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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Friday, April 16, 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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Picture of the Day

Rain and hail - Gers
©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Imagine a lifetime of Signs pages compressed into one hellish instant.

"You are never quite at home in this human world ever again after an exorcism," he said slowly. He sat down again and explained.

After an exorcism the exorcist hears and sees and thinks and talks as he always did. But now he perceives on two planes. Spirit is everywhere. Flesh and matter is only "our picture" of what's there. And it's not all good. There's evil and good hidden in that "picture."

After an exorcism you always know, if you didn't know it before. You are now walking with a double vision, a second sight, as the old people used to say.

[...] Then he went on to describe the double vision. It was not like seeing another table beside the real table or another wall beside the real wall. It was not a vision of eyes or a hearing with your ears or a touching with your hand. It was another level of reality. An exorcism sharpens your awareness of that reality, he said. You know what stands behind and around and beneath and above all that is visible and tangible. The intertwining cords of spirit appear everywhere. Good and bad spirit. Beauty and ugliness. Holiness and sin. God as a tremendous majesty. Personal evil is a formidable force. Nothing escapes those cords. [Malachi Martin, Hostage to the Devil, pp. 452, 454.]

We drew the comparison with the Signs pages at the top because the battle of the exorcist is the same battle anyone faces who wishes to see the truth, although compressed into such a short time and delivered with such force that rare is the individual who can survive. Many exorcists die shortly after major exorcisms and many others have their lives considerably shortened. The effects of the Signs page are, fortunately for our readers, cumulative, lesser shocks delivered over a longer period, designed to drop the veils one after another, not all in a single blow. As far as we know, more people have died from viewing The Passion of the Christ than from reading Signs of the Times. And yet the result of reading Signs and of carrying out an exorcism, the ability to SEE, appears to be the same (minus the Christian overlay). "The intertwining cords of spirit appear everywhere," wrote Malachi Martin. And there is both good and evil in our picture.

The study of exorcism shows that there is a relationship between work on the self and the ability to see. If one accepts the lies one tells oneself, one will be unable to see the truth in the world or in others, including in cases of demonic possession. The dynamic between exorcist and demon illustrates this in a very clear way. The demon will use any weakness, any doubt, any memory or action from the exorcist's life in order to pull him over to the dark side. The demon can latch on to these artifacts because they are pieces of the demon inside the exorcist, pieces of what we have called, after don Juan, the predator's mind within us.

And who of us is without such traces of the predator lurking within?

The Presence was everywhere and nowhere. Peter [the exorcist] fought off the instinct to step back or to look around or, most of all, to run far and fast. "Freeze yer mind," had been Conor's advice. "Freeze it in luv. Shtick there, lad." But, Holy Jesus, how? The Presence was all over him, inside him, outside him. A total trap of cloying ropes he couldn't see. He heard no word, saw no vision, smelled no odor. But his skin was no longer the protective shell of his mortality. His skin didn't work! It was now a porous interface that let the invisible filth of the Presence ooze in. Worst of all was the silence of it. It was soundless. Suddenly he had been attacked and caught; and he knew his adversary was superior and ruthless, that it had invaded deep into the self he always hid from others and hoped only God did know and would never show him until he was strong enough to bear the sight. [p.72]

The exorcist comes face to face with what can only be described as Evil. He confronts a cold, sentient force that knows his darkest thoughts, the deepest recesses of his mind, a force that is ready and willing to reach into those areas to find material to use to break the exorcist's will, for that is what an exorcism amounts to, a battle of wills between this evil force and his human opponent, the fight to corrupt and infect and destroy the will of the exorcist.

Any tool is permitted for the force of darkness. The exorcist has nothing but his purity of intent and his faith that the evil spirit can be defeated. If he succumbs to the Presence when it passes through the pores of his skin, he is lost. To succumb means to lose the ability to discern the Presence, to become unable to draw a distinction between it and himself, that is, to allow the predator's mind to take over. In an exorcism, the exorcist faces a souped-up, turbo-charged model of the predator's mind, perhaps even the original predator itself.

We all have parts of ourselves that we are ashamed of, parts we wish to hide from others, parts of the predator's mind within us. As we cling to these lies, we are forced to find excuses, explanations, and stories to justify their place within us. In such moments, we become the predator. During the exorcism, the demon plays on these weaknesses, holding the mirror up to the exorcist, insisting that the exorcist is no different than the person from whom he is attempting to expel the demon. Because the exorcist himself is inhabited by the predator's mind, he is open to this attack. If he is more worried about his appearance to those assisting him in the exorcism than in the welfare of the person he is trying to save, then this "outing", this publicising of his darkest thoughts and memories, will destablise the exorcist and all is lost.

The solution is not that the exorcist must be pure, but rather that the exorcist must recognise his own weaknesses and not hide from them. The exorcist must be transparent to himself and willing to admit his weaknesses to those assisting him in order to stand up to the evil spirit.

So it is with us.

Were we pure and without any trace of the predator, we would not be here. We would no longer fit. Our lessons in this realm would be over. However, even if we are not yet pure, the demon can be defeated in an exorcism and the predator's mind can be overcome in this work, but we must become transparent, to ourselves, and to others engaged in this work.

With each choice we make we must draw the line between Creation and Entropy and side with Creation. If our intent is pure, then the impurities within that have not yet been burned away will not hold us back. However our intentions will be tested as we are called upon to confront them each in turn. If we refuse to recognise our weaknesses and faults when the time comes to burn them off, we will remain "possessed".

An exorcism puts the predator's mind and the existence of the cords of evil in this world into sharp relief. The Signs page does this, too. How we react to the lies of the politicians "leading" us, to the excuses given for murdering innocents in Iraq, the Occupied Territories, or elsewhere, or even the news of a sale down at the mall tells us much about our own possession by the evil spirits of this world. Following the cords of the Creative spirit as they twist and intertwine with the cords of entropy is not easy, but it is our only means of untangling ourselves. The constant shocks as we become aware of each new lie make the interplay of the cords easier and easier to see and identify. With each shock and the accompanying alignment of a small 'I' with our real 'I', it is as if another pair of eyes is focused on the Truth, bringing it into sharper and sharper relief.

We are all possessed. We carry within us and are bound tightly by cords of both spirits, good and evil, the Creative and the Entropic. During the exorcism, there is a moment when the demon drops the pretence of its non-existence. It is a moment when the will of the possessed comes into play. The exorcist calls out to the possessed and calls upon him or her to aid in the work of casting out the demon.

When the predator's mind arises in us, we are called upon to make the same choice. Do we succumb to the lures of possession and the lie, promises for the future and wishful thinking, or do we see the predator's mind for what it is and cast it out?

Ultimately, the choice is ours.

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Why did Ashcroft stop flying commercial only weeks before 9-11?

April 13th, 2004
Mondo Washington
James Ridgeway

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Like most of the Bush cabinet, Attorney General John Ashcroft took commercial jets when he traveled. But on July 24, 2001, he changed that practice and began flying in chartered government jets. Asked by CBS News at the time about the change, the Justice Department cited a "threat assessment" by the FBI and said Ashcroft had been advised to travel only by private jet for the remainder of his term. "There was a threat assessment, and there are guidelines. He is acting under the guidelines," an FBI spokesman said. But as CBS went on to report, "Neither the FBI nor the Justice Department, however, would identify what the threat was, when it was detected, or who made it."

A "senior official" at the CIA said he wasn't aware of specific threats against any cabinet member, and Ashcroft himself declared, "I don't do threat assessments myself, and I rely on those whose responsibility it is in the law enforcement community, particularly the FBI. And I try to stay within the guidelines that they've suggested I should stay within for those purposes." When asked if he knew details of the threat or who might have made it, Ashcroft said, "Frankly, I don't. That's the answer."

Comment: Give us one rational explanation why Ashcroft would have been told not to fly on commercial jets just a few months prior to September 11th 2001. One reason that does not lead the conclusion that someone in the echelons of power in the US had advance knowledge of the likelihood of the 9/11 attacks.

What is clear is that SOMEONE knew that there was a very real threat of commercial aircraft being used as "flying bombs" to attack the US; so who knew? Certainly someone that knew US Attorney General John Ashcroft. This fact alone makes a farce of any claim that the US administration did not know, at least to some extent, that the 9/11 attacks were imminent.

The most important point however is that, whatever the actual details, the final conclusion must be that the 9/11 attacks were an "inside job".

So who was responsible? To answer this we need to look objectively at the situation.

We are told that Osama Bin Laden attacked the US on 9/11. For a moment lets pretend this is true.

In such a scenario the first question is; why has the US military deposed the leader of Iraq and why is it now attempting to subdue that country and force a new proxy US government on the Iraqi people? What exactly does Iraq have to do with finding the perpetrators of 9/11?

Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, so why is the US military bogged down in a war with the Iraqi people? Was it a mistake? Did the US military mistake Iraq for Saudi Arabia perhaps? Perhaps one of these days we should expect a press conference from Don Rumsfeld where he will claim "oops, sorry, wrong country"?

What is completely, 100% objectively obvious is that the 9/11 attacks and the "war on terror" are being used to force the US population to support a completely different agenda, an agenda about which most of them know absolutely nothing.

To make it very clear we will spell out the already very clear and obvious reason why the US military has invaded Iraq.

Because Israel wanted it.

Surprising? No, not really. You do not have to be a genius to see the truth of this. Simply have a brief look at the history of Israel, its statements and actions and you will immediately be furnished with more than enough evidence to show that Israel has for many years desired to implement a radical shake up in the Middle East. It simply cannot be any more obvious that this is, at the very least, a major reason for the invasion of Iraq.

It does not take a major leap in thinking then to consider the likelihood that Israel also carried out the attacks on September 11th to provide the justification for the US military, with the support of the US population, to do the will of their Zionist masters. After all, these same Zionists have past experience of making victims of an entire people.

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CIA Warned of Attack 6 Years Before 9-11

By JOHN SOLOMON, Associated Press Writer
Fri Apr 16, 3:16 AM ET

WASHINGTON - Six years before the Sept. 11 attacks, the CIA warned in a classified report that Islamic extremists likely would strike on U.S. soil at landmarks in Washington or New York, or through the airline industry, according to intelligence officials.

Though hauntingly prescient, the CIA's 1995 National Intelligence Estimate did not yet name Osama bin Laden as a terrorist threat.

But within months the intelligence agency developed enough concern about the wealthy, Saudi-born militant to create a specific unit to track him and his followers, the officials told The Associated Press.

And in 1997, the CIA updated its intelligence estimate to ensure bin Laden appeared on its very first page as an emerging threat, cautioning that his growing movement might translate into attacks on U.S. soil, the officials said, divulging new details about the CIA's 1990s response to the terrorist threat.

The officials took the rare step Thursday of disclosing information in the closely held National Intelligence Estimates and other secret briefings to counter criticisms in a staff report released this week by the independent commission examining pre-Sept. 11 intelligence failures. [...]

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CIA's Tenet did speak to Bush before 9-11, spokesman says

WASHINGTON -- CIA Director George Tenet met with President Bush at least eight times in the 42 days before the catastrophic terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, a CIA spokesman said Thursday, correcting Tenet's testimony that he hadn't talked with the president during the entire month of August.

Bill Harlow, spokesman for the agency, said CIA records showed Tenet briefed the president on national security threats once during Bush's 27-day ranch vacation, on Aug. 17, and again at the White House on Aug. 31. He also met with the president at least six more times during the first eight days of September. Bush has established the practice of receiving daily face-to-face intelligence briefings by the CIA chief. [...]

Tenet's testimony to the independent Sept. 11 commission on Wednesday that he had not spoken to Bush during the entire month of August raised eyebrows on the 10-member bipartisan panel.

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Even Mom is re-thinking 9/11 conspiracy theories

By brian Peterson
Westender

I've shown astounding self-control in not writing about the renewed shooting war in Iraq, Richard Clarke or Condoleezza Rice's 9/11 testimony in the past few weeks, wouldn't you say?

Even my mother called up after watching some of Rice's testimony to say, "That woman strikes me as a bigger liar than George Bush. I'm finding it real disturbing that all the crazy things you've been saying since 9/11 are turning out to be true."

Well, if she can get her shots in I feel justified in catching up on a few capsule comments on the administration's unravelling claim to pre-9/11 cluelessness.

How much more proof do we need than the President's Daily Brief of Aug. 6, 2001 entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." that alluded to 70 active investigations into Al Qaeda cells operating in the country and preparations for hijackings?

And yet Bush still has the nerve to claim he would've "moved mountains" to prevent the attacks had he known they were coming. He certainly moved mountains of bogus evidence indicating Iraq was somehow involved in the 9/11 attacks to the front while moving mountains of legitimate proof that Iraq had no useable stocks of WMDs to the side while he was dragging his nation into a war that was hailed 'round the world as a disaster before the first shot was fired.

I wonder if the big dope still thinks the situation in Iraq is as funny as he did back on March 25 when he made light of the failure to find weapons of mass destruction at a black-tie event for radio and television journalists in Washington. The mountain-mover himself was narrating a high-larious slide show sending up his administration's penchant for alienating allies and spinning lies. He really brought the house down when a series of slides showing the Prez looking under his office furniture were projected.

"Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be here somewhere," he told the audience. "Nope, no weapons over there," he said, laughing. "Maybe under here," he chortled, as a third slide was shown.

Stop! Oh golly, you slay me, Mr. President. You're almost as funny as the inability of any legislators to summon the moral indignation to mount a decent impeachment proceeding against you for lying to the world and getting a hell of lot of people blown to tatters.

Apparently, the President's jocularity is rubbing off on his military commanders when they describe Operation (Fall on Your) Resolute Sword as "going well." How nice to be so optimistic about destroying neighbourhoods and body-bagging 70 marines this month while putting down the bloody and popular joint Shiite and Sunni insurgency against the American occupation.

I'm sure that when they suspend shelling to distribute food and water and allow civilians to bury their dead, the U.S. soldiers are greeted as liberators and garlanded with flowers too, huh?

Of course, the thigh-slapping irony of it all is that extinguishment of the democratic fantasy in Iraq was precipitated by the American closing of Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr's newspaper Al Hawza. Because nothing screams democracy like shutting down the news and views of those who disagree with you, right?

Well, thanks for letting me get that off my chest. Here's a wee bone for those of you craving some local commentary: start conserving water now. After an Easter weekend like that one, the writing on the wall seems pretty plain.

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Hear no evil, read no evil, speak drivel

Bush's press conference shows just how ill-informed he is about Iraq

Sidney Blumenthal
The Guardian
Thursday April 15, 2004

On April 21 1961, President Kennedy held a press conference to answer questions on the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion by Cuban exiles that he had approved. "There's an old saying," he said, "that victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan ... I am the responsible officer of the government and that is quite obvious."

On Wednesday, President Bush held only his third press conference and was asked three times whether he accepted responsibility for failing to act on warning before September 11. "I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference with all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer, but it hadn't [sic] yet," he said. "I just haven't - you just put me under the spot here and maybe I'm not quick - as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one."

Bush's press conference was the culmination of his recent efforts to staunch the political wounds of his bleeding polls since the 9/11 commission began public hearings and violence spiralled in Iraq. Bush had tried to divert blame by declaring that the August 6 memo he was forced to declassify at the commission's insistence contained no "actionable intelligence", even though it specifically mentioned the World Trade Centre and Washington as targets.

Bush, in fact, does not read his President's Daily Briefs, but has them orally summarised every morning by the CIA director, George Tenet. President Clinton, by contrast, read them closely and alone, preventing any aides from interpreting what he wanted to know first-hand. He extensively marked up his PDBs, demanding action on this or that, which is almost certainly the likely reason the Bush administration withheld his memoranda from the 9/11 commission.

"I know he doesn't read," one former Bush national security council staffer told me. Several other former NSC staffers corroborated this. It seems highly unlikely that he read the national intelligence estimate on WMD before the Iraq war that consigned contrary evidence and caveats that undermined the case to footnotes and fine print. Nor is there any evidence that he read the state department's 17-volume report, The Future of Iraq, warning of nearly all the postwar pitfalls, that was shelved by the neocons in the Pentagon and Vice-President Cheney's office.

Nor was Bush aware of similar warnings urgently being sounded by the military's top strategic analysts. One monograph, Reconstructing Iraq, by the US Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute, predicted in detail "possible severe security difficulties" and conflicts among Iraqis that US forces "can barely comprehend". I have learned that it was suppressed by the Pentagon neocons, and only released to US central command after Senator Joseph Biden, the ranking Democrat on the foreign relations committee, directly intervened.

A revolt within the military against Bush is brewing. Many in the military's strategic echelon share the same feelings of being ignored and ill-treated by the administration that senior intelligence officers voice in private. "The Pentagon began with fantasy assumptions on Iraq and worked back," one of them remarked to me.

As the iconic image of the "war president" has tattered, another picture has emerged. Bush appears as a passive manager who enjoys sitting atop a hierarchical structure, unwilling and unable to do the hard work a real manager has to do to run the largest enterprise in the world. He does not seem to absorb data unless it is presented to him in simple, clear fashion by people whose judgment he trusts. He is receptive to information that agrees with his point of view rather than information that challenges it. This leads to enormous power on the part of the trusted interlocutors, who know and bolster his predilections. [...]

Comment: When Bush said:
"Finally, the attitude of the Iraqis toward the American people — it's an interesting question. They're really pleased we got rid of Saddam Hussein, and you can understand why. This guy was a torturer, a killer, a maimer. There's mass graves,"

he must have thought that the Iraqis actually enjoyed having to bury their women and children in mass graves, so he decided to give them some mass graves of his own...

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Fallujah residents forced to bury women and children in mass graves

Fallujah residents took advantage of the lull in fighting to bury their dead in two soccer fields. One of the fields, seen by an Associated Press reporter, had rows of freshly dug graves, some marked on headstones as children or with the names of women. A gravedigger at the site said more than 300 people were buried there. [...]

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More Iraqis killed in Falluja

Friday 16 April 2004, 9:43 Makka Time, 6:43 GMT

US occupation troops and fighters have fought fierce clashes in the western city of Falluja killing 15 Iraqis, witnesses and a medical official said.

US warplanes attacked targets in the town, and one US armoured vehicle was destroyed in the fighting on Thursday night, witnesses said on Friday.

"Fifteen Iraqis were killed and 20 were wounded," said Dr Issam Muhammad, a senior medical official.

Our correspondent Hamid Hadeed in Falluja reported that US forces bombed Jolan and Shuhada quarters.

Fierce clashes erupted overnight between the US forces and Iraqi resistance fighters. US aircraft dropped cluster bombs over Jolan, he said.

The city also came under intensive artillery bombardment.

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"When you see a child five years old with no head what can you say? When you see a child with no brain just an open cavity what can you say?" ­ Doctor in Fallujah April 2004

Iraq, it seems, is a country about which most Americans know very little, and could care even less. As America's sons and daughters go about the process of dismembering and decapitating Iraqi children, US citizens sit before their televisions, eagerly swallowing the lies that spew forth from the mouths of those that represent them. Those lies paint a very pretty picture indeed. They talk of American troops bestowing "freedom and democracy" on Iraqi people, of a "just war" against "evil", of cheering and appreciative Iraqi people welcoming US troops, their guns still smoking from the "liberation" recently bestowed on the innocent.

Is it not clear that anyone that believes these lies is party to the atrocities that are facilitated by the belief in the lies? For it is surely true that what is happening today in Iraq could not be happening in every American citizen were to reject lies and seek and stand up for the truth.

Consider closely the picture above. Consider how you would feel if this were your son or daughter, brother or sister. Consider how you would feel if, in seeking justice for the crime, you were forced to accept the fact that the world was indifferent, there would be no justice and that the people that murdered your child or sibling are denying that it even happened.

The image above and many many others like it are the direct result of US military action in Iraq. American soldiers are killing and maiming innocent children, and American citizen's are complicit in it. If, as an American (or any other citizen), you genuinely find this slaughter abhorrent, then you will surely be moved to DO something about it. To DO something about it does not require that you single handedly stop the carnage, for the truth is that it simply cannot be stopped. But you must make it very clear that you truly reject such brutality and inhumanity - words are not enough. Action is needed to move us out of complacency and the idea that it is not our problem - each of us bears full responsibility to do what we can in order that we are NOT counted among those that are facilitating the raping and pillaging of the innocent of the world. If we remain silent or are unmoved to do something when confronted with brutality and inhumanity, simply stated, we facilitate it.

The fact is that many Americans are today, right now, consciously supporting US military atrocities. Indeed, many are praying to "God" that the troops that are blowing children's heads off will be protected and strengthened in their endeavours. In such actions we see the true nature and meaning of "evil", and we see also that it is born of ignorance, illusion, and belief in lies.

Bremer 'is powerless to restrain the US military'

By Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad
The Independent
15 April 2004

Divisions within the US leadership in Baghdad are hampering negotiations to end the stand-off between the radical cleric Muqtada Sadr and the 2,500 American troops who are surrounding him.

Sadr, who has taken refuge with his black-clad militiamen in the holy city of Najaf in southern Iraq, has dropped all conditions for talks with the US. Previously he demanded that US soldiers leave Najaf, free his followers who had been arrested and end the siege of Fallujah.

"It is very difficult to know who is taking the decisions on the American side," said Hussain al-Shahristani, an influential Shia figure, in an interview with The Independent. "You hear one thing from [Paul] Bremer [the chief US civilian official] and another thing from the US army." [...]

Comment: Since it was at Israel's behest that the Iraq invasion was carried out, it is very likely that it is the pro-Israeli elements of the US military command that are pushing for more and more atrocities to be carried out in order to subdue the Iraqi people and allow Israel to incorporate Iraq into the "greater Israel".

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Rumsfeld: Iraq Toll Higher Than Expected

By JOHN J. LUMPKIN, AP Military Writer
April 16, 2004

WASHINGTON - Midway through a bloody April for U.S. forces in Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he did not expect so many recent American casualties.

At least 88 U.S. soldiers, several more civilians and hundreds of Iraqis have died this month, as insurgent fighters battled the American-led occupation. Most causalities have come since April 4.

"I certainly would not have estimated that we would have had the number of individuals lost that we have had lost in the last week," Rumsfeld said in answer to questions at the Pentagon on Thursday. [...]

"It's a tough road. And it's a bumpy road. And I'll be honest, it's an uncertain road," Rumsfeld told reporters.

The violence has prompted generals in Iraq to seek more combat power than they had originally planned, and the most convenient source will be the units scheduled to rotate home after yearlong tours. [...]

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Worried US launches PR campaign to shore up Iraq coalition

Thu Apr 15, 2:53 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Deeply concerned that the deteriorating security situation may shatter the resolve of its partners in Iraq, the United States is launching a major public relations drive to shore up the coalition, US officials said.

The new campaign is aimed at reassuring worried governments and increasingly skeptical electorates that the United States is determined to stay the course in Iraq and hold to the June 30 date to hand over sovereignty, they said.

Led initially by the State Department, the drive will see senior aides to US President George W. Bush take to the media in coalition countries to present Washington's case for the importance of remaining in Iraq despite the surge in violence and kidnapping.

"Essentially, this will be a large-scale communications effort to maintain the coalition," said one official involved in the campaign. "We want to assure our partners that we are in this to stay like the president said." [...]

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General Calls Insurgency in Iraq a Sign of U.S. Success

Political Achievements Are Cause of Uprising, Myers Says

April 16, 2004
By Sewell Chan
Washington Post Foreign Service

BAGHDAD, April 15 -- The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said Thursday that the deadly insurgency that flared up this month is "a symptom of the success that we're having here in Iraq" and an effort to undermine the country's transition to self-government.

Asked at a news conference here whether the military had failed to counter insurgents' attacks in Iraq, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers said guerrillas want to undermine several political successes, including the creation of the Iraqi Governing Council, the signing of a bill of rights and efforts by the United Nations to devise an interim government that would assume power on June 30.

"I think it's that success which is driving the current situation, because there are those extremists that don't want that success," Myers said. "They see this as a test of wills, a test of resolve against those who believe in freedom and self-determination against those who prefer a regime like we saw previously in Afghanistan, or perhaps a regime like we saw previously in Iraq."

Comment: Do you think you are being lied to? If a foreign country invaded the US and began a brutal campaign of opression and mass murder of the population in an attempt to force a wholly unrepresentative government on the US people, if Americans revolted, what would be the likely reason? It should be remembered that the people currently slated to be the new Iraqi government are made up to a large extent of exiled Iraqis. Ahmed Chabali, for example, is the Iraqi defector who has not been in Iraq for 40 years. He provided the US government (by way of other defecting Iraqi scientists) with bogus information about Saddam's non existent WMDs. As someone that is 100% loyal the the Neocons in Washington he is currently being groomed as the next Iraqi President.

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Blair rallies behind Bush over Iraq

Friday 16 April 2004, 8:40 Makka Time, 5:40 GMT

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has dismissed speculations of a rift between London and Washington over Iraq, saying the two shared the same goals.

Talking ahead of talks with US President George Bush, Blair on a visit to New York on Thursday also dismissed the significance of a message from al-Qaida leader Usama bin Ladin offering European states a truce.

"You know, I don’t think we need Usama bin Ladin to start telling us how to handle our political affairs," Bush said after talks with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Friendly meeting

Blair meets Bush on Friday in Washington, when they are likely to discuss their strategy in Iraq.

"Obviously the common aim and purpose is what is crucial," Blair said, adding this goal was to "create a stable and democratic Iraq, governed by the Iraqi people."

"And how we get there is obviously the difficult issue, particularly with the security at the moment, but our determination to get there remains undimmed. We have to stand firm," he said.

"If people are killing innocent civilians we have got to deal with that," Blair said.

Supporting Sharon

The prime minister also said he saw no disruptiion to the Middle East 'road map' for peace despite the Israeli Prime Minister Aerial Sharon's plans for a selective withdrawal from some Palestinian territory.

"I don't see the road map as sidelined at all," Blair said. "Until progress is made on the now stalled road map, the international community would inevitably look to other measures in the meantime to move the issue forward, he said.

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The Crack-Up: And what a sickening spectacle: Bush and Blair piously kneeling in prayer on Easter Sunday.

By Chris Floyd

As the red wheel of Operation Iraqi FUBAR continues to roll, spewing hundreds of corpses in its wake, it becomes clearer by the hour that there is only one way for America to end this stomach-churning nightmare it has created: Get out.

That's it. The occupying armies -- including the 15,000 corporate mercenaries -- should leave now. They should never have been sent in the first place on this ghoul's errand, this war of aggression, this mission of murder and plunder -- the perversion of every enlightened value of the civilization that the coalition's "Christian leaders" purport to defend.

And what a sickening spectacle these "leaders" presented last weekend: George W. Bush and Tony Blair piously kneeling in prayer on Easter Sunday, pledging their fealty to Jesus Christ and His teachings of mercy and lovingkindness -- while ordering missile strikes on crowded cities, while filling hospitals with the mutilated bodies of young children, while shoveling fat war profits to their cronies and contributors. Only the most craven, bootlicking sycophant could fail to be revolted at the hypocrisy of these murderous cynics. They're a perfect match in moral idiocy for their crack-brained brother-in-arms, Osama bin Laden.

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Washington urges Americans to leave Saudi Arabia

Last Updated Thu, 15 Apr 2004 20:14:37

WASHINGTON - The U.S. State Department is strongly recommending that American citizens in Saudi Arabia leave the country.

The advisory follows a decision earlier in the day to pull out all non-essential diplomats and embassy dependents from the Kingdom.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says the decision comes in the face of rising threats.

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U.S. postpones troop reduction in Iraq

Last Updated Thu, 15 Apr 2004 23:47:28

WASHINGTON - About 20,000 American soldiers scheduled to return home from Iraq this month have been ordered to stay where they are to help fight growing resistance, the Pentagon announced on Thursday.

When they were sent overseas, the troops were promised their tour of duty would last only one year.

But conditions have changed and they have to spend three more months in Iraq, said Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Comment: It is so confusing to be an American diplomat these days, trying to keep all these Middle Eastern countries straight. Americans in Saudi Arabia are being urged to leave while Americans in Iraq are being urged to stay... How to keep it all sorted out...

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Dane Missing in Iraq; Three Czechs Freed

By LOUIS MEIXLER, Associated Press Writer
April 16, 2004

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Three Czech journalists were freed unharmed Friday after nearly a week in captivity, but a man from the United Arab Emirates and a Danish businessman were reported kidnapped, the latest in a wave of abductions that have accompanied a surge of violence in Iraq.

The Arab man was pulled from his hotel by gunmen disguised as police in the southern city of Basra on Thursday night, according to Iraqi police official Col. Khalaf al-Maliki and the hotel's owner, who asked not to be identified. [...]

The Danish Foreign Ministry did not identify the Dane who was kidnapped. [...]

Danish television station DR-1 reported that the victim was a businessman in his 30s working on a sewage project in Iraq. The man was traveling from Basra to Baghdad when he was taken captive in Taji, 20 miles north of Baghdad, DR-1 said.

Denmark, which backed the U.S.-led war to oust Saddam Hussein, has 410 troops in Basra and nearby Qurnah, 250 miles southeast of Baghdad. There are also a dozen Danish police officers in Basra.

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Iranian diplomat assassinated in Iraq amid mediation mission

By Abdul Hussein Yousef
AP
April 15, 2004

NAJAF, Iraq – Gunmen assassinated an Iranian diplomat in Baghdad on Thursday just as Iran, with tacit U.S. approval, attempted to mediate with a radical Shiite cleric defying American forces in this southern Iraqi city.

Diplomat Khalil Naimi was shot in the head by unknown assailants while he drove near his embassy in the center of the capital. The slaying cast a shadow over Thursday's unusual negotiating mission by the envoy from neighboring Iran, which fought an eight-year war with Iraq in the 1980s and does not have diplomatic relations with Washington.

Iranian Embassy officials were investigating whether there was a link between the assassination and the envoy's visit. Naimi was not a member of the Iranian negotiating team.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said "it's probably premature to draw any conclusions about whether it reflects anything about the role that Iran has played one way or the other in Iraq."

The Iranian effort to mediate with anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr was arranged by Britain but it had the tacit approval of the United States, according to a State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The U.S. nod reflected the eagerness to find a solution that would avert a U.S. assault on Najaf – the holiest Shiite city – aimed at capturing al-Sadr.

Comment: What the article doesn't state is that the shooting occurred in an area of Bahgdad under coalition control. One has to ask how this was "allowed" to happen.

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Probe Casts Doubt on Iraq Nuclear Security

AP
April 15, 2004

UNITED NATIONS - Some Iraqi nuclear facilities appear to be unguarded, and radioactive materials are being taken out of the country, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency reported after reviewing satellite images and equipment that has turned up in European scrapyards.

The International Atomic Energy Agency sent a letter to U.S. officials three weeks ago informing them of the findings. The information was also sent to the U.N. Security Council in a letter from its director, Mohamed ElBaradei, that was circulated Thursday.

The IAEA is waiting for a reply from the United States, which is leading the coalition administering Iraq, officials said.

The United Sattes has virtually cut off information-sharing with the IAEA since invading Iraq in March 2003 on the premise that the country was hiding weapons of mass destruction.

No such weapons have been found, and arms control officials now worry the war and its chaotic aftermath may have increased chances that terrorists could get their hands on materials used for unconventional weapons or that civilians may be unknowingly exposed to radioactive materials. According to ElBaradei's letter, satellite imagery shows "extensive removal of equipment and in some instances, removal of entire buildings," in Iraq.

In addition, "large quanitities of scrap, some of it contaminated, have been transfered out of Iraq from sites" previously monitored by the IAEA. [...]

The IAEA has been unable to investigate, monitor or protect Iraqi nuclear materials since the U.S. invaded the country in March 2003. The United States has refused to allow the IAEA or other U.N. weapons inspectors into the country, claiming that the coalition has taken over responsibility for illict weapons searches.

So far those searches have come up empty-handed and the CIA's first chief weapons hunter has said he no longer believes Iraq had weapons just prior to the invasion.

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US welcomes European rejection of bin Laden "truce"

Fri Apr 16, 3:00 AM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US Secretary of State Colin Powell hailed Europe's quick and summary rejection of an apparent truce offer by terror mastermind Osama bin Laden, calling it a clear statement that "we will not be terrorized by this terrorist." [...]

"I think that the international community realizes that they cannot give in to these kinds of threats, and I hope this will strengthen our determination to deal with terrorism and especially to do everything we can to bring Osama bin Laden to justice," the US secretary of state said.

The audio cassette attributed to the al-Qaeda leader responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington offered peace to European countries that refrain from aggression towards Muslims and pull their troops out of the Muslim world. [...]

In quick succession, France, Germany, Britain, Spain and Italy -- as well as the 15-member European Union (which expands to 25 countries on May 1) -- rejected the offer as a ploy by terrorists. [...]

Comment: If one assumes for a moment that this tape is genuinely from Bin Laden, the most probable reaction to the EU's declaration will be attacks on European countries. There seem to be questions as to whether or not the tape is actually threatening attacks if there is no compliance with the request to keep European troops out of Muslim countries. So which is it: Is it a threat, or not?

The US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq with the help of certain European countries. Both Afghanistan and Iraq are still far from "liberated". The drug trade in Afghanistan has fired up again, and the Taliban is more or less back in power. The infrastructure and people of Iraq were plunged into chaos, and the country seems to be on the verge of a full scale war against the US occupation.

By refusing to "negotiate with terrorists", the EU sends a clear message to any fanatical Muslim terrorists that they don't think there is anything wrong with imperialist actions such as those of the US in recent times. Where is the big problem in saying to the alleged terrorists, "Okay, we won't invade any Muslim countries or persecute Muslims unless you start attacking our citizens." Maybe this statement is negotiation, but such statements have been the foundation of agreements and treaties between "enemies" for a very long time.

Furthermore, Bush says the terrorists hate our freedoms. If that is indeed the case, why this recent tape that offered a "cease-fire" of sorts? If Bin Laden and his gang really did want to see the entire Western World fall, why even make the offer?

Now consider the idea that Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda are entirely the creation of Mossad and/or the CIA. All these agencies have to do is manufacture a tape reportedly from Bin Laden, and then verify its authenticity themselves. Europe then rejects the offer, more attacks are staged in various locations in the EU, and Europe is conveniently pulled into the manufactured War on Terror. It seems that the leaders of nations around the world are simple puppets, dancing around in whatever manner the puppet masters wish. As scary as it sounds, many world leaders may actually believe that they are doing their countries and their fellow citizens a service.

It appears that the entire world will be plunged into chaos in the near future due to the so-called War on Terror. Add to this "war" some other threats, such as the recent fireballs and NEO's or the Pentagon warning of massive climate change, and it is clear that we may ALL be in for a rough ride ahead. It is one thing to talk of Doomsday or Armageddon scenarios based on a bunch of lies; it is quite another to read the signs and See what has happened, what is happening, and attempt to project what may happen in the days to come.

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Desperate Afghan women opt for fiery suicides

By David Brunnstrom
Friday April 16, 08:28 AM

HERAT, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Nineteen-year-old Zahara says the day of her wedding was one of the happiest of her life.

But the marriage quickly became a nightmare of quarrels and beatings. Just three month later, she lies in hospital, her pretty face and much of her body scarred by horrific burns, after she poured petrol over her head and lit a match.

In post-Taliban Afghanistan, despite a new constitution enshrining women's rights that the Western-backed government passed in January, this remains a depressingly familiar story.

Zahara is one of many women to attempt a fiery suicide rather than be trapped in an unhappy marriage or denied the opportunity to make something of their lives.

In the past year, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission has recorded at least 110 cases of self-immolation by women in just five parts of the country.

There have been no fewer than 56 cases in Herat, a Western province ruled by a hardline Islamist accused of continuing "Taliban-like" restrictions on women.

Rights workers say the phenomenon reflects a culture of violence, discrimination and broken post-Taliban dreams. They also say the problem could be far worse than the statistics show. [...]

The Rights Commission's Ahmad Nedar Nadery blamed Herat's high number of suicides on both domestic violence and what he said were stultifying restrictions on women's rights imposed by Governor Ismail Khan, a rival of President Hamid Karzai.

While Khan, unlike the Taliban, supports female education -- albeit strictly segregated -- women's job opportunities are sharply curtailed in Herat and all are still expected to wear cover-all burqas or Iranian-style chador veils whenever they venture outdoors.

Marjo Stroud, of the German NGO Medica Mondiale in Herat -- a city with one of the best-educated female populations in Afghanistan -- said depression rates among women were very high.

"Many young women are afraid to believe their dreams," she said. "Even if their families support them, they don't know if their job opportunities might suddenly end."

Khan has, for instance, discouraged women from joining non-governmental organisations, saying that Afghans who allowed their wives to work with foreign men could not be real men.

Women have also been banned from working in tailors' shops because of "the potential for un-Islamic activity" and the only driving school for women has been shut down. [...]

Comment: Yup - sounds as if Afghanis, like the Iraqis, are enjoying themselves blue now that they have been liberated.

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Spain Judge Frees 6 Moroccans in Train Bomb Probe

April 16, 2004

MADRID (Reuters) - A Spanish judge freed six Moroccans on Friday who had been held in solitary confinement for several days over last month's Madrid train bombings, leaving 18 people still detained, a court official said.

All knew other suspects implicated in the case but the six were found not to have played a role in the March 11 attacks, which authorities say were carried out by Islamist militants. Those still being held have yet to be formally charged.

One of the men freed was a labourer who, like thousands of illegal immigrants each year, reached Spain by boat from Morocco.

"He cried over how difficult it was for him to get to Spain," the official said following interrogations of the suspects by Judge Juan del Olmo and prosecutors.

That suspect and two others, all arrested in the Madrid area, knew a man who rented an apartment in the suburbs of the capital that was used as a safehouse by leading suspects, the official said.

Seven suspects blew themselves up at the flat rather than surrender to police on April 3. The blast also killed a police special agent. [...]

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Israel border plan 'dangerous' says Chirac

ALGIERS, April 15 (AFP) - Israel's unilateral plan to reshape its borders by withdrawing from the Gaza Strip but keeping West Bank settlements was "dangerous," French President Jacques Chirac said Thursday.

The plan -- which was given public backing Wednesday by US President George W. Bush -- would set "a troubling precedent," Chirac told reporters during a visit to Algiers, where he met Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan involves the dismantlement of all Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and four from the West Bank, as well as ruling out a right of return for Palestinians who lost their homes when the Israeli state was created in 1948.

"For the borders, I consider that international law must be respected. I have reservations about any unilateral or bilateral undermining of international law," Chirac said.

"If circumstances or men start playing with international stability and the rules of international law, it is a troubling precedent," Chirac said. "It's dangerous."

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Mubarak shocked by Bush support of Israel plan

REUTERS
8:18 a.m. April 16, 2004

HOUSTON – Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak described himself as shocked by President Bush's endorsement of an Israeli initiative to keep major parts of the West Bank and said it may lead to increased Middle East violence, according to an interview published Friday.

"Now we don't know what is going to happen," Mubarak told the Houston Chronicle. "I'm afraid there is going to be more escalation of tension, much more violence."

Mubarak, who has stayed in Houston during a five-day U.S. visit, said he expressed Arab concerns about the Israeli plan in a meeting Monday with Bush at his Crawford, Texas, ranch, but had no idea the U.S. president would take a position so supportive of Israel.

Comment: The Bush invitation to Mubarak to visit the ranch in Crawford, Texas -- few foreign leaders have been invited to visit Bush down home -- was only window dressing to obscure Bush's complete support for Sharon. When are these leaders going to realise that Bush is a psychopath?

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Spurned Blair in plea to Bush: Prime minister urges US president to restore 'even-handed' approach over Middle East peace

Nicholas Watt and Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
Friday April 16, 2004
The Guardian

Tony Blair will today attempt to restore British influence in Washington when he warns President George Bush that the Middle East "road map" remains the only viable option for achieving a lasting political settlement.

Less than 48 hours after Mr Bush spurned his plea for an "even-handed" approach to the Middle East, the prime minister will make clear in private that Britain cannot sign up to Ariel Sharon's unilateral plan which was all but endorsed by the president.

As Blairites admitted that the president's declaration marked a personal setback for the prime minister, foreign secretary Jack Straw last night underlined Britain's unease. He said: "President Bush ... has to make his own judgments. We make our own."

[...] It emerged yesterday Britain was consulted in general terms by the White House before Wednesday's announcement. Downing Street's influence appeared to be negligible as attempts to rein in Mr Bush were ignored.

"The Palestinians made a very strong plea to the British before Sharon's visit - 'please use your influence with the Bush administration so that they don't change the fundamental positions'. They made a strong pitch to Tony Blair directly, and to Jack Straw," said Ed Abington, a former US consul general in Jerusalem and a consultant to the Palestinian Authority. "Quite clearly, the British have no influence or didn't even try ... I suspect they have no influence."

[...] Britain was not the only power shut out of the decision making process that produced a shift in US policy towards the Middle East. During the weeks of diplomacy, it became increasingly clear that national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and her aides were the driving force behind the move to endorse Mr Sharon's vision of the future.

Their growing influence came at the expense of the secretary of state, Colin Powell, who reportedly was opposed to this break with tradition, as were career diplomats.

Instead, power shifted toward the leading neo-conservative in Ms Rice's office, Eliot Abrams, remembered for his role in the Iran-Contra affair.

Comment: It has been clear from day one of this debacle that the Brits have no influence whatsoever over Bush. The Yanks play them, giving Tony a front line role when needed to convince the US public that "international opinion" is on Bush's side, without allowing any of Blair's criticisms to affect US policy. Blair has been lying to himself about his role of "moderating influence." Where has Bush and his gang of war criminals been moderate? Not in Iraq, not in Israel, not in Guantanamo Bay.

Notice, also, that Osama's latest pitch to the Europeans came at the same time as the US gave up on the so-called Road Map. Now, the Road Map was already a watered-down version of what had been agreed upon ten years ago. Sharon's unilateral plan is an explicit attempt to end any negotiation with the Palestinians. He has said as much. The goal is to avoid the formation of a Palestinian state.

What are the consequences of this?

The Palestinians are being wiped out. The longer the occupation and brutality continues, the less they have. Israel wants the annihilation of the Palestinians, as much as Hitler wanted the annihilation of the Jews. Ironic, isn't it?

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Sharon's triumph is Blair's defeat: By backing Israel's land grab, Bush has humiliated the prime minister

Jonathan Freedland
Friday April 16, 2004
The Guardian

Most observers of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians threw away their rose-coloured spectacles long ago. But if they were to put on a pair now, they would be stunned by what they see. Ariel Sharon, godfather of Greater Israel, travelling to Washington to win America's blessing for a surrender of territory he fought so hard to keep. Hard-man Sharon, still renowned for his 1982 surge into Lebanon, now preaching pull-out from Gaza. No wonder President Bush embraced Sharon's gesture, hailing it as "historic and courageous".

But take off the rose-coloured glasses and what do you see? Yes, the Israeli prime minister proposes "disengagement" from Gaza, but that is only half the picture. The other half is a promise to keep hold of large chunks of the West Bank, those which now house more than 200,000 Jewish settlers. Sharon sees this as a quid pro quo: Israel gives up Gaza and in return gets to keep choice cuts from the West Bank, not for the time being or until a final peace deal but, as Sharon puts it, "for all eternity".

It is a mark of his achievement that Sharon has persuaded the United States to bless this move. By packaging it as a withdrawal and a painful concession, he has won what few thought possible: US backing for the long-held dream of Sharon and the Zionist right - a permanent Israeli grip on crucial segments of the West Bank.

That's why Sharon looked fit to burst with pride at the White House podium on Wednesday. From his point of view, he had just shaken hands on a great deal. Gaza is a burden rather than an asset, a wretched place seething with poverty and violence, and of scant historic resonance for Jews. Giving it up is painful only to the most zealous of Israeli nationalists.

In return he has won a reversal of decades of US policy: no longer does Washington regard settlements as illegal and "obstacles to peace" but instead sees them as "new realities on the ground" to be recognised. By keeping them under Israeli rule, what's left of the West Bank will be sliced into a Swiss cheese that can never be the "viable" Palestinian state Bush still promises, thereby preventing the two-state solution which is surely the best hope for both peoples. As if that was not enough, Bush threw in a bonus, explicitly echoing the Israeli position that any return of Palestinian refugees will have to be to the future Palestinian state, not Israel.

[...] This is a break not only from Bush's own road map - which called for a negotiated rather than imposed settlement - but also from 37 years of US policy, under both Democratic and Republican administrations. It confirms the extent to which Bush's is the aberrant presidency, a period future historians will marvel at as a rupture from all that had gone before. The abandonment of even the attempt to appear to be an honest broker in the Middle East, along with the doctrines of pre-emptive war and unilateralism, are departures from the post-1945 US consensus with no precedent.

It has a kind of logic: Bush knows that supporting Sharon will please his predominantly conservative Christian, pro-Israel constituency, and a foreign policy achievement can only help in an election year marred by bad news from Iraq.

Comment: Blair humiliated himself in 2002 when he jumped on the Bush bandwagon. His rationale all along has been that he could be a "moderating influence" on Georgie. Yeah, right. Can anyone say "wishful thinking"? Now he is at it again. It doesn't take someone with two neurons firing to see that Bush is playing Blair and that the Bushies don't give a whit about Blair's "moderating influence." Not even the most cynical commentator was thinking that Bush would "give" Sharon so much this week. People were expecting a weasel-worded document that the US could interpret as support for the Palestinians while Sharon used it to his advantage at home. Instead, Bush just signed the death warrant for the remaining Palestinians. He has shown that he will do NOTHING AT ALL to stop the "man of peace" Sharon.

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Agreement Harmful to Peace Process:

Adding to the anti-American sentiment in the Middle East, Arab moderates went as far as to say that Bush's statements could mean the end of the peace process Pollster John Zogby, who has surveyed in the Middle East extensively, said, "This is pretty much the final nail in the coffin of the peace process as far as Arabs are concerned." By undercutting the peace process, the Bush administration's actions illustrate that blindly accepting Sharon's agenda is not only harmful to the Palestinians but also the Israelis.

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THE MOTHER OF ALL BLUNDERS

Eric Margolis
April 12, 2004

NEW YORK - How the many intelligent people in the Bush Administration can continue to make so many enormous blunders astounds and dismays. Two examples:

Australia is facing a tight electoral race between conservative John Howard, who eagerly sent troops to Iraq, and Labor Party challenger, Mark Latham, who, like Spain’s new prime minister, vows to bring his nation’s troops home from Iraq. A majority of Australians oppose the Iraq War.

US ambassador Tom Schieffer, a Texas pal of George Bush, warned Australians of `serious consequences’ if they elect Latham. Now, Australians love America, but any worldly person knows, do not threaten Aussies. They will come out swinging. Schieffer should be fired.

Far worse, however, is the ham-handed US Iraq Proconsul, Paul Bremer. A neo-conservative ideologue, Bremer was responsible for two of the Bush Administration’s most disastrous mistakes in Iraq: disbanding Iraq’s Army, and firing tens of thousands of government bureaucrats because they were Ba’ath party members.

Any junior imperialist knows the first thing you do when you conquer someone’s country is to buy the loyalty of its existing armed forces, government and police. Otherwise you will have armies of angry, unemployed potential rebels roaming the streets – Iraq being Exhibit A.

Bremer’s third horrible blunder came this week. The US Proconsul, who is supposedly bringing the light of democracy to Iraq, shut down a tiny, 10,000 circulation Shia newspaper and arrested its editor for `spreading anti-American views’ and calling Bremer rude names. The paper’s publisher was firebrand Shia mullah Muqtada el-Sadr, who has been calling on Iraqis to resist US occupation.

Bremer turned Sadr, a little-respected junior cleric with a limited following, into an overnight hero to restive Shias, and a new American villain.

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Blair seeks new UN resolution for 'way forward' in Iraq

The Times Online
April 16, 2004

Tony Blair is seeking a new UN resolution to drive forward the process of transferring sovereignty back to the people of Iraq.

Speaking last night ahead of talks with President Bush, Mr Blair said it was important that the UN had a greater role in implementing the transition before the June 30 deadline.

He also denied repeated claims that there was a transatlantic rift over how to deal with the growing crisis in Iraq.

He insisted that Britain and the US "share the common aim and purpose" of restoring stability to the war-torn country. [...]

Mr Blair will hold crisis talks with Mr Bush in Washington later today amid a growing number of attacks on coalition troops, by insurgents in Iraq, and a spate of kidnappings of foreigners.

Despite past disagreements within the international community over the invasion of Iraq, Mr Blair insisted that all countries now shared the same goal.

"That is a stable and prosperous and democratic Iraq governed by Iraqi people," he said.

Comment: This is clearly a lie. Israel's goal is to destroy any chance that the Iraqi people might have for a "stable, prosperous and democratic" country.

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US agents grill Cape radio man

By Zenzile Khoisan

Cape Town radio man Zane Ibrahim was taken off an international flight minutes after it landed at Baltimore airport by United States Homeland Security personnel and interrogated for almost 12 hours.

Ibrahim, an award-winning journalist and managing director of Bush Radio, had flown to the US from Cape Town via Amsterdam to deliver a keynote address on 10 years of South African democracy at a conference at Goucher College, near Baltimore.

Ibrahim said on Friday by telephone from the US that his aircraft was still on the runway when guards boarded the flight, removed him, strip-searched him and interrogated him in the airport building for nearly 12 hours on Thursday.

Reached at his hotel, just after his encounter with the almost a dozen security officials, an angry Ibrahim said he was shocked and disturbed.

'Will everyone just remain seated, security agents are coming aboard' He said the first thing he knew was an announcement on the aircraft. "They said, 'Will everyone just remain seated, security agents are coming aboard.' Then four uniformed and four plainclothes officers boarded the plane. Four passed and positioned themselves behind my seat and four came up towards me and asked if I was Zane Ibrahim."

Ibrahim said he was "bumrushed" off the plane, in full view of hundreds of other passengers, bundled into a van, driven to a remote location and strip-searched by several officers. "They went through all my bags, put me through this humiliating search and then put a thick dossier on the table. Then the questions started."

Ibrahim went on to say that he was interrogated for almost 12 hours about his work as a journalist.

"I don't know what was wrong with these people, but they seemed really angry about an anti-war campaign we had running on Bush Radio, called Bush Against War."

Ibrahim said that when he did not appear at the airport, colleagues who were there to meet him made inquiries and eventually he was released, without an apology.

Comment: Speak your mind on Bush and this is what awaits you: being pulled off a plane in front of the other passengers and interrogated for 12 hours. Isn't free speech a wonderful thing?

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Paying for War

$2,150 Per Family and Counting

By DAVE LINDORFF
Counterpunch.org
April 16, 2004

Sitting here working on my taxes at the last minute, after having just watched President Bush’s appalling performance at his only press conference of 2004, and having just read about the plans for an all-out Marine assault on Fallujah and Najaf if truce negotiations break down, I found myself wondering how much of my taxes were going to support the Iraq atrocity.

A call to Bob McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice gave me the answer. About 25 percent of my income tax payment. Of course, that’s a rough estimate, based upon the prediction that this year’s income tax will bring in $765 billion in revenues, and that the Iraq war is costing almost $200 billion for the year.

That’s something to think about as you’re mailing your envelope to the IRS tonight. For a typical family with a taxable income of $60,000, and a typical tax bill of $8626, that works out to an Iraq War tax bill of about $2150. For a family making $100,000 in taxable income, with a typical tax bill of $18,614, that is a war tax of about $4650. Even a student making a taxable income of say $7000, and paying a tax of around $700 to Uncle Sam is paying around $175 to support the killing in Iraq.

Oh, but that’s not all. If you’re one of those who pays your taxes on line, you should also remember that the federal tax you pay on the phone line you use for your dial-up or DSL service is, and always has been a war tax, pure and simple. Lyndon Johnson, trying to come up with ways to pay for his own war, hit on the idea of the federal phone tax which, once instituted, has remained with us ever since, funding Pentagon extravagance and now, Bush’s war.

If that information doesn’t get your blood boiling, you should go check the Citizens for Tax Justice website (www.ctj.org) and check out how much you’re actually saving from Bush’s trillion-dollar tax cut plan for the rich.

According to CPJ, if you’re in the group of taxpayers who’s family income is in the range of about $36,000, you’ll be saving about $827 this year. That may sound like a nice piece of change, but it pales to insignificance when compared to the family in the big McMansion down the road that has an income of $200,000 and that’s seeing their tax bill drop by $6800 this year. Go figure. If it were even moderately fair, that tax break of $827 you’re getting should be no more than six times as great for someone earning six times as much as you, or about $4900. And for the family earning $1 million, assuming they’re really paying their taxes, their Bush savings is over $52,000. Over the full 10 years of these tax cuts, the picture gets even more outrageous. The folks earning that puny $36,000 in taxable income will save a total of $6500, while the $200,000 family will net almost $90,000 and the millionaires will save a whopping $665,000! It’s really another way of pointing out who’s really paying for this war, when you come right down to it. The wealthy don’t only get to avoid the fighting and dying. They also get to avoid having to pay for it in Bush’s America.

I’d go into this some more, but as it is, I’m probably going to be racing down to the Philadelphia main post office tonight to file my taxes before midnight.

Comment: Think about this article for a moment. The average American is paying the most for the invasion of Iraq - in both dollars and blood. The people leading the country are paying the least in terms of the percentage of their income and total wealth. Politicians and business leaders also have numerous ways to avoid having to send their children off to die for the war created and endorsed by their parents. And don't forget that - as in the case of the Bush family in WWII and most likely Gulf Wars I and II - these same leaders actually profit from war.

Now, is the picture a bit more clear? Just because the average American soul wouldn't tell his or her countrymen huge lies to wage war and make money doesn't mean that American leaders are some sort of truthful, peace-loving humanitarians who want to spread liberty and democracy across the globe. The leaders of the US sing God Bless America because they truly do "love" the country - they can rake in the money and power while the "little people" suffer and die. If the past is any indication of the present, then Bush and his gang are most likely lying through their teeth. As we have shown on the Signs page, there are countless lies and unanswered questions that should be addressed in the American media, but aren't. Even the official history of America contains numerous instances of conspiracy and the wars and suffering that resulted. Psychopathy and the official culture have ensured that the system remains as it is.

Perhaps one of the biggest problems is that many events, such as those of September 11th, involve other nations about which the average American knows little or nothing. The US educational system lacks thorough and unbiased teachings about the rest of the world for a very good reason. If one doesn't know anything about Israel, Sharon, Zionists, and the history of the Mossad, one is far more likely to reject the idea of Israelis doing the happy dance when the WTC towers collapsed in favor of the explanation promoted on the evening news by the rich, all-American, pretzel-impaired cowboy whose daddy was once president.

It seems that the truth is not easy to come by. Seeing reality objectively and seeking truth requires a great deal of effort - not just in reading books or web sites, but also in one's own life. We cannot simply move from an intellectual understanding of current events based on lies to an intellectual understanding based on truths, since it seems that we are incapable of any true understanding until our own biases, stereotypes, lies, and sacred cows are put out to pasture. While this is not an easy task, it also not a hopeless endeavor. It is also a task which does not necessarily have to be undertaken alone - see our online discussion group, Casschat, for further information.

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Blood Money

Former Exec: American Company Paid Terrorist Group to Protect Overseas Interests

By Brian Ross and Rhonda Schwartz
ABCNews.com

April 13 — Before his company sent him overseas, Allan Laird, a former Denver-based mining executive, had never heard of Abu Sayyaf.

As Laird quickly learned when he arrived in the Philippines, Abu Sayyaf is one of the world's most-feared terrorist organizations, closely connected to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.

Laird said he also soon discovered the company for whom he formerly worked, Echo Bay, was regularly paying Abu Sayyaf and other terror groups in the Philippines in exchange for protection of its gold-mining operations. Laird calls the practice "corporate support of terrorism."

Laird took his story to the Sierra Club, the conservation group known for its opposition to the mining industry. Marilyn Berlin Snell, a reporter for the club's bimonthly magazine Sierra, is reporting Laird's story this week.

Today, in a moral victory for Laird, the Department of Justice reversed course and reactivated the investigation into Echo Bay's business practices.

"My company was dealing directly with terrorists. It must have been close to $2 million [U.S. dollars]. Maybe more," Laird said.

Laird said he believes that the funding provided by his former company cost American lives. That funding, he says, continued until the company closed its mining operations in 1997.

In May of 2001, Gracia and Martin Burnham, missionaries from Wichita, Kan., were celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary trip at Dos Palmas Resort off Palawan Island in the Philippines when they were kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf and taken to the jungles of Basilan Island.

"My goal is to go home alive to my children," Martin Burnham said while in captivity on a videotape recorded by a reporter for a television station in the Philippines, who was given permission to visit the hostages.

He never did. After 376 days of captivity, Martin was killed in a firefight when the Filipino Army made a rescue attempt.

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Shell Officer Said to Have Ordered Report Destroyed

By JEFF GERTH and HEATHER TIMMONS
The New York Times
April 16, 2004

WASHINGTON, April 15 - A senior executive at the Royal Dutch/Shell Group told a subordinate in an e-mail message in December that the employee's preliminary analysis of the company's oil and gas reserves problems was "dynamite" and "needs to be destroyed" because it was incomplete, a person involved in the company's internal inquiry said on Thursday.

The senior executive, Walter van de Vijver, the head of Shell's exploration and production unit at the time, was dismissed on March 3, along with the company's chairman, Sir Philip Watts.

Their dismissals came two months after the company stunned investors by lowering its estimates of proven reserves, a crucial financial indicator, by 20 percent, or 3.9 billion barrels. The company is under investigation by regulators and prosecutors in Europe and the United States. [...]

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Envoy slams 'racist' anti-French campaign in US

LOS ANGELES, April 14 (AFP) - France's ambassador to the United States Wednesday denounced what he called a "racist campaign" against the French waged by US media and fueled by the Pentagon since the start of war in Iraq.

Ambassador Jean-David Levitte, told staff, students and diplomats at the University of California at Los Angeles that Fox News and the New York Post, media baron Rupert Murdoch's properties, led the onslaught with a daily barrage of insults.

"It was a racist campaign," he said in a speech to the university's School of Public Policy and Social Research. "We were insulted just because we were French and it was unfair and dangerous."

He said such a campaign would never have been tolerated in the United States if had it been directed against blacks or Jews.

The envoy said the campaign of disinformation included "lies from the Pentagon," but said it ended quickly after he lodged a complaint with US Secretary of State Colin Powell last year. [...]

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Silence on Erkel Speaks Volumes

Editorial
Friday, Apr. 16, 2004. Page 6

In the Kremlin's fight against Chechen rebels and terrorism, you could be forgiven for thinking that Dutch aid worker Arjan Erkel's release in Dagestan on Sunday would be heralded as a cause for celebration, or at least a sigh of relief.

But the wall of official silence that greeted his release, including a news blackout on state television, speaks volumes.

[...] There was no explanation of why the security services could do little to free Erkel sooner, despite providing MSF with convincing "proof of life" evidence more than once. The FSB said the kidnappers were more concerned with immunity from prosecution than money, suggesting they knew where Erkel was being held and by whom.

Whether the authorities in Dagestan or Moscow were complicit in the kidnapping may never be known, just as hundreds of abductions in the North Caucasus go unsolved each year. But the case reveals just how low the Kremlin's relations have sunk with aid agencies, many of which have reduced their presence there or pulled out entirely.

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Pale Imitation of Justice

By Alexander Petrov
Friday, Apr. 16, 2004. Page 6

Igor Sutyagin was sentenced last week to 15 years in prison, the longest sentence for espionage since Soviet times. The Moscow City Court handed down a guilty verdict to the 39-year-old nuclear scientist, who has been in prison since 1999 on high treason charges leveled by the FSB.

More broadly, Sutyagin's case reflects two worrying trends in Russia today: the chilling effect that the FSB is having on freedom of information and the overall degradation of basic freedoms. His trial followed a 4 1/2-year investigation that was deeply flawed by due process violations. And the trial, which was closed to the public, raises further concerns about due process.

The court found that Sutyagin had passed on information regarding Russian nuclear armaments to a foreign firm in exchange for a fee, a fact that Sutyagin himself has never denied. But this doesn't amount to espionage, which under Russian law either requires evidence that an individual passed information to a foreign intelligence agent or evidence that information passed to another party was secret, and that the accused intended to cause harm to state security.

Allegations that Alternative Futures, the British-based consultancy that employed Sutyagin on a legal freelance contract, was linked to a foreign intelligence service were based on testimonies of experts from the FSB Research Institute. According to the lawyers the experts were not able to say unambiguously that the company was linked to intelligence. Because there is no proven link to foreign intelligence, the law obliges the judge to ask the jury whether the information passed on to this firm constitutes a state secret. According to Sutyagin's lawyers, the judge failed to do this.

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Proposed surveillance system runs automated background checks as vehicles enter town

by Sam Tranum
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
April 15, 2004

Manalapan, FL -- When this affluent island town, where two burglaries a year is the norm, was hit with a trio of heists in a just a few months, officials decided to put a stop to the crime wave by installing a surveillance system that eventually could track every person who drives into town.

Cameras would record drivers' faces and license plates, and software could use the tag numbers to automatically check -- in just a few seconds -- whether a motorist is wanted by authorities or driving a stolen car, Police Chief Clay Walker said. [...]

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Earthquake Shakes Residents of Bridgeport Awake

A magnitude 3.2 earthquake rattled the eastern Sierra community of Bridgeport shortly after dawn Wednesday morning. The shaking startled residents, but caused no injuries.

The temblor hit at 6:47 a.m. It was centered about ten miles northwest of Bridgeport, at a depth of 6.6 miles. Although the quake occurred on an unknown fault, the area to the northwest of the town has been the site of a number of previous earthquakes.

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Pacific Volcano Threatens Air Travel, U.S. Says

Thu Apr 15, 2004 05:48 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A rumbling volcano in the North Pacific may kick up enough ash to threaten aircraft flying in the area, U.S. geologists warned on Thursday.

They said Anatahan Volcano in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory, had begun oozing lava and was causing a "swarm of very small earthquakes."

"The current round of seismic intensity peaked on April 6th with approximately one small earthquake each minute and was similar in nature to that observed at other volcanoes before they erupted. On Sunday, new lava was spotted forming a short flow or dome inside Anatahan's crater," the U.S. Geological Survey said in a statement.

"Although the rate of seismicity has declined since the April 6th peak, earthquakes are still occurring frequently, and steam and ash emissions and small explosions are likely to occur."

The USGS said about 25,000 large commercial passenger jets flew through or near Mariana Islands airspace every year.

"On May 23, 2003, Anatahan produced an ash cloud that disrupted regional and international air traffic on at least two days," it said.

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Vanuatu Earthquake (Magnitude 6.2)

Friday 16th April, 2003
Volcanolive.com

A large earthquake occurred near Yasur volcano in Vanuatu this morning. This is the second large earthquake felt in the south Pacific nation within a week. The magnitude 6.2 earthqauke hit Tanna Island on Friday April 16, 2004 at 07:06:55 AM local time at epicenter. Location was 30 km (20 miles) ENE of Isangel, at 19.47S 169.53E, at a depth of 10 km.

Thirteen minutes later an aftershock of magnitude 5.7 hit the same area. The earthquake epicenter is located close to Yasur volcano, which is one of the most active in Vanuatu. [...]

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Scientists stirred to ridicule ice age claims

New Scientist
April 15, 2004

Climate scientists have been stirred to ridicule claims in an upcoming Hollywood blockbuster that global warming could trigger a new ice age, a scenario also put forward in a controversial report to the US military.

The $125-million epic, The Day After Tomorrow, opens worldwide in May. It will show Manhattan frozen solid after the warm ocean current known as the Gulf Stream shuts down.

The movie's release will come soon after a report to the US Department of Defense (DoD) in February predicting that such a shutdown could put the northern hemisphere into a deep freeze and trigger global famine within 15 years.

But in the journal Science on Thursday, Andrew Weaver of the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, surveys the current research and concludes "it is safe to say that global warming will not lead to the onset of a new ice age".

Salty water

The DoD's doomsday scenario, which is very similar to that in the film, was drawn up by Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall of the San Francisco-based Global Business Network. Neither is a climate scientist.

The scenario suggests that as global warming melts Arctic ice packs, the North Atlantic will become less salty. This would shut down a global ocean circulation system that is driven by dense, salty water falling to the bottom of the north Atlantic and that ultimately produces the Gulf Stream.

This much is respectable scientific theory, and some researchers believe it could happen for real in 100 years or so. But the film-makers and DoD authors go further.

They say it could happen very soon. And that if it did, the northern hemisphere would cool so much that that ice sheets would start to grow, creating a catastrophic new ice age.

This is too much even for sympathetic climatologists. Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, whose own models say the Gulf Stream could shut down within a century, told New Scientist: "The DoD scenario is extreme and highly unlikely."

Achilles heel

And Wallace Broecker of Columbia University, New York, US, who has warned for two decades that the Atlantic circulation is "the Achilles heel of our climate system", seriously questions both the speed and severity of the changes proposed.

In a letter to Science, he accuses the DoD authors of making exaggerated claims that "only intensify the existing polarisation over global warming". He adds: "What is needed is not more words but rather a means to shut down CO2 emissions." Such action could avert any Gulf Stream shutdown in the next 100 years.

Schwartz defends his scenario, saying that while it is "not the most likely scenario, it is plausible, and would challenge US national security in ways that should be considered immediately".

Weaver notes that the movie's budget "would fund my entire research group for my entire life, 10 times over". That might even allow him to discover which scenarios are most plausible.

But there are no sour grapes. "I will be one of the first to see the movie.," he says. "It'll be the Towering Inferno of climate - extremely entertaining." It will not confuse the public, he thinks, but it will not help them understand climate science either.

Comment: The views of the scientists quoted in this article are typical of the population as a whole. We don't doubt that their studies have furnished them with some theoretical knowledge of the factors contributing to the changes the Earth is currently undergoing, however, it is most likely these theories are based on understanding that is missing certain essential elements, like a cyclical experiential model for one.

These so called "experts" are no different to the rest of the population in this respect. They are willing to accept without question certain assertions that emerge from "official" sources, like the DoD, but reject outright others because they consider them too "extreme". Take for example the DoD's assertion that American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757, hit the Pentagon on 9/11. Most of the population have chosen to accept this version of events, yet anyone who devotes even a modest amount of time to researching this scenario will quickly realise, if they don't allow emotions to cloud their analysis, that there are serious flaws in this picture. Those who research the events in greater detail will potentially come to understand things from an objective point of view, one which differs radically from the "official version". We wonder whether the scientists quoted in this article have devoted any time to researching the claims of the DoD over 9/11 before dismissing the DoD report on climate change as "extreme and highly unlikely".

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Researchers Reveal Iron As Key To Climate Change

Science Daily
April 16, 2004

MOSS LANDING, California -- A remarkable expedition to the waters of Antarctica reveals that iron supply to the Southern Ocean may have controlled Earth's climate during past ice ages. A multi-institutional group of scientists, led by Dr. Kenneth Coale of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) and Dr. Ken Johnson of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), fertilized two key areas of the Southern Ocean with trace amounts of iron. Their goal was to observe the growth and fate of microscopic marine plants (phytoplankton) under iron-enriched conditions, which are thought to have occurred in the Southern Ocean during past ice ages. They report the results of these important field experiments (known as SOFeX, for Southern Ocean Iron Enrichment Experiments) in the April 16, 2004 issue of Science.

Previous studies have suggested that during the last four ice ages, the Southern Ocean had large phytoplankton populations and received large amounts of iron-rich dust, possibly blown out to sea from expanding desert areas. In order to simulate such ice-age conditions, the SOFeX scientists added iron to surface waters in two square patches, each 15 kilometers on a side, so that concentrations of this micronutrient reached about 50 parts per trillion. This concentration, though low by terrestrial standards, represented a 100-fold increase over ambient conditions, and triggered massive phytoplankton blooms at both locations. These blooms covered thousands of square kilometers, and were visible in satellite images of the area.

Each of these blooms consumed over 30,000 tons of carbon dioxide, an important greenhouse gas. Of particular interest to the scientists was whether this carbon dioxide would be returned to the atmosphere or would sink into deep waters as the phytoplankton died or were consumed by grazers. Observations by Dr. Ken Buesseler of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Dr. Jim Bishop of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories (reported separately in the same issue of Science) indicate that much of the carbon sank to hundreds of meters below the surface. When extrapolated over large portions of the Southern Ocean, this finding suggests that iron fertilization could cause billions of tons of carbon to be removed from the atmosphere each year. Removal of this much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere could have helped cool the Earth during ice ages.

Comment: Metallic meteorites contain high concentrations of iron. Perhaps an alternative explanation for the theorised iron rich dust supposedly responsible for the large phytoplankton growth is dust from meteorite and cometary impacts that periodically bombard the earth, coinciding with the onset of ice ages.

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Scientists Analyze Meteor Fragments

April 15, 2004

Researchers from the University of Chicago are analyzing hundreds of meteorite fragments that struck Park Forest, Ill. in the evening of March 26, 2003. Witnesses in several states saw the tremendous fireball when it struck last year, and volunteers eventually collected 30 kg of fragments; some that crashed through the roofs of their houses. It's believed that the original meteor weighed 900 kg when it exploded in the sky. The heavier pieces fell nearly straight down, and the lighter pieces were carried downwind a bit to create a huge swath of fragments.

Full Story - The meteorites that punched through roofs in Park Forest, Ill., on the evening of March 26, 2003, came from a larger mass that weighed no less than 1,980 pounds before it hit the atmosphere, according to scientific analyses led by the University of Chicago’s Steven Simon, who himself also happens to live in Park Forest. [...]

In fact, Simon actually saw the flash the meteorite created. He had the drapes closed when the rock entered the sky over Illinois, but "the whole sky lit up," he said.

Grossman, who lives in Flossmoor, not far from Park Forest, also experienced the meteorite's arrival firsthand. He was awakened by the sound of the meteorite entering the atmosphere that night. "I heard a detonation,” Grossman said. "It was sharp enough to wake me up." [...]

The Park Forest meteorite also showed signs that it had been highly shocked, probably when it was part of a rock that was broken from a much larger asteroid following a collision. [...]

Witnesses in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Missouri reported seeing the fireball that the meteorite produced as it broke up in the atmosphere, Simon and his colleagues reported. Local residents collected hundreds of meteorite fragments totaling approximately 65 pounds from an area extending from Crete in the south to the southern end of Olympia Fields in the north. Located in Chicago's south suburbs, "this is the most densely populated region to be hit by a meteorite shower in modern times," the authors write.

One meteorite narrowly missed striking a sleeping Park Forest resident after it burst through the ceiling of a bedroom. The meteorite sliced through some window blinds, cratered the windowsill, then bounced across the room and broke a mirror before coming to rest.

The meteorites were recovered from a track that trends southeast to northwest. Satellite data analyzed by Peter Brown of the University of Western Ontario indicates that the meteorite traveled from southwest to northeast, however.

"The meteorite broke up in the atmosphere, and the fragments encountered strong westerly winds as they fell,” the authors write. "The smallest pieces were deflected the furthest eastward from the trajectory, and the largest pieces, carrying more momentum, were deflected the least."

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Flashback: Astronomy Picture of the Day

NASA 2003 May 6

If you wait long enough, a piece of outer space itself will come right to you. As Colby Navarro worked innocently on the computer, a rock from space crashed through the roof, struck the printer, banged off the wall, and came to rest near the filing cabinet. This occurred around midnight on March 26 in Park Forest, Illinois, USA, near Chicago. The meteorite, measuring about 10 cm across, was one of several that fell near Chicago that day as part of a tremendous fireball. Pictured above is the resulting hole in the ceiling, while the inset image shows the wall dent and the meteorite itself. Although the vast majority of meteors is much smaller and burn up in the Earth's atmosphere, the average homeowner should expect to repair direct meteor damage every hundred million years.

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Warden gave ticket to heart attack victim

Sam Relph
Fri 16 Apr 2004

THE battle over unauthorised parking in New York took a dramatic turn yesterday, after it emerged a traffic warden issued a ticket to a man allegedly suffering a heart attack in his car.

Relatives of the man, who has since died, have now issued a £55 million lawsuit against the city authorities, claiming the parking attendant wrote out the ticket and left without calling an ambulance.

Sanford Rubenstein, the family’s attorney, said Onofrio Avvinti, 61, a Sicilian immigrant, was double-parked outside a grocery shop in Brooklyn on Saturday when he saw the traffic warden writing him a ticket.

Mr Avvinti got out of the car and talked to the warden. He then got back into the vehicle and began clutching his chest. The traffic warden issued a £65 ticket and left without calling the emergency services, claimed Mr Rubenstein.

Witnesses say the warden, identified only as "L Hinkson", ignored the driver’s pleas for an ambulance and instead walked off, telling bystanders: "Just tell him to pay his ticket".

Mr Avvinti’s family filed a notice of claim, a precursor to a death lawsuit, against city authorities claiming he might not have died if an ambulance had arrived sooner.

His brother-in-law, Antonio Leto, said: "We’re very hurt. I can’t even talk, I’m so upset."

The police department has disputed Mr Rubenstein’s account.

In a statement, Paul Brown, a police spokesman, said: "There is no evidence that the traffic agents were aware of the person’s medical condition."

Local media reported a local police source as saying:

"I think the message is, if you have a bad heart, park legally."

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Greenpeace Protest Disney Poisoners

15 April 2004

Mickey and Minnie Mouse today climbed the UK headquarters of Disney before unveiling a banner reading 'Disney: Stop Selling Toxic Pyjamas to Kids'.

Greenpeace climbers dressed as the Disney characters ascended the building in Hammersmith, west London this morning at seven o'clock. Despite being told six months ago that independent tests showed that Disney-branded pyjamas contain toxic chemicals which are harmful, the company has refused to remove the affected products from sale.

In tests on five pairs of pyjamas available at the Disney Store, a toxic chemical called nonylphenol, that can interfere with human DNA and effect sperm production in mammals, was found. Also present in the children's garments were phthalates, which can cause liver, kidney and testicular damage and are banned from teething toys under emergency legislation. Formaldehyde, which is suspected to cause cancer, was found in Finding Nemo pyjamas.

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Falling ice lumps destroyed playground

Carin Pettersson
Norwegian news bureau (NTB)
14.04.04 12:57

Lumps of ice the size of a clenched fist fell this week from a clear sky over a playground just north of Stockholm, Sweden.

No one can explain where the lumps of ice came from, according to the Swedish paper Aftonbladet. The ice shower occurred between 5:40 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. Tuesday. The large ice lumps came falling out of a perfectly clear sky at a playground at Hammarbyvägen at Upplands-Väsby.

"I walked over to the playground around five in the morning," explained the 70- year-old Bengt Eurs to the paper. "When I came back at seven, the roof of the gazebo was destroyed and there were large lumps of ice on the ground."

"I have a hard time finding an apparent explanation of the phenomena, " said Isagel Cederfamn, a Swedish mythologist.

However, Aftenbladet points out that the playground is on the approach route for Stockholm’s main airport Arlanda.

Between 6:35 a.m. and 7.00 a.m. on Tuesday, 11 planes passed over the area, but both SAS and the airport management at Arlanda claim that it is highly unlikely that the lumps of ice came from any of these planes.

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