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The Dunce
By Mary Jacoby
Thursday 16 September 2004
His former Harvard Business School professor recalls George W. Bush not just as a terrible student but as spoiled, loutish and a pathological liar.

For 25 years, Yoshi Tsurumi, one of George W. Bush's professors at Harvard Business School, was content with his green-card status as a permanent legal resident of the United States. But Bush's ascension to the presidency in 2001 prompted the Japanese native to secure his American citizenship. The reason: to be able to speak out with the full authority of citizenship about why he believes Bush lacks the character and intellect to lead the world's oldest and most powerful democracy.

"I don't remember all the students in detail unless I'm prompted by something," Tsurumi said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "But I always remember two types of students. One is the very excellent student, the type as a professor you feel honored to be working with. Someone with strong social values, compassion and intellect - the very rare person you never forget. And then you remember students like George Bush, those who are totally the opposite."

The future president was one of 85 first-year MBA students in Tsurumi's macroeconomic policies and international business class in the fall of 1973 and spring of 1974. Tsurumi was a visiting associate professor at Harvard Business School from January 1972 to August 1976; today, he is a professor of international business at Baruch College in New York.

Trading as usual on his father's connections, Bush entered Harvard in 1973 for a two-year program. He'd just come off what George H.W. Bush had once called his eldest son's "nomadic years" - partying, drifting from job to job, working on political campaigns in Florida and Alabama and, most famously, apparently not showing up for duty in the Alabama National Guard.

Harvard Business School's rigorous teaching methods, in which the professor interacts aggressively with students, and students are encouraged to challenge each other sharply, offered important insights into Bush, Tsurumi said. In observing students' in-class performances, "you develop pretty good ideas about what are their weaknesses and strengths in terms of thinking, analysis, their prejudices, their backgrounds and other things that students reveal," he said.

One of Tsurumi's standout students was Rep. Chris Cox, R-Calif., now the seventh-ranking member of the House Republican leadership. "I typed him as a conservative Republican with a conscience," Tsurumi said. "He never confused his own ideology with economics, and he didn't try to hide his ignorance of a subject in mumbo jumbo. He was what I call a principled conservative." (Though clearly a partisan one. On Wednesday, Cox called for a congressional investigation of the validity of documents that CBS News obtained for a story questioning Bush's attendance at Guard duty in Alabama.)

Bush, by contrast, "was totally the opposite of Chris Cox," Tsurumi said. "He showed pathological lying habits and was in denial when challenged on his prejudices and biases. He would even deny saying something he just said 30 seconds ago. He was famous for that. Students jumped on him; I challenged him." When asked to explain a particular comment, said Tsurumi, Bush would respond, "Oh, I never said that." A White House spokeswoman did not return a phone call seeking comment.

In 1973, as the oil and energy crisis raged, Tsurumi led a discussion on whether government should assist retirees and other people on fixed incomes with heating costs. Bush, he recalled, "made this ridiculous statement and when I asked him to explain, he said, 'The government doesn't have to help poor people - because they are lazy.' I said, 'Well, could you explain that assumption?' Not only could he not explain it, he started backtracking on it, saying, 'No, I didn't say that.'"

If Cox had been in the same class, Tsurumi said, "I could have asked him to challenge that and he would have demolished it. Not personally or emotionally, but intellectually."

Bush once sneered at Tsurumi for showing the film "The Grapes of Wrath," based on John Steinbeck's novel of the Depression. "We were in a discussion of the New Deal, and he called Franklin Roosevelt's policies 'socialism.' He denounced labor unions, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Medicare, Social Security, you name it. He denounced the civil rights movement as socialism. To him, socialism and communism were the same thing. And when challenged to explain his prejudice, he could not defend his argument, either ideologically, polemically or academically."

Students who challenged and embarrassed Bush in class would then become the subject of a whispering campaign by him, Tsurumi said. "In class, he couldn't challenge them. But after class, he sometimes came up to me in the hallway and started bad-mouthing those students who had challenged him. He would complain that someone was drinking too much. It was innuendo and lies. So that's how I knew, behind his smile and his smirk, that he was a very insecure, cunning and vengeful guy."

Many of Tsurumi's students came from well-connected or wealthy families, but good manners prevented them from boasting about it, the professor said. But Bush seemed unabashed about the connections that had brought him to Harvard. "The other children of the rich and famous were at least well bred to the point of realizing universal values and standards of behavior," Tsurumi said. But Bush sometimes came late to class and often sat in the back row of the theater-like classroom, wearing a bomber jacket from the Texas Air National Guard and spitting chewing tobacco into a cup.

"At first, I wondered, 'Who is this George Bush?' It's a very common name and I didn't know his background. And he was such a bad student that I asked him once how he got in. He said, 'My dad has good friends.'" Bush scored in the lowest 10 percent of the class.

The Vietnam War was still roiling campuses and Harvard was no exception. Bush expressed strong support for the war but admitted to Tsurumi that he'd gotten a coveted spot in the Texas Air National Guard through his father's connections.

"I used to chat up a number of students when we were walking back to class," Tsurumi said. "Here was Bush, wearing a Texas Guard bomber jacket, and the draft was the No. 1 topic in those days. And I said, 'George, what did you do with the draft?' He said, 'Well, I got into the Texas Air National Guard.' And I said, 'Lucky you. I understand there is a long waiting list for it. How'd you get in?' When he told me, he didn't seem ashamed or embarrassed. He thought he was entitled to all kinds of privileges and special deals. He was not the only one trying to twist all their connections to avoid Vietnam. But then, he was fanatically for the war."

Tsurumi told Bush that someone who avoided a draft while supporting a war in which others were dying was a hypocrite. "He realized he was caught, showed his famous smirk and huffed off."

Tsurumi's conclusion: Bush is not as dumb as his detractors allege. "He was just badly brought up, with no discipline, and no compassion," he said.

In recent days, Tsurumi has told his story to various print and television outlets and appears in Kitty Kelley's exposé "The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty." He said other professors and students at the business school from that time share his recollections but are afraid to come forward, fearing ostracism or retribution. And why is Tsurumi speaking up now? Because with the ongoing bloodshed in Iraq and Osama bin Laden still on the loose - not to mention a federal deficit ballooning out of control - the stakes are too high to remain silent. "Obviously, I don't think he is the best person" to be running the country, he said. "I wanted to explain why."

Comment: Now, Bush is not as dumb as many would like to paint him. He is sly like a pathological fox, with the kind of smarts needed to knife people in the back all the while maintaining that stupid, "What, me worry?" grin on his face. He has been able to carry off a radical transformation of American society and the world according to his right-wing, Christian Zionist agenda, working towards the Apocalypse. It doesn't matter whether you or I believe in the Second Coming of Jesus, Bush does.

Bush would be happy imposing an openly tyrannical government on the US, "as long as he were dictator". What we are seeing is a surreptitiously tyrannical government, moving slowly, one careful step at a time. By maneuvering this way, they are sneaking up on the American public. When the final measures are in place, when more people wake up to the truth, it will be too late, long past the time when this course of action could have been changed.

Then again, for some it will be a gilded cage. They will continue to have their jobs, their TV, their leisure time, and their amusements. They will not care about those other Americans, those decreed "un-American", who will be locked up. Nor will they care about the poor or those living precariously in a society that offers no help for the less fortunate and the disenfranchised.

"It's their own fault". And any talk of help is socialistic or communistic, as we saw in the remembrances of Bush's teacher above, and as we see so often in letters to the Signs editors from certain American readers.

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Cheney's Eyes and Bush's Back: What Do They Tell You?
Jim Moore | October 12 2004

Dan Rather and I will soon have one thing in common: we both will be guilty of reporting unverified information, because both stories begged to be told.

You've already heard how Rather crossed the line of journalistic prudence. Now it's my turn---with this caveat--- I'm convinced that the source for my story may indeed be more reliable than Rather's.

We shall see.

The document I have become privy to is called, "A Psychiatrist's Analysis of Bush and Cheney in Debates." According to who posted the report, (Benjamin Franklin), the psychiatrist he writes about has many years of clinical experience and works for a local government.

The author's use of Franklin's name, and the "no name" psychiatrist convince me that both men, for whatever reason, prefer to remain unknown. But this doesn't bother me because I'm used to it. Many factual news reports end with the reference: "according to anonymous sources" Even one of today's best sellers, "Imperial Hubris-Why the west is losing the war on terror", was written anonymously. For the same reason, probably.

Be that as it may, the psychological analyses of Bush and Cheney are so revealing and self-evident that you may find these excerpts from each of them as startling and frightening as I did.


"This man is a sociopath. He is devoid of both conscience and access to his emotions, other than pure rage. This is the most dangerous type of disorder since such people are not human in the way that a normal person can understand. They might look human but are incapable of relating to people as human beings.

"This is clear from his eyes and facial expressions, the glare lets us seek through the mask to the intense rage beneath it. Senator Edwards was freaked out by this---it is unlikely that he has ever sat down so close to this
type of sociopath.

"That is how such people try to control others by using that monster-like characteristic of their personalities. Cheney's behavior is cold-blooded rational, uninfluenced by truth, or even the response of the other person (s).

"I feel sorry for Edwards---someone who sat across a small table from a killer, who sits there glaring at him. One can provoke such an individual by standing up to him as one stands up to a bully; by countering his assertions and lies, but you have to be prepared for the horrible rage that will explode outward. I guess he wasn't prepared for that. Regardless, more people will come away terrified of Dick Cheney."

If you watched Cheney's eyes during the debate you got the meaning of what this psychiatrist said.


"The President clearly suffers from a severe paranoia that causes him to greatly fear situations in which he is exposed to people hostile to his delusional viewpoints. Bush entered the debate in his own world, his own psychological shell. To make it through the debate he essentially blotted out all reality, REACTING FROM SOME KIND OF PROGRAMMED RESPONSE TO PROMPTS. WHEN THE EXPECTED PROMPTS DID NOT OCCUR HE COULD NOT FORMULATE RESPONSES AND WAS REDUCED TO MUMBLING REPETITIONS OF MEMORIZED FORMULATIONS.

"The lack of formatted audience response locked him deeper into his shell. He became completely unaware that his infantile reactions were witnessed by millions, nor did he have any control over them. It would not have mattered if the lights went off while he was speaking, his paranoid fear would have left him unaware of the world outside his shell.

"Individuals such as Bush need to be reassured, and absent that reassurance, tend to fall apart. This type of psychopathological behavior is characteristic of a person who is easily manipulated by those who offer reassurances, who reinforce their delusions.

"Bush is a clinically pathetic case who, in stressful situations, must act and make decisions from within a paranoid shell, making him an easy prey of strong-willed people on whom he must depend."

Now, about Bush's back. One TV picture of the presidential debate was shot from behind the two speakers. Both men's backs were in full view. Inside Bush's suit coat, in the center between his shoulders, was a fair-sized bulge. We don't know what the bulge was. But the outline, having square corners, suggests some object, rather than creases in the material.

Knowing the capabilities of today's modern electronics, together with Bush's need for "reassurance prompting"----read again the capitalized copy in the first Bush paragraph---initial reports speculated that the bulge might have been an electronic device connected to a hidden "receiver" which relayed answers, key phrases, and "encouragement" to the President.

Absurd? Ridiculous? Impossible? Living in the era of space-age technology, this kind of "wired" communication is NOT absurd, ridiculous, or impossible. In fact, it not only CAN be done, but IS being done in some way every day.

I wish I were making all this up. It would make a great novel. Instead, what we have here is a clear picture of two psychologically impaired men who presently hold the fate of the United States of America in their hands.

If that doesn't frighten you, what does?

Comment: A sociopath and a paranoid running the show. Not bad. It shows the American system is working as planned. For more on this, please read Laura Knight-Jadczyk's article Official Culture.

But Cheney and Bush are not alone. They are surrounded by neocons, people who serve Israel first, and the US second....

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Taking Over the Government
Juan Cole
Sy Hersh in the UC Berkeley News:

"How could eight or nine neoconservatives come and take charge of this government?" he asked. "They overran the bureaucracy, they overran the Congress, they overran the press, and they overran the military! So you say to yourself, How fragile is this democracy?"

Apparently you just need 8 positions to take over the US government: Chief, Near East and South Asia division of the Department of Defense; Undersecretary of Defense for Policy; Deputy Secretary of Defense; Secretary of Defense; Undersecretary of State for Arms Control; Chairman, Defense Policy Board; Vice President; Chief of Staff to the Vice President; and Deputy National Security Adviser. Of course, it only works if you have a president who needs radio signals to be told what to say and do (see below). If you don't know who held the positions mentioned during 2002-2003, do look them up on, and then compare the holders of these offices to the members of the Project for a New American Century and the signers of the 1996 policy statement done for Israel's Likud Party, "A Clean Break." Both "A Clean Break" and the PNAC documents insisted back in the 1990s on a war against Iraq.

Comment: And where are the psychopath and the paranoid and their neocon friends leading the US and the rest of the world. It has been openly discussed for years in the neocon press. To more war...

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Voice of the White House

In recent past issues, we have carried comments from a reporter assigned to the White House press corps. Some of these remarks, most especially one about Bush’s physical and mental problems, drew an enormous number of viewers and hundreds of inquiries, most especially from foreign press entities. The reporter advised us by email that there was rampant fury in the White House and security was becoming very tight. As a result of this, he decided to lay low for a few weeks and see how the wind was blowing. Yesterday, he sent us the following material which we are now posting. Some of it is outrageous in the extreme but to date, no one has proven him wrong. Our source was the first to expose and we were the first to make public, the accusations that the President of the United States was a man that suffered from serious psychological problems. Since our initial publication of what we call the Madness of King George, there has been increasing interest in the subject and herewith, we present additional input from inside the White House.

October 10, 2004: “This time, friends, I have some very important news for all of you. Unlike the usual silly gossip that goes on around the White House, intermingled with loud praying, this is really news. We are about to embark on another war! Yes, it has been decided and carefully planned. Who are we going to war with? Iran. Background here: (I am taking this from a paper which I have to return)

Thesis: Iran hates the United States and Israel. Iran has atomic weapons and missiles (the Shahab, courtesy of North Korean/Russian technicians) It can easily reach Tel Aviv. It can also reach US troop concentrations in Iraq. Israel is scared shitless. Their pressure groups have leaned on the White House, with a great deal of assistance from Cheney and the Neocons. The actual plan is this:

The U.S. has no troops available for an Iranian adventure and the Israelis would rather not lose any warm bodies so…it has been firmly decided that both Israel and the U.S. will launch a surprise attack against

1., Iranian missile sites,
2. Iranian nuclear facilities and
3. the leadership of Iran located in and around Tehran.

How will this be done? By aircraft attack using U.S. developed “smart bombs” and the so-called “bunker-buster” bombs designed to destroy underground reinforced concrete facilities .We just sent these to Israel.

Because of the political ramifications, the Israelis will conduct the main strikes, supported by U.S. aircraft as needed. The aim will be to wipe out any vestige of nuclear weaponry, its delivery system and all the Iranian leaders capable of starting any attacks on Israel (mostly Tel Aviv…too many fellow Muslims in Jerusalem.)

Since it would be a problem for Israeli Air Force units to fly round trip from Israel, the solution will be to launch these attacks from U.S. aircraft carriers located in the Persian Gulf area. As I write, the super carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) is now in the Persian Gulf along with the so-called Essex Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) [31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) (SOC)] which consists of:: USS Essex (LHD 2) USS Juneau (LPD 10) USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) USS Mobile Bay (CG 53USS Hopper (DDG 70) USS Preble (DDG 88)

The initial attacks will be an early-morning surprise attack launched to coincide with religious services in Tehran’s Muslim mosques with the idea of catching not only the leading Mullahs inside but a large number of their congregations as well. One attack will concentrate on these religious centers and the other will hit both the underground nuclear facilities and identified (courtesy of U.S. satellite shots) missile launching sites.

The U.S. will supply observation and radio surveillance aircraft with radar-jamming capacities operating out of Turkey and Italy. The entire attack is scheduled to last no more than one hour with at least three waves of Israeli aircraft utilized. No warning will be given to the Iranians and no declaration of war.

The possible deaths of foreign diplomats in the attacks has been discussed and accepted as part of the price.

This attack has the full support of the President who wants it launched before the elections. He can then make a speech to the American people stating that the evil Iranian nuclear weaponry has been destroyed by the Israelis with the full cooperation of his government as part of his heroic war against terrorists. Believe me, that speech has already been written and I have seen a copy of it.

The brass here feels that this will have a tremendous impact on the American people, just before the elections. No U.S. ground troops will be used; Bush will stress that this is a joint U.S.-Israeli anti-terrorist project. Part of the speech deals with ongoing Shiite Iranian physical support of their Shiite brethren in Iraq and that by knocking out the Iranian nuclear weaponry, at the same time, they are protecting GIs from ongoing guerrilla warfare. The brass is literally rubbing it’s hands and drooling over what they see as Bush’s Final Victory.

I have seen a negative report copy from someone in the Pentagon [who is not going to get promoted] that says if the Iranians get wind of this little game, they might strike first and they might also realize that large numbers of vulnerable American troops are concentrated inside Iraqi cities, prime targets for a nuclear tactical attack. These people are literally insane and I really hope you don’t delete this. Something really has to be done to stop these maniacs before we all die of radiation sickness!”

Comment: Is this true? We don't know. Perhaps there are others who are better placed to answer that than we are. Rumours circulating on the Internet are nothing new. This week we received an email describing the possibility of a dirty nuke attack on several US cities prior to the elections. Such a scenario seems much more implausible than the one described above.

Looking at the build-up in the propaganda war against Iran over the last weeks, one that matches the propaganda campaign prior to the invasion of Iraq, we can not rule out the possibility that this report is accurate. The neocons have repeatedly stated their intent to get rid of the governments in the Middle East that are hostile to Israel. Which countries in the Middle East are not hostile to Israel, given Israeli arrogance, provocation, and intransigence, not to mention their decades old genocide of the Palestinian people and their "secret" nuclear weapons programme making them the only nuclear power in the region? Let's not forget their work in chemical and biological weapons, including ethnic specific weapons. Israel is the one power in the area that has Weapons of Mass Destruction -- you remember those? They were the reason the US invaded and took over Iraq.

Israel's neighbors see the double standard being used against them every time a UN Security Council resolution is vetoed by the US, and then the non-compliance, or claimed non-compliance, on the part of other countries is touted by the US and Israel as a reason for bringing in sanctions or, as in the case of Iraq, to overthrow the government and install a government that does the will of the US.

A war against Iran, whether as described in this article, or under a different form, is a very high probability. We don't know if it will come before the election or after, but we are fairly certain that come it will, eventually.

As for the outcome, who knows? Bush was convinced that taking out Saddam would lead to US soldiers being welcomed as liberators. What are the Israelis telling him will be the consequences of attacking Iran?

There's many a slip betwixt cup and lip...

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A partial attack would set back Iran's nukes - Jaffee Center head
Oct. 12, 2004 0:04

Even a partial strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would set back Teheran's efforts to get nuclear weapons, the head of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies said Monday.

Presenting the center's annual Middle East Strategic Balance, Prof. Shai Feldman also said the US-led war in Iraq "has become a major distraction from the global war on terrorism."

"Iraq has now become a convenient arena for jihad, which has helped al-Qaida to recover," the annual report said. "The US presence in Iraq now demands more and more assets that might have otherwise been deployed against various dimensions of the global terrorist threat such as the kind we saw this past weekend."

He was referring to the two bombing attacks in the Sinai that killed at least 32 people, including 12 Israelis.

Still, the think tank based at Tel Aviv University held that Israel's overall strategic situation has improved. It said, though, that despite tactical success in quashing Palestinian terror, there is currently no resolution of that conflict in sight and growing extremism on both sides.

The threat of conventional war is low and the qualitative gap, even between Israel and Egypt, is increasing.

Feldman also pointed out that Israel did not reach out to the extended Syrian overtures to resume peace talks, thus losing an opportunity to reap considerable positive strategic benefits.

Iran is said to be "closer than ever before" to producing fissile material essential for making nuclear bombs. Consequently, the US "seems closer to the possible use of force to prevent Iran from completing its nuclear program."

Ephraim Kam, deputy head of the center, said any military strike would be very complicated and not at all resemble the surprise 1981 IAF strike on the Iraqi reactor at Osirak. Iran learned from that and has spread out its installations.

Feldman said this should not prevent the option of military strike.

"There is a logic to operating against Iran even if the location of every facility is not known, because just taking out the facilities that are known, especially if they include the enrichment and heavy water plants, would in itself create a serious degradation of the Iranian potential," he said.

Brig.-Gen. (res.) Shlomo Brom, a senior researcher at the center, said that theoretically a nuclear balance could be forged between Israel and Iran. But he warned that a nuclear-armed Iran would likely set off a chain reaction, with nations like Egypt and Saudi Arabia seeking to obtain atomic bombs, further destabilizing the Middle East. He also said it was "wishful thinking" to believe that the mullahs in Teheran would become more responsible leaders once they obtained nuclear weapons.

He said an Israeli military option exists, but is highly problematic and requires a sustainable operation beyond the IDF's capability.

"Iran is far away and to reach it you have to pass over Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, or other Persian Gulf states. You can get entangled along the way. It is hard for me to imagine that the Americans would coordinate or cooperate with us, because if that was ever published it would greatly harm their position, which is already at a low point in the Middle East," said Brom, a former air force intelligence officer.

The think tank's annual report marked Israel's impressive achievements in the war on Palestinian terror. This is particularly impressive, it said, in contrast with experiences elsewhere, especially in Iraq.

But the experts said the virtue of this tactical "success" in defeating Palestinian terror is also its major flaw since it creates extremism on both sides.

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Israel as Sideshow: The Elephant in the Room of Empire

Former CIA analysts
October 12, 2004

During an interview with British journalist Robert Fisk on Democracy Now! on October 1, the morning after the first Bush-Kerry presidential debate, Amy Goodman's associate Juan Gonzalez, clearly hoping for a substantive response, observed to Fisk that Israel had hardly been mentioned during the debate; each presidential candidate mentioned it only once, and moderator Jim Lehrer asked no questions at all about Israel or the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. But Fisk simply dismissed the issue as of no particular moment. Sure, he said, this is something you just cannot talk about in political discussions in the U.S., and so he did not.

Fisk was not sympathizing with this very American impulse to push aside an issue of overriding importance, but his brush-off did help perpetuate a serious misconception in American politics.

One of the enduring myths of the Arab-Israeli and especially the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is that this conflict, and the U.S.-Israeli relationship at its heart, is basically a sideshow, vitally important emotionally to American Jews and in fact to most Americans but of no great strategic significance to U.S. national interests.

This sense among far too many Americans that Israel has no relationship to U.S. global policies, and particularly to the U.S. pursuit of empire, has been particularly evident in the last few years, just when everyone truly desirous of a peaceful Middle East should have been promoting precisely the opposite viewpoint.

In the last year, there has been a rash of investigative films and in-depth studies and analyses put out by progressive journalists and media outlets that examine the U.S. drive for global hegemony and try to look at why terrorists are targeting the U.S. These journalists and media outlets, the very progressives who should best be able to "get it," have all totally or almost totally ignored the Israeli connection to the Iraq war and to the various other Bush administration plans for the Middle East: the much discussed possibility of an attack on Iran and its nuclear capability, the possible plans to attack Syria, the so-called "transformation" of the Middle East supposed to come about by foisting a false democracy on it upon the wings of cruise missiles and B-52s.

These documentaries and reports include particularly such widely circulated video presentations as Uncovered, which made a big splash late last year, and Hijacking Catastrophe, which is very popular right now. There is also Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. Among the reports are at least two very serious in-depth studies done by Foreign Policy in Focus ("A Secure America in a Secure World," published in September 2004) and by a think tank at Notre Dame ("Toward a More Secure America: Grounding U.S. Policy in Global Realities," jointly published in November 2003 by the Fourth Freedom Forum and the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame). Both of these studies were signed on to by a wide range of highly respected scholars and former government experts. And, of course, there is the 9/11 Commission report, which is being taken in most circles as the definitive word on what went wrong before September 11 and whether U.S. foreign policy had anything to do with provoking the attack.

Hijacking Catastrophe actually gets close to the Israeli connection by directly examining the neo-conservative plot to induce the fear in average Americans that would serve as Bush's mandate for implementing the plans for an invasion of Iraq that the neo-cons had formulated long before, largely for the benefit of Israel. But this film, as well as the others like it and the reports, all stop just short of examining the Israeli connection to U.S. war-mongering in the Middle East. These are all excellent exposés of Bush administration empire-building and oil greed, but film after film and investigative report after investigative report ignore one of the most important strategic motivators for the Iraq war: Israel and the effort to guarantee Israel's security by neutralizing its greatest threat, which was Iraq under Saddam Hussein. The neo-cons are now working on Iran, and you can bet that, if the U.S. attacks Iran, a year or two hence when that war begins to go bad, everyone will ignore Israel's connection to that one too -- even though, with Saddam gone, Iran is now Israel's greatest threat.

(Both Bush and Kerry did actually slip up a bit in their first debate by mentioning the Israeli connection to Iraq, but this was ever so en passant, so that virtually no one noticed. Bush volunteered that, along with other imagined benefits to the U.S. and the world, "a free Iraq will help secure Israel." Kerry, not to be outdone in the competition to fawn on Israel, inserted a statement that he will "get it right" in Iraq because "it's important to Israel, it's important to America, it's important to the world." The candidates may have lost sight momentarily of the general desire to downplay any Israeli connection, but each undoubtedly thought it more important for the moment not to let his opponent gain an advantage in the competition to demonstrate the greatest support for Israel. Nevertheless, this whole episode blew over in the blink of an eye, and in the arena of public discourse, Israel remains a sideshow.)

The bottom line here is that virtually no one -- no analyst, no moviemaker -- wants to touch the Israel issue. You can't sell a movie like Fahrenheit 9/11 if you talk about Israel; you won't have the same impact, and you certainly won't be able to make any money, if you are seen to criticize Israel in any way, so better just to ignore it. In actuality, it is impossible to get around the fact that most of the neo-conservatives in this current administration, who wield a great deal of influence over U.S. foreign policy, have long been active supporters of Israel, even to the point of opposing past U.S. policy on the peace process that went against the desires of Israel's right wing. It is also impossible to get around the fact that many of the neo-cons happen to be Jewish. But this is reality; in the surreal world of U.S. and Israeli politics, you cannot bring this up. It is anti-Semitic, you are told, to say that Jews have any power at all, because that begins to sound like the old canards, which really were anti-Semitic, that used to put forth a specious case for Jews trying to run the world.

So no one wants to touch the issue. The result is that the moviemakers and commentators who mold public opinion too often steer away from it. This is true even of progressive journalists who know the realities. It is true also of virtually all politicians, most of whom don't know the realities, with the blessed exception of Ralph Nader. It is true of former diplomats. It's impossible to count on the fingers of two hands the number of retired diplomats who, called upon in various public forums to expatiate on U.S. policy toward Palestine-Israel, will spout meaningless formulas or beg off entirely because the subject is too sensitive, too dangerous, too set in the concrete determined by domestic politics.

As a result of this pervasive silence, public opinion comes to think that Israel has no strategic influence on the U.S., that the U.S. certainly wouldn't ever carry out any policy because of Israel or even in cooperation with Israel, and that Israel's policies in the occupied territories and its oppression of the Palestinians have no strategic impact anywhere and could not possibly factor in to the reasons the U.S. is targeted by terrorists or to the reality that most of the Arab and Muslim world hates the United States because of its foreign policies and particularly because it enables Israel's oppression of the Palestinians. Israel is the elephant in the room of empire.

There is a vicious circle at work here: the less the media and politicians discuss Israel-Palestine, the less knowledgeable and the less interested the public becomes, and vice versa. The general tone of the few press articles that took note of the candidates' silence following the first Bush-Kerry debate was that Palestinian-Israeli issues are of little concern to the public and therefore should concern the candidates little. Shibley Telhami, a leading Middle East expert and himself a Palestinian American, was quoted as saying that the issue is not "on the agenda for the public" and is therefore of low priority for the candidates. "They have bigger fish to fry," said another scholar from a Middle East think tank in Washington. According to a Council on Foreign Relations poll taken in August, respondents placed resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict at number 17 on a list of 19 important issues for the next administration. The Israelis are getting the message. An article in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz summed it up: "The candidates can't be blamed. They didn't set the agenda for the electorate; they only respond to it, and the voters are far from being interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

This is appalling -- a startling upending of the concept of leadership, a huge failure of understanding by the American public, and a dismal failure of understanding by the politicians in whose hands U.S. security is supposed to lie. In fact, the U.S.-Israeli relationship has grown so very close over the years that it is almost impossible to distinguish whose policy, Israel's or ours, is being pursued in the Middle East, and this is a reality that puts the United States in grave danger.

The U.S.-Israeli tie has been growing steadily since well before there was an established state of Israel -- from the time when the Zionist movement arose and won the support of much of the American public and of early twentieth-century policymakers. But by now, the political culture in the United States has turned so decidedly toward support for Israel that any alternative view is almost impossible to express. This is more true nowadays than at any time in the past, and today the relationship is much more than a matter simply of emotional sympathy for the plight of Jews or admiration for Israel's accomplishments, much more than merely a matter of looking at the conflict from an Israel-centered perspective.

After decades of ever-solidifying ties, Israel is now so closely linked to the United States in concrete ways that it is actually a part of the U.S. military-industrial complex. Israel sells military equipment, with our knowledge, to countries to which the U.S. is restricted by law from selling -- for instance, to China. So many arms and types of arms are produced in the U.S. for Israel that it has become quite easy for Israel's lobbyists in Washington to go to individual congressmen and point out to them how many jobs in a given district depend on this arms industry and on not withholding arms from Israel. In this way, Israel becomes a direct factor in sustaining the U.S. military-industrial complex, in maintaining jobs in the U.S., and in keeping congressmen and other politicians in office.

With the kind of pro-Israeli activists who people the policymaking ranks of the Bush administration, it has come to the point that the U.S. gears much of its foreign policy to furthering Israel's interests as much or more than to furthering our own interests. Bush policymakers have as little interest in actually resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as the voters in the Council on Foreign Relations poll whom they are supposed to be leading; their interest is in dealing with the conflict in whatever way Israeli sees fit. One of the primary reasons we went to war in Iraq was to benefit Israel. This reality is so frightening that it needs to be trumpeted whenever motivations for the war are discussed. The United States' own pursuit of global hegemony was obviously another major motivation, as was oil, but U.S. and Israeli goals in the Middle East are so intertwined that it is impossible to determine where a policymaker like Paul Wolfowitz, for instance, or Donald Rumsfeld or the many neo-conservatives in the Defense Department stop thinking of Israeli interests and begin to think exclusively of U.S. interests. Policy and policymakers are so closely interlinked that there probably is no such point. This needs to be discussed loudly and often.

One problem with treating Israel and its conflict with the Palestinians as a sideshow, with no direct impact on U.S. interests, is that the more Israel is ignored as a factor, as an ingredient in U.S. empire-building, the stronger Israel becomes, the stronger its ties to the military-industrial complex, the more it is able to stand up to the United States and resist any U.S. demands -- in the peace process for instance -- the more it is able to kill Palestinians, pursue its territorial aggrandizement, and ultimately endanger the United States. Everything Israel does in the Middle East is perceived throughout the world, and accurately so, as having been condoned, encouraged, and enabled by the United States, with the result that any terrorists able to concoct an attack like September 11 will target us before they will target Israel.

Another problem is that the entire anti-war and anti-empire movement in the U.S. is split on the question of policy toward Israel, and efforts to hide this split are widespread. Two different arguments, both spurious, are made in favor of continuing the cover-up. The first is that the U.S.-Israeli relationship is simply not a major causal factor behind the U.S. invasion of Iraq or the U.S. desire to concentrate its drive for global domination first and foremost on the Middle East. Many Israeli and American-Jewish peace activists firmly support this argument, and it cannot be denied that many non-Jewish activists do also, although some of these may do so at least in part for tactical reasons.

The second argument is completely tactical, and those who espouse it openly recognize that fact. This argument alleges that unity in the U.S. peace movement is important above all else, and that we will weaken the movement irretrievably unless we ignore the controversial Israel-Palestine problem. The fear is that media companies and publishers will refuse to distribute documentary videos, films, books, and articles if we challenge establishment positions on Israel and Palestine, and that fewer people will watch or buy or read our documentaries and writings. The rationalization is often put forward that there are so many other issues on which we can attack the bellicose policies of the U.S. that it is really not even necessary to deal with the particular hot potato of the American relationship with Israel.

For starters, the argument goes, we have oil to talk about; the wrongs of global domination; the immoral wars against "terrorism" (which is nothing but a tactic) as self-servingly defined by Washington and its allies; killings of thousands of innocents in Afghanistan and Iraq that the U.S. refuses even to count; the injustices of a U.S. version of economic globalization that has widened the gap between rich and poor throughout the world; ever-expanding military expenditures in the U.S.; more new American military bases almost everywhere; continuing U.S. support for authoritarian governments in the Arab world, Central Asia, and elsewhere; new nuclear weapons produced by a blatantly hypocritical U.S. government futilely trying at the same time to prevent unfriendly nations and non-state entities from obtaining nukes, etc., etc., etc.

So, with so much to talk about, why bother with one more issue that is exceedingly troublesome? Just ignore the Israel-Palestine thing and the excessive pandering by both Republicans and Democrats to a terrible right-wing Israeli government. After all, criticizing any Israeli policy comes too close to anti-Semitism, and that would destroy the peace movement. So -- play on the team. At the same time, we must still deplore, and at great length, acts against Israelis such as the recent terrorism at Taba, whether committed by Palestinians, by al Qaeda, or by anyone else, and we must be careful to avoid serious criticism of any Israeli retaliation, even though that retaliation may be on a scale two or three times greater than the original terrorism. And of course it would also be better not to rile up Israel and its AIPAC supporters by talking loudly about Israel's recent excessive killings of Palestinians in Gaza -- many more than the number of Israelis killed at Taba. Just let all that go. Unity of the peace movement is far more important.

At a time when most Republican and Democratic leaders already pander quite thoroughly to AIPAC and the present Israeli government, how can we change the situation? First, those leaders of the peace movement who believe such pandering is wrong should show some courage. They should forget about unity with anyone who believes that present U.S. policies toward Israel and Palestine are morally justifiable and beneficial to future global peace and stability. Then, they should also loudly and publicly announce their belief that criticizing Israel's cruel and oppressive policies toward Palestinians is not anti-Semitism, just as criticizing the present combined Republican and Democratic policy of supporting Israel so completely is not anti-Americanism. They should lead in the peace effort and cease trying to achieve unity with anyone who believes, absurdly, that criticism of any government's policies constitutes ethnic hatred.

Certainly, there are multiple aspects of U.S. foreign and military policies that peace activists in this country should be working to change. But none of the elements of U.S. global policies in the list above is more important as a cause for hatred of U.S. policies around the world, and therefore as a potential cause of future terrorism against the U.S. and its allies, than the failure to impose meaningful restraints on Israel's occupation and its behavior toward Palestinians. By erasing U.S. policies toward Israel from the list of acceptable targets for criticism, too many peace movement spokesmen inevitably -- and sometimes perhaps unconsciously -- exaggerate the importance of other U.S. policies. What has been exaggerated the most, in part because it best suits the propaganda needs of Israel's Likud government, is the U.S. relationship to, and the role of, authoritarian Arab governments as a root cause of the September 11 terrorist acts.

This exaggeration particularly applies to the misplaced emphasis on the alleged ties of the Saudi Arabian government to the events of that date. The Saudi royal family's almost feudal rule, supported for over half a century by the U.S., and the resulting alienation of many average Saudis, particularly among the young, both from the U.S. and from their own government's policies, clearly constitute one -- although only one -- of the causes of terrorism against the U.S. and its allies. But efforts by Israeli officials and friends of Israel in the U.S. to magnify this as the single root cause above all others began immediately after September 11 and have largely succeeded.

Unfortunately, to take just one example, Michael Moore and his film Fahrenheit 9/11 contributed substantially to this success, both by devoting so much attention to the Saudis and by ignoring U.S. support for Israel as a considerably more important factor behind terrorism against the United States. Such distortions have been close to universal in other recent films and academic analyses of U.S. foreign policies as well, making it easier for any administration to conclude that it can "win" or "solve" the so-called war on terror while continuing to support Israel's colonization of the West Bank to the hilt.

And in the meantime, the U.S. relationship with Israel continues to be treated, at all levels of political discourse in the United States, as a sideshow to larger strategic questions. This is extremely dangerous. There will be no resolution to the war on terror and no easing of the hatred of the United States by our own allies and by the Arab and Muslim world, until there is a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that gives as much justice to Palestinians as to Israelis. We ignore the direct danger Israel poses to us at our own peril. Our drive for empire already came back to bite us three years ago on September 11, and it will come back again as long as we fail to distinguish our own interests from Israel's.

Yet The campaign rhetoric of Bush and Kerry snores on, and neither the candidates nor the media moderators of their so-called debates have once raised the issue of justice for the Palestinians. The sideshow recedes ever farther from the minds of Americans, even as the likelihood mounts of an international explosion arising from this issue.

Bill Christison was a senior official of the CIA. He served as a National Intelligence Officer and as Director of the CIA's Office of Regional and Political Analysis. He is a contributor to Imperial Crusades, CounterPunch's new history of the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kathleen Christison is a former CIA political analyst and has worked on Middle East issues for 30 years. She is the author of Perceptions of Palestine and The Wound of Dispossession.

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Palestinian security chief escapes car bomb explosion in Gaza City
09:38 PM EDT Oct 12

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - A car bomb exploded near Palestinian security headquarters in Gaza City after nightfall Tuesday as security chief Moussa Arafat's convoy was leaving, but he was not hurt, witnesses and security officials said.

The convoy was seen speeding away from the scene as security officers fired submachine-guns in the air. Security officials said none of the bodyguards were hurt. The booby-trapped car was destroyed in the blast on the west side of the complex. Hospital officials said a bystander was injured.

Nobody claimed responsibility and the Israeli military said it had nothing to do with the blast. Arafat, a relative of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, was the target of an attack last year, when he said Palestinian enemies fired a rocket at his office. Then too, he escaped unharmed.

Moussa Arafat's appointment as overall commander of Gaza security in July was torpedoed by riots and demonstrations in Gaza, as residents complained that Moussa Arafat was involved in corruption and was known for his cruelty.

Yasser Arafat reinstated the security official his relative was to have replaced, but kept Moussa Arafat in a senior position.

Israel has killed dozens of Palestinian militants in air strikes during four years of violence but has not targeted Palestinian security officials.

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I-Team investigation uncovers voter registration fraud
10/11/2004 10:55 PM MDT

DENVER - With just 21 days left until an election in which every vote will count, the 9News I-Team has uncovered voter registration fraud that could cause chaos on Election Day for hundreds, possibly thousands of Colorado voters.

9News has discovered a record number of fraudulent voter-registrations across the state. Secretary of State Donetta Davidson tells 9News she is concerned about what the I-Team has uncovered and wants those responsible prosecuted. "It has just gone rampant," she told reporter Deborah Sherman in an interview Monday afternoon.

Most of the fraud has come from registration drives, where people at grocery stores or on the streets ask you to sign up. 9News has learned many workers have re-registered voters multiple times by changing or making up information about them. 9News has documented 719 cases of potentially fraudulent forms at county election offices show fraudulent names, addresses, social security numbers or dates of birth in Denver, Douglas, Adams, Boulder and Lake counties. Information from other counties is still coming in.

Some voter registration application forms are completely bogus. Others belong to legitimate voters, who have had one or two facts changed that could affect their registration when they show up at the polls November 2nd. Tom Stanislawski registered to vote six years ago. But this summer, someone signed him up again and changed his party affiliation. "My concern would be I'd walk in November 2nd and be unable to vote," he said.

Some of the registration drive workers earn $2 per application or about $10 an hour. One woman admitted to forging three people's names on about 40 voter registration applications. Kym Cason says she was helping her boyfriend earn more money from a get-out-the-vote organization called ACORN or Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. ACORN works with low or moderate-income families on housing issues. Cason said her extra registrations earned her boyfriend $50.

Gerald Obi says workers pressured him to keep registering to vote so they too could earn extra cash. When asked how many times he had registered this year, Obi said, "about 35 times."

ACORN's state director said they are victims of the fraud as well and told 9News the group is cooperating with local investigators. Ross Fitzgerald says the group has fired workers for the fraud. "Our goal is to register as many people as we can," said Fitzgerald. "If they're fraudulent, that hurts our numbers."

Clerk and Recorders from several counties met Monday with Secretary of State Donetta Davidson to discuss this problem, and the problem of felons registering to vote. "I have to question whether we should be allowing people to accept money for voter registration," said Douglas County Clerk and Recorder Carole Murray.

Colorado Secretary of State Donetta Davidson agreed and said she will be looking at ways to reform the system.

Comment: This story might be easy to dismiss if it was simply an isolated incident, but it appears that Nevada and Oregon are also having some of the same problems...

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Voter Registrations Possibly Trashed
October 12, 2004

Employees of a private voter registration company allege that hundreds, perhaps thousands of voters who may think they are registered will be rudely surprised on election day. The company claims hundreds of registration forms were thrown in the trash.

Anyone who has recently registered or re-registered to vote outside a mall or grocery store or even government building may be affected.

The I-Team has obtained information about an alleged widespread pattern of potential registration fraud aimed at democrats. Thee focus of the story is a private registration company called Voters Outreach of America, AKA America Votes.

The out-of-state firm has been in Las Vegas for the past few months, registering voters. It employed up to 300 part-time workers and collected hundreds of registrations per day, but former employees of the company say that Voters Outreach of America only wanted Republican registrations.

Two former workers say they personally witnessed company supervisors rip up and trash registration forms signed by Democrats.

"We caught her taking Democrats out of my pile, handed them to her assistant and he ripped them up right in front of us. I grabbed some of them out of the garbage and she tells her assisatnt to get those from me," said Eric Russell, former Voters Outreach employee.

Eric Russell managed to retrieve a pile of shredded paperwork including signed voter registration forms, all from Democrats. We took them to the Clark County Election Department and confirmed that they had not, in fact, been filed with the county as required by law.

So the people on those forms who think they will be able to vote on Election Day are sadly mistaken. We attempted to speak to Voters Outreach but found that its office has been rented out to someone else.

The landlord says Voters Outreach was evicted for non-payment of rent. Another source said the company has now moved on to Oregon where it is once again registering voters. It's unknown how many registrations may have been tossed out, but another ex-employee told Eyewitness News she had the same suspicions when she worked there.

It's going to take a while to sort all of this out, but the immediate concern for voters is to make sure you really are registered.

Call the Clark County Election Department at 455-VOTE orclick here to see if you are registered.

The company has been largely, if not entirely funded, by the Republican National Committee. Similar complaints have been received in Reno where the registrar has asked the FBI to investigate.

Comment: What is the easiest way to steal an election? Make sure that the people who would vote for your opponent are unable to do so on election day. Pretend to be part of the Democrats or their supporters registering voters, and then expose it as being a fraud, connecting it back to your opponents. Will we learn in the coming days or weeks that it is Democrats doing this? Exposed by the righteous and indignant Republicans?

If that fails, rig the vote through electronic voting machines produced by companies openly favoring the election of Bush. And if that fails, have your old pals on the Supreme Court install you in the oval office again...

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Supreme Court to Hear Commandments Case
By GINA HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer
Tue Oct 12,11:06 PM ET

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will consider whether the Ten Commandments may be displayed on government property, ending a 25-year silence on a church-state issue that has prompted bitter legal fights around the country.

Ten Commandments displays are common in town squares and courthouses and on other government-owned land, including the Supreme Court. A wall carving of Moses holding the tablets is in the courtroom where justices will hear arguments in the case.

Courts around the country have splintered over whether the exhibits violate the constitutional principle of separation of church and state.

The disputes have led to emotional battles, such as one in Alabama by Chief Justice Roy Moore, who lost his job after defying a federal order to remove a 5,300-pound monument from the state courthouse. The Supreme Court refused last week to help him get his job back.

But the justices agreed to address the constitutionality of displays in Kentucky and Texas. The case probably will be argued in February with a decision before July.

Supporters of the monuments celebrated the news.

"The Lord answers prayers," said former Judge-Executive Jimmie Greene of McCreary County, Ky., which was ordered to remove a display in the hallway of the county courthouse. Greene refused to do the task himself.

"I am a law-abiding citizen, but there is a higher power," Greene said. "I just could not remove that sacred document. Could you think of a better reason to go to jail than standing up in defense of the Ten Commandments?"

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State said the court should block all government displays of religious documents.

"It's clear that the Ten Commandments is a religious document. Its display is appropriate in houses of worship but not at the seat of government," Lynn said.

The last time the court dealt with the issue was 1980, when justices banned the posting of Ten Commandments in public schools. That case also was from Kentucky.

Mathew Staver of the conservative law group Liberty Counsel, attorney for Kentucky counties in the current case, said the Supreme Court has expected for a long time that a blockbuster religious liberty case would come along.

"It's finally here," Staver said.

Officials in two Kentucky counties - McCreary and Pulaski - hung framed copies of the Ten Commandments in their courthouses and added other documents, such as the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence, after the American Civil Liberties Union challenged the display. The ACLU won and county officials are appealing the decision.

David A. Friedman, general counsel for the Kentucky ACLU, said people of different faiths follow different versions of the document. "Especially in a courthouse, people should not be made to feel like outsiders in their own community because they may not share the prevailing religious view," he said.

In the Texas case, a homeless man, Thomas Van Orden, lost his lawsuit to have a 6-foot granite monument removed from the state Capitol grounds. The Fraternal Order of Eagles donated the exhibit to the state in 1961, and it was installed about 75 feet from the Capitol in Austin. The group gave scores of similar monuments to American towns during the 1950s and '60s, and those have been the subjects of multiple court fights.

Religion cases have been difficult for the Supreme Court. In June, the court sidestepped a ruling on the constitutionality of the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools.

"This is an issue that touches deep chords on both sides - those who believe religious symbols should be part of our government and those who believe the symbols shouldn't be part of our government," said Van Orden's attorney, Erwin Chemerinsky of Duke University. [...]

Comment: How can Americans reconcile their claims of the separation of church and state in the US with the idea that it is perfectly acceptable to display deeply religious symbols on government property and in government buildings?

It is also most interesting that the debate has been twisted:

"Mathew Staver of the conservative law group Liberty Counsel, attorney for Kentucky counties in the current case, said the Supreme Court has expected for a long time that a blockbuster religious liberty case would come along."

All of a sudden, the case isn't about the separation of church and state; it is about the freedom of certain individuals to place religious symbols on government property. In other words, if the religious folks lose, they can claim they are being persecuted for their beliefs because they are not allowed the freedom to express their religious views.

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War in Iraq has made terrorism worse: Blix
Tue Oct 12, 6:14 PM ET

LONDON - The war in Iraq has put neither Iran nor North Korea off the idea of nuclear weapons and has "stimulated terrorism", Hans Blix, the former United Nations chief arms inspector in Iraq, said.

"You wouldn't expect any government to admit that they were wrong," Blix told BBC radio. "I think, like everybody else, that it is good that Saddam (Hussein) is gone. The world is better off without Saddam.

"But the world is not any safer. If this was meant to be a signal to terrorists to stop their activities, it has failed miserably, it has stimulated terrorism.

"And it doesn't stop proliferation. The Iranians and North Koreans, if they are up to that, they are not stopped by it.

"So I don't think that any of the aims, except getting rid of Saddam himself, have succeeded."

Blix poured scorn on British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw for justifying the invasion of Iraq, originally based on the premise that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, on a now watered-down reason that Saddam had the intention of producing such weaponry.

The chief US weapons hunter, Charles Duelfer, found in his 1,000-page Iraq Survey Group report published last week that Saddam had destroyed most of his chemical and biological weapons after his 1991 Gulf War defeat and that his nuclear program had "progressively decayed".

But he said the Iraqi leader had hoped to renew his weapons quest if sanctions were lifted.

"When you read Duelfer's report now you really wonder how dangerous he was," Blix, a former Swedish foreign minister who led the UN hunt for banned chemical and biological weapons in Iraq before the March 2003 invasion, told the bBBC.

"OK, he claimed that there were programmes to produce weapons of mass destruction. But he also takes a step back from this and says there were no documented programmes.

"What he has got out of interrogation of various people who worked with Saddam was rather that 'well he wanted to, that was probably his intention' etc, but these are straws I think for Jack Straw to cling to."

Blix has previously criticized British Prime Minister Tony Blair's government for "hyping" pre-war intelligence about Iraq and denounced US President George W. Bush's war as boosting terrorism and causing more suffering than Saddam's dictatorial regime had.

Blair admitted in a Labour party speech earlier this month that pre-war claims about Saddam's threat were wrong, but he and his closest ally Bush have staunchly defended taking Iraq to war.

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Germany hints at softer stance on Iraq
Wed Oct 13, 1:50 AM ET

LONDON (AFP) - German Defence Minister Peter Struck appeared in an interview with Britain's Financial Times newspaper to soften his country's stance on Iraq, hinting that Germany might deploy troops if conditions there change.

"At present I rule out the deployment of German troops in Iraq," Struck told the FT, before hinting there may be circumstances under which his government could send troops.

"In general, however, there is no one who can predict developments in Iraq in such a way that he could make such a binding statement (about the future)," he told the newspaper.

Germany, like France and Russia, was strongly against the US-led invasion of Iraq, and has declined to supply any military personnel to serve with the coalition.

Struck indicated Germany's support for a proposal by the US Democratic presidential candidate, John Kerry, to convene an international conference on Iraq.

"This is a very sensible proposal," he told the FT.

"The situation in Iraq can only be cleared up when all those involved sit together at one table.

"Germany has taken on responsibilities in Iraq, including financial ones; this would naturally justify our involvement in such a conference," he was quoted as saying.

Struck's comments provide support for Kerry's claim that he could persuade countries that opposed the war to work in Iraq, a claim ridiculed by US President George W. Bush.

"I know how these people think," Bush told the audience last week in the second of three televised presidential debates between the two men.

"I meet with them all the time ... They're not going to follow an American president who says follow me into a mistake," he said.

Depsite German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's staunch opposition to the war in Iraq, Struck and other German officials reportedly said that developments in Iraq meant the position over troops was under constant review.

In the next two months Germany will train hundreds of Iraqi drivers, explosives experts and others in the United Arab Emirates and Germany, the FT said.

Comment: Of course many European governments are not going to follow the president into a mistake; that's why they didn't follow Bush into Iraq.

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UN watchdog says nuclear equipment vanished in Iraq
Tue Oct 12, 2:06 PM ET

VIENNA (AFP) - Equipment and materials that could be used to make nuclear weapons, in some cases entire buildings housing sophisticated technology, are disappearing from Iraq, the UN nuclear watchdog has reported to the UN.

In a letter to the UN Security Council, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei said he was concerned about the "widespread and apparently systematic dismantlement that has taken place at sites previously relevant to Iraq's nuclear program" under deposed dictator Saddam Hussein.

So-called dual-use equipment - with peaceful as well as weapons-making applications -- is disappearing, ElBaradei said, raising fears terrorists could be getting their hands on it.

The October 1 letter to the United Nations was posted on the IAEA web site Tuesday.

The IAEA, whose inspectors left Iraq before the US-led war to topple Saddam Hussein began in March 2003 and have not been allowed to return, now must rely for its reporting on "open sources and commercial satellite imagery," ElBaradei said.

He said "the imagery shows in many instances the dismantlement of entire buildings that housed high precision equipment (such as flow forming, milling and turning machines; electron beam welders; coordinate measurement machines) formerly monitored and tagged with IAEA seals."

Meanwhile, material such as high-strength aluminium has also vanished from open storage areas, he said.

While some military equipment in Iraq later turned up in scrap yards abroad, "none of the high-quality dual-use equipment or materials ... (have) been found," ElBaradei said.

"The disappearance of such equipment and materials may be of proliferation significance," ElBaradei said.

US President George W. Bush justified the war by saying Saddam's push for weapons of mass destruction was one reason for launching the war.

But a new report last week from chief US weapons inspector Charles Duelfer concluded that Saddam had stopped trying to build weapons of mass destruction after international inspections were begun following the 1991 Gulf war.

ElBaradei reports every six months to the Security Council since the IAEA still has a UN mandate to investigate Iran's nuclear program.

IAEA spokesman Mark Gwozdecky said that neither US authorities in Iraq nor Iraq government officials have reported to the agency about nuclear facilities in the country.

ElBaradei said in his letter that the IAEA needed "to be provided by all states with information" relevant to the agency's mandate.

But Gwozdecky said: "We're not getting information from authorities on what's happening."

He said that when the IAEA had inspectors in Iraq, it "had all of this stuff under close scrutiny and Iraq did regularly report to us whenever there were changes in inventory."

"Iraq still has an obligation to report to us whenever there is a change in inventories, but this has not been happening," Gwozdecky said.

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Ex-DAFB commander says troops used as guinea pigs
The News Journal

Military denies that illness of pilots, crew caused by squalene

A former Dover Air Force Base commander says military officials used his troops as guinea pigs in illegal medical experiments under the government's controversial anthrax vaccination program.

After some of his troops in their 20s and 30s began developing arthritis, neurological problems, memory loss and incapacitating migraine headaches, Col. Felix Grieder took a drastic step. In 1999, he halted the vaccination program in Dover, a move he said ended his military career. The decorated Air Force colonel has spent the past five years trying to discover the truth about the vaccine program in Dover, where he commanded 4,000 troops.

"In my opinion, there was illegal medical experimentation going on," says Grieder, who lives in Texas.

Grieder has interviewed scores of his former pilots and crew who say they have had life-altering reactions to the vaccine.

"They would have no reason to lie. I believed them," he recalls. "I wanted to talk to them face to face."

Dover is now ground zero in the controversy because troops there were injected with anthrax vaccine containing squalene, a fat-like substance that occurs naturally in the body. Squalene boosts a vaccine's effect, but some scientists say injecting even trace amounts of it into the body can cause serious illness.

Government officials have acknowledged that the Department of Defense secretly tested squalene on human beings in Thailand. Grieder believes they did the same in Dover.

In a March 1999 report, the General Accounting Office accused the Defense Department of a "pattern of deception" and said the military confirmed human tests involving squalene only after investigators found out about them.

The Department of Defense says vaccine sent to Dover was accidentally contaminated with squalene. Grieder and other officers believe, however, that it was intentionally introduced to test pilots and crew in Dover.

The Defense Department made anthrax inoculations mandatory for all active-duty military personnel in 1998. The immunization order, which remains in effect today, calls for six shots over an 18-month period. Defense officials deny that military personnel were illegally used as guinea pigs to test a vaccine containing squalene.

But a News Journal investigation raises significant questions about the military's denials and the safety of the vaccine:

Of the first 50 batches of vaccine distributed worldwide for the mandatory inoculations, only five contained squalene - and those were all shipped to Dover. After denying for more than a year that there was squalene in the vaccinations given at Dover, the Air Force admitted in 2000 that it had been wrong.

• The five batches of vaccine sent to Dover contained increasing concentrations of squalene, Food and Drug Administration tests show. Some scientists say the pattern of squalene concentration could indicate that the military was measuring the troops' response to different dosages. Professor Dave Smith, a microbiologist at the University of Delaware, is one: "I'm certainly not saying they did or didn't do it. But you have to ask yourself, if you have five data points like that, what are the odds of that happening?"

• The Defense Department has rejected the evidence that the vaccine ever contained squalene. It has steadfastly contended that FDA technicians introduced squalene into the vaccine test via a "dirty fingerprint." The FDA has refused to explain its laboratory procedures for the tests. The military has never retested its stockpile of vaccine for squalene, claiming that, even if the amounts of squalene detected by the FDA were accurate, the concentrations were too low to affect human health. The department continues to require the vaccination for all military personnel - active duty, reserve and National Guard.

• Tulane University professor Robert Garry testified before Congress that even trace amounts of squalene injected into the human body suppress the immune system. In an interview with The News Journal, he said the body's response can cause some young and middle-age people to get illnesses normally associated with aging.

• Tulane University professor Pamela Asa and Baylor College of Medicine professor Dorothy Lewis have concluded that squalene's possible links to serious human illnesses should be studied further. The military has dismissed Asa's studies as inconclusive, although it has conducted no follow-up research on the health effects of squalene. [...]

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Pakistan test-fires nuclear-capable missile
OCT 13, 2004 WED

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan said on Tuesday it successfully test-fired a medium-range, nuclear-capable missile that could hit most cities in neighbouring India, but defence officials said the exercise was not intended as a message to the South Asian rival.

'The new version of the Ghauri V missile, which was test-fired today, has a range of 1,500km, and can hit most cities in India,' a senior defence official told The Associated Press.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Pakistani authorities had informed India and other neighbouring countries beforehand about the test, and that it was not aimed at inflaming tensions in South Asia.

The defence official said Islamabad was not sending 'any wrong signal to India' by test-firing the missile at a time when the two nations are pursuing peace talks aimed at resolving more than a half-century of tensions.

Pakistan's military released a statement confirming there had been a successful test - part of a planned series of such tests - of the Ghauri V missile and that it showed the weapon is 'based on the highest standards of scientific and superior technology advancement'.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and other civilian and military dignitaries witnessed the launch ceremony, the statement said.

Pakistan became a declared nuclear power on May 28, 1998, when it conducted underground nuclear tests in response to earlier tests carried out by India.

The two countries have a history of bitter relations and have fought three wars - two of them over the Himalayan territory of Kashmir - since independence from Britain in 1947.

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Japan to host security drill Oct. 26: paper
October 12, 2004

TOKYO (Reuters) -- Japan will host a multinational naval exercise on October 26 as part of an initiative aimed at clamping down on the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), a Japanese newspaper said on Monday.

Citing unidentified sources, the Asahi Shimbun said the United States, Australia and France would also take part in the exercise, which is part of the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI).

Another 14 nations, including Russia, will participate as observers in the drill, which is to be held in waters near Tokyo Bay, the paper said.

Japan had urged China and South Korea to take part, but they are thought to be staying away for fear of offending North Korea, which has expressed anger over the PSI, Asahi said.

In the exercise, a Japanese navy patrol aircraft will report to vessels of the participating countries that it has discovered two suspicious ships, Asahi said.

Special personnel units will be transferred by helicopter from their vessels to the suspicious ships, where they will practice searching for and seizing weapons of mass destruction, the paper said.

Japan is limiting its navy's participation to information transmission to avoid irritating neighboring countries. The Japanese Coast Guard will take a more active role in the drill, the Asahi said.

The October 26 exercise will be followed by a smaller-scale one the following day, in which Japanese Navy personnel will board a vessel and search for weapons, but will not themselves be armed, the paper said.

Japan sent a Coast Guard vessel to the first interdiction exercise held in the Coral Sea off Australia's northeast coast in September last year and has sent military and Coast Guard observers to various other PSI drills.

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Exhibit Pays Tribute to Atom Bomb Workers
By CHERYL WITTENAUER, Associated Press Writer
October 13, 2004

WELDON SPRING, Mo. - For more than a year, Denise Brock has been trying to win government compensation for workers who were exposed to high levels of radiation while helping to create the atom bomb and Cold War-era weapons.

Now Brock has her eye on another kind of recognition for their toil.

Brock is working with the Department of Energy to build an exhibit that will tell the story of more than 3,500 Missourians who worked on the U.S. atom bomb program and at Cold War-era nuclear sites in St. Louis, Weldon Spring and Hematite, Mo.

"It's bittersweet," said Brock, whose father died of cancer in the 1960s after working at the old Mallinckrodt Chemical Co. plant in St. Louis, which produced uranium dioxide for the atom bomb.

The tribute should be completed by year's end and will become a permanent display at the Weldon Spring Interpretive Center. [...]

A four-year-old federal law requires the government to compensate workers in the nuclear weapons industry, or their survivors, for job-related cancer or other diseases. Workers from about 350 sites nationwide, including 10 in Missouri, may qualify.

But critics call the system burdensome and time-consuming. Claimants must show proof of employment as well as exposure to radiation, even though records often are missing or were never kept.

Tony Windisch, who suffers from cancer, said he couldn't serve in World War II, so instead he worked on the Manhattan Project in St. Louis, helping to create the atomic bomb that annihilated Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Now, as he sees his co-workers dying from multiple cancers, and their survivors struggling to get compensation, he feels betrayed by a government that he says didn't adequately protect them from radiation exposure.

"To find out at this late date, not only did they destroy (workplace) documents, but treated us as guinea pigs, that's what really angers me," said Windisch, 78.

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Magma Breaks Surface at Mount St. Helens
By PEGGY ANDERSEN, Associated Press Writer
Tue Oct 12,11:05 PM ET

SEATTLE - Molten rock that has been rising inside Mount St. Helens after weeks of earthquakes and steam eruptions has finally pushed its way to the surface, forming a new lava dome just behind the existing one in the volcano's crater.

The quakes subsided as the new lava emerged Monday and cooled in the open air, suggesting molten rock from deep inside the Earth had found the path of least resistance by going around the old dome, Jon Major, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey's Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Wash., said Tuesday.

Unlike the dramatic rivers of red-hot lava from Hawaii's volcano, St. Helens' extrusion of new rock was subtle and difficult to see from outside the crater. A lazy plume of steam rose slowly from the mountain for much of Tuesday.

The last dome-building activity at St. Helens began in the months after its deadly May 1980 eruption and lasted six years. Layers of emerging rock gradually formed a rocky dome nearly 1,000 feet tall at the center of the crater floor. The top of the new dome is almost level with the old one just to the north.

The mountain had been shaking since Sept. 23, with periods of sharp jolts - up to magnitude 3.3 - occurring as often as four times a minute at the height of seismic activity.

"The inference was that those were breaking a pathway" through rock, Major said.

Explosive eruptions are still possible and often follow lava extrusion, said John Pallister, a volcanologist with the USGS.

The 1980 eruption left 57 people dead, leveled trees for miles around and covered much of the Pacific Northwest with ash. It was "barely a five" on the eight-level Volcanic Explosive Index, Major said.

At this point, scientists believe there is a 10 percent chance of a level four or larger eruption at the 8,364-foot mountain, he said. The area immediately around the mountain is closed.

Any explosive eruption would likely go straight up, Major said, blowing ash and steam tens of thousands of feet high. That could cause concern for aircraft and cars in the area, but nothing like 1980's lateral blast.

Comment: Any explosive eruption would likely go straight up... More predictions from the "experts", when they have proven in recent days that they really have no idea what Mount St. Helens is going to do...

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Magnitude 5.9 Earthquake - VANUATU
2004 October 11 18:14:19 UTC

A moderate earthquake occurred at 18:14:19 (UTC) on Monday, October 11, 2004. The magnitude 5.9 event has been located in VANUATU. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)

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Magnitude 5.7 Quake - SAMOA ISLANDS REGION
2004 October 11 22:03:46 UTC

A moderate earthquake occurred at 22:03:46 (UTC) on Monday, October 11, 2004. The magnitude 5.7 event has been located in the SAMOA ISLANDS REGION. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)

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Magnitude 5.5 Quake - FIJI REGION
2004 October 12 15:29:01 UTC

A moderate earthquake occurred at 15:29:01 (UTC) on Tuesday, October 12, 2004. The magnitude 5.5 event has been located in the FIJI REGION. The hypocentral depth was poorly constrained. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)

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Climate fear as carbon levels soar
Paul Brown, environment correspondent
The Guardian
Monday October 11, 2004

An unexplained and unprecedented rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere two years running has raised fears that the world may be on the brink of runaway global warming.

Scientists are baffled why the quantity of the main greenhouse gas has leapt in a two-year period and are concerned that the Earth's natural systems are no longer able to absorb as much as in the past.

The findings will be discussed tomorrow by the government's chief scientist, Dr David King, at the annual Greenpeace business lecture.

Measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere have been continuous for almost 50 years at Mauna Loa Observatory, 12,000ft up a mountain in Hawaii, regarded as far enough away from any carbon dioxide source to be a reliable measuring point.

In recent decades CO2 increased on average by 1.5 parts per million (ppm) a year because of the amount of oil, coal and gas burnt, but has now jumped to more than 2 ppm in 2002 and 2003.

Above or below average rises in CO2 levels in the atmosphere have been explained in the past by natural events.

When the Pacific warms up during El Niño - a disruptive weather pattern caused by weakening trade winds - the amount of carbon dioxide rises dramatically because warm oceans emit CO2 rather than absorb it.

But scientists are puzzled because over the past two years, when the increases have been 2.08 ppm and 2.54 ppm respectively, there has been no El Niño.

Charles Keeling, the man who began the observations in 1958 as a young climate scientist, is now 74 and still working in the field.

He said yesterday: "The rise in the annual rate to above two parts per million for two consecutive years is a real phenomenon.

"It is possible that this is merely a reflection of natural events like previous peaks in the rate, but it is also possible that it is the beginning of a natural process unprecedented in the record."

Analysts stress that it is too early to draw any long-term conclusions.

But the fear held by some scientists is that the greater than normal rises in C02 emissions mean that instead of decades to bring global warming under control we may have only a few years. At worst, the figures could be the first sign of the breakdown in the Earth's natural systems for absorbing the gas.

That would herald the so-called "runaway greenhouse effect", where the planet's soaring temperature becomes impossible to contain. As the icecaps melt, less sunlight is refected back into space from ice and snow, and bare rocks begin to absorb more heat. This is already happening.

One of the predictions made by climate scientists in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is that as the Earth warms, the absorption of carbon dioxide by vegetation - known as "carbon sink" - is reduced.

Dr Keeling said since there was no sign of a dramatic increase in the amount of fossil fuels being burnt in 2002 and 2003, the rise "could be a weakening of the Earth's carbon sinks, associated with the world warming, as part of a climate change feedback mechanism. It is a cause for concern'.'

Tom Burke, visiting professor at Imperial College London, and a former special adviser to the former Tory environment minister John Gummer, warned: "We're watching the clock and the clock is beginning to tick faster, like it seems to before a bomb goes off." [...]

The heatwave of last year that is now believed to have claimed at least 30,000 lives across the world was so out of the ordinary that many scientists believe it could only have been caused by global warming

But Dr Cox, like other scientists, is concerned that too much might be read into two years' figures. "Five or six years on the trot would be very difficult to explain," he said.

Dr Piers Forster, senior research fellow of the University of Reading's Department of Meteorology, said: "If this is a rate change, of course it will be very significant. It will be of enormous concern, because it will imply that all our global warming predictions for the next hundred years or so will have to be redone."

David J Hofmann of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration centre, which also studies CO2, was more cautious.

"I don't think an increase of 2 ppm for two years in a row is highly significant - there are climatic perturbations that can make this occur," he said. "But the absence of a known climatic event does make these years unusual.

"Based on those two years alone I would say it was too soon to say that a new trend has been established, but it warrants close scrutiny."

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UK pupils scan the skies for hazardous asteroids
Date: 2004-10-11

Tracking newly discovered asteroids and comets to identify their orbits is the work of a small number of observatories. Yet UK students, using the Faulkes Telescope North - a remotely operated research quality telescope dedicated for educational use - will now be swelling these ranks.  The students have taken such accurate data of a number of asteroids that the telescope has been awarded an observatory code and can now submit official data to the international body that monitors asteroids and comets, the International Astronomical Union's (IAU's) Minor Planet Centre.

The students, at King's School in Canterbury, have been aided by their teacher Dr Andrew Taylor and Dr Lothar Kurtze, from Technische Universität in Darmstadt. Over the period of a month, several asteroids were observed to demonstrate the high quality of the images and the telescope's ability to accurately track asteroids, an area of research called astrometry.

Dr Andrew Taylor says, "It's great to be working alongside professional astronomers, and using the Faulkes Telescope North is extremely simple over the internet. The students are thrilled to be making a valuable contribution in this important area of research."

In achieving the IAU code, users of the Faulkes Telescope North can now follow in the steps of Star Trek Voyager's Seven of Nine, head of the Astrometrics Lab. She uses astrometry to plot courses for the starship to avoid hazardous areas and enemies! By using the Faulkes Telescope Project students can help provide astrometric information about the orbits of potentially hazardous asteroids and comets.

Most asteroids are discovered by a limited number of search projects which are then observed by amateur astronomers using fairly small telescopes. All new discoveries must have 'follow-up' observations made in order to determine accurately the asteroid's orbit around the Sun. The follow-up observations are vital and using the new observatory code this can now be carried out by UK schools. The Faulkes Telescope Project and the Spaceguard Centre have jointly developed a programme where asteroids can be tracked, including those objects which are too small and faint to be seen with small telescopes.

Jay Tate, Director of the Spaceguard Centre says, "This is a tremendous achievement for the Faulkes Telescope Project and the students and teachers that have carried out the work. The UK can now, for the first time, make a very significant contribution to the global asteroid tracking network, and it will be schools around the country that will be doing real, cutting edge work that equals that done by professionals!"

Anyone using the Faulkes Telescope North can search for new asteroids or make follow-up observations of recent discoveries and can now get them officially recognised. This presents excellent opportunities for not only schools but also the amateur astronomy community who otherwise may not be able to access such state-of-the-art telescopes.

Currently there are only six working observatories in the UK which have this honour and none of the telescopes can compete with the size and capability of the Faulkes Telescope on the Hawaiian island of Maui which is fully robotic and has a 2m diameter primary mirror.

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Nine Dead In What's Believed To Be Japan's Largest Group Suicide
9:09 am EDT October 12, 2004

TOKYO -- It's believed to be Japan's biggest-ever group suicide.

Seven people, four young men and three young women, have been found slumped over dead in a van outside Tokyo. Four charcoal stoves were also in the van -- investigators think the young people died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

In a separate case, two women apparently took their lives in a car at a temple about 60 miles from Tokyo.

The nine deaths are setting off alarm bells in a country with one of the highest suicide rates in the world.

Some pacts have been made by people who meet at Internet Web sites devoted to discussions about death. One expert theorizes that group suicides could be on the rise because "young people don't have a sense of reality about death."

The expert said young Japanese are not exposed to death as much as in previous generations as fewer relatives die around them.

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Boom not an earthquake
By Leah Moore
13 oct 04
A ROYAL Australian Airforce F1-11 has been blamed for a sonic boom which shook coastal areas of south-east Queensland this morning.

The roof-shuddering boom was reported just before 10am by residents in Brisbane's bayside suburbs of Clontarf, Deception Bay and Redcliffe and as far north as Coolum on the Sunshine Coast, sparking fears of an earthquake.

Defence spokesman Paul Lineham said the F1-11 had been conducting engine tests about 60 nautical miles off the coast in a designated supersonic area.

Mr Lineham said it was highly unusual for the "boom" to travel so far and it had most probably travelled in an inversion layer between two different temperature levels.

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