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."
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July 7, 2003

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Bald Eagle Is Found Dead at National Zoo

By CANDACE SMITH, Associated Press Writer
Sun Jul 6, 5:04 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Officials at the National Zoo suspect that a large cat got into a bald eagle's enclosure and killed the bird, perhaps already weakened by fierce storms and unable to fly. [...]

The 21-year-old eagle, found by a zookeeper early Thursday, had severe puncture wounds to his abdomen and back, spokeswoman Julie Mason said. Zookeepers suspect a large cat crept into the cage and attacked the eagle, who could have been injured during Wednesday night's fierce rain storms. [...]

"Whenever you have an organization that cares for literally hundreds of animals you're going to have some deaths on occasion," Cecere said. "It's just sad that that happened, especially on the Fourth of July."

Comment: The national symbol of America is found lying lifeless on American Independence Day. Coincidence? We think not.

Quizzing Them on 9/11

Bush and Clinton may be asked to meet with the independent commission investigating the terrorist attacks

By TIMOTHY J. BURGER AND MATTHEW COOPER

Will President Bush be summoned before the independent commission investigating 9/11? It now appears very likely. John Lehman, Ronald Reagan's Navy Secretary and one of five Republicans on the 10-member panel, told TIME that he wants both President Bush and former President Clinton to meet with the commission and discuss matters that could include what their Administrations knew about the al-Qaeda terrorist plots—and what was done to combat them—before the 9/11 attacks.

Red, white and worried

Post-war euphoria gives way to new realities as Fourth of July finds America troubled and confused

TIM HARPER
The Toronto Star
Jul. 6, 2003. 12:49 PM

WASHINGTON—The smoke had cleared from the last burst of fireworks, the barbecue was turned off and the final strains of "God Bless America" had drifted into the night.

But somehow, the annual outpouring of jingoism sounded hollow this year, with far more doubts on the horizon this July 4 than anyone would have foreseen a few short months ago.

Euphoria over the show of military might is evaporating and the sense of self-esteem that comes with doing the right thing is being openly questioned.

Americans are heading into the summer's heat facing some new realities. [...]

Fenced Out on Independence Day

By ELAINE CASSEL
July 4, 2003
counterpunch.org

On July 4, 2003, I took my customary bike trip into DC from my home in Virginia. Along the Potomac River, across the bridge, onto the "National Mall," as it is called. The strip of land that runs from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument. South of the mall is a beautiful area known as The Tidal Basin, a lake of water surrounded by walkways and cherry trees given to the American people by the Japanese government. Oh, and at one end of the Tidal Basin, the Jefferson Memorial and the smaller memorial to George Mason, father of the Bill of Rights. [...]

I circled the entire mall and saw more cops than people. While there were no passenger cars, there were plenty of police cars and trucks. Truck with satellite dishes. Trucks with more fencing to fence out the people.

I made my way along the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial. Cars were trying to park and were being turned away, but not before they were searched. They would have to drive to other side of the US Capitol, or along Maine Avenue, park, and walk the dozens of blocks back to the Memorial if they wanted to visit it.

Oh, yes, you could visit the Memorial. A large tent staffed with dozens of cops, a walkway with a metal detector, a place to have your backpack searched-that's all that stood in your way. A large sign said, "Memorial open. Pass through security." I don't believe in an afterlife, but if there is one, I hope Jefferson is watching and shedding a tear. [...]

Government kidnaps citizen, nobody cares

JIMMY BRESLIN
The Toronto Star
Jul. 6, 2003. 01:00 AM

The other day I rode across the Brooklyn Bridge, whose gray netting went with the sky, and as long as there was tension about the bridge, I was remembering Richard Seaberg, a big cop from Emergency One, who climbed to the top of the bridge so many times to pull somebody down before he jumped.

Seaberg protected the Brooklyn Bridge.

Now, there is a charge by the U.S. government that terrorists intended to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge, or pull it down.

Simultaneously, while protecting the bridge, the government was doing frightening damage to the life of the country.

Because of it, I am thinking it could be time for me to begin thinking about leaving this news business. It is not mine any more. Let me tell you why.

The newspapers and television reported the following matter with no anger or effort to do anything other than serve as stenographers for the government.

More than four months ago, in Columbus, Ohio, the FBI arrested an American citizen they say is Iyman Faris. There wasn't a word uttered. He vanished.

No lawyer was notified. He made no phone calls and wrote no postcards or letters. He was a U.S. citizen who disappeared without a trace into a secret metal world. [...]

Amnesty Labels U.S. Trials 'Travesty of Justice'

by Kate Holton, Reuters
Saturday, July 5, 2003


LONDON - Amnesty International has denounced the planned U.S. military trials for six prisoners at "Camp X-Ray" in Guantanamo Bay as a "travesty of justice."

"We deeply regret that the President has taken his country one step closer to running trials that will flout basic standards of justice," the human rights group said in a statement late on Friday.

President Bush has designated six foreign captives in what he calls the war on terrorism as eligible to be tried for U.S. military commissions.

Britain's Foreign Office announced on Friday that two Britons -- Moazzam Begg, 35, and Feroz Abbasi, 23, -- would be among the six suspects, whose names and nationalities U.S. defense officials have refused to reveal.

Charges set out in the Pentagon's instructions for the trials could bring the death penalty.

"Any trial before these military commissions would be a travesty of justice," Amnesty said. [...]

The first letters from Briton facing the death penalty at Camp X-Ray

By Neil Mackay and Felicity Arbuthnot
The Sunday Herald
06 July 2003

THEY are the first letters to see the outside world from the 21st century's Devil's Island -- the US military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

These 10 letters in neat, cramped handwriting from Moazzam Begg to his family back home in suburban Birmingham tell exactly what life is like inside the world's most feared prison -- Camp X-Ray.

Begg, who is 35, has been detained without charge since January 2001, has faced gruelling interrogations, been denied access to lawyers, confined in brutal conditions and now awaits a military tribunal which could well result in a short trip to a custom-built death house for execution.

On Thursday, 4 July (American Independence Day and the day before Begg's birthday), President Bush ordered that Begg and five other men, including another Briton -- Feroz Abbasi, 23, from London -- would be the first detainees to face military tribunals.

Washington is now facing international criticism over its use of military tribunals which are held in secret and presided over by high-ranking US soldiers. There is no guaranteed right to appeal.

Detainees are kept in wood and steel mesh cages, partially exposed to the elements. The world was shocked when the first pictures of Camp X-Ray emerged, showing detainees bound hand and foot and wearing blacked-out goggles. Some were stretchered into the camp, which has been labelled degrading and inhuman.

Begg, detainee number JJJEEHH 160, says in his letters that he mostly writes at night, 'which is usually when I cannot sleep because of thinking and worrying all the time, and the heat and the bright lights'. He has four children by his Palestinian wife, Sally. His youngest son Ibrahim was born while he was in custody.

In one letter to his wife, Begg writes: 'These past few weeks have been more depressing than usual, especially since the birth of our son ... time is dragging on so slowly ... I still don't know what will happen with me, where I will go and when -- even after all this time. There is nothing here to do to occupy time, except read the Koran .

'There are many rules here which do not make the wait any easier. The food has been the same for five and half months and most of the time I am hungry. I miss your cooking so much.'

Under what appear to be the black lines of a US military censor's pen can be read the words: 'I realise I am paying a big price for all the times I have been ungrateful in general and to you in particular.' The letter then ends: 'The most difficult thing in my life is being away from you and the kids, and being patient. I miss you and love you so much.'

Begg's father, Azmat, insists his son is not a terrorist. Ironically, Begg, who owned a bookshop in Birmingham, spent his formative years at a Jewish school and still has many Jewish friends. According to Azmat, a retired bank manager, his son was moved by the plight of the Afghani people and in 2001 travelled to Kabul with his family to start a school for basic education and provide water pumps.

When the allied attack on Afghanistan began in October 2001, Begg and his family moved to Islamabad in Pakistan for safety. It was there that he was seized in January 2002 by Pakistani police and CIA officers, bundled into a back of a car and taken back to Kabul, where he was held in a windowless cellar at Bagram airbase for nearly a year. His family insist it's a case of mistaken identity. Intelligence agents targeted Begg because his name appears on a photo-copy of a money transfer found in an al-Qaeda training camp.

Begg maintains his innocence in his letters home, saying: 'I believe that there has been a gross violation of my human rights, particularly to that right of freedom and innocence until proven guilty. After all this time I still don't know what crime I am supposed to have committed, for which not only I, but my wife and children should continually suffer for as a result.

'I am in a state of desperation and am beginning to lose the fight against depression and hopelessness .'

All of Begg's letters show that he rarely gets correspondence from his family, although he writes to them regularly. He continually blames 'the system' for preventing him getting details about his legal status, his family and the outside world. One letter begins: 'I wrote to mum in July. I am not entirely surprised if you never received it, or even if you will get this one -- but here goes anyway.'

In that letter he writes : 'I am afraid that I spend much time sleeping -- often getting bored from just sitting or lying down.' To counter the boredom, he reads the Koran, saying: 'I am also trying to to memorise the whole of the largest chapter.'

Although he appears reluctant to worry his family, he does write about some of the more unpleasant aspects of life in Camp X-Ray. 'The camel spider is the only 10-legged spider in the world, and, I believe, it is not an arachnid (technically not a spider). But it grows to bigger than the human hand-size, moves like a race-car and has a bite that causes flesh to decay if untreated. In the summer there were plenty here, running into cells and climbing over people; one person was bitten and had to be treated. Apart from that there is the usual melee of scorpions, beetles, mice and other insects.'

Another letter states: 'My routine is extremely mono-tonous ... Conversation with others is severely restricted but I do talk often to the guards.'

In the same letter, however, he shows that he still has a sense of humour in a sly side-swipe at his US captors: 'I had a discussion recently with someone about the USA's contribution to civilisation (after talking about Ancient Greece, Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, China). I pondered for many hours, then came up with the answer: peanut butter (both smooth and crunchy) ... I have that every now and then and it tastes fairly good!'

Another letter describes how he has been given books to read, including the biography of Malcolm X, Black Hawk Down (the story of America's botched military involvement in Somalia), Churchill's life and books on the US Civil War, Vietnam and the War of Independence -- 'which', Begg adds sarcastically, 'they won by sheer luck'.

Other letters are more poig-nant, with Begg asking his brothers to care for his wife and children -- who are now back in Britain -- and ensure they do well at school. 'Please help them in whatever way you can ... Don't let my children want for anything due to any financial problems.

'This is the hardest test I have had to face in my life,' he tells his father, 'and I hope I have not caused you too much distress, but I will pass this test by the will of Allah and your prayers.'

His last letter in January this year ends: 'I don't know what is going on about my case, but I think it won't be resolved any time shortly. I am mostly kept in the dark and nobody seems to know. Please write back.'

Begg's father Azmat, who proudly recounts the fact that all his family served in the British army, says his grandchildren are distraught at their father's disappearance.

Azmat and the rest of the family have been refused visas to travel to America in order to ask questions about their son's case. He also accused the Foreign Office of failing to help.

' I feel now he will comply with whatever he is told,' said Azmat. 'In his most recent letter he said that he will 'make a decision which will affect the entire family'. We cannot guess what he means, but I am afraid he could do anything -- he has nothing in him left.'

Is Bush here to plunder or provide?

Rory Carroll | Sao Tome
07 July 2003 07:20

[...]

The person with the most power to change that will step from Air Force One today on to African soil for a week-long visit billed as a mission to help the likes of the Lima children. George Bush comes with no treaties to shred, no enemies to warn, no troops to congratulate. Instead, the warrior president brings promises of billions of dollars and a series of initiatives to relieve the continent's suffering.

Starting in Senegal and continuing in South Africa, Botswana, Uganda and Nigeria, he will unveil a kinder, gentler touch.

Sums to fight HIV/Aids and trade concessions will be the centrepiece, but fate has granted Washington a potentially more powerful instrument to better the continent: oil. Off West Africa's coast lie vast deposits of high-quality crude suited to US refineries. Advances in deep drilling make the deposits viable just as the US seeks to reduce dependence on the Gulf.

A taskforce headed by the vice president, Dick Cheney, linked African oil imports to national security, something pro-Israeli and neo- conservative strategists have advocated since September 11...

But will the oil help communities lacking electricity, medicines and clean water, the Africa inhabited by Hipolito Lima?

For two decades Angola, Nigeria and Gabon have pumped billions of barrels only to discover that it has fuelled corruption and poverty, a phenomenon academics call "paradox of plenty". Sub-Saharan Africa is on the cusp of a bigger oil rush that could launch a fresh cycle of conflict and misrule -- or of development and prosperity...

Not a drop has been extracted in Sao Tome but already the signs are ominous. It astonished industry analysts by awarding hugely favourable terms to an obscure Texas oil firm, ERHC, since taken over by a Nigerian, with no drilling rigs.

President Fradique Bandeira Melo de Menezes later admitted receiving $100 000 from the company but said it was a legitimate political donation. ERHC denied giving any money.

Comment: We've seen how American oil companies bring peace and prosperity around the world, how strict they are with local politicians who are corrupt, and how caring they are for the local populations.

How can anyone even pretend to pose the question? Of course, the people of Africa will be robbed and exploited.

Taylor to call it quits

July 6 2003
By David Clarke


Liberian President Charles Taylor, under US pressure to quit, said he had agreed to step down, but urged the world to send peacekeepers to prevent chaos

[...]White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters on Air Force One that Mr Bush had not yet decided whether to send US peacekeepers to Liberia, but left open the possibility. A decision could come this weekend. [...]

Mr Taylor is accused of trading guns for diamonds with rebels, who left a trail of mutilation, rape and murder.

US military wants to increase its presence in Africa

By Eric Schmitt in Washington

The United States military is seeking to expand its presence in Africa through new basing agreements and training exercises aimed at combating a growing terrorist threat. [...]

Firefighters battle forest fire near Athens

More than 60 firefighters and four aircraft are battling a forest fire at a seaside area near Athens, the fire department said.

The blaze broke out at Porto Rafti, 22 miles east of Athens, but did not pose any threat to homes.

The cause was not immediately known.

The fire department issued warnings for most of mainland Greece, amid strong winds and temperatures of 40C

Wild Weather Causes Power Outages

Jul 5, 2003 11:02 pm US/Eastern

PHILADELPHIA (KYW) As if the heat and humidity aren’t bad enough, a line of powerful thunderstorms toppled trees and snapped powerlines throughout the Delaware Valley.

The storms rumbled through the region late Saturday afternoon, leaving a mess in their wake...

As of 11 p.m. Saturday, PECO was working to restore power to more than 27,000 customers. At one point, some 79,000 customers were without power.

Coldest weather this year hits New Zealand

Xinhuanet 2003-07-06 09:44

WELLINGTON, July 6 (Xinhuanet) -- New Zealand experienced the coldest day of the year Saturday as some roads and airports throughout the country were closed, and mail deliveries were interrupted.

Weather expert Bob McDavitt, however, said if the cold front --which came through from the Antarctic on Friday night -- had arrived a few days earlier, the type of big snow that paralyzed Christchurch in 1992 could have been on the cards again...

On Saturday, 30 cm of snow dropped on the mid-Canterbury town of Methven, roads in the South Island and lower North Island were closed and motorists in Christchurch were told to avoid two inner city overpasses because of ice...

He said the effects of the cold snap were probably being felt more because of good weather until now. June was the warmest on record.

Strong quake shakes western Turkey

Sunday, July 6, 2003 22:32 GMT

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) -- A strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.3 shook western Turkey on Sunday, the Istanbul-based Kandilli observatory said. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The quake struck at around 10:10 p.m. (1910 GMT) and was centered in the town of Saros Korfezi, some 300 kilometers (185 miles) southwest of Istanbul. [...]

Mild Earthquake Jolts Island of Bali

Associated Press

JAKARTA, Indonesia -A mild earthquake on Sunday jolted the resort island of Bali, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries, officials said.

The 5.1-magnitude quake struck at 1:39 p.m. and was centered 20 miles beneath the Indian Ocean, about 22 miles south of the provincial capital Denpasar, the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said.

Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, is prone to seismic upheaval because of its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire."

The Sunday quake hit as delegations from Asia and Europe finance ministers concluded two days of talks in Bali, about 600 miles east of Jakarta.

Minor earthquake leaves Bremerton unscathed

SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER

BREMERTON -- A small earthquake hit about 11 miles southwest of here late Saturday, but appeared to cause no major damage.

Authorities said they had received no reports of injuries or property damage from the 2.9 magnitude earthquake, recorded at 10:55 p.m.

The quake was centered six miles below the surface, according to the Pacific Northwest Seismograph Network's Web site.
It hit about 22 miles west of Seattle.

A minor earthquake centered near Bremerton on May 29 was felt around the Puget Sound region.

The magnitude 3.7 quake, which hit at 8:50 p.m., was centered seven miles southwest of Bremerton at a depth of about 14 miles, the University of Washington's Department of Earth and Space Sciences reported.

Four New Quakes Shook Bulgaria

7 July 2003, Monday.

Four new quakes shook Sunday night and early Monday morning Bulgaria's Southeastern region and mostly the town of Kardzhali.

A light trembling was also reported in other towns in the region and also in Bulgaria's capital Sofia. The quake's epicenter was outside Bulgaria.

The earthquake didn't hurt any people or caused material damages in Bulgaria, officials repored.

A total of five quakes were reported in the country, the first and most powerful one took place at about 350 kilometers Southeast from Sofia. No more tremors are likely to occur in Bulgaria, experts said Monday.

Magnitude 5.2 VANUATU ISLANDS

Building the James Webb Space Telescope

By Michael Mecham
July 6, 2003

The art and reality of building a major orbiting observatory has been compared to the creation of one of Europe's great cathedrals. Both require a grand plan, an ability to keep working under stress and similar amounts of toil.

The competition to build the James Webb Space Telescope ended last year with the selection of a contracting team headed by Northrop Grumman Space Technology. Eight years from now, an Ariane 5 is expected to boost the 5,400-kg. (11,880-lb.) observatory toward the second Lagrangian point (L2), 1.5 million km. (930,000 mi.) beyond Earth's orbit. There, the Sun and Earth will be on a relatively straight line with the satellite, which minimizes the effects of their light on its optics, and their gravitational pull will be pretty much in balance, giving it a relatively benign parking spot...

The scale of the two observatories is vastly different. Hubble is a hefty 25,000 lb. with a thick, solid-glass mirror weighing 2,200 lb. In contrast, JWST will weigh slightly less than half that much, and its deformable, actively controlled primary mirror tips an Earth scale at just 748 lb.

The JWST's segmented mirror is a hexagon, so a strict comparison with HST's round, traditional Ritchey-Chretien design is imprecise. But in rough terms, its diameter of 6.5 meters (21.3ft.) is 2.5 times larger than Hubble's, while its surface area of 25 sq. meters is six times greater. Depending on the wavelength, the JWST will be up to 60 times more sensitive than Hubble and 400 times more sensitive than ground-based IR telescopes or current-generation space-based IR observatories.

Idaho-made dishes detect space's sophisticated sounds

By Wang Feng
The Associated Press

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -- Wander into the front yard of John Andersen's manufacturing plant, and you might think you are in a NASA warehouse or a CIA surveillance facility...

Andersen Manufacturing Inc. of Idaho Falls makes dishes, Andersen admits, with uses that exceed his wildest imaginations.

Some of the largest ones -- shiny aluminum alloy dishes, 21 feet in diameter -- are manufactured for some scientists in California who are scanning the skies in search of radio signals from aliens.

The Search for Extra- terrestrial Intelligence, SETI, is the official name, and the scientists are buying an army of these giant radio telescopes from Andersen. In fact, Andersen's products play such a crucial role in the ambitious program that his company has gained some national publicity.

The dishes, custom-ordered by SETI, will eventually form the Allen Telescope Array. The project is named after its chief sponsor, Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen. ..

Precision dishes are the biggest sector in Andersen's booming business. He has recently started making a dish the same size as those for the SETI for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It will be used in communicating with outer-space exploration vehicles.

Meandering his way between machinery and several half-finished SETI dishes, Andersen is an enthusiastic believer in extraterrestrials and has full confidence in his products.

Epcot yearns for boost with 'Mission: Space'

By Mike Branom
The Associated Press

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The newest thrill ride at Walt Disney World's Epcot is a simulated rocket flight to Mars heavy on "gee whiz" and G-forces. It remains to be seen whether Mission: Space also will lift the theme park's flagging attendance skyward.

Mission: Space made its debut for the media last week as part of the park's "soft opening," in which selected VIPs and guests can ride as technicians work out the bugs. The attraction officially launches Aug. 15. The new ride, which is generating a buzz among industry insiders, can't open too soon for the theme park.

Epcot, second-oldest of the resort's four parks, has yet to fully recover from the 2001 terror attacks. Amusement Business magazine pegged Epcot's 2002 turnstile count at nearly 8.3 million, an 8 percent drop from the year before and greater than Disney World's overall decline for the year of 6 percent.

"Most of that has to do with the big drop in international tourists in 2002," said Tim O'Brien, Amusement Business' senior editor for parks and attractions. "And international tourists really like Epcot.

Comment: Shows these guys don't understand what is at the heart of the drop in tourism to the USA: people's disgust with US politics around the world. Why should people come to visit the US when they have to be fingerprinted and treated like criminals? But Americans think their country is so darn special and great that others should be pleased with such a welcome: humiliation is a small price to pay for being allowed within the hallowed gates of America.

Next space tourist selected: Report

Agence France-Presse
Moscow, July 5

A US space tourism company has selected the next tourist to blast off for the International Space Station (ISS) on board a Russian rocket, in 2004 or 2005, the ITAR-TASS news agency has reported.

The company, Space Adventures, has signed a preliminary contract with the future tourist, whose name has not been disclosed...

The asking price for a 10-day visit to the ISS is around $ 20 million, a sum only two space tourists -- Californian businessman Dennis Tito and South Africa Internet millionaire Mark Shuttleworth -- have so far been able to afford.

TV interviews: Talk to an expert about a new crime fighting tool based on NASA technology

For release: 07/03/03
Satellite release #: 03-110

NASA'S 'INVENTION OF THE YEAR' FIGHTS CRIME; TECHNOLOGY FROM SPACE PROGRAM PUTS LAWBREAKERS BEHIND BARS

* It started out as a way to study the Sun and weather systems. Through some dramatic turns, it became a valuable law enforcement tool and NASA's "Commercial Invention of the Year."
* VISAR, or Video Image Stabilization and Registration, has been used to assist law enforcement in dozens of criminal cases.
* And it was even used to verify an image of Saddam Hussein earlier this year.
* VISAR can stabilize and enhance video, brighten dark images and enlarge small sections of pictures to reveal clues about crimes.
* The computer software is now available in a product for law enforcement offered by Intergraph Corp. of Huntsville, Ala., in its Video Analyst workstation product.
* VISAR -- another technology developed in the space program and now improving life on Earth with further applications for engineering, medicine and video editing.
* Talk to one of VISAR's inventors about this NASA success story.

Comment: An interesting note about this release is that it's contradictory: A page at NASA dated May 4, 1999 says "The process to develop VISAR began over two years ago, following a request from the Southeast Bomb Task Force of the FBI. A video showing the bombing of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta was of particularly poor quality, so the FBI task force asked if anyone at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center could help improve the video's clarity." -- but the data here says it started as a way to study the sun and weather systems. These guys have trouble getting their stories straight.

Delta Aquarid meteor shower a must-see

The northern and southern Delta Aquarid meteor shower is active between July 15 and Aug. 19, with the peak of activity occurring on July 28.

Fortunately for meteor observers, the moon will be new on July 28, resulting in dark skies that allow the viewing of fainter meteors. The Delta Aquarid shower radiates from the constellation Aquarius, the direction in the sky where the meteors appear to come from. It is interesting to note that the planet Mars also lies in the constellation Aquarius, near this radiant point in the sky.

You should be able to see around 20 meteors per hour after your eyes adjust to the dark on July 28, although historical records show that from 2 to 60 meteors per hour have been observed in the past. Pick a comfortable place under as much open sky as you can so when Mars begins to rise in the east at around 11:30 p.m. you will be ready to watch the meteor shower as they race across the sky at 91,000 miles per hour.

Bush pushes for next generation of nukes

By Tom Squitieri, USA TODAY
7/6/2003 11:27 PM

MERCURY, Nev. — If the Bush administration succeeds in its determined but little-noticed push to develop a new generation of nuclear weapons, this sun-baked desert flatland 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas could once again reverberate with the ground-shaking thumps of nuclear explosions that used to be common here. [...]

But the Bush administration has now taken a decidedly different approach, one that has touched off a passionate debate in Washington. Last year the White House released, to little publicity, the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review. That policy paper embraces the use of nuclear weapons in a first strike and on the battlefield; it also says a return to nuclear testing may soon be necessary. It was coupled with a request for $70 million to study and develop new types of nuclear weapons and to shorten the time it would take to test them.

Last November, months before the invasion of Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld casually told reporters during a flight to Chile that military strategists were examining ways to neutralize Iraq's chemical and biological weapons. Among options studied were bunker-busting bombs that might have nuclear payloads. [...]

Comment: Now the push for new "nucular" weapons makes sense. With bunker-busting mini-nukes, the Bush Reich can fabricate evidence of WMDs in nonexistent bunkers, nuke 'em all, and then proclaim that freedom has been preserved while the fallout poisons and kills the citizens of the unfortunate target country. And the proof? "Gee, sorry, it was vaporized. But trust us, the weapons were there..." And, as an added bonus, far fewer U.S. troops will be needed, so Bushy and gang won't have those pesky American citizens complaining about the slaughter of their sons and daughters.

Grounding Planes the Wrong Way
Coalition troops looted and vandalized the Iraqi airport that now must be rebuilt

By SIMON ROBINSON/BAGHDAD
Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003

Much has been written about how Iraqis complicated the task of rebuilding their country by looting it after Saddam Hussein's regime fell. In the case of the international airport outside Baghdad, however, the theft and vandalism were conducted largely by victorious American troops, according to U.S. officials, Iraqi Airways staff members and other airport workers. The troops, they say, stole duty-free items, needlessly shot up the airport and trashed five serviceable Boeing airplanes. "I don't want to detract from all the great work that's going into getting the airport running again," says Lieut. John Welsh, the Army civil-affairs officer charged with bringing the airport back into operation. "But you've got to ask, If this could have been avoided, did we shoot ourselves in the foot here?"

What was then called Saddam International Airport fell to soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division on April 3. For the next two weeks, airport workers say, soldiers sleeping in the airport's main terminal helped themselves to items in the duty-free shop, including alcohol, cassettes, perfume, cigarettes and expensive watches...

Coalition soldiers also vandalized the airport, American sources say. A boardroom table that Welsh and Iraqi civil-aviation authority officials sat around in early May was, a week later, a pile of glass and splintered wood. Terminal windows were smashed, and almost every door in the building was broken, says Welsh.

..."Soldiers do this stuff all the time, everywhere. It's warfare," says a U.S. military official. "But the conflict was over when this was done. These are just bored soldiers." Says Welsh: "If we're here to rebuild the country, then anything we break we have to fix. We need to train these guys to go from shoot-it-up to securing infrastructure. Otherwise we're just making more work for ourselves. And we have to pay for it."

Three G.I.'s Killed in Iraq Capital, One at Campus

By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr.
The New York Times

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Monday, July 7 — Three American soldiers were killed in about a 12-hour period Sunday and early today in Baghdad amid growing signs of guerrilla resistance to American forces.

The first death occurred about 12:35 p.m. on Sunday when an American soldier who was accompanying United States officials visiting Baghdad University was fatally shot by an unidentified gunman, witnesses and American officials said.

The next death occurred at 9:30 Sunday night when a soldier from the First Armored Division was killed while chasing two Iraqi gunmen. One of the Iraqi gunmen was killed and one was wounded, said a military spokesman, Specialist Lorente Giovanni.

The third soldier was killed at 1 this morning while he was on patrol in a Baghdad neighborhood when an explosive device struck his vehicle, Specialist Giovanni said.

At the university, several students who said they had witnessed the shooting, outside a cafeteria near the engineering school, said the gunman had pulled out a pistol and fired a single shot at point-blank range into the soldier's head. An American official said the soldier had apparently just left the cafeteria after buying a drink. [...]

Troop morale in Iraq hits 'rock bottom'

By Ann Scott Tyson | Special to The Christian Science Monitor
July 07, 2003

WASHINGTON – US troops facing extended deployments amid the danger, heat, and uncertainty of an Iraq occupation are suffering from low morale that has in some cases hit "rock bottom."

Even as President Bush speaks of a "massive and long-term" undertaking in rebuilding Iraq, that effort, as well as the high tempo of US military operations around the globe, is taking its toll on individual troops.

Some frustrated troops stationed in Iraq are writing letters to representatives in Congress to request their units be repatriated. "Most soldiers would empty their bank accounts just for a plane ticket home," said one recent Congressional letter written by an Army soldier now based in Iraq. The soldier requested anonymity.

In some units, there has been an increase in letters from the Red Cross stating soldiers are needed at home, as well as daily instances of female troops being sent home due to pregnancy.

"Make no mistake, the level of morale for most soldiers that I've seen has hit rock bottom," said another soldier, an officer from the Army's 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq. [...]

In one Army unit, an officer described the mentality of troops. "They vent to anyone who will listen. They write letters, they cry, they yell. Many of them walk around looking visibly tired and depressed.... We feel like pawns in a game that we have no voice [in]."

Iraq: the human toll

The Observer
Sunday July 6, 2003

It was Rahad's turn to hide. The nine-year-old girl found a good place to conceal herself from her playmates, the game of hide and seek having lasted some two hours along a quiet residential street in the town of Fallujah, on the banks of the Euphrates. But while Rahad crouched behind the wall of a neighbour's house, someone else - not playing the game - had spotted her, and her friends; someone above. The pilot of an American A-10 'tank-buster' aircraft, hovering in a figure of eight. He was flying an airborne weapon equipped with some of the most advanced and accurate equipment for 'precision target recognition' in the Pentagon's arsenal. And at 5.30pm on 29 March, he launched his weapon at the street scene below.

The 'daisy-cutter' bounced and exploded a few feet above ground, blasting red-hot shrapnel into the walls not of a tank but of houses. Rahad Septi and 10 other children lost their lives; another 12 were injured. Three adults were also killed.

Juma Septi, father to Rahad, holds a photograph of his daughter in the palm of his hand as he recalls the afternoon he lost his 'little flower'. A carpenter, Septi had been a lifelong opponent of Saddam Hussein - an activist in the Islamic Accord Party, for which he had been imprisoned, then exiled to Jordan in 1995. Last October, Septi had returned under an armistice to start a new life in his home town, reunited with his family. 'I don't really know what to think now,' he says. 'We have lost Saddam Hussein, but I have lost my daughter. They came to kill him, but killed her and the other children instead. What am I supposed to make of that?' [...]

TRUE PRICE OF WAR: SCANDAL OF 'LOST' PoWs

Only 2,000 captives are accounted for
Relatives are not allowed to visit loved ones
Names were not properly written down

Exclusive By Gary Jones
Jul 5 2003

THE Red Cross yesterday accused Tony Blair and George Bush of breaching the Geneva Convention over the shabby treatment of Iraqi prisoners of war.

The humanitarian organisation said the true number of PoWs and their whereabouts was unknown, family visits have been denied and there was no system in place to monitor arrests or pass on details to the Red Cross.

A high-ranking official of the International Committee of the Red Cross said: "It is an obligation of the occupying power to notify us of any arrests but that's not happening. We are not receiving anything like full information on prisoners of war.

"There is no proper notification. No organisation. There is not the will to resolve this issue.

"Talks are now taking place at the highest level and if we don't make progress then we will be merciless in fighting our corner."

The shocking series of complaints made by the ICRC include:

ONLY 2,000 prisoners have so far been seen with many more unaccounted for.

RELATIVES are not allowed to visit them even if they are lucky enough to track them down.

SO slipshod has been the taking down of Arabic names of PoWs that they are meaningless, making it impossible for the Red Cross to track down their families

NO notification of arrests or where prisoners are held and no urgency in passing on information.

Labour MP and leading war critic Tam Dalyell called on the Prime Minister to urgently resolve the Red Cross grievances. He said: "He's got to sort this out - or release the PoWs. Not monitoring prisoners properly will cause huge resentment, especially if those being held are innocent.

"Adding to the perceived injustices of the Iraqi people will only create more bitterness and lead to more attacks on our forces.

"It is a catastrophic state of affairs."

The US has sidestepped some of its responsibilities under the 50-year-old Geneva Convention because President Bush stopped short of declaring the war over.

Under the Convention, once war is declared over the victorious army must release prisoners of war and halt operations targeting specific leaders. Human rights group Amnesty International has called on the US and British forces to give Iraqis detained since the beginning of the occupation the right to meet families and lawyers.

They are also calling for a judicial review of their detention.

UK Director Lesley Warner said: "The conditions of detention Iraqis are held under at the Camp Cropper Centre at Baghdad International Airport - now a US base - and at Abu Ghraib Prison may amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, banned by international law." Detainees held in Baghdad have invariably reported that they suffered cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment immediately after arrest...

List of Journalists Who Died in Iraq

FLASHBACK: REPORTERS IN IRAQ TARGETED

10th March, 2003
by Fintan Dunne, Editor
http://www.GuluFuture.com

 The Pentagon has threatened to fire on the satellite uplink positions of independent journalists in Iraq, according to veteran BBC war correspondent, Kate Adie . In an interview with Irish radio, Ms. Adie said that questioned about the consequences of such potentially fatal actions, a senior Pentagon officer had said: "Who cares.. ..They've been warned." [...]

Corsicans reject autonomy offer

The referendum's result is a bitter blow for Paris

Corsicans have narrowly rejected an offer for greater autonomy from France in an historic referendum.
Almost 51% of the Mediterranean island's inhabitants said no to a plan to create a single regional assembly with the power to levy taxes and greater control over public services. Just over 49% supported the move.

The government in Paris had campaigned hard for a "yes" vote, arguing that the new assembly is the best way to ensure that Corsica remains French and also to put an end to separatists' violence that has gone on for nearly 30 years.

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy announced the decision to maintain the status quo. He said "the government will respect their choice", but called it "a wasted opportunity".

Petacchi wins dramatic first stage

Alessandro Petacchi survived a dramatic crash in the final kilometre to win the first stage of the Tour de France on Sunday.

The Italian stayed in the peloton for the 168km stretch from Paris to the country village of Meaux before leaving it late to make a sprint for the line.

Le Djihad islamique menace de suspendre la trêve après l'arrestation d'un de ses chefs

LEMONDE.FR | 07.07.03 | 10h00 • MIS A JOUR LE 07.07.03 | 10h59

L'armée israélienne a arrêté lundi à l'aube en Cisjordanie un chef militaire local du Djihad islamique, amenant un responsable du mouvement radical palestinien à menacer de suspendre la trêve, a-t-on appris auprès du groupe. Hassan Khamaïsseh a été capturé par des soldats israéliens à Qabatyeh, au sud de Jénine (dans le nord de la Cisjordanie), a-t-on précisé.

Un chef du Djihad islamique à Jénine, cheikh Bassam Saadi, a indiqué que "si les raids (israéliens) continuent, le Djihad ne respectera plus la trêve" dans les attaques anti-israéliennes.

Comment: More evidence that it is the Zionist occupiers of Palestine who do not want this genocide to end. The group Islamic Jihad was one of four groups to sign a three-month truce on June 29. A week later, the Zionist neo-Nazis arrest one of the leaders. These butchers, like their friend Bush in Washington, are not even worried that people will call them out on this behaviour. Israel feels it can continually provoke the Palestinians, and this is what they do.

Bush wants war in the Middle East. He wants the Second Coming. He talks to God, who tells George who to invade and when. Monotheism is a trap that we have wanted into and it is now snapping shut with a violence that...well, why should we be surprised. The monotheisms have always been blood-thirsty cults.

Israeli minister suggests Mofaz, Dahlan meet; Israeli minister suggests to ''drown Palestinian prisoners in Dead Sea''

06-07-2003

Israel's Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and the Palestinian Minister for Security Affairs Mohammed Dahlan met in Jerusalem on Sunday afternoon to discuss the timing of transferring more cities over to Palestinian control.

[...] Meanwhile, Israel's Transportation Minister Avgidor Liberman, asked to serve in a committee to decide the details of the release of the Palestinian detainees, rejected the offer.

The minister said that he would be happy to drive the prisoners to a place where they will never come back from. During the Sunday cabinet meeting, Liberman, the leader of the far right wing Russian immigrant party Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home), suggested to drown the Palestinian prisoners in the Dead Sea.

Israel approves release conditions for detainees

Sunday, July 6, 2003 18:22 GMT

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israel's Cabinet approved criteria Sunday that could allow the release of several hundred Palestinian prisoners.

Israeli security chief Avi Dichter presented the proposed criteria and a list of candidates who would be eligible for release as part of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

Dichter said released detainees would not include Palestinians charged with killing Israelis, members of hard-line militant groups or Palestinians labeled as security threats.

A committee of Cabinet ministers was expected to determine who would be released. About 6,000 Palestinian prisoners are in Israel's custody. [...]

Ukrainian Internet Outlawed

Yabloko Deputy Shchekochikhin Dead at 53

By Yevgenia Borisova
Staff Writer
The Moscow Times
Friday, Jul. 4, 2003. Page 1

Leading anti-corruption journalist and Yabloko Deputy Yury Shchekochikhin died Wednesday night in a hospital after apparently suffering a severe allergic reaction. He was 53.

His newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, said Wednesday that it feared foul play and together with Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky called for a complete investigation into the death.

About the Truth

By Matt Bivens
The Moscow Times
Monday, Jul. 7, 2003. Page 8


Yury Shchekochikhin emerged from the Moskovsky Komsomolets school of journalism, and he never lost his populist touch. His articles were wonderful reads, a mix of mournful optimism and cruel wit. His signature phrase when writing about his country was some variation on, "Honestly, I don't understand anything anymore."

I went through his old articles again after his death last week at age 53 -- from a mystery "allergic reaction," one that has political Moscow buzzing he may have been poisoned. Strung out over the years on the thread of his distinctive voice, his writings hang together well. Someone -- Novaya Gazeta, where he was an editor, or the Yabloko party, where he was a leader -- ought to collect them into a book.

Typical was the day in September 1998, amid the ruble crash, when Shchekochikhin unveiled the salary of the Central Bank chief. Sergei Dubinin, he began, is a wonderful, soft-spoken guy. And there's no point blaming him for a currency crash. But his 1997 salary was, ahem, 1,258,113,518.45 rubles.

"Chevo-chevo? Skolko-Skolko?" Shchekochikhin wrote. ("What? What? How much? How much?")

"I'm trying to understand it by the order of the numbers," he continued. "The '45' on the end, I understand that's kopeks. The '518' next to it, that's rubles, the '113' is thousands, the '258' is millions. And the '1' at the beginning ...?" It worked out to about $240,000 a year, nearly twice what U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan was pulling down, but average for Central Bankers internationally.

For Shchekochikhin, however, 1.26 billion rubles equaled the salaries of 210 Russian ministers and parliament members -- or 40 times Boris Yeltsin's laughable official salary, or the annual budget of five large Moscow schools. Dubinin's many lieutenants earned nearly as much.

Looking back on it, it's striking what a unique dual role Shchekochikhin carved out: He was a full-time working journalist, as prolific as any reporter anywhere -- and simultaneously a prominent and active member of the Russian parliament. That's bizarre. Very few people would be able to bring that off without discrediting themselves one way or another. But Shchekochikhin not only pulled it off, he did it masterfully -- because, it seems to me, so much of what he did was about public service and not "politics."

It's surprising how little envy I heard from other journalists over the way Shchekochikhin could use his status as a Duma deputy to issue official requests for documents and information. But Shchekochikhin wasn't about the scoop or the byline; he was about the truth.

One example of his brand of journalism-activism -- one that I'm always surprised is not ragingly famous across Russia -- was Shchekochikhin's work with Novaya Gazeta colleague Vyacheslav Izmailov, a retired military officer, in freeing Russian POWs. (If Shchekochikhin were in politics to be a politician, he'd have loudly claimed ownership of this work; instead, it's mostly seen as Izmailov's project, and the newspaper's.) Izmailov cajoles prosecutors across Russia into releasing ethnic Chechens who've been detained on misdemeanors -- provided that, in return, the families of those pardoned Chechens lean on guerrillas back home to set free a Russian POW. It's complicated, and messy, but at last count Shchekochikhin and Izmailov have freed about 200 POWs.

Russia has lost many young public figures in recent tragedies -- Alexander Lebed, Artyom Borovik, Galina Starovoitova -- but personally, I'll miss Shchekochikhin most of all.

Russia's suicide rate twice average world level

Interfax. Monday, Jul. 7, 2003, 1:37 PM Moscow Time

MOSCOW. July 7 (Interfax) - Men in Russia commit suicide more often than women, a report prepared by the Russian Health Ministry's Research Institute of Psychiatry reads.

The suicide rate is highest among men aged 45-54 (106.7 cases per 100,000 people). Women are most likely to commit suicide after the age of 75 (27.4 cases per 100,000).

The suicide rate in Russia increased from 26.4 per 100,000 people in 1990 to 39.7 per 100,000 in 2001. The peak of suicides was in 1994 (42.1 cases per 100,000).

In 1994-2001, the suicide rate was lowest in 1998, the year Russia suffered an economic crisis (35.4 cases).

The suicide rate in Russia is twice the average world level. For example, in 2000 the suicide rate reached almost 40 cases per 100,000 people, while the average world level was lower than 15 cases per 100,000.

Poland Acknowledges Oil Ambition in Iraq

Pravda

Too many companies wish to assist in Iraq's restoration

Washington and London still hesitate to acknowledge the fact that the war in Iraq was launched because of oil. However, their true ally - Poland - does not see anything blameworthy about it. Polish Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz has recently stated that Poland has never concealed its aspiration to gain a direct access to oil deposits. Saddam is a tyrant and a monster, of course, but oil is much more important. [...]

Dutch mass spammer loses grip

By Jan Libbenga
Posted: 06/07/2003 at 21:03 GMT
The Register


Martijn Bevelander is not a happy man. The 23 year-old Dutch entrepreneur was exposed last week by the BBC as a mass spammer. Now his company Megaprovider is sinking.

As well as hosting pornographic websites for notorious spam gangs such as Superzonda, MegaProvider has allegedly sent large quantities of spam for mostly American clients through an Amsterdam-based subsidiary called CyberAngels.

Profiler Joins Cat Mutilation Task Force

FIFTEEN ANIMALS SLAIN IN MINI-ZOO 
 
 TEMUCO.- Since Thursday, residents of Pillanlelbun, a town some 15 km from this city, have been shutting down henhouses, mangers and pigpens under lock and key and using crosses made of "palqui" after news of the mysterious deaths of 15 animals at the Ty Koyam Mini-Zoo became known. 

Woman who went over bridge with twins could be charged Monday

Rochelle Olson and David Phelps,  Star Tribune

[...] Without warning or calling out to anyone, Gaines, a mother of four, dropped her babies over the 5-foot railing into the debris-laden river 75 feet below, police said.

Then she jumped, screaming indecipherably as she fell. [...]

Police: Teen Massacre Foiled

By Dwight Ott, Patrick Kerkstra and Emilie Lounsberry
Philadelphia Inquirer

An 18-year-old man and two juvenile boys were arrested yesterday in suburban Camden County with a cache of rifles, swords and knives, and police said the three had planned to target students who attend Oaklyn Public School, then "randomly attack as many people as possible." [...]

Plane in terrorism scare turns up sporting a respray

James Astill in Freetown
Monday July 7, 2003
The Guardian

A Boeing 727 cargo plane which caused panic among US intelligence agencies after mysteriously disappearing from Angola's main airport turned up last week in Guinea, the Guardian can reveal.

The plane, which was feared to be in the hands of international terrorists, was spotted on June 28 in Conakry, Guinea's capital, by Bob Strother, a Canadian pilot. It had been resprayed and given the Guinean registration 3XGOM. But at least the last two letters of its former tail-number, N844AA, were still showing.

The plane, which was recently converted into a fuel tanker, was said to be owned by a member of West Africa's Lebanese business community, and was being used to shuttle goods between Beirut and Conakry, according to Mr Strother. [...]

Passengers on Phoenix flight fall ill

The Associated Press
July 6, 2003 10:36 PM


IMPERIAL, Pa. - About 28 passengers were briefly quarantined at Pittsburgh International Airport on Sunday when they complained of flu-like symptoms on a flight from Phoenix.

The passengers aboard US Airways Flight 150 were loaded onto a bus and examined by paramedics, who cleared them to continue on their way to Charlotte, N.C., said airport spokeswoman JoAnn Jenny.

"The people with symptoms were apparently doing some work on an Indian reservation and had exhibited some nausea and cold symptoms the day before," Jenny said. [...]

Hong Kong Postpones Controversial Subversion Bill

By Kim Coghill
Sun July 6, 2003 09:53 PM ET

HONG KONG (Reuters) - The Hong Kong government, reeling after a massive show of people power last week, postponed on Monday a controversial anti-subversion bill after losing the support of a key legislative ally.

The climbdown came just days after Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa said he would water down some of the bill's most contentious provisions but vowed to pass the bill this week.

That changed on Sunday when the Liberal Party's leader quit Tung's Executive Council, leaving the government potentially short of the votes it needed in the legislature to pass the bill. [...]

Lightning strikes woman's tongue stud


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