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Thursday, July 15, 2004

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Picture of the Day

Sunset 8 July 2004
©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

The Movable Feast

SOTT Editorial

"Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day to the last syllable of recorded time, and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Macbeth in a moment of clarity in Dunsinane Castle Act 5 Scene 5.

Life: What a miserable existence it is. As we come to terms with it, as our eyes are opened to seeing its true nature, as the veil drops away, we realise that it is nothing more than a giant banquet, at which we all dignifiedly take our seats to begin the rapacious feast, ourselves and our fellow humans as the entree, main course and dessert. Macbeth was just breaking it to us gently.

Why should it be so? How are we to deal with this extremely distasteful view of reality? Why should it be that we respond to the suffering and pain we experience by adding to the mix and creating more of the same? What is wrong with us? Are we trapped? Have we no choice? Is there no other way? Caught in a never ending cycle, asleep to the truth, turning over time and again to reinvent ourselves, our life and its meaning - anything to avoid facing the ugly, painful truth.

Look at the world around you. Look at your past, your childhood, your present - but REALLY look. Consider the likely future. What do you See? You will see the predator constantly at work, in us and others. Never more so than in our modern world, we are surrounded by and immersed neck-deep in man's inhumanity to man. A world where the animal, both within and without is nurtured before the human being. All seek to do the bidding, and satisfy the urges of this ancient predator that lives within us.

As we stand and stare, straining to hold our gaze, gritting our teeth as our eyes widen in increasing horror at the deeper view, we come to the understanding that the human representatives of our hyperdimensional jailers, also called our "leaders", are tasked with the job of keeping us imprisoned, at each other's throats. Up the suffering, keep it there, now and again increase it to horribly extreme levels, keep them disassociated from their hidden pain and they will never see the truth. Promote lies and illusion. "You are free!" "You are lucky!" "You are privileged." Pull the other one - No, Really.

If this is joke, it's in the poorest taste, and of cosmic proportions. But it is not a joke. The ugliness of our lives, a result of our basest nature, the suffering that we provide as fuel for the final decline and implosion of the cesspool that is life on earth - it is all too real. The nauseating stench of what we will term "evil" rises up from every pore of the human part of the entity that is organic life on earth.

"But take heart!" quoth the New Ager, catching a glimpse of the terror of the situation, "All is not as it seems, it shall not always be so. This is merely a test and we shall all move on to greater things if we can only see the beautiful nature of our real being." Again, get real!

Our "true nature" does not exist - save in potential. Dreaming, imagining, wanting it to be real will not make it so. Your dreams and your words are but the self-administered opium of the masses, syringe passed down from "on high".

In your drug-fueled illusory stupor, you, like the Zionists who placated the Jews in the concentration camps so they would march willingly - unbelieving - to their deaths, support the very same "forces of darkness". Their aim? To prevent anyone from waking up to the mind-bogglingly difficult, yet somehow simple, task of Seeing and accepting what we are and who we are not. It is only from such a point of desperation and hopelessness, stripped of our ability to lie to ourselves, that we can find REAL hope to begin to be something different, something new.

To awaken. To Do your part. YOUR part. That is all you can do. One more rebellious light in the darkness, one more who has had enough. One more who is willing to accept and then undo all that has been done to him or her, and to stand with the other "fools" and scream from the depths of our nascent beings - NO MORE!

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Freed Swede Says He Was Tortured in Guantanamo

"They put me in the interrogation room and used it as a refrigerator. They set the temperature to minus degrees so it was terribly cold and one had to freeze there for many hours -- 12-14 hours one had to sit there, chained," he said, adding that he had partially lost the feeling in one foot since then. Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds told public radio that if correct, the allegations meant that the U.S. had broken international laws.

"That is wholly unacceptable," Freivalds said. he was captured by Pakistani villagers while crossing the border from Afghanistan and sold to Pakistani police, who turned him over to the U.S. military. He was flown from Pakistan to Afghanistan and arrived in Guantanamo in January 2002

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Czech Republic President Denounces Plans to Stop Putting Psychiatric Patients in Cages

Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus denounced on Wednesday plans to stop putting some psychiatric patients in cages, announced the day after the author of the Harry Potter series said the practice was torture. Health Minister Jozef Kubinyi announced on Tuesday that the cages would be phased out by the end of the year. About 750 exist in psychiatric hospitals and other establishments, the Czech news agency CTK reported. The practice has drawn international criticism in the past but Klaus said the minister's decision was an "ill-considered gesture". She had written to the European Parliament after seeing a television documentary which showed handicapped children as young as five being kept in such cages

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UK: Children to Be Banned from Buying Pets

Children will be banned from buying pets in a radical shake-up of domestic animal law amid proposals being unveiled by the government today. And the tradition of handing out goldfish as prizes at fairs will also be banned, if the bill becomes law unchanged. Ministers believe children under 16 are not mature enough to be responsible for the duty of care needed to protect their pets.

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Russell Crowe Becomes Drunken Nightmare in Toronto

Movie star Russell Crowe groped a string of women during a drunken night out in Canada, it has been reported. Crowe is alleged to have upset several women in a bar in Toronto by making lewd suggestions and trying to touch and kiss them, according to the Daily Star. He then ripped off his shirt and started yelling abuse at the women, the paper says. One said: "He was hitting on anything that moved... the guy is a complete loser."

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New Zealand jails Israeli 'spies'

New Zealand has imposed diplomatic sanctions on Israel over the activities of two alleged members of the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad.

The Israelis were sentenced to six months in prison for trying to obtain New Zealand passports illegally.

Prime Minister Helen Clark said that such acts by what she called Israeli government agencies were a violation of New Zealand sovereignty.

The Israelis, Uriel Zosha Kelman and Eli Cara, deny working for Mossad.

They did plead guilty to attempting to gain New Zealand passports illegally and working with organised criminal gangs.

In a statement to the Auckland court trying the men, Ms Clark said she would suspend government visits to Israel, Israeli officials would need visas to enter New Zealand and foreign ministry contacts would be suspended.

Her government is also planning to refuse any request for Israel's President, Moshe Katsav, to visit next month when he is due in Australia and delay its approval for the appointment of a new Israeli ambassador to New Zealand.

Apology demanded

Ms Clark said she had no doubt the two men were Israeli intelligence agents and that the case was "far more than simple criminal behaviour by two individuals".

She said the case had "seriously strained our relationship" with Israel. New Zealand had asked Israel for an explanation and an apology, but had received neither.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said he was sure that Israel could repair the diplomatic damage and re-establish good relations with New Zealand, but did not specify how the Israeli government would go about it.

Comment: They deny they are working for Mossad. Yeah, right. And Clinton never inhaled, and there are WMD in Iraq, and "they hate us because of our freedoms", and the Zionist lobby has no influence over the US media....

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New Zealand suspends high-level contacts with Israel over spy case

Thursday July 15, 3:57 PM

New Zealand suspended high-level contacts with Israel after two Israeli intelligence agents were convicted of trying to fraudulently obtain a New Zealand passport.

Prime Minister Helen Clark said she would oppose a planned visit by Israeli President Moshe Katsav in August. She also said Israeli officials would need visas to enter New Zealand and foreign ministry contacts would be suspended. [...]

Comment: We give it about another four minutes before the charges of "anti-Semitism" start flying...

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Israel invades and detains Palestinians

Thursday 15 July 2004, 10:33 Makka Time, 7:33 GMT

Eighteen Palestinians, including two young women, were arrested overnight by the Israeli occupation army in the West Bank.

The two women, aged 18 and 22, members of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat's Fatah movement, were detained in the Janin refugee camp in the north of the West Bank during an Israeli invasion on Thursday, Palestinian security sources said.

The others were arrested throughout the Palestinian territory, Israeli military sources said.

In addition, the army has issued a warning that Palestinian resistance fighters may be planning to take Jewish settlers captive and has told settlers not to hitch-hike in the West Bank, military radio said.

The warning was criticised by Ben Tzvi Lieberman, head of the Yesha settlers' council, who said that Israel should "radicate" (sic) the Palestinians.

Comment: The Israelis are doing a damn fine job of "radicating" the Palestinians, it's just not fast enough for the settlers.

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The story TV news won't tell

For 10 years Tim Llewellyn was the BBC's Middle East correspondent. In this passionately argued polemic he accuses British broadcasters, including his former employer, of systematic bias in covering the Arab-Israeli conflict, giving undue prominence to the views of Jerusalem while disregarding the roots of the crisis

Tim Llewellyn
Sunday June 20, 2004
The Observer

Since the Palestinians began their armed uprising against Israel's military occupation three years and eight months ago, British television and radio's reporting of it has been, in the main, dishonest - in concept, approach and execution.

In my judgment as a journalist and Middle East specialist, the broadcasters' language favours the occupying soldiers over the occupied Arabs, depicting the latter, essentially, as alien tribes threatening the survival of Israel, rather than vice versa. The struggle between Israel and the Palestinians is shown, most especially on mainstream bulletins, as a battle between two 'forces', possessed equally of right and wrong and responsibility. It is the tyranny of spurious equivalence.

That 37 years of military occupation, the violation of the Palestinians' human, political and civil rights and the continuing theft of their land might have triggered this crisis is a concept either lost or underplayed. Nor are we told much about how Israel was created, the epochal dilemma of the refugees, the roots of the disaster.

Legions of critics have formed similar views and put them to the BBC and ITN, to no avail. In my case, the BBC, who employed me for many years in the Middle East, was no doubt able to categorise me as a veteran journalist who had spent too long in the region, though executives are always polite and prompt in their replies. Even making such criticisms carried the risk of my being labelled parti pris. (BBC producers are instructed not to mention that I was a BBC Middle East correspondent on air, in case my views might be associated with the BBC.)

Now comes hard evidence to support these views, gathered by Greg Philo and his Glasgow University Media Group, who have monitored and analysed four separate periods of BBC and ITN coverage between late 2000 and the spring of 2002. Bad News From Israel makes the scientifically based case that the main news and current affairs programmes - with the rare exception, usually on Channel 4 - are failing to tell us the real story and the reasons behind it. They use a distorted lens.

The result is that the Israelis have identity, existence, a story the viewer understands. The Palestinians are anonymous, alien, their personalities and their views buried under their burden of plight and the vernacular of 'terror'.

The Israeli view, the study finds, dominates the coverage. There is far more coverage of Israeli deaths than Palestinian, even though far more Palestinians have died, and they have the evidence that unerringly shows it. Israeli violence is tempered not only by the weight of coverage but by the very language used to describe incidents.

One example is a template for hundreds: when Israeli police killed 13 Israeli citizens of Palestinian origin in October 2000, inside Israel, soon after the armed uprising in the occupied territories began, BBC and ITN coverage was a fifth of that given to the Palestinians who stormed a police station in Ramallah a day later and murdered two captured Israeli soldiers. These Palestinians were 'a frenzied [lynch] mob... baying for blood'. No such lurid prose was used to describe the Israeli killing of their own citizen Arabs.

In the Israeli reprisals that followed the Ramallah killings, ITV said the Israelis were 'abandoning their restraint'. This was after two weeks in which Israeli forces had killed 100 Palestinians, most of them civilians.

Cause and effect, the Philo team finds, are misreported. Why does the 'cycle of violence' start, for example? In October 2002, the BBC repeatedly referred to the killing of the Israeli tourist minister as the reason for Israeli army reprisals against Palestinian towns and villages. It did not mention the fact that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine had killed the minister in reprisal for the Israeli assassination of its leader.

As Philo shows, the cycle is always shown as Palestinian attack and Israeli reprisal. Broadcasters consistently fail to suggest that it might be the military occupation that engenders armed resistance, or that Israeli actions may be such as to provoke Palestinian violence. The study finds that the daily despairing and degrading consequences of living under military occupation are rarely reported.

And while there is constant reference to Israeli security and Israel's right to exist, there is little mention of Palestinians' security or their right to exist.

A former news agency bureau chief, based in Jerusalem, sums it up: '[British TV] cover the day-to-day action but not the human inequities, the essential imbalances of the occupation, the humiliations of the Palestinians.' He also quotes a BBC journalist, who tells him TV centre does not want 'explainers... it's all bang-bang stuff'.

Almost as importantly, the Glasgow volume also shows the results of this coverage and how badly it serves the public who pays for it. The team interviewed many people, of different backgrounds, regions and ages (the study explains fully its focus group methods and practices), whose views of the conflict, as seen through TV, are closely analysed. Two examples: of groups of British students interviewed in 2001 and 2002 only about 10 per cent knew it was Israel that occupied Palestine - most believed the Palestinians were the settlers and it was they who occupied Israel. In 2002, only 35 per cent of the British students questioned knew that the Palestinians had suffered far greater casualties than the Israelis.

This ignorance among people who rely on TV for their information about the world is not surprising: Bad News reveals that between 28 September and 16 October 2000 BBC1 and ITN devoted 3,500 lines of text to the crisis in Israel/Palestine - 17 of which were devoted to the history of the conflict.

Since Philo and his team finished their analysis, little has changed. So far, criticism has been deflected. Mostly as a result of pro-Israeli pressure, a Middle East ombudsman has been appointed by the BBC, who will report by the end of the year; and organisations such as Reporting the World try professionally, by example and by discussion, to suggest how the TV companies might improve their coverage.

I am not confident of change. The reasons for this tentative, unbalanced attitude to the central Middle East story are powerful. BBC news management is by turns schmoozed and pestered by the Israeli embassy. The pressure by this hyperactive, skillful mission and by Israel's many influential and well organised friends is unremitting and productive, especially now that accusations of anti-Semitism can be so wildly deployed.

The general BBC and ITN attitude is to bow to the strongest pressure. The Arabs have little clout in Britain, and their governments and supporters have much responsibility to bear for not presenting their side of the story and for abysmal public relations.

After Hutton, the BBC's tendency to sniff the wind from Downing Street on such a sensitive foreign story, where the line is taken from Washington, has been intensified.

There is still an inbuilt cultural tendency in broadcasting newsrooms, easily exploited, to see the world in terms of 'them' and 'us', the carnage in an Israeli shopping mall still somehow more evocative and impressive in news terms than the bomb that devastates the shabby apartments in an Arab slum. The events of 11 September 2001 reinforced this endemic bias. It is easier to invoke Islamic extremism or al-Qaeda or ask why there is no democracy in Palestine than go to the awkward heart of the matter.

The TV companies' reluctance to view the crisis, as they once did, from inside and across the Arab world as well as from Israel, and their failure to base a senior and credible team in the occupied territories, mean that the crisis is consistently viewed from the ambience of Israeli west Jerusalem. Here, it is easy for Israelis to shape the views of the western journalists who live among them, or, conversely, threaten those who step out of line.

Orla Guerin, the BBC's fearless and candid Middle East correspondent, drew on herself not for the first time unwarranted Israeli wrath recently when she reported how the Israeli army had kept a Palestinian boy in a bomb belt waiting at his, and everyone else's, peril while the camera crews showed up. She told viewers, 'these are the pictures the Israelis wanted the world to see'. The Israelis did, of course, but they did not want such frank exposure of their cynicism.

Just before the invasion of Iraq last year, a BBC current affairs documentary (not mainstream news) exposed Israel's unadmitted nuclear weapons programme, a rare if very late-evening example of the corporation risking Israel's displeasure. The Israeli authorities threatened to expel the BBC's Jerusalem bureau and boycotted its news teams, only lifting their strictures when BBC management appointed a monitor of all the corporation's Middle East coverage. His findings will appear later this year, but there is no doubt he exists as a result of pressure from Israel and its powerful friends in Britain.

There is currently also froideur between the BBC and Israel's government over an interview aired on 30 May with the nuclear weapons whistleblower, Mordechai Vanunu. A foreign ministry spokesman has accused the BBC of breaking Israeli law because Vanunu's freedom depended on his having no contact with foreigners. Here, Israel may well have gone over the top.

Israel's hysterical reactions to frank and critical reporting show the uselessness of British broadcasters' trying to appease Israel by constraining and falsely 'balancing' coverage. Spin doctors and media bullies must be seen off whether they are in Westminster or west Jerusalem. Nervousness in London has caused tension between reporters on the ground and their managements as the news teams try to survive the trigger-happy Israeli army, a paranoid Israel government and their own masters' tentativeness.

This thoughtful Glasgow study does offer some hope. It found that the images of this crisis, of tanks, jet fighters and helicopter gun-ships in lethal pursuit of terrified civilians, many of them women and children, have brought home to viewers that a grave injustice is being committed in Palestine. They are just not quite sure what it is. The words our broadcasters so often use to explain those images stand in the way of of them, as if to try to block them or ameliorate them, rather than tell of the horror they signify.

'Bad News From Israel: television news and public understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict', by Greg Philo and the Glasgow University Media Group, is published by Pluto Press (£10.99) on Tuesday.

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Suicide bombing, assassination send strong signal from Iraq's insurgents

07:12 AM EDT Jul 15

BAGHDAD (AP) - A suicide attacker detonated a car bomb Wednesday outside the fortified enclave housing the headquarters of Iraq's interim government, killing at least 10 people, and gunmen in northern Iraq assassinated a provincial governor.

The bombing - which also wounded 40 people - was the worst attack in the capital since the United States transferred power to the Iraqis on June 28. The violence sent a strong signal that insurgents view the new government as an extension of the U.S. occupation.

Comment: Is there anyone outside of the Bush Administration, the Blair government, and the Kerry campaign that doesn't think that the new "government" in Iraq is an extension of the US occupation? Of course, the three aforementioned know it, too. It seems to be solely the fast-asleep American public who has been duped.

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Attackers Kill Governor of Iraqi City of Mosul

Wed Jul 14, 2004 01:11 PM ET

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Gunmen killed the governor of the Iraqi city of Mosul and two of his bodyguards on Wednesday as he was driving in a convoy of vehicles toward Baghdad, an Interior Ministry official said.

The assailants threw a grenade at the vehicle carrying the governor, Osama Kashmoula, and fired automatic weapons, the official said.

"He was on his way to Baghdad with a security escort of four cars, when the attackers in another car pulled up beside his vehicle and threw a grenade, and then shot at his car," said the official, who declined to be named.

"Sadly, his security was not up to the task," he said.

The killing followed the murder of Sabir Karim, a director-general of the Industry Ministry, who was shot dead with a silenced weapon as he left his Baghdad home on Tuesday.

Iraqi officials have frequently been targeted for assassination by insurgents battling U.S.-led troops and Iraqi security forces in the country.

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CIA warns of new 9/11

Thursday 15 July 2004, 3:57 Makka Time, 0:57 GMT

Warnings that "terrorists are plotting something big" against the US are based on "very, very solid" information, the CIA's acting director says.

John McLaughlin refrained from giving any details on Wednesday, but likened the threat reports to those that preceded the 11 September 2001 attacks.

In an interview with National Public Radio, the acting director confirmed Washington had no specifics on the timing and targets but a "conviction" as big as the one it had before 9/11.

"And the reason I say that it is serious is that I think the information I've seen is very, very solid. We have very little doubt about the information we have in terms of its sourcing and its authenticity," he said.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge warned last week that "credible reports" indicate al-Qaida plans to carry out a large scale attack in the US to disrupt the coming elections.

But Ridge also said precise knowledge of the time, place and method of attack was lacking, but security is being stepped up at the sites of the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions this summer.

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It is very tough to be a Republican in 2004, because somehow, you have to believe concurrently that:

1. Jesus loves you, but shares your deep hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.

2. The United States should get out of the United Nations, but our highest national priority is enforcing U. N. resolutions against Iraq.

3. "Standing Tall for America" means firing your workers and moving their jobs to India.

4. A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all humankind without regulation.

5. Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.

6. The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches, while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.

7. Group sex and drug use are degenerate sins, unless you someday run for governor of California as a Republican.

8. If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

9. A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time allies, but then demand their cooperation and money.

10. HMOs and insurance companies make profits and have the interest of the public at heart.

11. Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy. Providing health care to all Americans is socialism.

12. Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.

13. It is okay that the Bush family's "Carlisle Group" has done millions of dollars of business with the Bin Laden family.

14. Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him and Rumsfeld reassured him he was our buddy, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him, but then a bad guy again when Bush junior needed a prop for his re-election campaign as the "war president."

15. A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense. A president lying about WMD existence, to enlist support for an unprovoked, undeclared war and occupation, in which thousands of soldiers and civilians die, is, somehow, solid "defense" policy in a "War against Terrorism".

16. Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which should include "banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet".

17. The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's Harken Oil stock trade should be sealed in his Daddy's library, and is none of our business.

18. What Bill Clinton or John Kerry did in the 1960s was of vital national interest but what Bush did in the '80s is irrelevant.

19. Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a "spirit of international harmony".

20. Affirmative Action is wrong, but it is OK for your Daddy and his friends (here and in Saudi Arabia) to get you to graduate from Yale without studying much, to dodge the draft in the Texas Air National Guard, to bail out your company Harken Oil and the Texas Rangers, to get the Governorship of Texas and then to have the Supreme Court appoint you President of the USA.

21. You are a conservative, but it is OK to spend like there is no tomorrow and run up deficits that your grandchildren will have to pay, while at the same refunding as much tax money as possible to your campaign supporters. This illogical behavior can take a toll on a healthy mind. So if a friend of yours has been acting a bit dazed and confused lately, be nice: he or she may be a Republican!

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Ten Reasons to Fire George W. Bush

And nine reasons why Kerry won't be much better

Jesse Walker
July 13, 2004

If you're looking for reasons to be disgusted with George W. Bush, here are the top 10:

1. The war in Iraq. Over a thousand soldiers and counting have died to subdue a country that was never a threat to the United States. Now we're trapped in an open-ended conflict against a hydra-headed enemy, while terrorism around the world actually increases.

One of the silliest arguments for the invasion held that our presence in Iraq was a "flypaper" attracting the world's terrorists to one distant spot. At this point, it's pretty clear that if there's a flypaper in Baghdad, the biggest bug that's stuck to it is the U.S.A.

2. Abu Ghraib. And by "Abu Ghraib" I mean all the places where Americans have tortured detainees, not just the prison that gave the scandal its name. While there are still people who claim that this was merely a matter of seven poorly supervised soldiers "abusing" (not torturing!) some terrorists, it's clear now that the abuse was much more widespread; that it included rape, beatings, and killings; that the prison population consisted overwhelmingly of innocents and petty crooks, not terrorists; and that the torture very likely emerged not from the unsupervised behavior of some low-level soldiers, but from policies set at the top levels of the Bush administration. Along the way, we discovered that the administration's lawyers believe the president has the power to unilaterally suspend the nation's laws—a policy that, if taken seriously, would roll back the central principle of the Glorious Revolution.

Two years ago, when Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was running for governor of Maryland, I noted her poor oversight of a boot camp program for drug offenders where the juvenile charges had been beaten and abused. "It's bad enough," I wrote, "to let something like institutionalized torture slip by on your watch. It's worse still to put your political career ahead of your job, and to brag about the program that's employing the torturers instead of giving it the oversight that might have uncovered their crimes earlier. There are mistakes that should simply disqualify a politician from future positions of authority." Every word of that applies at least as strongly to Donald Rumsfeld and to the man who has not seen fit to rebuke him publicly for the torture scandal, George Bush.

3. Indefinite detentions. Since 9/11, the U.S. government has imprisoned over a thousand people for minor violations of immigration law and held them indefinitely, sometimes without allowing them to consult a lawyer, even after concluding that they have no connections to terrorist activities. (Sirak Gebremichael of Ethiopia, to give a recently infamous example, was arrested for overstaying his visa—and then jailed for three years while awaiting deportation.) It has also claimed the right to detain anyone designated an "enemy combatant" in a legal no-man's land for as long as it pleases. Last month the Supreme Court finally put some restrictions on the latter practice, but that shouldn't stop us from remembering that the administration argued strenuously for keeping it.

4. The culture of secrecy. The Bush administration has nearly doubled the number of classified documents. It has urged agencies, in effect, to refuse as many Freedom of Information Act requests as possible, has invoked executive privilege whenever it can, and has been very free with the redactor's black marker when it does release some information. Obviously, it's impossible to tell how often the data being concealed is genuinely relevant to national security and how often it has more to do with covering a bureaucrat's behind. But there's obviously a lot of ass-covering going on.

And even when security is a real issue, all this secrecy doesn't make sense. Earlier this year, the Transportation Security Administration tried to retroactively restrict two pages of public congressional testimony that had revealed how its undercover agents managed to smuggle some guns past screeners. Presumably they were afraid a terrorist would read about it and try the method himself—but it would have made a lot more sense to seek some outsiders' input on how to resolve the putative problem than to try to hide it from our prying eyes. Especially when the information had already been sitting in the public record.

The administration has been quick to enforce its code of silence, regularly retaliating against those within its ranks who try to offer an independent perspective on its policies. While the most infamous examples of this involve international affairs, the purest episode may be the case of chief Medicare actuary Richard Foster, who apparently was threatened with dismissal if he told Congress the real projected cost of Bush's Medicare bill. Even if the White House didn't know about the threat—and I strongly suspect that it did—it created the organizational culture that allows such bullying to thrive.

5. Patriot and its progeny. The Patriot Act sometimes serves as a stand-in for everything wrong with the administration's record on civil liberties, and at times is blamed for policies it didn't create—those detentions, for example. Nonetheless, there's plenty of reasons to despise a law that allows warrantless searches of phone and Internet records; that gives police the right to see what books you've bought or checked out of the library while prohibiting the library or bookstore from telling you about the inquiry; that requires retailers to report "suspicious" transactions and, again, prevents them from telling you that they've done so. And there are plenty of reasons to despise an administration that rammed this bill through at the eleventh hour—and still wants to extend its reach.

6. The war on speech. Not all of the White House's assaults on our freedoms are linked to the war on terror. In March 2002, Bush signed the McCain-Feingold "campaign finance reform" bill, whose restrictions on political speech in the months approaching an election—i.e., at the time when political speech is most important—are so broad that they've forced a filmmaker, David T. Hardy, to delay the release of his documentary The Rights of the People until after November because it mentions several candidates. Bush approved this bill fully aware that it was a First Amendment nightmare; it's generally believed that he did so assuming that the Supreme Court would strike down its unconstitutional elements. Surprise: The Court weeded out a few measures but left most of them in place.

That's not to say the government hasn't done anything to increase the amount of political speech. Its ham-handed crackdown on "indecent" broadcasts—an effort that is to the cultural realm what McCain-Feingold is to the political sector—has turned Howard Stern into Amy Goodman.

7. The drunken sailor factor. Fine, you say: We all expect a Republican president to molest our civil liberties. But this one has poached the Democrats' turf as well, increasing federal spending by over $400 billion—its fastest rate of growth in three decades. Even if you set aside the Pentagon budget, Washington is doling out dollars like crazy: Under Bush, domestic discretionary spending has already gone up 25 percent. (Clinton only increased it 10 percent, and it took him eight years to do that.) "In 2003," the conservative Heritage Foundation notes, "inflation-adjusted federal spending topped $20,000 per household for the first time since World War II."

Of all those spending projects, Bush's Medicare bill deserves special attention. It will cost at least $534 billion over the next decade, and probably more. And it doesn't even deliver on its liberal promises: It does much more to distribute new subsidies and tax breaks to doctors, HMOs, and the pharmaceutical industry than it does to help seniors. The Medicare bill is to Bush's domestic policy what the Iraq war is to its foreign policy: an enormous expense of dubious merit that's come under fire from both the left and the right.

8. Cozying up to the theocrats. There are those who believe the White House is being run by religious fanatics, and there are those who believe it's mostly paying lip service to Bush's Christian base. I lean toward the second view. But whether he's cynical or sincere, there's nothing good to be said for the president's willingness to demagogue the gay marriage issue (and throw federalism out the window in the process), or—worse yet—to restrict potentially life-saving research on therapeutic cloning because it offends that constituency's religious views.

9. Protectionism in all its flavors. Bush has repeatedly sacrificed the interests of consumers to help politically significant industries, giving us tariffs on products from steel to shrimp. This doesn't just make a mockery of his free-trade rhetoric—it's also bad policy.

10. He's making me root for John Kerry. I haven't voted for a major party's presidential candidate since 1988, and I have no plans to revert to the habit this year. The Democrats have nominated a senator who—just sticking to the points listed above—voted for the war in Iraq, the Patriot Act, McCain-Feingold, and the TSA; who endorses the assault on "indecency"; who thinks the government should be spending even more than it is now. I didn't have room in my top ten for the terrible No Child Left Behind Act, which further centralized control of the country's public schools—but for the record, Kerry voted for that one too. It's far from clear that he'd be any less protectionist than Bush is, and he's also got problems that Bush doesn't have, like his support for stricter gun controls. True, Kerry doesn't owe anything to the religious right, and you can't blame him for the torture at Abu Ghraib. Other than that, he's not much of an improvement.

Yet I find myself hoping the guy wins. Not because I'm sure he'll be better than the current executive, but because the incumbent so richly deserves to be punished at the polls. Making me root for a sanctimonious statist blowhard like Kerry isn't the worst thing Bush has done to the country. But it's the offense that I take most personally.

Comment: The last paragraph of this article is proof that much of the uproar concerning George Bush is completely inspired by the powers that be. Those who objectively view the situation would realize that voting for Kerry is not the solution. Thinking that punishing Bush is the solution neglects the fact that so many Americans went right along with his plans for world domination. Furthermore, how exactly does one vote out of office a president who illegally had himself installed in the White House to begin with?

At this point, it seems far more likely that the anti-Bush ranting is exactly that: ranting. It exists only to maintain the illusion just a little longer for the American public. Whatever happens come November, the powers that be will win. Bush may call off the election completely due to a "terrorist attack". He may go ahead with the election and pull the rug out from under America's feet at the last minute before the poles close. The bottom line is that there is simply no reason to suspect that Bush will play fair. Why would a sitting president who has amassed a great deal of power in his first (stolen) term NOT rig something to maintain his position as America's "dictator"?

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Free Michael Moore!

Campaign-finance "reform" boomerangs and hits the Democrats' favorite moviemaker.

By John Samples
July 07, 2004, 8:48 a.m.

Will Michael Moore's movie Fahrenheit 9/11 land him in jail? Maybe. Only time will tell.

Of course, Moore won't end up behind bars because his movie criticizes George W. Bush. The First Amendment still exists, more or less. Moore may end up as a campaign-finance convict, guilty of illegally referring to a clearly identified candidate for federal office within 30 days of a primary (or 60 days of a general election).

To see how Moore might become a felon, we need to understand the case of David T. Hardy, the president of the Bill of Rights Educational Foundation, a nonprofit corporation in Arizona. Hardy is producing a documentary film entitled The Rights of the People, which concerns issues related to the Bill of Rights. The film apparently refers to several members of Congress up for reelection in 2004 and to President Bush. Hardy had hoped the Bill of Rights Educational Foundation would help pay for the marketing and distribution of the "The Rights of the People," including advertising on TV and radio.

Hardy is a well-informed citizen. He knew enough to ask the Federal Election Commission whether his plans to market his film would fall under the strictures of campaign-finance law. As it turned out, his marketing plans were a potential felony. The FEC ruled that the ads were an "electioneering communication" because they mentioned candidates for national office. Federal law prohibits the Bill of Rights Education Foundation from paying for the ads. So, unless Hardy wants to pay for the marketing of the movie himself and thereafter to comply with the rules governing "electioneering communication" (disclosure and so on), the roll out of The Rights of the People will have to wait until after Election Day.

Moore's situation is similar to Hardy's. No one doubts Fahrenheit 9/11 refers to President George W. Bush, who is running for reelection. Presumably, the advertising for the movie will include references to President Bush. After all, that's who the movie is about, and Moore's attacks on President Bush and his family are the major appeal of the film for its target audience.

Broadcast, cable, or satellite ads are banned if they're funded by a corporation or union, refer to a clearly identified federal candidate, and appear within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election. That means Moore's distributor, Lions Gate Films (a corporation) can't run ads between July 30 and August 30 (the date of the Republican convention, which is treated as a primary in which Bush is a candidate), or between September 2 and the November 2 general election.

If Fahrenheit 9/11 shows up on broadcast, cable, or satellite TV after July 30, Moore may well be in big trouble unless he financed the movie himself. If a corporation financed the movie, Moore will have broken the law.

If individuals financed the movie, the ban on electioneering communications would not apply. But Moore's movie still could not be "made in concert or cooperation with or at the request or suggestion of" Kerry, Kerry's campaign, an agent of his campaign, a Democratic-party committee or their agents. To help with the movie, Moore has employed Chris Lehane, a high-ranking operative in Al Gore's presidential bid. The chairman of the Democratic National Committee (along with six Democratic senators and a couple Democratic members of the House) showed up at the premiere of Fahrenheit 9/11 in Washington. After seeing the movie, the chairman of the DNC said, "I think anyone who goes to see this movie will come out en masse and vote for John Kerry. Clearly the movie makes it clear that George Bush is not fit to be president of this country."

The movie might well appear to be cooperating with the Democratic presidential effort. In campaign finance, appearances are often tantamount to guilt. My advice to Michael Moore: Get yourself a good campaign-finance lawyer.

The election lawyer Robert Bauer recently wrote "there should not be a question that a documentary filmmaker can produce for public distribution a work highly critical (and more) of the President of the United States, or of any other political figure, without confronting a challenge from the Federal government." Yet that question has been posed by Sen. John McCain and his allies, and none of us know the answer for certain.

It is ironic that campaign-finance restrictions, long a labor of the Left, have boomeranged toward Michael Moore. But it is not amusing. Conservatives who support limited government and political liberty should be outraged about this. Yes, Moore's movie is obnoxious. But the remedy for bad speech is more speech. David Brooks has evoked Moore's own words to bring the movie and the Democratic Establishment into disrepute. That's the right strategy: More speech, not less. Besides, some of us may wish to say some obnoxious things about a President Kerry in a few months time. Should we have to ask the federal government for permission to say them?

Some Republicans are trying to get the FEC to go after Moore. The Moore story may degenerate into another chapter in the book How Republicans Learned to Love Campaign-Finance Restrictions.

That would be shortsighted and unprincipled. The protections of the First Amendment are for everyone. So, Free Michael Moore! And while you're at it: Free the rest of us too.

Comment: The law states that broadcast, cable, or satellite ads are banned for the two months prior to an election if they're funded by a corporation or union and refer to a federal candidate. Given the control of the US media, how can any citizen get the word out without the backing of a corporation or union? What is that line Bush loves to use on the American people? Oh yes, "they hate us because of our freedoms"...

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Bush says needs second term to help Iraq, Afghanistan

Thu Jul 15, 3:32 AM ET

ASHWAUBENON, United States (AFP) - US President George W. Bush told voters in the US heartland he needs a second four-year term "to complete the work" of turning Afghanistan and Iraq into prosperous democracies.

Unapologetically defending the war to topple Saddam Hussein despite new revelations that pre-invasion intelligence was deeply flawed, Bush insisted that "the world is changing for the better" thanks to his leadership.

"The dictator in Iraq was a threat. He was a threat to us, he was a threat to the free world, he was a threat to the people in the neighborhood, and he was a threat to his own people," he said at a campaign rally.

Despite polls showing that most Americans worry that the war has increased the threat from terrorism, Bush insisted: "That dictator is no longer a threat, and the American people are safer."

"I need four more years to complete the work. There's more to do to make America a safer place. There's more work to do to make the world a more peaceful place," he said in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

"We will finish the work of democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq," said the president, who trails his Democratic White House rival, Senator John Kerry, in most national polls four months before the November 2 election. [...]

Several hundred protesters, kept out of the arena, waved signs like "Bush lied, soldiers died," "Impeach Bush," and "Regime Change Begins at Home," and one hit the Bush campaign bus with an empty plastic bottle, doing no damage.

Inside, however, the packed crowd chanted "Four more years!" at deafening levels and waved Bush paraphernalia done in the colors of local US football heroes the Green Bay Packers. [...]

Comment: Bush claims that he needs more time to finish the work of democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq, yet Iraq is already supposed to be a "sovereign" state and Afghanistan will hold presidential elections on October 9th. Either Bush doesn't even understand his own warped definition of democracy, or he and his Neocon pals have further plans for the new American colonies. In any case, Kerry has made no secret of the fact that he has happily supported America's imperial crusade - and will continue to do so if he ousts Bush in November.

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Kerry Courts NAACP, Which Bush Spurned

Associated Press
Thu Jul 15, 8:00 AM ET

BOSTON - Democrat John Kerry is telling the NAACP that as president he will always talk with people who disagree with him — a slap at President Bush for declining to address the civil rights group.

"I will be a president who talks with everyone those who agree with me and those who don't," Kerry says in remarks prepared for delivery Thursday in Philadelphia before the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Bush has not spoken to the NAACP since he was campaigning in 2000. He was angered when, during that race, the NAACP National Voter Fund ran an ad that portrayed Bush as unsympathetic to the dragging death of James Byrd in Texas.

Since the campaign, leaders of the NAACP have called Bush an illegal president, compared his anti-abortion views to the Taliban and called his trip to Africa a photo-op. A Bush spokesman blasted the NAACP on Thursday.

The president "has many friends who belong to the NAACP and respects their proud history of championing civil rights," White House communications director Dan Bartlett said. "Differences of opinion and opposing views are of course part of the national debate. Yet the current leadership of the NAACP has clearly crossed the line in partisanship and civility, making it impossible to have a constructive dialogue." [...]

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U.S. Treasury says likely to hit debt limit in Oct

WASHINGTON, July 14 (Reuters) - The U.S. government will likely reach its federal debt limit in early October, a top Treasury official said in written remarks, giving fresh details on when the politically sensitive ceiling will need to be raised.

The $7.384 trillion debt limit may need attention before the November election, Timothy Bitsberger, Treasury's nominee for assistant secretary for financial markets, said in a document obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.

"It appears very likely the limit will be reached sometime in late September or October, with the most likely date being early October," Bitsberger said in the submission for the record after his Senate confirmation hearing last week.

"Treasury may be in a better position to narrow this range after completion of the mid-session review," he said in response to a question from Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee.


The government's statutory debt was $7.220 trillion as of July 12, according to Treasury data.

Treasury Secretary John Snow has urged Congress to move speedily to raise the limit, in what is likely to be a contentious election-year vote on the country's rising debt. He has asked Congress to act before its August recess. [...]

Treasury has been reluctant to pinpoint exactly when the debt ceiling will be reached, with officials saying recently it could happen in "late summer or early fall."

In his remarks, Bitsberger said Treasury might be able to stretch the limit out until "early October to late November" if it were to use various accounting measures.

"While there is a chance the date will be reached after Election Day, we cannot predict this with absolute certainty in early July," he said.

"It is for this reason that Secretary Snow has publicly urged Congress to increase the debt limit as soon as possible, even before recessing in August."

Bitsberger's timeframe was likely a "worst-case" estimate, as budget deficit expectations have narrowed over the year, Crandall said.

In a research note on Monday, Crandall had said there was little danger that Treasury would run out of borrowing authority before the election, adding it wouldn't need to invoke extraordinary measures until December.

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'Doonesbury' Artist Trudeau Skewers Bush

Wed Jul 14,10:44 PM ET

NEW YORK - Cartoonist Garry Trudeau, who has skewered politicians for decades in his comic strip "Doonesbury," tells Rolling Stone magazine he remembers Yale classmate George W. Bush as "just another sarcastic preppy who gave people nicknames and arranged for keg deliveries."

Trudeau attended Yale University with Bush in the late 1960s and served with him on a dormitory social committee.

"Even then he had clearly awesome social skills," Trudeau said. "He could also make you feel extremely uncomfortable ... He was extremely skilled at controlling people and outcomes in that way. Little bits of perfectly placed humiliation."

Trudeau said he penned his very first cartoon to illustrate an article in the Yale Daily News on Bush and allegations that his fraternity, DKE, had hazed incoming pledges by branding them with an iron.

The article in the campus paper prompted The New York Times to interview Bush, who was a senior that year. Trudeau recalled that Bush told the Times "it was just a coat hanger, and ... it didn't hurt any more than a cigarette burn."

"It does put one in mind of what his views on torture might be today," Trudeau said.

Having mocked presidents of both parties in the "Doonesbury" strip since 1971, Trudeau said Bush has been, "tragically, the best target" he's worked with yet.

"Bush has created more harm to this country's standing and security than any president in history," Trudeau said. "What a shame the world has to suffer the consequences of Dubya not getting enough approval from Dad."

Rolling Stone was publishing the interview Friday.

Comment: First of all, we wonder where Trudeau has been during the past four years with his scathing remarks about Bush. Oh wait, that's right - he's been profiting from Bush's madness by drawing cartoons! Furthermore, it is deeply disturbing that the cartoonist would classify making others feel uncomfortable by using "bits of perfectly placed humiliation" as "clearly awesome social skills". What is it with Yale and psychopaths??

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Slim-Fast fires Whoopi Goldberg for anti-Bush slur

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Slim-Fast diet drink company has dumped Whoopi Goldberg from its advertising because its executives were unhappy with remarks the comedian made at a recent political rally that mocked U.S. President George W. Bush.

"We are disappointed by the manner in which Ms. Goldberg chose to express herself and sincerely regret that her recent remarks offended some of our consumers. Ads featuring Ms. Goldberg will no longer be on the air," Slim-Fast general manager Terry Olson said in a press release Wednesday.

Goldberg participated at a recent Democratic fund-raiser at Radio City Music Hall in New York, joining performers such as John Mellencamp, Jon Bon Jovi, Paul Newman, Meryl Streep, Jessica Lange and John Leguizamo.

At one point in a speech mocking the Bush administration, Goldberg used his surname as a sexual reference.

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Implants ID Mexican prosecutors

Dallas Morning News

MEXICO CITY — Mexico's chief crime buster is walking around these days with a chip on his shoulder.

Actually, it's in his shoulder.

VeriChips, devices about the size of a grain of rice, have been implanted into Mexico's attorney general and his top lieutenants to limit access to sensitive documents.

Attorney General Rafael Macedo de la Concha said this week that he and an undisclosed number of officials of the PGR — as his agency is known by its Spanish acronym — had chips the size of rice grains implanted in their arms.

The chips, operating on high-frequency radio signals, will be used to identify the few prosecutors who will have access to Mexico's new criminal information center, which contains crime databases and sophisticated communications systems.

Eventually the chip will be married with satellite location technology to allow its wearers to be tracked.

The PGR is the first law enforcement agency in the world to use the chips for foolproof identification, according to the Mexican company that implanted the devices.

"At least as far as has been made public, this is the first," said Antonio Aceves, president of Solusat, the Mexican firm that handles the VeriChip, made by Florida-based Applied Digital Solutions.

The company said the chip — at a cost of $150 "installed" — is available to the Mexican public. With the tracking technology added, the chip's makers expect significant demand because of the country's chronic kidnapping problem.

Subdermal chips are controversial. Although civil rights advocates object to their "Big Brother" possibilities, microchips are now used in the United States to identify lost dogs and even to keep tabs on children.

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Natural Disasters More Frequent Than Before, says UN Official

Kerry Sheridan
New York
14 Jul 2004, 20:43 UTC

A U.N. official says natural disasters, such as the recent deadly earthquakes in Iran and Algeria, are occuring with greater frequency than in past. The U.N. humanitarian chief, Jan Egeland, says natural disasters affect up to 10 times more people per year than war and global conflict.

Mr. Egeland says the world has seen an increasing number of severe natural disasters in recent years. Climate change and population shifts, according to the report, are to blame for the more frequent occurence of natural disasters.

Mr. Egeland says at least two kinds of these disasters, floods and earthquakes, tend to strike fast and can be more deadly than the bloodiest wars. To emphasize his point, Mr. Egeland gave the death tolls for the recent earthquakes in Algeria and the Bam region of Iran.

"The Bam [Iran] earthquake and the Algerian earthquake killed 30,000 people in seconds," said Jan Egeland. "That is more than most wars cost in a decade."

According to Mr. Egeland's research, 700 natural disasters last year killed some 70,000 people. He says the disasters affected 600 million people and cost $65 billion in material damage.

Mr. Egeland says natural disasters have an especially devastating impact on the poorest regions of the world because more low-income people tend to live in disaster-prone areas. Too often, he says, the international community ignores the problem until it is too late.

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2004/07/15 12:06 M 5.7 VANCOUVER ISLAND, CANADA REGION Z= 10km 49.73N 126.79W

A magnitude 5.7 earthquake IN THE VANCOUVER ISLAND, CANADA REGION has occurred
at: 49.73N 126.79W Depth 10km Thu Jul 15 12:06:51 2004 UTC

Location with respect to nearby cities:
115 km (70 miles) WSW of Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada (pop 28,0
115 km (70 miles) SSE of Port Hardy, British Columbia, Canada (pop 4,000)
270 km (170 miles) WNW of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
290 km (180 miles) WNW of VICTORIA, British Columbia, Canada

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Richter 5.7 quake awakes Van. Island residents

Global BC
Thursday, July 15, 2004

A significant earthquake was felt on Vancouver Island and as far away as the Lower Mainland early Thursday morning.

The Pacific Geoscience Centre says a quake registering 5.7 on the Richter scale was centred about 120 kilometres west of Campbell River on central Vancouver Island.

While the quake awoke residents of many coastal B.C. communities shortly after 5 a.m., there were no reports of damage or injuries.

People reported feeling the shaker in Tofino, Tahsis, Campbell River, Vancouver and North Vancouver.

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State of emergency declared in parts of Ontario, Quebec

Last Updated Thu, 15 Jul 2004 09:07:43 EDT

PETERBOROUGH, ONT. - Heavy rain overnight led to a state of emergency being declared Thursday morning in Peterborough, Ont., and Temiscamingue, Que. People were being advised not to drink the water after the city's Jackson Creek overflowed.

Police said most streets were impassable, with the water almost one-metre deep and lapping at car windows.

"It's insane. We had an officer come in from a place east of here in Havelock, which is about a 20-minute drive from here, and it was bone dry until he reached the outskirts of the city," said Sgt. John Lyons of the Peterborough Lakefield Police Services. "He said it hit him just like a tidal wave."

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Quake jolts Pakistan and Afghanistan

Thu 15 July, 2004 10:30

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A moderate earthquake has jolted Pakistan and Afghanistan, but no casualties have been reported.

The quake, measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale, shook several northern Pakistani cities at 0818 GMT (9:18 a.m.). It was also felt in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

The epicentre was in the Hindu Kush mountain range in Afghanistan, about 250 km (155 miles) north of the Pakistani city of Peshawar.

At least 15 people were killed in February when an earthquake shook several towns and cities in northern Pakistan, while more than 9,000 people were killed by two powerful earthquakes in Afghanistan's Takhar province in 1998.

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Palm Springs Fire using high tech earthquake detection system

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Along with wildfires, Southern Californians also live with the constant threat of earthquakes. And yesterday afternoon, a 4.0 magnitude earthquake struck the valley it was centered just east of Indio.

There were no reports of damage, but the quake was a wake up call for emergency workers in the valley. And now the Palm Springs Fire Department is using a high tech earthquake detection system they hope will save lives in the event of a major earthquake.

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Bangladeshi villagers without food as two million marooned in floods

Wed Jul 14, 1:12 PM ET

SYLHET, Bangladesh (AFP) - Villagers marooned by floods that have stranded at least two million people in northern Bangladesh say they are running out of food and fresh water, as rescuers struggle to reach them.

People stranded in northeastern Sylhet district told an AFP correspondent travelling by boat they had been trapped in their villages for six days, adding food supplies were running low and they had no access to fresh water.

They said rescuers who are delivering emergency supplies of rice, biscuits and water purification tablets had yet to reach them.

"The waters are besieging us. We've been completely cut off for six days and we've not got any food or fresh water because the wells have gone under water," a resident of one flood-surrounded village said.

"We don't have boats so we're trapped. We're waiting for relief but none has come yet."

The country has been lashed by torrential monsoon rains that have hampered rescue efforts and caused rivers to overflow.

In neighbouring Sunamganj, officials told AFP by telephone Tuesday five people had died in flood-related accidents, bringing to 13 the number of people killed since the start of the weekend. [...]

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Who Gains from Missing Data at Los Alamos?

The University of Texas Connection

July 14, 2004

A security breach at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico last week is another setback for the University of California's management of the nuclear weapons facility. The identity of the culprits is still not known. But we do know that the public relations damage to the university will likely decrease its chances of retaining control of the lab, while increasing the odds for the University of Texas and several companies announcing this week their intent to bid on the lab's management contract.

On July 9 Los Alamos lab officials reported that two computer disks containing classified nuclear research information were missing. It is the third incident of missing classified data at the nuclear weapons lab in the last year. The loss of classified information came days before a July 12 Department of Energy deadline for competitors to express interest in bidding on Los Alamos' management contract, set to expire in September 2005.

The Department of Energy decided last year to open competition on the lab contract, in part because of poor management and security mishaps under University of California's leadership, which has managed the lab since 1943. This summer the DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration will be issuing a Request for Proposals. In addition to the University of California and the University of Texas, expected bidders include Lockheed Martin and Battelle Memorial Institute.

Given the timing of this latest incident, it makes one wonder if the individual or individuals behind the missing computer disks intentionally wanted to cast negative light on the University of California at the onset of the bidding process on the lab's management contract. We can only guess about the motives, but whether the computer disks were taken for personal gain or as an act of malice toward the university, the incident adds to UC's growing list of security problems at Los Alamos and will likely be a contributing factor when the DOE decides early next year on a new lab manager.

The University of California not retaining the Los Alamos contract might at first appear to be its loss. But the university has experienced a lot of grief in the past few years, with scrutiny from Congress and federal agencies, and lawsuits from citizens groups and lab employees. Elements within the University of California System might now think that managing the Los Alamos National Laboratory is more trouble than it is worth.

If the University of California leaves Los Alamos it could take with it parts of the paper trail that has accumulated over the past 61 years. Some of those records tell an unpleasant history of environmental contamination and callous disregard for worker safety. It would be in the university's best interest to remove those documents from the lab.

A concern among some scientists and lab administrators could be that their research at Los Alamos would become the property of, or credited to, others if the lab management changes hands.

Some employees at Los Alamos are eager for change. They view UC as an absentee landlord that doesn't treat workers fairly. A new manager won't necessarily solve the lab's problems, but some workers are ready to see UC leave.

Others to benefit if UC is ousted are some companies that currently subcontract at Los Alamos. One subcontractor, BWXT, has been in discussion with the University of Texas to form partnership to management the lab. Clearly BWXT would be better off as a partner rather than a subcontractor for UC.

Another beneficiary of a new lab manager would be the Department of Energy's nuclear weapons program itself. During a transition period of new management, it might be more difficult for outside oversight and scrutiny, more difficult for opponents of new nuclear weapons development to access information about those programs.

Regardless of the intent behind the missing computer disks, security breaches under the University of California's leadership like the incident last week will be perceived as the fault of the university. These breaches will embolden those who want the University of California to lose its management contract and will encourage institutions like the University of Texas and others who are vying to run the Los Alamos National Laboratory. This is unfortunate for those of us in Texas who do not want our flagship university involved with nuclear weapons development.

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Teleport lifts quantum computing

By Eric Smalley
Technology Research News
July 14, 2004

A leading candidate architecture for quantum computing -- trapped ions -- has received a significant boost with a pair of teleportation experiments that show is possible to reliably and readily shuttle information within a quantum computer.

The experiments, from the University of Innsbruck in Austria and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), have also advanced the practice of teleportation.

Each team transported the states of charged atoms and showed that it is possible to do so on demand. Previous teleportation experiments used photons and were probabilistic, meaning each attempt had only a certain probability of succeeding.

The method allows quantum bits, or qubits, to be stored before and after teleportation so that quantum computers can process information, move it to a different part of the computer and then process it further.

Teleportation is based on the strange phenomenon of entanglement, which links the traits of particles like atoms and photons regardless of the distance between the particles. When one of a pair of entangled particles is observed, it assumes a definite state, and at the same instant, the other particle assumes the opposite state.

Teleporting the state of a particle is akin to faxing a document and in the process destroying the original. Teleportation requires three particles. Two of the particles are entangled and one is held by the sender and the other sent to the receiver.

The third particle is teleported when the sender brings it into contact with her half of the entangled pair and measures both particles, which transfers the quantum information of the third particle to the entangled particle and in the process destroys the original. The sender then gives the receiver via an ordinary communication line information about how she measured the particles. The receiver performs the same measurement on his half of the entangled pair, which converts it into a copy of the third particle.

The University of Innsbruck researchers teleported the quantum states of calcium ions trapped in a radio-frequency electric field. Electrodes shaped the field in a way that forced the ions into a row. The NIST researchers used a similar setup to teleport the quantum states of beryllium ions.

Qubits formed from ions last much longer than qubits formed from photons, which exist for a small fraction of a second and are difficult to store. "In related experiments using our beryllium ion qubits, we have observed [quantum] states to be preserved for longer than 10 minutes," said David Wineland, group leader for ion storage at NIST. This is more than enough time to use the information in computing operations. [...]

There are two big advantages to using teleportation to transfer information within quantum computers, said van Enk. It makes it possible to perform a two-ion operation on ions that are not close to one another, and it increases the computer's error threshold, which means the computers would be easier to make, he said. Without teleportation, the error threshold, or acceptable error rate, is around one in 10,000, or 1 percent of 1 percent; teleportation increases the error threshold to about 1 percent, making the computer more resilient to errors, he said.

Practical applications for full quantum computers that have several hundred thousand qubits are one or two decades away, but specialized applications that require only a few qubits are two to five years away, and applications that require 10 to 20 qubits are five to ten years away, said Blatt. "One of the not-so-distant applications might be a quantum repeater, that is a small quantum computer node for long distance quantum communication," he said.

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Fish fall from sky during O.S. thunderstorm

Posted on Thu, Jul. 15, 2004

OCEAN SPRINGS - Something fishy happened during the hailstorm that pounded the city Tuesday evening.

Gulf Islands National Seashore Ranger Melissa Perez and volunteer Adam Wilson were pelted briefly with small, very cold fish while on the park's pier.

It was around 6 p.m. Tuesday when the storm had eased briefly. The two ran out to try and locate minnow traps that had been left on the pier.

The traps were gone, but while Perez and Wilson were looking, something began falling into the water near them causing splashes. Then two icy cold fish hit the deck of the pier and one hit Perez's hat.

"I was pretty upset that I had lost those traps, when fish fell from the sky," Perez said.

"We went for cover. One was incredibly cold and one of them actually was icy," she said. Fellow workers told her it was a rare phenomenon.

"But sure enough, it happened here," she said.

Perez didn't know how many fell into the water; the event took her by surprise. But it all happened in an area that had roughly a 20-foot diameter.

The fish that hit the deck were small, about 3 inches long, and she said that she didn't immediately recognize the species.

"The weather was so bad that we threw them off and ran for cover," she said.

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Professor exposes the aliens among us

In the world of academia, Northern Kentucky University philosophy professor Dr. Robert Trundle realizes his beliefs are not exactly widely embraced. "Shunned" is the word he sometimes uses.

The title of his forthcoming book is, in part at least, in response to what he calls "the cowardice and vanity of a sizeable percentage of American professors." Scheduled for release early next year, it's called "Is ET Here? No Politically, but Yes Scientifically and Theologically" (EcceNova Editions, Victoria, British Columbia).

Dr. Trundle, 60, occupies an almost monastic office on the second floor of NKU's Landrum Hall. It's a room about 10 by 10, and every available square foot is piled high with texts of one sort or another. I was careful not to touch off an avalanche when I sat among the stacks the other day and asked him to boil his book down to its basics.

So what does he mean by that title? Do beings from places other than this planet walk among us?

"Yes, I believe contact was made 50 years ago -- and I believe beings from other planets are here now, mainly to study us," Dr. Trundle said.

"Does ET exist from a political perspective? No, because the government is afraid of the culture shock and public panic. For the government to acknowledge the existence of extraterrestrials here would be to admit it can't protect us from them.

"Scientifically, I argue that thousands of well-regarded witness accounts cannot simply be dismissed. I'm talking about pilots who have come forward even though it's meant they've had to undergo psychiatric exams as a direct result."

At the very least, he said, we can't use current science as the standard for excluding the possibility of a more advanced science:

"For example, science says it's impossible to travel at the speed of light. If it were possible, it would take four years of traveling at the speed of light to get to the nearest star system, Alpha Centauri.

"Given our current technology, it would probably take us 50,000 years to get there, plus or minus. Based on that, the scientific establishment somewhat blithely dismisses the existence of extraterrestrials.

"It's like saying if we can't do it, they can't do it either."

Dr. Trundle's book is not an easy read, but it's an intriguing sampler of UFO lore, sightings and documents, including this Freedom of Information Act version of a March 22, 1950, FBI memo stating in part:

"An investigator for the Air Force stated that three so-called flying saucers had been recovered in New Mexico -- circular in shape with raised centers, approximately 50 feet in diameter. Each -- occupied by three bodies of human shape but only 3 feet tall."

It's a subject Dr. Trundle has been chasing for years. His grandfather, president of the now-defunct Trundle Engineering Co. in Cleveland, was fascinated with extraterrestrials and, when he died in 1954, left Robert a small collection of books about UFOs. His first article to the effect that ETs are here, entitled "Extraterrestrial Intelligence: Challenge to Theology, Physics and Metaphysics," was published in 1994. His second book, "Illustrated News of the Unbelievable," was co-authored with George Filer, a retired Air Force intelligence officer.

Dr. Trundle paints a virtual "Men in Black" picture of the ET scene in which several species are visiting the earth, most in a human form. But why?

"There are benign scenarios in which they might be seen as anthropologists coming here out of curiosity," he said.

"Then there is a more threatening scenario, which is that they're studying to see if the earth is habitable. An even more worrisome possibility is that they have a hybrid program of sexually mating with humans to strengthen their species."

No doubt about it. Dr. Trundle would have an easier go of it if he stuck to Socrates.

"But I'm trying to apply the truth in the way Socrates called for it to be applied to everyday life," he said.

He's convinced he's right. All he's lacking is cold, hard proof.

"If I had that, it would be the most astonishing event since the resurrection of Christ."

Comment: Without an understanding of hyperdimensional physics, most discussions of UFOs and ETs get bogged down in useless speculation. However, when you understand that there exist other realities that we cannot perceive, and that the laws of physics within these realities are very different from those under which we live, the whole problematic takes on a different colour. These 'hyperterrestrials' are not our friends. For more information, see our new, soon to be published, book.

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Why Don't Pilots See UFOs?

James McDonald, Statement on UFOs to the House Subcommittee on Science and Aeronautics, 1968 Symposium on UFOs

This question may come in just that form from persons with essentially no knowledge of UFO history. From others who do know that there have been "a few" pilot-sightings, it comes in some altered form, such as, "Why don't airline and military pilots see UFOs all the time if they are in our atmosphere?" By way of partial answer, consider the following cases. (To facilitate internal reference, I shall number sequentially all cases here after treated in detail.)

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Mystery of the maize: New Milford woman's corn crop flattened overnight

By Kamilla Gary
July 14, 2004

NEW MILFORD — Martha Bailey got up Tuesday morning, just like she always does, to have her cigarette and coffee out on the porch of her Sunny Valley Road home.

What she saw was reminiscent of the movies. Think Mel Gibson in "Signs."

"Maybe aliens touched down," her 7-year-old granddaughter, Shannon, said.

"They're heeeeere," her son, Eric, joked to his wife, Pat.

Bailey's small garden, marked with the homey sign "Grandma's Garden," is fenced off with 7-foot-tall chicken wire and wood. She has planted yellow and white corn among the squash and tomato plants.

In the middle of the corn patch, a perfect square of corn stalks lay perfectly flat, uniformly bent in one direction. The healthy, green corn stalks were otherwise undamaged and the corn surrounding the approximately 20-foot by-40-foot square was standing perfectly. Not one tomato or squash was harmed.

Whatever, or whoever, flattened the crop is a mystery.

"It's weird," Bailey said, looking out at the garden.

Bailey is convinced that something must have touched down in the garden. She doesn't think it was vandalism; she explained few children live on the quiet street and she has nice neighbors. Even though rain soaked the area Monday evening into Tuesday, no footprints were found in the garden.

"Everything was secure, the gates were locked, it had to be something that touched down and flattened it," Bailey said. "It made me sick this morning."

Some of the cornstalks that had remained standing were beginning to droop Tuesday, but they weren't falling at all the way the others had.

In addition to the 7-foot fence, firewood is stacked against the back and left sides of the fence.

Bailey, 69, said she has been gardening since she was 9 and has never seen anything like it. Her daughter-in-law contacted Dr. Mel Goldstein, a meteorologist with WTNH Channel 8, who told her there was no wind Monday night.

Even if there had been wind, Bailey pointed out that her 3.4-acre property is surrounded by trees, which she believes would have taken the brunt of any wind gusts.

Eric Bailey said that he had seen the 2002 Mel Gibson movie "Signs," by M. Night Shyamalan. The movie focuses on a man who lives on a Pennsylvania farm with his brother and two children. One day the children discover a crop circle in the middle of their corn field, which the family soon learns is a sign that aliens are coming to take over the earth.

"That was the first movie that ever gave me goosebumps," Eric Bailey said. When he first saw the square design in his mother's garden, he said his mind immediately went to otherworldly beings. The square defies other logical explanation, he said.

He knows a little of the history of crop circles, which gained notoriety when stories began popping up in the 1980s in British media. It was revealed that a group of people using wooden boards and wire were creating intricate circles during the night in some instances.

"Who in their right mind would do that and not take credit for it?" Eric Bailey said. [...]

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Smoker Ignites Portable Toilet Explosion

A portable toilet exploded Tuesday after a man who was inside it lit a cigarette. Emergency workers said the man was not severely injured and drove himself to Clay-Battelle Community Health Center. He was later transferred to Ruby Memorial Hospital. His name and condition were not available Wednesday.

The explosion, which occurred in Blacksville, resulted from a buildup of methane gas inside the portable toilet. The methane did not "take too kindly" to the lit cigarette, said a spokeswoman for Monongalia Emergency Medical Services.

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