Signs Supplement: The Suicide Bombing Cycle
Strike Flash Presentation by a QFS member
of the Day
End of Hope?
For many, this is a time of desperation and depression. For one,
this is a time of hopelessness.
| By Regis T. Sabol
Even if John Kerry wins this wretched election,
which becomes less and less likely with each passing day (even more
than Gore, has there ever been a Democratic candidate with so much
opportunity to defeat a ghastly president-- actually, the ghastliest
president in the history of the Republic--who squandered that opportunity
so foolishly?), we will remain trapped in Iraq until we finally
throw in the towel, as we inevitably will, and go home in shame
and defeat at the cost of who knows how many thousands of lives
and how many billions of dollars, not to mention extinguishing our
status as a beacon of democracy in the world.
A Republican Congress (Forget any pipe dream of the Democrats regaining
that institution.) will make sure the Bush tax cuts for the rich
stick, widening the gap between the rich and the rest of us and
ending any hope for economic equality and justice. Corporate plutocrats
will continue to suck all life out of the environment and all hope
for a brighter future for working class Americans. As for the poor,
they will remain just as fucked as they were when Reagan came to
As Bob Dylan once said, "It's all over now, Baby Blue."
I will continue the futile struggle to save democracy in this country,
but I might as well be standing on the walls of the Alamo or in
the ghetto at Warsaw. We are all doomed.
The Day Hope Died
In retrospect, hope died on the morning of June 6, 1968, when Robert
F. Kennedy died of a mortal gunshot wound at the hands of an assassin,
an obscure Palestinian busboy at the Ambassador Hotel who wanted
to strike a blow against America's support for Israel. Ironically,
more than either Hubert Humphrey or Richard Nixon, Kennedy would
have been most likely to find a solution of sorts to that labyrinthine
It is also ironic that Bobby Kennedy could have and would have
made America "the shining city on a hill," a claim Ronald
Reagan usurped and demeaned in a kind of Orwellian double-speak.
Kennedy would have ended the war in Vietnam, rather than dragging
it one for four more years to ensure his re-election, as Nixon did.
Having been struck like Saul on the way to Damascus by his brother's
assassination, Kennedy would have fulfilled the promise of the Great
Society that Lyndon Johnson created and then destroyed to pursue
that tragic, foolish, misbegotten war in Vietnam.
When Nixon fell, I cheered. (In yet another twist of irony, Nixon
would be considered too progressive by the right wing that now controls
the Republican Party to even be considered as the Party's nominee.
The same could be said of Eisenhower.)
Carter's election gave us false hope. Although a fundamentally
decent man and widely considered the most intelligent president
of our time, Carter was the most conservative Democratic president
since Grover Cleveland. And he was incompetent, incapable of dealing
with the mighty problems he faced and unable to weather the tsunami
known as Ronald Reagan.
The ascendancy of Bill Clinton again gave us false hope and shattered
dreams. Because he could not deliver the universal health care he
promised and because he could not keep his pants zipped, the savviest
politician, perhaps, since FDR, squandered his presidency and set
the stage for the incomprehensible rise of George W. Bush.
Al Gore didn't help matters by running a hapless campaign even
though he carried the cache of a booming economy and eight years
of relative peace. Still, he managed to win more popular votes than
any candidate besides Ronald Reagan and won the popular vote by
more than 500,000. That went all for naught when Jeb Bush and the
Republican ideologues on the Supreme Court handed the presidency
It's been downhill ever since. And I see
no hope in sight that America will come to its senses. We have become
a nation divided by the successful application of fear by Bush,
his mentor, Dick Cheney, and his political guru, Karl Rove, into
Red States and Blue States. The Republican Red states outnumber
the Democratic Blue states and starkly reflect the enormous cultural
divide in America. [...]
The Red states eschew what they call big government, believe in
that old time religion, and sneer at pointy-headed intellectuals,
city-slickers, and bleeding- heart liberals, and admire macho-militaristic
solutions to international problems. In many ways, Bush is their
poster boy. He is proud of being a C student and a party-loving
frat boy. He views his many failed business ventures as proof of
his faith in unfettered capitalism. He claims to be a born-again
Christian and has embraced the homophobic, misogynistic agenda of
the evangelical religious right. He also embraces the literal-minded
Biblical concept of creation and dismisses evolution in the face
of all scientific evidence to the contrary. He views the world in
Manichean terms of black and white, good and evil; his social views
are distinctly Hobbesian.
The Blue states, on the other hand, are often everything the Red
states are not and everything the Red states despise. They are,
for the most part, dominated by urban metropolises; they are multi-ethnic
and push to be multi-cultural. Their number includes the wealthiest
old-rich families with names like Roosevelt and Rockefeller. Paradoxically,
they contain large populations of African-Americans, Latino, and
the newly immigrated from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Asian
subcontinent, and East Asia. With the demise of the Industrial Revolution,
they largely consist of the displaced working class and the poor.
At the same time, they have rich artistic, cultural, intellectual,
cosmopolitan, and politically progressive traditions. One could
argue that they are the seedbeds of these traditions. And, while
they are fewer in number, collectively, they have a larger population
than the Red states. Red states see them as the smart-alecky city
mouse that lacks the down-home common sense of the country mouse.
With the unconstitutional takeover of the presidency, the Red states
now control all three branches of government. They have delivered
the nation over to an autocratic, theocratic, plutocracy. Neo-conservative
militaristic imperialists now dominate foreign policy and have finagled
us into a foolish war under false pretenses. And, should Bush legitimately
win the election in November, the robber barons of power and greed
will complete their stranglehold on the Supreme Court, ensuring
a repressive, retrograde perversion of the Constitution that is
far different from what the founders of this country envisioned.
Country Mouse vs. City Mouse Rooted in Nation's
This country mouse-city mouse tension is not a recent phenomenon.
It is rooted in the founding and history of America. Most conspicuously,
it manifested itself in the divide between North and South over
the issue of maintaining the odious institution of slavery. Even
though this conflict was ostensibly resolved in a bloody civil war,
the divide remained with segregation replacing slavery as the law
of the South. And the sins of racism and xenophobia have always
infected the entire land.
It further manifested itself in the rise of the labor movement,
which took hold in the Blue states but never succeeded in the Red
states. That is why manufacturers in the unionized North fled to
the non-unionized South. The suffragette movement was rooted in
Blue country. Even today, the conflict over separation of church
and state is divided along the Red-state-Blue-state fault line.
The Scopes trial took place in Tennessee and this year an Alabama
judge defied the Federal Courts in exhibiting a stone exhibit of
the Ten Commandments in his courthouse; he is now a hero to Red-state
true believers. The primary distinction the two cultures is that
the Blue states are generally more tolerant of diverse ideas, more
likely to be skeptical of accepted truth and have, to a greater
or lesser extent, more successfully overcome blind faith and aberrations
of the human spirit that deny human rights and equality..
That is what drove the Progressive movements of the late nineteenth
and much of the twentieth century, as marked by the presidencies
of Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Harry Truman, JFK, and
Lyndon Johnson. Without question, all of these men had their shortcomings
and, in ways large and small, betrayed the progressive ideals for
which they stood. Over the long haul, however, they advanced and
oversaw political, social, cultural, intellectual, and artistic
That era is now over and it is not likely to rise
again. The country mouse, with his cowboy boots, Texas twang, taste
for country music and love of gas-guzzling fast trucks, NASCAR,
blood-sport wrestling, fundamentalist Protestant Christianity, and
macho-militarism, has outwitted, outfoxed, and marginalized the
city mouse. Reality TV shows and Fox News have trumped reality and
Simplicity now trumps complexity. The stern father
has regained domination over the nurturing mother. From now on,
it's my way or the highway.
And the bumper stickers--Power of Pride, God Bless
America, and America: Love It or Leave It--say it all.
Bye, bye, Miss American Pie.
Saw our hopes turn to ashes,
Nothin' to do now but cry.
And the good old boys
Have taken over, my, my.
And this will be the day that we die,
This will be the day that America dies.
Regis T. Sabol is a contributing editor to Intervention Magazine.
He is also editor of A New Deal: an online magazine of political,
social, and cultural thought.
WASHINGTON - The U.S. intelligence community
has ''lost some confidence'' in a 1999 assessment that Cuba had
a limited biological weapons development effort, but continues to
believe the country poses a concern, a U.S. intelligence official
''We're not saying with absolute certainty that they don't'' have
a biological weapons program, the intelligence official said.
"What we're saying is that we've lost some
confidence in that judgment, that they do.''
WARNINGS SINCE 2002
John Bolton, the State Department's under secretary for arms control
and international security, and other top
Bush administration officials had been warning since 2002 that Cuba
possessed "at least a limited, developmental, biological weapons
research and development effort.''
That wording came from the classified 1999 assessment carried
out by the CIA and its analytical arm, the National Intelligence
Council, according to State Department officials. The
Cuban government has flatly denied the allegation.
The revision is part of what the intelligence official called
a ''world-wide scrub'' of intelligence on biological weapons capabilities
in the wake of the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in
Iraq, a key justification to invade the country.
Administration and congressional officials pointed out that the
revised assessment, first reported by The New York Times on Saturday,
does not discard the possibility that Cuba
has a biological weapons program, but simply states that the
intelligence community is now uncertain of the reliability of the
''When I see this thing characterized as
a reversal, that is incorrect,'' the intelligence official
STILL AN ISSUE
"No one is walking off the field and saying there's no cause
for concern, no potential issue here.''
The new assessment came as the State Department
requested information from the intelligence community for a proliferation
''compliance report'' on Cuba, the intelligence official
''We felt that we owed it to them to give them our newest assessment,''
Bolton could not be reached for comment and his office said he
had not yet seen the new language contained in the assessment,
which is also classified.
Congressional aides on Capitol Hill told
The Herald that the new assessment ''continues to say serious things
about Cuba,'' adding that there is
disagreement within the intelligence community ''on the assessment
to downgrade Cuba's capability'' on its bioweapons program.
Peter Contostavlos, an aide to Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL, said the
language revision was ''not necessarily any news here'' because
the 1999 assessment was not definitive. The new language, which
Nelson's office had not seen, "should not give comfort to those
that want to ease the embargo in any way.
Emilio Gonzalez, former Cuba specialist on the Bush White House's
National Security Council, said of the new assessment on Cuba: "If
anything, it highlights the fact that this administration continues
to monitor Cuba's chemical and bioweapons capability.''
WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 - At a time when the violent insurgency in
Iraq is vexing the Bush administration and stirring worries among
Americans, events may be propelling the United States into yet another
confrontation, this time with Iran. The issues
have an almost eerie familiarity, evoking the warnings and threats
that led to the war to overthrow Saddam Hussein, and stirring
an equally passionate debate.
Like Iraq in its final years under Saddam Hussein, Iran is believed
by experts to be on the verge of developing a nuclear bomb. In
Iraq, that proved to be untrue, though this time the consensus is
much stronger among Western experts.
In addition, as with Iraq, administration officials have said
recently that Iran is supporting insurgencies and terrorism in other
countries. Recently, top administration officials have accused the
Tehran government of backing the rebels in Iraq, something that
officials fear could increase if Iran is pressed too hard on its
A parallel concern in Washington is Iran's continued backing of
Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite group that the administration and
the Israeli government say is channeling aid to groups attacking
Israeli civilians. Israel also warns that
Iran's nuclear program will reach a "point of no return"
next year, after which it will be able to make a bomb without any
The Bush administration has yet to forge a clear strategy on how
to deal with Iran, partly because of a lack of attractive options
and partly because there is a debate under way between hard-liners
and advocates of diplomatic engagement. But
in another similarity with the Iraq situation before the war, Washington
is in considerable disagreement with key allies over how to handle
Britain, France and Germany say Iran's nuclear program is unacceptable,
but they also warn that a confrontation could backfire and that
incentives as well as punishments need to be presented to Tehran.
Threatening sanctions - a cutoff in oil purchases,
for example - is not viewed as credible or likely to get much support,
European views cannot be dismissed, especially after the discord
over Iraq, administration officials say. Last weekend, under European
pressure, the United States agreed to defer its demand that the
International Atomic Energy Agency immediately refer Iran's noncooperation
on nuclear issues to the United Nations Security Council, where
sanctions might be considered.Instead, Iran was given two more months
to show that it was cooperating.
Still, even Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, the leading advocate
of diplomacy in Mr. Bush's inner circle, cites a gathering threat
"Diplomacy does not mean failure to look in the lion's mouth,"
Mr. Powell said in a recent interview. "Diplomacy
doesn't mean pretending something isn't there when it's there. The
Iranians have a nuclear weapons program,
and I keep telling everybody it is the responsibility of the international
community to apply all the pressure we can."
With Iran policy in a state of flux, there
is a drive among conservatives to reach out to Iranian dissidents
and exiles seeking to overthrow the government, much as efforts
were made with Iraqis in the 1990's. Senator Rick Santorum,
a Pennsylvania Republican, is sponsoring legislation favoring "regime
change," with what some say is the tacit backing of administration
Last year, when it was trying to reach out to Tehran for cooperation
on Iraq, the administration stated that it did not support regime
change in Iran, though President Bush also spoke out in favor of
greater democracy there.
Administration officials say that there was an internal debate
last year but that the idea of giving aid to dissidents who might
try to overthrow the Iranian government had been dropped for lack
of any credible groups to support.
Yet the cause of regime change in Iran is
expected to be revived if President Bush is re-elected, administration
officials say. Leading the charge is John R. Bolton, the under secretary
of state for nonproliferation, who gave a speech last month saying
that Iran's conduct did not "bode well for the success of a
negotiated approach to dealing with this issue." A colleague
called him "the self-appointed tip of the spear" in the
Washington - US spy agencies have played out
"war games" to consider possible pre-emptive strikes on
Iranian nuclear facilities, and concluded that strikes would not
resolve Washington's standoff with Tehran, Newsweek magazine reported
"The war games were unsuccessful at preventing
the conflict from escalating," an unnamed air force source
told the magazine in its latest issue.
The central intelligence and the defence intelligence agency played
out the possible results of US strikes, the magazine reported. [...]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon has begun
tapping into its $25 billion emergency fund for the Iraq war to
prepare for a major troop rotation and intense fighting this fall,
administration officials said on Tuesday, despite the White House's
initial insistence that it had enough money.
The Pentagon has already used more than
$2 billion from what the White House dubbed its "contingency
reserve" fund for Iraq. The money is being used to ramp
up production of armored Humvees to support the troop rotation,
as well as to buy body armor and bolster fuel supplies, the officials
The decision to use the $25 billion in Iraq reserves underscores
concern within the administration about the rise in anti-American
violence in Iraq.
The decision follows last week's announcement that President Bush
plans to divert nearly $3.5 billion from Iraqi water, power and
other reconstruction projects to improve security.
The White House had initially asserted it would
not need additional war funding until January or February, 2005
-- well after the November presidential election.
Even after requesting the $25 billion reserve fund in May, White
House officials insisted it was an "insurance policy"
that they hoped not to tap, though they acknowledged that could
change if violence flared up.
"As we've always said, our troops in
the field will have what they need, when they need it," said
Chad Kolton, spokesman for the White House Office of Management
and Budget. [...]
I recently received a note from one of the
few husbands who knows just what his wife wants as a holiday gift.
The Army sergeant (who asked to remain anonymous) e-mailed me from
Iraq asking my help in finding him a store to buy body armor for
Both the sergeant and his wife are serving in Iraq, and both have
seen action. But, like thousands of U.S. soldiers, his wife was
not given the vital ceramic plates for her Kevlar Interceptor vest
to protect her from bullet wounds. Instead, he said, she had to
scavenge to find plates left behind by Iraqi soldiers — plates
of inferior quality that do not properly fit her vest.
The Pentagon confirms that at least 40,000 of the
130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq don't have basic Kevlar Interceptor
vests or the ceramic plates needed for full protection.
As a law professor, I am more comfortable researching legal briefs
than body armor, but I was thrown into this controversy in early
September when I received a call from Richard Murphy, one of my
students during his first year of law school. I wasn't surprised
to hear from Richard, but I was a bit surprised that he was calling
from Iraq. His Army Reserve unit had been called up, so he had taken
a leave from school to serve. What came as
a greater surprise was that Richard's mother had mailed him body
armor because his entire unit was issued Vietnam-era flak jackets
that are designed to stop shrapnel rather than bullets. The Interceptor
vest can stop AK-47 rounds moving 2,750 feet a second.
Army Spc. John Fox must appreciate the difference. He was hit in
the stomach by an AK-47 while on patrol in September in Fallujah.
He was one of the lucky soldiers with a vest. The bullets set off
three ammunition magazines and a smoke grenade he was carrying,
The Washington Post reported. The vest protected him from the AK-47
rounds and the explosion of his own ammunition and grenade.
I first assumed that Murphy's unit was a mix-up.
Then I called retailers and manufacturers of body armor and was
told that they had been deluged by such orders from the families
A Pentagon procurement officer then told me Interceptor
vests were "non-priority" items, like tents. Accordingly,
the military had decided to slowly phase out the old flak jackets
in a one-for-one exchange program over 10 years. We invaded Iraq
in the fifth year.
After I wrote about this shortage in a September Los Angeles Times
column, I received dozens of e-mails and calls from troops in Iraq
giving their own accounts. Some wrote that
they had taped plates on the backs of their flak jackets to try
to get some protection. Other units, they wrote, shifted
the available vests from soldier to soldier.
This "swap and share" approach has forced soldiers in
American and British units to play a dangerous version of Russian
roulette. The first British death in the war occurred after Sgt.
Steve Roberts was forced to give up his plates and was then shot
in the chest while on patrol, according to The London Daily Telegraph.
Sgt. Zachariah Byrd from Colorado was luckier. Shortly before his
unit was ambushed, a friend gave him his Interceptor vest. Byrd
was hit four times by fire from an AK-47 and survived only because
of the last-minute swap.
At a September House hearing, Gen. John Abizaid,
head of all military forces in Iraq, admitted he could not give
House members a good reason "why we started this war with protective
vests that were in short supply."
This left parents and spouses to buy body
armor for their loved ones. Murphy's mother, an elementary school
teacher in Sciota, Pa., spent $650 to buy the protective plates.
A Marin County, Calif., National Guard unit was outfitted with body
armor donated by local law enforcement officials. [...]
In response to questions about the lack of body armor, acting Secretary
of the Army Les Brownlee simply stated that the attacks in Iraq
"differed from our expectations." But
we give Kevlar vests to our police to patrol our cities. Why would
the military think it safer for our troops to move around Baghdad
than for a cop to walk around Boise?
Despite requests from a few members of Congress, there appears
to be little movement to investigate the shortage of what seems
to be a basic protective item for our troops. [...]
Amid Shortage of Gear, Some U.S. Soldiers Must Equip
| By Keith Garvin
February 7, 2004
W A S H I N G T O N, Feb. 7 — Pene Palifka,
a proud and protective mother, worries about her son, Billy, a specialist
with the National Guard deployed in Iraq. She reads his letters
home almost daily.
"I just can't wait for him to come home," she said. "We'll
celebrate that day."
Concerned about her son's safety, Palifka recently
spent $1,100 of her own money on armored chest plates to protect
him and others from enemy fire.
"[By] purchasing something for my son, then that means hopefully
somewhere down the line somebody else that's overseas will have
adequate equipment," Pene Palifka said.
It's become an almost routine practice for deploying troops and
Despite efforts to produce more vests with the armored plates,
the Pentagon says there still aren't enough, especially among guardsmen
and reservists. All troops rotating out of Iraq are now being required
to leave their vests behind so incoming troops can use them.
'We … Buy It Ourselves'
Many active-duty troops also are spending money on other equipment.
One group of Marines due to leave for Iraq bought
goggles, backpacks, magazine pouches and gloves. It's better than
their issued equipment, they said, and worth their hard-earned cash.
"They gave us the stuff that we need, but
we need more as well," Marine Sgt. Nick Medina told ABCNEWS
last month. "So we go ahead and buy it ourselves."
Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., a member of the House Armed Services
Committee, has introduced a bill calling for the government to repay
the families of troops who buy their own gear.
"It's time to step up and do the right thing
and reimburse all those individuals, who because of the care and
concern that they have for our men and women overseas, their loved
ones have gone into their pocket to assist them," Larson said.
Whether she gets reimbursed or not, Pene Palifka says the price
she paid for her peace of mind was worth it.
NAJAF, Iraq - Deafening noise, confusion and fear erupted
as the roadside bomb slammed into the U.S. Army Humvee, knocking
over Spc. Stephen Monti, who was manning a gun in the turret.
"Then we started checking whether we still had our 10 fingers
on," Monti recalled of the recent ambush south of Baghdad.
Not only had all four soldiers escaped injury, but the vehicle
— which had been fortified by armor plating and bulletproof
glass — came through with just a few dents and a cracked windshield.
"There probably would have been wounds, maybe mortal ones,
in your basic Humvee," said Monti, of St. Louis. "Every
vehicle that goes out on the road should be 'up-armored.' Your safety
is dramatically increased." [...]
When the war began, only about 2 percent
of Army's 110,000 Humvees were armored. Now, of the nearly 15,000
Humvees in Iraq, about 1,500 to 2,000 are armored, according to
the Army. The numbers are increasing. [...]
JERUSALEM (AP) - The United States will sell
Israel nearly 5,000 smart bombs in one of the
largest weapons deals between the allies in years, Israeli
military sources said Tuesday.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the sources said the deal
will expand Israel's existing supply of the weapons. They did not
identify possible targets. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz said the
deal is valued at $319 million US and was revealed in a Pentagon
report made to the U.S. Congress a few weeks ago.
Funding for the sale will come from U.S. military aid to Israel.
Disclosure of the deal comes amid escalating Israeli worries over
Iran's nuclear development program.
Israel fears that Iran is trying to produce nuclear weapons. Iran
says its nuclear program is for generating electricity.
The bombs Israel is acquiring include airborne
versions, guidance units, training bombs and detonators. The bombs
would be guided to their target by an existing Israeli satellite
used by the military.
The Israeli sources would not say whether
the bombs might be intended for use against Iran. They ruled
out the possibility that they could be used against Palestinian
Israel drew heavy international criticism after a one-tonne smart
bomb meant for a senior Palestinian militant also killed 15 civilians
in an attack in the Gaza Strip in July 2002. It has rarely used
such weapons since then.
WASHINGTON - - The U.S. government has been
making demands regarding Iran's nuclear program. On Thursday afternoon
State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher was asked about "Mordechai
Vanunu, the Israeli whistleblower" and his proposal that "there
be a trade-off between the Iranian nuclear program and the ending
of the Israeli one." Boucher declined to comment on the proposal.
When asked about Israel's nuclear capacity, Boucher said: "I'm
not making judgments or presumptions about that. We've had a view
on the universal adherence to the Non-Proliferation Treaty that
we've expressed many times, that applies in all cases." Israel
is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. U.S. government
officials have consistently avoided acknowledging Israel's nuclear
MORDECHAI VANUNU, firstname.lastname@example.org
Vanunu exposed the Israeli nuclear arsenal in 1986. He was released
in April 2004 after serving an 18-year sentence, most of it in solitary
confinement. Vanunu is available for a limited number of interviews.
He said today:
* "The U.S. goes to Iraq in the name of fighting against
weapons of mass destruction while it does not even acknowledge Israel's
capacity. The obvious thing to do is to ensure that all states in
the region -- including Israel and Iran -- do not have nuclear weapons."
* "Israeli governments which have been behind building these
nuclear weapons are betraying the Israeli citizens, the Arab community
and all of humanity. Israel has been building nuclear weapons, they
now have enough material for hundreds of atomic bombs. I was a technician
at the Dimona plant; my main job was making lithium-6 for use in
hydrogen bombs. There is no justification for Israel having hydrogen
* "In 1986 I was kidnapped by Israel in Rome after revealing
its massive nuclear arsenal to the London Sunday Times. I was sentenced
to 18 years because I revealed the truth to the world. I suffered
18 years of cruel, barbaric treatment under the Israeli authorities.
I'm glad to have some freedom now, but I'm not allowed to speak
to any foreigners or to go to any other country for one year. I
would like to go to the U.S. where there are more freedoms. I do
not feel safe in Israel, I have been threatened, I'm called a traitor
in the street. Especially because I have become a Christian, I do
not have equal human rights. The Israeli government and media have
built a very bad image of my case here."
* "With its nuclear weapons, Israel is much more aggressive,
so it doesn't move to a real peace with the Palestinians or Syria
or Lebanon or Jordan. Its nuclear weapons are used as political
power. Without even using them, the nuclear weapons help Israel
do what it wants so it doesn't respect international law. When he
was defense minister, Sharon destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor in
1981 so that no other country in the region would have nuclear weapons."
NEW YORK (Reuters) - CBS News faced new charges
of journalistic impropriety on Tuesday, a day after the network
said it regretted using questionable documents in a report challenging
President Bush's military service.
At issue was a report in USA Today that the source
of the documents gave them to CBS only after the network agreed
to arrange a conversation between the source and the presidential
campaign of Bush's opponent, Democratic Sen. John Kerry.
Experts in media ethics said if the report were true, CBS may have
overstepped the boundary between journalism and politics. The network
said it would investigate the matter.
"It is obviously against CBS News standards
and those of every other reputable news organization to be associated
with any political agenda," CBS News said in a statement.
Sure it is - and Fox News is the most objective news outlet in the
"As to what actually happened here, it is one of many issues
the independent review will be examining," the network said,
referring to a probe it announced on Monday as part of a dramatic
about-face over the authenticity of documents.
After two weeks of defending the documents, which served as the
basis for its Sept. 8 report, CBS News publicly acknowledged that
it could not prove they were authentic.
Media experts said the affair had deeply damaged the credibility
of CBS News, once home to anchor Walter Cronkite -- dubbed "the
most trusted man in America." [...]
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A South Korean embassy
official who met with John Kerry fund-raisers to talk about creating
a political group for Korean-Americans was in fact a spy for his
country, raising concerns among U.S. officials that he or Seoul
may have tried to influence the fall presidential election.
South Korean and U.S. officials told The
Associated Press that Chung Byung-Man, a consular officer in Los
Angeles, worked for South Korea's National Intelligence Service
at the time he was meeting with Kerry fund-raisers.
A spokesman for the South Korean consulate office said Chung was
sent home in May amid "speculation" he became involved
with the Kerry campaign and Democratic Party through contacts with
fund-raiser Rick Yi and that his identity couldn't be discussed
"According to international tradition,
we cannot identify, we cannot say who he is, because he is intelligence
people," spokesman Min Ryu said.
The State Department said it has discussed Chung's reported activities
with the South Korean government and has no reason to doubt Seoul's
representations he was an intelligence agent.
The department believes Chung's contacts with donors and fund-raisers,
if accurately described in reports, were "inconsistent"
with the 1963 Vienna Convention that prohibits visiting foreign
officials from interfering in the internal politics and affairs
of host countries, a spokesman for its legal affairs office said.[...]
A South Korean government official in Seoul and two longtime U.S.
officials in Washington, both speaking on condition of anonymity
because Chung's intelligence work is classified, told
the AP that Chung worked for South Korea's NIS, the country's CIA
The U.S. officials said Chung had registered with the Justice
Department as a friendly foreign intelligence agent on U.S. soil,
and that his activities had raised concern
he or his government had tried to influence the fall presidential
election through "extracurricular activities."
The FBI has not begun a formal counterintelligence investigation
because Chung left the United States in May, the officials said.
The NIS dismissed any suggestion the South Korean government tried
to influence American politics as a "totally groundless rumor
and all fiction."
South Korea has been frustrated over the deadlock in talks on
North Korea's nuclear activities, while at the same facing the Bush
administration's planned withdrawal of thousands of U.S. troops
from the tense region. One expert said Chung's actions were consistent
with Seoul's concerns with the Bush administration even if he didn't
get a direct order.
"It is certainly possible that these actions would not reflect
an order from the top but rather point to the unaccountability of
a rather high-ranking officer to pursue their own agenda or what
they perceive to be the agenda of their superiors," said Nicholas
Eberstadt, a researcher at the American Enterprise Institute.
"But, nonetheless, this sort of intervention certainly provides
a faithful reflection of the general attitude of Roh Moo-hyun's
administration toward the presidential race," Eberstadt said.
"There's an awful lot of people in this
(South Korean) government who can't stand the Bush administration
and would love to see Bush lose."
South Korean officials said Yi and Chung had known each other
for some time. Before moving to Los Angeles, Chung worked in South
Korea's consular offices in Atlanta, where Yi was working for a
Yi had worked in the Clinton White House
as a military attache, and eventually went into business
in the Atlanta area with the son of disgraced former South Korean
President Chun Doo-hwan. Yi began raising money for Kerry in 2003
and raised about $500,000 for Democratic causes. [...]
Kee Whan Ha, president of the Korean American Federation of Los
Angeles and a donor to both Kerry and Republican candidates, said
it was common knowledge within the community that Chung worked for
While delegates to the GOP convention were
congratulating themselves for their candidate's tough stand against
terrorism, the Bush administration was creating an international
incident—little publicized in the United States—by harboring
a notorious group of international terrorists on U.S. soil.
Earlier this month, three anti-Castro Cuban exiles flew to Miami
from Panama after serving four years in prison for "endangering
public safety." They were arrested in
2000 for plotting to assassinate Fidel Castro by planting explosives
at a meeting the Cuban dictator planned to hold with university
students in Panama.
The average convicted terrorist does not
just waltz past U.S. immigration authorities in this post-9/11 age
of orange alerts, "no fly" lists and shoe searches. Senator
Edward Kennedy reportedly gets stopped by airport authorities every
time he tries to make a flight, allegedly because the "Kennedy"
name appears on a database of suspects.
Only political influence exerted at the highest
level could account for terrorists reentering U.S. borders without
impediment, despite rap sheets extending back as long as forty years:
- Pedro RÈmon, sentenced to seven years for the bomb plot
in Panama, pleaded guilty in 1986 to bombing Cuba's mission to the
United Nations and later conspiring to murder its ambassador to
the UN. A New York detective also fingered RÈmon for the
machine-gun murders of two political opponents.
- Gaspar JimÈnez, sentenced to eight years for the Panama
bomb plot and falsifying documents, had previously served time in
Mexico for the attempted kidnapping and murder of Cuban diplomats
there. He was also indicted in Florida for blowing the legs off
a liberal Miami radio talk show host in 1976. (The indictment was
eventually dropped for insufficient evidence, even though the main
witness passed several lie-detector tests.)
- Guillermo Novo, sentenced to 7 years for the Panama terror plot,
was arrested in 1964 for firing a bazooka at the United Nations,
where Che Guevara was speaking. In 1978, he was convicted of participating
in one of the worst acts of terrorism ever committed on U.S. soil,
the car bombing in Washington, D.C. of former Chilean Foreign Minister
Orlando Letelier. (The conviction was later overturned on a technicality,
though Novo was convicted of perjury.)
- A fourth Panama conspirator, Louis Posada Carriles, left Panama
for Honduras. He is still wanted in Venezuela on charges of bombing
a Cuban airliner in 1976, killing all 73 passengers. In 1998, in
an interview with the New York Times from a hideout in Central America,
Posada admitted taking part in numerous acts of terrorism, including
a wave of Havana hotel bombings in 1997 that killed an Italian tourist.
He said his violence was funded by prominent U.S.-based supporters
in the Cuban exile community.
The release of these terrorists from Panama—ordered by its
outgoing president—has caused a furor in Central America.
Venezuela recalled its ambassador and Cuba severed diplomatic relations
Honduras also protested. "I will . . . demand that the United
States and Panama explain how Posada Carriles used a false U.S.
passport," declared Honduran President Ricardo Maduro. "How
did that airplane leave Panama with Posada Carriles, reach Honduras,
and wind up in the United States?"
"We know we're dealing with important international influences,"
the president added.
Those influences no doubt include the fact that
Posada was trained by the CIA in the 1960s in sabotage techniques,
remained on the CIA payroll into the 1970s, and in the mid-1980s
(after escaping from a Venezuelan jail) assisted the Reagan administration's
covert supply operation on behalf of the Nicaraguan Contras.
Then there's the undeniable fact that Cuban exile terrorists enjoy
strong political support in the swing state of Florida, thanks to
organized lobbying by such groups as the Cuban American National
Foundation. That explains why President Bush,
in 2001, rejected the advice of the FBI and freed from INS custody
two convicted colleagues of Guillermo Novo in the Letelier assassination.
Conservatives have long (and rightly) derided the glib phrase,
"one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."
The incoming Panamanian president, Martin Torrijos, likewise stood
on principle when he rejected his predecessor's decision to pardon
the terrorists, saying, "For me, there are not two classes
of terrorism, one that is condemned and another that is pardoned.
. . . It has to be fought no matter what its origins."
Three years ago, after 9/11, President Bush appeared to draw the
same line in the sand. Addressing members of the 101st Airborne
Division, he declared, "If you harbor terrorists, you are a
Today, Americans should ask whether those tough words were only
rhetoric, quickly forgotten when political convenience dictates.
WASHINGTON -- The Transportation Security
Administration announced today that it will order domestic airlines
to turn over personal information about passengers to test a system
that will compare their names to those on terrorist watch lists.
The system, called Secure Flight, replaces a previous plan that
would have checked passenger names against commercial databases
and assigned a risk level to each. That plan, which cost $103 million,
was abandoned because of privacy concerns and technological issues.
The airlines will have 30 days to comment on the proposed order,
which Congress gave the TSA authority to issue. Air carriers will
then have 10 days to turn over data that it gathered in June, called
passenger name records.
The amount of data in passenger name records varies by airline,
but it typically includes name, flight origin, flight destination,
flight time, duration of flight and form of payment. It
can also include credit card numbers, address, telephone number
and meal requests, which can indicate a person's ethnicity.
Justin Oberman, who heads the office that's developing Secure
Flight, said he hopes that the program can be implemented by mid
to late spring. He said he expects the airlines to cooperate.
"We are going to work very closely with them," Oberman
The TSA will also conduct a limited test in which they'll compare
passenger names with information from commercial databases to see
if they can be used to detect fraud or identity theft.
Nashville, Tennessee is more
than 1,400 kilometres from Washington, DC and nearly 1,800 from
New York - but if you think homeland security is not an issue here,
just walk past the local naval recruiting station carrying a camera.
BBC News Online asked US voters how important the issue of security
was to them.
A journalist who tried it recently was politely but firmly summoned
inside, where the station's public affairs officer examined the
camera as a naval engineer and the station chief watched.
The armed forces are not the only ones on their guard in the home
of country music.
Last year state Governor Phil Bredesen established a Tennessee
Office of Homeland Security with a retired US Marine Corps general
at its head.
The agency's mission is to "detect, deter and protect citizens
Americans demand no less as they confront the first presidential
election since the attacks of 11 September 2001.
Even in the Volunteer State, many have terrorists on their minds.
"You never know where they are - they
could be absolutely anywhere," Martha Morris says, pointing
out that some 11 September plotters lived in Florida before the
Her son Drew signed up for the marines in the wake of the attacks,
which she calls "the biggest wake-up call we have ever had
in our lifetime".
She is now head of Tennessee Marine Families, a state-wide network
of relatives of service people.
She says the world is more dangerous now than during the Cold War.
Now, she says, "it's not like a country
wants to take over the United States. These are radical madmen who
want to rule the world.
"They don't go for military or political [targets].
It doesn't matter if you have a military connection or not. If you're
an American, they want you dead."
Mrs Morris is a strong supporter of President George W Bush, but
concern about homeland security crosses party lines.
Rowland Huddleston wears a badge proclaiming himself a "Veteran
He says the world was safer in the days of superpower confrontation
between the US and Soviet Union.
"There were generals on both sides who were concerned about
the safety of their countries, and they kept a lid on things."
Today, by contrast, the United States confronts a different kind
"Terrorism is like a cancer. It has metastasised."
Americans consider national security and US wars abroad to be the
most important issue at stake in the presidential election, a poll
by the Pew Center for People and the Press suggests.
It is the first time in decades that economy has not topped the
list of concerns - security came first with 41%, while 26% cited
Good for Bush
That order of priorities seems likely to help President Bush in
Americans generally consider him a safer pair of hands on security,
while they prefer Senator John Kerry's domestic proposals, polls
But some Americans say the Bush administration has gone overboard
with legislation such as the Patriot Act, which gives the government
sweeping powers to monitor citizens' communications and activities.
Bookstores and libraries have complained about provisions that
enable the government to demand information on people's reading
Unemployed worker Sherman Drake of Detroit calls the war on terror
"an excuse to take our freedoms.
"I go along with homeland security, but you cannot destroy
freedom because of homeland security."
He wants the candidates to focus on improving the economy and getting
the unemployed back to work.
"Would you rather be blown up or starve?" he asks.
Thomas Harris of Nashville also says the economy is the most important
factor in deciding who he will vote for.
He thinks the country has responded adequately to the attacks on
New York and Washington.
"I don't think they're going to let another 9/11 happen again.
I think that kind of opened everybody's eyes when that took place,"
He is not sure that there can ever be foolproof domestic surveillance.
"As far as the terrorists and stuff, you're
always going to have people living over here from other countries
that you don't know about. There's no way that you can find them
"You've just got to hope and pray that God
looks down on everybody and keeps something like that from happening
| A security alert involving the singer
who used to be known as Cat Stevens has forced a London-to-Washington
flight to be diverted to another US airport.
The plane was already in the air when US officials identified that
the singer, whose name is now Yusuf Islam, was on one of their "watch
United Airlines Flight 919 was diverted 600 miles (1000km), landing
After an interview, the singer - who converted to Islam in 1977
- was denied entry into the US.
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials said the
access was denied "on national security grounds", without
giving any further details.
Yusuf Islam is now expected to be put on a flight out of America
later on Wednesday.
Four years ago, Mr Islam was deported from Israel over allegations
that he backed militant Muslims.
Yusuf Islam was born Stephen Demetre Georgiou in London to a Greek
Cypriot father and Swedish mother.
Since abandoning a successful music career in the late 1970s, he
has devoted himself to advocating and teaching Islam.
One high-profile activity was the founding of a Muslim school in
| WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 (Xinhuanet)
-- The US government has installed an integrated ten-print biometric
identification technology at all Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Border Patrol stations, the Homeland Security Department announced
As a result of the joint effort between the Homeland Security
Department and the Justice Department, thousands of criminal suspects
have been arrested since the program began as a pilot in August
2001, including 138 homicide suspects, 67 kidnapping suspects, 226
sexual assault suspects, 431 robbery suspects, and 2,342 suspects
for assaults of other types.
In addition, 4,801 suspected traffickers of narcotics have been
arrested, and 87 criminals and other inadmissible aliens seeking
admission to the United States have been identified, the department
said in a statement.
The Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS)
and the Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT) provide
rapid identification of individuals with outstanding criminal warrants
through electronic comparison of ten-print digital fingerscans against
a vast nationwide database of previously captured fingerprints.
The technology allows CBP Border Patrol agents to simultaneously
search the fingerprint database of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
to identify criminal suspects, the statement said.
The IDENT/IAFIS program, which began as a pilot in August 2001,is
now fully operational within all 148 Border Patrol stations andis
in the process of being deployed to all the ports of entry nationwide,
according to the statement.
Asa Hutchinson, under secretary for border and transportation
security, said the program is a fast effective weapon in the war
on terror that allows law enforcement personnel to thoroughly check
immigration and criminal backgrounds of people that have entered
the United States illegally.
President Bush said Tuesday that
the Iraqis are refuting the pessimists and implied that things are
improving in that country.
What would America look like if it were in Iraq's current situation?
The population of the US is over 11 times that of Iraq, so a lot
of statistics would have to be multiplied by that number.
Thus, violence killed 300 Iraqis last week, the equivalent proportionately
of 3,300 Americans. What if 3,300 Americans had died in car bombings,
grenade and rocket attacks, machine gun spray, and aerial bombardment
in the last week? That is a number greater than the deaths on September
11, and if America were Iraq, it would be an ongoing, weekly or
And what if those deaths occurred all over the country, including
in the capital of Washington, DC, but mainly above the Mason Dixon
line, in Boston, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco?
What if the grounds of the White House and the government buildings
near the Mall were constantly taking mortar fire? What if almost
nobody in the State Department at Foggy Bottom, the White House,
or the Pentagon dared venture out of their buildings, and considered
it dangerous to go over to Crystal City or Alexandria?
What if all the reporters for all the major television and print
media were trapped in five-star hotels in Washington, DC and New
York, unable to move more than a few blocks safely, and dependent
on stringers to know what was happening in Oklahoma City and St.
Louis? What if the only time they ventured into the Midwest was
if they could be embedded in Army or National Guard units?
There are estimated to be some 25,000 guerrillas in Iraq engaged
in concerted acts of violence. What if there were private armies
totalling 275,000 men, armed with machine guns, assault rifles (legal
again!), rocket-propelled grenades, and mortar launchers, hiding
out in dangerous urban areas of cities all over the country? What
if they completely controlled Seattle, Portland, San Francisco,
Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Denver and Omaha, such that local police
and Federal troops could not go into those cities?
What if, during the past year, the Secretary of State (Aqilah Hashemi),
the President (Izzedine Salim), and the Attorney General (Muhammad
Baqir al-Hakim) had all been assassinated?
What if all the cities in the US were wracked by a crime wave,
with thousands of murders, kidnappings, burglaries, and carjackings
in every major city every year?
What if the Air Force routinely (I mean daily or weekly) bombed
Billings, Montana, Flint, Michigan, Watts in Los Angeles, Philadelphia,
Anacostia in Washington, DC, and other urban areas, attempting to
target "safe houses" of "criminal gangs", but
inevitably killing a lot of children and little old ladies?
What if, from time to time, the US Army besieged Virginia Beach,
killing hundreds of armed members of the Christian Soldiers? What
if entire platoons of the Christian Soldiers militia holed up in
Arlington National Cemetery, and were bombarded by US Air Force
warplanes daily, destroying thousands of graves and even pulverizing
the Vietnam Memorial over on the Mall? What if the National Council
of Churches had to call for a popular march of thousands of believers
to converge on the National Cathedral to stop the US Army from demolishing
it to get at a rogue band of the Timothy McVeigh Memorial Brigades?
What if there were virtually no commercial air traffic in the country?
What if many roads were highly dangerous, especially Interstate
95 from Richmond to Washington, DC, and I-95 and I-91 up to Boston?
If you got on I-95 anywhere along that over 500-mile stretch, you
would risk being carjacked, kidnapped, or having your car sprayed
with machine gun fire.
What if no one had electricity for much more than 10 hours a day,
and often less? What if it went off at unpredictable times, causing
factories to grind to a halt and air conditioning to fail in the
middle of the summer in Houston and Miami? What if the Alaska pipeline
were bombed and disabled at least monthly? What if unemployment
hovered around 40%?
What if veterans of militia actions at Ruby Ridge and the Oklahoma
City bombing were brought in to run the government on the theory
that you need a tough guy in these times of crisis?
What if municipal elections were cancelled and cliques close to
the new "president" quietly installed in the statehouses
as "governors?" What if several of these governors (especially
of Montana and Wyoming) were assassinated soon after taking office
or resigned when their children were taken hostage by guerrillas?
What if the leader of the European Union maintained that the citizens
of the United States are, under these conditions, refuting pessimism
and that freedom and democracy are just around the corner?
Recent attacks raise fears of new rash
of crimes against Muslims
Last week's attempted firebombing of an Islamic center in El Paso
represents the latest in a renewed rash of hate crimes against Muslims
in Texas, the director of Houston's Council on American-Islamic
Relations said Monday.
Iesa Galloway, executive director of CAIR in Houston, called on
political and religious leaders Monday to condemn the attack in
El Paso, calling it an act of "Islamophobia," a term he
said was coined by his organization.
"This," said Galloway, "is the latest in a trend
of attacks that have been happening across Texas."
Galloway said other recent acts include a dry-ice bomb that exploded
in a mailbox at a Houston-area Islamic center, a series of arsons
in San Antonio that targeted Muslim-owned businesses and graffiti
and other hateful incidents in McAllen.
Galloway said he believes that hate crimes against Muslims have
spiked during the past six months.
In last Friday's incident in El Paso, a homemade gasoline bomb
was thrown into the Islamic center's back yard, where five children
were playing after weekly prayer services. The bomb failed to ignite,
although some of the children were splashed with gasoline. A second
gasoline bomb was placed on the center's gas meter but failed to
El Paso police arrested Antonio Flores, 57, who was charged with
arson and is facing federal hate-crime and civil rights charges.
U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, joined Galloway in urging
political leaders to condemn the violence against Muslims, who have
been particularly targeted since Sept. 11, 2001, when Islamic extremists
flew airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
"It is truly saddening to me that in this day and era there
are still hate crimes being committed, but this bigotry will not
deter our nation from treating people of all faiths with equality
and dignity," Jackson Lee said.
Galloway said he supports more open-house events at local mosques
during the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan so people can familiarize
themselves with the religion.
"We feel that is the only way to truly dispel stereotypes,"
he said, "to get to know someone so they can find out that
we are all humans and we want our kids to go to school safely and
we want to leave our houses of worship without being fearful of
being blown up or set on fire."
WINNIPEG - Winnipeg police and the hazardous
material unit of the fire and paramedic service are investigating
the case of a missing vial filled with a mysterious substance that
could be dangerous.
Const. Shelly Glover says two tenants at a rooming house on Roy
Avenue in the Weston area of Winnipeg told police they
had been threatened by another tenant who showed them a vial of
what they said was a highly dangerous biological substance.
Const. Glover says the roommate alleged to have made the threat
is a security guard who once worked at Cadham Provincial Lab.
The incident is said to have happened two weeks ago, but the two
individuals waited until Monday to tell the director of the lab.
A search of both the suspect's car and his home failed to turn
up the vial. Still, the 22-year-old man has been charged with mischief,
theft, uttering threats and possessing a weapon dangerous to the
Police ask anyone who may have come into contact with a suspicious
vial to call them or the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.
IQALUIT - Violent winds brought down power
lines and damaged buildings in communities in Arctic Quebec and
Nunavut on Tuesday.
Flags were flapping wildly as the winds picked up speed in Iqaluit,
Further north in Igloolik on Baffin Island, winds were blowing
at over 100 kilometres an hour on Tuesday afternoon.
Power lines are down in one area of town, and some homes are without
"Those poles went down, wires touching each other, we get
outages when they touch," says Jasen Aqqiaruq, who works for
the Nunavut power corporation in Igloolik.
Hurricane-force winds gusting up to 118 kilometers an hour caused
extensive damage earlier today in Salluit, a community of 1,800
people in northern Quebec.
Mayor Michael Cameron says sheds were toppled over and some were
destroyed. A garage workshop and fuel storage tank were demolished,
and windows were smashed on some houses.
Cameron says luckily no one was hurt.
"We asked our citizens to stay indoors, we contacted businesses
and organizations to shut down their doors and we asked that the
nursing station with the social services be on alert," he says.
Cameron says it will take weeks to clean up the mess.
He says Inuit elders in Salluit say they've never experienced
winds like this in the fall.
Environment Canada says a deep low pressure system moved up from
It's causing erratic weather such as blizzards, thunderstorms
The pressure system is expected to decrease slowly during the
MIAMI - Hurricane Karl weakened slightly Tuesday
and stayed on an open-ocean course that only threatened ships, while
Tropical Storm Lisa became stronger far out in the Atlantic.
Karl, the seventh hurricane this season, had top sustained winds
near 120 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Forecasters did not expect the storm's strength to change over the
At 5 p.m. EDT, Karl was centered about 990 miles east-northeast
of the northern Leeward Islands in the Caribbean and was moving
north-northwest near 16 mph.
Karl followed Hurricane Jeanne, which was northeast of the Bahamas
and moving southeast at 6 mph, but did not immediately threaten
any land. Jeanne was blamed for at least 620 deaths in Haiti, where
it hit as a tropical storm and caused flooding.
At 5 p.m., Lisa had top sustained winds near 70 mph, just below
the 74 mph threshold to become a hurricane. Forecasters said Lisa
was a small storm and its wind speed was expected to fluctuate.
The 12th named storm of the season was centered about 1,090 miles
west of the Cape Verde Islands and was moving west-northwest near
Residents in the Caribbean should monitor Lisa, which was heading
in their direction although it was still about a week away, forecasters
The hurricane season ends Nov. 30.
MIAMI - Deadly Hurricane Jeanne could head
back toward the United States and threaten the storm-battered Southeast
coast, including Florida, as early as this weekend, forecasters
It was too soon to tell where or if Jeanne would hit, but forecasters
at the National Hurricane Center in Miami warned residents from
Florida to Maryland to watch the storm with 90 mph top sustained
Some computer models had Jeanne curving out to sea and missing
land, but others had it hitting the United States on Saturday or
Sunday, forecasters said.
Jeanne was blamed for more than 700 deaths in
Haiti, where it hit over the weekend as a tropical storm and caused
flooding. It had been moving out to sea, but appeared to be looping
back toward land, forecasters said.
At 11 a.m. EDT, Jeanne was centered about 530 miles east of Great
Abaco Island in the Bahamas. It was moving south near 5 mph, but
was expected to head west by early Thursday.
Dangerous surf and rip currents along with large swells are possible
along the southeastern U.S. coast over the next few days, forecasters
said. If Jeanne hit Florida, it would follow Hurricanes Charley,
Frances and Ivan, which caused billions of dollars of damage and
more than 60 deaths across the state.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Karl weakened slightly and stayed on an open-ocean
course that only threatened ships, while Tropical Storm Lisa moved
slowly far out in the Atlantic.
Karl, the seventh hurricane this season, had top sustained winds
near 105 mph, down from about 120 mph a day earlier. At 11 a.m.,
Karl was centered about 1,490 miles west-southwest of Fayal Island
in the Western Azores and was moving north near 14 mph.
At 11 a.m., Lisa had top sustained winds near 50 mph, down from
about 70 mph a day earlier. The 12th named storm of the season was
centered about 1,165 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands and was
moving west-northwest near 6 mph.
The hurricane season ends Nov. 30.
BROOKLIN, Canada (IPS) - Hurricane Ivan, the
incredibly powerful storm that killed at least 120 people in the
Caribbean and southern United States, may be a harbinger of the
Earth's hotter future, say experts.
"As the world warms, we expect more and more intense tropical
hurricanes and cyclones," said James McCarthy, a professor
of biological oceanography at Harvard University.
Large parts of the world's oceans are approaching 27 degrees C
or warmer during the summer, greatly increasing the odds of major
storms, McCarthy told IPS.
When water reaches such temperatures, more of it evaporates, priming
hurricane or cyclone formation. Once born, a hurricane needs only
warm water to build and maintain its strength and intensity.
Over the last 100 years, the Earth has warmed by about .6 degrees
C, according to the 2001 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC), an international scientific body that studies
the relationship between human activity and global warming.
The IPCC report was based on research by more than 2,500 scientists
from about 100 countries who determined that emissions of gases
such as carbon dioxide act as a blanket that prevents much of the
sun's energy from dissipating into space.
Much of the extra energy from this "greenhouse effect"
is being absorbed by the oceans.
The "proof" that the oceans are warming is the fact
that global sea levels have risen 3.1 cm in the past 10 years, said
Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National
Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.
Water expands when heated, and sea levels are expected to continue
rising by as much as 50 cm by 2100. [...]
A moderate earthquake occurred at 13:32:30
(UTC) on Tuesday, September 21, 2004. The magnitude 5.0 event has
been located in the RUSSIA-POLAND BORDER REGION.
A moderate earthquake occurred at 11:03:51
(UTC) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004. The magnitude 5.0 event
has been located in the HOKKAIDO, JAPAN REGION. The hypocentral
depth was estimated to be 111 km (69 miles).
Any time a 3-mile-long chunk of nickel and iron drifts close to
Earth, people take notice, even when it's going to miss.
The next asteroid to miss, one discovered in the 1980s called Toutatis,
is a doozy: 1.5 miles wide and weighing 50 billion tons if it were
sitting on Earth.
It wobbles out of the solar system's hazy realms every four years,
giving astronomers either a thrill or a scare depending on their
grasp of orbital ballistics, and then totters back into space.
In its wake this year--besides relief--Toutatis also promises to
leave behind a good number of animated backyard astronomers, who
will get a better look at it than ever before. On Sept. 29, it will
pass within 960,000 miles of Earth--four times the distance to the
moon. It will be the biggest thing to pass this way, this close,
Considering that Toutatis could wipe out a continent and coat the
rest of the planet in ash if it landed, watching the asteroid also
has taken on the added appeal for backyard enthusiasts of spying
on something a bit dangerous. Astronomers like to point out that
Toutatis' gyrations are among the most erratic in the solar system.
"It tumbles in space like a wild madman," said Joe Guzman,
founder of the online Chicago Astronomer forum, a group of backyard
telescope enthusiasts who share local astronomical observations.
One rumor was that Toutatis could at any
moment deviate from orbit and hit the Earth (it won't). Another
was that it was as big as the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs
(it's only half that big, but big enough).
Though the rumors have fallen off, the excitement hasn't. Nor have
the nicknames that astronomers give it:
"The `Spud Rock,'" said Guzman. "The `Renegade Rock.'
Some people call it `Planet X.' But not in mainstream conversation."
Sophisticated instruments brought to bear on Toutatis in 1996 and
2000 have given experts a pretty good handle on it.
It is made of primordial nickel and iron, said Mark Hammergren,
an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium. It is probably 4.5 billion
years old--the age of the solar system--and probably a piece of
Still, Hammergren said, "we don't know a
heck of a lot about asteroids in general."
Academically speaking, that's a scary thought.
Take Toutatis, which is believed to have about one-eighth the mass
of the dinosaur-killing asteroid. If it hit
Illinois, it would make a crater from the lakefront to Aurora, would
instantly destroy everything out to about Bloomington, and would
blow off the atmosphere from horizon to horizon. Hammergren
said chunks of molten rock would fly hundreds of miles into space
and rain back down, igniting massive wildfires wherever they landed.
Things wouldn't be much better if it landed in the ocean.
"Now we're beginning to realize if one of
these things hits the Earth, somebody's going to die ... that tends
to inspire people to look."
The number of known asteroids went from 3,000 in 1981 to 10,000
in 1997. As of August, there were 90,671, according to the International
Astronomical Union. Toutatis is among those that stand out.
French astronomers found it in 1989 and
named it after a friend of the French cartoon character Asterix
the Gaul. Because Asterix had a friend named Toutatis and feared
nothing but the sky falling on his head, it's a very funny joke
in French. [...]
"Observationally, I would say by far the most interesting
aspect of it is that it's going to be moving pretty fast,"
Talcott said of Toutatis. "Psychologically, I guess I'd say
the most interesting thing is that it would be devastating if it
hit the Earth."
Beagle scientist on a discovery that launched a mission to Mars
(CNN) -- My life changed dramatically on August 6, 1996, when a
group of NASA scientists claimed to have found a fossil in a meteorite
I had been involved in Martian meteorite research since the early
1980s, helping to show that these rocks did in fact come from the
The research my group carried out had suggested
that all the necessary ingredients for life to exist on Mars were
present. We also had shown that organic material, a chemical
fossil, could be found associated with martian minerals deposited
On Earth organic matter in sedimentary minerals is the evidence
which indicates that life started four billion years ago.
I could not, however, put my hand on my heart and say we'd found
life on a second planet in the solar system. We could have been
studying terrestrial contamination in the meteorites.
However, we realized that if we could repeat the experiments, carried
out here on Earth on meteorites in situ on Mars and get the same
answers, then that could make a fantastic discovery. In 1997 the
idea of sending a robot laboratory to Mars was born.
It wasn't easy to persuade anyone to provide the funds but fellow
enthusiasts from the British Space Industry and other academics
joined in and together we built a spacecraft named Beagle 2 after
HMS Beagle, the ship which took Charles Darwin around the world
on a voyage which led to our understanding of how life evolved on
It seemed an apt name seeing as how we were trying to find out
if life existed somewhere else in the Universe.
We didn't succeed. We got to Mars but Beagle 2 refused to answer
our radio calls after we sent it rushing towards the surface of
Mars on Christmas Day 2003.
We haven't given up however. The science is as
compelling as ever and new discoveries of major features due to
water on Mars suggest it is even more likely now that life exists
or existed there.
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