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Monday, April 19, 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

©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Yesterday we wrote:

What a beautiful world this could be!

What a rotting and sinister place it has become.

All because of us. Because of Man.

Man. His free will to choose to align himself with either the force of Creation or the force of Entropy. Or, perhaps more accurately put, the possibility to create within himself the Will to do more than accept the default position of entropy, to BECOME in fact, and not only just in name, a MAN.

Because if we look at Sharon, we do not see a man, we see a predator, a killing machine finely tuned. He goes at the Palestinians the way a cat goes at a mouse, playing with them, feinting this way in a display of "peace," while preparing to move that way with brutal force.

One cannot hate predators in the wild when they act according to their nature. What is the point of hating a lion or cat? They know nothing else, therefore they have no other choice. They are dominated by their genetics and their environment.

Unfortunately, when we look at human behaviour, we have the misguided opinion that humans have the ability to choose between good and evil, between right and wrong. We have the misguided impression that humans are able to fight their genetics or their biology, and act according to their conscience and not their basic instincts.

If one watches Ariel Sharon, studies his moves, the policies that have marked his career from its beginnings five decades ago terrorising the Palestinians, one sees the same predator as a cat. There is no humanity, only cold calculation. To expect Sharon to change is to expect the leopard to change its spots. How many others are there like this on the planet?

The problem is our misguided notion that beings like Sharon have the possibility of choosing not to act as they do.

Man is not born with a conscience. Instead, we are given "morality." Morality is, unfortunately, a manmade thing, as much as a chair, a table, or a bowl. And as there are a thousand different ways to make a chair, so there are a thousand different ways to fashion a morality. If you are trying to decorate a room, not all chairs go together. Different styles clash.

Same thing with morality. One man's morality permits him to kill those who transgress some important moral code -- regardless of whether or not it transgresses the moral code of the victim. For Sharon, the life of any Jew is worth more than all Palestinian lives added together. For Sharon, the death of a single Israeli Jew, even if that death came from a Palestinian defending himself or his family, is justification to wipe out the entire Palestinian people.

Yet Sharon would no doubt consider that he is a "moral" person. He has his "morals."

Bush's morality permits him to kill people on Death Row. It permits him to kill Iraqi or Afghani children and women in the name of "freedom," American-style, that is, the freedom for American money to go where it wants and turn the world into a large marketplace where everything is reduced to its cash value. Bush's morality permits him to litter the landscape of Iraq with depleted uranium causing sickness and birth defects for thousands of years to come.

Yet Bush has found Jesus. He has personal conversations with God before invading any country. He is a "moral" man.

Japanese "morals" allowed them to rape and murder countless Chinese during the Second World War. Soviet morals allowed them to wipe out countless "enemies of the state". If you look at history, you see that everyone's morals permits them to use force to subject others, to kill, to take property.

So what good are morals? Mankind chooses so often to repeat the same pattern of bloodshed and domination that perhaps we are best to look things in the face and admit that maybe, just maybe, most people do not have any real possibility of choosing anything other than death. They cannot because they are like the cat. They are predators in human form. Their choice of death is the reflection of their being, and, as such, it is no choice at all.

What hope is there for a world where the choices are non-choices?

It appears that there are only a few who will be able to make this a real choice. How old were you when you finally caught on that morals were what people used to manipulate each other, that most people understood they had nothing to do with the way the world worked, that if you lived according to a moral code, you were lunch? After spending decades wondering why people looked at you a little strange because you still cared when a politician told a lie or got upset when someone manipulated your boss into thinking that the work you did was his or hers, when did you finally get it?

It ain't pretty.

Bush and Sharon are the norm in this world. It is their world. They fit. It is those of us who would like another choice that are "malfunctioning." But we must create that choice for ourselves by staring into the face of this horror and despair and seeing the light shining through the cracks. You will be tested. You will be subjected to all manner of attempts to bring you back in line. People do not enjoy those who, by working to live according to conscience, show up their phony morality. For conscience is something completely different from morality. It cannot argue with itself. The conscience of two people from two cultures across the globe will not conflict. They will be in complete accord.

Trouble is, very few people have a conscience. Bush, for example. He is an empty shell. Some Americans would like to believe John Kerry has a conscience. Dream on. Here is a short excerpt from his appearance on Meet the Press on Sunday:

If you think there is a choice in November...

NBC NEWS' MEET THE PRESS (Sunday, April 18, 2004)

GUEST: Sen. John Kerry, D-MA, presidential candidate

MR. RUSSERT: Israel assassinated Hamas leader Rantisi. Do you support that assassination?

SEN. KERRY: I believe Israel has every right in the world to respond to any act of terror against it. Hamas is a terrorist, brutal organization. It has had years to make up its mind to take part in a peaceful process. They refuse to. Arafat refuses to. And I support Israel's efforts to try to separate itself and to try to be secure. The moment Hamas says, "We've given up violence, we're prepared to negotiate," I am absolutely confident they will find an Israel that is thirsty to have that negotiation.

MR. RUSSERT: On Thursday, President Bush broke with the tradition and policy of six predecessors when he said that Israel can keep part of the land seized in the 1967 Middle East War and asserted the Palestinian refugees cannot go back to their particular homes. Do you support President Bush?


MR. RUSSERT: Completely?


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Think again...

This transcript goes on to reveal that:

Kerry is mouthing the Likudnik line that Israel has the right to defend herself, as if the existence of the Zionist state were really threatened by the Palestinian militias.

Kerry is mouthing the Likudnik line that Israel has the right to keep territory gained illegally through war, against all international law.

Kerry is mouthing the Likudnik line that illegal Jewish settlements should be permitted, against all international law and every UN resolution on the issue.

Kerry is mouthing the Likudite line that Israel "has no partner".

Contrary to Kerry, Bush, and Sharon, there is a partner, the Palestinian Authority. Israel refuses to negotiate with the PA. To say there is none is a lie. Kerry, like Bush, promotes the lie.

Sharon's assassination of Rantisi was a criminal act. Kerry, like Bush, supports war crimes. He is stating clearly that if elected, John Kerry will continue to pursue the policy of genocide.

Do the Palestinians have the right to defend themselves? Do the Palestinians have the right to fight against their forced removal from their land? Do they have the right to protect their olive groves and homes and ancestral lands from occupation by an army whose goal is to wipe them out?

In other words, are the Palestinians supposed to just roll over and die?

This appears to be what the US, Israel, and the rest of the world, if truth be known, would prefer. The Palestinians appear to be a unsightly blemish on the "morals" of everyone involved. The world would like them to "go away." Sharon is willing to take them up on it.

Bush gives Sharon no green light to kill Rantisi: Rice 2004-04-18 23:21:23

WASHINGTON, April 18 (Xinhuanet) -- US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said on Sunday that President George W. Bush gave Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon no green light to assassinate Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi.

"Of course, President Bush did no such thing," Rice told ABC's "This Week".

"We have said repeatedly to the Israelis that while we understand and support Israel's right to defend itself, it is extremely important that Israel take into consideration the consequences of anything that it does," Rice said.

However, Rice admitted that the timing of Israel's assassination was not helpful.

"We had just talked about trying to get the road map under way in the Middle East, trying to get the Gaza disengagement plan underway, then the timing is not helpful," Rice said.

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Right. They just gave away the store to Sharon and the cutthroats in power in Israel, they have done absolutely nothing to reign in the genocide of the Palestinians, and now they say that Bush did not give the green light.

Are they really so naive that they don't understand that by going public with their support for the Israeli land grab that they have given the green light to anything and everything Sharon might need to do at home to convince the Israeli right that he is not soft on the Palestinians? Sharon is honest that he wants to provoke a civil war among the different Palestinian groups. He wants to encourage the Palestinians to kill themselves. If he can't, he'll be happy to do it himself, likely with his own bare hands if needs be. In this he is more honest than the Bushes, Blairs, and Condi Rices of this world who pretend that this visit was a great step forward towards peace.

Likud activists demand Arafat be assassinated: report 2004-04-18 21:01:13

JERUSALEM, April 18 (Xinhuanet) -- Israeli Likud central committee members called for assassinating Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat after the Islamic resistance movement Hamas' leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi was killed, Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post reported Sunday.

The Likud activists praised Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on the assassination of Rantisi, saying such moves will increase the chances of Sharon's unilateral disengagement plan being passed in a referendum scheduled on May 2 among Likud members, the report said.

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Sharon may have given assurances to Bush that he would keep his hands off Arafat, at least for the moment. Or not. But it is clear that the violence of Israel will continue to increase. What country or government is there in the world who has the guts to do something about this butchery?

What have the Palestinian military arms to lose by increasing their attacks on Israel? Aren't they already being wiped out? Aren't they being butchered and left for dead by the international community? What hope do they have? Hasn't Bush's action shown that Arafat was wrong to compromise with Israel? Hasn't it been shown that Israel will not stop short of wiping the Palestinians off the map?

L'assassinat du chef du Hamas presque unanimement condamné

LEMONDE.FR | 19.04.04 | 10h03

Le Monde is reporting that international opinion is unanimous in condemning Israel's murder of Rantisi, with the lone exception being the US. Why are we not surprised? But what can anyone DO about it? What will anyone DO about it? The US is leading the world around by the nose, and Israel is leading the US around by the nose.

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Fallujah's Untold Story: Civilian Casualties

By Matt Bivens

Eyewitness accounts from Fallujah make clear that U.S. forces are engaged in intense urban combat, apparently with all sorts of collateral damage -- mosques, hospitals, ambulances, women and children.

A Fallujah hospital director early in the week told The Associated Press that about 600 are dead, most of them civilians. But American editors have ignored or downplayed that fact.

Which is not surprising. They also shrugged at research by New York-based Human Rights Watch suggesting that the U.S. military could have avoided killing hundreds of Iraqi civilians simply "by abandoning two misguided military tactics": dropping cluster bombs on populated areas and employing "decapitation" strikes -- the hot new jargon for blowing up everything within a 100-meter radius of where it thinks an Iraqi villain might be. HRW says that in 50 such cases, it killed none of its targets and dozens of civilians.

However one comes down on the morality or importance of killing innocent women and children, it's not Washington's stated mission; it in fact hugely complicates the stated mission. Yet the U.S. media and government treat this as a minor distraction. As General Tommy Franks so succinctly puts it, "We don't do body counts."

For that one has to turn to Qatar-based Al-Jazeera. Its correspondents are in the thick of Fallujah, shouting to be heard over airstrikes and gunfire.

Al-Jazeera is of, by and for the Arab world. So while American networks speak of "insurgents," Al-Jazeera speaks of "resistance fighters" and suggests the U.S. military is doing little to avoid civilian deaths. U.S. officials counter that Al-Jazeera is, in one top general's words, "not truthful."

CNN, incredibly, asked Al-Jazeera why it was bothering to report civilian casualties.

The network's Daryn Kagan -- last seen confusing viewers about whether the boy who yawned at a George W. Bush speech really existed -- this week interviewed Al-Jazeera's editor, Ahmed Al-Sheik. She cited U.S. officials as saying, "The pictures and the reporting that Al- Jazeera put on the air only adds to the sense of frustration and anger and adds to the problems in Iraq," and asked, "In fact, is your network misrepresenting the facts?"

"What we have been showing represents what takes place on the ground," Al-Sheik replied. "We have been showing bodies of people who were killed, bodies and the graveyards where people are burying them ... pictures of U.S. helicopter gunships and F-16 fighter jets bombing Fallujah."

Kagan then countered with a garbled question exactly reflective of the United States' garbled thinking about the non-American planet:

"Isn't the story, though, bigger than just the simple numbers, with all due respect to the Iraqi civilians who have lost their lives -- the story bigger than just the numbers of people who were killed or the fact that they might have been killed by the U.S. military, that the insurgents, the people trying to cause problems within Fallujah, are mixing in among the civilians, making it actually possible that even more civilians would be killed, that the story is what the Iraqi insurgents are doing, in addition to what is the response from the U.S. military?"

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, the media watchdog, scathingly takes the measure of this: "When reports from the ground are describing hundreds of civilians being killed by U.S. forces, CNN should be looking to Al-Jazeera's footage to see if it corroborates those accounts -- not badgering Al-Jazeera's editor about why he doesn't suppress that footage."

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This, in a nutshell, is the essence of the American position on Iraq. It is "bigger than just the simple numbers." "Simple numbers"!?!? Thousands of innocent deaths reduced to "simple numbers"!!!! Can you imagine a more cold-hearted response?

Of course, when four, count 'em on the fingers of one hand, American paid-by-the-day killers are strung up in Falluja, then it is no longer a question of "simple numbers." No sirreee, because now we're talking about REAL DEATHS, red-blooded American deaths, deaths that count, deaths that matter, deaths that MEAN SOMETHING IN THE GRAND SCHEME OF THINGS!!! Those poor boys could have BEEN SOMETHING! They could have DONE SOMETHING WITH THEIR LIVES!!! A dead Iraqi is just a dead Iraqi, but a dead American could have been President!

If you were Arab, how would you react to this? If the roles were reversed, if the great United States of America had been invaded by Iraq, and you, an American, heard an Iraqi journalist downplaying the horror and importance of US civilian deaths, wouldn't you be a bit peeved?

How many Americans are making excuses?

Private commandos shoot back on the Iraq firing line

April 19, 2004

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Ex-military commandos armed with M4 rifles are fighting insurgents in Iraq as part of a private contracting force, many of them hired by the US-led coalition, raising some deep concerns.

About 15,000 personnel from private military firms (PMFs) were operating in Iraq, making them more numerous that even the biggest US ally, Britain, estimated Peter Singer, author of "Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry."

At least 30 to 50 had been killed in action, he wrote in a report for the Internet news magazine

Among the companies, Singer said, Erinys was charged with guarding Iraqi oil fields, while Northrop Grumman subsidiary Vinnell, MPRI and Nour USA had been training and equipping the new Iraq army.

"It is more a coalition of the billing than of the willing," Singer said.

Since the personnel were not army, lawmakers and the American people were largely unaware of the scale of the private companies' role, he said.

That role was shockingly highlighted when insurgents ambushed four Blackwater USA employees March 31 in the flashpoint town of Fallujah. [...]

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First of all, let's just call these "private contractors" or "security forces" just what they are: mercenaries. They are guns for hire. They don't care about Bush's talk of liberating the Iraqi people, or bringing the American versions of freedom and democracy to the Middle East. Mercenaries care about the money they are being paid to do their jobs. To get paid, we are told they guard the oil fields that so interest Halliburton and Bush Cheney Rice, Inc. We are told they are protecting Paul Bremer and training and equipping the new Iraqi army. And we are informed that they are also murdering "insurgents". The US government has hired 15,000 assassins, 15,000 murderers who kill for money. They certainly do make a lot of money - $1,000 a day.

The mercenaries have no doubt been hired with the money of American taxpayers. Bush and company are employing assassins in the name of the American people, with the unspoken blessing of all Americans. Any American who believes that freedom and democracy truly exist in the US must acknowledge that this is the truth. If the people do have the freedom to elect the president, and the freedom to impeach him, then they are complicit. Of course, it seems that these freedoms are mere illusions, but that doesn't negate the culpability of the masses. The Signs are there for anyone to See. The Signs have been there since before the invasion of Iraq took place - but only a very few US citizens wanted to even consider that they are told lies by the very leaders they so admire. The author of the article writes that lawmakers and the American people were largely unaware of the scale of the mercenaries' role. If that is the case, then America's wonderful democratic system has obviously failed miserably. What ever happened to checks and balances?

While we're at it, let's go ahead and call the "insurgents" what they are: freedom fighters. While the leaders and citizens of the US are trying to convince everyone that they are in Iraq to bring peace, freedom, and democracy, the reality seems to be quite the opposite. How can democracy be instituted by a country that employs hitmen? Even better, how can democracy be instituted at all? If democracy is defined by the freedom of the people to choose their leaders, then by its very nature, democracy can never be imposed on anyone. It is really not a great surprise that so many Iraqis are taking arms against the US occupation forces. When one's country has been invaded by a foreign power, there isn't much that matters except freeing oneself. Add to this the fact that countless Iraqis have watched their wives, mothers, daughters, sons, and friends be slaughtered by US soldiers or mercenaries, and it is quite clear that rebellion in the name of a former dictator is not on the minds of most Iraqis.

Perhaps it is not surprising that there has been little reaction among mainstream Americans to the news that their country employs assassins in Iraq. More than any other nation, it seems Americans have an obsession with war. Even a sniper's "head shots" are glorified by the media:

U.S. Snipers Seen As 'Weapons' in Iraq

By DENIS D. GRAY, Associated Press Writer
April 19, 2004

NAJAF, Iraq - A U.S. Army patrol stops suspicious vehicles on the edges of this insurgent-controlled city.

Some 500 yards away, lying prone and hidden in the sand, two expert marksmen stalk Iraqis emerging from cars through the cross-hairs of their rifles.

If they detect a sudden, hostile move, the snipers should be able to kill the assailant with a single bullet before the patrol itself can react. [...]

Officers say snipers in Iraq have inflicted the greatest number of casualties during counter-sniper fire or protecting an advancing unit by hanging back and watching for an insurgent to appear at a window or peer around a corner.

Despite thermal targeting devices and other battlefield wizardry, the technological advantage of U.S. forces drops sharply the moment a unit moves into the warrens of alleys, walled compounds and low, flat-roofed buildings that dominate Iraq's urban centers.

At such times, the finely honed skills of the snipers must kick in, and the fighting becomes close-up and dependent on raw instinct.

"It's more personal than regular combat. You see the man's expression before you pull the trigger, then the blood and the fall," says Cpl. Omar Torres, a sniper with the 2nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division. [...]

Pokos says snipers often move into a targeted area 24 to 48 hours before an attack to observe and pick targets, avoiding detection at all costs. "You measure your movement in inches, not in feet," the 26-year-old master marksman says.

Before deploying to Iraq, his men had brown-colored sheets sewn into camouflage wear, making them appear like just another small rise in the desert sand.

The standard M-24 sniper rifle is of the same hue, a bolt-action weapon with which a sniper is expected to make "head shots" at up to 600 yards and "body kills" at a maximum range of 1,000 yards.

Sometimes snipers accomplish more by inspiring fear than by pulling triggers. [...]

Pokos, who like some snipers declines to talk about how many people he has killed, says that total concentration and calculation must be brought to bear on the moment when the trigger is pulled, as well as the distance, weather, state of the rifle, the amount of sleep and coffee one has had.

"It's just you and your buddy and you've got to make the call on the ground and the one call is all you get," he says. "The only thing you must think about are those cross-hairs."

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Wow! It's just like a video game! One wonders how many of Pokos' victims were guilty of nothing more than fighting against the occupation of their country and the murder of their families. But wait, it gets better! These people actually enjoy their "work":

"It's a sniper's dream"

By Mike Davis

The young American Marine is exultant. "It's a sniper's dream,' he tells a Los Angeles Times reporter on the outskirts of Fallujah. "You can go anywhere and there so many ways to fire at the enemy without him knowing where you are."

"Sometimes a guy will go down, and I'll let him scream a bit to destroy the morale of his buddies. Then I'll use a second shot."

"To take a bad guy out," he explains, "is an incomparable "adrenaline rush." He brags of having "24 confirmed kills" in the initial phase of the brutal U.S. onslaught against the rebel city of 300,000 people.

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Keep in mind that these snipers work along side the soldiers that recently beat an Iraqi man to death for no good reason.


Iraqi 'beaten to death' by US troops

April 14, 2004
The Australian

AN Iraqi has died of his wounds after US troops beat him with truncheons because he refused to remove a picture of wanted Shiite Muslim leader Moqtada Sadr from his car, police said today.

The motorist was stopped late yesterday by US troops conducting search operations on a street in the centre of the central city of Kut, Lieutenant Mohamad Abdel Abbas said.

After the man refused to remove Sadr's picture from his car, the soldiers forced him out of the vehicle and started beating him with truncheons, he said.

US troops also detained from the same area five men wearing black pants and shirts, the usual attire of Sadr's Mehdi Army militiamen and followers.

Qassem Hassan, the director of Kut general hospital, identified the man as Salem Hassan, a resident of a Kut suburb.

He said the man had died of wounds sustained in the beating.

A spokesman for the US-led coalition could not confirm the incident.

Comment: A foreign army invades the US or the UK, deposes the sitting president or leader and attempts to forcibly establish a government that is unrepresentative of US or UK citizens. Your father is in the street pasting posters on walls in an attempt to highlight the injustice and rally support for a representative American or UK government. Along come soldiers of the foreign invading army and they beat your father to death. How do you feel? Was your father a terrorist? This is happening TODAY in Iraq, carried out by American and British soldiers on the orders of a group of men who claim to be acting on the behalf of and with the support of American and UK citizens. Do they have your support? If they do not, then you must make it clear that they do not. You do this by consciously standing up for the truth in ALL areas of your life. You do this by rejecting the lies that our "leaders" use to manipulate our consent for their brutal inhuman military campaigns against the peoples of the world. And you must begin to do it TODAY.

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The following article gives one Arab's thoughts on Bush and the recent announcement that Sharon was free to kill off the rest of the Palestinians in whatever way he saw fit.

Weakening The Moderates

Ghassan Charbel Al-Hayat 2004/04/18

It is difficult for the Arab individual to understand George W. Bush's policy and position. The Arab official faces the same difficulty. Whoever takes a look at Iraq, will notice the inaccuracy of American calculations. One would conclude that the only American victory there was eradicating Saddam Hussein's regime.

[...] The Arab individual concludes that the coming months will be though on both Iraqis and Americans. In light of the Iraqi difficulties, the Arab individual expected the Bush administration to take a step to calm the blaze of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to encourage Arabs to help it in Iraq.

The calculations of the Arab individual, as well as the Arab official, were not accurate. The promise that Bush made in Ariel Sharon's presence was in the opposite direction. Bush ignored United Nations decisions, the sanctity of international borders, the rules and principles to reach a complete and just peace, and previous promises of American administrations. Simply, and dangerously, Bush seemed to be asking Palestinians to accept some of the on the ground changes, and accept the obvious lessons in any realistic reading of the initially crooked balance of power. What is most dangerous in this is to concede to the "might makes right" edict in imposing its logic and conditions, and collecting the fruits of decades of aggression and occupation. It is a reward presented by the president of the sole superpower to the state that addresses its Middle Eastern neighbors as well as the people which land it occupies, with the logic of force and threats.

[...] The Arab individual had no illusions about the reality of the American-Israeli alliance. Nevertheless, he finds difficulty in understanding the American administration's insistence on weakening the moderates' position. The latter are aware that whomever the United States accuses of terrorism relies on the injustice that Palestinians are subject to, to gain "legitimacy" or popularity. The "Bush Declaration" makes it more difficult to get Arab cooperation in extinguishing the Iraqi fire, and offers a chance to the roaming fighters in search for a chance to fight America and Americans, to do so. It is the post-9/11 America; dangerous and violent. Its enmity is costly. So is its friendship.

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From what Ghassan Charbel says here, it seems that in spite of everything, the Arab leaders still had illusions about Bush and the US. They thought that the US would encourage the "moderates".

Is there an Arab leader who continues to have these illusions after last week?

But what choice do they have? There is no political solution that will permit the Arabs to save face. The Likudniks in power in Washington do not want to give the Arabs this possibility. They want them humiliated. The Arab countries cannot confront either the US or Israel militarily. This is impossible. If both diplomacy and military intervention is impossible, it means that the battle will be on the streets, an increase in bombings and attacks on the US and Israel. What other way forward is there for a people who have been humiliated and backed into the corner?

And isn't it convenient that there exists the famous al Qaeda, created and financed by the US, armed and operated by Mossad, ready to promote more bombings, channeling the real fury and frustration of not only the Palestinians, but the whole Arab world towards Armageddon.

The Mid East will explode. And the really scary thing is that it looks as if this has been the goal of the Likudniks and the Neocons all along.

And now for something completely different...

Invade Iraq? It's a no brainer

Terry Jones
Monday April 19, 2004
The Guardian

Everyone agrees that President George Bush's lobotomy has been a tremendous success.

Dick Cheney, the vice-president, declared that he was fully satisfied with it from his point of view.

"Without the lobotomy," Mr Cheney told the American Academy of Neurology, "it might have proved difficult to persuade the president to start wars all around the world without any good pretext. But the removal of those parts of the brain associated with understanding the outcome of one's actions has enabled the president to function fully and without hesitation. Even when it is clear that disaster is around the corner, as it is currently in Iraq, the chief executive is able to go on TV and announce that everything is on course and that he has no intention of changing tactics that have already proved disastrous.

"I would like to commend the surgeons, nurses and all involved with the operation," said Mr Cheney.

Similarly, Donald Rumsfeld regards the surgery as an unqualified success. He writes in this month's American Medical Association Journal: "The president's prefrontal leucotomy has successfully removed all neural reflexes resistant to war-profiteering. It is a tribute to the medical team who undertook this delicate operation that, no matter how close the connection between those instigating military action and the companies who benefit from it, the president is able to carry on as if he were morally in the right."

Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defence, is also delighted at the beneficial effect that medical intervention has had on the president. "Just imagine how the president might have responded to Ariel Sharon's crazy schemes if we hadn't had the foresight to take out the neural pathways normally connected with perception and understanding," Mr Wolfowitz told a meeting of the Association of Muslim Neurosurgeons For An All-Jewish Israel. "The president is now capable of treating the man responsible for the massacres at Shatila and Sabra as a decent human being, whose advice on how to deal with the problems of Israel is worth not only listening to, but also taking."

With all this acclaim for the US president's lobotomy, it is scarcely surprising that Tony Blair, should have decided to follow suit and undergo similar psychosurgery.

Thanks to the inhibition of specific presynaptic terminals, Mr Blair now appears to feel totally comfortable giving his support to the US massacre in Falluja and to the activities of US snipers who have been so busy in that city shooting women, children and ambulance drivers in revenge for the murder of four mercenaries.

It is also believed that intervention in the motor speech area of his cortex now enables Mr Blair to describe Iraqis who respond negatively to having their houses blown up as "fanatics, extremists and terrorists".

Similarly ablation of the oculomotor nerve means that Mr Blair is now able to see Israeli plans to retain Jewish settlements in the West Bank as a big step forward in the Middle East peace process.

What has come as a complete surprise, however, is the recent revelation that Mr Blair's brain surgery may even predate President Bush's. For without the removal of large portions of his cerebellum, it is hard to understand how the British prime minister could have turned down Mr Bush's no-strings offer to keep British troops out of combat in Iraq.

Political commentators are thus finding it impossible to say whether it is Mr Bush or Mr Blair who has pioneered the use of executive lobotomies in the war against terrorism.

But seriously, we really don't know why those Iraqis are all "up in arms", you would think they would be grateful for all the joys of "freedom and democracy" that invasion has brought them...

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US bans civilian traffic on Iraq highways

In a bid to end guerrilla attacks on its supply lines, the US yesterday banned civilian traffic on some of Iraq's most-used highways and declared them free-fire zones. All vehicles not belonging to the US military will be fired on according to US military command.

The move over the weekend is likely to cause massive dislocation by preventing Iraqis using the highways north and south of Baghdad -- the main economic lifelines of the country -- where insurgents have launched frequent attacks. The main roads to Turkey, Jordan and Kuwait will be cut. [...]

New and improved US "freedom and democracy" anyone? How would you like that - with curfew or without? This year we have a special on interrogation and internment, order one get the other free! We are also offering our first time Iraqi clients the choice of either a US government-by-proxy made up of Americanised Iraqis, or an Iraqi government-by-proxy made up of Iraqified Americans. Because Iraq really is such a valued client (state), we are also offering a once only insurance option. For every Iraqi woman and child our consultants kill we will credit the remaining family members with $25 US "freedom dollars", which will be redeemable at your nearest branch of McZionalds kosher fast food restaurants.

Rice: U.S. Bracing for Terror Before Polls

April 19, 2004

WASHINGTON - The United States is bracing for possible terrorist attacks before the November presidential election, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said Sunday.

The opportunity for terrorists to try to influence the election, as was the case last month in Spain, appears to be an opportunity that would "be too good to pass up for them," Rice said. [...]

Comment: Say it ain't so! We would never have imagined in a million years that BushCo might have no knowledge or warning of yet another terrorist attack on US soil, this time just before the election. Perhaps the train bombing in Spain is the setup for another election attack in the US. Given that the Spain bombing had Mossad's fingerprints, and that Bush recently made Sharon very happy by supporting the Israeli prime minister's latest move against the Palestinians, perhaps there is a very good reason why Bush seems so subdued when it comes to Kerry's political attacks.

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"Knowledge is power" they tell us, and we do not doubt it, but so few people realise the full implications of this oft-used phrase. Most people tend to think that power is associated with wealth and that wealth equates in and of itself to power, yet it is clear that ownership of material things is simply a means to the end of controlling the one thing on the planet that is worth exerting power over, and without which there would be little point to life here - humanity. It is from this point of view then that the meaning and definition of real power should be understood. Throughout history, human suffering has always resulted from a lack of knowledge. It was not for the lack of wealth that the French royalty lost their heads, but the lack of knowledge.

It is clear that knowledge is essential to us all in living our daily lives, but it is also clear that, of the knowledge available, the general public possesses very little, with most of it is concentrated into the hands of a few. People will act based on what they know. If you control knowledge, you control what people know and therefore how they will act. Ultimate knowledge confers ultimate power. With enough knowledge and the means to disseminate it, it is very likely that you could even influence the masses of humanity to follow a path that would lead to their destruction.

Today knowledge is being used to put in place, piece by piece, a plan that will do just that.

Apparently it really is simple when you know how. The only thing that is required to successfully bring death and destruction to entire world is to ensure that the people never gain access to knowledge that would allow them to See and understand the truth of what is happening.

Government Held High Powered Secret Meeting Over Mossad Case

By Selwyn Manning – Scoop Co-Editor

Scoop understands that a high-powered New Zealand Government crisis meeting was held in the last week of March after the Prime Minister was informed that two suspected Mossad connectives had been arrested in Auckland. The crisis meeting is believed to have involved the Prime Minister Helen Clark and several others.

Scoop understands the meeting examined information received from the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (SIS), New Zealand Police and its counter-terrorism unit, and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet’s sub-group External Assessments Bureau (EAB) – and mapped a blueprint of how New Zealand should handle the alleged spy threat.

An information security blanket was applied, keeping the lid on the operation while diplomatic manoeuvrings took place between the New Zealand Government, Israeli diplomats, and intelligence bodies in a number of countries within the western alliance. [...]

Eli Cara (one of the arrested Mossad agents) insists he is a Sydney-based travel agent. Police say Cara has traveled in and out of New Zealand 24 times since October 2000. However, no records can be discovered in Australian companies office records. Cara was staying at Auckland's President Plaza hotel. His co-accused Uriel Kelman was staying at the Kiwi Hotel in Queen St and at the Duxton Hotel. He has Israeli and Canadian passports.

The Scoop source said: “Mossad will be employing a wide range of people to roll up the operation as we speak. Australian travel agency details will be rolled up, records will disappear, brief cases and laptops will be stolen. “These guys have the ability to put together a Islamic terror cell, carry out a bombing in Australia or NZ and pin it on Al Qaeda or some new Palestinian Jihad group. Smooth operators. You’ve got to take your hat off to them, real brains,” the Scoop source said.

Mossad - "by way of deception". Knowledge and its utilisation is central to their operations and the operations of all other "elite" groups. As Meir Dagan, the head of Mossad, constantly reminds his staff: "Action cannot wait for certainty, motive and deception are at the centre of Mossad's endeavours. We must create situations which seek to draw fact out of darkness. The art of informed conjecture is an essential weapon."

Mossad uses knowledge of human nature to deceive and implement a plan that serves their own agenda. The agenda of Mossad is the agenda of Israel. The agenda of Israel is the agenda of their Zionist masters. The Zionists agenda, however bizarre it might seem, is to precipitate the biblical "judgment day". Only when the "greater Israel" has been established and they are in control of all of the "holy land" will the "new Jerusalem" "descend". The descent of the "new Jerusalem" must, according to biblical prophesy, be foreshadowed by death and destruction on a massive scale. Of course, this sounds a little confusing, crazy even, but only to those of us with limited knowledge.

Those of us that seek to know more than has been allotted to us by "the powers that be", need not feel that there is no way to do so. But to acquire knowledge we must make strong and definite efforts. As human beings with an ability to know, we also have a right to know, but it will not be given. If we have the right to knowledge, we also have the responsibility to attain that knowledge through our own efforts.

For those that seek knowledge in order to be free, we too, like the Mossad, should seek to "draw fact out of darkness" and we cannot always wait for certainty. The crucial difference however is that the Mossad use knowledge as a weapon to control others and push the world ever closer to the brink of destruction and beyond. Our goal is to share objective knowledge with as many people as possible, to provide an opportunity for those that choose, to See and understand the Truth of our reality and the game players that attempt to control it through lies and deception. If there is one true way that we serve life and existence it is through the knowledge that we reflect from within us and what we Do based on that knowledge.

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Zapatero orders Spanish pullout from Iraq

Sunday April 18, 06:03 PM

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's new Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero says he has given orders for Spain's 1,300 troops in Iraq to be brought home as soon as possible.

The announcement, made in a televised speech on Sunday, came just one day after Zapatero was sworn in after the Socialists' upset victory in March 14 general elections. [...]

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Sadr urges end to attacks on Spanish troops, mediation efforts resume

Mon Apr 19, 8:23 AM ET

BAGHDAD (AFP) - A radical Shiite cleric urged his followers to stop attacking Spanish troops after Madrid announced their upcoming withdrawal from Iraq, as mediation efforts resumed to settle the Sunni and Shiite Muslim rebellions.

But in a sign of the worsening insurgency in Iraq, US overseer Paul Bremer warned that Iraqi security forces would not be able to operate on their own after the scheduled June 30 restoration of Iraqi sovereignty. [...]

Comment: US troops are both the problem and the "solution" in Iraq. Ending the US occupation of Iraq is the one thing that would eliminate the need for an American "security" force. The situation has only deteriorated since the "liberation" of the country. The Iraqi people have made it quite clear that they do not approve of the occupation - thus, they rebel. The US, of course, will never pull out of the country. Iraq is of strategic significance to America's new crusade in the Middle East. Bush or Kerry will see to it that Americans and Iraqis alike are slaughtered until the last possible instant.

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Judges on Little-Known Court Paid for Life

By LARRY MARGASAK, Associated Press Writer
April 19, 2004

WASHINGTON - Judges on a little-known federal court that decides claims against the government are appointed for 15 years, but collect their full six-figure salaries for a lifetime for a workload that averages fewer than two trials a year.

U.S. Court of Federal Claims jurists turn their fixed terms into lifetime jobs by remaining as senior judges. Currently, the federal claims court has 16 active judges and 13 in senior status.

A few of the senior judges handle a full workload. Some handle at least 25 percent of their former caseload. Others have an empty docket. All are paid $158,100 a year, the same as full-time federal judges. [...]

Comment: Meanwhile, Bush is claiming that March saw the addition of over 300,000 Americans to the national payroll. Unfortunately, Dubya neglects to mention that the unemployment rate actually increased in March. An article from AlterNet asks the question: Just where did these new jobs come from?

13,000 of them are California grocery workers returning to work after an extended strike. Another 31,000 represent new government jobs. 71,000 "new jobs" are in the construction industry, a seasonal upswing independent of the President's policies. 11,000 "new jobs" are in credit intermediation, reflecting the surge in home refinancing due to low interest rates. And 36,000 "new jobs" are in healthcare/social assistance, jobs created to help people who no longer have jobs.

It seems that at least half the "new jobs" aren't exactly an indicator of a strong recovery in the American economy.

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Foreign Policy: U.S. First or Russia First

By Caroline McGregor
Staff Writer

[...] Speakers -- whose remarks were barred from attribution under rules laid down by council chairman Sergei Karaganov -- said that with the entire international community in a state of flux with an unprecedented war on terrorism and the crisis in Iraq, the role Russia should play in the world remains murky.

Although Russia lacks a long-term vision and policy goals, so do most countries, one prominent member observed. "I don't think any country truly knows what role they should be playing," he said, giving a view echoed many times.

[...] Some participants questioned why Russia should compromise its interests -- for example, possibly abandoning a lucrative contract to build a nuclear power station in Iran that Washington suspects of harboring a nuclear weapons program -- when the West "would never do the same for us."

"It's like a woman in a civil union who says, 'I'm married,' while the man thinks, 'I'm not married.' America is free to act as it wishes, and we think we're married," one participant said. "We're playing the role of the naive wife."

"The policy we need is not 'America first,' but 'Russia first,'" he said, switching to English -- the lingua franca of contemporary diplomacy -- to pronounce the two phrases.

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Court Freezes All Yukos Property

By Catherine Belton
Staff Writer

The legal noose around Yukos tightened last week after a court banned the oil giant from selling or transferring any assets -- including its shares in Sibneft -- during hearings into a beefed-up claim by tax officials for nearly $3.5 billion in back taxes.

"This is a complete shock," Yukos chief financial officer Bruce Misamore said by telephone Friday. "Essentially we had a maximum of four hours to make the payment," he said. Tax authorities filed the revised charges Wednesday and gave Yukos only until Friday to pay the bill, the company said in a statement.

Yukos said it had done nothing wrong and that it would appeal both the tax claim and the asset freeze.

However, if those appeals are rejected, the company could find it extremely difficult to raise the cash it needs to pay the tax bill, which in turn could conceivably lead to bankruptcy proceedings.

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A well traveled reader sent us the following on life, labels and lying:

People who stay in one place all of their lives and haven't had the chance to learn about other cultures, about other ways of doing things, are more likely to be manipulated and more fertile to grow all kinds of programs that keep them in safe territory, thus setting up in their minds the "us against them" mentality as a sort of "operating system" from which they look at the world.

When you can't compare what you know, what you experience or what you have with anything different, you learn to firmly believe that what you have is the best you can have, the only thing you can have and therefore you have to conform to it. Even if you suffer because of it, you do whatever is necessary to fit into it.

Living in a different culture opens your eyes to things that you would have never considered otherwise because you simply did not know that other possibilities were also available. Faced with the choice between opening your mind to the new possibilities or running away in search of the well-known safety of the old ways, many people choose to stay encased in their old modes of thinking and create all kinds of excuses to justify the old ways, even if the new seem to be more logical and practical. The main reason for this is that they are afraid to change and, in many cases, they are simply lazy.

It is very obvious that human beings are afraid of change. Change implies treading on unknown territory and that scares the life out of many people, especially when they have been brainwashed to believe their way of doing things is THE way, their way of perceiving the world, THE way, etc. So, as a consequence of the fear of the unknown, human beings create labels. As long as something has a name or a label on it, it becomes "known" - "known", of course, according to some specific criteria, created by those who attempt to control people's minds for their own benefit. This "known" thing, then, can be demonized or not, depending on the interest of "the powers that be" to promote or not a certain idea.

We know all this, right?

Now, can we apply this to real life?

We can read about "new ideas" until our brain explodes and yet stay where we are, doing the same things we have done everyday of our lives, meeting the same people we have met all our lives, etc. We can keep feeding our fears and creating excuses to not implement the new information to see for ourselves whether it works or not. But knowledge must be applied. We know that, don't we? Still, we lie to ourselves and waste enormous amounts of energy to invent for ourselves some excuse to not do something.

Facing ourselves into the reality of what is happening on the planet is not only painful, it is terribly depressing, and for those who still need to face everyday life, go to work and deal with the "external world," this exercise of seeing can be a heavy weight upon our shoulders. To hear people discuss things they have no idea about, convinced they are very knowledgeable on the subject and that they are right, and yet not say anything because you know it is not the right place nor the right people to talk to, requires a certain level of self control. The fact that we can pose a question to destabilize another's arguments doesn't imply they are going to understand or that they are going to rethink the whole subject. Most people are so identified with their programs and little "I's" that you cannot say anything about what they say without them taking what you said as a personal attack. The more we try to question people's belief systems or erroneous perceptions of reality, the more they attack us. Therefore we must be wise as serpents and gentle as doves. This means that many times, we simply have to pretend we are ignorant or that we don't know much about something, and keep a low profile so that we go unnoticed.

However, doing this properly is a great way to learn about other people and what they really believe. For example, we can pretend we know nothing about something and ask innocent questions as if we were children asking our parents. It is incredible to see how people are always ready to talk at length about their "views" on the situation. In the end, we may learn nothing at all about the situation itself, but we will surely learn a lot about people, programs, belief systems and the excuses they invent to justify themselves or their perceptions. After doing this for some time, one begins to see when people lie to themselves. Thus, one also begins to see more lies to oneself.

Being a teacher, I depend economically on my students. If I don't have students, I have no money, so I have had to learn to hold my horses when it comes to my student's opinions. This has resulted in an excellent training for me in learning how to not identify with my own opinions and to open my mind to the possibility of learning something new.

Very often we make the mistake of thinking that we know better than other people simply because we have bought into the categorizations that "the powers that be" have programmed into us so that they can "divide and conquer." When this categorization is permanently repeated, we begin to believe it and apply it to ourselves, a sort of self-fulfilling prophesy that we will act according to this or that label.

All these situations have something in common: whoever wants to control must plant the seed of the doubt and thus create a stereotype, a label, so that he can divide and conquer.

This can be applied to all kinds of contexts and situations.

If this other person, group, etc. is categorized as "something other," then there is no space left for real sharing and understanding. The seed is planted on the ground previously fertilized with either fear, or self importance or both. People rarely admit that they fear something - socially speaking there is nothing worse than to be called a coward - people need to have their egos inflated to the maximum so that they can believe they are better than that which they fear.

And so the story goes.

But coming back to our personal fears, I was thinking of the excuses we create to not have to face something we are afraid of. And perhaps, not only something we are afraid of, but something we know that, once experienced, it will change us. Because we fear change, we fear that once we take certain steps, there will be no way back. The terror we feel will blind us to the reality that we are just lying to ourselves. A Spanish saying goes: "lies have short legs", meaning that they can not run for a long time. Sooner or later they will come to the surface and change will have to take place under a crisis.

We are all at different stages in this process of learning, but deep inside, we all know when we are lying to ourselves. It takes time and conscious effort to see those lies but sooner or later they come to the surface. When they do, they may feel like a volcano erupting, but in the end the truth always sets us free. And it is then, when faced with the reality of the lie, that we have the choice to align ourselves with entropy or creativity.

Lies are hard to maintain as we are forced to constantly create more lies in order to support the lies already created. And as in a chain reaction, lies and more lies result in chaos.

It is up to each one of us to decide if we will keep lying to ourselves; while we may succeed in deceiving ourselves, we can never deceive those who can see through us.

Just some food for thought.


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Flogging a Worn-Out Nag

By Andrei Piontkovsky

The myth of a struggle between so-called liberals and siloviki within the presidential administration has proven surprisingly durable. In fact, moral and political unity reigns among the political elite.

The liberals, after all, are people like Alexei Kudrin, German Gref and Anatoly Chubais, who have long nursed the dream of a Russian Pinochet implementing reforms with an iron fist, and who are perfectly happy with the authoritarian nature of the current regime.

And the well-heeled siloviki are hardly foes of private property. Their recent friction with the Yeltsin-era oligarchs is nothing more than a millionaires' rebellion against the billionaires.

[...] The solution to this riddle can be found on the Kremlin's own web sites. The court wizards have long considered the construction of the executive chain of command and the purge of the media a job well done. Now it's time to move forward with the "unpopular measures" contained in Gref's program like revoking subsidies for housing, education and healthcare, evicting people who don't pay their bills and raising the retirement age to 65. There is no need to fear a popular backlash because the fallout from these measures will not be televised, and that means it simply won't exist.

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Senior State Officials Get Hefty Pay Raises

By Oksana Yablokova
Staff Writer

President Vladimir Putin has handed out hefty pay raises to federal employees -- and himself -- as part of an ongoing government overhaul aimed at boosting efficiency and curbing corruption.

Putin raised the monthly salary of the prime minister almost fivefold to $4,000, while the salaries of the deputy prime minister and federal ministers grew to $3,000 and of deputy ministers to $1,500, according to a copy of the April 10 decree obtained by The Moscow Times on Friday.

In addition, some 35,000 lower-ranking federal workers will get pay hikes of $100 to $500.

Putin doubled his own salary to $5,100, making it almost the equivalent of that of the Spanish prime minister.

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Robot Plane Drops Bomb in Successful Test

Apr 18, 9:59 PM (ET)

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A robotic plane deliberately dropped a bomb near a truck at Edwards Air Force Base on Sunday, marking another step forward for technology the U.S. military hopes will one day replace human pilots on dangerous combat missions.

Under human supervision but without human piloting, a prototype of the Boeing Co. (BA)'s X-45 took off from the desert base, opened its bomb bay doors, dropped a 250-pound Small Smart Bomb and then landed.

The inert bomb struck within inches of the truck it was supposed to hit, Boeing said, adding that had the bomb contained explosives, the target would have been destroyed.

"It's absolutely a huge step forward for us. It shows the capability of an unmanned airplane to carry weapons," said Rob Horton, Boeing's chief operator for the mission. "From the video, you see the weapon going down and a huge cloud of dust and the truck shaking around."

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US Military Replaces Population with Robots in Successful Test

Apr 18, 3:53 PM (ET)

The US Army replaced a part of the population of Orange County, California with robots prior to last fall's election, marking another step forward for technology the U.S. military hopes will open the path to viable democratic rule in the US.

"It's absolutely a huge step forward for us. It shows the capability of an unmanned population to carry on the democratic traditions that have made this country great," said Robert Whorton, the Pentagon's chief operator for the mission.

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Temperature hits 53-year-high in Beijing 2004-04-19 16:30:15

[...] Statistics showed that Beijing's average temperature from April 7 to April 16 reached 18.8 degrees Celsius, 5.2 degrees higher than past years and the highest since 1951, Monday's People's Daily reported.

Zhang Qiang, a noted meteorologist from the National Climate Center said that most parts of North China have seen average temperatures four to six degrees higher than past years.

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Au Japon, les otages devront payer leur libération

LE MONDE | 19.04.04 | 13h31

Comment: Le Monde is reporting today the the three Japanese recently liberated in Iraq may be asked to repay some or all of the expenses of their repatriation. It seems that many Japanese feel the three brought dishonour on the Japanese government by getting themselves kidnapped and forcing the government to negotiate with "terrorists." Meanwhile, in Baghdad, the committee of Moslem clerics that negotiated their release is still waiting for a word of thanks from Japanese PM Junichiro Koizumi.

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Asteroid Impact Simulation Would Devastate Wise County

High Knob, Va. --- As the summer skies clear and stargazers take to the outdoors, some may wonder about an asteroid impact on Earth and what dangers may be in the dark skies along with the planets and stars.

Astronomers and space scientists throughout the world are wondering what the implications of an asteroid or comet would have if a massive iron asteriod the size that hit Arizona 49,000 years ago were to impact the Earth again.

Comment: Nothing new in this story, simply more evidence of the gradual acclimatising of the population to the question of asteroids and celestial impact.

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Pus Cell Count In CA's 'Happy Cow' Milk Soars

By Robert Cohen

California has "Happy Cows," or so we are told by the California Milk Board's propaganda machine.

The latest state-by-state pus cell count, as reported in the April 10, 2004 issue of Hoard's Dairyman, the "National Dairy Farm Magazine," (page 268) reveals that the number of pus cells in milk from California's unhappily diseased "Happy Cows" has soared to a new heights. In 2002, the average liter of California milk contained 298 million pus cells. In 2003, the average liter of California milk contained 11 million more pus cells than in 2002.

When pus cell counts increase, that is a sign of diseased and stressed cows, not happy cows. [...]

Pus in milk? A dairy cow filters ten thousand quarts of blood through her udder each day and uses dead white blood cells (somatic cells) to manufacture her milk. These dead cells are pus cells. Dairy scientists are aware that when one quart of milk is tainted with 400 million or more pus cells, some 35% of the milking cows in the herd are infected with mastitis. Udders bleed and discharge bacteria, mucus, and blood into milk.

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Priest claims men's naked ordeal was spiritual not sexual

April 19, 2004

A US priest jailed for indecency claims he ordered men to strip naked, then gagged and blindfolded them, hung them upside down from the ceiling and manipulated their gentials to induce pain for spiritual reasons and not sexual gratification, his lawyer said today.

Anthony Jablonowski, 69, was sentenced to between 15 months and seven years in prison for one count of taking indecent, immodest or immoral liberties with a minor, his lawyer Dallas Laird said. The amount of time he serves will depend on his behaviour in prison.

The victim, now in his late 30s, stepped forward recently with allegations that Jablonowski had molested him at least once in the early 1980s at St Anthony Catholic Church in Guernsey, about 160 kilometres north of Cheyenne. He was 17 at the time.

During an investigation, authorities learned that Jablonowski regularly took men to the church basement, asking them to strip naked before they were gagged, blindfolded and hung upside down from the ceiling, Platte County prosecutor Eric Alden told The Denver Post in today's editions.

According to Alden, the men's genitals were manipulated to induce pain while they prayed. He could not be reached for comment today.

Laird said his client could not talk about the rituals, citing an oath of confidentiality concerning prayer and confession.

The activities were not sexual, and were tied to a legitimate practice of penance and redemptive suffering, Laird said. Several people testified they found the prayers spiritual - not sexual - in nature.

"There are certain things that happen which are not sexual but could be interpreted that way," Laird said.

Comment: In these troubled times, thank the lord that we can still find solace and comfort in the sublime and serene practices of organised religiosity.

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