Signs Supplement: The Suicide Bombing Cycle
Strike Flash Presentation by a QFS member
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Surveillance powers
granted to the FBI under the Patriot Act, a cornerstone of the
Bush Administration's war on terror, were ruled unconstitutional
by a judge on Wednesday in a new blow to U.S. security policies.
U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero, in the
first decision against a
surveillance portion of the act, ruled for the American Civil
Liberties Union in its challenge against what it called "unchecked
power" by the FBI to demand confidential customer records
from communication companies, such as Internet service providers
or telephone companies.
Marrero, stating that "democracy abhors undue secrecy,"
found that the law violates constitutional prohibitions against
unreasonable searches. He said it also violated free speech rights
by barring those who received FBI demands from disclosing they
had to turn over records.
Because of this gag order, the ACLU initially
had to file its suit against the Department of Justice under seal
to avoid penalties for violation of the surveillance laws.
Although the ACLU's suit was filed on behalf of an Internet access
firm, the ruling could apply to other entities that have received
FBI secretive subpoenas, known as national security letters.
The ACLU said that the Patriot Act provision was worded so broadly
that it could effectively be used to obtain the names of customers
of Web sites such as Amazon.com or eBay, or a political organization's
membership list, or even the names of sources that a journalist
has contacted by e-mail.
"This is a landmark victory against the Ashcroft Justice
Department's misguided attempt to intrude into the lives of innocent
the name of national security," said ACLU Executive Director
"Even now, some in Congress are trying
to pass additional intrusive law enforcement powers. This decision
should put a halt to those efforts," he said.
He said the suit was one of the ACLU's
legal battles to block certain sections of the Patriot Act that
went "too far, too fast." [...]
Final Piece of Police State Puzzle Ready
| By John Tiffany
American Free Press
September 26, 2004
The Bush administration's allies in Congress,
led by J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, the speaker of the House,
have launched another assault on constitutionally protected civil
liberties with a bill many are calling Patriot Act II (PA II).
However, it is not to be confused with the 2003 version of Patriot
But according to the Associated Press, in a draft of the House
GOP legislation, many of the provisions are similar to the draft
copy of the "Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003"
that leaked out of the Justice Department in January 2003.
Many Democrats and civil libertarians charge the new PA II authorizes
heavy-handed infringements on civil liberties. House Democratic
leaders and civil liberties advocates said on Sept. 22 that the
Republican bill ostensibly responding to the findings of the 9-11
commission would go well beyond the panel's recommendations. It
would call for broad new powers for law enforcement agencies,
they said, and would include new authority to conduct electronic
surveillance in terrorism investigations.
Among the provisions, said AP, are measures on the deportation
of aliens who are suspected of being linked to foreign revolutionary
groups which have been labeled as terrorists, mandatory pretrial
detention for terrorism suspects, warrants against non-citizens
even when a target can't be tied to a foreign power and enhanced
penalties for threats or attempts to use chemical or nuclear weapons.
John Feehery is a spokesman for Hastert. Feehery told AP that
criticism of the bill was unwarranted as of the evening of Sept.
22, because the legislation was still not in final form and was
not ready for release to the public. A spokesman for House Majority
Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) agreed on Sept. 22 that House members
were still working on a final version of the legislation.
But critics warn that the proposed law is aimed
against the entire U.S. population, not a minority of Arab immigrants.
Comment: Did you catch
that? The law "is aimed against the entire US population..."
The proposal, they say, would grant the government
the power to strip citizenship of native-born Americans and deport
them without any evidence of wrongdoing, even though this would
be contrary to the Constitution.
Comment: What's that?
You say you're not a terrorist? You didn't do anything wrong?
Well, your government doesn't care! You can be deported anyway
- if you're lucky. If you aren't lucky...
It would also allow for secret arrests, secret
trials and secret torturing of "suspects." Habeas corpus,
Americans' most sacred right, would be eliminated.
Comment: As in the time
of the Nazi reign of terror, we imagine that the "secret
torture" will make the Abu Ghraib abuse look like a picnic.
The law would also remove all restrictions on
police spying on citizens.
Patriot Act II would create 15 new death
penalties, one of which could be applied to acts of protest.
Under the Hastert measure's definitions,
anti-war protesters could be deemed terrorists. In fact,
any dissident could be spied on, harassed, and imprisoned indefinitely
for exercising their legal and constitutionally protected rights.
This legislation would give the government the same power that
Stalin and Julius Caesar gave themselves, said one detractor.
While terrorism certainly is a threat that must be addressed,
curtailing the civil liberties of innocent Americans is by no
means a way of doing so.
AFP readers will recall that the first so-called
Patriot Act was passed without the members of Congress being allowed
to view the draft of the bill. Those who wanted it to be read
and debated were told to vote for it or they would be blamed for
the next terrorist outrage. It passed overwhelmingly.
Many experts fear similar tactics will be used to pass PA II,
keeping the public ignorant of the proposed law's existence until
it is too late.
(AP) - Here's a head-turner for a security-nervous city: A large
white object was spotted in the skies above the nation's capital
in the pre-dawn hours Wednesday.
Pentagon police said the Defense Department is testing a security
blimp - fully equipped with surveillance cameras. The white blimp
was spotted early Wednesday morning hovering at various times
over the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol.
The 178-foot-long device, which is expected to remain in the
skies until Thursday, is conducting a mission for the Defense
Authorities say the airship is equipped with infrared cameras
designed to provide real time images to military commanders on
the ground. The equipment on the blimp already is being used to
protect troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Army says the device will make at least one 24-hour flight
in the District of Columbia area. It has been in the region since
last week, and is also being used for test runs over the U.S.
Marine Corps Base in nearby Quantico, Va., and the Chesapeake
PLAYAS, N.M. -- The Phelps Dodge mining
company pictured a suburban utopia with a Southwestern flavor
when it built this town for its employees from scratch in the
early 1970s. It incorporated a six-lane bowling alley, a rodeo
ring, a helicopter pad, a shooting range and a swimming pool into
the community of 259 ranch-style homes.
But the company shut its nearby copper smelter because of sluggish
prices in the late 1990s. And these days, more animals than people
can be found wandering the streets.
Quail, javelinas and the occasional mountain lion strut through
empty cul-de-sacs with names like Chaparral, Lomitas and Ocotillo.
Weeds and creosote bush poke through the asphalt.
So the residents of Playas, all 50 or so of
those remaining from the peak of 1,000, say they are more than
ready for their town to become a target for pickups laden with
explosives and simulations of suicide bombs, water-supply poisoning
and anthrax attacks.
In what might be the beginning of Playas' renaissance,
the Department of Homeland Security is channeling $5 million to
a small New Mexico engineering school to buy the entire town.
The school, in turn, aims to turn the town into one of the country's
top locations for anti-terrorism training.
"I wish they'd hurry up and start hiring people,"
Carol Davis, 51, a part-time emergency medical technician, said
in front of her spacious home, with the Chiricahua Mountains in
the distance. "It's too quiet out here right now. I'd like
a job driving an ambulance or something."
No one denies that steady jobs are scarce. A sign hanging on
the Western Bank window sums up the level of local economic activity:
"Bank hours: Friday only, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Drive-thru
Davis' husband, Alan, is part of a skeleton crew of 13 Phelps
Dodge employees who watch over the shuttered smelter 10 miles
south of town, ensuring that electricity and water still flow
to the facility, which is on standby status. The smelter, about
40 miles north of the Mexican border, is called "La estrella
del norte" ("star of the north") by migrants using
its flashing lights as a beacon for crossings into the United
The isolation of Playas is part of the allure for New Mexico
Tech, which expects to complete the purchase in the next few weeks.
The town is nestled in the empty desert plains, near where Gen.
John J. Pershing once searched in vain for Pancho Villa, the Mexican
revolutionary and bandit who attacked the border town of Columbus
in 1916. The nearest city, El Paso, is three hours away on a winding
highway where every other automobile seems to be a sport-utility
vehicle operated by the Border Patrol.
"Playas is not your typical ghost town with a saloon and
a couple of storefronts, which is what made it so attractive to
us," said Van Romero, vice president for research and economic
development at New Mexico Tech, based in the town of Socorro.
The university, which has 1,800 students,
has undergone its own transformation in recent years, training
more than 90,000 emergency workers to respond to terror attacks
since the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995. Begun in the late
19th century as the New Mexico School of Mines for mining engineers,
it was renamed the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology,
reflecting in part its new mission. Altogether, it is receiving
$20 million in grants from the Department of Homeland Security
for anti-terrorism programs.
Playas will be used mostly to train security, medical and military
personnel to prevent attacks as well as respond to them.
"The town has all the characteristics
of a contemporary American community: the churches, the bank,
the health clinic, even the baseball diamonds," Romero said.
"Plus, it's mainly empty."
It also has some unusual features for a town its size. Amenities
include an airstrip capable of handling small jets and underground
electric wiring connecting every home to the grid. There is also
the Feelgood Lounge, the town's watering hole, and the Copper
Pins bowling alley. Phelps Dodge is including about 1,200 acres
of land surrounding Playas in the sale.
The lack of skyscrapers is not considered a
problem. Romero said he would leave those simulations to Texas
A&M, which operates a facility in College Station, Texas,
called Disaster City, where high-rises can be collapsed in a mock
Some in town remain wistful about the Playas they knew. "We
used to be a place where all the families looked after each other,"
said Cheryl Wright, 49, an accountant and a third-generation Phelps
Dodge employee. "There was a South African wife of one of
the supervisors who used to have teas on her lawn for all the
wives. It was so idyllic then; now it's kind of dull."
A cheap home
Many houses are slowly being eroded by the sandstorms that ravage
the "bootheel" part of New Mexico. The doors of some
homes have been kicked in by migrants looking for a place to escape
the elements on their way to more prosperous destinations.
Still, Playas is cheap for those who remain. The Phelps Dodge
employees pay the company just $50 a month in rent for subsidized
homes, some sprawling over more than 2,000 square feet, while
those who do not work directly for the company pay about $350
A little anxiety creeps into the conversation when locals discuss
their future jobs.
"I'd like to know what they're going to do with us,"
said James Noel, 57, a subcontractor who tends the lawns and thickets
of prickly-pear cactus at the entrance to Playas. "I like
it out here, the wide-open spaces. I'd like to stay."
Romero, the administrator at New Mexico Tech overseeing the
project, said he would not ask residents to leave before the "attacks."
"On the contrary, we'd like to have them stay," he
said in a telephone interview from his office in Socorro. "We
figure about 200 jobs should be created by our transformation
of Playas, and some of those opportunities should go to the people
living there. We're going to make it as safe as possible for them."
Many people who once called Playas home have drifted to where
the work is. Some moved to Johnson Atoll, a U.S. possession 800
miles southwest of Hawaii in the Pacific, to work on a project
destroying chemical weapons.
A list posted at the entrance of the Copper Pins attests to
another opportunity: war. The roster of about 20 names shows military
affiliations and postings, with Kandahar, Kuwait City, Baghdad
and Kabul figuring prominently.
When it put the town on the market, Phelps Dodge fielded inquiries
from religious organizations and retirement communities as well
as New Mexico Tech. The company is getting nearly 60 percent more
than the $3.2 million it originally sought.
Pleased with the deal, Phelps Dodge is hoping to repeat its
success. Interested parties are invited
to bid for another abandoned company town: Kitsault, British Columbia.
The asking price is $5.4 million.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. drivers could
again face $2 a gallon gasoline now that crude oil has topped
a record $50 a barrel, government experts said on Tuesday.
U.S. crude oil futures hit an all-time high of $50.47 per barrel
this week as rebel threats against Nigerian oilfields threatened
supplies already pinched by hurricane-related drilling shutdowns
in the Gulf of Mexico.
The average retail gasoline price is likely
to rise above $2 per gallon in the next three weeks as the effect
of higher crude oil prices filters through from refiners to drivers,
the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said.
Democrats renewed attacks on the Bush administration on Tuesday
for failing to keep energy prices in check.
Campaigning in Pittsburgh, Democratic vice presidential candidate
John Edwards berated the Bush administration's close energy industry
ties and called for U.S. consumers to cut their dependence on
foreign oil suppliers like Saudi Arabia.
"What are the odds that George Bush and
Dick Cheney are ever going to do anything to move this country
to energy independence?" Edwards asked. "It will not
happen while they are in office."
President Bush is a former Texas oilman and Vice President Cheney
once headed oil services firm Halliburton Co. [...]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Health
insurance premiums for workers are rising around three times faster
than their wages, and health costs eat up a quarter of
earnings for more than 14 million Americans, according to a survey
While benefits are being cut, health insurance premiums are rising,
the report from the nonprofit Families USA found.
"Working families were squeezed by runaway
health care costs over the past four years," said Families
USA executive director Ron Pollack.
"As a result, workers are paying much more in premiums but
are receiving less health coverage, wages are being depressed;
and millions of people have lost health coverage entirely."
The cost of health insurance premiums rose by nearly 36 percent
on average from 2000 to 2004 in 35 states, said the group, which
bills itself as a nonpartisan watchdog on health care issues.
Average earnings rose just 12 percent over the same time.
The Families USA report found that health insurance
plans provided by employers are covering fewer health services
and workers are paying higher deductibles and copayments.
"Family health premiums paid by employers and workers rose
from $7,028 in 2000 to $9,320 in 2004. The average amount paid
by workers for this coverage rose from $1,433 to $1,947 during
that period -- an increase of 35.9 percent," the group said
in a statement.
"And, the number of Americans who had total health costs
that consumed more than one-quarter of their earnings rose from
11.6 million in 2000 to 14.3 million in 2004 -- an increase of
almost 23 percent. The overwhelming majority of these people (10.7
million) had health insurance."
More than 60 percent of Americans get their health insurance
through an employer, according to Census Bureau statistics. But
the number of people without insurance rose last year from 43
million to 45 million and some experts say rising insurance costs
are in part to blame.
Families USA said it found 85.2 million people went without health
insurance for some time during 2003 and 2004.
"In 2003-2004, one out of every three Americans under 65
years of age went without health insurance for some period of
time. Over half of these people were uninsured for at least nine
months," the group said.
"The number of people who were uninsured at some point in
2003-2004 exceeds the combined population of 32 states and the
District of Columbia," Pollack added. "This is an epidemic
that requires immediate attention."
Seymour Hersh, the non plus ultra of investigative
journalism (most recently responsible for bringing the Abu Ghraib
scandal to light) presaged that the U.S. military draft would
return at the American Society of Magazine Editors Tuesday. This
blurb was printed (in all places) on the Women's Wear Daily website.
DARK PROPHET: Seymour Hersh, the dean of American investigative
journalism, was in top form Tuesday when he addressed a lunch
gathering hosted by the American Society of Magazine Editors.
The prolific New Yorker writer shared his gloomy views on the
current administration and the prospects for stability in Iraq
with a crowd that included Elle editor in chief Roberta Myers,
Playboy editor in chief Chris Napolitano and Newsweek editor Mark
Whitaker. "The question I keep thinking about is how did
eight or nine neocons, utopians, take control of the government?"
Hersh said by way of warm-up. He predicted that President Bush
would be forced to reinstate the draft in a hypothetical second
term, said the Pentagon had failed to account for billions of
dollars, and called the abuses at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay
"much worse than Abu Ghraib." He also had choice
words for Henry Kissinger ("At least you knew there was some
rationality somewhere. There isn't with these guys.") And
as for Bill Clinton ("I admire Clinton — he was the
first president since World War II to bomb white people.")
By the time Hersh declared, "The insurgency is us, baby,"
most listeners were all but ready to take the advice he claimed
to give anyone who asks: "Sell short and buy some property
Boulder - The table placards began showing
up at the University of Colorado student center this week: "YOU'RE
GONNA GET DRAFTED."
The hundreds of tiny placards, attributed to Students for Kerry,
scold: "You blew it. You didn't vote last time. ... Now you're
gonna get drafted."
At the University of Denver, students have been talking about
the draft for weeks.
At the Auraria Higher Education Center, home to three colleges,
students talk about a potential draft in the food court.
But is the specter of the nation's first military draft since
1973 an election-season scare tactic targeting college students?
Or is it a realistic possibility as the war in Iraq rages on?
It depends on whom you ask.
"My students have been talking about it for a long time,"
said Arthur Gilbert, professor of American foreign policy in the
DU graduate school of international studies. "One thing that
always excites students is the draft. A lot of students are registering
A bill reinstating the draft and closing the college loophole
introduced by Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., has little support
with only 14 co-sponsors, and it remains stuck in a House Armed
Under the bill, the draft would apply
to men and women ages 18 to 26. Exemptions would be granted to
those who have yet to graduate from high school, but
college students would have to serve.
The Bush administration has repeatedly denied a draft is in
the works, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told CNN, "We're
not going to reimplement a draft. There is no need for it at all."
A draft would require an act of Congress and the signature of
But the Boulder placards claim "WOMEN AND STUDENTS ARE
NOT GOING TO BE EXEMPT THIS TIME. MAYBE NOT EVEN RICH KIDS."
"We're excited about the students' grassroots support in
Colorado, and while John Kerry does not take the position that
George Bush would reinstate the draft, I think it shows students'
anxiety," said Kerry spokeswoman Laura Capps.
"John Kerry's position is not to reinstate the draft,"
Colorado Kerry campaign spokesman Steve Haro said that the placards
and the event were not funded or supported by the Kerry campaign.
The reaction of Boulder students Tuesday to the idea of a draft
ranged from a surge of patriotism to assertions that the rumors
were inflammatory eleventh-hour propaganda to feelings that a
draft is the only remedy for a military stretched thin in an unpopular
"I'd go. I feel obligated,"
said Ryan Ferreri, 20, a CU sophomore from Westminster who said
he will vote for Bush. "People died
for my right to be free, so I'd do the same."
Ryan Polk, a 19-year-old CU sophomore from Arvada, doesn't think
the draft will be reinstated. "Even if Bush wanted it, I
don't think Congress would pass it. I think this is a lot of hype
and propaganda from the left," he said.
"I don't like the draft," said Justin Potts, a 22-year-old
CU architecture student from Denver. "I don't believe in
fighting a war, and I especially don't agree with this war."
He said he won't vote for Bush.
Some students, such as Chris Taylor, 19, of Aurora, are opposed
to a draft based on their fathers' Vietnam draft and wartime experiences.
"I've been getting e-mails from Dad, and he's really worried
for me and my sister, who just turned 19," said Clayton Barker,
22, a CU senior from Santa Rosa, Calif. He
noted that the Smart Border Declaration signed by Canada and the
United States in 2001 may keep would-be draft dodgers in the country.
Paula Pant, 20, from Nepal, who grew up in Cincinnati, says
Rangel's bill is "symbolic - to make a point about the situation
we're in, and I don't think anyone is expecting it to get much
support. I have to question how much validity it has."
But other students, such as CU-Denver student David LaPolt,
27, think the need for a draft may be viable. They
point to intense Army recruiting, offers of $10,000 bonuses to
sign up, extended tours of duty and reports of coercive tactics
"There are a lot of reasons not to do this for political
purposes, but in the end those reasons will be trumped by the
need for manpower," said DU professor Gilbert, who thinks
a draft may be reinstated.
"Those troops have to come from
somewhere. Getting the manpower you need in Iraq over the
long haul may be extremely difficult otherwise."
Beverly Cocco has spent most of her life
protecting children in Philadelphia.
She spends most of her time worrying about other people's kids.
But as Election Day approaches, it's her own two grown sons who
Beverly is most worried about.
"I go to bed every night and I pray and
I actually get sick to my stomach," she says. "I'm very
worried; I'm scared. I'm absolutely scared; I'm petrified."
Beverly is petrified about a military
draft – and she's not alone. There's an undercurrent
of anxiety; mass e-mails are circulating among parents worried
their kids could be called up.
"I think there's a good possibility," Beverly says.
But neither President Bush, nor Sen. John Kerry has said he
will re-institute the draft. In fact they both say they won't.
Kerry says, "I will give us a foreign policy that absolutely
makes it unnecessary to have a draft for this country."
Kerry says he'll try to get allies of the U.S. to send troops
that could relieve American soldiers.
The Bush campaign says expecting great
numbers of foreign troops to help out is pure fantasy. The
president wants to train more Iraqi troops to take over for the
Americans. And, he says, despite the war on terror, there will
be no draft.
"The war on terror will continue," says the president.
"It's going to take a while and no, we don't need a draft."
But Beverly's not buying it. She's a Republican, but also a
Would she vote for a Democrat? "Absolutely," she says.
"I would vote for Howdy Doody if I
thought it would keep my boys home and safe."
In fact, there are at least three votes in this house riding
on the draft: Beverly's and her sons' Carmen and Nick.
Are her sons worried about being drafted? "Yeah,"
says Nick. "It's the talk; the talk's there. Though people
aren't actually coming out and saying it, it's there."
What worries the Coccos is the continuing need for more troops
in dangerous places. And the machinery for
a draft is already in place: all men have to register when they
turn 18. Beverly Cocco is so concerned she is involved
with the organization "People Against the Draft."
The head of the Selective Service believes he could start drafting
"I think we could do it in less
than six months if we got the call," says Selective
Service Director Jack Martin.
This time, Martin says there would be no long deferments for
college students and a lot more people could be eligible for the
draft than before: men and women ages 18 to 26 could be called
There hasn't been a draft since 1973, but that's not much comfort
to Beverly Cocco.
So she is keeping a sharp eye on the political traffic. She's
a Bush supporter today, but if she doesn't like what she hears
between now and November, she could easily cross over.
WASHINGTON - If matching presidential candidates
to their positions on basic issues were like a "Jeopardy!"
category, most Americans wouldn't earn a single dollar.
More than half of those polled by the National Annenberg Election
Survey didn't know President Bush alone favors allowing private
investments of some Social Security money. Nearly as many didn't
know that only Democratic candidate John Kerry proposes getting
rid of tax breaks for the overseas profits of U.S. companies.
Importing drugs from Canada? That's a Kerry issue, but nearly
half either didn't know or thought Bush also supported changing
federal law to allow for drug imports from Canada.
Making abortions more difficult to obtain? Nearly one-third of
those surveyed didn't know Bush alone supports more restrictions
Eliminating the tax on estates? Two-thirds didn't know that's
a Bush proposal.
After two years of presidential campaigning and hundreds of millions
of dollars in political ads, many voters remained clueless about
those and other policies, according to the survey. Annenberg analyst
Kate Kenski blamed the candidates for not stressing their points
of view and the news media for focusing on character assessments
and the race itself.
"It's disappointing that people don't know where the candidates
stand, given how much money's been spent on the campaigns,"
said Kenski, a senior research analyst. "In the absence of
good information, voters guess and often guess incorrectly."
The poll of 1,189 adults was taken from Sept. 21-26 and has a
margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
George W. Bush is a fake cowboy. From media
accounts, you'd reckon that the president was a buckaroo to the
bones. He plays up the image, big-time, with $300 designer cowboy
boots, a $1,000 cowboy hat, and his 1,600-acre Prairie Chapel
Ranch in Crawford, Texas. He guns his rhetoric with frontier lingo,
saying that he'll "ride herd" over ornery Middle Eastern
governments and "smoke out" enemies in wild mountain
passes. He branded Saddam Hussein's Iraq "an outlaw regime"
and took the vanquished dictator's pistol as a trophy. As for
Osama bin Laden, Bush declared, "I want justice. And there's
an old poster out West, I recall, that says, 'Wanted: Dead or
Alive.' " Britain's liberal newspaper The Guardian noted
that "such language feeds the image overseas of Mr. Bush
as a hopelessly inarticulate, trigger-happy cowboy."
But liberals from both coasts and Europeans who derisively call
Bush a "cowboy" foolishly insult not Bush, but one of
America's prime ennobling myths. Instead of ridiculing the myth
exploited by George W. Bush, they may want to measure him against
"The idea of the American cowboy is the direct lineal descendant
of the chivalric knight," observes Bonnie Wheeler, a medievalist
in cowboy country. "The only serious difference is that your
status doesn't depend on your social class." Editor of Arthuriana,
the journal of Arthurian studies, Wheeler teaches at Southern
Methodist University in Dallas.
"Our president," she says, "is neither a knight
nor a cowboy. He doesn't believe in taking care of the little
guy, nor does he have the restraint or dignity of the cowboy."
Children of Bush's generation grew up knowing of the Cowboy
Code, which echoed the chivalric one. It was written by screen
cowboy Gene Autry. In real life too, this lifelong Democrat was
the kind of white-hat cowboy our president presents himself to
be. Autry was the son of an itinerant cattle driver and horse
trader in rural Texas and Oklahoma. He was a recreational small-aircraft
pilot, but during World War II he paid for his own flight lessons
on larger planes so he could serve in the Air Transport Command
on the war front, instead of being stuck at a domestic base. Ultimately
he flew explosive supplies (ammunition and fuel) over the Himalayas.
A grateful U.S. Army bestowed a singular honor on Autry: He alone
was allowed to wear his cowboy boots in uniform.
This is about more than having a big ranch. Like the knight,
the cowboy is an ideal to which people aspire, Wheeler says, regardless
of its mundane historical origins. And Autry's code still carries
resonance in red states. Voters there, including the Wild West
swing states of Colorado and Nevada, might want to think twice
about returning a soft-handed wannabe to the White House. Here's
how Bush stacks up against the Cowboy Code:
1) The Cowboy must never shoot first,
hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage. The doctrine
of preemptive war, the centerpiece of Bush policy in Iraq and
for the "war on terror," is one for the black hats.
In 1902, five years before Gene Autry was born, Owen Wister's
bestselling novel The Virginian elevated the cowboy to a national
symbol. "It's not a brave man that's dangerous. It's the
cowards that scare me," a card dealer observes early in the
book. "I never like to be around where there's a coward.
You can't tell. He'll always go to shooting before it's necessary,
and there's no security who he'll hit." When the Virginian
is forced into a climactic duel, the villain shoots first. Only
then does the Virginian return fire and make a clean kill.
Though the Virginian continually countered dastardly deeds done
by the villain Trampas, he always acted magnanimously when he
had the upper hand. American Cowboy magazine asked its readers
to explain why we still need cowboys, noting that, thanks to western
movies, "for decades, folks of all descriptions have admired
and tried to emulate him." U.S. Army Corporal Randy Melton
of the 1st Cavalry Division replied from Baghdad, "If those
guys who did all that crazy stuff to the 'terrorist POWs' grew
up sitting on a horse instead of in front of a TV playing video
games, maybe they would have conducted themselves with a little
more dignity." Melton added, "Every time my platoon
corralled a couple of 'bad guys,' it's easy to get angry with
them. But we always treat them with dignity, whether they deserve
it or not."
Unfortunately, the sadistic abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib
and the violations at Guant·namo Bay and Afghanistan didn't
start with a few young soldiers raised on Mortal Kombat. According
to probes by the Army itself, it stems from specific policies
crafted in the White House and carried out by Pentagon generals
2) He must never go back on his word,
or a trust confided in him. Soldiers commit their lives
to the commander in chief's judgment and care. Bush sent them
into a war of choice, not necessity, and one based on misleading
rhetoric, and they landed in Iraq without so much as enough sets
of body armor to shield them. At the same time, he pushed to cut
soldiers' pay and cut veterans' benefits. The Bush administration
has also extended terms of service, effectively drafting soldiers
who've already done their duty.
On the home front, the Bush administration has used the Patriot
Act to prune back the very liberties he swore to uphold and protect.
3) He must always tell the truth.
Ersatz cowboy George W. Bush hasn't. The two key issues facing
America today are the war and the economy. He misled the nation
into the Iraq war with false claims of imminent danger. He promised
that his tax cuts wouldn't result in deficits and then said deficits
would be "small and short term." The federal deficit
is now enormous, estimated at over $400 billion, and looks likely
to last years.
4) He must be gentle with children, the
elderly, and animals. Children are being ground under the
heels of those fancy boots. Bush is relaxing safeguards against
the neurotoxin mercury, which is particularly dangerous to the
growing brains and nervous systems of fetuses and children, and
the Clean Air Act has been stripped of key provisions to control
coal-fired power-plant emissions known to cause respiratory illnesses
The number of children living in poverty has risen, yet he proposes
in his 2005 budget to freeze funding for the Child Care and Development
Block Grant. Head Start's budget would also be frozen, and the
$247 million Even Start literacy program would be eliminated.
More children will be left behind. Budgets for a host of other
education programs would be frozen, cut, or eliminated by Bush's
"This administration wants to require low-income mothers
to work more hours to receive benefits," says Bethany Little
of the Children's Defense Fund. "What exactly is going to
happen to those children is a mystery to us." She adds, "I
don't think there's anything gentle about denying children child-care
access, early-childhood education in high school, good public
schools, living wages for families, and standing health care."
As for the elderly, Bush is catering to his religious-right
constituents by blocking stem cell research to fight Parkinson's
and Alzheimer's. His efforts to privatize Social Security put
most seniors' pensions at risk. And he has also hampered efforts
to legalize cheaper generic drugs and pharmaceutical imports from
"The Medicare Drug Bill was a lucrative deal for pharmaceutical
companies," says Susan Murany, executive director of the
Gray Panthers. "We didn't consider it a win for consumers
at all, we considered it a win for drug companies."
When it came to animals, the Virginian rued the pain the cattle
industry inflicted on the beasts, even before the age of industrial
farming. He delivered a beat-down to a man who was ruthless with
"hawses." He "gentled" his own horses for
riding and took care of a mentally disturbed chicken. Really.
Bush, on the other hand, enjoyed putting firecrackers inside living
frogs and tossing them into the air when he was a boy.
Now that Bush is an adult, he and his appointees haven't proposed
adding a single species to the "endangered" list. And
his approach to natural habitats has been "disastrous,"
says Brad DeVries of the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund. "The
needs of wildlife go by the wayside when they get in the way of
energy development, logging, or mining."
Perhaps most galling, DeVries says, is the Bush administration
proposal "to allow the importation of endangered animals
and their body parts as hunting trophies and zoo animals and other
Ron Reagan Jr. summed it up nicely in a TV discussion last year.
Describing Bush Jr.'s faux-cowboy lifestyle, the son of the late
cowboy actor-turned-president remarked, "You know, George
Bush sallies forth in his pickup truck to go torment small animals."
5) He must not advocate or possess racially
or religiously intolerant ideas. At this moment, Bush operatives
are working to keep blacks off the voter rolls in Florida. And
since 9-11, Bush has used language that evokes the Crusades.
"There's a seismic gap between some of the president's
very needed symbolic acts and initiatives on the street,"
says C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance and
a Baptist pastor in Monroe, Louisiana. Gaddy cites the broad sweeps
that jailed Muslim immigrants and statements by Attorney General
John Ashcroft asserting the superiority of Christianity.
"One of the surprising things to emerge," Gaddy notes,
"was that the president met with conservative Christians
about the preemptive strike on Iraq but refused to meet with bishops
of the Methodist church because they didn't support it. Same with
the National Council of Churches."
Bush and Dick Cheney also tried to draft conservative Christian
denominations into their re-election bid by suggesting that congregation
membership rosters be used for political mailings.
6) He must help people in distress.
AIDS is ravaging nations across the globe; more die each year
than Osama bin Laden could dream of killing. Yet the Bush administration
blocks from its aid programs vital, World Health Organizationñapproved
generic drugs made in the developing world that cost one-fifth
as much as the drugs produced by the big pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Critics say Bush's budget slashes U.S. funding for the Global
Fund (to fight AIDS and other infectious diseases) by 64 percent.
7) He must be a good worker. Even
the Virginian hit the books, albeit to impress a pretty schoolteacher.
But Bush, though he married a librarian, is famously incurious.
By the time he'd served three years in office, he'd taken more
vacation days than Bill Clinton took in eight. Those days in Texas
(mostly in Crawford, a comfortable Waco suburb and not a hardscrabble
frontier) took up more than 40 percent of his termóuntil
9-11. Bush was on his suburban ranch, the 9-11 Commission noted,
when he received notice that Osama bin Laden was coiling to spring
an attack upon the U.S.
Part of a cowboy hero's work ethic is that he "always gets
his man." But Bush interrupted the hunt for bin Laden to
invade Iraq, where he hauled in Saddam Hussein.
8) He must keep himself clean in thought,
speech, action, and personal habits. In Bush's 2000 campaign,
he said to running mate Cheney, "There's Adam Clymer, major-league
asshole from The New York Times." More recently, it was rumored
that after Cheney's infamous "Go fuck yourself" to Senator
Pat Leahy, the born-again Christian Bush joked at a cabinet meeting,
"Fuck 'em all!"
9) He must respect women, parents, and
his nation's laws. The apple fell far from the tree; Bush's
mom is pro-choice. But, as documented by the National Organization
of Women, regressive Bush policies threaten abortion rights, Title
IX sports, and affirmative action. His economic policies have
hurt the livelihoods and security of working women and their families.
Radical-right Supreme Court appointments in his second term could
make things worse for decades.
Not that his attitude toward women is a surprise. In his twenties
he was known as a "cuntsman," and one recollection of
his days at Yale is that, according to The Guardian (U.K.), "He
walked up to a matronly woman at a smart cocktail party and asked,
'So, what's sex like after 50, anyway?' "
Bush's only real black mark, as far as obeying laws, is a fine
for drunken driving in Maine, but his administration is run through
with corruption and insider privileges.
10) The Cowboy is a patriot. George
W. Bush didn't fight in the jungles of Vietnam, nor did he fight
in the streets to end that waste of lives. Instead, he used his
father's connections to land a safe position in the National Guard
and even then shirked his duty.
Dian Malouf, a native of "brush country" and author
of Cattle Kings of Texas, is chronicling the last of the cowboys
for a photo book due this winter called Seldom Heard. Like other
Texans, she knows that state residency doesn't confer cowboy status.
"I'm in Midland lots, and I haven't seen a Midland cowboy
yet," she says, speaking of the wealthy oil town where Bush
was raised. "Bush and Cheney are not cowboys by any stretch
of the imagination. Cowboys are silent types, remote but genuine,
with serious integrity and caring. They are a bit rough and work
hard, and they don't want to call attention to themselves the
way George W. Bush kind of does. I know and admire and respect
cowboys." She adds, "Wearing boots does not make someone
(Derry, New Hampshire) - According to a
petition filed last Thursday by 9-11 widow Ellen M. Mariani in
the Rockingham County Courthouse, her administratrix resignation
signature obtained under allegedly questionable circumstances
by an attorney who was helping her answer an estate challenge
by step-daughter Lauren Peters--is "null and void" due
to improper notarization.
Interestingly, the estate takeover attempt orchestrated
by multiple Massachusetts, New York and New Hampshire attorneys
is also linked to a law firm representing President Bush and his
brother Jeb--but also Mariani's in-state attorney who happens
to be the godmother to a child of her former law partner and Bush-appointed
U.S. attorney Thomas Colantuono, a former Republican New Hampshire
According to the document, the New Hampshire widow petitioned
the court last Thursday that Peters attorney Jon Levenstein "demanded
in a letter (I have) in my possession that I comply (cancel her
original December 20, 2001 wrongful death suit against United
Airlines and go into the 9-11 Victim Compensation Fund) 'in
case something unforseen happened to me,' which I interpreted
as a possible threat."
Mariani said "I asked Mr. (Robert) Morgan for a copy of
my resignation...but he refused, saying 'I have to have it notarized
first.' "But the New Hampshire widow also told us last night
that she had to wait six days before receiving a copy of the resignation
document signed at 11:00 pm last Tuesday evening, September 21.
A justice of the peace and register of probate working in presiding
Judge Christina M. O'Neill's Rockingham County courthouse, Andrew
Christie, Jr. (a commissioned notary public himself), told TomFlocco.com,
"That's highly irregular. I would never have done that,"
when we asked him whether it was legal for a licensed notary public
to obtain a signature but fail to swear-in and identify the individual--while
also failing to sign, stamp and affix the notary seal on the court
document in the individual's presence and leave a copy of the
signed and notarized document with the signer.
"When I filed my court petition to Judge O'Neill, I had
to hold up my right hand and swear that I was the person filing
the document before Justice Christie would stamp, sign and affix
a seal to the petition," said Mariani.
"I even had to show Justice Christie my drivers license.
But those proper legal procedures never happened when Mr. Morgan
insisted on my resignation signature at 11:00 at night after wearing
me down for five hours with military combat stories at a local
restaurant just as they closed."
The outspoken widow of 9-11 victim Louis Neil Mariani previously
filed a Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) suit
against President Bush and other high government officials, seeking
evidence, information and accountability for failures and lack
of decisive action before and during the attacks on September
"My signature was on a separate page with Robert Morgan
signing as notary; but there was no commission expiration date
and no evidence of a standard New Hampshire notary license, and
he never administered an oath or asked to see my drivers license,"
"The space for a date indicating when I signed the document
was left blank and Mr. Morgan crossed out the words notary/justice
of the peace and substituted 'commissioner of deeds' in place
of notary public," according to Mariani, adding "there
was no visible indication when his commission expired."
Mariani decided to tell Judge O'Neill about the strange circumstances
involved in obtaining her signature to resign from administering
and controlling her late husband Neil's estate by filing a court
Motion/Petition last Thursday-- after which she personally served
copies via mail to each attorney involved, as required by law.
"I have no way of knowing whether additional
clauses, pages or words have been added or removed without my
knowledge or permission," Mariani told us during an interview
at a Londonderry, New Hampshire restaurant last week.
"Mr. Morgan never presented me with a contract for representation
before asking for my signature; and the court clerk told me he
hasn't even registered with the Rockingham Court as my co-estate
attorney," she said, adding "I am concerned about how
I was represented in this matter."
Mariani continued, "Mr. Morgan wanted to bring my other
New Hampshire attorney Rebecca Rutter to the meeting to get me
to sign away my estate to Lauren Peters; but I would not meet
with her after I recently discovered that the only way she could
have a bigger conflict of interest was if President Bush appointed
Rebecca as U.S. attorney instead of her law partner, Tom Colantuono."
According to public court records, Mariani told Judge O'Neill:
"Your Honor, I am concerned that my public testimony and
the so-called errors of my attorney Phillip Berg will never be
placed into the court record for your consideration. Mr. Morgan
and Miss Rutter have told me they do not know the official reasons
yet; but they said they will provide them after I have signed
all the necessary documents that will remove me from control of
my husband's estate."
According to Mariani, Robert Morgan, the attorney representing
her legal interests, "insisted that I 'sign the document
and resign now because you are really only a glorified clerk.
So just let it go, enjoy your life now, and admit that Mr. Berg's
mistakes reflected back on your judgement since you hired him
to assist in your husband's estate.' "
The court records also revealed that Phillip Berg claimed not
to have made any legal errors in the case according to Mariani--absent
a court-adjudicated legal opinion from Judge O'Neill--since Mariani
"No one on either side of this case presented me with legal
documentation as to the nature of these so-called grave errors
and fatal flaws which Phillip Berg committed. Mr. Berg even told
me last night (last Wednesday) that 'these legal claims and accusations
are not valid. I did nothing wrong.' " Mariani said in the
petition that "Rebecca Rutter and Robert Morgan told me that
I was going to lose the MOTION TO REMOVE ELLEN M. MARIANI AS ADMINISTRATRIX
The petitiion also said "They told me to
just accept it and not fight it because my Pennsylvania attorney
had made several mistakes, one of which was filing on my behalf
a RICO lawsuit against President Bush and other high government
officials....apparently, for some reason, Rebecca Rutter, Robert
Morgan (and opposing counsel) Thomas Pappas and Charles Capace
did not want me in court this morning to testify in front of you,
Mariani also told Judge O'Neill "Lauren
Peters went to Boston and met with Daniel Bakinowski, an attorney
with the Greenberg Traurig law firm. The Greenberg firm represented
President Bush in the 2000 election vote recount and currently
represents the President's brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
I believe this to be a conflict of interest."
Foretelling what eventually happened, Mariani's court petition
said "Mr. Bakinowski told Rebecca Rutter, 'Don't worry. We're
going to take her into court and remove her.' And that's what
they had planned and it happened to me today. I wanted Rebecca
to report this telephone conversation to your court, and she refused.
But she also said 'If you publicize anything about Dan Bakinowski's
telephone call, I will quit.' "
Mariani told us she is guardedly optimistic that Judge O'Neill
will consider all the facts surrounding her case and declare the
resignation agreement null and void, and that she will retain
her position as administratrix of her late husband's estate."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. intelligence
report before the Iraq war warned that an American invasion could
lead to rogue elements fighting the new Iraqi government and U.S.
forces, sources familiar with the report said on Tuesday.
While the classified report did not call it
an insurgency, it raised the possibility of guerrilla warfare
in a postwar Iraq, sources said.
Intelligence reports compiled in January 2003 predicted that
an American invasion would result in a divided Iraq prone to internal
violence, and increased sympathy in the Islamic world for some
terrorist objectives, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.
The assessments were compiled from the views of various intelligence
agencies by the National Intelligence Council which reports to
the CIA director.
There was a "big stack" of prewar intelligence reports
that said there was a high degree of possibility of insurgency
and unrest, and that "winning the peace will be harder than
winning the war," one source familiar with the reports said
on condition of anonymity. [...]
BAGHDAD (AFP) - At least 49 people were
killed, most of them children, in a series of devastating car
bombs that left a trail of carnage in Baghdad and northern Iraq,
medics and the US military said.
The attacks were unleashed as another 10 hostages, including
two Indonesian women, were reported kidnapped while Britain and
France were scrambling to try to secure the release of their nationals
held hostage by Islamic militants.
The bloodiest attack in Iraq was a twin car bombing at the site
of a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new water pumping station in
the poor Al-Amel neighbourhood in southwest Baghdad.
Many curious children had gathered to watch the ceremony when
the bombs went off, sending clouds of black smoke billowing into
"The attacks today were those of a desperate enemy,"
said Lieutenant Colonel James Hutton of the US military's 1st
Cavalry Division. "There is no conceivable justification
for attacking innocent Iraqi civilians who were attending the
opening of a water pumping station."
A bloodied witness said he helped carry out 32 bodies of children
from the rubble.
There were scenes of hysteria and chaos at Baghdad's Yarmuk hospital
where doctors said they received 41 bodies from the bombings.
Iraq's Health Minister Alaadin Sahab Adwan later put the toll
from the attacks at 42.
The US military said 10 US soldiers were also wounded in the
attack and that a third car bomb went off in the area at the same
time near an Iraqi national guard checkpoint.
The attacks followed another car bombing west of the capital
that killed one US soldier and two Iraqis and wounded 13 including
three soldiers, according to the military.
Bloodshed also spread to northern Iraq with four killed and 16
wounded in a car bombing in Tall Afar, where US and Iraqi forces
battled insurgents in early September.
In other violence, a soldier with US-led forces whose nationality
was not immediately known was killed in a rocket attack on a US
military support base near Baghdad.
The Iraqi government and US-led forces have blamed foreign fighters
for many of the car bombings accusing groups including alleged
Al-Qaeda operate Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi of wanting to plunge the
country in a never-ending cycle of death and kidnappings to derail
elections scheduled for January 2005.
Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh vowed that his government
was determined to retake rebel cities like Fallujah by November
and to hold elections as planned. [...]
The government is spending millions of pounds
to keep a record of passengers travelling to and from the UK.
Project Semaphore is another strand in the government's e-borders
scheme to create high-tech border controls.
The £15m scheme will see passenger information
stored electronically and linked to databases kept by law enforcers.
The government will combine the e-borders scheme with biometric
ID cards to track individuals entering the UK.
Initially the system will target six million passengers a year
travelling on a number of international air routes, identified
by borders agencies and the police as risky.
Passport information and the passenger details collected when
air tickets are booked will be routinely stored electronically.
The details can then be checked against police and intelligent
"Project Semaphore, which will be underway by the end of
the year, is a key first step in putting in place comprehensive
electronic analysis of passenger travel data, which will be crucial
to being able to register entry and exit without gross inconvenience
to passengers," said Home Secretary David Blunkett in a statement.
"Access to information about passengers before they travel
will help in the fight against illegal immigration, particularly
document and identity abuse. It will also aid law enforcement
and counter terrorism," added Immigration Minister Des Browne.
Many countries are concerned with tighter surveillance at their
borders in the light of increased terrorist threats.
The UK project is very similar to one being
implemented in the US this week.
US-VISIT will collect, assess, process and retain passenger
details and biometric information on visitors to the US.
The project has come under fire from privacy and human rights
Head of Privacy International Simon Davies sees great similarities
between the two schemes.
"Project Semaphore appears to be a mini version of the
US system for sharing information across borders," he said.
"The motivations appears to be to create a hard outer shell
for the country but the purposes extend beyond anti-terrorism
and immigration controls," he added.
The fact that the system will be linked
to internal databases could potentially allow checks on other
things such as criminal or benefits records, he said.
Linking the system to the proposed ID card scheme will create
"a seamless identity check, tracking a person at the border
and their movements internally", said Mr Davies.
The huge amount of information stored could lead to more people
being turned away at the border.
"The fate that befell Yusuf Islam
(formerly the singer Cat Stevens) will happen to a countless number
of other travellers," predicted Mr Davies.
The government is convinced that the system will prove more
convenient for travellers and citizens alike.
"Technology will allow us to speed through low risk passengers,
helping British business and visitors to the UK," said Mr
BEIJING - China yesterday slammed Taiwanese
Premier Yu Shyi-kun for threatening to fire missiles at Shanghai
in the event of an attack by the mainland.
'Yu Shyi-kun's remarks are a serious provocation
and clamour for war,' Mr
Li Weiyi, spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State
Council, told a regular press conference.
The United States on Monday also mildly rebuked Taiwan, with
State Department spokesman Adam Ereli saying that 'we would prefer
to see comments that focus on dialogue as opposed to references
to the use of force or other unilateral moves'.
Last Saturday, Mr Yu spoke about launching a
missile counter-attack on Shanghai should China fire missiles
at Taiwan. He was defending his government's plan to spend NT$610
billion (S$31 billion) on advanced weapons from the United States.
'The best scenario will see a 'balance of terror' being maintained
across the Taiwan Strait so that national security is safeguarded,'
he said in response to protests against the proposed purchase
of anti-missile systems, submarines and anti-submarine aircraft.
'If you fire 100 missiles at me, I should be able to fire at
least 50 at you. If you launch an attack on Taipei and Kaohsiung,
I should be able to launch a counter-attack on Shanghai,' Mr Yu
China's spokesman yesterday slammed the Taiwanese Premier's remarks
as 'war-provoking behaviour', and said they 'thoroughly exposed
the nature of the Taiwan authorities, which is to fake peace but
truly seek independence'.
He also hit out at Taiwan's weapons purchase plans, accusing
it of seeking independence through armed force.
'This again proves that separatist forces are seriously threatening
peace in the Taiwan Strait region,' he said.
Responding to Mr Li's remarks, Taiwan said yesterday that it
had no intention of provoking China and was seeking weapons from
the US for defensive purposes only.
'Beijing's sabre-rattling and missile threat only moves the two
sides of the Taiwan Strait farther apart,' Taiwanese Cabinet spokesman
Chen Chi-mai was quoted as saying by the Central News Agency.
This latest war of words comes as Taiwan's parliament is due
to debate the arms purchase, which the Chen Shui-bian administration
has said is needed to counter the military threat from China,
including more than 600 missiles aimed at the island.
Taiwan itself recently test-fired missiles that have the capability
to hit Chinese coastal and interior cities, according to Taiwanese
Taiwan has been under pressure from the Americans
to do more to defend itself, including purchasing more weapons
and improving its defence capability.
US analysts have warned that the perception that Taiwan was
doing little to defend itself could undermine Washington's support
But over the weekend, thousands of Taiwanese
took to the streets to oppose the arms purchase. They were of
the view that this would lead to an arms race and even war.
Meanwhile, a Taiwanese lawmaker said Taiwan may have the technology
to mass produce mid-range missiles capable of striking Shanghai
in two years.
His remarks added teeth to the Taiwanese Premier's warning that
the island will retaliate if China attacks.
Taiwan began a seven-year development programme for mid-range
missiles in 1980, but it was forced to stop by the US in 1981,
according to Mr Lee Wen-chung, parliament's defence committee
'We still have a secret budget for the development of the missiles,'
he told Bloomberg News, but did not elaborate.
BEIJING - Dozens of North Koreans believed
to be seeking political asylum scaled the wall of the Canadian
embassy in Beijing Wednesday, making it into the compound.
A group of 44 people, some wearing construction hats as a possible
disguise, used three metal ladders to climb the three-metre high
wall, which is topped with sharp spikes.
The suspected refugees included men, women and children. They
were being interviewed by Canadian diplomats to confirm their
nationalities, said Ambassador Joseph Caron.
"We are in the process of speaking to them to determine
who they are and what they expect of us," he said.
"It would appear there were some North Koreans in the group,"
Caron said, adding that none of the people were injured.
He says the Canadian government is talking with the government
"All of this has to be determined in context of discussion
with Chinese authorites, with our own authorities in Ottawa, and
act in accordance with our practices, international law and humanitarian
concern for these people," said Caron.
One Chinese police officer outside the embassy, which is located
at a busy street corner, said all but one man were successful
in their attempt to scale the wall. The man was taken away by
The Chinese security team appeared to have been caught off-guard,
making a late attempt to stop the North Koreans from making it
over the wall, CNN reported.
Hundreds of North Koreans seeking asylum in South Korea have
broken into foreign embassies and consulates in China since 2002.
MILWAUKEE -- A man in prison on drug offenses
was charged Wednesday with threatening to blow up a federal building
in downtown Milwaukee with a delivery truck filled with explosives.
Steven J. Parr, 39, was charged the same day he was to be sent
to a halfway house in Janesville.
U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic said Parr
expressed hatred for the federal government and spoke about retaliating
against law enforcement when he got out of prison.
"We consider him extremely dangerous," he said.
It was unclear when Parr planned to take action, or if he had
the materials and resources to carry out such an attack.
Parr allegedly planned to blow up the Reuss Federal Plaza, a
14-story blue building that houses more than 800 federal employees
and multiple agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service
and the Department of Defense.
Parr's cellmate alerted federal authorities in two letters dated
Aug. 23, a criminal complaint said. The cellmate, whose name was
withheld, said that Parr has extensive knowledge
in bomb-making and considers Unabomber Ted Kaczynski one of his
heroes, the complaint said.
He also said Parr considered himself a "separatist"
and often talked about Timothy McVeigh, who bombed the federal
building in Oklahoma City in 1995.
The cellmate said Parr picked the Reuss Federal Plaza because
of its proximity to the street and the amount of glass in the
building to make a big impact. The letter
also said Parr owned "The Anarchist Cookbook" and a
notebook with chemical formulas for bombs.
A partial transcript of a secretly taped conversation between
Parr and his cellmate quoted Parr as saying the incident would
"sure change the attitude of the country" and "make
a wonderful statement."
Two women who had lived with Parr told FBI
agents his hobby was bomb-making and he had made explosive devices
in the garage or in his home.
Parr was serving a two-year drug sentence. Prior to his arrest
Wednesday, he was scheduled to spend 90 days in the halfway house
before being released under extended supervision, the complaint
Parr made an initial court appearance Wednesday. It was not
immediately known if he had a defense attorney.
The charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison
Oslo — A passenger on a commuter plane
in northern Norway attacked both pilots and at least one passenger
with an axe as the aircraft was landing Wednesday, police said.
The pilots suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries
and were able to land the Kato Air Dornier 228 safely in the northern
town of Bodoe, state radio network NRK reported.
The attacker, who was wielding a fire axe that was part of the
aircraft's emergency equipment, was arrested after it touched
down, police official Bjarte Wala told the Associated Press. Seven
passengers were on board.
"The two pilots were injured. I know that at least one
passenger was also injured, but I don't know if there were others,"
Mr. Wala said by telephone from Bodoe.
The aircraft was flying from the northern town of Narvik to
Bodoe, about 850 kilometres north of Oslo.
Mr. Wala said the attack happened just before 11 a.m. as the
plane was making its final approach.
"Despite their injuries, the pilots managed to land the
plane safely," he said. "We don't know the extent of
their injuries yet."
Mr. Wala said he had no immediate information about a motive
for the attack, the events leading up to it, or personal details
about the suspect.
The plane will remain grounded at the Bodoe airport for an investigation.
KEWANEE, IL -- Pat Lee was working outside
the Tool Time Rental building on South Main Street Saturday when
he heard a bang.
A rock had struck the south side of the building, about five
feet from where Lee had been working.
The rock, according to Tool Time owner Pete
Cali, was a meteorite.
When it fell to earth, the rock struck the side of the building
at an angle, and didn't cause any visible damage to the exterior.
Had the meteorite struck a couple of feet farther north, it
probably would have punched through the roof of Cali's building,
The rock was about four inches across. When
it hit the building it shattered into several pieces.
It doesn't look like your garden-variety rock. There are small
holes in it, which look like wormholes and may have been caused
by the intense heat caused by friction as the rock fell through
the earth's atmosphere.
There are also tiny metallic flakes in the rock, which Cali
said are gold.
For that reason, and because some people collect such things,
the meteorite may have some value. Cali said he read of a metorite
found in Texas fetching $1,100.
VANCOUVER, Washington (CNN) -- The U.S.
Geological Survey issued a volcanic advisory Wednesday for Mount
St. Helens with officials warning of a
heightened possibility of a small to moderate eruption.
There was no immediate timetable for when an eruption could
Geologists at the Cascades Volcano Observatory said the area
could remain under the volcanic advisory for days or even weeks.
"We think there is a heightened possibility that we could
see an explosion," said Cynthia Gardner, acting scientist
in charge at the observatory. "We are expecting that either
nothing could happen or perhaps we could have an explosive event."
She said if a small to moderate eruption occurred,
rocks could be hurled up to 3 miles from the volcanic dome and
ash could spew up to 10,000 feet in the air and be carried about
10 miles downwind.
"The concern there is an ash and aviation hazard,"
she said, noting that volcanic ash can clog a plane's engine and
cause other problems.
The U.S. Forest Service has closed access into the crater and
access to areas above 4,800 feet around Mount St. Helens. Trails
on the north side of the crater have been closed.
The advisory that was issued is the third of four levels --
with the fourth being eruption.
Late last week, seismologists began recording "swarms"
of earthquake activity from the volcano -- and the activity has
increased since then.
Seismologist Seth Moran said the quakes will occur in great
frequency, then taper off before ramping up again. The strongest
quakes so far have been around magnitude 2.5, recorded earlier
"It's hard to say where this is going to go," Moran
said. "There's nothing like this that has happened in the
last 18 years."
He said the seismic activity is similar to activity in 1985
and 1986 when there was a rapid activity of quakes before minor
eruptions. In those cases, the quakes occurred consistently, without
There were other minor eruptions from 1989 to 1991 that occurred
with very little warning.
Scientists currently are monitoring the seismic activity, as
well as volcanic gasses being emitted and the swelling and contracting
of the volcanic dome.
Gardner said the volcano is emitting "very little gas"
-- an indication that an eruption would be small to moderate.
"It's a puzzle, and it's keeping us on our toes,"
said U.S. Geological Survey geologist John Major. "It's showing
signs of an eruption, but not to the size and magnitude of 1980."
With an earthquake measuring a magnitude of 5.1, Mount St. Helens
erupted on May 18, 1980. The north face collapsed in a massive
rock debris avalanche.
The nine-hour eruption blew over or killed nearly 230 square
miles of forest and sent a mushroom cloud of ash thousands of
feet into the sky.
That eruption killed 57 people.
Groups of very small, shallow earthquakes -- most under magnitude
2 and called "swarms" by seismologists -- are now taking
place on the mountain, the scientists said.
Small quakes are not uncommon in the fall, as rainwater seeps
into the ground and turns into steam when it reaches hot magma,
scientists said. Magma is lava that has not yet escaped from the
If the steam has no outlet, they said, it can build until a
small explosion occurs. But they can't rule out the involvement
of something other than steam.
Bill Steele, with the University of Washington's seismology
lab, said scientists are looking at seismological recordings from
stations off the mountain to try to determine what the latest
swarms might mean.
Mount St. Helens has been an active volcano
for about 40,000 years with intermittent periods of dormancy.
The last 2,500 years, however, have seen shorter
periods of dormancy and a change in the type of rocks expelled
by the volcano.
PARKFIELD, Calif. (AP) - Two aftershocks
measuring magnitude 5.0 and 4.5 hit Parkfield this morning, among
the strongest of the more than 500 aftershocks roiling the area
where a 6.0 earthquake occurred the day before.
The aftershocks were centered five miles northwest of Parkfield
at 10:10 and 10:12 a.m. Since the 6.0 quake at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday,
there have been six aftershocks of 4.0 or greater.
The strong earthquake that shook Central California today --
without causing any significant damage or injuries -- could be
a boon to researchers who hope intense scrutiny of the state's
earthquake capital may help predict future temblors.
The initial quake struck about halfway between San Francisco
and Los Angeles, seven miles southeast of Parkfield and 21 miles
northeast of Paso Robles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
A major quake in the same area killed two people last year.
The area of the San Andreas fault where the quake struck is
a seismic hot spot that has produced similar temblors every two
or three decades and is among the most-monitored quake sites in
"It's going to be a lot of data that we can look at,'' said
Andy Snyder of the U.S. Geological Survey. "It ensures a
good payoff for all the work that's been done by the USGS, all
the university groups and foreign research institutes that have
set up experiments here.''
At least 12 people have been killed and
several are reported missing after a powerful tropical storm struck
Tens of thousands of others were forced to flee their homes
as Typhoon Meari's gusts of up to 67 mph (108km/h) damaged houses
and caused widespread flooding.
The town of Miyagawa in the prefecture of Mie was particularly
badly hit as landslides destroyed several homes.
The record eighth typhoon this year left thousands of homes
More than 350 flights were cancelled and train and ferry services
in the affected area were suspended, stranding thousands of people,
local media reported.
The storm weakened on Thursday morning as it was moving north-east
at 37mph (60km/h) near the city of Ichinoseki, north of the capital,
Tokyo, Japan's Meteorological Agency said.
It said Meari, which means "echo" in Korean, was expected
to be downgraded around midday on Thursday.
Buried in mud
The storm mad landfall on the southernmost main island of Kyushu
early on Wednesday, before progressing northeast over large swaths
of the country.
"This is the heaviest rain I've ever had in my life. I
can't sleep because I am worried about my house," the Mainichi
newspaper quoted a resident in Miyagawa as saying.
Officials said at least six people were missing in the town,
where mud and rock loosened by rain buried several homes.
Hundreds of rescuers - including army units - suspended their
search for the six because of the risk of further landslide and
were due to resume the operation on Thursday, officials said.
About 100 people were rescued on Wednesday from a home for the
elderly in Mie where they were stranded by waist-high floodwaters.
The bodies of two men were also found in a swollen river.
Several deaths were also reported in the south-western prefecture
Japan has been battered by a record eight typhoons this year,
breaking the past record of six in 1990.
More than 20 people were killed and some 700 others were injured
as the deadly Typhoon Songda swept up across Japan.
In August, Typhoon Megi killed at least 13 people in Japan and
Mexico (Reuters) -- A fiberglass statue of Jesus that washed up
on a sandbar in the Rio Grande three weeks ago
is attracting scores of devout pilgrims to a police department
lost-and-found and being hailed as
Police in Eagle Pass, Texas, said up to 40 people a day are
coming to pay homage to the five-foot-tall figurine, known as
"The Christ of the Undocumented," which was found by
U.S. Border Patrol agents in the river.
"Some come to pray, and some come
and just touch it," police lieutenant Daniel Morales
said by telephone on Monday. "We have never experienced anything
like this before, and interest is growing by the day."
The border city, which lies opposite Piedras Negras in northern
Mexico, has a large Mexican community. Many arrived illegally
by way of the river, and most are devout Roman Catholics.
Morales said the life-like statuette, which turned up without
a crucifix base, would probably be given to a church in the border
city if no-one came forward to claim it within 90 days.
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