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New! Signs Supplement: The Suicide Bombing Cycle

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Picture of the Day

©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

SOTT Editorial
By Glenn Becker

1. Four commercial airliners make unauthorized flight pattern detours and transponders are turned off. FAA standard operating procedures require air controllers to notify the DoD of the possibility of a hijacking. Jet fighter interceptors are typically shadowing a suspected hijacked plane within 15 minutes, but not on this day.

The DoD just happened to be conducting several airliner hijacking exercises, all far away from the New York City and Washington, D.C. areas, leaving a conveniently unprotected corridor for the 9/11 incidents to occur. The DoD standard operating procedures concerning airliner hijackings were also changed in the months prior to 9/11/2001.

DoD document CJCSI3610.01A issued on 6/1/2001 changed the prior protocol and required field officers to get final authorization to use lethal force, if other methods were unsuccessful, directly from the Secretary of Defense. Therefore, Rumsfeld was solely responsible for the stand down of interceptors that day.

Approximately an hour and a half elapsed between the first crash and the last. The fact that the first airliner was off course for a considerable amount of time, makes it implausible for the President, and primarily Rumsfeld, to use the excuse that they thought that the first WTC crash was just an incredibly unfortunate accident.

2. President Bush using a photo-op stays among children reading stories even after being informed of the second WTC crash. National emergency, what national emergency? Which is it, Duh-bya or Doubt-ya? Probably both.

3. WTC towers collapse in a definite controlled demolition pattern. Firemen on the scene report hearing consecutive downward floor-by-floor explosions immediately prior to the towers collapsing. WTC7 collapses after only minor fire damage. Afterwards, a passport of one of the alleged hijackers is found eight blocks away below, in pristine condition.

4. The entrance hole in the Pentagon outer wall is 16 ft. wide. A passenger airliners’ wingspan width is approximately 125 ft. wide. That area of the Pentagon was being remodeled. No plane wreckage is found on the lawn directly outside of the ‘crash impact site’. Security camera videotapes from cameras angled in the direct view of the crash area were confiscated for national security reasons. The footage has never been released to the public.

5. Witnesses in Somerset County, Pennsylvania claim to have heard missiles fired and seeing a smaller jet in the vicinity before the Flight 93 airliner crash near Shanksville. Debris was found as far away as eight miles from the crash site. Somewhere in the chain of command someone seems to have ignored the stand down order, or for some reason the stand down order was rescinded. If those people on the ground who heard missiles being fired, one of whom is an ex- combat Vietnam veteran, were correct, the official version would appear to be yet another ruse.

DIRTY LAUNDRY LIST ADDENDUM – Information culled after the fact.

1. Condoleeza Rice warns San Francisco mayor not to travel on commercial airliners just days prior to 9/11/2001.

2. John Ashcroft changes his routine, by traveling on private planes instead of traveling on commercial flights in the days before 9/11/2001.

3. Major networks’ news footage of both WTC airliner crashes, when slowed down, show an anomalous pod on the right side of the underbelly of both airliners, and a flash of fiery light coming out of the pods just before the planes impact the WTC towers. Footage can be viewed at

4. Members of the Bin Ladin family and others are flown out of the U.S. during the days after 9/11 when air travel was restricted for national security reasons. They were not interviewed by the F.B.I. or other law enforcement agencies. President Bush refuses to answer questions pertaining to why this occurred and who the ‘others’ were.

5. Operation Northwoods document, albeit written in 1962, revealed a willingness by government insiders to use attacks on American holdings, thereby framing an adversarial country to garner support, in order to facilitate invasion plans against that country.

6. Project for a New American Century’s “ Rebuilding America’s Defenses”, a game plan for neo-conservative ambitions of hegemony describes a need for a ‘new Pearl Harbor.

7.Trading of an abnormally large amount of commercial airlines put options, a 1200% increase above average volume, just days before 9/11/2001, nets $5,000,000. $2,500,00 of which goes unclaimed to this day.

Who made these transactions?

Maybe A.B. “Buzzy” Krongard, presently the number three Executive Director at the C.I.A. and former Chairman at the investment bank A.B. Brown, could shed some light on this one. A.B. Brown later became Deutsche - A.B. Brown, where Krongard continued on as a personal client consultant. Deutsche - A.B. Brown was the firm used to place most of these put options.

This partial dirty laundry list of curious, and also quite convenient circumstances should be more than enough to raise a few eyebrows. Only time will tell if it will all come out in the wash.

There is one more very important article of dirty laundry for us to ponder.

If early on 9/11/2001 President Bush did not have any prior knowledge of the events that were about to unfold, why would he continue to stay around children after he was informed of the first WTC attack? For all he or his security detail knew, the President himself could also have been a target on that day. So, why would he put innocent children in harm’s way? On the other hand, if he did have prior knowledge, he knew there was no potential danger to himself or the children.

Think about it. Was it reckless bravado, false bravado, or even worse, was he hiding amongst children? Either way, it does not bode well for his character traits despite all his moral grandstanding. Of course, maybe he assumed it was just an incredibly unfortunate accident, and Bush did claim that the reason he sat on for 20 minutes was because he didn’t want to alarm the children. But in this case, the question must be asked, just what was it he did not want to alarm the children about? An unfortunate air accident hundreds of miles away? Only he knows for sure what he knew and when he knew it. But all the convenient circumstances are too convenient. One thing is for sure; the longer dirty laundry remains unlaundered the more it stinks.

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We thought that this weekend would be a good time to replay one of our favourite 9/11 stories. This one is a classic of debunking, going after the most outrageous of 9/11 conspiracy theories with gusto and vigour.


by Gerard Holmgren
Copyright Gerard Holmgren. Jan 2003.


It doesn't help to have people spreading silly conspiracy theories about Sept 11

Astute observers of history are aware that for every notable event there will usually be at least one, often several wild conspiracy theories which spring up around it. "The CIA killed Hendrix" " The Pope had John Lennon murdered ", "Hitler was half Werewolf", "Space aliens replaced Nixon with a clone" etc, etc. The bigger the event, the more ridiculous and more numerous are the fanciful rantings which circulate in relation to it.

So its hardly surprising that the events of Sept 11 2001 have spawned their fair share of these ludicrous fairy tales. And as always, there is - sadly - a small but gullible percentage of the population eager to lap up these tall tales, regardless of facts or rational analysis.

One of the wilder stories circulating about Sept 11, and one that has attracted something of a cult following amongst conspiracy buffs is that it was carried out by 19 fanatical Arab hijackers, masterminded by an evil genius named Osama bin Laden, with no apparent motivation other than that they "hate our freedoms."

Never a group of people to be bothered by facts, the perpetrators of this cartoon fantasy have constructed an elaborately woven web of delusions and unsubstantiated hearsay in order to promote this garbage across the internet and the media to the extent that a number of otherwise rational people have actually fallen under its spell.

Normally I don't even bother debunking this kind of junk, but the effect that this paranoid myth is beginning to have requires a little rational analysis, in order to consign it to the same rubbish bin as all such silly conspiracy theories.

These crackpots even contend that the extremist Bush regime was caught unawares by the attacks, had no hand in organizing them, and actually would have stopped them if it had been able. Blindly ignoring the stand down of the US air-force, the insider trading on airline stocks - linked to the CIA, the complicit behavior of Bush on the morning of the attacks, the controlled demolition of the WTC, the firing of a missile into the Pentagon and a host of other documented proofs that the Bush regime was behind the attacks, the conspiracy theorists stick doggedly to a silly story about 19 Arab hijackers somehow managing to commandeer 4 planes simultaneously and fly them around US airspace for nearly 2 hours, crashing them into important buildings, without the US intelligence services having any idea that it was coming, and without the Air Force knowing what to do. The huge difficulties with such a stupid story force them to invent even more preposturous stories to distract from its core silliness, and thus the tale has escalated into a mythic fantasy of truly gargantuan proportions.

It's difficult to apply rational analysis to such unmitigated stupidity, but that is the task which I take on in this article. However, it should be noted that one of the curious characteristics of conspiracy theorists is that they effortlessly change their so called evidence in response to each aspect which is debunked. As soon as one delusion is unmasked, they simply invent another to replace it, and deny that the first ever existed. Eventually, when they have turned full circle through this endlessly changing fantasy fog , they then re-invent the original delusion and deny that you ever debunked it, thus beginning the circle once more. This technique is known as "the fruit loop" and saves the conspiracy theorist from ever having to see any of their ideas through to their (ill)logical conclusions.

According to the practitioners of the fruit loop, 19 Arabs took over the 4 planes by subduing the passengers and crew through the use of guns, knives, box cutters and gas, and then used electronic guidance systems which they had smuggled on board to fly the planes to their targets.

The suspension of disbelief required for this outrageous concoction is only for the hard core conspiracy theorist. For a start, they conveniently skip over the awkward fact that there weren't any Arabs on the planes. If there were, one must speculate that they somehow got on board without being filmed by any of the security cameras and without being registered on the passenger lists. But the curly question of how they are supposed to have got on board is all too mundane for the exciting world of the conspiracy theorist. With vague mumblings that they must have been using false ID ( but never specifying which IDs they are alleged to have used, or how these were traced to their real identities), they quickly bypass this problem, to relate exciting and sinister tales about how some of the fictitious fiends were actually searched before boarding because they looked suspicious. However, as inevitably happens with any web of lies, this simply paints them into an even more difficult corner. How are they supposed to have got on board with all that stuff if they were searched ? And if they used gas in a confined space, they would have been affected themselves unless they also had masks in their luggage.

"Excuse me sir, why do you have a boxcutter, a gun, a container of gas, a gas mask and an electronic guidance unit in your luggage?"

"A present for your grandmother? Very well sir, on you get."

"Very strange", thinks the security officer. "That's the fourth Arabic man without an Arabic name who just got on board with a knife, gun or boxcutter and gas mask. And why does that security camera keep flicking off every time one these characters shows up? Must be one of those days I guess..."

Asking any of these basic questions to a conspiracy theorist is likely to cause a sudden leap to the claim that we know that they were on board because they left a credit card trail for the tickets they had purchased and cars they had rented. So if they used credit cards that identified them, how does that reconcile with the claim that they used false IDs to get on to the plane? But by this time, the fruit loop is in full swing, as the conspiracy theorist tries to stay one jump ahead of this annoying and awkward rational analysis. They will allege that the hijackers' passports were found at the crash scenes. "So there!" they exalt triumphantly, their fanatical faces lighting up with that deranged look of one who has just a revelation of questionable sanity.

Hmm? So they got on board with false IDs but took their real passports with them? However, by this time the fruit loop has been completely circumnavigated,and the conspiracy theorist exclaims impatiently, "Who said anything about false IDs? We know what seats they were sitting in! Their presence is well documented!" And so the whole loop starts again. "Well, why aren't they on the passenger lists?"

"You numbskull! They assumed the identities of other passengers!" And so on...

Finally, out of sheer fascination with this circular method of creative delusion, the rational sceptic will allow them to get away with this loop, in order to move on to the next question, and see what further delights await us in the unraveling of this marvelously stupid story.
"Uh, how come their passports survived fiery crashes that completely incinerated the planes and all the passengers?" The answer of course is that its just one of those strange co-incidences, those little quirks of fate that do happen from time to time. You know, like the same person winning the lottery four weeks in a row. The odds are astronomical, but these things do happen...

This is another favourite deductive method of the conspiracy theorist. The "improbability drive", in which they decide upon a conclusion without any evidence whatsoever to support it, and then continually speculate a series of wildly improbable events and unbelievable co-incidences to support it, shrugging off the implausibility of each event with the vague assertion that sometimes the impossible happens (just about all the time in their world). There is a principle called "Occam's razor" which suggests that in the absence of evidence to the contrary, the simplest explanation is most likely to be correct. Conspiracy theorists hate Occam's razor.

Having for the sake of amusement, allowed them to get away with with the silly story of the 19 invisible Arabs, we move on to the question of how they are supposed to have taken over the planes.
Hijacking a plane is not an easy thing to do. Hijacking it without the pilot being able to alert ground control is near impossible. The pilot has only to punch in a four digit code to alert ground control to a hijacking. Unconcerned with the awkward question of plausibility, the conspiracy buffs maintain that on that Sept 11, the invisible hijackers took over the plane by the rather crude method of threatening people with boxcutters and knives, and spraying gas (after they had attached their masks, obviously), but somehow took control of the plane without the crew first getting a chance to punch in the hijacking code. Not just on one plane, but on all four. At this point in the tale, the conspiracy theorist is again forced to call upon the services of the improbability drive.

So now that our incredibly lucky hijackers have taken control of the planes, all four pilots fly them with breath taking skill and certainty to their fiery end, all four pilots unflinching in their steely resolve for a swift meeting with Allah. Apart from their psychotic hatred of "our freedoms", it was their fanatical devotion to Islam which enabled them to summon up the iron will to do this. Which is strange, because according to another piece of hearsay peddled by the conspiracy buffs, these guys actually went out drinking and womanizing the night before their great martyrdom, even leaving their Korans in the bar - really impeccable Islamic behavior - and then got up at 5am the next morning to pull off the greatest covert operation in history. This also requires us to believe that they were even clear headed enough to learn how to fly the huge planes by reading flight manuals in Arabic in the car on the way to the airport. We know this because they supposedly left the flight manuals there for us to find.

It gets better. Their practical training had allegedly been limited to Cessnas and flight simulators, but this was no barrier to the unflinching certainty with which they took over the planes and skillfully guided them to their doom. If they are supposed to have done their flight training with these tools, which would be available just about anywhere in the world, its not clear why they would have decided to risk blowing their cover to US intelligence services by doing the training in Florida, rather than somewhere in the Middle East, but such reasoning is foreign to the foggy world of the conspiracy theorist, too trapped in the constant rotation of the mental fruit loop to make their unsubstantiated fabrications seem even semi-believable.

Having triumphantly established a circular delusion in support of the mythical Arabs, the conspiracy theorist now confronts the difficult question of why there's nothing left of the planes. Anybody who has seen the endlessly replayed footage of the second plane going into the WTC will realize that the plane was packed with explosives. Planes do not and cannot blow up into nothing in that manner when they crash.

Did the mythical Arabs also haul a huge heap of explosives on board, and mange to deploy them in such a manner that they went off in the exact instant of the crash, completely vapourizing the plane? This is a little difficult even for the conspiracy theorist, who at this point decides that its easier to invent new laws of physics in order to keep the delusion rolling along.

There weren't any explosives. It wasn't an inside job. The plane blew up into nothing from its exploding fuel load! Remarkable! Sluggishly combustible jet fuel which is basically kerosine, and which burns at a maximum temperature of around 800 C has suddenly taken on the qualities of a ferociously explosive demolition agent, vapourizing 65 tons of aircraft into a puff of smoke. Never mind that a plane of that size contains around 15 tons of steel and titanium, of which even the melting points are about double that of the maximum combustion temperature of kerosine - let alone the boiling point - which is what would be required to vapourize a plane. And then there's about 50 tons of aluminium to be accounted for. In excess of 15lbs of metal for each gallon of kerosine.

For the conspiracy theorist, such inconvenient facts are vaguely dismissed as "mumbo jumbo". This convenient little phrase is their answer to just about anything factual or logical. Like a conjurer pulling a rabbit out of a hat, they suddenly become fanatically insistent about the devastating explosive qualities of kerosine, something hitherto completely unknown to science, but just discovered by them, this very minute. Blissfully ignoring the fact that never before or since in aviation history has a plane vapourized into nothing from an exploding fuel load, the conspiracy theorist relies upon Hollywood images, where the effects are are always larger than life, and certainly larger than the intellects of these cretins.

"Its a well known fact that planes blow up into nothing on impact." they state with pompous certainty. "Watch any Bruce Willis movie."

"Care to provide any documented examples? If it's a well known fact, then presumably this well known fact springs from some kind of documentation - other than Bruce Willis movies ?"

At this point the mad but cunning eyes of the conspiracy theorist will narrow as they sense the corner that they have backed themselves into, and plan their escape by means of another stunning backflip.
"Ah, but planes have never crashed into buildings before, so there's no way of telling." they counter with a sly grin.

Well, actually planes have crashed into buildings before and since, and not vapourized into nothing.

"But not big planes, with that much fuel ", they shriek in hysterical denial.

Or that much metal to vapourize.

"Yes but not hijacked planes!"

"Are you suggesting that whether the crash is deliberate or accidental affects the combustion qualities of the fuel?"

"Now you're just being silly".

Although collisions with buildings are rare, planes frequently crash into mountains, streets, other aircraft, nosedive into the ground,or have bombs planted aboard them, and don't vapourize into nothing. What's so special about a tower that's mostly glass? But by now, the conspiracy theorist has once again sailed happily around the fruit loop. "Its a well documented fact that planes explode into nothing on impact."

Effortlessly weaving back and forth between the position that its a "well known fact" and that "its never happened before, so we have nothing to compare it to", the conspiracy theorist has now convinced themselves ( if not too many other people) that the WTC plane was not loaded with explosives, and that the instant vapourization of the plane in a massive fireball was the same as any other plane crash you might care to mention. Round and round the fruit loop...

But the hurdles which confront the conspiracy theorist are many, and they are now forced to implement even more creative uses for the newly discovered shockingly destructive qualities of kerosine. They have to explain how the Arabs also engineered the elegant veritcal collapse of both the WTC towers, and for this awkward fact the easiest counter is to simply deny that it was a controlled demolition, and claim that the buildings collapsed from fire caused by the burning kerosine.

For this, its necessary to sweep aside the second law of thermodynamics and propose kerosine which is not only impossibly destructive, but also recycles itself for a second burning in violation of the law of degradation of energy. You see, it not only consumed itself in a sudden catastrophic fireball , vapourizing a 65 ton plane into nothing, but then came back for a second go, burning at 2000C for another hour at the impact point, melting the skyscraper's steel like butter. And while it was doing all this it also poured down the elevator shafts, starting fires all through the building. When I was at school there was a little thing called the entropy law which suggests that a given portion of fuel can only burn once, something which is readily observable in the real world, even for those who didn't make it to junior high school science. But this is no problem for the conspiracy theorist. Gleefully, they claim that a few thousand gallons of kerosine is enough to:

  • completely vapourize a 65 ton aircraft
  • have enough left over to burn ferociously enough for over an hour at the impact point to melt steel ( melting point about double the maximum combustion temperature of the fuel )
  • still have enough left over to pour down the elevator shafts and start similarly destructive fires all through the building.

This kerosine really is remarkable stuff! How chilling to realize that those kerosine heaters we had in the house when I was a kid were deadly bombs, just waiting to go off. One false move and the entire street might have been vapourized. And never again will I take kerosine lamps out camping. One moment you're there innocently holding the lamp - the next - kapow! Vapourized into nothing along with with the rest of the camp site, and still leaving enough of the deadly stuff to start a massive forest fire.

These whackos are actually claiming that the raging inferno allegedly created by the miraculously recycling, and impossibly hot burning kerosine melted or at least softened the steel supports of the skyscraper. Oblivious to the fact that the smoke coming from the WTC was black, which indicates an oxygen starved fire - therefore, not particularly hot, they trumpet an alleged temperature in the building of 2000 C, without a shred of evidence to support this curious suspension of the laws of physics.

Not content with this ludicrous garbage, they then contend that as the steel frames softened, they came straight down instead of buckling and twisting and falling sideways.

Since they're already re-engineered the combustion qualities of jet fuel, violated the second law of thermodynamics, and re-defined the structural properties of steel, why let a little thing like the laws of gravity get in the way?

The tower fell in a time almost identical to that of a free falling object, dropped from that height, meaning that its physically impossible for it to have collapsed by the method of the top floors smashing through the lower floors. But according to the conspiracy theorists, the laws of gravity were temporarily suspended on the morning of Sept 11. It appears that the evil psychic power of those dreadful Arabs knew no bounds. Even after they were dead, they were able, by the power of their evil spirits, to force down the tower at a speed physically impossible under the laws of gravity, had it been meeting any resistance from fireproofed steel structures originally designed to resist many tons of hurricane force wind as well as the impact of a Boeing passenger jet straying off course.

Clearly, these conspiracy nuts never did their science homework at school, but did become extremely adept at inventing tall tales for why.
"Muslim terrorists stole my notes, sir"

"No miss, the kerosine heater blew up and vapourized everything in the street, except for my passport."

"You see sir, the schoolbus was hijacked by Arabs who destroyed my homework because they hate our freedoms."

Or perhaps they misunderstood the term "creative science" and mistakenly thought that coming up with such rubbish was in fact, their science homework.

The ferocious heat generated by this ghastly kerosine was, according to the conspiracy theorists, the reason why so many of the WTC victims can't be identified. DNA is destroyed by heat. (Although 2000 C isn't really required, 100C will generally do the job.) This is quite remarkable, because according to the conspiracy theorist, the nature of DNA suddenly changes if you go to a different city.

That's right! If you are killed by an Arab terrorist in NY, your DNA will be destroyed by such temperatures. But if you are killed by an Arab terrorist in Washington DC, your DNA will be so robust that it can survive temperatures which completely vapourize a 65 ton aircraft.
You see, these loonies have somehow concocted the idea that the missile which hit the pentagon was not a missile at all, but one of the hijacked planes. And to prove this unlikely premise, they point to a propaganda statement from the Bush regime, which rather stupidly claims that all but one of the people aboard the plane were identified from the site by DNA testing, even though nothing remains of the plane. The plane was vapourized by the fuel tank explosion maintain these space loonies, but the people inside it were all but one identified by DNA testing.

So there we have it. The qualities of DNA are different, depending upon which city you're in, or perhaps depending upon which fairy story you're trying to sell at any particular time.

This concoction about one of the hijacked planes hitting the Pentagon really is a howler. For those not familiar with the layout of the Pentagon, it consists of 5 rings of building, each with a space inbetween. Each ring of building is about 30 to 35 ft deep, with a similar amount of open space between it and the next ring. The object which penetrated the Pentagon went in at about a 45 degree angle, punching a neat circular hole of about a 12 ft diameter through three rings ( six walls).A little later a section of wall about 65 ft wide collapsed in the outer ring. Since the plane which the conspiracy theorists claim to be responsible for the impact had a wing span of 125 ft and a length of 155 ft, and there was no wreckage of the plane, either inside or outside the building, and the lawns outside were still smooth and green enough to play golf on, this crazy delusion is clearly physically impossible.

But hey, we've already disregarded the combustion qualities of jet fuel, the normal properties of common building materials, the properties of DNA, the laws of gravity and the second law of thermodynamics, so what the hell - why not throw in a little spatial impossibility as well? I would have thought that the observation that a solid object cannot pass through another solid object without leaving a hole at least as big as itself is reasonably sound science. But to the conspiracy theorist, this is "mumbo jumbo". It conflicts with the delusion that they're hooked on, so it "must be wrong" although trying to get then to explain exactly how it could be wrong is a futile endeavour.

Conspiracy theorists fly into a curious panic whenever the Pentagon missile is mentioned.They nervously maintain that the plane was vapourized by it's exploding fuel load and point to the WTC crash as evidence of this behavior. (That's a wonderful fruit loop.) Like an insect which has just been sprayed, running back and forth in its last mad death throes, they first argue that the reason the hole is so small is that plane never entered the wall, having blown up outside, and then suddenly backflip to explain the 250 ft deep missile hole by saying that the plane disappeared all the way into the building, and then blew up inside the building (even though the building shows no sign of such damage). As for what happened to the wings - here's where they get really creative. The wings snapped off and folded into the fuselage which then carried them into the building, which then closed up behind the plane like a piece of meat.

When it suits them, they'll also claim that the plane slid in on its belly, (ignoring the undamaged lawn) while at the same time citing alleged witnesses to the plane diving steeply into the building from an "irrecoverable angle." How they reconcile these two scenarios as being compatible is truly a study in stupidity.

Once they get desperate enough, you can be sure that the UFO conspiracy stuff will make an appearance. The Arabs are in league with the Martians. Space aliens snatched the remains of the Pentagon plane and fixed most of the hole in the wall, just to confuse people. They gave the Arabs invisibility pills to help get them onto the planes. Little green men were seen were seen talking to Bin Laden a few weeks prior to the attacks.

As the nation gears up to impeach the traitor Bush, and stop his perpetual oil war, it's not helpful to have these idiots distracting from the process by spreading silly conspiracy theories about mythical Arabs, stories which do nothing but play into the hands of the extremist Bush regime.

At a less serious time, we might tolerate such crackpots with amused detachment, but they need to understand that the treachery that was perpetrated on Sept 11, and the subsequent war crimes committed in "retaliation" are far too serious for us to allow such frivolous self indulgence to go unchallenged.

Those who are truly addicted to conspiracy delusions should find a more appropriate outlet for their paranoia.

Its time to stop loony conspiracy theories about Sept 11.

This work may be freely-copied and distributed without permisiion as long as it not for commercial use. Please include the author's name, the web address where you found it and the copyright notice.

Comment: Put an end to loony conspiracy theories!

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The Public Knowledge of 9/11
Published: September 11, 2004

In the three years since 9/11, we've begun to understand that it's possible to know what happened without knowing what happened.

It's the difference between knowledge that is both private and communal - our memories of where we were, what we saw, what we lost - and knowledge that is truly public. Some of what we need to know publicly has been provided by the report of the 9/11 commission. Other answers are lacking.

It's striking to almost anyone whose memories of that day are fresh to watch the crushing immediacy of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, turn, so to speak, into "9/11" - a symbol, a forensic and intelligence and financial problem, and, above all, a political rallying cry. It's striking to see the emotional complexity squeezed out of the day even as our sense of its historic complexity grows. We're at a stage where gains in public understanding are matched by a strange attrition.

There is still, for instance, a deep reluctance to look too closely at the harder edges of the horror. Every mention of the day seems to require a picture of average New Yorkers as they look tearfully upward, and, of course, the sight of the president with firefighters at ground zero is the stuff of endless election-year commercials. But while it has become possible to use the terrorist attack as a plot device on stage and on television, it is somehow less possible to represent the critical moments when the planes struck and the buildings fell. The footage that we thought we would never stop seeing is now suddenly very hard to see.

Some things are behind us - the memorial design competition, for instance -but the number is actually very small. You can watch a time-lapse film of ground zero over the past three years on the Project Rebirth Web site. It shows plenty of activity. But that is merely the nucleus of an entire universe of legal, financial and political proceedings, many of them a long way from resolution.

It is the nature of historic events to gain and lose complexity simultaneously. The moment vanishes, and what we are left with are impressions, re-creations and the solid residue of fact, which doesn't merely lie there waiting to be picked up but must be carefully elicited. For all our knowing, there is still so much we don't completely understand, like the inner workings of the terrorists' minds, how the attack affected the long-term health of New Yorkers and why so many first responders died.

Sept. 11, 2001, is a central event in this nation's history. It's important that we who live most immediately in its shadow press hard to learn everything that can be learned about that day and to make sure that nothing is allowed to fade into the world of the publicly unknowable.

Comment: This op/ed piece from the New York Times seems deliberately vague, confusing and emotionally manipulative, the first sentence being a good example. By appealing to our emotional memories of the "past", stirring up feelings of horror and sadness, only then does the author casually address the fact that many questions surrounding 9/11 still remain unanswered.

As three years pass since the WTC attacks, facts do get pushed aside, details are harder to come by. All that is left are vague memories of pain and loss, and the real perpetrators behind the attack remain unpunished to continue their quest for global domination and inevitable apocalypse.

That's why it's so important to keep digging for the truth, to do your own research into the facts and how they stand up to the "official version" of history. Looking carefully at the evidence from the Pentagon crash is a good place to start.

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GOP politicizes 9/11 for its gain, McKinney says
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 09/09/04

NEW YORK — Former Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney accused Republicans on Thursday of exploiting the memory of Sept. 11, 2001, for political gain and repeated her implication that truths about the attacks remain untold.

The DeKalb County Democrat, who is running to reclaim the 4th District congressional seat, was voted out two years ago after making controversial comments about the Sept. 11 attacks during a radio interview. She implied that the Bush administration had known the attacks were coming but did nothing to prevent them.

On Thursday, she chaired a hearing staged by activist groups and researchers who say the government has covered up information related to the hijackings.

"No organization, no administration, no forces, no powers that be are going to crush the truth of what happened on Sept. 11 to the ground," she vowed.

She said the New York event, dubbed the "Omissions Hearings," had "no political agenda other than the truth." By contrast, she said, the Republicans who came to Manhattan to hold their national convention last week "stormed into New York City, their words dripping with the politicization of an American tragedy."

McKinney's Republican opponent, Catherine Davis, said in a telephone interview that it is "really unfortunate that the former congresswoman from Georgia has not been able to bring herself to stand with our government, with our troops when we have an open declaration of war against the terrorists."

McKinney said she would not back off the issue just because she's trying to reclaim her former office.

"I'm not going to become a different person," she said. "It would be a betrayal to my constituents and to all of the supporters."

The hearing was sponsored by 9/11 CitizensWatch and, groups that say the official Sept. 11 commission report contains "egregious omissions, discrepancies and distortions." They told an audience of about 100 that the investigations must continue.

"The 9/11 commission report failed to answer the majority of questions posed by victims' family members," said Kyle Hence, communications director of 9/11 CitizensWatch. He said unanswered questions concerning the attacks include those about "multiple specific warnings from overseas, the spiking of FBI investigations, terrorist financing, the lack of defensive air response and the inadequately explained breakdown of the national chain of command that morning." [...]

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9/11 and the "War on Terrorism"
Selected articles and essays
by Michel Chossudovsky

"Millions of people have been misled regarding the causes and consequences of September 11. When people across the US and around the World find out that Al Qaeda is not an outside enemy but a creation of US foreign policy and the CIA, the legitimacy of the bipartisan war agenda will tumble like a deck of cards." (Michel Chossudovsky, War and Globalization, The Truth behind September 11, 2002)

Global Research E-Monograph and Reports Series, No. 1, 2004

Copyright Michel Chossudovsky and the Centre for Research on Globalization 2004. All Rights Reserved.


As the election campaign unfolds, the "war on terrorism" has become the main if not the sole election issue. Ironically, Osama bin Laden has become a central figure of the election debate.

Whatever it takes"… said President Bush:

"[We will] fight the terrorists across the Earth, not for pride, not for power, but because the lives of our citizens are at stake."

Senator Kerry has promised to do even better:

"As President, I will fight a smarter, more effective war on terror. We will deploy every tool in our arsenal: our economic as well as our military might; our principles as well as our firepower."

In other words, the tragic events of 9/11 are being used by both political parties to galvanize public opinion in support of America's war agenda.

9/11 is being used as a justification to wage a pre-emptive war against "rogue states" and Islamic terrorists, which are "threatening the security of Homeland".

Meanwhile, the "war on terrorism" has diverted attention from all other issues, including the militarization of America and a looming social and economic crisis, marked by rising levels of poverty and unemployment.

Comment: Think about this for a moment - America's attention has been diverted away from the militarization of the country and a looming social and economic crisis. The US economy does not seem to be improving. A serious economic meltdown would be the perfect opportunity for those in power to expand their plans and seize the reins of the budding empire more firmly. It's a good plan - after all, it worked for Hitler. Many Germans were more than willing to join the Nazi party and fight for their fuhrer. They had status, power, and a sense of belonging that was lacking when they were out of work with nowhere to go.

Across the land, the image of an "outside enemy" is instilled in the consciousness of Americans. Al Qaeda is threatening America and the world. The repeal of democracy under the Patriot legislation is portrayed as a means to providing "domestic security" and upholding civil liberties.

The Big Lie

This evolving bipartisan consensus is based on a lie. Confirmed by congressional transcripts, intelligence and news reports, this illusive outside enemy is a creation of the US intelligence apparatus.

The enemy of America is "Made in America". This is an inescapable fact.

The "Islamic Militant Network" (the forerunner of Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda), was created and sustained by the CIA. CIA-sponsored guerrilla training in Afghanistan and Pakistan were integrated with the teachings of Islam. The madrasas were set up by Wahabi fundamentalists financed out of Saudi Arabia, with the support of Washington.

The Reagan, Bush senior and Clinton administrations actively supported the Islamic brigades during the Soviet-Afghan war and its aftermath. The Taliban were the "graduates" of the CIA sponsored madrasas. They would not have been able to form a government, had it not been for US military aid, channeled through Pakistan.

Confirmed by official congressional documents, US support to Al Qaeda continued after the Cold war.

Ironically, during the Clinton administration, it was the Republicans who were accusing Bill Clinton of having links to the Islamic Militant Network in Bosnia and Kosovo. A 1997 document emanating from the House Republican Party Committee entitled "Clinton-Approved Iranian Arms Transfers Help Turn Bosnia into Militant Islamic Base", accused Clinton of working hand in glove with Al Qaeda in Bosnia:

"The Clinton administration's hands-on involvement with the Islamic network's arms pipeline included inspections of missiles from Iran by U.S. government officials... [T]he Third World Relief Agency (TWRA), a Sudan-based, phoney humanitarian organization ... has been a major link in the arms pipeline to Bosnia... TWRA is believed to be connected with such fixtures of the Islamic terror network as Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman (the convicted mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing) and Osama bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi émigré believed to bankroll numerous militant groups."
- (Congressional Press Release, Republican Party Committee (RPC), U.S. Congress, Clinton-Approved Iranian Arms Transfers Help Turn Bosnia into Militant Islamic Base, Washington DC, 16 January 1997, available on the website of the Centre of Research on Globalisation (CRG) at .

Needless to say these Congressional documents, while revealing the outright lies behind US foreign policy, were not meant to be read by the broader public.

US Support to Al Qaeda (1999-2001)

US and NATO support to Al Qaeda continued during the wars in Kosovo (1999) and Macedonia (2001). Three weeks before 9/11, the US government and the "Islamic Militant Network" were working hand in glove in supporting and financing the self-proclaimed National Liberation Army (NLA), involved in the terrorist attacks in Macedonia. US military advisers mingle with Mujahideen within the same paramilitary force, Western mercenaries from NATO countries fight alongside Mujahideen recruited in the Middle East and Central Asia. And the US media calls this a "blowback" where so-called "intelligence assets" have gone against their sponsors!

Needless to say, the Republicans and the Democrats are complicit. They accuse one another of having links to Al Qaeda. Yet successive Democratic and Republican administrations have been involved from the outset of the Soviet Afghan war in 1979 in developing and sustaining Al Qaeda as a US sponsored "intelligence asset".

In other words, if the Democrats were to win the 2004 presidential elections, continuity in US foreign policy would be maintained. More importantly, the "war on terrorism" and the lies concerning Al Qaeda and 9/11 would also be maintained.

The 9/11 Commission Report

The 9/11 Commission Report is devoid of a historical perspective. While it provides all the appearances of a constructive critique of the US government, it serves to uphold the myth of an outside enemy.

Following the publication of the 9/11 Commission Report, the unfolding consensus is there were "intelligence failures. "They knew but failed to act".

This line of reasoning is appealing to many 9/11 critics and Democrats, because it tends to place the blame on the Bush administration. Yet in a bitter irony, the very process of expressing public outrage on the failures of senior Bush officials in waging an effective "war on terrorism", the Report has contributed to reinforcing the myth of the "outside enemy", which is being used to justify the largest military build-up since the Vietnam war.

The foreknowledge issue is an obvious red herring. It serves to present Al Qaeda as a threat, as an "outside enemy", when in fact Al Qaeda is a creation of the US intelligence apparatus.

Both the 9/11 Commission Report and the earlier Joint Senate-House Inquiry constitute a cover-up. The function of these reports is to destroy the historical record of US covert support to internationalism terrorism, while creating the illusion that America and "Western Civilization" are threatened. In turn, the various terrorist warnings and code orange alerts have created, across America, an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

Refuting the Myth of the Outside Enemy

In response to the 9/11 Commission Report, we bring to the attention of our readers a compilation of articles on 9/11 and the "war on terrorism".

This collection includes most of my recent writings on 9/11, together with a few of earlier texts written the immediate wake of September 11 2001.

The material contained in this collection will eventually be the object of a full-length book, as a sequel to my earlier book entitled War and Globalization, the Truth behind September 11.

However, in view of the urgency and the need to inform public opinion, at this critical juncture in our history, we decided to bring this collection out in the context of The CRG's E-Reports and Monograph Series.

The Table of Contents provided below provides a link to key articles on different aspects of 9/11 and the war on terrorism.

It does not, however, purport to provide an exhaustive review of 9/11 issues. Its main objective is to refute the myth of "the outside enemy", which has served as a justification for war and the repeal of civil liberties.

Michel Chossudovsky, Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), 8 September 2004 [...]

Comment: Click here to see the table of contents and read some of Chossudovsky's other articles on the war on terrorism.

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Sept. 11 continues to weigh down economy
By T.K. Maloy
UPI Deputy Business Editor

Washington, DC, Sep. 11 (UPI) -- The effects of the devastating terror attacks of three years ago continue to ripple through the U.S. economy, including such massive costs as the war in Iraq and increased homeland security, along with high oil prices and slow hiring on the jobs front.

In the most recent impact on the economy, the rapid rise in oil prices this spring and summer has acted as an unexpected restraint on economic growth. A key reason for the rise of oil has been geopolitical concern over ongoing conflict in Iraq, a war avowedly launched by the Bush administration to combat terror in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"If it weren't for the oil price spike, I would be very optimistic about where the economy is going," said U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan in remarks to the House budget committee this week.

Oil recently spiked at around $49 a barrel and currently is hovering at around $42, well above the price of oil before the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Also an issue of focus among House members during the Greenspan testimony was the more than $400 billion U.S. budget deficit expected for fiscal year 2004, which ends Sept. 30. Helping to push the deficit upwards has been the multi-billion dollar cost of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, along with the heavy cost of homeland security.

When the attacks on New York and Washington took place three years ago, they sent shockwaves through an already fragile economy and disrupted what seemed to be a developing, modest recovery. [...]

On the issue of Iraq war cost, the Center for American Progress, a liberal think-tank, recently estimated the U.S. expenditures on military operations in Iraq at $134.5 billion, and growing. This amount along with the total allocated to date -- but not spent yet -- comes to around $200 billion, according to most estimates. [...]

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Three Years After 9/11: More than 40% of Americans Still Think Saddam Did It
By Greg Mitchell
Editor & Publisher
September 10, 2004

NEW YORK -- The latest Newsweek poll, released this week, revealed that 42% of Americans continue to believe that Saddam Hussein's regime was "directly involved" in the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, despite all the evidence to the contrary. That's nearly as many as the 44% who disagree.

It seems to matter little that every official federal probe, most recently the much-lauded 9/11 Commission, has debunked this myth, in high-profile reports. Yet the percentage of Americans clinging to the Iraq connection has declined only slightly in the past year.

Two weeks ago, in a previous column, I explored findings from another poll that suggested that Americans remain "woefully uniformed or misinformed about certain key issues relating to the war." One survey result: 35% still believe that Iraq had stockpiles of WMD when the U.S. invaded.

I ended that column by asking readers to send along their thoughts on the following question: Does the media deserve blame for failing to educate the public, or do we need to accept the fact that "you can lead readers to the truth but you can't make them drink it"? Thanks for the many thoughtful replies, along with the usual hate mail (often from people claiming Saddam WAS behind 9/11).

Excerpts from some of the letters follow.


How people accommodate new, even contradictory information is a fascinating field of study (at least to Bill Gates, among others, who are familiar with Baysean problem-solving). There seems to be resistance to incorporating new data into one's mind-set after an opinion has formed. And of course, old studies have shown we better remember info agreeing with our established opinions.

Roy Frisvold
Santa Fe, NM

Time was, when a reader could trust the press to actually do some research, ask some questions, check some facts, and report them in the same story as the person making the misstatements designed to mislead. How one hungers for a story that contains the words "The President's statements are contradicted by the record, which states..." or some variant thereof.

Yes, I feel the press could do more. Repeating what all the participants said isn't reporting; it's transcribing. Reporting, as I understand it, brings context and perspective, not necessarily partisan, but enough factual information to allow a reader to understand what's going on. The lackey role of the press is more properly understood in the context of media consolidation and all that it entails.

Steve Stein

Let us never underestimate the staying power of lies.
The press is shocked to learn that the viewing and reading public actually still believes what the press told them in 2002. And how did the White House promulgate its lies, except through a complicit press? From Fox News to The New York Times, virtually no one in the established media was willing to expend the time, energy or resources to do anything except provide a megaphone to the government's propagandists as they beat their drums and whipped the country into a war frenzy. Today, there is blood on all our hands.

David Crook
New York, N.Y.

Too much of our "news" is now Michael Jackson, Laci Peterson, and Janet Jackson's bared breast, which gives little time left for issues that really impact the daily lives of most readers or viewers. I thank God daily that I had a chance to work for an honorable publisher (Ed Harte of Harte-Hanks) who rewarded editors and reporters who made sure both sides of an issue were reported fairly and accurately and who rarely asked editors and reporters to scurry after stupid stories that did little to inform the public.

Darla Morgan
Austin, Texas

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Global Eye: Night and Fog
By Chris Floyd
Published: September 10, 2004

You think it's not true, you think it's not coming, you think "it can't happen here." But it can, and it is, right before your eyes.

George Bush's United States is clearly in a proto-fascist condition. Of course, there's no such thing as direct equivalence between historical events. The same dangers never come around again -- not in the same form nor with precisely identical content. At every point in time, a new set of elements and circumstances coalesce to create the unique reality of that particular historical moment.

But if you take the general definition of fascism provided by its founder, Benito Mussolini -- "the merger of corporate and state power" -- and apply it to the elements that are coalescing in America at this historical moment, you could hardly find a more apt description of the Bush Regime. Couple that with the Bushists' radical transformation of party politics into a quasi-religious cult of militarism and leader worship, and you have not an equivalence but certainly an ever-deepening resonance with the malevolent spirit that swept Germany and Italy during the first half of the 20th century.

The Bushist convention in New York -- an unprecedented belching forth of bile, mendacity and bootlicking -- gave ample proof that Republicans now "claim to be far more than a political party; they [are] a movement, sweeping up the ... people and carrying them unstoppably to a better future," as historian Richard Evans described a similar ugly metamorphosis in his excellent new book, "The Coming of the Third Reich." "The vagueness of the [party's] program, its symbolic mixture of old and new, its eclectic, often inconsistent character, to a large extent allowed people to read into it what they wanted and edit out anything they might have found disturbing," he wrote of the Nazis. Evans also notes: "What the [party] did not offer, however, were concrete solutions to [the nation's] problems, least of all where they were most needed, in economy and society."

Again, the resonances are striking. Like the Nazis, the Bushists are not interested in actual policies, actual governance. They are not even interested in politics as such, i.e. the pursuit of effective government through open debate and honorable compromise with fellow citizens of opposing views. No, what drives their "movement" is a lust for raw power: the power to impose their brutal vision of unbridled state corporatism -- which Bush calls "the single sustainable model of national success." Policies, programs, grand ideological crusades ("family values," "national security," "war on terror," "defense of marriage," "ownership society") are all just empty blather to the Bushists, false fronts to be shuffled, twisted or dropped as necessary to mask the rapacious (and unpopular) nature of their ultimate goal.

Bush's state corporatism entails the destruction of government as an instrument for social good and civic life; any possible fetters on the desires of the powerful for more money and more privilege must be removed. The only "legitimate" functions of government in such a system are dividing the spoils of power among favored interest groups (Bush's loyal cadre of Christian extremists, for example), and maintaining a gargantuan military machine to "project dominance," grab loot and provide fat contracts for arms dealers, servicing companies, mercenaries and other corporate war profiteers. Everything else can be privatized, outsourced, sold off to cronies -- or simply eliminated in "forced" cutbacks blamed on deliberately engineered budget deficits.

The Bushist movement also entails the destruction of ordinary politics. Any opposition to the "single sustainable model" -- even the timid deviations offered by the thoroughly corporatized Democrats -- must be crushed, and relentlessly demonized as an "attack on America from within," as the Bushists declared at their convention. Even the democratic process itself -- the Constitutionally mandated presidential election -- was scorned from the podium as nothing more than a "manic obsession to bring down our commander in chief." Thus the very idea of free, contested elections -- "the consent of the governed" -- is now openly dismissed as a dangerous notion, a sign of mental illness.

There are more sinister resonances between Reich and Regime, of course. One is the penchant for aggressive war based on false premises, in the name of protecting the sacred "Homeland" from imminent attack by godless evildoers. Another is the brazen use of the "Big Lie," such as Bush's repeated public assertions that he was "forced" to invade Iraq because "Saddam wouldn't allow the inspectors back in" -- an extraordinary perversion of reality on a par with any of Hitler's delusionary propaganda.

Finally, as in earlier fascist movements, the faith of Bush's adherents has been sealed in blood: a proven method of binding followers to a ruthless leader. With his illegal aggression, Hitlerian in principle if not yet in scale, Bush has made his followers -- and by extension, his nation -- complicit in mass murder. The terrorist horrors of Beslan have been replicated 70-fold across Iraq, where an estimated 35,000 noncombatants have been killed. As in Beslan, this slaughter of innocents was often deliberate. For example, Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld personally approved every bombing raid likely to kill 30 or more civilians -- and there were more than 50 such willful mass terror killings in all, The New York Times reports. No wonder Bush's zealots swallow his lies so readily; otherwise they would have to acknowledge the blood dripping from their own hands.

You think it's not happening, because the crudities of yesteryear -- brownshirts, goose steps, shattered glass -- are absent, because the targets of wrath and fear are different. But the Bush Regime is the form that state corporatism -- fascism -- is taking in this particular historical moment. It is happening. The night and fog are coming.

Comment: We have been saying this for years. The parallels between post 9/11 and Nazi Germany are very, very scary. Two years ago, very few people were willing to consider this hypothesis, that Bush is leading the US into a fascist state.

Open your eyes before it is too late. The signs are there. But if you wish to remain in your illusion, then you will not see them.

But, then again, if you don't care about anything but your job and your family, and if they don't care about anything else either, then life should be good. Just don't make waves and they won't come for you. Millions of Germans continued to live and work as if nothing unusual was happening.

You can too.

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Wellstone Was Murdered.
Professors James Fetzer and Don "Four Arrows" Jacobs

In "American Assassination," two professors explain how.

Senator Paul Wellstone was, "the first 1960s radical elected to the U.S. Senate." In Senate Race 2002, the White House made defeating Wellstone priority #1. Karl Rove hand-picked arch Republican Norm Coleman to run against him. Despite massive funding, Coleman was trailing the popular Wellstone two weeks before election day.

Then, tragedy struck. On the morning of October 25th, 2002, Wellstone was killed after a mysterious communication cut-out and crash of his small aircraft. He died alongside his wife Sheila, their daughter Marcia, three staff members, and two pilots, while trying to land at Minnesota’s Eveleth airfield. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer insisted to his reporter at the scene that foul weather was the lethal factor in the crash, despite the statements to the contrary from the CNN correspondent. To this day, the public tends to blame the weather.

Ph.D. Professors James Fetzer and Don "Four Arrows" Jacobs present the harrowing truth. The weather didn’t bring down Senator Wellstone. Nor were the two pilots incompetent, as the ridiculous report of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) eventually claimed.

The facts point elsewhere: the FBI happened to arrive at the remote rural crash scene a startling two hours after the crash. Did they know about it in advance? The FBI forbade the ambulance and fire teams to take photos. Even the AP photographer on hand was intimidated, delayed and then highly monitored. For some reason, a member of the U.S. Capitol Police Dignitary Protection Division was also present.

Why did these representatives of law enforcement illegally remove evidence before the NTSB arrived to investigate, seven hours later? Why did the FBI state that they were treating the site as a "crime scene" although there were "no indications of any criminal activity?" How could the FBI swiftly conclude and state publicly, before NTSB arrived, that there was "no evidence of terrorism" involved? How could they know?

American Assassination confirms the worst fears of a nation. Senator Paul Wellstone was murdered.

Both authors are decorated university professors. A Native American, Four Arrows (a.k.a. Dr. Don Jacobs) teaches educational leadership and is a staunch critic of US foreign policy. Dr. Jim Fetzer is a published expert on U.S. political assassinations and the logic of science. Although no one can prove exactly what happened in the events leading to Wellstone’s death, these two Ph.D.s point out the official story’s inconsistencies and deliberate omissions. With a methodical argument, they present evidence of an official cover-up, a compelling motive for Wellstone’s assassination, and a more probable explanation for how Senator Wellstone was downed. Their facts point to a new conclusion:

• There was never any distress call from the pilots. Communication was somehow cut off shortly before the crash.

• NTSB’s Carol Carmody handled the Wellstone case. A former CIA official, Carmody is a damage-control expert who handled the NTSB’s investigation of the suspicious aircraft crash of Democratic Senatorial candidate Mel Carnahan, exactly two years earlier.

• NTSB is legally mandated to take jurisdiction over a crash scene, yet they let the FBI tamper with evidence. The NTSB failed to mention the FBI’s presence in their report.

The NTSB did not consider all of the available evidence!

• Some witnesses heard the engines cutting out, a phenomenon not consistent with a stall.

• Others reported odd cell-phone and garage-door phenomena that were taking place about the same time the plane lost both communications and control.

• The NTSB's own simulations, which replicated properties like those of King Air A-100s under similar conditions, were unable to bring the plane down—even when conducted under abnormally slow speeds!

• One of the members who actually signed the report, Richard Healing, admitted that they really had no idea what had caused the plane to crash.

Since becoming active in this issue, normal citizens contacted Professor Fetzer and related strange electronic communications interference in the area at the time of the crash. The automatic garage doors in entire neighborhoods mysteriously opened. Cell phones experienced never-before-heard kinds of static. These auditory patterns eerily match those created by "electro-magnetic pulse" (EMP) weapons recently developed by the Pentagon to jam the computer-assisted controls of an enemy aircraft. Radar images from the time of the crashes of both Senators Carnahan and Wellstone match the profile for EMP fingerprints. EMPs not only jam an airplane’s electronics, they disable the radio communication of the plane.

In the wake of the crash, 69% of Minnesoteans blamed "A GOP Conspiracy" for Wellstone’s death. In appendices to American Assassination, Wellstone’s courageous stands against the rich and powerful continue to inspire us. Our epilogue presents highlights from Wellstone’s agenda, and his speech "On Iraq." His opposition to the oligarchy helps the reader understand why Wellstone was assassinated. When the reader meets Wellstone in his own words, his vision is kept alive and lives on in each of us, despite the desires of the plutocrats.

Comment: Is was extremely curious to see the bigwigs of the Republican Party and Bush government immediately insist that Wellstone's death was a "terrorist attack", even before any evidence had been collected. Did they know something?

It seems so.

These people will stop at nothing to bring in their agenda: killing Wellstone, a faked attack on the US, lies to justify invading foreign countries. Any trick in Karl Rove's bag is OK, if it helps Bush get back for four more years.

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Free-for-all over free speech on campus
Friday, September 10, 2004 Posted: 1:37 PM EDT (1737 GMT)

DENVER, Colorado (AP) -- A university president and a Democratic state lawmaker said rules put in place this year to protect conservative views on Colorado campuses have led to death threats against professors and a harmful effect on free speech.

Republican lawmakers responded that conservative students still are being harassed and more needs to be done.

A handful of college officials and students went before the Legislature's Joint Education Committee on Thursday to report on efforts to enforce the Academic Bill of Rights. All state-funded colleges adopted the policy this year under pressure from Republican lawmakers.

Professors at Metropolitan State College in Denver are concerned that some topics may be off-limits in the classroom, interim president Ray Kieft told lawmakers. He cited discussions of stem cell research, a lightning-rod issue for some Republicans who claim it amounts to abortion.

Kieft said death threats against a Metro State political science professor have "sent a real chill across the campus." The professor, Oneida Meranto, said in March she was threatened after a student filed a complaint against her and told lawmakers he had asked to drop her class because she was biased against conservatives.

Meranto responded publicly that the student was failing, prompting the student to accuse her of violating his privacy rights. School officials said the threats originated off campus and the FBI has said it was investigating.

Sen. John Andrews, R-Centennial, a committee member, pointed to three new complaints aired by students at the meeting as evidence that schools need to enforce the policy more strictly.

University of Colorado law student Mario Nicholas said a professor called him a Nazi after Nicholas complained when the professor told the class that "the 'R' in Republican stands for racist." The professor was chastised by the dean but not suspended.

Metro State student William Pierce said he filed a grievance after a professor accused him of spying on the class for Republicans intent on enforcing the new policy.

Colorado State student Heather Schmidt, an Army veteran whose husband is serving in Iraq, said one of her professors criticized former President Reagan and drew a caricature of President Bush. She said when she complained, she was told to find another class.

Sen. Ken Gordon, D-Denver, said he called the professor involved in that complaint and was told he had been forced out of the classroom by death threats.

"He said he sleeps with a shotgun under his bed," Gordon told the panel. The professor did not return a call from The Associated Press.

Rep. Lynn Hefley, R-Colorado Springs, said professors who violate the rules should be suspended.

"It seems to me you need to take swift action," she told the university presidents.

Larry Penley, chancellor of the Colorado State University System, CU President Elizabeth Hoffman and University of Northern Colorado President Kay Norton told legislators they are enforcing the policy.

Colleges agreed to implement a stripped-down version of the policy after lawmakers killed a measure that would have required them to allow students to file grievances against professors if they felt they were being harassed for their political or religious beliefs.

Comment: The Big Chill. There is no longer any right to freedom of expression. People get offended by ideas, and the problem is not that these people are close minded, but that the ideas are somehow offensive.

This brings to mind of story told to us by a former teacher at a university in Mississippi. The professor taught computers to new students. He students got upset and left the class when he spoke of "aborting a program"!

How can their be free intellectual discussion when this type of environment reigns. Well, the people behind these pogroms are not interested in free discussion. They are only interested in hearing ideas that confirm their illusory view of the world. They are building themselves a guilded cage and will soon be irrevocably trapped.

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Americans in danger are vulnerable to dictatorship
Posted on Sunday, September 12 @ 09:45:25 EDT
By Martin Dyckman, St. Petersburg Times
TALLAHASSEE - A thousand dead in Iraq. For what? History's highest budget deficit. For what? George W. Bush has been so reckless with America's lives, wealth and reputation and so stupendously incompetent and untrustworthy overall as to defy belief that anyone but Halliburton and the House of Saud would want him to be elected.

And yet, if the polls are accurate, Bush is leading. Dismal as that news may be, what's more to be feared is the reason. Though they see through him in nearly every other respect, many people are convinced of his leadership, his courage, his sense of resolve.

This triumph for the art of propaganda - all we really know about his courage, after all, is how little of it he displayed during Vietnam - signifies mortal danger for American democracy.

The "man on horseback" mentality, the belief that a leader's strength is more important than where it leads them, defines a population that is vulnerable to dictatorship.

This is not to call Bush a dictator or suggest that he wants to be one. But let no one believe that it couldn't happen here, as has happened so often elsewhere.

It has happened here, and by the design of better statesmen than Bush.

John Adams, an original American patriot, signed the Alien and Sedition Acts that put people in prison for what they said or wrote.

Abraham Lincoln, one of our three greatest presidents, suspended the writ of habeas corpus.

Woodrow Wilson, a scholar by profession, jailed and deported people for opposing a war that, nearly a century later, still raises the question of what American interests compelled our participation.

Franklin D. Roosevelt put 110,000 men, women and children in concentration camps because of their race.

In each instance, danger was the pretext for suspending democracy and decency.

Dictatorship has struck even in the absence of danger. Right here, in Florida.

In December 2000, the Florida House of Representatives, in broad daylight, voted 79 to 41 to steal the 2000 presidential election by formally appointing the Republican slate of electors regardless of what a recount might show. Though presumptively legal under the Constitution, that was a dictatorial act in light of the modern expectation that the people, not the politicians, elect the president.

Florida rewarded the perpetrators by sending Tom Feeney to Congress and re-electing nearly everyone who followed his orders. If that disgraceful vote ever became even an issue in any of their campaigns, I am unaware of it.

The Senate did not follow suit, but only because of President John McKay's shrewd strategy of waiting to see what the Supreme Court would do. Nonetheless, a precedent was set for use in the next state where one party controls both houses and opportunity knocks.

Meanwhile, it is becoming clear that the great falsehoods of this administration were not limited to the phantom weapons of mass destruction, the fanciful link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida, and (most recently) the phony Medicare drug benefit cost figures that were deliberately fed to the Congress.

To that list must be added the deception that the Republicans wanted Howard Dean for their opponent. The Washington punditry corps regurgitated that as fact and helped give the Republicans exactly what they did want: a senator (actually, two senators) on the opposition ticket.

It didn't matter who. Sitting members of Congress are sitting ducks because they come with the fresh baggage of complicated voting records that are easy to misconstrue and misrepresent.

The Homeland Security Act, for example, contained a poison pill for Democrats: Its labor-bashing component set up Max Cleland, a triple amputee Vietnam War hero, to be smeared as unpatriotic. If there is such a place as hell, surely it awaits the liars who did that.

In the entire history of the United States, there have been only four presidents who went straight from the Congress to the White House. The last of them - and the only Democrat - was John F. Kennedy, 44 years ago.

Former members of Congress have fared much better, but in recent years only by way of the vice presidency.

The Democrats should have learned by now. Of the six Democratic presidents directly elected since the Civil War, all but one (JFK) were governors: Grover Cleveland, Wilson, Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. (Michael Dukakis would have won too had he managed to show anger, or any other passion, at appropriate moments.) Truman and Lyndon Johnson would not have made the White House but for the vice presidency.

Governors, or former governors, have played well for the GOP too: e.g., Ronald Reagan, George Bush. A governor's record is rarely as complex as that of a member of Congress, and the job title itself conveys a sense of competence and authority.

Even if, as we see now, the competence is only an illusion.

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Former State Department Official Confirms Clinton Administration collaborated with Al Qaeda in the Balkans
Financial Times Information, Global News Wire, 9 September 2004

The Hague/Zagreb, 8 September: Former political analyst at the US Senate James Jatras appeared before the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague on Wednesday (8 September) as the second defence witness in the trial of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, and said that the US allowed Iran and Saudi Arabia to supply arms to Bosnia-Hercegovina in the early 1990s.

The Clinton administration tacitly approved the transfer of arms from Iran and helped in turning Bosnia into an Islamic militant base, Jatras said, adding that Washington later gave preference to the aid from Saudi Arabia, finding Riyadh's influence in Bosnia "healthier" than Iran's.

Jatras, now a partner in the Venable law firm in Washington, was a Republican Party foreign policy analyst in the Senate from 1975 to 2002. As a specialist for Eastern Europe, he compiled five reports on Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Jatras was examined in the courtroom by Steven Kay, Milosevic's court-appointed defence counsel.

The witness, citing his 1997 report called "The Green Light for Iran", said that the Clinton administration had signalled to the Croatian government to leave open channels for Iranian arms.

While in 1992 and 1993 most of the weapons for the Bosnian army arrived from Iran, as of 1994 the Clinton administration preferred another network from Saudi Arabia which today would be called Al-Qa'idah, he said.

Quoting a statement by a Saudi official from the Washington Post of 1996, that weapons worth 300 million dollars had been delivered to Bosnia-Hercegovina, the witness said that the US had disregarded long-term consequences at the time.

Jatras said that foundations for a global terrorist network, with Usamah Bin-Ladin at its centre, had been laid in Bosnia and Kosovo.

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Newspaper clip sent in by a reader.

In 1992, New York businessman Harry Katz phoned the President of AIPAC, David Steiner, to offer contributions. Steiner proceeded to make several claims, including negotiating with then-candidate Bill Clinton over who would be Secretary of State, and had already "cut a deal" with Baker for more aid to Israel.

Unknown to Steiner, Katz taped the phone call and gave the recording to the media, worried that AIPAC's influence had grown to dangerous levels.

Following release of the transcripts of the phone conversation, David Steiner was forced to resign the Presidency of AIPAC.

The following is part of the a transcript of the Oct. 22, 1992 conversation with President David Steiner of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) recorded without his knowledge by New York businessman Haim (Harry) Katz. Its existence was first revealed to the Washington Times and its release triggered Steiner's
resignation. Click here for the full transcript.

[...] HAIM KATZ: So if you had a little lamp, a wishing lamp and you could wish for either Bush, Clinton or Perot. . .


HAIM KATZ: Clinton all the way? And in terms of Israel having political power, between the three candidates, the one who will give us the most political power?

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: Clinton is the best guy for us.

HAIM KATZ: He's the best one.

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: I hope you're serious about what you told me.

HAIM KATZ: I am, I'll tell you this [tells a long anecdote about David Souter promising to oppose abortion as a nominee and then reversing himself on the Supreme Court]. So I wish we had a Jewish candidate for president.

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: I don't think the country's ready.

HAIM KATZ: If the country was ready, is there any Jewish candidate...?

DAVID STEINER AIPAC:I wouldn't venture to say anything.

HAIM KATZ: You know who? I don't know him, I've never met him, Joe Lieberman.

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: Oh, I'm very friendly with Joe. I'm having dinner with him Monday night.

HAIM KATZ: Let me tell you, I think Joe Lieberman would have, uh, would have, if he wasn't Jewish, that's the only problem he has. He's highly respected.

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: I'd like to see him on the Supreme Court.

HAIM KATZ: If Clinton is elected, has he told you who he's going to put on the Supreme Court?

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: We're talking now. We don't have no commitments yet. We're just negotiating. We're more interested right now, in the secretary of state and the secretary of National Security Agency. That's more impor
tant to us.

HAIM KATZ: If Clinton is elected, who do you think will be secretary of state?

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: We don't know yet, we're negotiating.

HAIM KATZ: Who are you hoping for?

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: I've got a list. But I really can't go through it. I'm not allowed to talk about it.

HAIM KATZ: But you figure, God willing, if Clinton's elected . . .

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: We'll have access.

HAIM KATZ: You'll have access and you'll have a good input into who's secretary of state.

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: I do believe so.

HAIM KATZ: And the other position is. . .

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: National security adviser.

HAIM KATZ: Those are the two critical positions.


HAIM KATZ: Gotcha. Well, David, thanks for talking with me.

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: And we're going to get together next week. I hope you'll have your checkbook ready.

HAIM KATZ: Will do.


Comment: Now you tell us, if the influence wielded by the chairman of a leading Jewish lobby group in the US extends as far as having a say in who gets appointed to the positions of US secretary of state and National security advisor, is it possible that pro-Israel groups in the US could be directing US Middle East policies also? If so, then what are the implications for the Iraq invasion and the real reasons behind it? Furthermore, what are the implications for the may reports of an Israeli spy ring in the US, the "dancing Israelis" on September 11th 2001 and the possibility that Israel, at the very least, knew that the 9/11 attacks were going to happen?

It is time to wake up. There exists much evidence to suggest that 9/11 was an inside job. There was an opportunity and an motive, yet when websites like Signs of the Times simply put the evidence together and "call a spade a spade", no one wants to face the facts and consider the likely conclusion that those facts are pointing to.

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Media Coverage of Suicide Bombings - All Effect, No Cause
By Sharif Hikmat Nashashibi
Thursday, September 09 2004 @ 12:16 PM EDT

Media reporting of suicide bombings in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories is as predictable as it is inadequate, for while such attacks are rightly given much coverage, the necessary context and background information are almost always totally absent, giving the false impression that such events occur out of the blue, irrationally, to provoke an innocent, peaceful Israel.

Israel's daily injustices and provocations leading up to suicide bombings are often not reported, even less so now with the carnage in Iraq, Sudan and elsewhere, as the media falls into the trap of reporting "big" news such as explosions, while ignoring the "drip, drip" effects that lead to acts of horrendous, desperate, indiscriminate revenge.

The twin suicide bombings in Beersheba on August 31 typify all that is wrong with the media's approach.

"Hamas reignites conflict" read one broadsheet headline, "violence returns to Israel" read another, "Israel shaken by return of the suicide bombers" read another.

The articles proved no better, reporting that a "five-month lull", a "period of relative peace", had been "shattered". One broadsheet reporter went so far as to claim that "a sort of peace has hung over Israel and Palestine for much of the summer."

Nothing could be further from the truth. In that "five-month lull" between the Beersheba suicide bombings and the previous one at Ashdod on March 14, Israel killed 436 Palestinians and injured 2,221, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society. In this "period of relative peace", more Palestinians were killed than the total number of Israelis by suicide bombings throughout the entire four-year uprising against the longest military occupation in modern history.

During that time, Israel made thousands homeless through house demolitions, and continued its settlement expansion, arrests, military attacks, barrier construction and land expropriation. Meanwhile, 30 Israeli Jews were killed and 57 injured, almost all of them soldiers and settlers in the occupied territories, according to Israel's Foreign Ministry. That is a ratio of almost 15 Palestinians killed for every Israeli, and almost 39 Palestinians injured for every Israeli.

Is none of this worth reporting? The media doesn't seem to think so. In fact, out of all the British national dailies, the only person that did was the Guardian's Middle East editor Brian Whitaker, who reported that "the killing of Palestinians continues unabated, with 2004 set to become the second worst since the uprising began."

These glaring omissions are inexcusable. One cannot claim that such information is hard to find – it is readily available on the websites of the PRCS and Israel's Foreign Ministry. The former even allows one to view fatality and casualty figures for any desired date range instantly.

One also cannot claim that there is no space or time for such background information. Besides the fact that articles on suicide bombings often remind people that they have killed hundreds of Israelis, it is our job, our duty as journalists to report not just the what, where, when and how, but perhaps most importantly, the why.

This certainly does not mean excusing suicide bombings, which in my opinion are as reckless and damaging to Palestinians as Israelis. However, failing to provide such background decontextualises suicide bombings, giving people a blinkered view of what is happening in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It also results in Palestinian suffering being ignored or trivialized as somehow less important than the suffering of Israelis. We are constantly told of the effect, but seldom the cause.

Another frequent omission in the media's coverage of suicide attacks is any background detail of the bombers. Again, this is not to excuse their actions, but to investigate what may have happened to those people for them to consider taking their lives and those of surrounding innocents.

Such detail is easy to come by through an internet search of the bombers' surnames and their towns of origin. In the case of the Beersheba bombings, the families of the perpetrators, Ahmed Qawasmeh and Nasim Jaabari, both from Hebron, had been subjected to a horrendous series of killings, injuries, house demolitions and detentions by Israeli forces. It is difficult to see how such experiences would not fill someone with hopeless, lethal rage.

The Mirror quoted Eaatadal Qawasmeh in June 2003 as saying: "When these youths are harassed by the Israelis, when they see their families beaten and killed, when they close their universities and take away their futures, they become time bombs."

That same month I wrote an article about suicide bomber Hiba Daraghmeh, and pointed out what the media had failed to – that she had lost 10 relatives, including children, during this intifada.

A recent phenomenon in the media's coverage of suicide bombings is the supposed link with Israel's barrier. All news organizations reported that it has not yet been built in Hebron, the closest Palestinian town to Beersheba. None reported that the planned Israeli route will entail annexing large swathes of Hebron land.

Many used the subjective term "security barrier", as if to back Israel's justification for its construction, and some reported that it had reduced Palestinian attacks in Israel. Ignored was the fact that Israel has yet to provide a reasonable explanation for why the barrier is being built on Palestinian land rather than its internationally recognized borders. It is this that led the International Court of Justice to rule that the barrier is illegal and should be dismantled, and affected Palestinians compensated. This did not stop the Daily Telegraph publishing the headline "Deaths are proof for Israel that barrier must be finished quickly".

Giving context to suicide bombings will no doubt be resisted by apologists for Israel and those afraid of coming under pressure from them, but this resistance is short-sighted, for there will be no end to such carnage as long as journalists, decision-makers and the public are blind to its root causes. In this case, everybody loses.

-Sharif Hikmat Nashashibi is chairman of Arab Media Watch, an organization dedicated to objective British coverage of Arab issues. He encourages your comments:

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Israeli press expose Jewish 'terrorists'
Sunday 05 September 2004
By Khaled Amayreh in the West Bank

Palestinians are being terrorised by the hardline group

Israeli media have exposed a paramilitary Jewish group that has been terrorising Palestinian civilians in the West Bank with tacit approval from the Israeli army.

State-run Israeli radio, Reshet Bet, announced on Sunday that members of the group, known as the Hebrew Brigade" are armed with automatic rifles and equipped with jeeps and vicious attack dogs.

Quoting unidentified security sources, the radio said the group is made up of dozens of erstwhile cadres of the Kach movement, the "terrorist group" founded by Rabbi Meir Kahana and dedicated to the destruction of the Palestinian community in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

Kahana, a one-time member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, called for the "extirpation" or "extermination" of non-Jews in Israel and the occupied territories, following the example of the ancient Israelites who ethnically cleansed the Canaanites as narrated in the Torah.

Kahana also advocated that democracy and Judaism were completely incompatible and that non-Jews could never attain equality in a truly Jewish state.

Kach has been declared a "terrorist group" by both Israel and the United States.

In 1995, a member of Kach named Egal Amir assassinated former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin for signing the Oslo Accords with the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

Ideological affinity

However, since Ariel Sharon came to power in Israel in 2001, the Israeli government, and especially the powerful military establishment, has been dealing rather leniently with Kach and similar far right groups, ostensibly because of the ideological affinity between Sharon's party Likud and the far-right parties.

A Hebrew newspaper, the Ma'ariv, published a report on the resurfacing vigilante group last week.

The Kach vigilantes, as they are commonly known, erect surprise roadblocks and checkpoints on roads used by Palestinian motorists, using attack dogs, the newspaper reported.

Sometimes, the extremists reportedly serve as a "back-up force" by "assisting" the army in "keeping law and order" by harassing Palestinian civilians.

Some members of the well-organised group have reportedly threatened and blackmailed Israeli security officers living in their respective settlements.

The Israeli army has acknowledged, rather begrudgingly, the existence of the group but denied that it was operating under its supervision.

However, army spokesperson Eitan Arusi confirmed that "those people operate within the settlements and their main function is to prevent Palestinians from infiltrating their respective communities".

Arusi told that the army was ultimately responsible for the activities of the vigilantes.

Arusi's statements, however, were contradicted by another army spokesman, quoted earlier by Israeli radio, who sought to distance the army from the group.

Dangerous militia

A number of Knesset members have castigated the Israeli government for allowing the extremists to function.

"These are a bunch of killers and vile terrorists, I can't understand why our government allows them to function freely in the streets of the West Bank," said Ran Cohen, a member of the newly-founded neo-leftist party, Yahad.

Cohen, who described the group as a dangerous militia, called on the Israeli justice system to force the government to outlaw the group and end their activities.

One Israeli legal expert, Moshe Hangbi, accused the Israeli government of "indulging in a serious breach of the law".

"This terrorist organisation [Kach] is supposed to be outside the confines of the law since it was outlawed and declared a terrorist organisation in 1994," he said.

"The fact that it is allowed to function flies in the face of Israeli authorities," he added.

Attacks and massacres

Kach has a long record of attacking and harassing Palestinian civilians.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the right-wing extremists placed bombs in the cars of three Palestinian mayors, causing the legs of the former mayor of Nablus, Bassam Shaka'a, to be amputated.

In 1982, two armed men belonging to Kach attacked the campus of the University of Hebron with machine guns and hand grenades, killing and injuring dozens of students.

Also in the early 1980s, Kach members sought to destroy the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, using ground-to-ground missiles allegedly stolen from Israeli army barracks.

The bloodiest act against Palestinians by the movement took place in 1994 when Baruch Goldstein, an American immigrant, cold bloodedly murdered 29 unarmed worshippers while they were praying at the Ibrahimi mosque in downtown Hebron.

The worshippers were searched and had to pass through metal detectors before entering the prayer area.


The Kach leadership, along with the leaders of the settler movement of Gush Emunim, then enthusiastically supported the massacre, evoking a Talmudic edict that a thousand non-Jewish lives are not worth a Jew's fingernail.

Since the beginning of the intifada four years ago, extremists affiliated with Kach and other right-wing groups, such as Kahana Hay (Kahana is alive), have killed and injured hundreds of Palestinian civilians.

The same groups have also planned and carried out attacks on Arab schools in East Jerusalem and the Hebron region.

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The coming conflagration in Iraq
By Ed Blanche
Special to The Daily Star
Saturday, September 11, 2004

BEIRUT: Iraqi insurgents are slowly but surely extending their control over key cities in the notorious "Sunni Triangle" north and west of Baghdad, a creeping consolidation of their influence that bodes ill for the fumbling transitional government and the U.S. forces propping it up. Continued uprisings by Shiite irregulars of the Mehdi Army militia, led by cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, scion of a revered religious family, point to the possibility of Shiite militants seizing and holding other "no-go zones" in southern Iraq, further undermining the putative central government in Baghdad.

Whether this phenomenon deepens the rift between the Sunni minority, the pillar of Saddam Hussein's grotesque regime, and the long suppressed Shiite majority and pushes Iraq toward the long-feared fragmentation remains to be seen. The Royal Institute of International Affairs in London concluded in a briefing paper published on Sept. 1 that with the way events are unfolding in Iraq, the country will be fortunate if it manages to avoid a break-up and civil war, a development that would have dangerous ramifications for the entire Middle East.

"The fragmentation scenario goes to the very core of the identity debate within Iraq, and is related closely to the issue of 'who rules' the country in the future," the institute's assessment said. "It is, sadly, a not unlikely scenario." [...]

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Violence Sweeps Baghdad; U.S. Gunship Fires on Crowd
By Ibon Villelabeitia
September 12, 2004

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A U.S. helicopter gunship fired at Iraqis milling around a burning U.S. vehicle in a Baghdad street Sunday during fierce battles in which witnesses and officials said 13 people had been killed and 61 wounded.

Elsewhere in the city, at least seven car bombs and various outbreaks of violence killed nine Iraqis, and insurgents fired over a dozen mortar bombs or rockets around the U.S.-occupied Green Zone compound.

It was one of the heaviest barrages in the capital in months. "We've seen a tremendous increase in the number of attacks," Brigadier General Erv Lessel, a U.S. military spokesman, told Reuters.

South of Baghdad, three Polish soldiers were killed and three wounded when they were attacked near Hilla.

In rebel-occupied Ramadi, west of Baghdad, U.S. tanks and helicopters fired on a residential district, killing 10 Iraqis, including women and children, a doctor said. The U.S. military had no immediate comment.

The surge in violence coincided with new American offensives to retake insurgent-held areas before elections due in January.


Heavy fighting erupted in Haifa Street, a thoroughfare in central Baghdad notorious as a rebel stronghold. The crackle of gunfire echoed for several hours as U.S. tanks and tank-like Bradley fighting vehicles moved into the area.

Witnesses said a U.S. helicopter fired at a group of Iraqis crowded round a burning Bradley. Reuters Television images showed Iraqis running for cover shortly before a blast felled Al Arabiya producer Mazen Tomeizi.

The Palestinian, who was working for the Dubai-based TV channel, died soon afterwards. Reuters cameraman Seif Fouad, who had been recording the scene, was also injured in the explosion.

"Mazen's blood was on my camera and face," Fouad said from his hospital bed. He said his friend screamed at him for help: "Seif, Seif! I'm going to die. I'm going to die."

The U.S. military said two of its helicopters opened fire after coming under attack from the crowd. Reuters television footage showed no evidence of shooting from the ground.

"As the helicopters flew over the burning Bradley they received small-arms fire from the insurgents in vicinity of the vehicle," a military statement said. "Clearly within the rules of engagement, the helicopters returned fire destroying some anti-Iraqi forces in the vicinity of the Bradley."

Earlier, the U.S. military had said a helicopter destroyed the vehicle "to prevent looting and harm to the Iraqi people" after four U.S. soldiers were lightly wounded in the attack on the Bradley. [...]

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A US sniper's story: 'Everyone I shot deserved it. It doesn't bother me'
Jason Burke
The Observer
Sunday September 12, 2004

Specialist James Wilks, 25, from Fort Worth, Texas, sits in the searing sun outside his barrack block in Camp Eagle, smoking a menthol cigarette. Beyond the blast walls, sentry towers and barbed wire lies Sadr City, a Baghdad suburb where throughout the summer fighters loyal to a radical Shia Muslim cleric have fought running battles with the American troops based here. A day earlier, fighting had flared again in the narrow, rubbish-strewn alleyways that for months have been Wilks's hunting ground.

Wilks is a sniper and is proud of the three 'kills' he has notched up in the first six months of his year's tour of duty. The first came in early April, during an assault on a position held by Shia militiamen.

'It was night and low visibility,' Wilks said. 'But I saw a guy with an AK-47 lit up by the porch light in a doorway about 400 metres away. I watched him through the sights. He looked like just another Iraqi. I hit him low in the stomach and dropped him.'

The second kill was in July. Camp Eagle has been hit by more than 700 mortar rounds, usually fired at night.

From the roof of the barracks block, Wilks picked out a group of men behaving suspiciously nearly 700 metres away.

'We watched them for an hour. When I was sure one guy had a weapon on his back, I squeezed a shot off and he went down.'

Killing from long distance is 'weird', says Wilks, who joined the army after six years as a poorly paid waiter. 'It's not like in a firefight, when it is really scary and you don't think about it. When you are looking down the scope and no one knows you are there, it gives you a sense of power. You get an adrenalin rush, though I'm not sure if it is in a good way.'

Wilks's comrades are proud of his success. Almost all the men of the First Cavalry's Task Force 12 have seen combat. Scores have been injured and several killed. Long routine patrols are broken by moments of intense fear and excitement when units come under attack.

The Observer joined an eight-hour patrol along Route Predator, a key road leading into Sadr City that has been the site of regular bomb attacks and ambushes.

Apart from some wayward mortar shells early on, the patrol was uneventful - though the following one suffered two killed and three injured when two roadside bombs exploded. Sergeant Herman Groombridge, 35, and his men drive slowly up and down the pitted tarmac.

Groombridge points out a mosque from where gunmen opened fire a few weeks earlier. Jesus Sales, a 21-year-old who joined the army to pay for college fees, is the unit's reserve sniper. He shot a man a few weeks earlier: 'I didn't feel anything weird. I just felt satisfied.'

Wilks is equally phlegmatic: 'Sometimes I feel like I should feel guilty, but I don't. Everyone I shot deserved it. It doesn't bother me.'

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Iraq's Health Ministry ordered to stop counting civilian dead from war

USA Today 2003
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — Iraq's Health Ministry has ordered a halt to a count of civilians killed during the war and told its statistics department not to release figures compiled so far, the official who oversaw the count told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The health minister, Dr. Khodeir Abbas, denied in an email that he had anything to do with the order, saying he didn't even know about the study.

Dr. Nagham Mohsen, the head of the ministry's statistics department, said the order was relayed to her by the ministry's director of planning, Dr. Nazar Shabandar, who said it came on behalf of Abbas. She said the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority, which oversees the ministry, also wanted the counting to stop.

"We have stopped the collection of this information because our minister didn't agree with it," she said, adding: "The CPA doesn't want this to be done."

Abbas, whose secretary said he was out of the country, sent an email denying the charge.

"I have no knowledge of a civilian war casualty survey even being started by the Ministry of Health, much less stopping it," he wrote. "The CPA did not direct me to stop any such survey either."

"Plain and simple, this is false information," he added.

Despite Abbas' comments, the health ministry's civilian death toll count had been reported by news media as early as August, and the count was widely anticipated by human rights organizations. The ministry issued a preliminary figure of 1,764 deaths during the summer.

Shabandar's office said he was attending a conference in Egypt and wouldn't return for two weeks. A spokesman for the CPA said it had nothing to add to Abbas' response, which came after the CPA reached him by telephone.

The U.S. and British militaries don't count civilian casualties from their wars, saying only that they try to minimize civilian deaths.

A major investigation of Iraq's wartime civilian casualties was compiled by The Associated Press, which documented the deaths of 3,240 civilians between March 20 and April 20. That investigation, conducted in May and June, surveyed about half of Iraq's hospitals, and reported that the real number of civilian deaths was sure to be much higher.

The Health Ministry's count, based on records of all hospitals, promised to be more complete. [...]

The number of U.S. soldiers killed in the war is well documented. The Pentagon says 115 American military personnel were killed in combat from the start of the war to May 1, when President Bush declared major combat over, and 195 since.

Iraq kept meticulous records of its soldiers killed in action but never released them publicly. Military doctors have said the Iraqi military kept "perfect" records, but burned them as the war wound down.

Comment: A year later the situation has not changed. The US doesn't keep statistics of the Iraqi dead. Over a thousand US troops have died -- but this doesn't count the wounded.

While they do not count the Iraqis, they certainly fuss over the dead in New York on 9/11.

Once more we see that an American life is worth more than that of an Iraqi.

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Colin Powell in four-letter neo-con 'crazies' row
Martin Bright
Sunday September 12, 2004
The Observer

A furious row has broken out over claims in a new book by BBC broadcaster James Naughtie that US Secretary of State Colin Powell described neo-conservatives in the Bush administration as 'fucking crazies' during the build-up to war in Iraq.

Powell's extraordinary outburst is alleged to have taken place during a telephone conversation with Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. The two became close friends during the intense negotiations in the summer of 2002 to build an international coalition for intervention via the United Nations. The 'crazies' are said to be Vice-President Dick Cheney, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz.

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How Not to Deal with Terrorists
Patrick Seale Al-Hayat 2004/09/10

Following the catastrophic outcome of this month's hostage-taking at a school in North Ossetia on Russia's southern border - which left hundreds of children dead -- Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon telephoned Russia's President Vladimir Putin. Their two countries, he urged, should join forces against 'world Islamic Jihad.'

Sharon has long sought to identify the Palestinian's struggle for an independent state with 'international Islamic terrorism'. This policy served him well in winning the support of U.S. President George W. Bush after 9/11. Now, after the school siege at Beslan, Sharon is putting the same policy to work with Vladimir Putin, apparently with equal success.

On 6 September, the day after Sharon's phone call to the Kremlin, Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister arrived in Israel to be greeted by Israel's foreign minister Sylvan Shalom with the words: 'The terrorism that struck Russia is no different from that which struck New York, Tel-Aviv or Madrid.' Russian and Israeli intelligence and security agencies are now to cooperate closely against what they see as a common threat.

Invoking the danger from Islamic militants, Israel's 'old soldier' has thus managed to establish close ties both with America's self-styled 'war president' and with the 'strongman of the Kremlin.'

All three share a belief that terror can be defeated by military force and that negotiations with 'rebels,' 'bandits' and 'terrorists' can, and must, be totally ruled out.

Can terror be defeated by military means?

When a journalist asked Putin this week whether he would consider negotiating with Chechen separatists he replied indignantly: 'You might as well ask Westerners to negotiate with Ben Laden, to invite him to NATO headquarters in Brussels or the White House in Washington!'

Sharon, too, adamantly refuses to negotiate with the Palestinian leadership, sticking to his threadbare excuse that there is no 'peace partner' in the Palestinian camp.

And, just as Putin cold-shoulders the moderate Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov, who was elected in 1997, but whom he considers a puppet of the fundamentalists, so Sharon has sought to isolate and destroy the Palestinians' elected leader, Yasser Arafat, who, for all his faults, is a moderate, totally opposed to the violent methods of his rivals in Hamas or Islamic Jihad.

Are such policies effective?

Far from defeating the terrorists, Bush's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and his global 'war on terror' have swollen the ranks of the militants. In the same way, the atrocities at the school in North Ossetia, as well as the recent suicide bombing on the Moscow metro, and the explosions on two Russian aircraft -- which together have killed some 500 Russians in the past two weeks - are clearly a reaction to Putin's brutal attempts over the past five years to suppress the Chechens by torture, kidnapping and military force, which have resulted in the death of some 250,000 people, a quarter of the Chechen population.

Indeed, Russia has been trying to tame the Chechens by force, using 'iron-fist' methods and mass deportations, ever since the late 19th century.

Putin's reaction to the latest hostage taking has been to revamp his security services, to put an $8m price on the head of Chechen separatist leaders and to threaten to strike at 'terrorist bases' anywhere in the world. Sounds familiar? Putin, Bush and Sharon speak the same language.

Yet, for all their tough policies, the cycle of violence continues, whether in Russia, Palestine or Iraq, with no clear 'victory' in sight for either side. [...]

A close look at the world-wide phenomenon of political violence suggests that killing or capturing militant leaders and cowing the civilian population by collective punishments - whether in Palestine, Chechnya, Afghanistan or Iraq - merely produces a new generation of enraged fighters, even more determined than their elders to strike back.

Is the hard-nosed approach of Bush, Putin and Sharon the only, or even the most effective, way to deal with desperate men, ready to die for their cause, whether they be Chechens, Palestinians or America's Muslim opponents? Or is there another way?

Addressing the 'roots of terror'

It might, on the contrary, be argued that violence breeds violence and that a political or diplomatic approach, aimed at addressing the 'roots of terror' - that is to say the grievances which cause men and women to resort to terror even at the cost of their lives -- could be far more effective than the naked use of military force. The evidence seems to point in this direction.

However repellent their actions may seem, most terrorists are not blind killers. They have a political agenda, whether to punish their oppressors, to advance their own cause of national self-determination or to deter attacks against the populations they claim to defend.

Only when the motivation of the terrorists is understood - only when their political agenda is addressed and debated through negotiation and dialogue -- can terror be brought to an end by stemming the flow of militant recruits.

It is surely a mistake to write, as David Brooks of the New York Times did this week, that the 'cult of death' which 'is thriving on the fringes of the Muslim world' is beyond reason or negotiation and is about 'the sheer pleasure of killing and dying.'

In the same uncomprehending and pessimistic vein, a letter to the Financial Times on Tuesday by a certain Michael Pravica claimed that 'the terrorists have no interest in compromise or negotiation. They only want the death of the infidel.' This is dangerously bigoted nonsense.

Israel claims that its policy of 'targeted killings' - that is to say the murder of militant Palestinian leaders - has brought some relief from suicide bombings. Before the bus bombings in Beer Shiva there was indeed a pause for several months, which has now been shattered.

Every time Israel has killed a militant Palestinian or Lebanese leader - whether it be the Hezbollah secretary-general Abbas Moussawi in February 1992, the Islamic Jihad founder Fathi Shiqaqi in late 1995, the Hamas bomb-maker Yehia Ayyash in January 1996, the PFLP-General Command fighter Jihad Jibril in May 2002, or the Hamas leaders, Yassin and Rantissi, earlier this year, among many, many others -- revenge has followed ineluctably, cranking up the violent cycle by another bloody notch.

Is it not time for political leaders in the U.S., Russia and Israel to adopt a more flexible approach? Should they not be seeking political negotiations with their opponents, beginning with a truce? Might not the fear of appearing weak be crippling their thinking?

Palestinian society can be starved, battered and decimated, but the thirst for independence and an end to the occupation cannot be stifled by such means. The Chechens are not about to give up the cause for which they have fought for well over a century. Nor are America's opponents about to lie down and surrender under the blows inflicted on them at Fallujah, Najaf, Sadr City, southern Afghanistan, and many other places around the globe.

Comment: More evidence that "that hate us for our freedoms" is a lie. However, the author does not address the problem of false flag operations, that is, "terrorist attacks" staged by the apparent victim in order to justify massive reprisals. This tactic is a favourite with Israeli intelligence.

Whenever the Palestinians seem to score a political point, you can bet that it will be followed by a "suicide bombing" of an Israeli target.

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Iran rejects EU's nuclear deadline 2004-09-12 16:20:09

TEHRAN, Sept. 12 (Xinhuanet) -- Iran on Sunday rejected a deadline set by the European Union (EU) for Iran to clear itself on the nuclear activities, saying it would make no concession on its rightof peaceful nuclear technology.

"We have settled over 95 percent of the issues over Iran'snuclear program, and we believe that the very limited suspended issues will be also resolved," Foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi told reporters at his weekly news briefing.

Comment: Israel is the lone nuclear power in the Mid East. It is doing its best to ensure that its nuclear superiority remains in place.

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New governor in west Afghanistan assumes office amid fierce violence 2004-09-12 22:49:31
KABUL, Sept. 12 (Xinhuanet) -- The newly appointed governor of Heart in west Afghanistan Syed Mohammad Khirkhah assumed office amid tight security and increasing violence Sunday.

Afghan Vice President Niamatullah Sharani who introduced the new governor to provincial authorities at a heavily guarded ceremony returned to Kabul presumably on security reasons the same day. Many officials have also left the city, Xinhua correspondent who was at the scene noticed.

The handover ceremony was held at 4 p.m. local time but the ousted former governor Ismael Khan was absent. Rumors have circulated that the defiant former warlord was kept under US custody, but this cannot be independently verified.

Comment: More evidence of the great advances that have come to the Afghani people since they were "liberated" by the Americans. War lords. Civil war.

Is this what Bush is planning to bring to the US, too?

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New ultimatum issued for Italian hostages: reports 2004-09-12 23:45:40

ROME, Sept. 12 (Xinhuanet) -- A group claiming to be holding two kidnapped female Italian aid workers has issued a new ultimatum demanding that the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi order the withdrawal of all Italian forces deployed in Iraq, Italian media reported on Sunday.

The group, which calls itself the Islamic Jihad, warned that if their demands were not met, then "we will execute the sentence of God which will be to slit the throats of the two Italian hostages,if God will it."

Comment: Curious that the two abducted women were working in Iraq as part of a NGO, helping the Iraqis. They were not members of a corporation making profits from the suffering and misery.

Why is it that these "terrorists" appear to pick people like this as their victims, or the two French journalists that are still being held, people who are sympathetic to the plight of the Iraqis?

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Venezuela accuses US of hindering improvement of bilateral ties 2004-09-12 10:45:05

CARACAS, Sept. 11 (Xinhuanet) -- The Venezuelan government on Saturday accused the United States of hindering efforts to improve the bilateral relations by supporting pro-coup forces and obstructing an international loan to the South American country.

Venezuela "wants to call attention to the double standard of the United States" with respect to Venezuela, since it will be "inconvenient" for the improvement of the deteriorating bilateral ties, said Venezuela's Communications and Information Minister Andres Izarra.

US President George W. Bush announced Friday in a memo to Secretary of State Colin Powell an order to block "some 250 million US dollars of a loan Venezuela was to receive through multinational institutions."

The United States accused Venezuela of letting loose human trafficking inside the country and abroad. "Venezuela does not combat the trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation," the White House said.

Comment: The Bush crew was behind the coup in 2002, behind the general strikes of the last two years, behind the demonstrations, and the recent recall election. Chavez has managed to stay one step ahead of them.

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Clashes as Chile marks 1973 coup
Violent clashes have cut short a major ceremony in Chile to remember those who died in the 1973 military coup.

Police fired tear gas and water cannon and arrested dozens of people at the main cemetery in the capital, Santiago, after demonstrators threw rocks.

Chile's socialist president, Salvador Allende, was among those who died in the military takeover on 11 September.

The coup signalled the start of the 17-year military government of General Augusto Pinochet.

Several thousand people were taking part in the annual march from the city centre to the cemetery when a pitched battle between some protesters and police officers erupted.


Demonstrators, many of them wearing masks, threw molotov cocktails and rocks, while the police responded with water cannon and tear gas.

At least two dozen people were arrested and several policemen were injured.

The violence forced an early end to the traditional ceremony organised by the National Assembly for Human Rights.

Organisers condemned the violence and said the event had been hijacked by thugs. Police appeared to agree, saying the vast majority of those who took part in the traditional parade in the city centre to the cemetery were peaceful and a small number of people had started the trouble.

Comment: Yesterday was the 31st anniversary of the coup in Chile in which the democratically elected President, Salvador Allende, was brutally murdered. The US organised and backed the coup with generals in the Chilean army. Thousands were killed, more than died on September 11, 2001. But the US justified the killing of these Chileans because they were "communists" or "labour leaders". Shudder!

The thugs are still at work, in Chile, in Venezuela, and wherever else people refuse to submit to the dictate of US power.

And, then, Americans have the effrontery to ask "Why do they hate us?"

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US puts world on verge of Apocalypse: Cuban paper 2004-09-12 10:07:21

HAVANA, Sept. 11 (Xinhuanet) -- The US government has put the world on the verge of Apocalypse with its so-called anti-terroristcrusade, whose purpose is consolidating the leadership of Washington, Cuban daily Granma said on Saturday.

The newspaper said that three years after the terrorist attacksin New York and Washington, the administration of US President George W. Bush has put into practice "a lethal, racist, hegemonic,occupational, colonialist and lying philosophy."

The newspaper questioned why so many possibilities to prevent those attacks were left unattended.

It recalled that the so-called anti-terrorist crusade started in Afghanistan, one of the poorest countries in the world. While thousands of people were killed and many cities destroyed in the country, Bush still could not find Osama bin Laden.

The newspaper noted that Afghanistan is still occupied by foreign troops; the country is as poor as ever; and instability and opium production mushroom.

Granma pointed out that oil led the White House to fabricate the Iraqi enemy, based on lies such as the presence in the Arab country of nuclear and chemical weapons.

The paper concluded by saying that three years after Sept. 11, the confrontation policy of Bush has left human beings feeling more insecure and the United States may invade and occupy new territories, but are not able to control them.

Comment: Yes, but, hey, these guys are commies! They can't have anything intelligent to say about American policy. They're biased!

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A safer America: The document problem
By Bob Sullivan
Technology correspondent
Updated: 9:14 p.m. ET Sept. 10, 2004

Imagine being told you'd never been born. Or rather, that records of your birth were no longer valid.

Last month, thousands of Hudson County, N.J., residents got that unnerving news, after hearing that their birth certificates had been declared invalid because of an ongoing fraud investigation at the Hudson County Clerk's office, just across the river from Manhattan. The U.S. State Department had shut down passport operations at the clerk's office after an investigation uncovered alleged document fraud at the office -- specifically, sale of fraudulent birth certificates. The investigation is ongoing.

And so is America's document problem.

There is little disagreement among experts that America's identification systems are in shambles. Corruption, including the sale of forged documents by inside employees, is rampant. Driver's licenses are easy to fake; motor vehicle agencies easy to fool.

Passports and visas, both those issued by the United States and those by foreign countries, cannot be trusted. Whether screening airplane passengers, providing medical treatment, or trying to guard the border, experts agree: Today, there is no reliable way to identify people.

The Sept. 11 attacks brought this problem squarely into focus. The report issued last month by the 9/11 Commission identified document forgery as a key security issue, saying: "For terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons." 

But while the problem is clear, solutions are not.

"What we have right now, we're just playing games, just fooling ourselves," said identity theft expert Rob Douglas, who operates  "But we may be looking for solutions that don't exist."

Passport changes

The document problem is really two issues. First, it's a domestic problem: forging driver's licenses, Social Security cards and birth certificates is relatively easy. Second, it's a matter of border security, as the U.S. government tries to keep track of who enters and leaves the country.  In both arenas, attempts to improve identity documents is meeting with severe technical and logistic problems, along with thorny privacy issues.

The most immediate changes will be seen in travel documents. Next year, both U.S. passports and foreign visitor passports will be issued with a special computer chip woven into the cover.  The chip will include a photograph of the traveler, and face recognition technology will be used to make sure the passport presenter is the same as the person who applied for the document.

This change will be gradual in the United States. All new passports will include the chip by next year, but those holding valid passports won't be required to upgrade until their current ones expire.

On the other hand, citizens of countries in the U.S. visa waiver program, such as Britain and Spain, will have to arrive on U.S. shores with a biometric chip in their passport beginning in October of next year. Congress has already extended that deadline from the initial October 2004 date mandated in a 2002 law.

The program is hardly without controversy. Facial recognition is notoriously inaccurate, with some studies suggesting error rates as high as 50 percent. Simple changes in lighting, or beard growth, can foil it. But Rick Norton, who works at the government-funded National Biometric Security Project, says inclusion of the technology is a good first step. It prevents people from just splicing their own picture onto a stolen passport, for example.

"Is it a flawed technology? Sure," Norton said. "But used properly it's an important new tool."

The State Department has been criticized for not insisting on obtaining fingerprints from new passport applicants when the program begins in the United States next year. Fingerprinting is a much more mature technology, and generally has a far better accuracy rate.  But the agency has said in the past that it is simply following standards approved by the U.N.'s International Civil Aviation Organization, which last year opted for facial recognition over fingerprints, saying the technology was far less intrusive. Frank E. Moss, deputy assistant secretary of state for passport services, declined an interview for this story.

Fingerprint controversy

Fingerprinting stirred controversy at U.S. borders anyway earlier this year, when the US-VISIT (United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology) program took effect.  Foreign visitors must now submit two fingerprints and have their photographs taken upon entering the country. Initially, holiday travelers were exempt, but beginning this month, even visitors from countries in the U.S. visa waiver program who plan to stay for less than 90 days must submit the biometric information. 

The US-VISIT launch sparked harsh criticism from international privacy advocates and foreign governments. Brazil, in retaliation, began fingerprinting U.S. visitors.

But fingerprinting is now so commonplace that the technology should be used to enhance identity verification systems, argues Rep. John Carter, R-Texas. He's even in favor of using the biometric to solve the country's other major document dilemma: ineffective driver's licenses.

Carter points out that he's sometimes asked for fingerprints now when he cashes checks at the grocery store.

"This is the kind of thing we've got to do," he said. "We've got to make it harder for the bad guys to imitate the documents we have."
The thorny issue of national standards for driver's licenses and other documents was taken up by the 9/11 Commission and by the McCain-Lieberman bill introduced just this week in the Senate. Both urge sweeping reforms, such as mandated federal standards for license formats.

"The driver's license framework is broken and is in need of repair," said Jason King, spokesman for the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. "Especially if America wants to continue using it as their ID of choice. ... In it's current state, it can't even keep unsafe drivers from getting multiple licenses."

But standardization, and perhaps even biometrics, will hardly provide a quick solution, said Ari Schwartz, Associate Director of the Center for Democracy and Technology.

The same kind of fraud now dogging that New Jersey county clerk's office is also rampant at DMVs around the country, Schwartz said. He looked study that included only publicly reported crimes from 2003, some 20,000 to 30,000 licenses were sold by corrupt DMV employees, he said.

"It's usually covered as a local story, but it's a nationwide problem," Schwartz said.

Yes, things could be worse

Privacy experts worry that the cure may be more dangerous than the disease.  National standards that require states to add a fingerprint to driver's licenses might effectively create a national ID card.  The premise stirs fears of Nazi Germany, and an era when citizens needed to "present their papers" to move around the country.

But even outside the complex privacy issues involved, Schwartz noted that fingerprints aren't foolproof either. There's always the issue of initial authentication: an imposter could fool an ill-designed system and get a license under a fake name but with his own fingerprints, for example. 

"There is something that worse than what we have today: a flawed national ID card is worse than a system people know is broken," he said.  "A fingerprint is not a bulletproof answer."

Considering that the ID world is necessarily one of incremental solutions, Norton said he believes fingerprinting on both passports and licenses would still help. At least the use of a biometric locks a person into a particular identity at a particular time.

"It is a valid starting point for any good identity program, as long as it's accompanied by controls that reassure everyone that information will not be abused," he said. "But the identity world is a strange one. You end up clamping down in one place and funneling your problem in another direction."

And there is still another hurdle for those trying to design intelligent paperwork systems to keep America safer. There's no point in knowing who someone is unless there's a list of suspects to check their name against. The 9-11 Commissioners made clear in their report that a system to positively identify travelers is only half the problem, and would do no good unless developed simultaneously with a reliable watch list of terrorist suspects.

As for the difficulty of doing that, just ask the senior senator from Massachusetts, who was repeatedly stopped and questioned at airports because he shared the same name as someone on a watch list: T. Kennedy.

The complexity of the document problem generally renders identity experts speechless when offered the chance to construct a comprehensive solution to the problem.

"I sympathize with Homeland Security. It is mindboggling," said identity theft expert Douglas. "But I don't think it means we just throw up our hands in frustration. ... It is certainly not the kind of a problem we are going to solve on a fixed date, even in the next five to 10 years."

Comment: There you have it, ID's can be forged and biometrics are faulty and inaccurate. In effect, this report is saying that current technology for identifying citizens doesn't work, yet still the authorities continue to push for stricter controls over the population. Rather than the usual story of protecting itself from "terrorists", it seems the powers that be in the U.S. are collecting data on their own citizens that, very likely, will soon be used against them.

A single threat is all that is needed, it seems, to completely, albeit slowly, remove any vestige of "freedom" that the American people ever had. Yet the truth is that this is a plan that is global in scope, with the US simply leading the march.

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Beslan: the real international connection
by Brendan O'Neil
8 September 2004

Commentators are desperately trying to make sense of what seem like senseless events in Beslan. But they are attempting to force it into political categories where it simply doesn't fit.

Some have located the school siege in the broader bloody clash between Chechen nationalists and the Russian state. 'There can be no denying the direct link between the Beslan tragedy and the war in Chechnya', wrote Ahmed Zakaev, former deputy prime minister of Chechnya, in the UK Guardian. Others have rushed to blame Beslan on Russian President Vladimir Putin, arguing that the siege is a tragic blowback for his strongman tactics in Chechnya (1).

Yet taking hostage an entire school on the first day of term, surrounding teachers, parents and kids with land mines and high explosives, makes little sense as a nationalist strike against a military aggressor or as a tactic for weakening Russian rule in the Caucasus. Instead, like the Moscow theatre siege of 2002, the school siege looked more like a murderous stunt, an al-Qaeda-esque assault, designed to provoke fear and outrage rather than to realise any discernible political aim.

Too many want to understand Beslan through traditional political and military frameworks. But there is something new going on here. As British Brigadier Aldwyn Wight told BBC2's Newsnight, the Beslan assault had 'no political rationale', and strikingly the hostage-takers exercised 'no restraint' when it came to taking casualties. The kind of violence visited on Beslan is not rooted in Chechnya or in any traditional nationalism; rather, like the attacks of 9/11, Bali, Madrid and elsewhere, this is a rootless terrorism, dislocated from political, military or national norms, with no clear motivation and little compunction about killing civilians. What has given rise to such terror?

It remains unclear who was behind Beslan. In keeping with other recent rootless attacks, nobody has claimed responsibility or explained why they did it. The Chechen authorities deny any involvement in what they describe as a 'savage attack'; former Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov, whom the Russian authorities accuse of masterminding the siege, today offering $10million for information that leads to his capture, has also denounced this attack on 'defenceless children' (2).

For obvious reasons, Russia is keen to situate Beslan within the international 'war on terror', effectively claiming that the siege was the work of al-Qaeda. Putin's al-Qaeda talk is clearly opportunist; his aim is to distract from his repressive policies in Chechnya since a second war was launched there in 1999 (the first war having taken place under Boris Yeltsin from 1994 to 1996).

So Russian officials talk up the alleged mix of foreigners who took part in the attack. A North Ossetian spokesman initially claimed that 10 of the estimated 30 to 35 hostage-takers were Arabs; a Russian official said the hostage-takers were made up of Chechens, Ingush (from the state next to North Ossetia), Arabs, Kazakhs and Slavs. Yet now some argue that there were no Arabs, but rather that the dead hostage-takers' charred faces were mistaken for dark skin. This morning Sergei Ivanov, Russia's defence minister, is quoted as saying that not a single Chechen has been found among the 32 dead terrorists, raising questions about earlier attempts to explain Beslan as a straightforward 'Chechen issue' (3).

But then, the identities of the attackers are not enough to explain why this attack was so ruthless. If a few Arabs did take part in the siege, that alone could not explain the rise of the new terrorism, in Chechnya or anywhere else. There is no doubt that the Chechen separatist movement has become internationalised over the past decade, with Mujihadeen fighters and wannabe jihadists arriving from the Balkans, Afghanistan, the Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and even Britain and France; and this influx of jihadists has certainly helped to 'Islamicise' Chechen separatism.

There are clear links between the global Mujihadeen and Chechen separatists. It is suspected that Shamil Basayev, leader of a Chechen separatist group, played a part in organising, or perhaps sanctioning, the Beslan school siege. He, like other Chechen separatist leaders, is reported to be a veteran of the Mujihadeen training camps in Afghanistan. These were originally set up with American backing in the 1980s, to train Afghans, Arabs and others to take on the invading Soviet army; US officials estimate that between 1985 and 1992, 12,500 foreigners were trained in bomb-making, sabotage, urban guerrilla warfare and other military tactics in these CIA-sponsored camps. [...]

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South Korea Looking Into Report of Large Blast in North Korea That Left Two-Mile Wide Crater

ABC News

SEOUL, South Korea Sept. 12, 2004 — The South Korean government said it was looking into a report Sunday of a large explosion in the northern part of North Korea that left a crater more than two miles wide.

The explosion happened at 11 a.m. Thursday in Yanggang province near the border with China, according to the South Korea news agency Yonhap.

Yonhap cited unidentified sources, with one in Washington saying the incident could be related to a natural disaster such as a forest fire. It also cited a diplomatic source in Seoul as raising the possibility of an accident or a nuclear test.

Yonhap later quoted Kim Jong-min, spokesman for the presidential office, as saying:

"Currently, we are trying to find out in detail the exact character, cause and size of the accident, but we don't think North Korea conducted a nuclear test."

Although North Korea is believed to be developing nuclear weapons, international experts would likely have been able to detect the test if one had occurred several days ago.

"We understand that a mushroom-shaped cloud about 3.5- to 4-kilometer in diameter was monitored during the explosion," the source in Seoul told Yonhap. Yonhap described the source as "reliable."

Four kilometers is about 2.5 miles.

The agency also quoted an unidentified government official as saying there was seismic activity related to two blasts in North Korea at 11 p.m. Wednesday and 1 a.m. Thursday.

Thursday was the anniversary of North Korea's founding on Sept. 9, 1948. Leader Kim Jong Il uses the occasion to stage performances and other events to bolster loyalty among the impoverished North Korean population.

Experts have speculated that North Korea might use a major anniversary to conduct a nuclear-related test, but one analyst said an open test, as opposed to one below ground, would be difficult in such a small country.

"It's difficult to say, but it won't be easy for North Korea to conduct a nuclear test without resulting in massive losses of its own people," said Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea expert in Seoul. "I think there is a (greater) possibility that it is a simple accident, rather than a deliberate nuclear test."

Yonhap's diplomatic source in Seoul said the explosion took place "not far" from a military base that holds ballistic missiles. North Korea, which has a large missile arsenal and more than a million soldiers, is dotted with military installations.

The damage and crater left by the explosion in Kim Hyong Jik county was big enough to be noticed by a satellite, a source in Beijing told Yonhap.


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Powell: N. Korea explosion wasn't nuclear
USA Today

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A large explosion occurred in the northern part of North Korea, sending a plume of smoke more than two miles wide into the air on an important anniversary of the communist regime, a South Korean news agency reported Sunday. Secretary of State Colin Powell said the explosion Thursday was not a nuclear test but that it was not known yet what caused it. [...]

The New York Times, quoting anonymous senior intelligence officials, reported Sunday that President Bush and his top advisers had received intelligence reports in recent days describing a confusing series of actions by North Korea that some experts believed could indicate the was preparing to conduct its first test explosion of a nuclear weapon.

The Times report quoted one official with access to the intelligence as citing "a series of indicators of increased activity that we believe would be associated with a test." The Times further quoted the official as saying that the "likelihood" of a North Korean test had risen significantly in just the past four weeks. It was that changed assessment that led to the decision to give an update to President Bush, the officials said.

The Times noted, however, that American intelligence agencies were divided about the significance of the new North Korean actions, with some saying they did not believe the actions were a harbinger of a test.

Comment: So, was it nuclear or not? If it was, would admission that it was nuclear be bad news for Bush before the election given that he has spent three years denouncing North Korea as part of the Axis of Evil?

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Explosions caused mushroom cloud over N. Korea: source
Last Updated Sun, 12 Sep 2004 00:14:58 EDT
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - A mushroom-shaped cloud was seen in North Korea last Thursday following a large explosion, a South Korean news agency reported Sunday.

The explosion in Kim Hyong Jik county produced a crater large enough to be seen by a satellite, said the Yonhap news agency.

Kim Hyong Jik is reported to hold a major missile base.

The cloud measured 3.5 to 4 kilometres in diameter, an unidentified diplomatic source told Yonhap .

Comment: Ah, that mysterious "source" once again. Who said it was a "mushroom cloud"? But if it was, why would Powell say it wasn't? It is not like he was used to lying to the... er. Forget that.

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In a secret Paris cavern, the real underground cinema
Jon Henley in Paris
Wednesday September 8, 2004
The Guardian

Police in Paris have discovered a fully equipped cinema-cum-restaurant in a large and previously uncharted cavern underneath the capital's chic 16th arrondissement.

Officers admit they are at a loss to know who built or used one of Paris's most intriguing recent discoveries.

"We have no idea whatsoever," a police spokesman said.

"There were two swastikas painted on the ceiling, but also celtic crosses and several stars of David, so we don't think it's extremists. Some sect or secret society, maybe. There are any number of possibilities."

Members of the force's sports squad, responsible - among other tasks - for policing the 170 miles of tunnels, caves, galleries and catacombs that underlie large parts of Paris, stumbled on the complex while on a training exercise beneath the Palais de Chaillot, across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower.

After entering the network through a drain next to the Trocadero, the officers came across a tarpaulin marked: Building site, No access.

Behind that, a tunnel held a desk and a closed-circuit TV camera set to automatically record images of anyone passing. The mechanism also triggered a tape of dogs barking, "clearly designed to frighten people off," the spokesman said.

Further along, the tunnel opened into a vast 400 sq metre cave some 18m underground, "like an underground amphitheatre, with terraces cut into the rock and chairs".

There the police found a full-sized cinema screen, projection equipment, and tapes of a wide variety of films, including 1950s film noir classics and more recent thrillers. None of the films were banned or even offensive, the spokesman said.

A smaller cave next door had been turned into an informal restaurant and bar. "There were bottles of whisky and other spirits behind a bar, tables and chairs, a pressure-cooker for making couscous," the spokesman said.

"The whole thing ran off a professionally installed electricity system and there were at least three phone lines down there."

Three days later, when the police returned accompanied by experts from the French electricity board to see where the power was coming from, the phone and electricity lines had been cut and a note was lying in the middle of the floor: "Do not," it said, "try to find us."

The miles of tunnels and catacombs underlying Paris are essentially former quarries, dating from Roman times, from which much of the stone was dug to build the city.

Today, visitors can take guided tours around a tightly restricted section, Les Catacombes, where the remains of up to six million Parisians were transferred from overcrowded cemeteries in the late 1700s.

But since 1955, for security reasons, it has been an offence to "penetrate into or circulate within" the rest of the network.

There exist, however, several secretive bands of so-called cataphiles, who gain access to the tunnels mainly after dark, through drains and ventilation shafts, and hold what in the popular imagination have become drunken orgies but are, by all accounts, innocent underground picnics.

The recent discovery of three newly enlarged tunnels underneath the capital's high-security La Santé prison was put down to the activities of one such group, and another, iden tifying itself as the Perforating Mexicans, last night told French radio the subterranean cinema was its work.

Patrick Alk, a photographer who has published a book on the urban underground exploration movement and claims to be close to the group, told RTL radio the cavern's discovery was "a shame, but not the end of the world". There were "a dozen more where that one came from," he said.

"You guys have no idea what's down there."

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More hurricanes new normal: Experts
Sep. 11, 2004. 01:00 AM

Charley, Frances and Ivan. Three major hurricanes. Two assaults on Florida already and possibly a third by next week. Get used to it. This is the new normal.

Scientists say we are in a period of enhanced hurricane activity that could last for decades, ending a 24-year period of below-average activity.

They add the law of averages has caught up with Florida, with a change in atmospheric steering currents turning the state into a hurricane magnet.

If Hurricane Ivan hits the state, it will be the first time since 1964 that three hurricanes smacked Florida in the same year.

And September and October tend to be among the most-active months of the six-month hurricane season that ends Nov. 30.

"The season is still young," said Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center in West Miami-Dade County. "It certainly seems from my perspective that we're in the active period that has been predicted.

"The only surprise is that Florida hasn't been hit more often in the last few years," Mayfield said.

Research Goldenberg conducted with NOAA scientist Chris Landsea, private expert William Gray and others found distinct patterns of low-activity hurricane periods and high-activity periods, each of which endured for decades.

One period of "hyperactivity" ended in 1970 and was followed by a 24-year lull.

The new period of heightened activity began in 1995 and could last for another 10 to 30 years, according to Goldenberg's report, which was peer-reviewed and published in 2001 in the prestigious journal Science.

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Magnitude 3.6 Earthquake in Indiana
Sunday, September 12, 2004 at 13:05:18 UTC

Sunday, September 12, 2004 at 08:05:18 AM local time at epicenter, 35 km (20 miles) ESE of INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana. Felt in the Indianapolis area.

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You ain't seen nothing yet: after Hurricane Ivan, prepare for the return of El Niño
By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
The Independent
12 September 2004

Disastrous weather is set to continue for at least another six months, it was officially announced yesterday, as Hurricane Ivan headed for the Cayman Islands and Cuba after leaving at least eight people dead in Jamaica.

The US government confirmed that a new El Niño is about to strike, bringing torrential rain and droughts around the world. Meanwhile, Ivan developed winds of 155mph. Jamaica escaped a direct hit, but still suffered extensive damage. So far, at least 34 people have lost their lives, mostly in Grenada.

Over the next two days both Tony Blair and Michael Howard - in an unprecedented double act - will make major speeches describing climate change as one of the greatest threats facing civilisation. They will set out programmes for combating global warming, and call for the rapid development of clean, renewable sources of energy.

Niños usually kill more people worldwide even than bad hurricane years, and the announcement by the US government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) presages more natural and human disasters stretching at least into the early months of next year.

"El Niño conditions have developed in the tropical Pacific and are expected to last through early 2005," said Jim Laver, director of the Noaa's Climate Prediction Centre.

During an El Niño, warm water flows eastwards across the Pacific, bringing heavy rain to the US West Coast and most of Central and South America. By contrast Australia, Indonesia and parts of north-east and southern Africa usually suffer drought. Europe is relatively unaffected.

The last big El Niño in 1997-98 cost hundreds of lives and caused $34bn (£19bn) in damage worldwide, partly through flooding to Chile, Ecuador and Bolivia and partly through failing harvests in Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia. A more recent, milder one in 2002-03 caused the worst Australian drought in a century.

Comment: Well, that's interesting. Yesterday, we ran an article from CNN that mentioned that the estimated worldwide damage from the 1997-98 El Niño was only $20 billion...

So far, the new one looks more like 2002-03 than 1997-98 but climatologists stress that all are different. The oceanic phenomena, like hurricanes, are growing more frequent. Research suggests that they are occurring nearly three times as often as 300 years ago, and some scientists believe that there is a link with global warming. [...]

Comment: El Niño's aren't the only weather phenomenon that seems to be escalating...

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Why are there so many hurricanes?
By Geoffrey Lean
The Independent
12 September 2004

Another week, another hurricane. Is this year unprecedented?

Just about. The only time on record that anything like this happened before was in 1947, when two hurricanes and one tropical storm hit Florida within five weeks. In the 38 years since 1966 only one hurricane - Andrew in 1992 - hit the state before last month.

Anything else?

Yes, since you ask. August saw a record number of tropical storms so big that they were given names. Eight of them. And the US suffered 173 tornadoes last month, easily outstripping the previous record of 128.

Is this the end of it?

Unlikely. Friday marked the half-way point in the hurricane season. Prof William Gray of Colorado State University, one of the world's top hurricane forecasters, predicts at least one more this month. But he foresees a quiet October, partly because another disturbance - El Niño - is gathering pace in the Pacific, and this tends to suppress hurricanes in the Atlantic.

Haven't there been rather a lot of hurricanes over the last few years?

Yes, indeed. The years since 1995 have been the worst on record. And experts predict it will go on for decades more.

What's going on?

A combination of factors must combine to make a hurricane. These include thunderstorms, distance from the Equator, and particular wind conditions. But one of the most vital is warm seawater: the Atlantic is very warm this year.

So it's all down to global warming?

Hard to say. There are natural cycles in the temperature of the oceans. But most scientists agree that hurricanes will get stronger as the world warms up. Whether they will be more frequent is a much more open question.

Comment: The trouble with chaotic systems is that when they establish a new equilibrium, it takes a tremendous amount of new energy to change that state to something else. When the climate shifts, it will become stable for many, many years.

By then, it will be too late. It may well be too late now to do anything to stop it. We don't even really know the causes of the change. Is it due to pollution? Is it the greenhouse effect and the use of carbon-based fuels?

Could there be other causes, causes that we have yet to suspect, causes relating to the spiritual evolution of the planet and its inhabitants?

Of course, if people refuse to consider the scientific explanations, will they be open to an esoteric explanation? We don't mean something ludicrous like saying that "God is angry with us because we are sinners". That only plays into the religious control system, keeps people cowed, on their knees, and begging forgiveness.

But what if it has to due with our willingness to see what is happening on this planet with an open eye and an open mind? Could we be adding to the chaos on the planet through our chaotic interpretation of the world? Through our wishful thinking and preference to live in illusion?

Something to think about.

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Space probes feel cosmic tug of bizarre forces
Robin McKie, science editor
The Observer
Sunday September 12, 2004

Something strange is tugging at America's oldest spacecraft. As the Pioneer 10 and 11 probes head towards distant stars, scientists have discovered that the craft - launched more than 30 years ago - appear to be in the grip of a mysterious force that is holding them back as they sweep out of the solar system.

Some researchers say unseen 'dark matter' may permeate the universe and that this is affecting the Pioneers' passage. Others say flaws in our understanding of the laws of gravity best explain the crafts' wayward behaviour.

As a result, scientists are to press a European Space Agency (Esa) meeting, called Cosmic Visions, in Paris this week for backing for a mission that would follow the Pioneers and pinpoint the cause of their erratic movements.

The strange behaviour of the Pioneers - which swept by Jupiter and Saturn in the Eighties - was discovered by John Anderson and Slava Turyshev of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and Michael Martin Neito of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

They had been tracking the probes using the giant dishes of Nasa's Deep Space Network. By the time the two spaceships had swept beyond Pluto, they noted there were persistent anomalies in their trajectories. Every time they looked the Pioneers were in the wrong place. The effect was not large, but it was significant. Something more than the Sun's gravity appeared to have a grip on the craft. [...]

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'Dream centre' of the brain found
Friday, 10 September, 2004, 23:07 GMT 00:07 UK

Scientists believe they have located the part of the brain where people's dreams are created.

A team from the University Hospital of Zurich, Switzerland, made the discovery after treating a woman who stopped dreaming after she had a stroke.

It had affected an area deep in the back of the brain - and they suggest this is the area controlling dreaming.

The researchers, writing in the Annals of Neurology, say the finding offers a new focus for dream research.

The 73-year-old patient lost a number of brain functions, mostly related to vision, with her stroke.

Most came back after a few days - but she then stopped dreaming. Before her stroke, she had dreamt three or four times a week.

REM sleep

The loss of the ability to dream - along with visual disturbances - following damage to a specific part of the brain, is called Charcot-Wilbrand syndrome, named after the eminent neurologists Jean-Martin Charcot and Hermann Wilbrand, who first described it in the 1880s.

The syndrome is quite rare, especially cases that lack symptoms other than dream loss.

The Swiss researchers decided to monitor the patient to try to discover which part of the brain was affected in people with the condition.

They monitored the woman's brainwaves for six weeks as she slept.

Her sleep was not disrupted, and she continued to have REM (rapid eye movement) sleep as normal.

This is significant, because dreaming and REM sleep occur together, although research has pointed to different brain systems underlying the two.

The researchers say their findings appear to confirm that dreaming and REM sleep are driven by independent brain systems.

Scans of the patient's brain showed the stroke had damaged areas located deep in the back half of her brain.

Brain damage

Other studies have shown that some of this region is involved in the visual processing of faces and landmarks, as well as the processing of emotions and visual memories, a logical set of functions for a brain area that would generate or control dreams.

After around a year, the patient did begin to have occasional dreams, but no more than one per week.

She reported that her dreams were less vivid and intense than they were before the stroke.

Writing in the Annals of Neurology, Dr Claudio Bassetti, of the Department of Neurology at the University Hospital of Zurich in Switzerland, who led the research, said: "How dreams are generated, and what purpose they might serve, are completely open questions at this point.

"These results describe for the first time in detail the extent of lesion necessary to produce loss of dreaming in the absence of other neurological deficits.

"As such, they offer a target for further study of the localisation of dreaming."

He added: "Further conclusions about this brain area and its role in dreams will require more studies analysing dream changes in patients with brain damage."

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