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Thursday, April 15, 2004

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New Article: Jupiter, Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, and the Return of the Mongols - Laura Knight-Jadczyk

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12

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Evening Sky - 7 April 2004
©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Yesterday's Signs page carried the following article:

Americans have not learnt the lessons of history

By Niall Ferguson

Around this time last year I had a conversation in Washington that summed up what was bound to go wrong for America in Iraq. I was talking to a mid-ranking official in the US Treasury about American plans for the post-war reconstruction of the Iraqi economy. She had just attended a meeting on precisely that subject. "So what kind of historical precedents have you been considering?" I asked. "The post-Communist economies of Eastern Europe," she replied. "We have quite a bit of experience we can draw on from the 1990s."

When I suggested that the problems of privatisation in Poland might not prove relevant on the banks of the Euphrates, she seemed surprised. And when I suggested that she and her colleagues ought at least to take a look at the last Anglophone occupation of Iraq, her surprise turned to incredulity. Not for the first time since crossing the Atlantic, I was confronted with the disturbing reality about the way Americans make policy. Theory looms surprisingly large. [...] The lessons of history come a poor second, and only recent history - preferably recent American history - gets considered.

There was amazement last year when I pointed out in the journal Foreign Affairs that in 1917 a British general had occupied Baghdad and proclaimed: "Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators." By the same token, scarcely any American outside university history departments is aware that within just a few months of the formal British takeover of Iraq, there was a full-scale anti-British revolt.

What happened in Iraq last week so closely resembles the events of 1920 that only a historical ignoramus could be surprised. [...]

Freedom can be defined in terms of the level of ability to interact in a real and meaningful way with life and the world around us. Freedom is nothing if it is not freedom to know and understand truth and reality. The closer we can get to an objective view of true reality the freer we are. Conversely, the further we are from a true understanding of reality, the less we are able to interact in a meaningful way with life, and the more enslaved we are.

Far from being a land of opportunity where persecuted peoples the world over could find refuge and realise their dream of creating the first truly free and egalitarian society, with hindsight it seems that modern America was designed, from the very beginning, to be a vast Petri dish for an experiment to create a nation of people that would willingly submit their will to the ruling elite to an extent never before seen in modern times, while at the same time believing themselves to be the living embodiment of personal freedom.

Of course, such a grand plan could not be accomplished overtly or by the use of force, since the key to success was in creating an environment where the people themselves would fight to maintain their own state of enslavement. The most obvious and natural way to achieve this was to make lies and illusion the foundation of modern American society and the yardstick by which the American people define themselves. The battle then was for control of the minds of the American people.

As infants we know nothing of reality, as we grow we undergo a process of socialisation, from which we obtain our sense of who we are, our values, our sense of morality and, perhaps most significantly, our education. All of these things are given to us at a stage in our lives when we have no ability to choose if we truly want them or not. By the time we are old enough to make "independent" choices about what to do with our lives we have already been so programmed to view the world in one specific way, that there is literally nothing independent about any choices we might make from then on. This process of socialisation then is crucial in defining our view and understanding of reality.

While morality, values and sense of self are all important for our development as conscious responsible human beings, we will not get far without at least a semi-objective understanding of the world in which we live. As a result of the dire level of education offered to the average American citizen, their understanding of the world outside the borders of their "great nation" is virtually nil, or distorted to such an extent that they would probably be better off if it were nil. Of course, such a state of affairs is without doubt deliberately contrived by those that set the educational curriculum. Humans by their nature have an inherent need to understand, yet we also tend towards egocentricity and fear of the unknown. This aspect of human nature has been used against Americans to great effect in securing their participation in their own enslavement.

By denying most Americans access to good quality education the ruling elite are able to play on this fear of the unknown and make Americans very susceptible to xenophobic propaganda and the idea that their country is the definition of freedom. Of course, when your have little or no awareness or appreciation of other cultures or peoples (at least none that is based in reality), it is much easier to allow yourself to be convinced that your country is the "greatest nation on earth" and that other nations and peoples are somehow lesser. The level of deception is so deep and the illusions so engrained that few Americans know or would be willing or able to accept that their "great nation" stands tall only because it stands on the corpses of 80 million native American Indians who had to be sacrificed to create the world's first "free and democratic nation." It seems that the ability of modern Americans to appreciate irony is another casualty of the grand American enslavement experiment.

While on one level it is true that America became a home for a diversity of racial types and cultures, any potential benefits of this eclecticism were subverted through the promotion of an internal xenophobia, and all original cultures were forced to give way to the hollow "benefits" of a homogenous yet soulless American "culture".

It is not hard to see how the ignorance and fear of other cultures and the ethnocentricity that is rife in American "culture" readily gives rise to indifference among Americans when their leaders are seen to carry out acts of cruelty and inhumanity against other peoples. Of course, there are US citizens who, even when made aware of the deception and lies that have lead them to support the atrocities carried out in their name by their leaders, will continue to support them.

The real tragedy is that there appears to be a large number of US citizens who, even at this late stage, remain unwitting victims of the insidious and incredibly pervasive mind programming that defines American society and culture. If given a chance, they might choose to stand up for truth, yet the fact that they have never known even simple truth, and never admitted that are being lied to, makes the task of recognising and accepting deeper truth all the more difficult, if not almost impossible. One wonders then why we would even try to convey these ideas to our American readers? The reason of course is that there is no other option. We have to hope that, even against odds that were not included in our expectations, the seed of love for the truth exists and will finally spring forth.

Nothing short of an intense and deliberate effort to SEE the truth of the perilous situation is required, if we are to hope that the bonds of mental (and soon to be physical) enslavement can be broken, and the chance to act for our own collective destinies secured.

As Gurdjieff commented:

"The white man knows, as it were, nothing about the ways of life which are not his own. The world-wide diffusion of western civilisation has protected him better than ever before from having to take seriously that of other peoples.The uniformity of behaviour and the general outlook which he sees are prevalent everywhere seem to him sufficiently convincing and he accepts without further ado the idea of a simple equivalence between human nature and his own cultural standards."

In Order to shake off the contemptuous ignorance and prejudices which still exist in contemporary man, a certain disorientation seems necessary at the outset. He needs to feel the full blast of a gale force wind and to submit to the shock of enquiry, which runs counter to all his habitual ways of thinking and his ethical beliefs. If his instinct for self preservation, or concern for his intellectual comfort do not hinder him too much, he has some chance of then discovering in himself and echo of these ways of thinking and of feeling which are so unfamiliar to him, and which will resound in him not as a menacing frustration but, the very opposite, as an enrichment, a broadening of his field of experience. - "In Search of a Living Culture" - Lecture by Henri Tracol, 1961, Aix en Provence, France

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Bush hails 'historic' Sharon plan

Wednesday, 14 April, 2004

US President George W Bush has hailed Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon's plans to disengage from Gaza and parts of the West Bank.
Mr Bush called Mr Sharon's proposals "historic and courageous".

He restated his commitment to a Palestinian state, but appeared to rule out one which included the whole West Bank, saying realities on the ground had changed.

But Yasser Arafat said US backing for the plan would wreck all peace hopes.

A statement from the Palestinian leader's office said American endorsement of Mr Sharon's settlement plans "will settle the issues that were up for negotiation in the final-status talks and will lead to the destruction of... the peace process". [...]

Comment: "Sharon is a 'war criminal' who ordered his troops to use methods of barbarism against the Palestinians... It is time to remind Sharon that the Star of David belongs to all Jews and not to his repulsive government. His actions are staining the Star of David with blood." -- Gerald Kaufman, veteran Labour MP and Britain's most prominent Jewish parliamentarian - London, April 17, 2002

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Arafat attacks Sharon's Gaza plan

Thursday, 15 April, 2004

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has reacted angrily to President Bush's decision to endorse the Israeli prime minister's plan for the Middle East.
In a televised speech, Mr Arafat called for an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

He added that Palestinian refugees would never give up their "right to return" to former homes in Israel.

The controversial plan proposes pulling Israelis out of the Gaza Strip, but keeping large areas of the West Bank.

Mr Arafat did not mention Wednesday's meeting between Mr Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon specifically, but said peace in the Middle East "will only be achieved through a final deliverance from the Israeli occupation and settlement activity".

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has also voiced reservations about the Sharon plan, saying any peace deal should be negotiated based on UN resolutions.

The controversy came as the Israelis launched a new raid in the southern Gaza Strip.

Palestinian sources say 15 Palestinians were wounded when Israeli troops backed by a helicopter moved into the Rafah refugee camp.

'Changed realities'

The "disengagement" plan envisages Israel uprooting all settlements on the Gaza Strip but keeping six settlement blocs in the West Bank.

Mr Sharon discussed the plan with US President George W Bush at the White House on Wednesday.

After the meeting Mr Bush said the proposals could lead to a "peaceful, democratic, viable Palestinian state".

He added that the "realities on the ground and in the region have changed greatly" and should be reflected in any final peace deal.

The president said any Palestinian refugees who wanted to return should be accommodated on Palestinian land - a statement certain to please Mr Sharon.

Comment: "The Jews, I find are very, very selfish. They care not how many Estonians, Latvians, Finns, Poles, Yugoslavs or Greeks get murdered or mistreated as D[isplaced] P[ersons] as long as the Jews get special treatment. Yet when they have power, physical, financial or political neither Hitler nor Stalin has anything on them for cruelty or mistreatment to the under dog. Put an underdog on top and it makes no difference whether his name is Russian, Jewish, Negro, Management, Labor, Mormon, Baptist he goes haywire. I've found very, very few who remember their past condition when prosperity comes." -- President Harry Truman - private 1947 diary

It should be noted that in the above Truman was not referring to the ordinary Jewish person, but to the so called Jewish leaders who clearly care little for the fate of ordinary Jewish people, and have in fact done nothing but contribute to their suffering.

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Flashback: Bush warns Israel not to 'create facts on the ground'

Justin Huggler
Independent UK

The United States has privately told Israel of three "red lines" it must not cross in its dealing with the Palestinians and the wider Middle East, according to the Israeli press.

According to the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, the three red lines are: not to harm the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat; not to "shock the region"; and not to create "facts on the ground" that could jeopardise the Palestinian state promised in the US- backed "road-map" for peace.

If the reports are true, much less is being asked of Israel than in June, when the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, and his then Palestinian counterpart, Abu Mazen, agreed to the road-map.

But Israel has either crossed or come close to crossing all three red lines in recent months. In September, after a series of suicide bombings by Palestinian militants, the Israeli cabinet decided to expel Mr Arafat, only to back away from the decision. In October, Israel risked destabilising the region when it carried out an air strike on a disused Palestinian militant base in Syria.

Mr Sharon's government continues to establish new facts on the ground that could prejudice a Palestinian state. Despite US opposition, it is continuing to build a "separation fence" in the West Bank instead of along the internationally recognised Green Line border. Mr Sharon's government is also building hundreds of homes in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The "road-map" calls for a halt to settlement expansion.

Comment: We see now how events have been unfolding behind the scenes. What has happened in Israel and Palestine over the past year is this. Sharon's plan all along has been to illegally rob as much Palestinian land as possible and corral the Palestinians into an ever tighter prison, to better facilitate mass murder. Bush is merely a mouthpiece for the Zionist Neocons in Washington that are directing US policy, which is really Israeli policy. These Neocons told Sharon last year that he could not just go ahead with his land grab outright, insinuating that he must first of all "create the reality" or "create facts on the ground". With this accomplished, the White House would be able to give public backing to Sharon's murderous rampages. For the last year Israel has been creating "facts on the ground" and we now see the Neocon mouthpiece Bush claiming that "realities on the ground and in the region have changed greatly". It is like telling someone that you cannot sanction theft of something until after they have stolen it. Once they have stolen it you can claim that "possession is 9/10ths of the law"

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New bin Ladin tape offers 'truce'

Thursday 15 April 2004, 10:57 Makka Time, 7:57 GMT

Aljazeera has aired a new audio tape attributed to Usama bin Ladin offering a truce with European states if they stop attacking Muslims, but not with the United States.

The voice on the tape also vowed to avenge the assassination of Hamas leader Shaikh Ahmad Yasin by Israel in the Gaza Strip, last month.

"I offer a truce to them (Europe) with a commitment to stop operations against any state which vows to stop attacking Muslims or interfere in their affairs... The announcement of the truce starts with the withdrawal of the last soldier from our land and the door is open for three months from the date of the announcement of this statement," the voice said.

It added there would be no truce with the United States.

[...] It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the tape, though the voice sounded like previous tapes thought to be genuine. The CIA has said some previous tapes
purportedly from bin Ladin were likely to be genuine.

Madrid bombings

The tape, also aired by al-Arabiya TV, said the 11 March train bombings in Madrid that killed 191 people were payment for Spain's actions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.

"For those who want peace, we offer it to them. Stop spilling our blood to protect yours ... The solution is in your hands!"

Voice on audiotape
"What happened on 11 September and 11 March are your goods returned to you so that you know security is a necessity for all," the voice on the tape said.

"For those who want peace, we offer it to them. Stop spilling our blood to protect yours," the voice added. "The solution is in your hands!"

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EU's Prodi says "no possibility" of accepting 'Bin Laden' offer

Thu Apr 15, 7:37 AM ET

SHANGHAI (AFP) - European Commission President Romano Prodi said there was "no possibility" of European nations accepting a truce offer attributed to Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

"How could you possibly react to this statement? There is no possibility for a deal under a terrorist threat. It is completely impossible," he told reporters in Shanghai. [...]

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'No negotiation' with Bin Laden

UK officials say there will be "no negotiating" with al-Qaeda after an apparent offer of a truce for Europe from Osama Bin Laden.

A tape said to be of Bin Laden has been broadcast on Arab TV offering Europe a truce if it "stops attacking Muslims".

But the offer was described as a "cynical ploy" to split Europe and the US by a Foreign Office spokesman.

"The idea of an armistice with a group that defines itself by violence is an absurdity," he said.

Comment: What other kind of armistice can there be? Of course, the Brits, like the Yanks, would have us believe that the "terrorists" are different from the "occupiers" of Iraq or Afghanistan, that it is only the "terrorists" who define themselves by violence. Readers of this page know that belief is a lie. But the logic is indicative of their attempt to draw a line of "we are human, they are not" by demonising the "terrorists". In other words, the "terrorists" are so in human, that we can't even talk with them.

[...] Analysts say the tape could be an attempt to exploit possible rifts between the US and its European allies in Iraq and compete with the rising prominence of radical Shia clerics such as Moqtada Sadr in the country.

Earlier tapes

The tape also reportedly criticises US policy for ignoring the "real problem" which is "the occupation of all of Palestine", the Associated Press reported.

And it condemns the recent US-led conflict in Iraq as a money-making scheme for companies making weapons or aiding reconstruction efforts - specifically naming the American firm Halliburton, AP said.

Comment: Or the offer is an attempt by US and Israeli intelligence agencies to force Europe into refusing a truce in order to give an excuse for further US/Israeli "Axis of Evil" operations on European soil.

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Sadr close to striking a deal

Thursday 15 April 2004, 0:32 Makka Time, 21:32 GMT

A deal between Iraq's rebellious Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and the US-led occupation authorities is said to be imminent.

Abd al-karim al-Anzi, an envoy appointed by Sadr to lead negotiations aimed at averting bloodshed in the holy city of Najaf, said on Wednesday that a deal could be struck in the next 24 hours.

"I expect a solution within the next 24 hours. I met US officials today and the talks were extremely positive," Anzi said.

There was no immediate comment from the occupation authorities, who have threatened to either kill or capture Sadr.

Conditions dropped

A Sadr spokesman in Najaf said earlier in the day the cleric has dropped his conditions for entering into negotiations with the occupation authorities.

Comment: Juan Cole, who writes an excellent blog on Iraq, is reporting that Iran is involved in the negotiations.

I am frankly amazed that the US is willing to countenance this, and it seems a sign of real desperation on the part of the Bush administration to turn to the Axis of Evil for help. I am also amazed that Khamenei agreed to it on the Iranian side, and can only imagine that he thinks that it is a good thing to have the Americans owe him one so that he can continue to crush the reformists and reconsolidate conservative control of Iran. But once Iran is drawn into a formal role in Iraqi Shiite politics, the Bush administration should be aware that it will not be easy to push them back out. There is a story about the desert camel that is cold and its master lets it put its nose under the tent. But then it slides in its head, slowly slowy. Then its hump. And finally there is only a camel in the tent and the hapless owner has been pushed out into the cold night. We may be witnessing the insertion of the camel's nose.

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Americans' hands bloody for supporting Iraq war
1:10AM, April 13th, 2004

It amazes me how many Americans still support war - specifically, the war in Iraq. I am through blaming the government for our country's murderous involvement all over the world. I am through taking shots at an evil president.

We as a nation are responsible for these wars. The blood is on our hands. It's time to take responsibility for our actions and end war. Let's bring peace to the Earth. We have a wonderful God-given opportunity to change the world for the better.

I still think the majority of us hates war and murder, so why not stand up against it? I think it's time to crowd the streets and stand up to fear.


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Baghdad Blog

Riverbend - There has been a lot of criticism about the way Al-Arabia and Al-Jazeera were covering the riots and fighting in Falloojeh and the south this last week. Some American spokesman for the military was ranting about the "spread of anti-Americanism" through networks like the abovementioned. Actually, both networks did a phenomenal job of covering the attacks on Falloojeh and the southern provinces. Al-Jazeera had their reporter literally embedded in the middle of the chaos- and I don't mean the lame embedded western journalists type of thing they had going at the beginning of the war. Ahmed Mansur, I believe his name was, was actually standing there, in the middle of the bombing, shouting to be heard over the F-16s and helicopters blasting away at houses and buildings. It brought back the days of 'shock and awe'...

I know it bothers the CPA terribly to have the corpses of dead Iraqis shown on television. They would love for Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabia to follow Al-Hurra's example and show endless interviews with pro-occupation Iraqis living abroad and speaking in stilted Arabic. These interviews, of course, are interspersed with translated documentaries on the many marvels of. . . Hollywood. And while I, personally, am very interested in the custom leather interiors of the latest Audi, I couldn't seem to draw myself away from Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabia while 700 Iraqis were being killed.

To lessen the feelings of anti-Americanism, might I make a few suggestions? Stop the collective punishment. When Mark Kimmett stutters through a press conference babbling about "precision weapons" and "military targets" in Falloojeh, who is he kidding? Falloojeh is a small city made up of low, simple houses, little shops and mosques. Is he implying that the 600 civilians who died during the bombing and the thousands injured and maimed were all "insurgents?” Are houses, shops and mosques now military targets?

What I'm trying to say is that we don't need news networks to make us angry or frustrated. All you need to do is talk to one of the Falloojeh refugees making their way tentatively into Baghdad; look at the tear-stained faces, the eyes glazed over with something like shock. In our neighborhood alone there are at least 4 families from Falloojeh who have come to stay with family and friends in Baghdad. The stories they tell are terrible and grim and it's hard to believe that they've gone through so much.

I think western news networks are far too tame. They show the Hollywood version of war - strong troops in uniform, hostile Iraqis being captured and made to face "justice" and the White House turkey posing with the Thanksgiving turkey...which is just fine. But what about the destruction that comes with war and occupation? What about the death? I don't mean just the images of dead Iraqis scattered all over, but dead Americans too. People should have to see those images. Why is it not ok to show dead Iraqis and American troops in Iraq, but it's fine to show the catastrophe of September 11 over and over again?...

Still, when I hear talk about "anti-Americanism" it angers me. Why does American identify itself with its military and government? Why does being anti-Bush and anti-occupation have to mean that a person is anti-American? We watch American movies, listen to everything from Britney Spears to Nirvana and refer to every single brown, fizzy drink as "Pepsi.”

I hate American foreign policy and its constant meddling in the region... I hate American tanks in Baghdad and American soldiers on our streets and in our homes on occasion... why does that mean that I hate America and Americans? Are tanks, troops and violence the only face of America? If the Pentagon, Department of Defense and Condi are "America,” then yes- I hate America...

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Italian hostage is killed in Iraq

Thursday, 15 April, 2004

One of the four Italian hostages abducted in Iraq has been killed, the Italian foreign minister has said.

The dead man was identified as 36-year-old Fabrizio Quattrocchi.

The Arabic TV station Al-Jazeera said it had video footage of the death, but would not broadcast it, because it was "too gruesome".

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said the killing - the first confirmed hostage death in Iraq - would not affect the peace effort.

"They have destroyed a life, they have not cracked our values and our efforts for peace," he said in a statement read out on Italian TV.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said earlier that the kidnappers were "a group of bandits, not tied organically to any group".

The Italians, who are security guards working for a US-based company, were abducted on Monday.

The video is said to show the four sitting on the ground, holding up their passports and surrounded by armed men.

Al-Jazeera apologised for not broadcasting the killing, saying it was "too gruesome", but an official for the TV told Italian television that Quattrocchi had been shot in the back of the neck with a pistol.

The TV also said it had received a statement from the kidnappers, who were members of a group calling itself al-Katibat al-Khadra, or Green Battalion.

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US troops in Iraq to stay on, Fallujah truce comes unglued, hostage-taking continues

April 15, 2004

BAGHDAD (AFP) - The United States will keep some of its troops in Iraq for about three extra months, a senior US official said, as the US troop death toll rose to 688 with a shaky truce unravelling in Fallujah.

The US State Department said Wednesday that Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage would lobby Gulf and Middle East countries to support Iraq's post-occupation regime when he visits the region next week, a visit announced by President George W. Bush late Tuesday. [...]

Japanese officials on Thursday were trying to confirm reports that two more Japanese nationals were abducted in Iraq. [...]

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Army Extends Tours Despite 1-Year Pledge

Apr 14, 9:16 PM (ET)

WASHINGTON (AP) - About 21,000 American soldiers in Iraq who were to return this month to their home bases in Louisiana and Germany will have their tours extended at least three months to help combat the surge in anti-occupation violence, defense officials said Wednesday.

The decision, which has not been announced publicly, breaks the Army's promise to soldiers and their families that assignments in Iraq would be limited to 12 months. The affected soldiers already have been in Iraq for a year.

In addition, about 1,000 soldiers in transportation units based in Kuwait will be extended beyond one year, a senior defense official said. Most of them are in the National Guard or Reserve. They are deemed critical to re-supplying the troops based in Iraq.

Welcome-home ceremonies at Fort Polk, La., scheduled for this month, have been canceled. In Baumholder, Germany, some soldiers' families have stopped marking the days off the calendar. [...]

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Iraqi Militants Execute Italian Hostage

By JIM KRANE, Associated Press Writer
April 15, 2004

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi militants executed an Italian hostage, officials confirmed, in the first known killing among nearly two dozen foreigners being held in Iraq.

Meanwhile, Japan's government has confirmed that three Japanese civilians taken hostage in Iraq a week ago have been released unharmed Thursday, a spokesman said.

The three were taken into custody at the Japanese Embassy in Bagdad at 8:30 p.m. Japan time, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman in Tokyo quoted embassy officials as saying.

The militants who killed the Italian hostage demanded the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and threatened to kill three other hostages, the Arab TV network Al-Jazeera reported. [...]

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9/11 Panel Comments Freely (Some Critics Say Too Freely)

The New York Times

WASHINGTON, April 14 — As President Bush was appearing at a news conference on Tuesday night, the two leaders of the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks were not behind closed doors dissecting intelligence documents. They were sitting at a CNN studio here waiting to go on "Larry King Live."

One of them, Thomas H. Kean, the former New Jersey governor who is the commission's chairman, said he and his colleagues were so determined to be credible with Americans that they decided early on to conduct themselves in a very public manner.

"We made a conscious decision, and part of it was under strong pressure from the families, to make this commission as transparent and as visible as possible," Mr. Kean said in an interview.

But Democrats and Republicans alike have raised concerns about the degree to which commission members are discussing their deliberations on television and, even, in newspaper columns — to the point that they are spinning their views like the politicians that many of them are.

Americans can hardly turn on a television or pick up a newspaper these days without seeing or reading about a member of the commission. From the Fox News Channel to ABC to newspapers including The Wall Street Journal, panel members have been providing a running commentary about the investigation as it unfolds, sometimes drawing blunt conclusions months before the final report is to be published in late July.

The accessibility of the commissioners to the news media, not to mention the openness of their views, is a departure from similar independent commissions of the past. Its members' openness troubles some officials here, who say they worry that it is giving the panel an edge that will taint its conclusions — especially when coupled with what some have called a partisan tone to members' questions at the hearings here.

The two independent panels that Sept. 11 commission staff members say they consider to be most similar in their charge to this one are those that investigated the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the bombing of Pearl Harbor, both of which worked largely out of public view.

Comment: Both commissions were charged with investigating - and essentially lying to the public about - events that appear to be some of the biggest conspiracies in American history. Such a comparison would tend to detract from the credibility of the 9/11 commission.

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, a Republican who worked as a lawyer for the Warren Commission, which investigated the Kennedy assassination, said in an interview this week that it had operated like a jury. "When a jury goes out, you don't give a report in midstream on what you're doing, expressing opinions," Mr. Specter said. In the case of the Sept. 11 commission, he added, "Speaking so freely to the press while they're in midstream tends to politicize it when they come to their conclusions." [...]

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Sept. 11 Panel Unsure How to Enact Reform

By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer
April 15, 2004

WASHINGTON - The reasons behind the pre-Sept. 11 intelligence failures just kept growing: not enough staff, poor technology, inadequate information-sharing, a piecemeal approach to intelligence analysis.

Yet after two days of hearings examining flaws and searching for solutions, members of the Sept. 11 commission said they have yet to reach firm conclusions on what change is necessary. The bipartisan panel is scheduled to issue its final report in July. [...]

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Kidnapped French TV man released in Baghdad

BAGHDAD, April 14 (AFP) - A French TV journalist who was kidnapped in Iraq last weekend was freed on Wednesday, as President Jacques Chirac expressed his "deep concern" over the worsening situation in the country.

Alexandre Jordanov, 40, was one of a number of foreign nationals seized over the past week by insurgents apparently campaigning to destabilise the one-year-old US-led occupation of Iraq [...]

Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said France, which opposed the US invasion of Iraq last year and has no forces there, had received no claim of responsibility for the abduction of Jordanov.

There are fewer than 100 French nationals in the country, mainly aid workers, journalists, some employees involved in reconstruction projects and diplomats, according to the foreign ministry. [...]

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Bush Makes Three Mistakes While Trying to Cite One

Thu Apr 15, 8:05 AM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - While struggling unsuccessfully this week to think of a single mistake he has made since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, President Bush committed three factual errors about weapons finds in Libya, the White House said on Wednesday.

Bush, long known for his grammatical conundrums and confusing phraseology, told reporters twice during Tuesday's prime-time news conference that 50 tons of mustard gas were discovered at a turkey farm in Libya.

On the second occasion, he was responding to a reporter who asked him to identify the biggest mistake he had made since the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington that killed nearly 3,000 people and prompted the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

He could not. But as he searched for an answer, the Republican president reaffirmed his decision to invade Iraq and said weapons of mass destruction may still lie hidden there.

"They could still be there. They could be hidden, like the 50 tons of mustard gas in a turkey farm," said Bush, referring to Libya's voluntary disclosure of weapons in March.

The next day, the White House said the accurate figure for the Libyan mustard gas was 23.6 metric tons, or 26 short tons, not 50 tons.

Moreover, the substance was found at different locations across Libya, not at a turkey farm. And observers did not find mustard gas on the farm at all, but rather unfilled chemical munitions, the White House acknowledged.

"The president misspoke and we just want to correct the record," explained White House spokesman Scott McClellan. [...]

Comment: The president "misspoke"?! Dubya couldn't correctly identify what was found, the amount, or even where it was found.

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The Wrongs of Spring and the Western Media

By Eric Kraus
Thursday, Apr. 15, 2004. Page 6

Scanning the U.S. press, one is surprised to learn that Russia lives under an increasingly Stalinist dictatorship: "with all dissent suppressed, a palpable sense of fear rules the streets"; "The KGB has seized power, reimposing Soviet-era censorship"; the good-hearted and selfless Mikhail Khodorkovsky rots in prison, while President Vladimir Putin's cronies grab his assets. Western views of Russia have historically been colored by demonology, and after a brief love affair with Boris Yeltsin, Cold War rhetoric is increasingly back in fashion.

Putin can apparently do no right: He allows the oligarchs free rein -- he's "their puppet"; he cracks down on them -- he's "a dictator"; he retains Yeltsin-era holdovers -- he's "weak and indecisive"; he replaces them -- he's "a Stalinist." Putin's overwhelming popularity is ascribed solely to his iron-fisted control of the media. The one-third drop in poverty in just four years, the five years of 6 percent to 8 percent economic growth, the dramatic reversal in capital flight, the huge budget and trade surpluses -- all are written off as merely reflecting high oil prices (which, oddly enough, had no such magical effect during their previous 1995-96 peak.)

Democracy can be broadly defined as governance based upon the consent of the governed and, by this criterion, Russia clearly qualifies. No one can deny that Putin is hugely admired: People live far better than four years ago; they have at least some confidence in the future; and perhaps most critically, Russians no longer feel slightly embarrassed by their nationality. Polls show that Putin has 75 percent to 80 percent approval, and this in a country that traditionally hates those in power.

[...] In fact, foreign commentators are missing the essential point: We, both Russia and the West, have been pretty incredibly lucky. Following the chaos of the Yeltsin years and the trauma and humiliation of the 1998 crash, Russia was indeed ripe for dictatorship: Bonapartism at best, a return to the Soviet Union at worst. Instead, it got Putin. Rather than a reimposition of Soviet-style bureaucracy, we have the most reformist government in Russian history; rather than military expansionism, a begrudging acquiescence to the expansion up to Russia's borders of a potentially hostile alliance; rather than growing poverty and economic dislocation fueling fascist and centrifugal tendencies, a stable country rapidly becoming middle-class.

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Saddam's wife could not recognize her husband


Last week, American authorities arranged a meeting of the former Iraqi dictator with his wife.

She was the first of Hussein"s relatives to meet with the ex-leader of Iraq at a new place, at the American military base in Qatar. Accompanied by Sheikh Hamad Al-Tani, Sajida Heiralla Tuffah has arrived from Syria on his private jet in the end of March.

The outcome of their meeting turned out to be quite scandalous. Sajina claims that the person she encountered was not her husband, but his double. If someone were to say for sure that it was not insinuation, it would have been easy to believe the wife with a 25-year experience. It is also possible to assume that Saddam has simply changed since the day of his sons' deaths, June 24 2003. This however is highly unlikely. In case we believe Hussein"s wife, all DNA testing of the ex-Iraqi leader should be considered a mere fake. Overall, today there remain more questions then there are answers.

those statements of Hussein's wife can in fact be quite understandable. After all, this is the easiest way to demoralize an enemy.

Hussein's younger daughter Hala has also arrived at the base in Qatar along with Saddam Hussein's two grandsons and two sisters, total of eight people. They were all invited by Shekh"s wife Muza to stay in one of the palaces. Eldest daughters Ragad and Rada along with five Hussein"s grandchildren have recently arrived to Doha from Jordan.

"Elaf" newspaper writes that, most likely, the entire Hussein's family will stay in Qatar permanently.

Saddam Hussein was captured by the American forces in December 2003 and held in one of the palaces in Baghdad in a region controlled by the coalition forces. Afterward, due to security reasons, he was transferred to the American military base in Qatar, where he is expected to remain until the trial.

Comment: As we said at the time of Saddam's capture, it is unlikely that this is the real Saddam. To believe so is to buy into the "good versus evil", "good guys versus bad guys", "they hate us because we are free" BS. This type of simplistic reasoning denies reality and constitutes one of the main ways in which people are prevented from thinking objectively, and thus enslaved.

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Australian Government Sacks Official For Not Wanting To Lie

David Fickling, Guardian

A former senior Australian defense adviser claimed yesterday she was edged out of her job because she refused to lie about the case for war in Iraq. Jane Errey, a former adviser to Australia's chief defense scientist working in the department's science and technology organization, said she had been sacked after taking leave because of her refusal to mislead the public. "I felt like I was part of the propaganda machine," she said. . .

"I believe I was being asked, as was the rest of the department, to perpetuate the lie that the government was putting forward in so far as the weapons of mass destruction existed and that they were a grave threat to the rest of the world," she told ABC radio.

Comment: Politicians lie, this is clear. Perhaps each of us should take the time to consider what, if anything, certain US politicians have not lied about in recent years.

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Aaron Mcgruder Meets The Nation Clique

Ben McGrath
The New Yorker

On the day of Saddam Hussein’s capture, last December, the left-leaning political weekly The Nation celebrated its hundred-and-thirty-eighth birthday. It was a Sunday night, and the weather was dreadful—forbiddingly cold and wet, heavy snow giving way to sleet—but three hundred people could not be deterred from dropping five hundred dollars a plate for roast chicken amid the marble-and-velvet splendor of the Metropolitan Club, on Fifth Avenue. Jean Stein, a veteran of the liberal party circuit and the mother of Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation’s editor, was there, as were E. L. Doctorow, John Waters, Charlie Rose, and even John McEnroe. Robert Byrd, the senior senator from West Virginia, was an honored guest; Amtrak had been advised of his itinerary, and, despite service delays all weekend, the train got him there on time. Joseph Wilson, the former Ambassador to Gabon, riding a wave of liberal good will since the politically motivated outing of his wife, the C.I.A. operative Valerie Plame, attended as well, by special invitation. . .

Toward the dessert (chocolate torte) portion of the evening, Uma Thurman rose to introduce a special guest: Aaron McGruder, the creator of the popular and subversive comic strip “The Boondocks,” . . .

What McGruder saw when he looked around at his approving audience was this: a lot of old, white faces. What followed was not quite a coronation. McGruder, who rarely prepares notes or speeches for events like this, began by thanking Thurman, “the most ass-kicking woman in America.” Then he lowered the boom. He was a twenty-nine-year-old black man, he said, who got invited to such functions all the time, so you could imagine how bored he was. He proceeded to ramble, at considerable length, and in a tone, as one listener put it, of “militant cynicism,” with a recurring theme: that the folks in the room . . . were a sorry lot.

He told the guests that he’d called Condoleezza Rice, the national-security adviser, a mass murderer to her face; what had they ever done? ~~ He recounted a lunch meeting with Fidel Castro. ~~ He said that noble failure was not acceptable. But the last straw came when he “dropped the N-word,” as one amused observer recalled. He said — bragged, even — that he’d voted for Nader in 2000. At that point, according to Hamilton Fish, the host of the party, “it got interactive.”

Eric Alterman, a columnist for The Nation, was sitting in the back of the room, next to Joe Wilson, the Ambassador. He shouted out, “Thanks for Bush!” Exactly what happened next is unclear. Alterman recalls that McGruder responded by grabbing his crotch and saying, “Try these nuts.” Jack Newfield, the longtime Village Voice writer, says that McGruder simply dared Alterman to remove him from the podium. When asked about this incident later, McGruder said, “I ain’t no punk. I ain’t gonna let someone shout and not go back at him.”

Alterman walked out. “I turned to Joe and said, ‘I can’t listen to this crap anymore,’” he remembers. “I went out into the Metropolitan Club lobby — it’s a nice lobby — and I worked on my manuscript.”

Newfield joined in the heckling, as did Stephen Cohen, a historian and the husband of Katrina vanden Heuvel. “It was like watching LeRoi Jones try to Mau-Mau a guilty white liberal in the sixties,” Newfield says. “It was out of a time warp. Who is he to insult people who have been putting their careers and lives on the line for equal rights since before he was born?”

By the time McGruder had finished, and a tipsy Joe Wilson took the microphone to deliver his New Year’s Resolutions, perhaps half the guests had excused themselves to join Alterman in the lobby. A Nation contributor estimated that McGruder had offended eighty per cent of the audience. “Some people still haven’t recovered,” he said, sounding thrilled.

“At a certain point, I just got the uncomfortable feeling that this was a bunch of people who were feeling a little too good about themselves,” McGruder said afterward. “These are the big, rich white leftists who are going to carry the fight to George Bush, and the best they can do is blame Nader?”

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Russia Revising Great Game Rule Book

By Catherine Belton
Staff Writer
Thursday, Apr. 15, 2004. Page 201

To hear President Vladimir Putin tell it, the great game of the 21st century is economic in nature and Russia intends to change the way it's played.

Putin made the rules of this new game clear in December, when he told the nation that the greatest danger facing Russia is a weak economy.

[...] Indeed, some see the arrest of Khodorkovsky as part of Putin's wider development strategy.

Although the charges against the billionaire were fraud and tax evasion, some say it was his attempts to challenge the authority of the state that got him in trouble, particularly his efforts to break the government's pipeline monopoly.

By pushing for the building of privately owned pipelines -- one directly to China and another to Murmansk to better supply America -- "Khodorkovsky was pursuing a set of interests ... that was a threat to Putin's state policy," a senior U.S. administration official said in an interview in Washington earlier this year.

In addition, the official said, Khodorkovsky's attempts to merge his oil company Yukos with smaller rival Sibneft and then sell a chunk of that company to a U.S. supermajor like ExxonMobil would have made him "untouchable."

"Fundamentally, this was a question about power," he said. "What Khodorkovsky was proposing presented problems for both foreign and domestic policy. ... State control over pipelines was both a domestic and foreign policy lever."

Now, however, all talk of building private pipelines -- or even of selling an equity stake in a major Russian oil producer to a U.S. company -- is taboo.

"This is not the scheme the United States wants to see," said Julia Nanay, a senior energy analyst at Petroleum Finance Corp. in Washington. "It would like to see lots of private companies, private pipelines and more exports."

It is worth noting, she said, that since Khodorkovsky's arrest conditions have gotten worse for U.S. oil majors that already had a foothold in Russia -- especially ExxonMobil, which lost its license to the giant Sakhalin-3 field late last year.

"All this sees to be eroding the U.S.-Russia energy dialog," Nanay said.

While these developments may be bad news for Washington, which is anxious to reduce supplies from OPEC, they have increased Russia's clout on the world stage, analysts said.

Playing Both Sides

Strengthening ties with the Arab world while not completely alienating the United States is a tough task, but it's one that Putin appears to be attempting.

In the past, much to the satisfaction of the United States, Russia and OPEC have been at odds. While Russia has been cranking up exports at breakneck speed, OPEC has been doing just the opposite, arguing that it needs higher oil prices to compensate for the United States' decision to depreciate the dollar.

But now, in what may turn out to be a pivotal policy shift, Russia appears to be winding down its export drive. Last month Economic Development and Trade Minister, German Gref, boldly stated that 2004 would be the last year of major export growth for the foreseeable future.

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Student Goes After the Metro Police

By Carl Schreck
Staff Writer

A newspaper report and a crusading student in the hospital with rubber bullet wounds to the head have prompted Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev to order an investigation into allegations of harassment and rape by Moscow metro police.

The story attracted the attention of the Interior Ministry last Thursday when Novaya Gazeta published an interview with 19-year-old student German Galdetsky, who earlier this year began a drive against corrupt metro policemen.

In the interview, Galdetsky told of a Feb. 8 incident in which he and a friend saw a girl in the Pushkin Square underpass taken into the police station by two metro police officers after a document check.

"I went up to the door and asked if the girl was being detained. They said 'no' but weren't letting her out," Galdetsky said.

Galdetsky said he then called the internal affairs department of the Interior Ministry, which is responsible for catching crooked cops.

After that he went back to the station and told the policemen that he had informed the proper authorities about the incident. After telling him she was just a prostitute, the policemen released the girl.

"She was shaking and crying, and then she said that they had threatened her, sexually harassed her and told her that if she didn't have sex with them they would lock her up for good," Galdetsky said. "[They said] if she told anyone, they'd find her and kill her."

City police spokesman Kirill Mazurin said the girl was taken in because she could not produce her documents, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported Wednesday. After arriving at the station, she remembered where she had put her passport and was released after showing it to the policemen, Mazurin said.

Galdetsky filed a complaint with the police, but no criminal case was opened due to a lack of evidence. Undeterred, he began doing his own research on similar incidents, tracking down victims of similar harassment by posting messages on several web sites.

He said he uncovered similar incidents at metro stations Turgenevskaya, Chistiye Prudy, Okhotny Ryad and Paveletskaya, among others.

His research, however, was interrupted by two rubber bullets to the head on March 25, an attack that Novaya Gazeta reported this week. The newspaper interviewed Galdetsky before he was attacked, and it was unclear why it waited until last week to publish it.

Police spokeswoman Yelena Perfilova told NTV television Tuesday that Galdetsky was on the platform at the Yaroslavsky Station talking to two men when one of them struck him on the head with a bottle. Trying to defend himself, Galdetsky pulled out a rubber pellet gun and fired it into the air. One of the men grabbed the gun and shot him twice in the head.

Perfilova said the shooting, which was caught by a video surveillance camera, was probably not connected to Galdetsky's campaign against corrupt police officers, pointing out that it happened two weeks before his interview was published.

NTV reported Tuesday that Galdetsky is partially paralyzed and in critical condition at Moscow's Sklifosovsky Research Institute. Hospital officials declined to give any information on his status Wednesday.

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Moscow Looks Like Wal-Mart's Next Big Move

By Greg Walters
Special to The Moscow Times

Wal-Mart posted worldwide revenues of $256 billion in 2003, making it the the world's largest company.

They swore their contacts to secrecy and slipped into the country by stealth. But they still couldn't keep their mission a secret.

Perhaps a quarter of a trillion dollars had something to do with it.

When Wal-Mart, the world's biggest company with sales of $256 billion last year, sent a scout patrol to sniff around Moscow earlier this month, people in the know just couldn't stop talking about it -- off the record.

"It's the best way to have no chance of working with Wal-Mart when they come," said one prominent real estate consultant.

Notice the word "when."

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Earthquake jolts NWFP, Islamabad

Wednesday April 14, 2004 (1625 PST)

PESHAWAR, April 15 (Online): Severe tremors of earthquake were felt through out NWFP including Peshawar and other upper parts of the country.

However no loss of life and property has been reported.

Powerful jolts were received in the areas of Peshawar, Islamabad, Chitral and other northern areas on Wednesday evening at 7.13 P.M. The intensity of the earthquake was recorded at 5-degree Richter scale.

Epicenter of the earth quake is stated to be the Hindu Kush ranges in Afghanistan.

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Quake to hit LA 'by Sept 5'

April 15, 2004 - 2:13PM

A US geophysicist has set the scientific world ablaze by claiming to have cracked a holy grail: accurate earthquake prediction, and warning that a big one will hit southern California by September 5.

Russian-born University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) professor Vladimir Keilis-Borok says he can foresee major quakes by tracking minor temblors and historical patterns in seismic hotspots that could indicate more violent shaking is on the way.

And he has made a chilling prediction that a quake measuring at least 6.4 magnitude on the Richter scale will hit a 31,200-square-kilometre area of southern California by September 5.

The team at UCLA's Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics accurately predicted a 6.5-magnitude quake in central California last December as well as an 8.1-magnitude temblor that struck the Japanese island of Hokkaido in September.

"Earthquake prediction is called the Holy Grail of earthquake science, and has been considered impossible by many scientists," said Keilis-Borok, 82.

"It is not impossible.

"We have made a major breakthrough, discovering the possibility of making predictions months ahead of time, instead of years, as in previously known methods."

If accurate, the prediction method would be critical in an area like California, which is criss-crossed by fault lines that have spawned devastating quakes over the years including ones which ravaged San Francisco in 1989 and Los Angeles in 1994.

That has given credence to his research, which was endorsed by a state panel, the California Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Council, earlier this month.

[...] The experts predicted in June an earthquake measuring 6.4 or higher would strike within nine months in a 496-kilometre region of central California, including San Simeon, where a 6.5-magnitude temblor struck December 22, killing two people.

In July, they said they predicted a magnitude 7.0 or higher quake in a region that included Hokkaido by December 28. The September 25 quake fell within that period.

Now they predict a major quake will hit an area that stretches across desert regions to the east of Los Angeles, home to around nine million people, including the Mojave desert and the resort town of Palm Springs, which lies near the notorious San Andreas fault.

[...] Keilis-Borok himself acknowledged the caution expressed by some of his colleagues. "Application of non-linear dynamics and chaos theory is often counter-intuitive, so acceptance by some research teams will take time."

But if his latest prediction that the earth will move in the area around Los Angeles within the next five months proves accurate, his research could end up saving lives and transforming seismology.

Comment: Though, perhaps, not lives in LA. See the article below about residents of the Coachella Valley who have no intention of changing anything in the short term. This is a phenomenon that we find curious. People know that an earthquake is coming to the US West Coast, yet lives continue on as if everything was fine. This is similar to the situation vis-à-vis Bush. He lies. He lied three years ago. He lied about Iraq. He is still lying. This is on record. And yet he still tells the same lies and nobody in the press corps calls him on it. Resignation or defeatism on the part of the American people, or just wishful thinking that it'll take care of itself, or is it simply that they don't care?

Of course, it is all three, depending upon who you talk to.

And there are likely many explanations for those who, lemming like, have drifted to the left coast. Where they meet up is in their waiting for Mother Nature to give them a push over the cliff.

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Notorious San Andreas fault on possible cusp

Thursday, April 15, 2004 Posted: 0225 GMT (1025 HKT)

PALM SPRINGS, California (AP) -- The notorious San Andreas fault may be on the cusp of producing a flurry of earthquakes that could rattle Southern California with a strong temblor every few decades or less, a geologist said Wednesday.

A detailed analysis of two periods of past quake activity on a section of the fault suggests a drawn-out period of little seismic activity may be coming to an end, said University of Oregon geologist Ray Weldon.

"Possibly we are at the point of switching from a period of time with a relative paucity of large and frequent earthquakes," Weldon said.

Weldon cautioned the switch could be decades away and that "flurry" is a relative term, since a cluster of quakes can strike over periods lasting 200 to 300 years. However, intervals as brief as 10 years have separated individual quakes in past clusters, he added.

Details were presented Wednesday at the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America.

Digging into the San Andreas at a location called Wrightwood about 60 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles, Weldon and his colleagues found evidence of 30 quakes of magnitudes between 7.5 and 8.0 that had struck between 3000 and 1200 B.C. and A.D. 500 and the present.

[...] The southern portion of the fault last ruptured in 1857. Current levels of strain measured on the San Andreas are at their highest in 1,500 years and suggest the fault is due to begin releasing that pent-up energy as a large earthquake or quakes, Weldon said.

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Prediction for large earthquake in the valley has some rattled

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Earlier this year, NewsChannel 3 was the first to bring you word of a new prediction that the next big earthquake would rock southern California before September 5th. Tonight, scientists from all over the country have come to Palm Springs to talk about earthquakes and that possibility.

A recent prediction is shaking things up among the people who study earthquakes. A UCLA scientist says a quake of a magnitude of 6.4 or greater will hit somewhere in the southern California desert, somewhere in an area that includes the Coachella Valley, before September 5th.

Anywhere else, that might send people running. Not here.

“So what do we do? Pack our things up and leave?” asks valley resident Jeff Parks. “No chance. We're here to stay, ride it out, so to speak. That's it. It's part of living.”

“I'm sure one will hit somewhere,” says valley resident Hugh McGookin.

Still, for some, thoughts of a big one are enough to make some people tremble.

“I'm concerned about it whether or not it's true,” says Ken Baker. “Who knows?”

Hundreds of scientists are meeting at The Riviera in Palm Springs to talk about earthquakes and the prediction that a big one is coming. But if you think because this is science there is consensus on that, you couldn't be more wrong.

“I'm betting against it,” UCLA seismologist Dr. David Jackson told us. “I'll take a 50-50 bet. How you doing for cash?”

“I don't know,” says NASA geophysicist Andrea Donnallen. “There's a good chance, we'll find out.”

The thing is, with the earthquake in Northridge in 1993 and one in Kobe, Japan predictions came true. But can anybody really predict the next one?

The one thing everyone agrees on is the “what if” factor. The possibility that the prediction will come true here.

“We need to treat this prediction as a reminder to do the things we need to do anyway.”

After all, in earthquake country, why chance it?

Expert recommend you carry 3 days worth of water, food, flashlights and batteries and shoes (in case of broken glass) to be prepared for a major earthquake.

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Small quake hits Riverside County

BEAUMONT, Calif. -- A small earthquake rattled northern Riverside County on Wednesday evening, but there were no reports of damage or injuries, officials said.

The magnitude-3.4 temblor struck at 7:28 p.m. and was centered two miles north-northwest of Beaumont, according to a preliminary data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

The Riverside County Sheriff's Department received no calls about the temblor, a dispatcher said.

Beaumont is located about 85 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

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Tremblement de terre d'intensité moyenne dans l'ouest de la Turquie


An earthquake measuring 4.6 on the Richter scale hit the region of Bolu in western Turkey in the night of Tuesday to Wednesday.

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Volcanoes under 24-hour watch

Three-and-a-half-thousand years after the massive eruption of the Santorini volcano, which is believed to have contributed to the fall of the impressive Minoan civilization on Crete, scientists closely monitoring the area are now in a position to give up to three months’ warning of new volcanic activity.

“If the process of activation starts, we will know two or three months before a potential eruption,” said Michalis Fytikas, a professor of geology at Thessaloniki University who is part of the team of six experts monitoring the Santorini volcanoes.

According to a paper the team will present at the Fifth International Conference on the Geology of the Eastern Mediterranean, which opened in Thessaloniki yesterday, both volcanoes located in the sea just off the Cycladic island are kept under 24-hour observation.

Scientists use sensitive monitoring equipment whose findings are relayed by satellite to Thessaloniki University laboratories.

The volcano fingered by many archaeologists as responsible for the demise of Minoan power — on an islet in the spectacular caldera left by an old eruption — is now considered dormant, having last erupted in 1950.

The second volcano — named Koloumbos — in the sea 8 kilometers (5 miles) northeast of Santorini, provides regular, albeit muted signs of life. It last erupted in 1650, in a dramatic event of which vivid historic accounts have survived.

“The central volcano in the caldera is completely dormant,” Fytikas said. “Koloumbos presents some minor action, which under no circumstances can be regarded as a source of concern.” This translates into one or two miniscule tremors of 0.5 to 1 on the Richter scale, on a daily basis.

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Storm Rips Through North Bangladesh, Nearly 50 Dead

April 15, 2004

DHAKA (Reuters) - Ferocious winds tore through parts of northern Bangladesh flattening villages, uprooting trees and killing nearly 50 people, police said on Thursday.

The Wednesday night storm, packing winds of up to 150 kph (90 mph), could have injured more than 2,000, one district official said. Hundreds of people had been treated in hospitals for injuries caused by flying debris, police said.

"The storm left a trail of destruction within minutes," said Imrul Chowdhury, an administrator in Mymensingh, 130 km (80 miles) from Dhaka.

Police said 31 deaths were confirmed in Netrokona and 18 in Mymensingh -- the worst-hit districts.

The Dhaka meteorology office said the storm could be a tornado.

"Given the ferocity and speed, we believe it was a tornado that forms on land suddenly and is impossible to forecast," one official said.

Storms and tornadoes are common in densely populated Bangladesh during the hot season, sometimes killing hundreds of people. The Wednesday tornado was this season's first. [...]

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Millions of locusts head for Australian cities

Thursday April 15, 10:11 AM

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Millions of locusts are swarming towards Australia's second biggest city of Melbourne and the southern city of Adelaide.

Brought to life in February by drought-breaking rains, billions of locusts first swarmed along a 1,200-km (745-mile) front from southwest Queensland state to the central New South Wales town of Dubbo, across an area twice the size of England.

The move to major cities by the crop-devastating insects widened the battlefront in Australia's three-month effort to contain the swarms. [...]

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Calif. power officials fret about summer supplies

SAN FRANCISCO, April 14 (Reuters) - Growing demand for electricity, a slowdown in power plant construction, and tight supplies are worrying California power officials as summer nears, a spokesman for the state grid said on Wednesday.

The California Independent System Operator, which runs most of the electric grid, expects to issue its summer supply-and-demand forecast shortly and ISO operators are concerned about electricity shortages "if base case assumptions on supplies and consumption don't come true," said ISO spokesman Gregg Fishman. [...]

California already has had a grid scare this year, when scorching temperatures in Southern California on March 29 sparked heavy demand for air conditioning power. [...]

California is still recovering from the 2000-2001 energy crisis when a shortage of electricity exacerbated by market manipulation by energy traders led to blackouts and the bankruptcy of its largest utility, the Pacific Gas & Electric unit of PG&E Corp.

The utility emerged from bankruptcy on Monday. [...]

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New books by historian nearing release

By: Jack "Miles" Ventimiglia, Editor

[...] The first of Milt's books expected out this year, "Jesse James and the Civil War," provides new information, Chambers said. Much of the book delves into the war and associated atrocities.

[...] Milt also covers the Southern retreat after the Centralia massacre Sept. 26, 1864. In the incident, Jesse is said to have joined in murdering 25 unarmed Union soldiers, and he also killed Maj. A.V. Johnson in a skirmish. After the fight, some Rebels reported being chased for days by Union soldiers with cannon, which led to Milt doing a bit of supposition.

"The young lads that retreated from there to a farm about 100 miles east - which we found and photographed - believed they were being pursued by federal artillery. ... Several of them wrote home to their mothers that they were being chased by the feds, who had cannon. Milt spent years trying to find out where these cannon were, because there weren't any," Chambers said. "He noticed from astrological reports from the period, from reports in newspapers, that a comet was very, very close to the earth that evening and for several subsequent evenings, so the flashes in the skies were not cannon in the distance of a pursuing federal army, it was a comet. It was seen all over Missouri, and that was the day that Centralia happened and that was the day that they arrived at the Maxwell farm. ...

"Every page is full of that. You find out what they looted from stores from the inventory of what was missing afterwards - the canned pears and the canned this and the bottled that."

The suggestion that battle-hardened men would mistake celestial lights for distant cannon fire may be a stretch, based on observations by Dr. C.D. Geilker, who is in charge of the William Jewell College observatory. He flew south to Rio de Janeiro to observe one of the rare, 75-year-interval appearances of Halley's comet in 1986.

"The comet never is super impressive," Geilker said.

Halley's could not be the comet observed in 1863 because it had only moved through about half of the cycle that started in 1835, Geilker said.

"It's been traced all the way back to 240 B.C.," he said.

Whether the fleeing Rebels viewed another comet or a different type of cosmic sky show - such as an appearance of the aurora borealis - is not clear. What is clear from period reports, Chambers said, is they saw lights in the sky that could not have been cannon.

Comment: There are more comets than we are told about and more cometary cycles.How many other historical events have been influenced by these 'signs' from the heavens? See Truth or Lies about a cometary appearance that influenced early Christianity.

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Hubble Photos Show Newly Found Planetoid

By ALEX DOMINGUEZ, Associated Press Writer
April 15, 2004

BALTIMORE - Pictures of the newly discovered planetoid Sedna show it moonless, spinning alone some 8 billion miles from Earth.

Sedna, though, still might have a moon that was hiding somewhere or too dark to be photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope, said astronomer Mike Brown, its discoverer.

Given the planetoid's slow rotation, the seeming lack of a moon surprises Brown.

"I still am convinced there is one there, and it's just darker than we expected and we haven't seen it yet," Brown, of the California Institute of Technology, said Wednesday.

At 800 to 1,000 miles in diameter, Sedna is too small to qualify as a planet. It is only about three quarters the size of Pluto, its closest neighbor.

Objects that size should complete one rotation in a matter of hours, but observations so far show it takes 20 to 40 days, possibly due to the drag of a moon, Brown said. [...]

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Authorities believe cougar is roaming Lake County

By Mick Zawislak Daily Herald Staff Writer
Thursday, April 15, 2004

After five weeks without a reported sighting, a big cat apparently is on the prowl again in Lake County.

Tracks and other evidence have been examined and live traps have been set for what state authorities believe is a cougar that has taken up residence in an Antioch subdivision.

Lake County animal control received reports on April 7 and 13 of a large animal near Beach Grove Road. [...]

Wilms, an environmental science teacher and head tennis coach at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, said he began checking his yard after hearing the neighbor's description: a large animal with rounded black ears, black face and a very long black tail.

"The next day, I was out there with my kids. Sure enough there were a couple of big cat prints," he said.

Wilms got a first hand look at the elusive animal around dawn Wednesday.

"All of a sudden, this unmistakable cat pranced through," he said. "It's been here at least four times." [...]

Cougars were once common in Illinois, experts say, but there are none here now that are wild. Piotrowski noted that two of the reports were from Belvidere and Woodstock, putting into question exactly what people were seeing.

Authorities believed fresh water and the abundance of deer may have lured the animal and accounted for the sightings near the Des Plaines River. How it drifted about 15 miles from the Libertyville area to Antioch is a mystery.

"Why wouldn't the cougar stay in one area? How is it moving? Nobody knows," she said. [...]

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UFO sightings may prompt investigation

Group weighs closer look after wave of reports from Rochester area, elsewhere

Tribune Staff Writer

ROCHESTER -- Reports of a UFO in rural Rochester last week are intriguing enough that an investigation could be launched by the Mutual UFO Network.

Roger Sudgen, MUFON assistant director for the northern part of Indiana, said Monday he'll be calling several residents who saw a disc-shaped object in the sky last Thursday night around 10 p.m.

Bev Carpenter, who lives on County Road 450 North, in rural Rochester, said she and her 13-year-old granddaughter, Shannay Carpenter of Valparaiso, Ind., had just pulled into the driveway of her home that night when the experience began.

"I'm a line-dance instructor," Carpenter began, "and I'd just picked up my granddaughter, we'd gone out to supper, and I'd taught the class, so we were pulling into the drive around 10 p.m., the normal time.

"Shannay said, 'Grandma, what's that?' I'd been getting my stuff out, and I turned around, and said, 'Oh, my God! That's a UFO.'"

The unidentified flying object, Carpenter said, was ahead of them on the northwest side of her home.

"There were lights sort of aiming downward," Carpenter said, further saying the lights were not focused toward the ground, nor straight out from whatever it was holding them in the air.

"You could just barely see the outline of the craft," she said. "There was no color, no sound, and it just hovered right above the tops of the trees."

Carpenter said the lights -- three in a row, side by side, and another three in a row, side by side, separated by nothing Carpenter could see -- stayed bright for about 20 seconds before they went out. A few seconds later, they came on again.

"Then the craft started slowly, and I mean slowly, moving in a northeast direction," she said. The house was then blocking both their views, and they ran across the north side of the house to see where the object went when it moved northeastward.

"It was gone. We couldn't see anything, or the lights were out. We couldn't tell," Carpenter said, adding that the lights never came back on.

She said the entire event took place in less than a minute, but when the pair could no longer see what had been up there, "we bee-lined it into the house, locked the doors, and called the sheriff."

Sgt. Ed Beaird of the Fulton County Sheriff's Department was dispatched to Carpenter's home, where a written report was completed. A spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Department said on Monday that several calls were received by dispatchers Thursday night, but no number was available. Beaird was not available Monday for comment, but the spokeswoman said the Carpenter residence was the only location to which an officer was dispatched concerning the UFO.

Carpenter, a 22-year worker with Hart, Schaffner & Marx and union steward before the plant closed, said she's never experienced anything even remotely close to a UFO sighting before, but she knew enough from seeing various television shows that she should contact the National UFO Reporting Center in Seattle. [...]

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UFOs believed sighted over Iran

From correspondents in Tehran
Herald Sun
15 April 2004

RESIDENTS of northern Iran have reported a string of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) moving at low altitudes and emitting different colours, the state news agency IRNA reported today.

A resident of the northwestern city of Tabriz, Saina Haghkish, was quoted as saying she saw one object flashing red, green and blue moving slowly from the east to west late yesterday.

Identical sightings were also reported on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday over the northeastern town of Ghonbad-Kavous, situated on the opposite southeastern edge of the Caspian Sea.

But astronomy professor Ajab Shirizadeh told IRNA that while the presence over the Islamic republic of extra-planetary craft could not be ruled out, the sightings could also be attributed to spy or communications satellites.

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Wis. Officer Takes Doughnut-Eating Prize

Thu Apr 15, 9:08 AM ET

ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill. - A patrolman from Wisconsin left his opponents in a cloud of powdered sugar dust by downing 9 1/2 doughnuts in three minutes to win a doughnut-eating contest for police officers in suburban Chicago.

Terry O'Brien of the Town of Geneva Police Department in Lake Geneva, Wis., said he was destined to win Wednesday's contest because law enforcement runs in his family.

"Actually, it was my father, who's deceased," O'Brien said. "He was a Chicago cop, a lifer. Today is his birthday."

For the second year in a row, the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association held the contest at its annual conference. The Dunkin' Donuts World Cop Donut Eating Championship attracted 40 contestants from the U.S. and Canada. [...]

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