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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

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9/11 was staged to defame Muslims

By John Kaminski
skylax@comcast.net

In addition to the millions of Americans who are protesting their nation's unjust and immoral torture of the shellshocked country of Iraq, there are also a substantial number of people in the U.S. who see through the lies of Zionist controlled U.S. mainstream media and believe the story told to them by their government about the tragedy of September 11, 2001 is merely another self-serving, nightmare fairytale meant to rally political support by the ignorant and uncaring for the continuing American/British/Israeli assault on the Islamic world.

Indeed, this small but vociferous minority of 9/11 skeptics believes that was the primary purpose of that awful day — to vilify Muslims in the collective mind of the American public and enable the Western war machine to increase its level of aggression against the Persian Gulf states without any political opposition at home. Half the plan seems to have worked. Few Americans initially questioned the official version of 9/11 and rallied round the flag, but now, as clumsy excuses for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have been exposed throughout the world as blatant lies, even some of the most closed-minded Americans are beginning to question their government's dishonest behavior, even in regard to 9/11.

The deaths of many American troops, the sex crimes by American soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, and the scandals involving misappropriated funds by giant American corporations have emerged into mainstream discussion throughout America, causing not only shame but a reconsideration of the public lies used to start these wars in the first place.

Yet, exposure of these embarrassing revelations seems to have had no tempering impact on the behavior of the U.S. military. It is a sad barometer of mainstream thought in America that President Bush's chief opponent in the upcoming election (November 2004) talks in even more warlike terms than his war-mongering opponent, so that the rest of the world can expect no change in America's charge toward violent imperialism no matter who wins the election.

Still, a vocal minority in America continues its efforts to expose the deceptions that comprise perhaps the greatest threat to political stability the world has ever known, as the Zionist-controlled neocon cabal in Washington continues its efforts to usurp all the Persian Gulf oilfields by planning a series of wars throughout the Middle East aimed at accomplishing this objective.

In both the cases of the 9/11 tragedy and the Iraq war, the great unspoken influence continues to be Israel.

The principal figure in the 9/11 mystery continues to be Larry Silverstein, who leased the World Trade Center towers months before their demise and collected a $3.5 billion insurance payout shortly after their destruction. Silverstein was caught on video ordering the destruction of one of the undamaged WTC towers after the initial damage had been done, leading to speculation that the two main towers were wired for destruction prior to the event. Silverstein, an influential official of several powerful American Jewish groups, is known to be a telephone friend of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Among the various groups in the American 9/11 skeptics movement, one dividing line appears to be the validity of the hijacker thesis. Since the FBI published a list of the names of the alleged 19 hijackers mere hours after the disaster, eight of those names have belonged to people reportedly alive and well and living in various countries. Yet the FBI has never made an attempt to change its list, nor has it attempted to question those with names used by hijackers who are still able to talk. In addition, there is no legitimate security camera videotape showing the hijackers ever got on the fateful planes, nor any record of their purchasing tickets. And their names were not included on the passenger lists recording the names of the dead.

Adding to the Israeli angle of this discussion is the distressing fact of the Israeli "art students" who were shadowing the alleged hijackers during the months prior to 9/11 were all sent home without investigation when they were "discovered."

And, after much discussion about why America chose to invade Iraq at the moment it did, the oil issue and Saddam's switch to the euro have moved to the background, while Israeli influence at the White House in Washington has come to the fore as the reason for the sudden bombing of Baghdad, especially since America's stated reasons — Saddam's connection to al-Qaida and 9/11, and his concealment of alleged weapons of mass destruction — have long since been proven groundless fabrications.

The real reason for all the fomented misery in the Middle East appears to be nothing more complex than the expansion of Israel's borders.

Bush's White House staff is dominated by Israeli operatives: Perle, Wolfowitz, Libby, Bolten, Zakheim, Feith. In addition, warmongering advisers Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rice are inextricably linked to both the oil industry and the Zionist agenda, as is much of the leadership of the opposition party, the Democrats, which is why Americans saw a recent vote in their House of Representatives supporting Sharon's policy of wall-building and mass extermination of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories by a count of 407-9.

And yet, with all this evidence (and much more), those trying to expose the 9/11 charade don't primarily focus on Israel. Instead they devolve into convoluted theories about the peak oil scare, questionable film analysis, and some even insist that no planes were used at all in the attacks.

Comment: Indeed. It is ever so easy for the powers that be to help spread such convoluted theories - in the form of yet more lies - to distract those who search for the truth about 9/11. Anyone who buys into these theories without verifying any of it can then be easily debunked by a careful release of "new" information that proves the COINTELPRO-provided lies to be false.

The solidest piece of evidence about 9/11 lies that seems to be emerging is photographic footage of the disaster at the Pentagon, which shows, from a multiplicity of angles and sequences, not a trace of the wreckage of a jetliner. A new video, "911 In Plane Site," convincingly exploits this contention with numerous shots of flames inside the Pentagon behind a relatively unblemished wall (where the plane was supposed to have hit) with all its windows still unbroken.

Comment: Click here to see the very popular QFS Pentagon flash presentation.

Another recent revelation has involved the so-called cellphone calls from distressed passengers on the hijacked planes. It seems that cellphone calls cannot be successfully completed above 8,000 feet, and most of the purported calls were supposedly made above that altitude.

Probably the most compelling evidence for a 9/11 coverup, however, has always been the duplicitous statements made by top American officials immediately after the attacks. Cheney, Rice, and military chief Richard Myers all said that same day that they had no idea attacks like this could ever happen, but then the FBI blew their cover by releasing the names of hijackers they said they had been tracking for six months. Since that time, President Bush has worked diligently to prevent a legitimate investigation of that day's events, culminating recently in the official publication of the 9/11 Commission Report, which never attempted to fix blame on any perpetrators.

Can you imagine? The greatest crime in American history, and it was never properly investigated. Even more amazing: most Americans don't seem have noticed this stupendous affront to honest behavior!

But that's the way it is in America, and probably always has been. Their government storms around the world shooting up innocent civilian populations and stealing the resources of underdeveloped nations, while a majority of Americans believe their brave soldiers are fighting evil terrorists and bringing justice to the unfortunate backwaters of civilization. It's basically the same situation in Palestine, about which most Americans are brainwashed by Zionist media into believing the brave Israelis are struggling for freedom against the evil bandit Palestinians, when in fact it is a population of unarmed Palestinians who are being exterminated by Israeli Jews who believe that anybody who is not a Jew is less-than-human vermin, and therefore it is OK to kill them with impunity.

Indeed, it is the world turned upside down for purposes of plunder and profit.

In understanding a little more about who the true perpetrators of all this evil violence actually are, two recent articles circulating on the Internet have been particularly instructive. The first in a ten-year old fragment of a book by religious historian David Livingstone that gets into the Jewish heritage in the Wahabbi movement within Islam, casting a serious question about motivation of Saudi royalty and its possible connection to Zionist interests, and the second is a series of pieces (all available on rense.com, as is the Livingstone essay) by the Canadian writer Henry Makow about who are the true powers in the world. Makow, a Jew who became a Christian, insists that it is the London banking cabal that controls everything, and makes the interesting point that the Zionist menace in Israel that has captured the political will of the United States is as much a danger to God-fearing Jews as it is to all the other honest, well-meaning people in the world.

What is definitely becoming clearer now, three years after the initial shock of 9/11 jolted America into all-out war mode, is that the information emanating from the big media companies all over the world is clearly and tragically twisted by an evil Zionist corruption that blames innocent people for crimes that these media whores themselves are complicit in. And because of this power, millions of people are being unjustly murdered, while soulless American corporations reap unprecendented profits. And all the while a majority of Americans wave their flags and praise the sacrifice of their young soldiers who squander their lives in a needless war based on lies.

What is encouraging is that more people around the world are realizing this every day. However, whether that will be enough to stop these soulless, money-hungry murderers from destroying the entire planet remains very much in doubt.

John Kaminski is an Internet columnist based in Florida whose essays are seen on hundreds of websites around the world. They have been collected into two anthologies, "America's Autopsy Report" and the soon-to-be-published "The Perfect Enemy." For more information go to http://www.johnkaminski.com/

Comment: It seems there are many people who may be waking up to reality, but there are also many who prefer - and even defend to the death - their steady diet of lies. At this point, it appears that the only thing that would wake up a sufficient number of Americans is an enormous shock that would make 9/11 look like a picnic. From what we have reported here on the Signs page, one might assume that the powers that be will not provide too big of a shock to the people. To do so would be to turn the heat up too quickly. The one exception would be if enough controls in the form of legal, psychological, and physical restrictions are in place to maintain order. It is far more efficient to make the people willingly give up their rights than to take them by force - and as we all well know, those that run the show on this planet are very careful to maximize their "profits".

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World Pundits Pounce on Bush

By Jefferson Morley
Washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Monday, August 30, 2004; 10:02 PM

But in the international online media, the vast majority of commentators are harshly critical of President George W. Bush. On every continent pundits are faulting Bush for his persona as well as his policies. Most dislike his conduct of the war in Iraq. Many say his attitude toward the rest of the world is contemptuous, misinformed and dangerous.

This chorus of criticism is part of the globalization of U.S. politics. In a world with only one superpower, many people feel a stake in the U.S. election, even if they don't have a vote.

It's not that Bush doesn't have defenders. Rupert Murdoch's newspapers in Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia are generally supportive. But, on the eve of Bush's nomination, his critics in the foreign press are much more outspoken and numerous.

In Europe, suspicion of Bush's veracity is both wide and deep.

The Guardian of London said in a news story Monday that the Republicans launched "an ambitious exercise in political agility today, putting a centrist face on its New York convention while adopting a manifesto even more rightwing than George Bush's administration."

The lead editorial of Le Monde in Paris likens Bush's evangelical Protestantism to the Islamic fundamentalism in its rejection of Western modernity.

Bush, in their view, has a "biblical vision of the world where the forces of Good confront the forces of Evil and where the Americans, new people chosen by God, take on a universal mission of conversion and reform."

One of the few pro-Bush papers in Europe, Madrid's ABC (in Spanish), says Bush's emphasis on security and defense will appeal to American voters who have been "living in a state of shock" since Sept. 11.

In the Middle East, even those whom Bush professes to help, are vocal in spurning his policies.

In Iraq, which now has a free press thanks to Bush's invasion, one independent daily in Baghdad, Sabah al-Jadeed, declared last week that Bush's policy adjustments have been "late, poor or wrong."

The administration, the editors said, has relied too much on U.S. generals and politicians who judge Iraq "unfairly" and "inaccurately" and on self-interested Iraqis who are "obedient and isolated."

The Daily Star in Lebanon is one of the leading voices of reform in the Arab world, a cause that the Bush administration has sought to advance.

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Bush Admits He Can't Beat Terrorists

By Staff and Wire Reports
Aug 30, 2004, 18:53

President Bush ignited an inferno of criticism on Monday by suggesting the war on terrorism could not be won, forcing his aides to scramble to defend his remarks just as he had hoped to bask in convention accolades.

In an interview on NBC-TV's Today show, Bush vowed to stay the course in the war on terror, saying perseverance in the battle would make the world safer for future generations. But he suggested an all-out victory against terrorism might not be possible.

Asked "Can we win?" Bush said, "I don't think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that the — those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world."

The statement was a startling admission from a President whose administration has claimed for the last year that America was winning the war on terrorism.

Democrats, looking for ways to deflect the spotlight from Republicans as they opened their convention in York, pounced.

"After months of listening to the Republicans base their campaign on their singular ability to win the war on terror, the president now says we can't win the war on terrorism," said Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards. "This is no time to declare defeat."

"I decided a year ago that he cannot win the war on terror," said retired Gen. Merrill McPeak, former Air Force chief of staff, at a news conference in New York organized by Democrats.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan sought to clarify the president's remarks, telling reporters, "He was talking about winning it in the conventional sense ... about how this is a different kind of war and we face an unconventional enemy."

"To suggest that the war on terror can't be won is absolutely unacceptable," said Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"First George W. Bush said he miscalculated the war in Iraq, then he called it a catastrophic success and blamed the military," said Kerry spokeswoman Allison Dobson. "Now he says we can't win the war on terror. Is that what Karl Rove means when he calls for steady leadership?"

Meanwhile Rove, Bush's chief political strategist, acknowledged that the continuing conflict in Iraq could be a political liability in key swing states such as Pennsylvania, Florida and Arizona.

"We're in a war, so you got a lot of people who say, 'I don't like the fact that we're in a war. But I want to win the war,'" Rove said in an interview in New York with Pennsylvania reporters.

Comment: Many Americans do not like the fact that their country is at war. They do not understand why they are at war. Nevertheless, Rove is correct in his assertion that most Americans still want to win the war. How can one win a war when the reasons behind the conflict aren't even certain? Apparently, the solution is to shoot first and ask questions later. After all, it is a policy that has made the US the sole military superpower in the world - so it must be good, right?

The coordinated Democratic attack came as Republicans sought to portray Bush as a strong leader in the war on terrorism in the opening session of the Republican National Convention.

Bush suggested in an interview with Time magazine that he still would have gone into Iraq but with different tactics if he had known "that an enemy that should have surrendered or been done in escaped and lived to fight another day."

He called the swift military offensive that led to the fall of Baghdad in April 2003 "a catastrophic success" in light of the fact that fighting continues to this day despite the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's government.

Speaking in Nashua, Bush praised a 3.9 percent unemployment rate that is considerably below the national average of 5.5 percent, below other states in the region and below New Hampshire's July 2003 rate of 4.3 percent. "It's dropping every second," Bush said with a smile as he took credit for the state's gains.

Bush was on a three-day, six-state campaign dash that will bring him to New York late Wednesday. From New Hampshire, he headed to Michigan.

The president rehearsed his Thursday night acceptance speech Monday morning before leaving the White House.

"They're kicking off the convention with positive speeches. It's going to be a positive experience for the people of this country to see what we believe," Bush said.

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Comment: Speaking of not understanding the reasons for war: guess who's up next?

Sexed-up reports, pressure on the UN ... here we go again

US claims over Iran's nuclear program sound eerily familiar -- but this time around, the UK is siding with France and Germany in promoting engagement

By Jonathan Steele
THE GUARDIAN, LONDON
Monday, Aug 30, 2004, Page 9

History is beginning to repeat itself, this time over Iran. Just two years after the notorious Downing Street dossier on Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction and the first efforts to get UN approval for war, Washington is trying to create similar pressures for action against Iran.

The ingredients are well-known: sexed-up intelligence material which puts the target country in the worst possible light; moves to get the UN to declare it in "non-compliance", thereby claiming justification for going in unilaterally even if the UN gives no support for invasion; and at the back of the whole brouhaha, a clique of US neoconservatives whose real agenda is regime change. [...]

John Bolton, the Bush administration's point man, has been rushing round Europe claiming the evidence of sinister Iranian behavior is clear, even though the IAEA has consistently made no such judgment. [...]

Bolton is not, at this stage, claiming to have intelligence which the IAEA's inspectors don't. After the fiasco of the US' pre-war material on Iraq, he has not started to trumpet US sources. But he is choosing to interpret the available knowledge as harshly as possible.

He is also close to the Washington hardliners in the Project for the New American Century, who created the doctrine of pre-emptive strikes against unfriendly states and who favor regime change to deal with Islamist fundamentalism.

Norman Podhoretz, the arch-conservative editor of Commentary magazine, one of their house journals, said last week: "I am not advocating the invasion of Iran at this moment, although I wouldn't be heartbroken if it happened."

There are differences from the anti-Iraq campaign two years ago. This time the US is taking the lead in going to the UN. Bolton wants the IAEA board to say Iran has violated its commitments under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and take the matter to the security council for a decision on sanctions or other stern action. France and Germany are resisting a move to the UN.

Second, even the US (Podhoretz excepted) is not talking about a full-scale US invasion with ground troops. It has too many soldiers tied up in Iraq and Afghanistan to spare many for a third campaign.

The talk is of using US special forces or airstrikes to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities, or giving a green light to Israel to do it. Slightly less impatiently, there are hints that the CIA will step up its campaign to overthrow the regime in Tehran by encouraging anti-government TV and radio broadcasts from abroad and infiltrating opposition movements.

The biggest difference, though, is in Britain's stance. Unlike with the Bush campaign against Saddam Hussein, Britain is siding this time with France and Germany. It is part of a "troika" which promotes constructive engagement rather than confrontation with Iran. [...]

Britain's difference with Washington on Iran is remarkable. It matters more than the better-publicized splits on the Kyoto environmental protocol or the international criminal court. But does Britain's alignment with France and Germany on Iran mean that Tony Blair has really parted with George Bush on a key geopolitical and military issue? Or has he not yet spotted that what he regards as the lily-livered flunkies in the Foreign Office are up to their "realist" tricks again? They also opposed the invasion of Iraq until Ol' Laser-Eyes in Downing Street focused on the file.

We will know the answer after the US election. Even if Kerry wins, European diplomats expect no major change in Washington's policy towards Iran. Like Cuba, Iran produces special symptoms of irrationality (because of the unrevenged wound to US pride the mullahs caused when they held diplomats hostage in the embassy a quarter of a century ago).

So how will Blair cuddle up to the new president? What easier way than to break with France and Germany and show Kerry that, whether there's a Democrat or a Republican in the White House, Britain's prime minister is still best friends when it comes to being tough with Islamist bullies and taking the brave and moral route to war?

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The Axis of Treason

Israeli spies in the Pentagon
by Justin Raimondo
August 30, 2004

The death agony of the neoconservatives is going to be a prolonged and quite ugly procedure, painful not only for them but for the entire country – which will learn, to its chagrin and growing anger, how and by whom they were lied into war.

It started late Friday, when Lesley Stahl of CBS News reported that the FBI has "solid evidence" that a spy, embedded in the top echelons of the Pentagon's civilian leadership, handed over classified documents, including the draft of a presidential directive on U.S. policy toward Iran, to Israel. Such an investigation would have been politically explosive in any case, but add to this the news that Franklin had passed the documents to Tel Aviv via AIPAC, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, and the result is political dynamite.

Within hours the story had grown from focusing on a single individual, Lawrence Franklin, described as a "mid-level desk officer," to include an entire nest of spies ensconced in the top echelons of the Pentagon, centered around the office of Douglas Feith, the Director of Policy:

"An FBI probe into the handling of highly classified material by Pentagon civilians is broader than previously reported, and goes well beyond allegations that a single mid-level analyst gave a top-secret Iran policy document to Israel, three sources familiar with the investigation said Saturday.

"The probe, which has been going on for more than two years, also has focused on other civilians in the Secretary of Defense's office, said the sources, who spoke on condition they not be identified, but who have firsthand knowledge of the subject.

"In addition, one said, FBI investigators in recent weeks have conducted interviews to determine whether Pentagon officials gave highly classified U.S. intelligence to a leading Iraqi exile group, the Iraqi National Congress, which may in turn have passed it on to Iran. INC leader Ahmed Chalabi has denied his group was involved in any wrongdoing."

This Knight-Ridder report, by Warren Strobel, went on to note that "the linkage, if any, between the two leak investigations, remains unclear."

But it couldn't be clearer to those of us who have been following the various scandals that have recently rocked the national security bureaucracy – Chalabi-gate, the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, the Niger uranium forgeries, and now the Franklin affair. They all involve the same cast of neoconservative characters: the inhabitants of the "policy shop" presided over by Feith, including the infamous Office of Special Plans – otherwise known as the Lie Factory – which produced a steady supply of utter falsehoods to justify the rush to war.

Former CIA analyst Larry Johnson, commenting on MSNBC, said his sources were telling him that the Franklin affair is also connected to the Niger uranium forgery investigation. [...]

[T]he Franklin affair shows every sign of turning into: Neocon-gate. And it's about time. As regular readers of this column are aware, it's been a long time coming.

For over two years, the feds have put scarce law enforcement resources into this investigation, and it hasn't been for nothing: they've been watching and eavesdropping on Israel's American fifth column for at least that long, as Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball make clear enough in this Newsweek piece:

"It was just a Washington lunch – one that the FBI happened to be monitoring. Nearly a year and a half ago, agents were monitoring a conversation between an Israeli Embassy official and a lobbyist for American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, as part of a probe into possible Israeli spying. Suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, in the description of one intelligence official, another American 'walked in' to the lunch out of the blue. Agents at first didn't know who the man was. They were stunned to discover he was Larry Franklin, a desk officer with the Near East and South Asia office at the Pentagon."

"… FBI counterintelligence agents began tracking him, and at one point watched him allegedly attempt to pass a classified U.S. Policy document on Iran to one of the surveillance targets, according to a U.S. Intelligence official. But his alleged confederate was 'too smart,' the official said, and refused to take it. Instead, he asked Franklin to brief him on its contents – and Franklin allegedly obliged. Franklin also passed information gleaned from more highly classified documents, the official said. If the government is correct, Franklin's motive appears to have been ideological rather than financial."

Yes, but what ideology are we talking about here? Hosenball and Isikoff don't say. However, unconditional support to Israel has always been a central tenet of neoconservative foreign policy doctrine, and never more so than today. Feith was a co-author, along with several prominent neocons, of "A Clean Break," a 1996 policy paper written for then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that proposed the elimination of Saddam Hussein as a primary goal: Baghdad was depicted as the gateway to Damascus, a byway on the road to Tehran.

The strategic utility of invading Iraq as a means to combat "terrorism" as represented by al-Qaeda has always baffled war opponents, and even a few reluctant supporters, because it was so strikingly counterintuitive. Osama was forgotten: Saddam was the new demon figure, and Iraq, not al-Qaeda, the target. The invasion and subsequent occupation created a terrorist recruitment and training center in the Sunni triangle that soon extended outward, to the Shi'ite south. Only two leaders have been well-served by the American conquest, and George W. Bush is not one of them. CIA analyst Michael Scheuer, writing as "Anonymous," put it well in the opening paragraph of his recent book, Imperial Hubris:

"U.S. forces and policies are completing the radicalization of the Islamic world, something Osama bin Laden has been trying to do with substantial but incomplete success since the early 1990s. As a result, I think it is fair to conclude that the United States of America remains bin Laden's only indispensable ally."

If bin Laden is the chief beneficiary of American policies in the Middle East, then Ariel Sharon runs a close second. His government has been given a free hand to do what it wills in the occupied territories, including increased settlement-building, increased state terrorism, and even U.S. acquiescence on the "Wall of Separation." Israeli agents are swarming over Kurdistan, fomenting rebellion, and threatening Iran. The old Zionist dream of extending Israel's hegemony from the Nile to the Euphrates suddenly seems close to realization. [...]

Stove-piping phony "intelligence," including forgeries such as the Niger uranium papers, and passing them off as "evidence" of Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction," what was essentially an Israeli covert action succeeded in lying us into war. Franklin is just a cog in a much bigger cabal.

We're not just dealing with an overzealous individual who somehow got confused that he shouldn't share sensitive intelligence with a good "ally" such as Israel. That's the line being put out by Franklin's defenders, who are even now mobilizing to support their new hero.

Franklin's defenders are moving quickly to downplay his importance: he's a "mid- level desk officer," supposedly in no position to make or even have much of an impact on American policy in the Middle East. But others point to his status as a favorite of his bosses, Feith and Paul Wolfowitz – both of whom are no doubt of interest to the FBI in the sense that they will be questioned. What did Franklin's bosses know about their trusted underling's activities? In any case, one official cited by Newsweek described the Franklin inquiry as "the most significant Israeli espionage investigation in Washington since Jonathan Pollard."

The raid on Chalabi's headquarters in Iraq was a first strike in the war against the neocons. The coming arrest of Franklin, and perhaps some of his confederates, rumored for this week, will bring the war home.

The reaction of the Israelis, and their amen corner in the U.S., has been uniformly and unintentionally comic: Who, us? Spy on America? It never happens, at least not since Pollard.

But the reality of Israeli covert agents in America, far from being something out of a cheap paperback spy thriller, is certainly borne out by the Franklin affair.

Not since Pollard? Tell that to Carl Cameron of Fox News, whose four-part series on Israeli surveillance of targets in the U.S., including Mohammed Atta and the 9/11 hijackers, cited anonymous law enforcement and government officials. In Part I, broadcast on December 17, 2001, Cameron stated:

"There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9/11 attacks, but investigators suspect that the Israelis may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance and not shared it. A highly-placed investigator said there are – quote – 'tie-ins.' But when asked for details, he flatly refused to describe them, saying – quote – evidence linking these Israelis to 9/11 is classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It's classified information.'"

At the time, Cameron's report – and my columns on the subject – were derided as "conspiracy theories," and largely ignored. When Cameron's sources leaked an interagency report on the existence of an Israeli "art student" operation in the U.S. that was clearly an intelligence-gathering tool, a Justice Department spokeswoman described its thesis – that the Israelis had launched a massive covert action in on U.S. soil – as an "urban myth," and the Israel First crowd took up the cry. The respected German weekly news magazine, Die Zeit, reported that Israeli agents were living "next door to Mohammed Atta," but this, too, was ignored.

Now that we have uncovered a pro-Israeli cabal engaged in espionage operating at the very highest levels of the U.S. government, does it all seem so improbable? The whole story is told in my short book, The Terror Enigma: 9/11 and the Israeli Connection, which presciently concludes as follows:

"This burgeoning scandal underscores why the two-sided Manichean view promoted by George W. Bush in his 'war on terrorism' is fundamentally false. 'You're either with us,' he intoned, 'or against us.' But what about the Israelis? When they were shadowing the hijackers and learning their secrets, were they with us – or against us?"

Israel's secret war against America – which you could only read about here, in this space, up until now – is out in the open, exploding into the headlines. The reason is because it looks like the Americans, or at least some of them, are beginning to fight back. [...]

At this point we are lacking some essential information, including the identities of the "two or three" AIPAC employees involved. How far up in the organization did knowledge of these illegal activities go? What else have the feds got on AIPAC – after an extensive investigation, including electronic surveillance, ongoing for over two years?

We don't know the answers to these questions. But I do know that if this had been an Islamic or Arab group, they would have been shut down, their assets impounded, and their headquarters bolted shut. Will something even approaching that happen to AIPAC?

Of course not. But, if not, why not?

Is Israel going to be allowed to openly operate a spy nest in Washington with impunity?

It's an outrage, and it's time someone said so. Furthermore, those politicians who have taken money from AIPAC have a lot of 'splaining to do, especially if they don't return the dough. As Israeli spies in Washington steal our secrets, and feed us lies, our politicians are pigging out at the trough of AIPAC campaign contributions, raking in cash while their patrons take in classified documents.

When the American people find out what is going on, God help the neocons, because they are going to need it.

The arrest and trial of Israel's fifth column in the Pentagon is going to unleash a lot of anger, because it is going to make Americans understand the nature and extent of the treason that entrapped them in Iraq.

The very word "neocon" will become a synonym for treason, like Quisling. Moreover, the complexity of this war that we found ourselves in, as the smoke from the World Trade Center and the Pentagon began to clear, will perhaps begin to dawn on us.[...]

The "AIPAC kerfluffle," as the Jerusalem Post smugly refers to it, is surely the result of an internecine struggle within the Bush administration, but that doesn't rule out the possibility that one side constitutes an axis of treason.

At any rate, grab some chips and dip, stock up on beer – heck, bring out the champagne! – put your feet up and get ready for the political trial of the new millennium, because it's going to be quite an entertaining and instructive show.

POSTSCRIPT

The New York Times is reporting that the CBS News story may have derailed efforts by law enforcement to follow the investigative trail from Franklin all the way "back to the Israelis." The result is that "several areas of the investigation remain murky."

That's just what the Israelis and their apologists in this country are hoping for: traitors can only operate under cover of night, and the murkier the better.

There was a great suspicion, voiced by Pat Buchanan the other night on MSNBC, and by Laura Rozen on her excellent blog, warandpiece.com, that this was a case of a "controlled burn," as Laura put it, and she was right. Friday night is the slowest news night of the week, and add to this the coverage eaten up by the Republican convention, and you have a classic tactic of bury-that-story. Add to that the usual victimological posturing and cries of "anti-Semitism," and the strategy of the Amen Corner is clear: deny everything, and go on the offensive.

Will it work? I doubt it, but we shall see. Israel's fifth column in the U.S. government, and especially within the Justice Department, but the patriotic resistance is growing, both within the administration and the court of American public opinion. The axis of treason is fighting for its life, but the usual tactics – fear, smear, and obfuscation – may not be enough.

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Va. Congressman Abruptly Retires

By BOB LEWIS, Associated Press Writer
Mon Aug 30,10:16 PM ET

RICHMOND, Va. - U.S. Rep. Edward L. Schrock abruptly announced Monday that he will not seek a third term in Congress, citing unspecified allegations that have "called into question" his ability to serve.

Although Schrock did not comment on why he decided against seeking re-election, several Virginia Republicans said allegations that Schrock is gay have roiled the party since they were posted on a Web log Aug. 19.

Schrock is married and a conservative who voted for legislation to ban gay marriages.

Republicans from Schrock's conservative district, which includes Norfolk and the resort city of Virginia Beach, said they had planned to discuss the allegations at a party meeting Tuesday. Now they'll meet that day to choose a replacement candidate.

"We're shocked and stunned more than saddened right now," said Virginia Beach Republican Party Chairman Mark McKinney. "What I read on the Internet was a complete and utter surprise to me."

Schrock, 63, a retired Navy officer and Vietnam veteran, said in a five-paragraph statement that allegations have surfaced in recent weeks "that have called into question my ability to represent the citizens of Virginia's Second Congressional District."

He continued: "Therefore, as of today, I am stepping aside and will no longer be the Republican nominee for Congress."

The release said Schrock would not comment further on his decision, nor did he comment specifically on the allegations.

Allegations that Schrock is gay were posted on blogactive.com by Michael Rogers, who said his blog is aimed at exposing "hypocrites" in Congress.

Schrock's decision leaves the Republicans scrambling to field another candidate to oppose Democratic lawyer David B. Ashe.

"I am totally, totally shocked and disappointed. Whatever it is, he should have stayed in and fought it. He's a good Republican," said Juanita Bailey of Newport News, a delegate at the Republican National Convention in New York.

U.S. Rep. Tom Davis, a fellow Virginia Republican, said Schrock had indicated he was considering retiring when he spoke to him last week.

"He's a very intense guy, and he's got a lot of things going on in his life. I'm really sorry to see him leave."

Ashe was shocked by the move.

"Wow. I had not heard that. That's really something," Ashe said in a telephone interview. He said his thoughts were with Schrock and his family and he thanked the congressman for his career of service.

With Schrock out of the race, attention turned to state legislators as possible replacements on the Nov. 2 ballot. The 2nd District Republican Committee planned to choose a nominee Tuesday, just three days ahead of a deadline to get names on the ballot, state GOP spokesman Shawn M. Smith said.

Tom Davis and his wife, state Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis, said four legislators had expressed interest in running for Schrock's seat.

Schrock was elected to the seat in a 2000 Republican sweep of Virginia in an area that is home to the world's largest U.S. naval base.

In January 2001, Schrock was elected president of the Republican House freshman class and landed a seat on the House Armed Services Committee.

Comment: It seems that someone is very busy outing gay American politicians...

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Palestinian boy shot dead in Israeli raid

Tuesday 31 August 2004

A Palestinian boy was shot dead by Israeli occupation troops during a raid into a refugee camp in the southern Gaza strip.

Palestinian medical sources early on Tuesday named the victim of the attack as 14-year-old Mazin al-Agha from Rafah.

The teenager received multiple wounds from a machine gun mounted on a tank. Numerous armoured vehicles and two bulldozers also moved into the refugee camp.

An occupation forces spokesman confirmed soldiers had opened fire on a suspect who was too close to a bulldozer that had begun knocking down a ruined house.

Farmer killed

Earlier, a Palestinian farmer was killed by Israeli firing late on Monday near an illegal Jewish colony in the occupied Gaza Strip, Palestinian sources said.

The Israeli army said soldiers had opened fire on a suspect seen climbing towards the fence at Morag settlement in the south of the Strip.

The number of Palestinians who have been killed since the beginning of the al-Aqsa Intifada is now well over 3200, with many thousands more suffering serious debilitating injuries.

Some 927 Israelis have also been killed in the same period.

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Israel proposes selling piece of Gaza

Associated Press

Jerusalem — Israel has proposed leaving a Gaza settlement intact to be used as a hospital after an Israeli pullout, and wants to sell an industrial zone on the edge of the coastal strip to international bodies, Israeli officials said.

Israel and the World Bank concluded a round of discussions about the planned pullout on Sunday, the officials said on condition of anonymity.

Israel told World Bank officials it wants to destroy the houses in all Israeli settlements in Gaza, except one. The bulldozed homes would be replaced by high-rise apartment buildings for Palestinians now living in refugee camps, while the buildings in the remaining settlement, which was not named, would be used as a hospital.

Local World Bank officials could not be reached for comment on Monday.

A diplomat said countries donating aid to Palestinians have asked the bank to explore rehabilitation options for Gaza. He said a final decision on how to rebuild Gaza would be taken by a committee of major donor nations.

Other analysts said they believed the concept of buying settlements or other properties built on war-won land was unlikely to win approval. [...]

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FORBIDDEN CITY

By Cassi Feldman

A Bronx parolee planning to protest the Republican convention got a rude shock this week when he was warned to avoid not only the march, but Manhattan entirely.

The parolee’s trouble began Wednesday, at a scheduled meeting with his parole officer in the Bronx. When he asked about protesting, the officer pulled out a notice, typed on New York State Division of Parole letterhead, and ordered him to sign.

The document advises parolees not to enter Manhattan from August 30 to September 3, unless they have a verified job there. Those employed in the borough are barred from the "Red Zone" of 26th to 35th Streets, 6th to 9th Avenues during the same dates. "Failure to abide by the above Special Condition will result in a violation of your parole without exception," it states.

The New York Civil Liberties Union was quick to blast the Division of Parole. "The arrival of the Republican National Convention should not be used as a pretext to strip parolees of their rights," said executive director Donna Lieberman.

But the precise origin of the memo remains unclear. A Brooklyn parole officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told City Limits he received three emails this month from Robert Dennison, chair of the New York State Parole Board. The first, sent roughly three weeks ago, advised officers to bar their parolees from Manhattan and from all protest activity during the convention. A second email soon followed, he said, pointing out that parolees are legally allowed to protest, but officers should discourage it if possible. A third email attempted to further clarify the policy.

"I was concerned because I knew their constitutional rights were being denied," said the officer. "I know they have the right to assemble."

The officer suspects the Bronx office may have drafted a directive based on these emails. Angela Jimenez, director of the Manhattan/Bronx office, declined to comment. She referred our call to Albany, where parole division spokesperson Scott Steinhardt angrily disowned the letter. "This is not and was not division policy,’ he said. [...]

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RISKY BUSINESS

By Abby Aguirre

As thousands of activists prepare to protest this week, immigrants—both documented and undocumented—may be relegated to the sidelines. The threat of deportation or detention is causing some to proceed with extreme caution and others to steer clear of protest activities altogether.

"I would be very surprised if a large number of immigrants come out, as much as they want to," said Partha Banerjee, a community organizer with New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE). Undocumented immigrants run a tremendous risk as simply being discovered could lead to removal proceedings. Documented immigrants can be deported for criminal convictions. "Even people who have valid papers are afraid," said Banerjee.

To quell anxiety, immigrant-rights groups like NICE are encouraging members to take specific precautions—namely, avoiding violence and disorder. But that doesn't mean missing the action entirely. "I know a lot of people who are non-citizens who are protesting," said Monami Maulik, an Indian citizen and green-card holder who organizes South Asian immigrants for Desis Rising Up & Moving (DRUM). "We advise that people go with organizations and coalitions since they have a mechanism for keeping track of their members and have internal security."

Legal aid groups like the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and the People’s Law Collective (PLC) are working to ensure that immigrants are aware of the risks, and their rights, before attending any demonstrations. An NLG pamphlet currently being circulated advises non-U.S. citizens: "Talk to a lawyer before coming to a protest. Always carry the name and telephone number of an immigration lawyer. Carry your immigration papers such as your green card, I-94, or work authorization."

NICE is even directing its members to particular locations and intersections where it will be safer for them to gather. One such location will allow immigrants to sandwich between two anti-war veterans groups, explained Banerjee. "We really have to create a safe space for them."

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In turnaround, Census limits Arab data-sharing with Homeland Security

Monday, August 30, 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Census Bureau said Monday it is ending a practice of routinely turning over detailed information about Arabs or other minorities to anti-terrorism officials without high-level approval.

The Census Bureau revealed Aug. 13 that it had been reporting demographic data about Arab Americans to a Homeland Security agency. The bureau said it only was providing population numbers and not names, addresses or other private details. Responding to requests over the past two years from the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, the Census Bureau said it had provided files that included a count of U.S. residents of Arab descent in certain ZIP codes. That drew criticism from some advocacy groups, which said it undermined the public's trust.

Now, data requests from law enforcement and intelligence agencies must be approved by one of eight associate directors, the second highest-ranking officials in the Census Bureau. The policy applies to any requests involving "sensitive populations," which the Census Bureau said include small minority groups, prisoners and non-English speakers.

"The bureau must be sensitive to public perceptions of any threat to confidentiality or privacy stemming from census data," Census Director Louis Kincannon said in a statement.

Data requests were previously only reviewed if the bureau was paid for the work, usually by non-governmental organizations, businesses or individuals. Most government and law enforcement requests did not require reimbursement and were not reviewed, the bureau said.The policy will not keep police from getting similar numbers in the future, mainly because much of it is available on the bureau's Web site. But it will let officials keep tabs on who requests information and how it is used.

"This is an important step in the right direction to restore people's confidence," said Imad Hamad, Dearborn-based Midwest director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. "But in many people's minds, the damage is already done. I only hope we can overcome this."

Comment: Note this article doesn't mention what happened to the data already stored on Homeland security databases.

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Terror fears hang over Australian election

AFP
Tuesday August 31, 3:31 PM

A former US presidential adviser has warned Australia is at increased risk of a Spanish-style attack ahead of the October 9 election, citing the opposition's plan to withdraw troops from Iraq.

Drawing a parallel with Spain's March election, won by the anti-war Socialists after the Madrid train bombings, Richard Clarke said the opposition Labor Party's commitment to withdrawing Australian troops from Iraq could encourage Al-Qaeda or its offshoots.

That was more likely than an attack in the United States ahead of the US election in November, Clarke said, noting an Islamist threat to detonate car bombs in Australia unless Canberra pulled its troops out of Iraq.

"Australia is a bit more like the Spanish case, where you do have one party saying get out and another party staying the course, and the party in power is the one wanting to stay the course," Clarke told national television late Monday.

"That's much closer to the situation that we saw in Spain and so you could understand how Al-Qaeda or some terrorist group related to Al-Qaeda might think it could affect the outcome.

"It opens the possibility of some terrorist group related to Al-Qaeda wanting to do something which otherwise wouldn't be the case in the Australian election.

"So oddly enough, I'm saying I don't think Al-Qaeda will try to affect the US election, but because the Australian election is so similar to what happened in Spain, I would think the possibility does exist there."

The shadow of terrorism has hung over the campaign since the election was announced on Sunday.

Treasurer Peter Costello has also warned that Australia could be at heightened risk of an attack during the campaign, also referring to Spain, where 191 people were killed in the train bombings.

Prime Minister John Howard said Tuesday there were no indications an attack was planned, but he pointedly refused to rule one out.

"Our advice has not changed," he told national radio. "The possibility remains of a terrorist attack. I've not received any information which would heighten that concern, I want to emphasise that. And like every other Australian, I hope and pray nothing happens."

He promised to tell opposition leader Mark Latham and the public if a major threat were detected.

"What I promise the Australian people is two things. Firstly, if there is any hard information that they should have, I will make it available and I will communicate it at the same time to the leader of the opposition," he said.

"If necessary, I will talk to him in the caretaker period so that he is apprised of it as I am."

Fears of a terrorist attack in Australia have been heightened by the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 88 Australians among 202 people, and by Howard's strong support for the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Clarke, a former adviser to President George W. Bush and several other presidents, quit the White House in January last year, criticising Bush for failing to handle the terrorist threat.

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U.S. May Shift Billions for Iraq Security

AP
Mon Aug 30, 5:38 PM ET

WASHINGTON - The State Department is considering whether $3.34 billion intended for public works projects in Iraq (news - web sites) should be used instead to bolster security, a State Department official said Monday.

The money would be part of $18.4 billion Congress approved last year for rebuilding Iraq. Though the Bush administration said then that the money was needed urgently, little has been spent because of bureaucratic delays and security problems.

The U.S. ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte, has recommended to State Department officials that the $3.34 billion be reallocated from water, sewage and electricity projects. If security is improved, oil production could be increased, eventually making more money available for reconstruction, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Negroponte seeks to add 45,000 police, 16,000 border guards and 20 new national guard battalions of 700 to 800 men each.

The proposed shift in funding was first reported by The Wall Street Journal on Monday.

Any change would need the support of the White House and Congress, where such a request could renew the election-year debate about President Bush's prewar planning. Many Democrats and some Republicans say the Bush administration was overly optimistic that U.S. forces would be greeted as liberators and didn't recognize the threats that would remain after Saddam Hussein's government was toppled.

The $18.4 billion was part of an $87 billion package Bush signed on Nov. 6, mostly for Iraq and Afghanistan. When the proposal was presented to Congress, administration officials said emergency funding for reconstruction was as urgently needed as money for military operations.

"Every day that the Iraqis do not get power, do not get water, do not get sewage treatment is a day when their quality of life is such that they're less inclined to view us as liberators and more inclined to view us as occupiers, and that also increases the danger to our men and women," L. Paul Bremer, then head of the U.S. occupation authority, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last September.

That package was shaped mostly by the Defense Department, which was overseeing reconstruction as well as military activities at the time. The State Department has become the main agency overseeing reconstruction projects since the June 28 transfer of authority to an interim Iraqi government.

Comment: This may mark the first time Bremer actually said something reasonable and true about Iraq. US officials do know what's going on in Iraq - they just don't care.

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Third-grader arrested for disorderly conduct

ESPANOLA, N.M. (AP) — An Espanola third-grader was handcuffed and arrested by police after hitting another student with a basketball, the child's mother and her lawyer say.

"The Legislature never envisioned that the law would be used to lock an 8-year- old in any jail, especially an adult jail," attorney Sheri Raphaelson said.

"This is the most egregious example of poor judgment by police that I've ever seen in my 15 years of practicing law," she said.

According to a juvenile citation for disorderly conduct, Jerry Trujillo was arrested Thursday and booked into the Espanola jail after he "got out of control and refused to go back to class."

Police Chief Richard Guillen, who was not at work Thursday, said he had few details but that officers "couldn't deal with" the boy before taking him into custody.

He said he had conflicting accounts of where the boy was held and for how long.

It's illegal to keep a juvenile at an adult facility.

Espanola school Superintendent Vernon Jaramillo said the incident was being investigated. He expected a report from the school's principal, Corinne Salazar.

The boy's mother, Angelica Esquibel, said he was sent to the school office Thursday when he raised his voice to a teacher after hitting another child with the basketball.

Esquibel, who works next door to the school, said she was called to the office, and that Jerry began crying and saying he wanted to go home.

She said a school counselor wanted him to return to class, and that when the boy ran outside and started crying louder, the counselor told him if he wasn't going to be in school, she was going to call police.

The counselor told him officers would handcuff him and put him in a cell "until he changes his attitude," Esquibel said.

Guillen said he'd been told the mother agreed police should be called. She said she told school officials not to call them.

Two officers tried to tell Jerry to go back to class and told him he had a choice — class or jail, Esquibel said. When the boy got upset and loud, they handcuffed him, she said.

The police report says Jerry was arrested, taken to jail, booked and released to his parents.

Esquibel said that when she arrived at the police station, he was standing against a wall, crying.

He told her he was placed "in a dark room with a window, a metal toilet and a metal sink," and that inmates banged on the window "saying they were going to get him and cussing," she said. He said officers told him to stop crying or they'd let the inmates get him, she said.

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Nuclear waste mystery

Keay Davidson, Chronicle Science Writer
Sunday, August 29, 2004
San Francisco Chronicle


Two months after discovering that three highly radioactive nuclear fuel rods are missing from a defunct PG&E nuclear reactor near Eureka, officials are still struggling to find them.

Numerous workers in yellow radiation-proof suits are scouring the reactor cooling pond with robotic probes and video cameras, seeking the missing rods; former employees have been interviewed. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has sent inspectors to Eureka to monitor the search.

It's the third case in which deadly hot fuel rods have disappeared from a U.S. nuclear power plant since 2000, and it's the first time at a plant in the western United States. The Eureka search could end up costing millions of dollars, and has enlisted backup searchers from as far away as the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in Southern California.

There is no present evidence that the rods have been stolen, PG&E and NRC officials stress. "It is unlikely that the three 18-inch fuel segments were taken from (the plant) in an unauthorized manner," PG&E investigator Greg M. Rueger stated in an Aug. 16 report to NRC. PG&E officials still hope to find the missing rods somewhere inside the equipment-cluttered pool -- or, if not there, someplace outside of the plant, perhaps at one of six outside sites to which the rods might have been accidentally shipped years ago.

Despite their hopes, though, federal and utility officials are always haunted by a worst-case scenario: The possibility that radiation-packed nuclear rods could fall into the hands of terrorists. By attaching highly radioactive sources to chemical explosives, then detonating them, terrorists might kill hundreds or thousands of people, spark mass panic, wreck property values, devastate the nation's insurance industry, and turn a metropolis into a ghost town.

Regarding the missing fuel rods, "I keep thinking of that old TV show 'Car 54 Where Are You?' " joked Dan Hirsch, an anti-nuclear activist with the Committee to Bridge the Gap in Santa Cruz. "The accounting for these very dangerous materials seems poor. ... Obviously, the PG&E situation shows their accounting is poor. But it's indicative of a problem nationwide."

"A terrorist who obtained high-level (radioactive) waste could create a really awful incident," Hirsch said. "A millionth of an ounce of plutonium will cause lung cancer if inhaled."

Cases of missing fuel rods at three separate power plants since 2000 "show that historically, NRC's material control and accounting practices have been extremely lax," said Ed Lyman, a physicist at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington.

Such cases worry Lyman because they raise doubts about whether the nation can keep track of fuel rods slated for use at a potentially much more dangerous site scheduled for construction near Savannah, Ga. That one is a nuclear plant that will burn weapons-grade plutonium from discarded nuclear bombs. Terrorists might have a field day if they swiped plutonium from such a plant, Lyman said. [...]

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Mexico discovers huge deep-sea oil reserves

www.chinaview.cn 2004-08-31 11:00:03

MEXICO CITY, Aug. 30 (Xinhuanet) -- Mexico's state oil monopoly Pemex has discovered huge new oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico, which may double the country's oil reserves to 102 billion barrels,the company said Monday.

Pemex's chief of exploration and production Luis Corzo said the newly discovered reserves, totaling 54 billion barrels, will turn Mexico into one of the countries with the richest oil reserves in the world.

The proven oil deposits in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iran are respectively 112.5 billion barrels, 97.8 billion barrels, 94 billion barrels and 89.7 billion barrels.

He also said Mexico's daily crude oil production will rise to 7 million barrels from the current 4 million, next only to the 7.5 million barrels in Saudi Arabia and 7.4 million barrels in Russia.

Analysts cautioned that the cash-strapped Pemex may not be ableto extract the oil soon since deep-sea deposits need huge investments and technology-sharing deals to access.

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Comment: The world of oil reserves is an exercise in wishful thinking of the highest order. Recently Shell was fined seventeen million pounds (US$30 million) by the UK Financial Services Authority for overstating reserves by 20% and thus keeping their stock prices artificially high. This practice is not only exercised by large multi nationals but also by entire countries - and, one suspects, the nationally controlled Pemex.

Watchdog fines oil giant £17m

Ruth Sunderland, Daily Mail
25 August 2004

The dressing- down administered to Shell by City regulator the Financial Services Authority is one of the most ferocious and shaming ever suffered by a major British company.The FSA confirmed it is imposing a £17m fine on Shell, which admitted in January that it had overstated its oil and gas reserves by a fifth.

That is a mere drop in the oilwell for Shell. But the truly damning part of yesterday's announcement was not the financial penalty but the language used to describe Shell's 'unprecedented misconduct'. Both the UK regulator and its US counterpart, the Securities and Exchange Commission, which also confirmed a huge fine, are intent on making an example of the group.

Their findings will make extremely uncomfortable reading for ousted chairman Sir Philip Watts, whose conduct is likely to come under scrutiny in continuing probes by the SEC and the FSA - and may also face class action lawsuits.Officials are said to have found Shell's behaviour particularly appalling given the fact that the Anglo-Dutch giant had appeared a pillar of respectability.Its abuse of the market was shocking in its scale and the length of time it was allowed to run unchecked.

The company continued to make false or misleading statements about reserves over a period of five years to 2003, despite warnings as early as 2000 that its figures may have been overstated.This clearly points to a culture of exaggeration and concealment that had grown in the company.

The FSA paints a critical picture of Shell's internal controls, with the company failing on basic points such as ensuring that its staff were up to speed with the regulators' reporting requirements on reserves. Incredibly, considering its importance in the market's valuation of the company, it appointed a part-time petroleum engineer to the crucial task of auditing group reserves.This hapless individual was expected to check operations across the globe with only limited resources and no staff.

Not only that, but because he reported to the managers of Shell's exploration and production division, he was in effect being asked to audit his own bosses.To his credit, the reserves auditor did raise some concerns, but given his status and resources, it is hardly surprising that he lacked the clout to enforce the rules.

Fortunately for investors, Shell is no Enron. Thanks partly to the high oil price, the business is still making billions and is overhauling its governance.

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Then there is this on oil reserves with OPEC in the spotlight.

ANALYSIS-Murky OPEC data muddies oil reserves debate

Reuters, 04.05.04, 11:28 AM ETBy Barbara Lewis

LONDON, April 5 (Reuters) - A regulatory vacuum over how oil producing countries measure their reserves has stoked debate on how much oil and gas the energy industry really has left.

International scrutiny has intensified over reserve assessments since supermajor Royal Dutch/Shell's two downgrades to its proved reserves this year sent shockwaves through the investment community.

Companies are subject to examination by regulatory bodies such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, but a country's own estimate of how much oil it holds is virtually unchecked. Uncertainty is greatest among members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), for whom size of reserves may soon play a part in determining all-important quota distribution.

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On a global scale, worldwide oil reserves vary dramatically depending on whom you listen to. They range from cheerily optimistic reports from the US Energy Information Administration of 835 billion barrels by the top ten oil producers; to a pessimistic 701 billion barrels listed by Dr Colin Campbell describing 301 billion barrels of these claimed reserves as being spurious, so in effect giving reserves of only 400 billion barrels - or less than half of the US Energy Information Admin. estimates. The Hubbert peak oil page describes the oil reserve inflating process and possible reasons behind this.

"These data are less odd when one realises that OPEC takes into account a country’s reserves when fixing production quotas: the more oil you say you have, the more you’re allowed to sell. Additionally, oil reserves can be used as collateral for loans - an example of this is the $50 Billion loan from the USA to Mexico: in December 1994, the Mexican Peso fell by around 35%. As a result, the Mexican Central Bank's international reserves fell from $29 billion to $5 billion. To stave off a collapse of the Mexican economy, President Clinton signed a $50 billion "Emergency Stabilization Package" loan to the Mexican government on 31 January 1995. The collateral for the loan was Mexico's pledge of revenues from its future petroleum exports."

Perhaps the recent find of an extra 54 billion barrels of oil discovered by Mexico's Pemex may be just a ruse to get some extra cash out of their northern neighbour. Let's just hope that Mexico is not remotely suspected of harbouring weapons of mass destruction! After all, one of the Third Reich's downfalls was opening two fronts of attack...

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China's stockpile of oil helps to bolster prices

By Carl Mortished, International Business Editor
Times Online
August 31, 2004

EVIDENCE is mounting that China is buying more oil than it consumes, raising fears that oil hoarding may be supporting the current high price of crude.

The signs of aggressive Chinese stockpiling emerge from research by Merrill Lynch, the investment bank, which suggests that China is importing crude and refined products at twice the rate of growth in actual demand.

Rampant economic growth in the People's Republic over the past two years has enabled China to overtake Japan this year as the world's secondlargest oil consumer, burning some 6.3 million barrels a day.

Projections of the rate of growth in consumption in the People's Republic suggest that China's power generators, road hauliers, petrochemical plants and factories will burn an extra 500,000 barrels a day of crude oil this year. But Merrill Lynch's analysis of implied demand, based on import data in the first and second quarter of this year, suggests that demand will increase this year by one million barrels a day.

Michael Rothman, Merrill Lynch's senior energy analyst in New York, reckons that the second figure is not real consumption and does not reflect actual burning of crude in Chinese cars and power plants.

"It appears to be a hoarding phenomenon and we think it has to run its course, and when it does pass, prices should gravitate much lower, somewhere down towards $30 per barrel." [...]

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Senior French official evacuated under fire in Haiti

Tue Aug 31,12:42 AM ET

PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) - A senior French government official was evacuated from a Haitian hospital after unknown gunmen opened fire, in an apparent attack on the official.

"This is indisputable," French State Secretary of Foreign Affairs Renaud Muselier told AFP, pointing out he believed the attack was directed against him.

According to Muselier, St. Catherine Hospital located in Cite Soleil, one of the poorest neighborhoods of the Haitian capital, came under fire about 20 minutes after he and his entourage arrived their for a visit.

"The firing continued for about one hour and a half to two hours," the secretary said in a telephone interview. "Barricades were erected to prevent us from leaving. We were surrounded. It was a serious incident."

Muselier was evacuated with the help of UN troops, who summoned two combat helicopters and two armored vehicles to clear the way for the French delegation.

A French police officer was slightly injured in the incident.

Cite Soleil is a stronghold of former Haitian president Jean Bertrand Aristide, who fled the country on February 29 amid a popular revolt against his rule.

He was replaced by a US-backed interim government in a change of power also supported by France.

Between 100 and 400 protesters greeted Muselier when he arrived to the hospital.

The French secretary of state described Cite Soleil as "difficult territory."

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EU claims it won Olympics

By TREVOR KAVANAGH
August 31, 2004

EURO chief Romano Prodi last night hailed Britain's haul of Olympic gold as a triumph — for the European Union.

And he warned our athletes will have to fly the EU flag as well as the Union Jack at Beijing in 2008.

That would mean 800m and 1500m champion Kelly Holmes and boxing sensation Amir Khan would be battling for Brussels as much as Britain.

Mr Prodi turned the Athens games into a political football, boasting that our bag of 30 medals helped the EU trounce America and China.

He said: "The Games were a huge success thanks to their unique spirit and smooth organisation but also because EU athletes did so well.

"In 2008 I hope to see the teams in Beijing carry the flag of the European Union alongside their own national flag as a symbol of our unity.

"The European Union's sportsmen and women performed outstandingly at Athens, winning 82 gold medals and more than 280 medals in total."

Mr Prodi, a failed Italian politician, is about to step down after a dismal term as EU president.

He has infuriated critics by spelling out his vision for an EU superstate, dubbed the "Holy Romano Empire".

Mr Prodi's grandiose plan for a Euro Olympic squad was backed by other Eurocrats.

Commission spokesman Reijo Kemppinen claimed: "The EU swept the floor at the Olympic Games."

German Ingo Friedrich, vice-president of the Euro Parliament, insisted medals must be listed under the EU to "foster a European identity".

But ex-sports minister Kate Hoey blasted the Prodi plan.

"Athletes feel very strong emotions when they represent their own country at the Olympics.

"We saw Amir Khan and other medal-winners kissing or crying into the Union Jack and Kelly Holmes was proud to be picked to parade the flag in the closing ceremony.

"Can anyone imagine them feeling that way about the EU banner?"

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University team's theory causes stir

The Western Mail
Aug 30 2004

IT'S one of the many mysteries of the solar system. Does the cold and faraway Sedna have a moon?

The planetoid, once dubbed Planet X, was discovered earlier this year at the furthest edge of the Solar System, eight billion miles from Earth.

But its discovery puzzled astronomers, who found that it had an extremely slow rate of rotation - spinning on its axis once every 20 Earth days compared to the Earth's once every 24 hours.

The puzzle gave rise to the idea that the newly-found body must have a partner moon, whose tides were slowing it down. But despite searches by Nasa's space telescopes, Hubble and Spitzer, none has been found.

Now a team of astronomers at Cardiff University have created a stir in scientific circles by coming up with a possible answer.

Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe and his team at the Centre for Astrobiology, have suggested the missing moon may in fact be an entirely new type of celestial object.

Writing in the astronomical magazine The Observatory, Prof Wickramasinghe and his colleagues, who include his daughter Janaki and Professor Bill Napier, suggest that Sedna's partner may be more like a huge extinct comet rather than a rocky planetary body.

They believe the outer crust of the missing object could be made of sticky organic particles left behind when the ice that traditionally forms a comet melts away and was captured by Sedna.

The resulting body would be so black because much of it is empty space.

With such a "fairy castle" structure, the moon would absorb more than 99% of all the light that hit it, the team says.

"Why Sedna spins so slowly is a mystery but slow spin tends to mean that a moon is slowing it down," said Prof Wickramasinghe yesterday.

"If it was a moon like Pluto's moon Charon, or our own, we should be able to see it. Why don't we see it?

"The answer I think is that it's blacker than black and the only object it could be is a comet, which makes up some of the darkest objects in the solar system."

Prof Wickramasinghe said moons, or more technically- termed satellites, tended to be captured objects and while the debate over the origin of the Earth's Moon continues, the moons of the outer planets - and there are plenty of them - had certainly been captured in the past.

Recent evidence, such as photographs of Saturn's moon Phoebe for instance, revealed a dark and irregular chunk of rock, little like the shape of most other known moons such as our own.

Pictures of the comet Wildt taken by the Stardust satellite revealed it to be extremely dark in patches.

"There's no easy explanation for such blackness except for the fact that the comet is a seething boiling cauldron of organic material," he said.

Now Prof Wickramasinghe is hoping that other astronomers will pick up on his theory and start to search for the missing comet/moon and others like it.

Because dark matter emits little light it will be invisible to optical telescopes, but it might emit infrared radiation and be able to be picked up by infra- red telescopes.

As yet no such object has definitely been found in the solar system. But Prof Wickramasinghe believes that if there is one, there may well be hundreds, lurking beyond the outer planets of Neptune and Pluto.

"If there is a moon, it has to be the darkest object in the solar system," he said.

"And if Sedna has captured such an object, there must be hundreds of other large comet objects in the vicinity."

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Doctor to clone dead girl and man: report

August 30, 2004 - 2:43PM

A controversial fertility expert is reportedly set to provoke international uproar by claiming he has taken the first step towards cloning a dead girl and man.

London's The Mail on Sunday reported that in what many will regard as a grotesque experiment, maverick American scientist Dr Panos Zavos will announce on television that he has taken DNA material from two corpses and used it to create embryonic clones of the dead people.

Zavos claims he has succeeded in taking DNA from the dead people - an 11-year-old girl called Cady and a 33-year-old man, both of whom died in road accidents - and implanting it into living eggs which subsequently divided in the laboratory to form embryos.

But an attempt to make a third clone, using DNA taken from a dummy and nasal extractor belonging to a baby who died, has so far failed to provide positive results, The Mail on Sunday reported.

It said the controversial experiment was certain to provoke a furious backlash from critics, who will accuse Zavos, from Lexington, Kentucky, of using gruesome "Frankenstein" science and of "playing God".

Earlier this year Zavos claimed to have implanted a cloned human embryo in a woman's womb, the paper said.

The announcement was greeted with derision by mainstream scientists and fertility experts who branded his work 'odious'. He later revealed the attempt had been unsuccessful.

Zavos was to announce details of his macabre new research in London tomorrow, but The Mail on Sunday was given an exclusive preview of a film to be screened on British TV Channel 4 tonight (Tuesday morning AEST).

He claims to be helping three families to create a genetic replica of loved ones who have died.

In a film by award-winning British documentary maker Peter Williams, who recorded the creation of the world's first IVF baby, Louise Brown, in 1978, Zavos claims to have implanted DNA from the corpses into living cow eggs.

These are bigger than a human egg and therefore easier to manipulate.

The cells started to divide to create embryos but were not allowed to go beyond 64 cells.

Zavos says he would never consider putting the resulting 'hybrid' embryos into a human womb - nor could they survive anyway. But he claims the same technique could be used to implant DNA from a corpse into a human egg, creating an embryo that, if implanted into a womb, could develop into a true clone of the dead person.

Although, in the past, Dr Zavos has submitted some of his work to an online medical journal run by Robert Edwards - one of the pioneers of IVF treatment - where it is subject to 'peer review' by acknowledged experts in the field, he has not published his cloning research in more established medical journals.

Nor, apart from the film, is there any independent corroboration of his latest claim. But it comes at a time when the scientific establishment is becoming increasingly anxious to put a halt to unregulated human cloning experiments.

Today, the Royal Society, Britain's most respected scientific institution, and 67 of the world's national science academies was to call on the United Nations to introduce a ban on human reproductive cloning.

Zavos, however, remains unrepentant. He said last night: "This is powerful stuff. If anyone ever accused me of playing God, this is as close as you can get.

"I am not God, I play no God, I just do God's work.

"We are not talking about Hollywood here, we are not talking about fiction, we are talking about the realities of life.

"This even makes me a bit nervous. But we do not see any difference between reproductive cloning and the post-mortem cloning."

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Seven Dead as Typhoon Chaba Heads for North Japan

Tue Aug 31,12:21 AM ET

TOKYO (Reuters) - Powerful Typhoon Chaba was racing toward the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido on Tuesday, leaving at least seven people dead and four missing after torrential rains that forced thousands into shelters.

Chaba, one of the strongest storms to hit Japan this year, had generated winds of up to 130 miles per hour at one point on Monday as it crossed the southwestern island of Kyushu, near the highest on record for the area.

The typhoon was traveling over the Sea of Japan on Tuesday and was expected to reach Hokkaido later in the day.

As of 10 a.m. (2100 EDT), the center of the storm was off the western coast of Aomori prefecture, which is just below Hokkaido, the Meteorological Agency said.

It was traveling northeast at 40 miles per hour.

An 82-year-old woman was found dead early on Tuesday in her flooded home in Okayama prefecture in western Japan, Kyodo news agency said, raising the number of people killed in the storm to seven.

A man was also found dead in Takamatsu, western Japan, trapped in a car on a flooded street, police said.

The others who have died include an elderly man who fell from a storehouse roof and two men who died when their truck was washed away.

Four crew members of a Vietnamese cargo ship were missing after the vessel ran aground on Monday near Shikoku island.

Some 8 to 10 inches of rain was forecast to fall on some areas of Hokkaido by Wednesday morning, public broadcaster NHK said.

Some 2,700 people had left their homes to be safe from the storm, and local authorities had also urged 4,800 people to evacuate, NHK said, adding that over 200 around the country had been injured by the typhoon.

Tohoku Electric Power said the typhoon had caused blackouts in around 16,000 homes in northern Japan as of 9 a.m. (2000 EDT).

The typhoon caused fresh disruptions to transport, with 140 domestic flights in and out of northern Japan already canceled on Tuesday and more cancellations possible, NHK said.

More than 750 domestic flights were canceled on Monday.

Some bullet train services in northern Japan were operating at a reduced speed, causing minor delays, NHK said, adding that a number of local train lines in northern Japan including Hokkaido had stopped services.

Japan Energy Corp. said it had shut its Mizushima oil refinery in western Japan due to flooding caused by the typhoon.

The northwest Pacific is regularly hit by typhoons at this time of the year and Chaba -- which means "hibiscus" in Thai -- is the 16th to affect the region this year.

The arrival of the storm coincides with the highest tides of the year, increasing concerns about flood damage.

Chaba is following a similar route to Typhoon Megi, which set off landslides and flooding that killed 10 people in Japan and at least three in South Korea earlier this month.

Another storm, Typhoon Songda, is brewing in the Pacific and also appears to be headed for southern Japan in the next week.

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Caribbean, Florida keeping close eye on dangerous Hurricane Frances

Tue Aug 31, 1:01 AM ET

MIAMI (AFP) - Florida and several Caribbean islands were keeping a close eye on Hurricane Frances, a powerful storm packing winds of over 200 kilometers (125 miles) per hour.

Tropical storm warnings were in effect for several Caribbean islands, including Puerto Rico, the British and US Virgin Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

A tropical warning means sustained winds of at 63 to 118 kilometers (39-73 miles) per hour are possible in the area within 24 hours.

At 8:00 pm (midnight GMT), the center of Hurricane Frances was located 305 kilometers (190 miles) northeast of the northern Leeward Islands.

The system packed winds of 205 kilometers (125 miles) per hour, and was moving toward the west at 22 kilometers (14 miles) per hour, the NHC said.

The long-range forecast, which is subject to a large margin of error, calls for the storm to hit Florida's southeastern coast on Saturday with winds around 220 kilometers (140 miles) per hour.

The southeastern US state is still trying to recover from Hurricane Charley, which hit earlier this month, killing at least 20 people.

Officials in coastal areas, including Miami, pointed out such storms were largely unpredictable but get ready for the hurricane by stocking up on water, canned food and batteries.

"We are keeping a close eye on this, and everyone else should," said Carlos Castillo, Miami's emergency management director.

"Long week ahead," said Max Mayfield of the NHC.

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Heavy rains in Virginia

August 30, 2004

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The remnants of tropical storm Gaston battered parts of Virginia with torrential rain Monday, sending cars floating down streets and stranding people in downtown buildings.

Virginia Gov. Mark Warner declared a state of emergency due to flooding in central Virginia, making state resources available and putting the Virginia National Guard on standby. "It looks like rapids outside our building," said Nick Baughan, who was stranded with about 20 other people on the second floor of the Bottoms Up pizza restaurant in Richmond.

"All of our cars have floated away."

The first floor was under more than three metres of water, Baughan said.

About 28 centimetres of rain fell in Richmond, causing cars to float down flooded streets and ram into the restaurant and other buildings in the Shockoe Bottom district, a popular entertainment area. [...]

About 82,000 Dominion Virginia Power customers in the Richmond area and southeastern Virginia were without service Monday night.

Farther south, residents and officials in the Carolinas on Monday were cleaning up from Gaston - and keeping their eyes on hurricane Frances.

At 8 p.m. EDT on Monday, Frances was centred about 305 kilometres east- northeast of the northern Leeward Islands and was moving west at about 23 kilometres an hour. [...]

Gaston, which came ashore Sunday just under hurricane strength with winds of 113 km/h, brought rains estimated at 33 centimetres in places in South Carolina.

The storm flooded areas already saturated by hurricane Charley earlier this month and cut power to 172,000 electric customers in the state. Fewer than 29,000 customers remained without power Monday.

In Berkeley County, where damage from Gaston was severe, 10 houses were completely flooded and more than two dozen people had to be rescued from flood waters, said Jim Rozier, a county supervisor.

"It just seemed to rain forever," he said.

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Small quake shakes portion of San Bernardino County

WRIGHTWOOD, Calif. (AP) - A small earthquake hit a remote area of San Bernardino County today, but there were no reports of damage or injuries.

The magnitude-3.2 temblor hit at 1:51 p.m. and was centered about 6 miles northwest of Wrightwood, according to a preliminary report from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Steve White, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol in Victorville, said there were no immediate reports of damage or injury.

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Blackout leaves downtown in the dark

Aug. 30, 2004. 05:56 AM
GEOFF BAKER AND JORDAN HEATH-RAWLINGS
STAFF REPORTERS

Two explosions in a downtown Toronto hydro transformer had tourists fearing a terrorist attack and left thousands without power at the SkyDome, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and in a huge chunk of the city centre.

But it appears a raccoon may have been the culprit.

"I was very scared. I thought it was like a terrorist bombing," said 16-year-old Ashley Fasso from Angola, N.Y., who was in Toronto with her father Anthony for yesterday's Jays versus Yankees baseball game.

"I was hyperventilating ... I just assumed it was something bad because of all the Yankee fans who were here."

Her father said they were standing across the street from the hydro substation at John and Wellington Sts., about two blocks north of the SkyDome, when there was "a giant orangeish, yellowish flame and a big bang ... like five M80s (firecrackers) in a garbage can. We thought it was a bomb."

However, Hydro One said yesterday's power outage was caused either by raccoons or the afternoon thunderstorm affecting a major insulator at the distribution station.

"We're still investigating," said Daffyd Roderick, a spokesperson for Hydro One. [...]

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A big-nosed red furry shark surfaces

The Age
August 30, 2004

Marine biologists are baffled by a bizarre creature found hopping around in a German aquarium. Michael Leidig reports from Vienna.

New forms of marine life are usually found in such waters as those around the Great Barrier Reef or in the Red Sea. But a new species of "furry" shark, which hops like a frog rather than swims, has popped up in a German aquarium.

The 70-centimetre female shark, nicknamed Cuddles, is covered in red hairy bristles, has big nostrils and an extra gill that set her apart from the 405 known shark species.

According to the many marine biologists who have flocked to inspect Cuddles, her fins are smaller but more muscular than those found on similar-sized sharks. She claps them together in order to hop across the bottom of her tank in the Sea Star aquarium in Coburg.

"She leaps over the seabed like a frog rather than swimming gracefully like most sharks," said Peter Faltermeer, a marine biologist and the aquarium's curator.
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The scientists, he said, were confounded. "They were all left totally baffled and we were left delighted," Mr Faltermeer said. "They couldn't classify her. Cuddles is unique and she belongs to us."

The shark's former home, an Austrian zoo, gave her to the aquarium not realising her rarity. The Sea Star is now in the process of choosing a Latin and English name for the new species.

"This is the first time a totally new species of shark has been found, not in the wild but in a fish tank," he said. "It is amazing."

He believes that because Cuddles does not have sensory organs at the front of the head, as do other sharks, she uses the bristles that cover her from head to tail to provide an early warning of possible predators, or prey.

"She lets algae grow without trying to rub it off, which is gradually turning the bristles bright red," said Mr Faltermeer. "We believe the bristles pick up movements in the water, and the algae help to thicken the bristles and lengthen them."

Unlike other sharks, the irises of Cuddles' eyes are fixed open. She also has very wide nostrils and a fifth gill to filter plankton. "Other sharks filter plankton, but these don't also chase fish," he said. "But Cuddles has a full set of teeth and the main ones are extraordinarily long.

He believes the shark has adapted to hunting in the dark - probably in a cave rather than in deep water. Most of the biologists believe Cuddles came from somewhere around southern Africa.

"The eyes that are not designed to cope with light, the all-body hair, the wide nostrils and the way she uses her fins more like legs, all indicate she is usedto a dark cave environment."

The aquarium would like to find Cuddles a mate as she is believed to be fully grown, but must first narrow down where she came from in order to search for a companion.

So far she has proved less than maternal. When nurse sharks who share her tank laid eggs, Cuddles ate them.

While the shark is now an attraction at the aquarium, it has taken many years for her to be fully appreciated. Asked how it had managed to give away such a rarity as a hairy hopping shark that dyes its hair red, the Schonbrunn Zoo in Vienna denied making a mistake. "We are not embarrassed," said zoo spokesman Dr Ekkehard Wolf. "We get thousands of exotic animals every year. It is not possible to categorise them all."

Before the zoo took her in, Cuddles had been held at an animal rescue centre. It took her in after the centre in which she had been on display shut.

Mr Faltermeer said: "The Austrian zoo experts should not feel too bad. Where they kept her, you could only see her from above. To be honest, when I first saw her when she was delivered I thought she was an ordinary nurse shark. "It was only when we got her in the aquarium and saw her from the side that we realised she was special."

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