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Tuesday, June 8, 2004

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Picture of the Day

Venus crosses the Sun
©2004 AFP

While Americans continue, against all odds and evidence, to believe the grand lie that their country has spent the last hundred years spreading "freedom and democracy" around the world, the many millions of ordinary people that live outside the US continue to experience first hand the legacy of US foreign policy...

US-backed Sudanese Government Commits Genocide

Sudan refugees tell of world's worst humanitarian disaster

Ewen Macaskill in Darfur
Tuesday June 8, 2004
The Guardian

For hundreds of thousands of refugees like Souad Omar Mousa the rain that fell yesterday in the Darfur region of Sudan is something to dread.

"If I was in my village, I would welcome it," she said. "But here we are exposed." Home for Mrs Mousa is now the Kalma camp, near Nyala, one of hundreds scattered throughout Darfur. Refugees live under straw matting or in the open.

In what the United Nations describes as the world's worst humanitarian disaster, the arrival of the rains means that life for the refugees will become even more grim and the death toll will almost certainly rise.

About 30,000 are estimated to have been killed in the last year, victims of a government-armed militia that has terrorised and destroyed villages throughout Darfur, where 1.2 million have been displaced, with a further 100,000 taking refuge in neighbouring Chad.

A UN official who has travelled extensively throughout the region said yesterday: "If you go 1,000km from here to Chad you will not see a single village intact."

During a three-hour flight over Darfur, hundreds of blackened and scorched villages were starkly visible against the red desert. Mrs Mousa walked for three days to reach Kalma after the Janjaweed militia attacked her village, Shatee, west of the Mara mountains, two months ago.

"They came at dawn, at 4am. They came on horses, donkeys, camels and Land Cruisers. They burnt the houses and killed the men and many of the male children. I don't know if my husband is alive or dead." [...]

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Sudan: Government and Militias Conspire in Darfur Killings

Major Massacre Shows State Complicity

(New York, April 23, 2004) - In a joint operation in the Darfur region of Sudan, government troops working with Arab militias detained 136 African men whom the militias massacred hours later, Human Rights Watch said today.

The janjaweed are no longer simply militias supported by the Sudanese government. These militias work in unison with government troops, with total impunity for their massive crimes.

Human Rights Watch has documented dozens of attacks by Arab militias, known as janjaweed, in almost a month of research inside Darfur. All but two of the attacks were carried out in conjunction with government forces.

"The janjaweed are no longer simply militias supported by the Sudanese government," said Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch. "These militias work in unison with government troops, with total impunity for their massive crimes."

The 136 men, all members of the Fur ethnic group aged between 20 and 60, were rounded up in early March in two separate sweeps in the Garsila and Mugjir areas in Wadi Saleh. They were then taken in army lorries to nearby valleys where they were made to kneel before being killed with a bullet in the back of the neck. [...]

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Flashback: U.S. ignoring Sudan's al-Qaida links?

Activists point to continued terror despite moves to ease relations

June 24, 2002

Despite U.S. claims, Sudan's recent capture of a suspected failed al-Qaida member is hardly an example of cooperation from a regime whose leaders have direct ties to Osama bin Laden's terrorist network and run international jihad camps with al-Qaida instructors, according to some close observers of the African nation.

The arrested Sudanese citizen, Abu Huzifa, was described by unnamed U.S. administration sources as an important operative with links to al-Qaida's leadership, the Washington Post reported.

The June arrest is seen by some U.S. officials as evidence that Sudan, accused by the House of Representatives of genocide, is cooperating with the United States in the war on terror in exchange for an easing of relations. The U.S. still employs trade sanctions, but a bill that would bar nations doing business with Sudan from U.S. capital markets is opposed by the White House and stalled in Congress.

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Flashback: Clinton Rejected Sudan's Files on Bin Laden

NEW YORK --Vanity Fair has obtained letters and memorandums that document approaches made by Sudanese intelligence officials and other emissaries to members of the Clinton administration to share information about many of the 22 terrorists on the government's most-wanted list, including: Osama bin Laden.

The Mukhabarat, a Sudanese intelligence agency, spent the early to mid-1990s amassing copious amounts of information on bin Laden and his cohorts at a time when they were relatively unknown and their activities limited, author David Rose reports. From the fall of 1996 until weeks before the September 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, the Mukhabarat made repeated efforts to share its files on terrorists with the U.S. On more than one occasion senior F.B.I. officials wanted to accept the offers, but were apparently overruled by the State Department.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and her assistant secretary for Africa, Susan Rice, declined to comment for this story. [...]

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Current reports from Sudan tell us that the Islamic Sudanese government is involved with "militias" in a campaign to wipe out all non Islamic/Arab black Sudanese villagers. Note that Sudan borders Egypt (part of the "Greater Israel") and the Red Sea (which partially borders Israel). We have observed that the "war on terror" is essentially a campaign to demonise Arabs in general, while indoctrinating western people's with the idea that there exists a uniform terrorist Arab "super state". In the words of Bush himself, the directors of this policy see it as a new "crusade". East against west, or more specifically the Arab world against the Christian world. Despots such as al-Bashir of Sudan are easily lured by power and wealth. Once they are installed they can then be used as "evidence" of the "real" threat that mandates a perpetual "war on terror"...

Sudanese dictator al-Bashir's government is dominated by members of Sudan's National Islamic Front (NIF), a fundamentalist political organization formed from the Muslim Brotherhood in 1986

The "Muslim Brotherhood" was founded in Egypt in the late 1920s by Hassan al-Banna, and has fought for over 70 years for the formation of a pure pan-Islamic theocratic state. Inside the Middle East, Egypt has been the most vigorous opponent of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Egyptian government has been at war with the Muslim Brotherhood since the early 1950s, when then Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser banned the group and arrested many of its leaders.

As an organization committed to the establishment of a pan-Islamic state, the Muslim Brotherhood bitterly opposed Nasser's secular form of pan-Arab nationalism. The Muslim Brotherhood's staunch opposition to secular nationalism has also attracted financial support, particularly from Saudi Arabia.

In a slew of arrests, imprisonments and executions in Egypt of members of the Muslim brotherhood, as detailed in "Human Rights Watch's" 2003 report, there was one report of an Egyptian man jailed for spying for Israel. What is not mentioned in the report is that the man claimed to have information on the Lockerbie bombing, which was blamed on Libya, but which Libya consistently denied responsibility for, and still does, despite agreeing to pay compensation to families in exchange for legitimacy in the eyes of the west.

Egyptian man claims knowledge of Lockerbie bombing

Alexandria
01 January 2002

An Egyptian being tried for spying for Israel claimed on Monday he had information on the bombings of two airliners, including one which killed more than 250 people over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988, a court source said.

Magdi Anwar Mohammed Tawfiq, a 52-year-old unemployed man, told the High State Security Court in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria he had contacted the local Israeli consul "to give his account of the Lockerbie affair and the crash of a French plane in the Niger desert" in 1989, the source said.

Tawfiq did not give the court details of what he told the Israeli consul about the attacks, both of which Libya was eventually implicated in.

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Henry Makow has made some very interesting claims about the "Muslim Brotherhood":

Bin Laden, Bush Serve the Same Master

By Henry Makow Ph.D.
November 25, 2002

The headquarters of Islamic terrorism is London, England, where the Anglo-American Establishment sponsors the radical "Muslim Brotherhood" in order to advance its long-term goal of plutocratic global dictatorship.

These globalists have fabricated a bogus "war on terror" to crush the remaining vestiges of nationalism and democracy in both Muslim countries and the West.

In a comprehensive online report, the perceptive Hawaii-based researcher Peter Goodgame concludes: "Osama bin Laden is not, nor has he ever been, the leader of the international Islamist movement which is directed by the International Muslim Brotherhood."

Goodgame continues: "Osama bin Laden has been used effectively as a figurehead for the Brotherhood's militant branch to take responsibility for its atrocities, but he is not the mastermind... By the same token, the Muslim Brotherhood is a tool by the British-based Globalists whose main objective is to overthrow the established world order and create a new one-world system of global governance."

Goodgame cites former British Intelligence Officer, Dr. John Coleman, who says the Muslim Brotherhood is a secret freemason order set up by the great names of British Middle East Intelligence, T.E. Lawrence, Bertrand Russell and St. John Philby to "keep the Middle East backward so its natural resource, oil, could continue to be looted."

The Muslim Brotherhood has been used to check nationalist movements led by such figures as Nasser (Egypt), Bhutto (India) and the Shah of Iran who tried to develop their countries. Without the British, "radical Islam would have remained the illegitimate, repressive minority movement that it has always been, and the Middle East would have remained stable and prosperous," Goodgame says.

The Muslim Brotherhood is now a powerful faction in the global oligarchy. Goodgame cites Robert Drefuss, author of "Hostage to Khomeini" (1980):

"The real Muslim Brothers are ... the secretive bankers and financiers who stand behind the curtain, the members of the old Arab, Turkish, or Persian families whose genealogy places them in the oligarchic elite, with smooth business and intelligence associations to the European black nobility and, especially, to the British oligarchy.

And the Muslim Brotherhood is money. Together, the Brotherhood probably controls several tens of billions of dollars in immediate liquid assets, and controls billions more in ...everything from oil trade and banking to drug-running, illegal arms merchandising, and gold and diamond smuggling. By allying with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Anglo-Americans are not merely buying into a terrorists-for-hire racket; they are partners in a powerful and worldwide financial empire..."

By fabricating a bogus war between Islamic fundamentalism and the West, the globalists are able to attack their real enemy, humanity. Pulling the strings, they will ensure that both Western and Muslim states are degraded and finally completely subjugated to their odious rule.

The globalists have long been using wars to subvert, demoralize and destroy Western civilization. They backed the Nazis and the Soviets in World War Two. They created the Punch and Judy show that was the Cold War. They tied U.S. hands while backing Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam. [...]

Zionism is supposed to represent the "West" in this sham war with Islam. Americans are being groomed to become like Israelis, victims of daily acts of "Muslim terror."

According to Swiss journalist Richard Labeviere ("Dollars for Terror: The United States and Islam" 2000) radical Islam is an essential "complementary enemy" to Zionism, which also seeks regional hegemony. According to the "Yinon Memorandum" (1982) Israel intends to splinter the Arab countries into several small cantons along ethnic lines. None of these will be able to challenge Israel, which, like the US is a disposable implement of the globalist agenda. (207)

The Palestinian terrorist "Hamas" movement is a product of the Muslim Brotherhood. According to Labeviere, it serves the interests of the Israeli right wing, and has received secret financial support from the Israeli "Shin Beth." (203-205). Thus, Palestinian suicide bombers play straight into Ariel Sharon's hand.

Meanwhile, back in the USA, "Muslim terrorist attacks" are an excuse to lay the foundations of a police state. These attacks, which could become nuclear or biological, might serve as a pretext to declare martial law, suspend elections and round up dissidents, i.e. anyone who is not buying the lie.

This may seem incomprehensible to Americans now when the economy is still being propped up. Once the US has done the globalist's dirty work, interest rates could rise and debt ridden Americans could be stripped of their assets, as they were in the Depression.

The Homeland Security Act is designed to control all US law enforcement agencies so that elements in the CIA and Mossad can target Americans with impunity, like they did on Sept. 11. [...]

In conclusion, mankind is in the clutches of a diabolical multi generational conspiracy. A Satanic, criminal cartel has subverted all social institutions and is slowly crafting a brutal global dictatorship. Our political and cultural leaders are witting and unwitting pawns. They are fabricating a phony war between Islam and the West in order to accomplish the degradation of both.

I realize this vision seems incredibly bleak. The mass media holds us in a powerful illusion of normalcy. However, expecting the worst means you will never be disappointed. If you are wrong, you are relieved. If you are right, you are prepared.

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It is interesting that Makow states above that "Hamas is a product of the Muslim Brotherhood". It is also very likely that Hamas is a product of Israeli intelligence, as is "al-Qaeda".

Flashback: Israeli Roots of Hamas Are Being Exposed

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer said that the growth of the Islamic movement in the Palestinian territories in recent decades—"with the tacit support of Israel"—was "not totally unrelated" to the emergence of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and their terrorist attacks against Israel.

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Flashback: Mossad Exposed In Phony 'Palestinian Al Qaeda' Caper

By Michele Steinberg and Hussein Askary

The United States government has been provided with concrete evidence that the Israeli Mossad and other Israeli intelligence services have been involved in a 13-month effort to "recruit" an Israeli-run, phony "al Qaeda cell" among Palestinians, so that Israel could achieve a frontline position in the U.S. war against terrorism and get a green light for a worldwide "revenge without borders" policy. The question: Does the United States have the moral fiber to investigate?

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Israel's Secret Agenda: Funding Arab Terrorism

Why would Israel provide covert support for Islamic fundamentalist extremists? The answer to this provocative question points toward a dirty little secret that the major media in America is keeping under wraps.

American Free Press
By Michael Collins Piper

There is a solid record of evidence pointing to ward a longtime—albeit little-known—role by Israel's intelligence service, the Mossad, in providing financing and tactical support for the very "Muslim extremists" presumed to be Israel's worst enemies. The truth is that Muslim extremists have proven useful (if often unwitting) tools in advancing Israel's own geopolitical agenda.

Although many Americans are now aware that Osama bin Laden's early efforts against the Soviets in Afghanistan were sponsored by the CIA, the media has been reticent to point out that this arms pipeline—described by Covert Action Information Bulletin (Sept ember 1987) as "the second largest covert operation" in the CIA's history—was also, according to former Mossad operative Victor Ostrovsky (writing in The Other Side of Deception), under the direct supervision of the Mossad.

Ostrovsky noted: "It was a complex pipeline since a large portion of the mujahadeen's weapons were American-made and were supplied to the Muslim Brotherhood directly from Israel, using as carriers the Bedouin nomads who roamed the demilitarized zones in the Sinai."

Former ABC correspondent John K. Cooley, in Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism, provides some confirmation for Ostrovsky's allegations. He writes:

Discussion of the input of outsiders to training and operations in Afghanistan would be incomplete without mention of Iran and the State of Israel. Iran's major role in training and in supply is a matter of historical record. As for Israel, the evidence is much sketchier. . . .

Whether or not units of Israel's elite special forces trained the Muslim warriors, who would soon turn their guns against Israel in Muslim organizations like Hamas, is a well-guarded Israeli secret.

Several Americans and Britons who took part in the training program have assured the author that Israelis did indeed take part, though no one will own to having actually seen, or spoken with, Israeli instructors or intelligence operatives in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

In his follow-up book, The Other Side of Deception, ex-Mossad figure Victor Ostrovsky unveils the disturbing fact that the Mossad had a secret history of supporting radical Islamic groups for its own purposes.

Pointing out that Arab- and Muslim-hating hard-liners in Israel and its Mossad believe that Israel's survival lies in its military strength and that "this strength arises from the need to answer the constant threat of war," the Israeli hard-liners fear that any peace with any Arab state could weaken Israel and bring about its demise. In that vein, Ostrovsky writes:

Supporting the radical elements of Muslim fundamentalism sat well with the Mossad's general plan for the region. An Arab world run by fundamentalists would not be a party to any negotiations with the West, thus leaving Israel again as the only democratic, rational country in the region.

Even columnist Jack Anderson, a devoted news conduit for the Israeli lobby, has bragged of Israel's skill: He wrote as long ago as Sept. 17, 1972:

The Israelis are also skillful at exploiting Arab rivalries and turning Arab against Arab. The Kurdish tribes, for example, inhabit the mountains of northern Iraq. Every month, a secret Israeli envoy slips into the mountains from the Iranian side to deliver $50,000 to Kurdish leader Mulla Mustafa al Barzani. The subsidy insures Kurdish hostility against Iraq, whose government is militantly anti-Israel.

In an April 25, 1983, column Anderson pointed out that one secret State Department report speculated that if Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat were to be dislodged, "the Palestinian movement will probably disintegrate into radical splinter groups, which, in combination with other revolutionary forces in the region, would pose a grave threat to the moderate Arab governments."

Then, according to Anderson's account, the State Department reported:

Israel seems determined to vent this threat . . . and can be expected to greatly expand its covert cooperations with revolutionary movements.

Anderson added that "two well-placed intelligence sources" had explained that this meant that it was in Israel's interests to "divide and conquer" by setting various Palestinian factions against one another. This would then help destabilize all of the Arab and Islamic regimes in the Middle East. Anderson then stated flat out that the sources said: "Israel had secretly provided funds to Abu Nidal's group."

British journalist Patrick Seale, an acknowledged authority on the Middle East, devoted an entire book, entitled Abu Nidal: A Gun for Hire, outlining and documenting his thesis that Nidal was largely a surrogate for the Mossad all along.

Today Nidal (reportedly in retirement in Egypt) has been replaced by Osama bin Laden in media headlines as "the world's most wanted terrorist."

And, like Nidal's efforts to divide the Arab world, particularly the Palestinian cause, bin Laden's activities seem to have a congruence of interests with those of Israel, although this is something that the major media has not been ready to acknowledge.

While bin Laden has never attacked an Israeli or Jewish target, even The Washington Post pointed out on Sept. 30 that bin Laden's primary goal is bolstering "a destabilizing brand of Islamic fundamentalism in a long list of existing Middle East and Central Asia regimes."

And in light of recent questions about the real nationalities and identities of the purported hijackers who brought down the four planes that created havoc on American soil on Sept. 11, Anderson's aforementioned Sept. 17, 1972, column pointed out something that should be noted:

Israeli agents—immigrants whose families had lived in Arab lands for generations—have a perfect knowledge of Arab dialects and customs. They have been able to infiltrate Arab governments with ease.

As American Free Press reported on Oct. 22, there are some doubts as to whether those who have been identified as the hijackers on Sept. 11 were the hijackers.

Writing in The New Yorker on Oct. 8, veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, pointed out that "many of the investigators believe that some of the initial clues about the terrorists' identities and preparations, such as flight manuals, were meant to be found."

Hersh has also noted that a senior military officer had suggested to him that "a major foreign intelligence service might also have been involved."

Hersh did not point any fingers anywhere, but a reader familiar with Hersh's past history of pinpointing intrigue by Israel's Mossad could perhaps read between the lines and guess as to which foreign nation Hersh's source might, however obliquely, be alluding.

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It is eminently logical that, since Israel's raison d'etre is tied up with the idea that it is a people and a nation continually under threat, then that threat must be continually bolstered, created even, and by Israel itself if necessary. Yet the bigger picture, at this stage, involves much more than simply Israel's right to exist.

It appears that for many years now there has been a plan on the table of the "elite" of this world. The plan seems to involve a radical shakeup of the structure of our world and a homogenisation of the diversity of cultures and peoples that inhabit it. It appears that the best way this can be effected is by deceit, with war and violence providing the kick needed to force the masses to believe the deception. One clear benefit of implementing such plan, at least from the elite's point of view, is that under a "new world order" they can claim to truly rule the world and it's people. But again, why? Is it possible that there is some grand event in our not too distant future that will have serious implications for every man woman and child on this planet, and which necessitates a herding of the population to much finer order of control in order that control is maintained? Time will tell, but in the meantime, we would all do well to see realise that "deception" defines our life here on the BBM.

Flashback: U.S. Army Officers Say: 'Mossad May Blame Arabs'

Sometimes "the most likely suspect" in an act of terrorism is actually a "false flag" working for-or otherwise "framed" by- those who are responsible.

American Free Press
Michael Collins Piper

Top U.S. Army analysts believe Israel's intelligence agency, the Mossad, is "ruthless and cunning," "a wildcard" that "has [the] capability to target U.S. forces and make it look like a Palestinian/Arab act."

This eye-opening assertion about America's supposed closest ally was reported in a front page story in The Washington Times on September 10-just one day before the terrorist attacks in America that are being blamed on "Arabs."

The Times reported that this serious charge by U.S. Army officers against the Israelis appeared in a 68-page paper prepared by 60 officers at the U.S. Army's School for Advanced Military Studies, a training ground for up-and-coming Army officers.

Then, just hours after the terrorist tragedies, a well-known pro-Israel analyst, George Friedman, proclaimed Israel as the primary beneficiary.

"The big winner today, intended or not, is the state of Israel," wrote Fried man, who said on his Internet website at stratfor.com that "There is no question … that the Israeli leadership is feeling relief" in the wake of the terrorist attack on America as a result of the benefits that Israel will glean.

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IDF Finally Get Their Man - Another Paraplegic

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem
08 June 2004

The Israeli army said last night it was investigating the death of a paraplegic Palestinian who relatives said had been killed while drinking coffee after surviving three shooting attacks in the past 15 years.

Local Palestinians said that the man, Arafat Yaacoub, had used a wheelchair since being left paralysed from the waist down after he was shot in the back during clashes between Israelis and Palestinian militants in 1992.

Hundreds of mourners yesterday marched behind Mr Yaacoub's body and his wheelchair in a funeral procession through the Qalandia refugee camp north of Jerusalem, near where the shooting took place. According to the residents, Mr Yaacoub, 31, was drinking coffee on Sunday near the entrance to the Qalandia camp when soldiers opened fire on stone-throwing Palestinian youths, and that a stray bullet had hit him in the head and killed him.

The camp is close to the main Qalandia checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah, which has been a periodic flashpoint since the present Palestinian uprising started more than three and a half years ago.

Mr Yaacoub's brother Adel said that his brother had first been wounded when he was shot in the leg while throwing stones at Israeli soldiers. As a member of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement he was jailed for 10 months in 1991. It was a year later that he was shot three times in the back in the shooting that left him partially paralysed.

Now needing a wheelchair, Mr Yaacoub then left Fatah, his brother said, and took a job at a holistic medicine store in Ramallah. When he had saved enough money, he bought a special taxi he could drive with hand controls and began transporting passengers for a living. But two years ago he had been sitting in his taxi in a village west of Ramallah when it was hit by bullets from an Israeli tank, his brother said. One bullet struck him in the chest.

"They killed him many times," Adel Yaacoub said, but added: "God didn't want him to die because he wanted him to marry and have children." In recent years, he said, Mr Yaacoub had got married and had become the father of three children, including a newborn son.

The Israeli army said that troops in the area had fired on a group of people seeking to infiltrate the Atarot industrial zone and that in a separate incident "non-lethal means" had been used to disperse rioting Palestinians close to the Qalandia checkpoint.

Security sources said that rubber bullets had been used in the second incident and it was not yet clear in which incident Mr Yaacoub had met his death. "We are investigating," an army spokeswoman said.

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Ashcroft Says Bush Rejects Use of Torture

JOHN J. LUMPKIN, Associated Press Writer
June 8, 2004

WASHINGTON - Attorney General John Ashcroft said Tuesday he was not aware of any order by President Bush that would violate U.S. laws or treaties banning torture of military prisoners captured in Iraq or elsewhere in the war on terrorism.

"This administration rejects torture," Ashcroft declared under tense questioning by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. But he steadfastly refused to comment directly about a policy paper on this issue, or say whether Bush ever responded to it.

But, Ashcroft did say, "The Department of Justice will both investigate and prosecute individual who violate the law. The Torture Act is a law that we include in that violation."

The lawyers who wrote the policy paper were not identified by name and were part of a working group writing a policy governing interrogation techniques to be used at the prison for terrorist suspects at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Said Ashcroft: "The president of the United States has not ordered any conduct that would violate the Constitution of the United States, that would violate not one of the laws enacted by the Congress, or that would violate any of the various treaties."

Ashcroft would not comment directly on the 2002 departmental memo that laid out a rationale in which the president was not necessarily bound by anti-torture laws or treaties because of his authority as commander in chief to protect national security.

Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., asked Ashcroft whether there is any presidential order that "immunizes (from prosecution) interrogators of al-Qaida suspects?"

"The president has issued no such order," Ashcroft replied.

The attorney general said the policy memo on this issue would not be made available to the committee, however. And Ashcroft said that while he respected the constitutional right of Congress to ask questions, "there are certain things that, in the interest of the executive branch operating effectively, that I think it is inappropriate for the attorney general to say."

"Do you think torture might be justified - not a memorandum - just a question to you, attorney general of the United States?" Biden asked.

"I am not going to issue or otherwise discuss hypotheticals. I will leave that to academics," Ashcroft replied.

"John, you sound like you're in the State Department," Biden shot back.

"I condemn torture. ... I don't think it's productive, let alone justified," Ashcroft responded.

Biden told Ashcroft "there's a reason why we (Congress) sign those (anti-torture) treaties" and it is to protect U.S. military personnel.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., blamed the memorandum for the prisoner abuses in the Abu Ghraib facility. [...]

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The issue of breaking the Geneva Conventions goes back several years. Obviously, the Bush Administration had plans to commit war crimes all along. Given the experience of the Neocons in Israeli politics and the unending series of war crimes committed against the Palestinians -- the most obvious being that of "collective guilt" -- we shouldn't be surprised at what is happening now.

Remember this from September 2002?

US wants wider exemptions from war crimes court

By Robert Verkaik Legal Affairs Correspondent
21 September 2002

America is negotiating with Britain and other European Union countries to expand blanket immunity to cover civilian as well as military personnel who might fall foul of the new international war crimes tribunal in the Hague.

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The US ignores international law. It views international law as a violation of its "freedom", that is, its "freedom" to do as it pleases without having to face the consequences of being judged by the rest of the world. For the US, the rest of the world is not good enough to "judge" the US.

But the sorry truth is starting to come out. Bush was seeking ways to circumvent international law because he knew all along that he wanted to torture the victims of his "war on terror."

Bush Advised to Condone War Crimes

By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
08 June 2004

Lawyers for the Bush administration concluded last year that the President was not bound by international laws banning the torture of prisoners and that anyone carrying out his orders could not be prosecuted, it was revealed yesterday.

A classified report prepared just weeks before Mr Bush ordered his forces to invade Iraq concluded that no international law was more important than "obtaining intelligence vital to the protection of untold thousands of American citizens".

While it is not clear precisely what effect the legal ruling had on the interrogation of prisoners captured in Iraq, its revelation was seized on last night by those who claim the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere was not an isolated episode but rather part of a systematic approach to dealing with detainees.

"It's doing away with international law," said Reed Brody of the New York-based group Human Rights Watch. "It's one more piece that shows this pattern of abuse at Abu Ghraib ... resulted from decisions made by the Bush administration to throw out the rules."

The report, a draft of which was obtained by The Wall Street Journal, had been prepared by the staff of Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, to answer complaints of commanders at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp that they were not obtaining "actionable" intelligence from alleged Taliban and al-Qa'ida fighters held there.

The paper was prepared by a working group headed by Air Force General Counsel Mary Walker. It outlined a number of US laws and international treaties that forbid torture but said these could be legally side-stepped in the needs of national security. In November 2001 Mr Bush signed an executive order that established military tribunals to deal with the Guantanamo Bay prisoners, who have not been afforded rights granted to prisoners of war by the Geneva Conventions.

The document said that "the prohibition against torture must be construed as inappropriate to interrogations undertaken pursuant to [President Bush's] commander-in-chief authority". It added: "[The Justice Department has] concluded that it could not bring a criminal prosecution against a defendant who had acted pursuant to an exercise of the President's constitutional power."

The working group's conclusions appear to directly contradict international law. For instance, the Convention against Torture, ratified by the US in 1994, states that "no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency may be invoked as justification for torture ... [and that orders from superiors] may not be invoked as a justification for torture".

Michael Ratner, president of the Centre for Constitutional Rights, said: "The claim that the commander-in-chief power includes the authority to use torture should be unheard of in this day and age. Can one imagine the reaction if those on trial for the atrocities in the former Yugoslavia had tried this defence?"

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So we see that contrary to international law, which explicitly states that "no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency may be invoked as justification for torture ... [and that orders from superiors] may not be invoked as a justification for torture", this is exactly the excuse given to Bush by his advisors.

The following article suggests that this memo was written in August of 2002, which is right at the time that Bush was telling the Europeans that he wanted civilian Americans to be exempt, not only the military.

Bush knew damn well what he was planning.

Justice Department advised White House torture "may be justified"

Tue Jun 8, 4:39 AM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US Justice Department advised the White House in an August 2002 memo that torture during interrogations in the war against terrorism could be justified, The Washington Post said.

The memo, sent by the Justice Department's office of legal council in response to a Central Intelligence Agency request for legal guidance and addressed to White House Counsel Alberto Gonzalez, said international laws against torture "may be unconstitutional if applied to interrogations" conducted in the war on terrorism.

It said torturing a suspect in captivity "may be justified" if the US government employee applying the torture "would be doing so in order to prevent further attacks on the United States by the Al-Qaeda terrorist network."

Arguments centering on "necessity and self-defense could provide justifications that would eliminate any criminal liability" later, said the 50-page document signed by Assistant Attorney General Jay Baybee that was obtained by The Washington Post.

The memo, the daily said, served as basis for a March 2003 classified report Pentagon lawyers prepared for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, after commanders at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, complained that they were not getting enough information from prisoners. The Wall Street Journal on Monday revealed the 2003 report.

The August 2002 memo, The Washington Post said, also argued that inflicting moderate or fleeting pain did not necessarily constitute torture, which "must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death".

The Post said US Army manuals on interrogations were more restrictive, banning such practices as pain induced by chemicals or bondage; forcing an individual to stand, sit or kneel in abnormal positions for prolonged periods of time; and food deprivation.

A Human Rights Watch official expressed dismay at the 2002 memo.

"It is by leaps and bounds the worst thing I've seen since this whole Abu Ghraib scandal broke," said Tom Malinowski, referring to the prison outside Baghdad where US military guards abused Iraqi prisoners.

"It appears that what they were contemplating was the commission of war crimes and looking for ways to avoid legal accountability. The effect is to throw out years of military doctrine and standards on interrogations," he added.

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So Bush knew all along, and his Neocon cronies knew along. What did they know? That they were going to commit war crimes.

The pictures from Iraq are not documentation of a small number of US soldiers gone bad as Bush would like you to think. They are the result of policy, ordered by Bush himself. Bush is guilty of war crimes.

Yet America is silent about it.

Sure, the reports are coming out, but will Bush be impeached? Will Bush and his criminal gang be brought to trial before an international court? The majority of Americans think JFK was murdered by a conspiracy - that is, a group of people. What has ever been done about it?

Nothing.

Why should it be different this time?

Every act in this play is a manipulation. The rabbit hole goes so deep that it is impossible to know the details. If you find someone who tells you they have the answers, they have the goods, they know what is going on, you have someone who is fooling himself.

However, let us not for a minute think that the truth is coming out because America has the freest press, that America has the best and most dogged journalists. The truth is coming out because the powers that be have decided to dump Bush. He is a liability. That is the only reason this information is being made public. They want you to vote for Kerry, to feel that "all is well," that America can correct itself, the same nonsense that was bandied about after Nixon resigned.

While Kerry may be different than Bush on certain aspects of domestic policy, there is no difference on foreign policy. That is why is doesn't make a bit of difference who wins in November from the point of view of the world as a whole. Kerry will continue the US's blind support for Israel. Kerry will continue the occupation of Iraq.

Our reality is controlled - completely. Sure, we may have a certain amount of "freedom" to run around and make things worse, but they can grant us this "freedom" because they know that as long as we remain mechanical automatons, there is nothing "good" that can come out of it.

We live in a hyperdimensional universe. The world we see in front of us is only a minute part of reality. Our world may well be the equivalent to a chicken coop, with us as the chickens running around completely oblivious to the work of the farmer. What does a chicken know about the farmer? That doesn't make the farmer any less real.

U.S. Refuses to Accommodate France on Iraq Military

Mon Jun 7, 2004 04:19 PM ET

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States and Britain on Monday rejected an attempt to give Baghdad a virtual veto over major American military operations after the occupation ends officially on June 30.

A new draft of the resolution, the fourth in two weeks, makes few substantial changes and ignores a proposed amendment by France asking for explicit language in the resolution, rather than side letters, on Iraqi control over sensitive U.S.-led military campaigns.

The revised resolution, obtained by Reuters, does strengthen language on Iraqi sovereignty throughout. It also attempts to accommodate Russia's request for an international conference by saying the U.N. Security Council would consider one if Iraq requested it.

The United States and Britain hope to put the draft to a vote on Tuesday after further Security Council consultations later on Monday. The resolution would give international endorsement to an interim Iraqi government and authorize a U.S.-led multinational force to keep the peace.

Comment: The idea of Iraqi sovereignty under the ongoing US occupation can be summed up best by two words: Horse hockey!

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France Pledges to Back UN Resolution on Iraq

By Timothy Heritage
June 8, 2004

PARIS (Reuters) - France pledged on Tuesday to back a United Nations resolution on the transfer of power in Iraq after the United States and Britain made changes that addressed its concerns.

The decision by France, which has the power of veto on the U.N. Security Council and opposed the war in Iraq, cleared the way for Security Council approval later on Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said France was still not fully satisfied with the resolution but added: "This will not prevent us giving a positive vote in New York to constructively find a political way out of this tragedy."

"For the first time in this matter there has been a real dialogue," he told France Inter radio. "Our demands were listened to. A lot of our ideas are in the text." [...]

At issue was how much control Baghdad's new leaders would have over major U.S.-run military operations after the June 30 transfer of power to Iraq's new government. [...]

"We want in the coming hours to give every guarantee to the new Iraqi government...that it will have all attributes of sovereignty, every possibility to control Iraq's affairs -- justice matters as well as natural resources -- and that it will of course have a say in all security operations," Barnier said.

"I am not sure the Americans are listening to us on this point...We would have wished for more details on what will happen in terms of stability. This is not sufficient reason for us to oppose this resolution." [...]

Comment: So, which is it: a real dialogue between France and the US, or the US isn't listening again?

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Kurds Threaten to Pull Out of Iraqi Government

VOA News
07 Jun 2004, 16:44 UTC

The main Kurdish political parties are threatening to pull out of Iraq's interim government unless a new United Nations Security Council resolution on Iraq endorses Kurdish autonomy.

Masoud Barzani of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and Jalal Talabani of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan made the threat in a publicly-released letter to President Bush.

The two Kurdish leaders said Kurdish autonomy in northern Iraq should be included in the new U.N. resolution or otherwise recognized as law-binding on the transitional government, both before and after elections.

Mr. Barzani and Mr. Talabani also expressed what they called their bitter disappointment that no Kurd was chosen to be either interim prime minister or president of Iraq.

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U.S. training a new Iraqi military force to battle guerrillas at their own game

by Jeffrey Gettleman
The New York Times
June 4, 2004

TAJI, Iraq, June 3 -- American military advisers are forming an all-Iraqi counterinsurgency force and training it in guerrilla tactics like ambushing trucks and hiding alongside the road camouflaged as bushes.

The new force, called the Iraqi National Task Force, is the most ambitious effort yet to fight the uprising using Iraqis, and it already has 1,000 soldiers, with plans to grow to 7,000.

It is being created as a response to the refusal of a group of regular Iraqi soldiers to face insurgents in Fallujah two months ago. That breakdown culminated in a tense standoff on an airfield with eight American marines surrounded by an angry group of 200 armed Iraqis who refused to board helicopters.

"Basically, that scene was the trigger," said Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton, the senior military adviser in charge of training Iraqi security forces. "It was our fault. We tried to send the Iraqi Army into Fallujah before they were ready, and they pushed back. After that, we realized we needed a force that was specially designed to fight in urban areas and ready to fight fellow Iraqis."

Disguised as a bush, a team of the Iraqi National Task Force prepares to fire a rocket-propelled grenade while a mate winds up to throw a hand grenade. The new American-trained force is learning to fight insurgents.

"I personally made the mistake with the Fallujah incident," General Eaton said. "I didn't appreciate all the conflicting loyalties these guys have -- to their families, their tribes, their imams, their sects. I've learned a lot since then of the psychology of young Iraqi men and what we're up against."

The general said all soldiers who volunteered for the task force had to agree to a mission statement that pledged they would fight terrorists, former elements of the fallen Saddam Hussein government and insurgents within Iraq. Some task force soldiers take an oath; others make a more informal commitment.

The new force is being trained at Taji, a big military-industrial complex north of Baghdad littered with the detritus of conflicts past: burned-out tanks, smashed factories and office buildings with hallways that are crunchy with shattered glass. [...]

The lesson: do as the insurgents do.

The American advisers say the counterinsurgency task force is the best trained of the Iraqi security services and is also the best equipped -- outfitted with rocket-propelled grenades, hand grenades and heavy machine guns. [...]

Many members of the new task force said they were eager to kill erhabi, or terrorists. But when the question turned to fighting the mujahedeen, they sounded less sure.

"Many of these mujahedeen are poor farmers and uneducated," said Lt. Ahmed Hamid Kadem, a 25-year-old Iraqi officer from Basra. "I hope we don't have to fight them. They are our people."

Lieutenant Kadem added, however, "if we must fight them, we will wipe them out."

Col. Shafeen Abdul Majid is a steely eyed Kurdish fighter who, the American advisers say, is one of the most promising task force officers. He said the key to fighting the resistance was "making your soldiers understand they are fighting for Iraq, not against it."

The new force will use sport utility vehicles so that it can be light and mobile. Units have been carefully constructed to ensure that Iraq's three major groups -- Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds -- are proportionally represented.

Most of the recruits are former Iraqi Army soldiers. The American advisers say all have been vetted through computer databases to make sure they are not wanted terrorists or suspected of war crimes, but commanders acknowledge the system is not foolproof. Members of the task force are paid the same as the regular Iraqi Army, starting around $150 per month.

The task force is part of the push to get Iraqi security forces up and running before the United States transfers authority to an interim Iraqi government on June 30.

American advisers say they are pleased with the progress. The original goal for the police force was 85,000 officers; 92,000 have been hired. The border patrol is fully staffed at 17,000 officers, and so is the facility protection services, with 74,000 officers. The civil defense corps is at 25,000 members, with another 15,000 to go. The army is the furthest from its goal, with 7,000 soldiers out of the 35,000 intended. [...]

Comment: It seems the US up to its old tricks again. Of course, no mention is made of any instruction on torture techniques - but then Iraqis have already learned all they need to know on that subject from their "liberators".

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U.S. planes pound Afghan caves

CBC
Mon, 07 Jun 2004 20:08:01

KABUL - U.S. warplanes bombed caves in southern Afghanistan where insurgents were thought to have taken refuge following a clash between militants and American troops, the U.S. military said Monday.

The planes struck on Sunday in an area near Tirin Kot, which is 400 kilometres southwest of Kabul. U.S. marines recently set up a base there, said Lt.-Col. Tucker Mansager.

Militants numbering "in the tens and twenties" were hiding in the caves, Mansager said.

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Richard Clarke: Threat of instability in Saudi Arabia more worrying than Iraq

The Associated Press
June 7, 2004 1:16 PM

Madrid, Spain -- He's written of missed warnings about Al-Qaida and other terror groups.

Now former presidential counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke is training a concerned eye at Saudi Arabia.

Clark said in Madrid today that government instability in Saudi Arabia deserves special attention. He warns of a repeat of the situation in Iran following the fall of the U-S-backed shah in 1979.

Clarke is in Spain, promoting a Spanish version of his best-selling book "Against All Enemies."

He says Saudi Arabia should be of greater concern to world politics and economics than pre-war Iraq.

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BBC reporter still critically ill

Tuesday, 8 June, 2004

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner remains critically ill in hospital after being shot by gunmen in the Saudi capital Riyadh.
Gardner, 42, an expert on al-Qaeda, had hours of surgery after the attack.

Cameraman Simon Cumbers, 36, was killed when they were shot with a machine pistol apparently from a jeep in a southern suburb of the city.

Saudi security forces are hunting the gunmen who struck as they filmed the house of an al-Qaeda militant.

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Attack on BBC crew 'not a random shooting'

Jason Deans, broadcasting editor
Tuesday June 8, 2004

A senior Saudi journalist who spoke to Frank Gardner shortly before the BBC security correspondent was critically wounded in a shooting on Sunday has said the attack was probably pre-planned.

Khaled Almaeena, the editor in chief of English-language daily newspaper Arab News, spoke to Gardner on Sunday afternoon - but did not know at the time he was planning to visit the Riyadh suburb of Suweidi, a known al-Qaida stronghold.

Freelance BBC cameraman Simon Cumbers died in the shooting on Sunday evening and Gardner remains in a critical but stable condition in a Saudi hospital, following extensive surgery for multiple gunshot wounds.

"He texted me and I did call him back later, but he didn't tell me he was going [to Suweidi]. I wish he had told me - I would have told him not to go," Almaeena said.

"It's not a bad area, but the fact that he was taking a camera in there and going to the home of a known radical who has been killed... I believe it was not a random shooting. I believe there was a spotter who might have called someone.

"That area is middle class, hustle-bustle, conservative. Something went wrong, tragically. Was he followed? Was he lured into that place?" he added.

Almaeena said he was surprised that Gardner, who had many years' experience of reporting on the Middle East, had been caught up in such an incident.

"I know Frank well. He was a real security expert, he knew the nuances. He took precautions," he said.

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Saudi special forces guard BBC reporter

London, June 8. (Guardian News Service): Saudi special forces were guarding the BBC's security correspondent, Frank Gardner, in a Riyadh hospital Monday night as doctors worked to save his life.

Gardner was left for dead by gunmen who killed his cameraman in an attack on Sunday that once again highlighted the deteriorating security situation in the kingdom.

Saudi officials were quick to speculate that the attack was linked to al-Qaeda.

The UK's Channel 4 News said last night there was evidence that Gardner, who has been tenacious in his pursuit of stories relating to Osama bin Laden and his followers, had been deliberately targeted.

Two BBC managers and a security adviser flew to Riyadh in the hope of piecing together the events that led to the death of Simon Cumbers, an experienced freelance who had accompanied Gardner.

Cumbers' widow, Louise Bevan, and two other family members went with the BBC team to bring home his body. The BBC staff was planning to visit Gardner in hospital as soon as they arrived.

He was in a critical but stable condition yesterday, having suffered extensive injuries to his abdomen. Internal bleeding had been stopped, although he remained unconscious.

The attack took place when Gardner and Cumbers were filming outside the home of a militant with links to al-Qaeda, who, according to local press reports, was killed in December. Cumbers, 36, is thought to have died almost instantly.

Gardner and Cumbers were accompanied by a guide from the Saudi ministry of information and possibly a driver.

There are reports they were separated from their guide before they were shot.

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Australia, allies revamp defence pact

abc.net.au
Monday, June 7, 2004. 10:00pm (AEST)

Australia, Britain, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore have agreed to overhaul a 30-year-old defence alliance to tackle the threat of terror and religious militancy, especially at sea.

The broadening of the Five Powers Defence Arrangements (FPDA), set up in 1971 primarily to protect Malaysia and Singapore from invasion, would add counter-terror operations to the group's annual joint military exercises.

"There will be anti-hijack exercises and surveillance exercises," Malaysian Defence Minister Najib Razak told a news conference in Singapore.

The ministers agreed in Singapore the new exercises would focus on maritime security following a surge of attacks in recent years by sea pirates in South-east Asia's busy Malacca Strait, through which a third of world trade passes.

The first anti-terrorist exercises will take place in September and October in the South China Sea, said Singapore Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean, adding that the ministers agreed to focus on three key areas of maritime security.

"One is to coordinate our patrols, secondly to have more information exchange, thirdly, also to have our operation centres communicate more closely together," he said.

The FPDA has to date largely addressed conventional military threats to its members in the region.

The group has said it is looking at ways to expand this role and become more relevant, especially following a rise in sea piracy and Islamic militancy.

Singapore has repeatedly warned of the potential link between pirates and religious militant networks such as Jemaah Islamiah (JI), blamed for the deadly 2002 bomb blasts on the Indonesian island of Bali and widely linked to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda.

The FPDA remains unique as the only multilateral regional security arrangement with an operational dimension.

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Police Arrest Suspected Militants in Europe Swoop

By Emilio Parodi
June 8, 2004

MILAN (Reuters) - Police in France, Spain, Italy and Belgium launched raids on suspected Islamic militants, arresting at least two men accused of playing a role in the Madrid train bombings in March, Italian judicial sources said on Tuesday.

The sources, confirming reports carried by Italian daily Corriere della Sera, said one man was arrested late on Monday in Milan. A second suspected militant was also detained by Italian police, they said.

The sources said the cross-border operation involved police in France, Spain and Belgium, as well as in Italy.

"It is coordinated at the European level," one source said. [...]

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Armed stand-off at nuclear bunker

BBC
Tuesday, 8 June, 2004, 08:25 GMT 09:25 UK

Armed police have been deployed to a stand-off at a former underground nuclear command bunker in Fife.

A man has shut himself in the bunker, which now operates as a museum, after gaining access at about 0130 BST.

Police do not know if the man is armed or not, but the museum has a wide range of weapons in its displays - including imitation firearms and knives.

Scotland's Secret Bunker is hidden 100ft underground below a farmhouse at Troywood, near Anstruther. [...]

Radar station

The former nuclear bunker, which was kept secret for 40 years, is now part of a Cold War museum.

There is 24,000 sq ft of accommodation on two levels, accessed by travelling along a 150m tunnel from the farmhouse.

The bunker opened in 1952 as a Royal Air Force radar station, but was taken over in the 1960s by the Civil Defence Corps.

It was designated as the centre of Scottish government in the event of a nuclear war. [...]

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Anxiety runs high at G-8 summit site

Heightened security, potential for violence prompt residents of Sea Island, Ga., to flee before talks

By Larry Copeland / USA TODAY
June 7, 2004

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Charles Lott, who owns the downtown drugstore here, is "so paranoid" he's leaving town for the duration. Carolyn Hearn is leaving, too, because of the anticipated hassles getting on and off nearby Sea Island, where she lives.

Rhonda Jimerson is staying, but she's afraid of "getting caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time." And Royal Chipp will forgo fishing off the St. Simons Island pier.

The Group of Eight economic summit begins Tuesday on Sea Island, a retreat for the very wealthy just six miles from this port city of 16,000. For three days, President Bush and seven other world leaders will hold high-powered talks on trade and other issues.

But residents of coastal Georgia, particularly Brunswick, Sea Island and St. Simons Island, already are feeling the impact. Many are heading inland, fleeing with an edge-of-panic intensity usually seen with approaching hurricanes. Lots of business owners plan to close. Shipyard workers and others without that option fret over getting snared in the massive security apparatus protecting the summit.

"There is some nervous anticipation, primarily from not knowing what to expect," says Brunswick Mayor Brad Brown.

What has many worried is the fear of violent protests. In 1999, at the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle, anti-globalization demonstrators set fires in downtown streets, producing an estimated $3 million in damage and 600 arrests. At the 2001 G-8 summit in Genoa, Italy, police fatally shot one demonstrator and arrested 300 others.

Last week, Attorney General John Ashcroft said next week's summit could be one of several high-profile U.S. events targeted this summer by al-Qaida.

Taking no chances, authorities have amassed an overwhelming security presence in coastal Georgia. More than 10,000 local, state and federal officers will protect the summit and maintain order. Gov. Sonny Perdue declared a state of emergency in six counties and deployed the state National Guard. Beginning Saturday, access to Sea Island will be restricted to residents and summit participants.

Heightened security

Everywhere, residents can see evidence of the heightened security. Small military encampments dot the causeway leading to Sea Island and are visible on nearby Jekyll Island. Helicopters and military jets fly overhead practically non-stop. Stacks of concrete barricades are everywhere, awaiting deployment.

People here talk about Seattle in tones of dread. Many say the authorities have done little to allay their fears.

"They have made us so paranoid about everything," says Lott, who has owned City Drug Store for 24 years. "I don't know if I should sit outside with my shotgun." [...]

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Lockdown on Sea Island

The body bags have been shipped in
, locals are running scared, and foreigners are being arrested and deported. Organisers of this week's G8 Summit are taking no chances with security. E Jane Dickson reports from a community under siege

08 June 2004

[...] When it was announced a year ago that President Bush would be hosting the 2004 G8 Summit on Sea Island (Sea Island as in cotton, as in slaves), the upscale resort where George Bush Snr and Barbara spent their honeymoon, there was a surge of civic pride in this sleepy corner of coastal Georgia. The summit, locals confidently predicted, would put the Golden Isles (so called for the region's spectacular sunsets) on the world map. Millions of government dollars would pour into local coffers. There would be untold improvements to the islands' infrastructure; holiday rentals - on which the seasonal economy substantially rests - would go through the roof; local shops and restaurants would see an unprecedented boom. In short, the Golden Isles would enjoy their very own Klondike.

It didn't work out. As the summit opens today, the atmosphere on St Simons is more ghost town than gold-rush. In the days before an earthquake, it's said to be the cats who leave first. The cats of St Simons appear unfazed - it's the eerie absence of automobiles that tells you something is about to blow. In a community where four- or five-car families are not unusual, driveways stand deserted. For days, the Humvees streaming across the slender causeway that is the islands' only link to the mainland have been met with nose-to-tail traffic streaming in the opposite direction; around half the islands' residents have evacuated, scared silly by the double, and largely undifferentiated, threats of international terrorism and violent protest.

"How did this happen?" asks local teacher David Ray Dockery ("Hairy Dave" to his friends), hurling industrial quantities of organic cereal and dog food into his pick-up in preparation for the exodus to the mainland. "We're just a little-bitty island. No one ever thought we'd be put in a position where we'd have a bullseye on our back."

Paranoia, perhaps. But there's nothing like the chunter of helicopters to put the wind up a generation raised on M*A*S*H. The skies along the coast, normally the arena for spectacular aeronautics by brown pelicans, are black with military aircraft, swooping low over the houses on endless security sorties. Roadside checkpoints, manned by cheery grunts cradling machine-guns, are scarcely more reassuring.

"This is real scary shit," says Jay Thompson, a Delta flight attendant, who has decided to sit out the siege at home. "We never had a war here. We're not used to seeing tanks and guns on American soil. This is stuff you see in movies." [...]

And what of the fabled bonanza for local business? Some of the shops on St Simons are boarded up against protesters. Others are open, but empty.

Last week shopkeepers took out an advertisement begging for local custom to make up for the lack of profitable visitors. (Feds aren't big on buying knick-knacks). The hotel and rental industry, with the notable exception of The Sea Island Company, has suffered a massive loss.

One hotel was block-booked by government agencies, presumably to queer the pitch for the more affluent protester, and last week, the bookings were cancelled. No apology, no explanation, and, crucially, no compensation.

So there won't be too many people on St Simons waving the G8 flags today. "No matter which way you look at it, you're polishing a turd," says Hairy Dave. "You can polish it up as much as you want, dress it up in pretty pink ribbons, and what have you got at the end? A shiny turd."

Comment: Clearly, from the above, there are at least two realities existing side by side at present on our planet. One is the reality of the ordinary citizen, the daily grind, where world events are mere pictures on a TV screen. The other is the reality of those that have the resources to actually change the status quo as they so choose. It is the reality of this latter group that is currently being forced on the masses, provoking a bewildered response from the average citizen. As the reality of our "leaders" increasingly encroaches on our daily lives, we are all tasked with with choosing whether we will believe what we are told, even what we see, or if we will dig for the truth and expose it.

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Where is the Horror?

by Magnus Ekervik
June 07, 2004


In recent weeks I as many other financial writers have noticed the extreme M3 expansion by the FED. The size of expansion is what would follow after a catastrophic event that could threaten the financial system like the WTC attacks or the failure of LTCM. What kind of horror forces the FED to hyper inflate M3? I believe this is the most important question at the moment.

Some writers try to explain that the FED is hyper inflating to counteract the underlying forces of global deflation. I agree that deflationary forces are like a wet blanket over the global economy. However we have had deflationary forces in the economy due to overinvestment/overcapacity since at least 2000. I am not satisfied with such a general explanation to this last month sudden super growth in M3. I think there is a more specific reason for the FED's action!

OK, what kind of horror has got the FED spooked? They must know something since they are acting before the event has become public. [...]

I think the FED directly or indirectly via US banks are liquefying the two Government Sponsored Enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (together FF or GSE from now on) [...]

Conclusion: If the FED is repeatedly warning us about the possible financial systemic risk of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac I think it is wise to be on full alert for a crisis in these companies. I think they are experiencing a crisis already and the FED is pumping billions of M3 to liquefy these companies. Remember that what you have read above is the official version from the FED. The official version is scary enough, who knows how they talk about this issue behind closed doors. I think a severe shock is about to hit the financial markets in the form of a GSE collapse. A crash like this will throw the US and world economies into recession so fast it will make your head spin. Eventually these events will lead the global economies into a new depression...

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The Last Noble Defender of the American Republic

By Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman
Democracy Now!
June 8, 2004

Editor's Note: This is excerpted from the transcript of a June 4 interview of Gore Vidal by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez.

Gore Vidal is a national icon. He is the author of more than 20 novels and five plays. He is one of the best-known chroniclers of American history and politics and his works have been translated into dozens of languages across the globe. He once told a magazine interviewer, "There is not one human problem that could not be solved... if people would simply do as I advise." And for more than a half a century, he has done just that. [...]

His grandfather was a senator and his father worked for the Roosevelt administration. But rather than pursuing a family career of politics and privilege, Gore Vidal dedicated himself to writing and critiquing the injustices of American society. Following the publication of the first two of his latest trilogy of books examining the American empire, Vidal was described as the last "noble defender" of the American republic, America's last "small-r" republican. [...]

Amy Goodman: In his latest book, Gore Vidal writes that "not since the 1846 attack on Mexico in order to seize California has an American government been so nakedly predatory." He describes the current president as being like a man in one of those dreams who knows he's safe in bed and so can commit any crime he likes in his voluptuous dream. No one can stop him. Gore Vidal joins us now in our Firehouse Studio here in Chinatown, Downtown Community Television. Welcome to Democracy Now!.

Gore Vidal: Thank you. This is probably my first encounter in the United States with democracy. And I've lived a long time. Here we are in Chinatown, in the firehouse, and I feel free. But we're supposed to in a democracy. [...]

Amy Goodman: Why use the word, "imperial," in your title, Imperial America?

Gore Vidal: Because everyone hates it so much. I remember years ago, Time magazine, in one of its numerous attacks on me, on my first book of essays, which was heaven knows when, 30, 40 years ago, I refer to the American empire and things that we were doing that were not very good across the world, and I referred to the empire. And Time magazine dismissed me. It was an awful review. I pointed out that we had troops and so on in over 1,000 other places around the world. That seems imperial to me, but there we are. Ever since then, I have loved the word, because it just drives them crazy.

But we are a world empire, hated by all, and not to mention the least, our own people, since we don't have any money left for anything. So, you started to go somewhere and I had written about Bush that he's like a kind of crazy kid in a dream, and he thinks he's invulnerable, and he's marching along through a dry forest, and he's lighting matches, dropping them, watching the fires, dropping another one. I had always assumed, like all good Americans, that he was a hypocrite, particularly on religious matters. Suddenly, it began to hit me, he may be another Reagan. He may really believe these are the end of times. What difference does it make? The world's going to end anyway. Why save the environment? Save it for what, you know? We're all going to be upstairs as sunbeams for Jesus. If he's one of those – well, those of us who can afford it will emigrate, and the others will be with Jesus in a higher sphere.

Juan Gonzalez: You talk about President Bush throwing matches or lighting matches in the forest. Your book, I thought, some of the most powerful parts were when you go into all of the outright lies of the Bush administration, and you spend quite a bit of time on his Healthy Forest Initiative and his response to wildfires. Can you expound a little bit on this?

Gore Vidal: Well, part of imperial America is just sort of a list of the lies that he has told us, and there's a special law against people who lie to the American people, whether they're in the Legislative Branch of the government, Judiciary or the Executive, like the president. He has now told so many lies that he knew to be lies, and that we know to be lies about everything that he can be on, I think it's 12 counts – he can be impeached immediately, without much fuss, if you had a majority of people who wanted to impeach him in the House of Representatives. Then we go on trial in the senate as poor Bill Clinton found when he lied about sex, which in my day that is what gentlemen were supposed to do. [...]

Amy Goodman: President Bush speaking at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. President Bush comparing the conflict in Iraq to World War II. Today he's headed to Normandy. He just met with the Pope this morning on the anniversary of D-day. Your response, Gore Vidal?

Gore Vidal: Well, I'd like to be a fly on that wall where he meets the Pope, who highly disapproves of our imperial mission around the world. The Pope, although he's generally interested in sex only, (that is part of the Roman Catholic doctrine of power over the individual) the Pope is a good guy on matters of war and peace. He doesn't like war, and he doesn't like Bush. He doesn't like the United States at this moment. So, I would think that was a very chilling meeting between the two of them. It was chilly when Ronald Reagan went to see him, but Reagan went to sleep, and it was a wonderful meeting, you know. The pope said a few prayers, and there was Ron, snoring softly, and everybody was saying in a very - "it's been a very long trip, you know, from America here." And there's Reagan, sound asleep in front of all of the cameras. But to compare the preemptive wars of Mr. Bush, which are totally illegal, which offend – if I may paraphrase Thomas Jefferson – the decent opinion of mankind. The entire world is horrified by what we do. He goes into an innocent country called Afghanistan, knocks it down. One of his cabinet members knocks it down. Then he gives contracts to rebuild it to his vice president with Halliburton. Then he knocks down another country which has done nothing to us.

Juan Gonzalez: One of the big sections in your book is a privatizing of the American elections. Many people have almost forgotten Florida already, but we're now in a new year, a new election year, and already as we reported earlier on the show, CNN has sued the state of Florida to try to get the list of the newest list of felons about to be purged from the rolls in Florida. You have a lot to say about what will – what could possibly happen with these elections, and what we, the nation, still have not dealt with about the last election?

Gore Vidal: Well, the sinister thing – or certainly a sinister thing has been the privatizing of the elections, outsourcing, to use the latest catch phrase, is that for some time now people have been dissatisfied with the dangling chads and so on. There's a special act of Congress calling for a lot of money to be spent in order to bring up to date the voting machinery. It's touch screen stuff. It's supposed to be very popular with the voters. Well, it's the most easily corrupted of all, because you touch the screen, and you vote for Kerry, and then your vote suddenly is transformed almost immediately, and there's no track of it ever registering anywhere but in the hearts of heaven.

I go into great detail in the course of Imperial America into how three companies have absolutely got hold of the voting machinery, and Diebold, is the number one, and in the state of California where I am living, at least the California legislature backed them up and said in Orange County, which is one of the largest counties in L.A. during the recall election, recently something like 7,000 votes – nobody can track them. There is no record that you voted. They call it a paper trail.

The head of Diebold, which is the number one manufacturer of these machines, is on record as saying he's a working Republican, and he's already written a fundraising letter to the voters of Ohio, which is a swing state, saying, well, I'll do everything I can to make sure that Ohio votes for President Bush. Well, noble partisanship and we're a free country. You can work for anybody who you want to, but don't make the machines, and don't make them unaccountable.

Absolutely it's difficult to find what goes on in these machines. So, in California, the legislature has already asked them to re-examine, and perhaps get rid of them, but you see, I mean, November is almost here. They're all over Georgia. They're all over Maryland. You could well lose the election if you had friends in high places with the three companies that produced these machines. You can change the election. Everybody could vote for Kerry, and suddenly, there is Bush once again, an unelected President, but serving his time and quacking away. You know, as though he were the real thing. Wartime President. I'm a wartime President.

Why, if we had any media in the country that was honest, and we don't, somebody would have pointed out this is not wartime. You cannot have a war without a declaration. Article two of the Constitution of the United States declaring war, and that should be the House of Representatives. That is the law of the land. He said, "I'm a wartime President." well, good for him, but he isn't. There's no war except what he has declared. That's on Afghanistan and what he has declared on Iraq. There is no war, and why they don't stop him right there. I'd switch him right off the air. I would have the voice going, President Bush is under a misapprehension that we are at war. We are not at war. He is at war. [...]

Amy Goodman: What can people do now? You have described grave problems. Elections being stolen. A war not declared, but engaged in.

Gore Vidal: I should think if there were a great and eloquent voice opposite to that of Bush – in other words, if Kerry could only take off and start to say the things that I have been saying somewhat light heartedly, if he could say them a bit more heavy heartedly, then would you have an opposition and then would you have a big turnout. You might have a real vote going on. It wasn't until I watched, to my amazement, my cousin Albert Gore give that wonderful speech up at N.Y.U. was it? He sounded – you know, the Gore blood. I'm making no pun, but the Gore blood was at last rippling.

Suddenly, there he is up there at N.Y.U. And he sounds like a President we didn't get. I mean, he was elected President, and I think this bothers George W. Bush every day, if somebody told you about it. I have a funny feeling that he doesn't know that he lost the election. Because he sounds so confident. I think he thought he was elected by a landslide, you know. Anything he wants to do, he can do. Because I'm a wartime President.

Amy Goodman: The 9/11 commission report?

Gore Vidal: Well, the 9/11, I haven't heard any final – there's no final report yet.

Amy Goodman: No, no. There isn't. But in terms of the kind of investigation that we have seen.

Gore Vidal: I'm astonished that they allowed anything, and then I was not in the least surprised that urgent questions were not really asked or answered. I mean, it's better than nothing. I mean, you know, we only get a tiny bone of democracy. I can say that on this program, which is dedicated to democracy. Incidentally, for your listeners, viewers, the word "democracy" is not only never mentioned in the Constitution of the United States, but democracy was something that the founding fathers hated. This is not generally known because it shouldn't be known, but it is. I wrote a little book about it called, "Inventing A Nation," that Yale published last year. Our founders feared two things. One was the rule of the people, which they thought would just be a mess. And they feared tyranny, which we had gone through King George III, and so they wanted a republic, a safe place for men – white men of property to do business in. This is not ideal, but it's better than what we have.

So, here we are bringing democracy to the poor Afghans, but only real democracy, of course, is in the prisons, which we have specialized in everywhere. One interesting thing that came out of all of that mess was now the world knows how we treat Americans in American prisons. All of that behavior, the humiliation and violence and so on, that is typical of not so much – of federal prisons somewhat, but state prisons, municipal prisons, detention centers. This is the nation of torture, and those who disagree with me, you can write an angry letter at this very moment, if you can write at all. Sit down and write an angry letter to the Commander In Chief. Have him examine the prisons. [...]

Comment: Many Americans look up to Gore Vidal, hoping that the situation in the US will change. Vidal's words can also be used as "proof" that dissent is tolerated. While Vidal makes some good points about Americas actions both past and present, perhaps Vidal is a puppet just like Bush. Consider that Vidal's grandfather was a senator, his father worked in the Roosevelt administration, and his cousin is Al Gore. Consider that he is essentially promoting Kerry for president and highlighting his cousin's recent speeches against Bush. Certainly Vidal would be aware that Kerry has made it clear that his policies would be no different than those of Bush...

It appears that many of those in power in Washington didn't achieve their status by their own accomplishments, although they would like the masses to believe that this is so. Rather, it seems that power in America is achieved through a bitter cocktail of "cronyism", money, and psychopathy. If you know the right people, your family is rich, daddy is a former CIA man, you graduated from Yale, and your grandfather made piles of money by supporting the Nazis, you too can become president - just ask George Jr.

At the same time, it seems that the younger Bush is a puppet. The actions of the Bush administration can be traced back to those Neocons with old ties to the Bush family. The younger Bush is described by some as a religious fanatic who views his war on terror as some sort of crusade. Disagreeing with the president is allegedly regarded as political suicide. When the powers that be pull Bush's strings, he dances. If they let go of the strings, he will fall.

One might observe that while the Bush family certainly has a lot of power, there are other powerful groups and individuals both on stage and behind the scenes. They are no doubt quarreling madly to obtain as much power and control for themselves as they can, especially since they are most likely aware that something big is coming. The Pentagon issued a report on the dire consequences of global climate change, and it's coming a lot sooner than the public expects. Elements of the US government have drafted all sorts of plans, from invading other countries under a new imperialist doctrine to dramatically reducing the population of the world in various ways.

Seen from this perspective, one might lump Vidal and Gore in the Kerry camp. Vidal could simply be part of the plan to attempt to dethrone Bush. On the other hand, the current administration has hinted at terror attacks before the fall elections. If they are pushed, they will push back to retain control. Perhaps there are no plans to get rid of Bush...

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RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE SET IN DENVER FOR JUNE 7TH

RECORD EVENT REPORT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DENVER CO
424 PM MDT MON JUN 07 2004

AT 336 PM MDT...THE HIGH TEMPERATURE AT DENVER INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT REACHED 98 DEGREES. THIS BREAKS THE 130 YEAR OLD RECORD OF 97 DEGREES WHICH WAS SET IN 1874.

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Earthquake hits 2.7 on the Richter scale

Associated Press

ARDMORE, Okla. - Dishes fell out of cabinets and houses trembled as an earthquake shook parts of southern Oklahoma on Monday.

Seismographs showed that the quake registered at 2.7 on the Richter scale, said Jim Lawson, chief geophysicist with the Oklahoma Geological Survey.

"We thought it might have been bigger with dishes falling," Lawson said, earlier estimating it at 3.0. "But the seismographs only says 2.7."

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Moderate earthquake hits Hokkaido Japan

Hokkaido, Japan, Jun. 7 (UPI) -- The U.S. Geological Survey said a moderate earthquake Monday jolted eastern Hokkaido, Japan, about 550 miles from Tokyo.

The Mainichi Daily News said there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage to propertt.

The earthquake that struck at 1:14 p.m. local time registered 3 on the 7-point Japanese intensity scale in Kushiro; 2 in Ashoro, Obihiro and Shikaoi; and 1 in Mikasa, Kurisawa and the Aomori Prefecture town of Kanita.

The survey said the center of the earthquake, estimated to have measured 5 on the Richter scale, was located about 42 miles (69 kilometers) below the seabed off Kushiro.

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New quake jolts mountains north of Tehran

TEHRAN (AFP) Jun 07, 2004

A fresh earthquake measuring 4.1 on the Richter scale hit the mountains north of Tehran Monday, just over a week after a quake in the region left 35 dead and hundreds injured.

The Geophysics Institute of Tehran University said it registered the mild tremor at 8:31 am (0401 GMT), with the epicenter near the mountain town of Baladeh.

According to the official news agency IRNA, there were no immediate reports of casualties or serious damage.

Since May 28, when a quake measuring between 5.5 and 6.1 on the Richter scale hit the Elburz mountain range, some 297 aftershocks have been registered here, many of them felt in the capital itself.

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Thousands Flee as Indonesian Volcano Rumbles

Tue 8 June, 2004 11:25
By Emmy Zumaidar

JAKARTA (Reuters) - As many as 20,000 people have been evacuated from the slopes of an Indonesian volcano that hurled dust and dark smoke high into the sky on Tuesday in a sign it may be about to erupt.

Mount Awu on Sangihe island, some 1,400 miles northeast of Jakarta, began spewing ash last week and authorities put residents living on the island near the Philippines on the highest level of alert on Monday.

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Alert issued as storm Conson approaches Taiwan

TAIPEI (AFP) Jun 07, 2004

Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau issued an alert Monday as tropical storm Conson approached the island, bringing with it the possibility of torrential rains that could trigger landslides and floods.

At 8:00 pm (1200 GMT) the center of the storm was 560 kilometersmiles) south-southwest of Oranpi, the southernmost tip of Taiwan.

With a radius of 150 kilometers, the storm was moving north-northeast at an hourly speed of 14 kilometers.

The bureau said the edge of the storm may swipe at Taiwan late Tuesday if it kept moving at the present direction and speed.

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Luna move could be imminent, says DFO

Jun 7 2004 09:44 AM PDT

VICTORIA - The Department of Fisheries and Oceans says Luna the lonely killer whale could soon be on the move - in an effort to re-unite him with his family.

The orca has taken up residence in the Nootka Sound area on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and has become a nuisance and safety problem for boaters and float planes.

DFO spokesperson Marilyn Joyce says the experts are waiting to see Luna's L-pod take up residence in the Strait of Juan de Fuca before taking action.

But she says the pod's behavior has been unusual. "In a normal year we would see all of L and K pod return to the area as one big group. It's been a little bit strange this year."

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Chimps could be extinct in 50 years

By Ed Stoddard
Tuesday June 8, 08:34 AM

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Humanity's closest relative the chimpanzee could be extinct in around 50 years because it is hunted for meat and threatened by deforestation and disease, researchers say.

Only 8,000 remain of the most vulnerable chimpanzee subspecies, the Pan troglodytes vellerosus, which is found predominantly in Nigeria, and it could be extinct in two decades, according to a study.

The study was presented at a conference of The Pan African Sanctuaries Alliance (PASA) in Johannesburg. PASA sanctuaries care for orphaned or injured great apes. [...]

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Yukon villagers believe they saw Bigfoot

WebPosted Jun 7 2004 04:03 PM CDT

WHITEHORSE - A Sasquatch sighting has tongues wagging in the Yukon village of Teslin.

Two people say they saw the fabled bushman, also known as Bigfoot, cross the highway at the construction zone near the Teslin airport.

Marion Sheldon and Gus Jules were driving down the side of the highway on an all-terrain vehicle on Saturday evening.

They reported the sighting to Conservation Officer Dave Bakica.

"They claim they thought it was a person standing beside the road, but couldn't tell from all the dust," said Bakica.

"By the time they turned around to look back they said this person was completely covered in hair and took just two strides to get across the whole Alaska highway."

Bakica said the pair told him that by the time the got back to the location, the person or animal or thing had disappeared into the bush.

Teslin is 160 kilometres south of Whitehorse.

The conservation officer said he searched the area for tracks but they may have been wiped out by Saturday evening's rain.

Both witnesses appeared very shaken by the sighting.

Sheldon and Jules say they don't want to talk about the experience until they have consulted with local Teslin Tlingit elders.

For thousands of years sightings of the elusive, bipedal ape-man have been reported, throughout North America's Pacific northwest and as far away as China.

The creature has long featured in First Nation oral traditions.

Bigfoot believers, a small group of dedicated scientists among them, say the primate is likely the offspring of an ape from Asia that wandered to North America during the Ice Age.

Some believe there are at least 2,000 ape people walking upright in North America's woods today.

An adult male is estimated to stand at least 2.4 metres (8 feet) tall and weigh 360 kilograms or 800 pounds.

The hairy creatures are described as shy and nocturnal.

The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization web site reports a sighting in south-central British Columbia, near Kamloops on May 17.

A resident said that while driving he saw what he believed to be a father and son Sasquatch near the side of the road, getting a drink of water.

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Satanic Ritual Blamed for Death of Italian Teens

By Rachel Sanderson
Mon Jun 7,12:25 PM ET

ROME (Reuters) - An Italian magistrate warned against the growing lure of Antichrist cults in Catholic Italy Monday after the discovery of the bodies of two teenagers killed in a satanic sacrifice.

Police announced at the weekend they had uncovered the bodies of 19-year-old Chiara Marino and 16-year-old Fabio Tollis, last seen in January 1998 leaving a pizzeria with other members of their heavy metal rock band "Beasts of Satan."

As forensic experts searched the two meter (six foot six inches) deep grave in a wood in northern Italy, police said they had arrested four of the band members for murdering the pair for a human sacrifice.

"It is a crime with a level of cruelty and savagery, with an intent to cause extreme pain through ritual activity, that I have never seen before in my career," chief investigating magistrate Antonio Pizzi told Reuters.

"There was a very specific ritual with very specific rites and at the end of that Chiara and Fabio were killed."

Italian media said witness statements showed Marino and Tollis died during a cocaine-fueled ritual where Marino, a petite brunette, was killed under a full moon by knife plunged into her heart.

Tollis, the lead singer of the band, was killed with a hammer blow to the head when he realized the other band members were going ahead with Marino's murder and tried to stop it. [...]

What has fueled the fear are suggestions the double sacrifice near the town of Busto Arsizio may not be isolated.

"Four people have been arrested for the murder of the two teenagers, but the investigations are ongoing. We are looking at other levels of involvement," Pizzi said. [...]

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How D-day veteran hitched a lift with a president

Jamie Wilson
Tuesday June 8, 2004
The Guardian

Getting on the wrong bus usually spells disaster, but for one second world war veteran on Sunday it led to the ride of a lifetime.

Keith Coleman, a former RAF gunner from New Zealand, had been hoping the coach he jumped on after the main international D-day ceremony in Arromanches would take him back to Paris. Instead he ended up stranded at a remote military airfield.

But help came from a most unexpected quarter when the 86-year-old was invited by President Jacques Chirac to fly back to the French capital on board one of the country's presidential jets.

"I left the ceremony and there was this bus outside that people were getting on to and I thought to myself, I'll give this one a go," Mr Coleman, who was travelling alone and does not speak French, said yesterday. But at the end of the ride, the other veterans got on a plane and he was alone.

Mr Coleman, who flew more than 70 sorties over occupied Europe in bombers and fighters, had a look in the terminal.

"There was this important-looking guy wearing gold braid who I told my story to and I guess he must have felt sorry for me, because he made a few phone calls and told me he thought he could get me back to Paris," he said.

The next thing he knew he was being driven at more than 150mph to another airfield where two Gulfstream jets were parked. He was given a glass of what he said was "the best red wine I've ever tasted" before a vast cavalcade pulled up and Mr Chirac stepped out.

"He came over ... I snapped to attention and gave him a little salute ... he put his arm round me. He said he would be happy for me to travel in one of the aeroplanes and gave instructions that I was to be driven to the door of my hotel in Paris."

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