strikers are demanding higher wages. The government has also faced protest by coca farmers who don't want their cocaine-producing crop eradicated. This is the second time Toledo has declared a state of emergency.

'Three dead' as aftershock rattles Algeria

Tuesday 27th May 2003 21:08

Ananova(AP) - A strong earthquake aftershock has rocked Algiers, reportedly killing at least three people and leaving 187 injured.

State radio, quoting Algerian geological officials, said the aftershock had a magnitude of 5.8 and was the strongest of several to hit the area since last Wednesday's quake.

The aftershock was felt throughout the damaged zone east of the capital. In the quake-ravaged town of Boumerdes, at least one home collapsed.In one hotel in Algiers, panicked visitors ran out of the building fearing it would collapse and hotel workers huddled together to comfort each other.

Many residents have fled their homes and are living in the streets or in tents set up in parks out of fear that aftershocks may cause unstable buildings to topple over.

Freak rains hit Florida:

Fort lauderdale airport reported 9.18 inches of rain as of 8:00 pm. This breaks the old record of 3.10 inches set in 1954.

Passengers in terror as hailstorm batters jet

PASSENGERS on a flight from Cyprus said yesterday that they thought their aircraft was about to crash when it was battered by giant hailstones on its way to Manchester.
The violent weather stove in the nose cone on the bmi Airbus A321 and cracked the windscreen. Passengers were thrown from their seats as the aircraft descended rapidly to a safer altitude.

Pat Mallon, 56, a medical secretary, who was on the Monday evening flight from Larnaca, said: “We suddenly started to dip like a rollercoaster and were lifted from our seats.

“As I looked to the left there was a man on the floor sliding towards the cockpit. As I looked to the right there were several elderly people on the floor but they were told to stay down because it was safer there.” Mrs Mallon, from Swinton, Manchester, added: “It was a terrifying experience for a few minutes. I really thought we were going down.”

Bruce Johnstone, 47, a photo-journalist who was travelling to Manchester for a family wedding, said: “If I had not been strapped in I would have bounced off the ceiling.

“People were thrown out of their seats. Some people were in the aisles on the floor. I was just hanging on for dear life.

“We had hit hail, blocks of ice. We heard it and it sounded like a machinegun.”

“The pilot said that it was the worst thing he had flown into in 20 years. But he said, ‘Don’t let that put you off flying’.

Bird attack on German woman recalls Hitchcock frightener

A German woman was attacked by a flock of crows, police said, in scenes reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock's natural horror movie The Birds.

The 24-year-old was walking her dog through a park in the northern city of Hamburg when "the birds swooped down on her and tried to peck at her head and neck," police said in their report on the incident.

When the woman returned to the park with police, the flock of some 20 crows were perched on a tree.

But as she approached, they again swarmed around her, strangely leaving the police officers and dog alone.

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