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Picture of the Day

Hysterica Passio
Global Eye
By Chris Floyd
October 22, 2004

Now we come at last to the heart of darkness. Now we know, from their own words, that the Bush Regime is a cult -- a cult whose god is Power, whose adherents believe that they alone control reality, that indeed they create the world anew with each act of their iron will. And the goal of this will -- undergirded by the cult's supreme virtues of war, fury and blind faith -- is likewise openly declared: "Empire."

You think this is an exaggeration? Then heed the words of the White House itself: a "senior adviser" to the president, who, as The New York Times reports, explained the cult to author Ron Suskind in the heady pre-war days of 2002.

First, the top Bush insider mocked the journalist and all those "in what we call the reality-based community," i.e., people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." Suskind's attempt to defend the principles of reason and enlightenment cut no ice with the Bush-man. "That's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality," he said. "And while you're studying that reality, we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

Anyone with any knowledge of 20th-century history will know that this same megalomaniacal outburst could have been made by a "senior adviser" to Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini or Mao. Indeed, as scholar Juan Cole points out, the dogma of the Bush Cult is identical with the "reality-creating" declaration of Mao's "Little Red Book": "It is possible to accomplish any task whatsoever." For Bush, as for Mao, "discernible reality" has no meaning: Political, cultural, economic, scientific truth -- even the fundamental processes of nature, even human nature itself -- must give way to the faith-statements of ideology, ruthlessly applied by unbending zealots.

Thus: The conquered will welcome their killers. The poor will be happy to slave for the rich. The Earth can sustain any amount of damage without lasting harm. The loss of rights is essential to liberty. War without end is the only way to peace. Cronyism is the path to universal prosperity. Dissent is evil; dissenters are "with the terrorists." But God is with the Leader; whatever he does is righteous, even if in the eyes of unbelievers -- the "reality-based community" -- his acts are criminal: aggressive war that kills thousands of innocent people, widespread torture, secret assassinations, rampant corruption, electoral subversion.

Indeed, the doctrine "Gott mit Uns" is the linchpin of the Bush Cult. Tens of millions of Americans have now embraced the Cult's fusion of Bush's leadership with Divine Will. As a Bush volunteer in Missouri told Suskind: "I just believe God controls everything, and God uses the president to keep evil down ... God gave us this president to be the man to protect the nation at this time." God appointed Bush; thus Bush's acts are godly. It's a circular, self-confirming mind-set that can't be penetrated by reason or facts, can't be shaken by crimes and scandals. That's why Bush's core support -- comprising almost half of the electorate -- stays rock-solid, despite the manifest failures of his administration. It's based on blind faith, on poisonous fantasy: simple, flattering ("We're uniquely good, God's special nation!"), comforting, complete -- so unlike the harsh, bewildering, splintered shards of reality.

This closed mind-set is constantly reinforced by the ubiquitous right-wing media -- evoking the threat of demonic enemies on every side, relentlessly manufacturing righteous outrage -- and by Bush's appearances (epiphanies?) at his carefully screened rallies, where even the slightest hint of demurral from his Godly greatness is ruthlessly expunged. For example, three schoolteachers were ejected from a Bush rally under threat of arrest last week. Not for protesting -- they hadn't said a word -- but merely for wearing T-shirts that read, "Protect Our Civil Liberties." Thus the faithful "create the new reality" of undivided loyalty to the Leader.

The dogma of Bush's godliness is no rhetorical flourish; it has been forged with blood and iron. Consider General Jerry Boykin, who, in uniform, toured churches across the United States, declaring openly that "George W. Bush was not elected by the majority of the American people; he was appointed by God" to lead his "Christian nation" against Satan and the "idol-worshippers" of Islam, as Salon.com reports. Bush then made Boykin the Pentagon's chief of military intelligence -- the point man for wringing information out of Islamic captives in the "war on terror." The result -- confirmed even by the Pentagon's own anemic investigations -- was a military intelligence system gone berserk, systematically torturing and occasionally murdering prisoners who, as the Red Cross notes, were overwhelmingly innocent of any crime. Bush signed orders removing these prisoners from the protection of U.S. and international law; Boykin's boys then visited divine wrath upon the heathens. But these atrocities cannot be crimes, because Bush and Boykin are, in the general's phraseology, "Kingdom warriors" in the "Army of God."

This isn't politics as usual -- not even an extreme version of it, not McCarthyism revisited, Reaganism times two, or Nixon in a Stetson hat. There's never been anything like it in American life before: a messianic cult backed by vast corporate power, a massive cadre of religious zealots, a highly disciplined party, an overwhelming media machine and the mammoth force of history's most powerful government -- all led by men who "create new realities" out of lies, blood, theft and torment.

Their "empire" -- their Death-Cult, their power-mania -- is an old madness rising again.

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The appeal of fascism
By Richard Risemberg
Asia Times

"What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling seacoasts, the guns of our war steamers, or the strength of our gallant and disciplined army. These are not our reliance against a resumption of tyranny in our fair land. All of them may be turned against our liberties, without making us stronger or weaker for the struggle.

Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit, and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors. Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage, and you are preparing your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of those around you, you have lost the genius of your own independence, and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises."
- Abraham Lincoln

What afflicts the people of the United States in these days, that they have developed the capacity not only to tolerate, but even to cherish, the blatant lies and hypocrisies, the injustices, the evasions, and of course the invasions perpetrated by George W Bush and his neo-conservative cabal? How can even conservatives themselves stomach this internationalist, interventionist, activist-court-packing, states'-rights-suppressing cat's-paw of the transnational culture of control that is the only heartfelt homeland of the corporate elite?

Yes, there is opposition, an opposition that comprises most likely a small majority of the country's people - but the supposedly "liberal" media do their best to ignore and even marginalize it, and besides, that yet leaves hundreds of millions here who work themselves into ecstasies of adulation at the words, however fumbling, of this jug-eared cipher, and into equal ecstasies of joyous indignation at the sound of any word that controverts the image his handlers project to the loving masses huddled underneath the balcony ...

Let us not put too fine a point upon it: we are in danger of reverting to fascism.

Fascism is a disease endemic in our species, a periodic fever whose tremors induce a psychosocial orgasm in its sufferers, tantalizing them with physical delusions of both security and power. Far more than its structural and functional ramifications - well illustrated by Benito Mussolini's definition of fascism as "the melding of state and corporate power" and George Orwell's fictional synopsis of a tech-enabled fascist state in Nineteen Eighty-Four - it is fascism's capacity to make a nuanced oppression seem both nurturing and empowering that makes it so dangerous. It is this nuance of fascism - more than the Big Lie techniques and the brute force fascis ts also employ - that makes the Bush/Cheney administration and its police and propaganda mechanisms a true threat to humanity in general and to the United States - formerly respected as an icon of liberty - specifically.

The fundamental appeal of fascism to the everyday person is threefold. It consists of:

  • The promise of security. Fascists typically posit threats, external and internal, that are easily identified but difficult to fight, and then promise to protect you from them - if only you will give them absolute power to do so.
  • Relief from uncertainty. It is no accident that Orwell had his dictator characterize himself as Big Brother. The fascist relieves you of the responsibility to make difficult decisions. You simply follow orders - given, of course, by Big Brother.
  • A share of strength. Most insidious, Big Brother will let you exercise power over others - as long as you exercise Big Brother's power Big Brother's way.

This last is the stroke of genius. The fascist enlists the sufferers of fascism themselves as petty dictators over those who have been designated as "below" them. And we the people are all too often eager to enlist.

As we know, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. But the watered-down wine of authority is good enough for many - even the feeling that they are exercising power by proxy when they grant it to the fearl ess leader who leads them into endless fear.

The paradigm is nearly universal. From Josef Stalin's and Adolf Hitler's structured goonocracies to the serried pyramids of corporate middle managers, the pattern is similar: a Supreme Leader (dictator or chief executive officer); a Politburo, or General Staff, or Board of Directors, who, as cronies of the leader, pull the levers for him; a rubber-stamp parliament that always approves all proceedings set before it; a highly involved hiera rchy with just enough upward mobility that you may strive a lifetime toward an ever-receding Valhalla without ultimately disturbing its present occupants; a rigid culture that prescribes behavior and in many cases (IBM, A lbania) dress and appearance; and an intolerance for any deviation from the chosen definition of the Perfect Man, the Ubermensch, the Good Soldier, the Team Player. (Except, of course, by the leadership elite, who can get as wacky as they please.)

The fascist first makes us all afraid, then makes us all spies, then gives us an enemy, who has often (the Jew, the communist, the jihadi) been hiding right in our midst. And we are almost always ready to drop the dime, to swing the club.

And the definition of the "enemy" is ever-expanding. The US Justice Department, no longer living up to its name, now invokes the USA Patriot (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to In tercept and Obstruct Terrorism) Act against readers of dissident books, against environmental activists - though not, so far, against rich organizations with plenty of lawyers.

We know now that the invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with terrorism, and in fact has nurtured it. But terrorism has everything to do with justifying the arrogation of power by these most foully banal crypto-fascists in the name of protecting us against "terror" - a terror they help create by magnifying the injustices our neo-feudalist corporate culture has perpetrated on the world this century past. But we still "stand behind our president". Why?

Remember two things:

  • First, it is not who has power that's the problem. It's that someone has power.
  • Second, the founders of the United States designed inefficiency into the government precisely to prevent accumulations of power, having had immediate experience with imperial tyrants. Beware those who would bring efficiency to government. A government that's run like a business is a dictatorship.

Richard Risemberg is editor/webmaster of The New Colonist and maintains the Living Room Urban Ecology Webzine and Forum. He lives in Los Angeles.

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U.S. bought into a costly, fake `War on Terror'
Fri, Oct. 22, 2004
LEONARD PITTS JR
Miami Herald

In March 2003, Pat Robertson tried to give President Bush some advice about the coming invasion of Iraq. Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition, supports the president. But he told CNN on Wednesday that he advised Bush to prepare the nation for the likelihood of casualties.

Bush's reply? "We're not going to have any casualties.''

That was 9,100 U.S. casualties ago.

The kicker is that Bush -- who has denied the remark -- stands for reelection a few days from now and it is not expected that he will lose in a landslide. In fact, pollsters say he could conceivably squeak to a second term. All of which throws into sharp relief the question a British man asked me in August.

''How does George Bush get away with it?'' he said.

GREAT PERPLEXITY

I spent part of the summer traveling in Europe and Africa and by the time I met this guy, I was accustomed to the fact that people in those places were watching our presidential campaign with great interest and greater perplexity. I had a customs agent in Sierra Leone solicit my opinion of Bush and had strolled the Champs-Elysées beneath a billboard for Fahrenheit 9/11. Browsing in Harrod's, I'd found a picture book that attacked Bush with scathing pugnacity.

But it was that question I was asked in a London record store that stopped me. It wasn't rhetorical. The guy was curious.

The ''it'' he thought Bush had gotten away with concerned irregularities in the 2000 vote. But as Campaign 2004 steams toward its finish line, it occurs to me that the same thing might be asked of Bush's entire presidency -- in particular, the war in Iraq.

MANY THINGS LOST

Credibility lost, opportunity lost, lives lost and yet, amazingly, reelection is not lost.

That says more about us, I think, than the president.

And here, I am indebted to a reader who sent me a quote a few weeks back. It was an observation that one's willingness to acknowledge a painting is forged is usually inverse to the price one paid to buy it.

That's a neat summation of our present state. After Sept. 11, we wanted nothing so much as to feel safe. So some of us bought what Bush was selling -- the idea that security lay not in finding a terrorist who had attacked us, but in deposing a dictator who had not.

We bought a forgery, a fake ''War on Terror'' for which we paid, and are still paying, a fortune in prestige, money and lives. Now we are loath to admit what anybody can see.

No one should be surprised that this particular salesman has failed to deliver the goods. After all, we know this guy. We know his utter unwillingness to be swayed by facts.

For four years, he and his cronies have blithely changed or suppressed government reports -- on health, science, the environment -- that counter their world view. Just last month when intelligence agents issued a report whose pessimism was at odds with the party line on Iraq, the president dismissed it by saying these experts were ``just guessing.''

On Planet Bush, a thing is true because the president believes it to be true and any facts marshalled in opposition are irrelevant. One's job as the president's advisor, apparently, is simply to nod vigorously.

You can infer the president's level of comfort with people who challenge him from reports that those who attend his rallies are asked to first sign a statement of support for him. Or from the fact that he holds news conferences only slightly more often than J.D. Salinger does. Or from that pinched expression on his face during the first debate.

Bush has no use for people who challenge him. He trusts -- and asks us to trust -- his gut over and above any pesky ''facts'' or ``experts.''

If you want to judge the reliability of the president's gut, consider what he reportedly told Robertson. Then consider the latest casualty figures.

And finally, ask yourself why we're keeping that forgery on the wall.

At this point, the only people being fooled are those who want to be.

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Parties' big guns turn out in pursuit of South Florida's Jewish vote
BY ELINOR J. BRECHER
Thu, Oct. 21, 2004

The GOP is trying to lure historically Democratic Jewish voters in Florida by appealing to their concern for Israel. Democrats say they won't succeed.

In this corner, wearing the Bush-Cheney buttons: Ed and Rudy, and Ari.

And in this corner, with the Kerry-Edwards buttons (in Hebrew, no less): Joe, Hadassah and Cameron.

In the slugfest for South Florida's Jewish vote, both parties are bringing in heavyweights: for the Republicans, former New York Mayors Ed Koch, who is Jewish, and Rudolph Giuliani, who isn't, but whose wife is, and Jewish former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer.

For the Democrats, 2000 vice presidential candidate Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who is Orthodox, and his wife, a rabbi's daughter; John Kerry's brother Cameron Kerry, a convert to Judaism.

Few days pass when these and other surrogates for the presidential candidates don't visit Florida's 500,000 Jewish voters, a traditionally Democratic bloc that Republicans are hotly pursuing.

In 2000, Bush got 19 percent of the Jewish votes nationally. And although GOP strategists present big gains as fact, there is no evidence of it.

In fact, an American Jewish Committee poll in September showed Jews going 69 percent to 24 percent for Kerry over Bush, up from 59-31 last winter.

Republicans acknowledge that they can't swing the whole bloc, but by luring a few voters, they might swing the state that decided the presidency in 2000 by 537 votes.

The pitch: Bush unfailingly backs Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and is a ''staunch supporter of Israel and Israel's right to defend itself from terrorism,'' according to party ''talking points.'' The same points say that Kerry "has never shown any real leadership on the issues important to Jewish voters.''

Democrats counter that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the powerful lobbying group that frequently praises the Bush administration, says Kerry has maintained a ''100 percent pro-Israel voting record in the Senate'' for 20 years.

PARTISAN ARGUMENTS

The battle rages on.

State Rep. Adam Hasner, a Delray Beach Republican and Florida chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign's Jewish Outreach Coalition, casts Kerry as a risky choice for anyone concerned about Israel because he would seek alliances with anti-Israel European countries.

''Outrageous,'' said Matt Miller, the Kerry campaign's Florida spokesman. "He's made it very clear he'll always be a strong supporter of Israel's right to defend itself.''

Miami Beach Mayor David Dermer, a Bush-boosting Jewish Democrat whom Gov. Jeb Bush helped in 2001: "After 9/11, security is the No. 1 issue, and this president at this time is the guy who's going to protect this country. . . . People have to rise above knee-jerk party politics and look at this election for the future of this world.''

U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, a Palm Beach Democrat and a Kerry surrogate on Jewish affairs: "When the Saudi crown prince [Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz last May] said that Zionists were responsible for terror attacks in Saudi Arabia, Kerry condemned it and Bush was mum. . . . This president has an on-off record for support for Israel.''

Republicans face a hard sell among Jews who consider crossing party lines as shameful as marrying out of the faith.

After Lieberman's recent appearance at a Sunny Isles Beach synagogue, Marceline Pearlman, 88, looked puzzled when Mireille Mechoullam, a registered Democrat, said she remained undecided.

Puzzlement turned to disbelief when Mechoullam, 70, an Egyptian-born bank manager, said she voted for Ronald Reagan twice and George W. Bush once, and was ''tilting toward Bush'' again.

(Granted, her 2000 vote was more anti-GoreLieberman than pro-Bush, for the quixotic reason that if "you put a Jewish person in the White House, they blame all the ills on the Jew again.'')

Pearlman sputtered: "You voted for Bush?'' then shook her head sadly. She agreed with Lieberman that since both candidates have pro-Israel records, Jews need to vote based on the other issues close to their hearts, like social justice and healthcare.

''I feel Bush is strictly for the people with money and oil, and he doesn't help the underdog,'' Pearlman said.

For Miami Beach lawyer Joel Hoppenstein, 46, focusing on other issues confirms that '''America has a short attention span'' and that battling terrorism ought to override everything else.

''As the president said, an attack in Israel is the same as in America or Afghanistan or Bali,'' the South African emigre said. "I see it as the same war.''

Although Hoppenstein is on the Republican Jewish Coalition's national board, he won't call Kerry ''bad for Israel.'' Rather, he said, Bush "has been tested at the most crucial time in Israel's history and has passed with flying colors. Voting against him would be sacrilegious.''

Yet asked for his electoral priorities, he first lists 'the economy and fiscal policy. . . . If I was to be asked, as Ronald Reagan asked [during the 1980 campaign], 'Are you better off than you were four years ago?' I could honestly answer yes.''

ISRAELI ISSUE

Some Democrats feel that tossing Israel into the political mix is nothing less than a Republican dirty trick.

''I thought Israel had become a nonpartisan issue, but they've dragged it into the partisan gutter,'' said state Rep. Dan Gelber, a Miami Beach Democrat who has been debating Bush supporters at synagogue forums.

''The result has been that the rhetoric is very destructive. . . . You end up distorting policy, and it can only hurt Israel,'' Gelber said.

'They're trying to find voters in play, so they're trying to say Israel will be imperiled by a Kerry presidency. It's so absurd it can't even aspire to 'urban myth.' ''

Gelber believes that the campaign for Jewish votes is part of an attempt by Republican neoconservatives to ''consolidate'' their hold on the party: ' 'What vote can we energize?' They can only oppose embryonic stem-cell research, gay marriage and abortion so long.''

But those issues -- with certain differences on abortion and stem-cell research -- also matter to the Orthodox, the most Republican segment of the Jewish community, said Rabbi Neal Turk of Miami Beach's Beth Israel congregation.

Turk, who voted Democratic in 2000 to support Lieberman, attended a meeting of Orthodox leaders with the Republican Jewish Committee before the GOP convention in New York.

''They wanted to underscore that Bush's agenda and ours is very similar,'' he said. "We see in him a true inner conviction to support Israel.''

Bush is an evangelical Christian, a group that considers Israel's survival key to prophetic fulfillment and the second coming of Christ.

That theology, however, also holds that Jews must convert to be "saved.''

Turk said Jews should guard against evangelism, "but that doesn't mean we can't work together on a practical level.''

Elaine Bloom, the Jewish former state representative who lost to Dermer, thinks Jewish voters should guard against something else: the Bush family's long-standing friendship with the Saudi royal family.

''I've brought up the issues raised in House of Bush, House of Saud,'' Bloom said, referring to the Craig Unger book subtitled The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties. "That includes how George W. Bush sought support from Sami al-Arian,'' the Palestinian professor formerly at the University of South Florida who was charged with conspiring with terrorists.

'There's a picture of Bush and his wife with the al-Arians at a strawberry festival. Bush called their son 'Big Dude.' Mrs. Bush told his wife, 'Love your head scarf.' ''

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Students Claim They Were Tricked Into Switching Parties
October 20, 2004

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. -- Students at UCF and two local community colleges claim they were duped into switching their party affiliations from Democrat to Republican, campus police officials said Tuesday.

Fewer than 10 students have filed reports with UCF police saying they were approached by a middle-aged couple in the student union who asked for support in changing child molestation laws. The students filled out a form that asked for personal information, and some time later they received a notice from the county election supervisor's office that their party affiliation had been changed, said Sgt. Troy Williamson, a spokesman for the UCF police.

Similar incidents have occurred at Valencia Community College in Orange County and Seminole Community College, Williamson said.

"They thought they were signing a petition to change child molestation laws," Williamson said. "They didn't realize they had changed their political party."

All the cases involved Democrats being switched to Republicans, Williamson said. He added that the party switch wouldn't affect their ability to vote in the Nov. 2 election. The first police complaint was made last week.

UCF police officials sent out an e-mail Monday and Tuesday to the school's students warning them about the incidents.

Williamson said it would be up to the state attorney's office or federal prosecutors to determine if a crime had been committed.

Margaret Dunn, Orange County's senior deputy supervisor of elections, said her office had no information on the incidents other than what was sent out by the UCF police.

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Flight school foreigners face tougher checks in US

23/10/2004 - 10:15:41

The US government is to check the background of all foreigners applying to flight schools.

The expanded security measures by the Transportation Security Administration, aimed in part at preventing potential terrorists from taking pilot lessons as some of the September 11 hijackers did, now apply to any foreigner seeking flight training in the United States, not just those learning to fly larger aircraft.

In addition, those who want to attend flight school for a second time - for certification to fly a different classification of aircraft, for example - will need to have their backgrounds checked again.

Previously, only those training on aircraft weighing 12,500lbs or more had their backgrounds checked.

“Fortifying security by knowing who trains at these schools is an integral part of our mission to secure the homeland,” said TSA chief David Stone, whose agency expanded the pool to include smaller aircraft on Wednesday. [...]

Comment: This is simply an effort by the corrupt US government to further fool the American people by attempting to retrospectively solidify the ridiculous notion that the few hours training in a single engined Cessna that the alleged "Arab" hijackers had, actually equipped them to pull of the aerobatic stunts in large commercial jets.

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Come Fly With Me?

source

Military records show that hijackers Saeed and Ahmed Alghamdi listed their address on driver licenses and car registrations as 10 Radford Blvd., a base roadway where residences for foreign-military flight trainees are located, according to Newsweek (9-15-2001). Saeed Alghamdi listed the Radford address to register a 1998 Oldsmobile, and then used it again to register a late model Buick. Driver licenses thought to have been issued to [Ahmed Alghamdi] in 1996 and 1998 also list the Radford residence, added Newsweek.

Newsweek then visited the Pensacola base, “where military police confirmed the address housed foreign military flight trainees, but denied access past front barricades. Officials at the base confirmed that the FBI is investigating the three students.”

On September 17, Florida Senator Bill Nelson, “asked the Pentagon to confirm or refute reports that two of the terrorists were listed at a housing facility for foreign military officers at a Pensacola Florida Air Base,” according to the Washington Post (9-22-2001).

On September 21, the Washington Post added that Senator Nelson, “was informed that the FBI could neither say ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ ” because the bureau was still, “investigating any connection to the military facility,” according to Nelson’s press spokesman, Dan McLaughlin.

A Scoop call yesterday to Senator Nelson’s office seeking an update on the matter revealed that Nelson finally received a DOJ letter from Attorney General John Ashcroft, who asserted that Pensacola Naval Air Station did not train hijackers, according to Nelson’s press spokesperson Gretchen Hitchner.

However, Ashcroft offered no explanation as to how Saudi terrorists could have gained access to and been able to live at the Pensacola, Florida military base as their driver licenses and car registrations indicated, according to news reports - flight training or not.

And Ashcroft’s letter to Nelson never mentioned that the two terrorists had Pensacola Air Station addresses - let alone that a now-mysteriously deceased, Pensacola naval flight instructor from the Royal Saudi Air Force had the same name and also lived and worked at the U.S. naval air base.

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Flashback: Questions remain on flight training

Published September 22, 2001
They swooped down on the World Trade Center like a pair of fighter jets.

Yet the terrorists were flying bulky 200-ton Boeing 767 jetliners — so smoothly they obviously had considerable flying skills.

But did they actually train in a Boeing 767 simulator?

Almost two weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, that is a nagging question and one that remains unclear.

But it is one worth exploring because if it can be determined the terrorist-hijackers visited a specific flight training center, federal authorities may be able to learn more about how the attacks were planned and possibly identify other suspects.

Similar cockpits

Thus far, federal investigators have not made any direct links between the terrorists and centers that offer instruction on a 767 simulator, or a 757 simulator for that matter.

You may recall it was a Boeing 757 that crashed into the Pentagon and another 757, thought to be aiming toward the White House, that went down near Pittsburgh.

What must be kept in mind is that if a pilot is trained in either a 767 or a 757, he is equipped to fly both. Boeing specifically designed the cockpits of the two planes to be similar so airlines could reduce training costs.

There are about 50 outlets in the United States that have full-motion 767-757 simulators and several others in Europe. I tried calling a bunch of them and they say it is unlikely the terrorists filtered in because most only train airline pilots.

But some are open to the public.

Interestingly, United Airlines, whose planes were commandeered in the Sept. 11 attacks, had offered the public the opportunity to fly a simulator at its Denver training center under a program called “Pilot-for-a-Day.”

Under one package, the program included a tour of the training center, a one-hour briefing on the cockpit environment and a two-hour 767-simulator flight for $1,750.

But it appears none of the hijackers was ever in Denver to take advantage of the program, which has since been suspended.

Another 767 simulator open to the public is housed at Pan Am International Flight Academy at Miami International Airport. That center might have seemed perfect for the terrorists, considering they nestled into South Florida for much of their basic flight training. But they never approached Pan Am. Neither did they attempt to fly the 767-757 simulators at FlightSafetyBoeing at its Miami training center.

Rather, two of the suspects, including alleged ringleader Mohamed Atta, signed up to take two three-hour sessions in a Boeing 727 simulator at the SimCenter at Opa-locka Airport.

Henry George, the center owner and the instructor-pilot who provided the training, said the suspects told him they were hoping to become airline pilots “in their country.” George said the two, who each had about 300 hours of flight experience in small propeller planes, possessed “average” flight skills.

‘Tricky’ navigating

But did a 727 provide enough experience to operate a 767 or 757? Some pilots don’t think so.

The 727 is a rather old three-engine jet with an old-fashioned cockpit, including a cramped instrument panel loaded down with small dials, knobs and gauges. It would have given the suspects the feel of a big jetliner.

But the 767 and 757 have highly sophisticated “glass cockpits,” featuring video screens and digital readouts, and requiring an advanced level of computer skills.

“To navigate with that glass cockpit, it can be pretty tricky,” says Steven Wallach, a Boca Raton aviation consultant and former airline captain.

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Delmart Vreeland arrested, claims to have predicted 9/11

ClickOnDetroit.com -October 22

Man Who Says He Predicted Sept. 11 Attacks Arrested
Michigan Native Wanted On Child Prostitution, Fraud Charges

A Michigan native who claims to have predicted the events of Sept. 11, 2001, was arrested by authorities in Iowa on Wednesday.

Delmart Vreeland, 38, of Rochester Hills, was wanted by eight Michigan jurisdictions, including Oakland County, for crimes like fraud and burglary, according to a report in The Daily Oakland Press...

Read Suspect's Criminal Background

Vreeland was captured by sheriff's deputies in Iowa's Franklin County after he stopped to refuel at a gas station.

Vreeland used a credit card at the station that had an alert placed on it by authorities in Colorado -- where he is wanted on child prostitution charges, according to the paper.

Authorities in Michigan, Colorado, Virginia, Canada and New York all want to speak with Vreeland, the paper reported.

Oakland County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Bouchard told the paper that Vreeland ran an identity theft ring in the Detroit area for a few years and has felony convictions for breaking and entering and receiving stolen property.

Vreeland used to live in Rochester Hills and worked at a company that refurbished computers in Troy, the paper reported.

He's reportedly considered a folk hero among conspiracy theorists who believe he is a spy for the Office of Naval Intelligence.

Shortly after the terrorist attacks, Vreeland apparently claimed that while he was in prison he wrote a note that foreshadowed the events of Sept. 11, 2001, according to the paper.

Government officials have reportedly denied that Vreeland ever served in the Navy...

Comment: See here for a copy of the "9/11 foreknowledge" note, which contains some very interesting names and placenames, allegedly written by Vreeland.

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Second Civilian Killed in Rafah, Settler Runs Over Three Schoolgirls in West Bank
(IPC WAFA)
October 20, 2004

RAFAH, Palestine, - - Israeli occupation forces killed a second civilian in the city of Rafah as he was coming out of a mosque, as closures of main roads in Gaza Strip continued.

Medical sources at Abu Yousef Al Najjar Hospital in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah announced today that Israeli forces killed a second civilian, identified as Jihad Hasanein, 21, while leaving a local mosque after performing the dawn prayers.

Security sources asserted that Israeli forces near the borderline with Egypt opened heavy gunfire early this morning at civilians' homes in Tal Zo'rob area, and that they are currently detaining Hasanein's body.

Earlier this morning, a civilian was shot dead by Israeli forces in the same area, when an Israeli tank opened heavy gunfire and tank rounds at a group of civilians leaving a local mosque at dawn.

In the West Bank, medical sources and eyewitnesses said that an Israeli settler ran three schoolgirls over while returning home from their school in the village of Howwara in Nablus province.

The witnesses affirmed that an Israeli soldier was sitting next to the settler who was driving the car, and that he ran away after running over the girls.

Doctors said the three schoolgirls, aged between 13 and 15 years old, are also sisters, suffered fractures in different parts of their bodies in addition to swellings and cuts.

The director of the education department in Nablus, Mohammed Al Qobbaj, described the accident as intentional, and said the same settler witnesses identified attempted to run over other schoolgirls several times before.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces continued closing main roads and crossings in Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian general security directorate.

The security directorate's report confirmed that Israeli forces closed Rafah border terminal completely today, isolating Gaza Strip from the rest of the world and denying thousands of Palestinian travelers to leave or enter Gaza.

Also, Palestinian workers were prevented from reaching their working places inside Israel when the Israeli forces closed the Erez checkpoint, north of Gaza Strip. However, both Sofa and Karni commercial crossings remained partially open.

As for military checkpoints dividing Gaza Strip, Israeli forces fluctuated in opening and closing both Abu Holi and Al Matahen military checkpoints, which separate central and southern Gaza Strip, while the coastal road which links northern Gaza with the central areas remained opened today.

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Top Hamas militant assassinated
October 22, 2004 - 9:04AM

Israel killed the top bombmaker and rocket engineer of the Hamas militant group in an aerial drone strike in Gaza City.

It came just days before a key parliamentary vote on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Gaza pullout plan.

Medics and witnesses said a missile from an Israeli drone slammed into a vehicle and killed Adnan al-Ghoul, a senior Hamas leader and master bombmaker for the Islamic militant group who has been on Israel's most wanted list since 1987.

The attack also killed Ghoul's aide, Hamas gunman Imad Abbas. Israel has often targeted militants in airstrikes during four years of violence.

It is increasingly using armed drones, which can loiter and identify a target, instead of aircraft more vulnerable to the Palestinian anti-aircraft weapons Ghoul had helped introduce.

Ghoul had also developed an earlier and much less sophisticated aerial weapon than the drone that killed him.

Palestinians called Ghoul "the father of the Qassam rocket," referring to the type of low tech rocket Gaza militants have fired frequently into Israel during the past few months. Two Israeli toddlers were killed in such a rocket strike last month.

Ghoul survived two previous Israeli assassination attempts in the past two years, one of which killed his son, also a Hamas militant. Ghoul was also the right-hand man of top Hamas leader Mohammed Deif, who remains a prime target on Israel's list.

Dozens of Hamas gunmen and supporters who rushed to the morgue to see the bodies of the dead fired rifles in the air and shouted for revenge.

"The reaction will be painful and an unforgettable lesson to the Zionist enemy," said spokesman Mushi al-Masri.

The elder Ghoul had long been a fixture on Israel's most-wanted list, eluding Israeli forces through a mixture of stealth and luck.

Aged 46 when killed, he had joined Hamas in 1988 when the group was in its infancy and went on to help found its military wing.

Ghoul became the group's top bombmaker after the assassination of Yehiya Ayash, known as "the engineer," in on 1996.

Ghoul also developed the homemade Qassam rocket as well as anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, according to Palestinian and Israeli military officials.

Palestinian militants have fired dozens of Qassams into southern Israel in recent years, and Israel launched a broad offensive into Gaza late last month after a rocket attack killed two Israeli preschoolers.

Ghoul, a resident of the Mughrkha area south of Gaza City, had lived in hiding for years and never made public appearances or spoke to the media.

In September 2003, he was holed up in a Gaza apartment with Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin, senior official Ismail Hanieh, and top bomb maker Mohammed Deif, when the Israeli air force dropped a 250 kg bomb on the building. All of the men escaped unharmed, although Yassin was subsequently killed in an Israeli helicopter strike earlier this year.

Hamas is secretive about its organisation, though the broad structural outlines are known.

General policy is set by the political bureau, headed by Khalid Mashaal in Damascus, Syria. Other members of the bureau include several Hamas leaders in the Arab world, as well as Hanieh and Mahmoud Zahar in Gaza.

The Hamas military wing, Izzedine al Qassam, plans and carries out attacks on Israelis. With Ghoul's death, it is headed by Deif, who tops Israel's wanted list and has been operating from hiding for years.

Ghoul's eldest son, Bilal, was killed in an Israeli air strike in 2001 while he was driving his father's car, and his second son, Mohammed, was killed the following year, together with a cousin, when Israeli troops searched the family home.

He is survived by a single son and a daughter.

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Barnier, Europe and Israel
Randa Takieddine Al-Hayat 2004/10/20

The highly convinced French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier visited Israel in order to ask its Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for a European role in facilitating the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

Barnier had worked for several years as EU Special Envoy to Brussels, and is convinced of the possibility of pushing the EU to play a significant role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Barnier considers that Europe's role is not restricted to offering paychecks and cash to Israel, and that the EU has a role that it must play.

Barnier headed to Israel, while holding on to the principles of the French policy in the region; however, the Israeli side focused on what suits it best in Barnier's talk. The French Minister supported Sharon's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, but clarified that the withdrawal must be the first phase within the framework of implementing the 'Roadmap,' ending the occupation of the Palestinian territories, dismantling the settlements, and putting an end to the siege of the President of the Palestinian Authority Yasser Arafat in Ramalah.

Sharon responded with his traditional excuses, while displaying the internal difficulties that he experiences due to the decision of withdrawal. Unfortunately, this leads the observers of the French-Israeli negotiation to consider it a useless dialogue due to the Israeli stagnation.

Israel has its own interest in receiving Barnier and praising France, following all that Sharon said about it, and his accusation of anti-Semitism. France is a significant country in the EU; however, Sharon does not trust it because of its just stances and embracement of righteous principles towards the Palestinian people.

Despite Barnier's efforts, conviction, and optimism in the possible European role, the unity of the European stance remains lacking with regards to this conflict. The last vote at the United Nations Security Council concerning the Israeli operations against the Gaza Strip remains the best proof on this, due to the German and British objection to this resolution.

The EU is intercepted by America; this became obvious through the American war on Iraq, and through the history of the European relations with Israel and the Palestinians. Barnier continuously reminds of the stances of EU's Foreign and Security Policy Chief Xavier Solana regarding the region, and wishes to involve the 'silent' EU Special Middle East Envoy Marc Otte in taking action. However, after Miguel Moratinos, who made his voice heard when he was the EU Special Middle East Envoy, who in the region is now listening to Otte?

Did anyone in the Gaza Strip, Ramallah, Lebanon, Syria, or Egypt, heard what Otte is saying or carrying from Europe to the Middle East?

Where is Europe, and what measures did it take in this context?

The French diplomats claim that the EU, supported by France, resumed the work of the Quartet in the direction of the Roadmap; but, where is the Roadmap and its implementation, and who in Israel listens to France?

Barnier's efforts are appreciated because they are based on the ongoing French principles without any concessions. It is true that Barnier is interested in the French internal front, and wishes to comfort the Jewish community, which is the second largest community in the world, that France is far from anti-Semitism, and that Sharon's accusations are unjustifiable. However, the possibility of convincing the Israeli side of implementing France's recommendations, remains as an unattainable mission.

The French President has a long experience in dealing with the region; he cannot be unaware deep down himself, that there is no hope for peace with Sharon. He publicly states that matters are completely suspended for as long as the U.S. administration does not effectively interfere in the reconciliation, in a more just form than its traditional bias in the favor of Israel.

France's stance from the Palestinian issue is very fair; however, a hand does not clap on its own in an endless struggle, as long as the occupation, siege, murder and Israeli settling go on.

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Until When?
Maher Othman Al-Hayat 2004/10/22

It seems that the Palestinian President Yasser Arafat is aware of the dangers of the internal Palestinian situation at this stage. He stayed up for several nights to convince the supporters of the military intelligence and security apparatuses to end the armed conflict between them; despite the fact that he had the flu. The fact is the conduct of the leaders of these apparatuses is disgusting, and such behavior harmed the Palestinian national interest and the interest of Palestinian citizens who have suffered enough from Israeli occupation. The member of the central committee for the Fatah organization Sakhr Habash characterized the problem accurately by saying, "Every official in the security apparatus who remains more than four years in his position transforms the apparatus, which he runs to serve his personal needs."

The struggles and conflicts inside the security apparatuses are perilous; however, such conflicts and struggles do not threaten by themselves. The Palestinian Minister of finance Salam Fayyad, renowned for his credentials and integrity, declared that the financial situation of the Palestinian Authority (PA) "is very difficult and critical," which will impede the transfer of monthly financial allocations for the ministers. Fayyad also said, "what the authority receives from the Arab and foreign countries is much less that what we expected."

Nonetheless, the contributions of the Arab governments in serving the interest of the Arab people, including the interest of the Palestinian people, falls under the context of sharing with the enlightened and scrupulous people in the world; especially in the U.S. and Europe, their firm belief which is based on established facts that the current American administration is threatening international peace and security; and naturally, it is threatening the interest of the Arabs and Muslims - especially in Palestine and Iraq. Whoever is aware of the fact that the kernels of influence inside the White House or the Pentagon, the neo-conservatives, are in fact Zionists that blindly support the Likud Party in Israel, should speak out and act against the plans and ideologies of these neo-cons who set the policies, which the government of Ariel Sharon is currently implementing. These neo-cons were also delighted when Sharon got the "Bush Declaration" which surpassed the Balfour Declaration. They also planned for the war on Iraq, which led to the weakening and disintegration of the Iraqi state to the extent of the inability of reconstructing and strengthening its unity for decades to come.

Standing against the current American policies towards the region is the most important national duty. We must resolutely, yet rationally and implacably, deal with such policies in order not to leave no chance for fear or submission.

The Israelis are using their entire political might against the Palestinian people, and the latter are suffering from attacks by the Jewish settlers on their homes and crops. In Iraq, the Americans are also using their military might, à la Israeli, in order to subjugate the Iraqi people. Emphatically speaking, democracy can never be imposed by means of military oppression.

Will the Arabs be content with both occupations? Until when?

Comment: The Arabs? Europe? Who is going to stand up for the truth? It doesn't seem probable than anyone in power will make such a stand in the face of the US and Israel.

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Tensions boil as Holocaust survivor decries treatment of Palestinians

By Andrew Burmon
Thursday, October 21, 2004
last updated October 21, 2004 4:01 AM

Hedy Epstein, an 80-year-old Holocaust survivor and champion of the Palestinian cause in Israel, spoke at the History Corner last night to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The event, which was sponsored by the Coalition for Justice in the Middle East and the Muslim Student Awareness Network, was marked by tensions from the outset.

Announcements billing the talk, put up around campus by event organizers last week, juxtaposed an image of Jews in Nazi Germany with an image of Palestinians at Israeli checkpoints.

The flier appalled members of Stanford’s Jewish community and prompted the Stanford Israel Alliance and the Jewish Leadership Council to send letters to MSAN, CJME and several administrators including Vice Provost John Bravman.

The letter argued that any comparison between Israelis and Nazis “could risk offending Jews and inciting others against them.”

Sensing a potential controversy, CJME co-president Omar Shakir, a sophomore, prefaced his introduction of Epstein by assuring the audience that no direct comparison between Israelis and Nazis was intended by the posters or would be expressed by Epstein in her remarks.

Epstein insisted that she “did not compare situations” and restrained from making direct comparisons between Nazis and Israelis. She largely avoided discussing her own background as a Holocaust survivor — she left Germany through the Kindertransport when she was eight years old — and focused instead on her experiences protesting in Israel.

Epstein said she had been shot at with live ammunition and tear-gas canisters by Israeli soldiers.

On a recent trip to Israel, airport security guards informed her that based on her history as an activist she was considered a terrorist threat. She was subsequently stripped and cavity-searched.

She concluded her remarks by sharing a thought she had while standing in the shadow of Israel’s new security fence.

“When I stood next to that wall, I remembered what the motto of Holocaust survivors was: ‘Never again,’” she said. Epstein shook her head and continued, “We Jews are doing this.”

Several times during the talk, Epstein was interrupted by the shouting of outraged audience members, many of whom were associated with off-campus Jewish groups. One man threatened “legal action.” Another yelled that the speech was “just too much.”

Epstein cited the outbursts as “a good example of how Israelis speak to Palestinians.”

San Jose resident Darlene Wallach, co-founder of the group Justice for Palestinians, jumped hurriedly to her feet and yelled “Shame on you!” at Epstein’s detractors.

By the end of the speech, the tension in the room warranted the arrival of two Public Safety officers, who quietly moved closer to Epstein.

Junior Adam Isen, co-president of the Stanford Israel Alliance, criticized Epstein for what he perceived as her selective interpretation of the conflict.

“She totally ignores the fact that Israel was willing to offer the Palestinians a state,” he said.

In an effort to undermine her credibility, unidentified protesters circulated fliers claiming that the International Solidarity Movement, to which Epstein has ties, has been known to “advocate terrorist violence, excuse suicide bombings and advocate cutting holes in Israel’s fence.”

At the end of the question-and-answer session, Epstein was asked what she hoped her audience would remember from the evening.

“I hope you remember the members of the audience who were respectful,” she said, adding, “I am very sorry and very appalled that my fellow Jews behaved so abysmally.”

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Mid-East 'drifting towards chaos'
BBC NEws
A senior UN official has warned that no solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be found without international involvement.

In a briefing to the Security Council, Kieran Prendergast spoke of "a palpable sense of drift and foreboding... towards chaos".

He urged both sides to abandon violence and engage in negotiation.

And he warned that there would be no peaceful agreement if both sides were left to themselves.

Since the start of the latest intifada, or uprising, in September 2000, some 3,839 Palestinians and 979 Israelis had been killed, said Mr Prendergast, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs.

And an estimated 36,000 Palestinians and 6,297 Israelis had been wounded.

These "staggering" figures, he said, demanded action.

"Are we going to go on like this? Is there not a better way?" he asked.

Neither side, he said, was fulfilling its obligations under the international peace plan known as the road map.

"Even to speak in terms of a peace process seems to put one at a distance from the present reality," he said.

Violence in and around the Gaza Strip has escalated sharply during the past month after Israel launched a major operation in response to a rocket attack from Gaza which killed two Israeli children.

Mr Prendergast said the Palestinian Authority had to make all efforts to stop such attacks against Israeli citizens.

He also called on the Israelis to refrain from the disproportionate use of force.

Comment: The chaos has already arrived. It can only get worse. Four times as many Palestinians are being killed, six times as many as being wounded, and yet the media, especially in the US, continues the fables of "Israel has the right to defend itself".

The aggressor here is not the Palestinians, who were forcible evicted from their land through an international "conspiracy" fomented by the Zionists and the British to keep the Arabs divided. The Arabs know this, but what are they doing about it?

What good is knowledge if it is not applied?

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US warns of possible bomb attacks in Laos during upcoming ASEAN summit
AFP
Friday October 22, 9:55 AM

Opponents of the Lao government may be plotting multiple bomb attacks in Vientiane and other areas of Laos timed to coincide with a meeting of Southeast Asian leaders the country is hosting next month, the United States said.

The State Department had few details of the potential threat, but said the attacks could come during the November 25 to 30 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit conference in Vientiane.

"The US embassy in Vientiane has received information that during the ASEAN summit conference, persons associated with anti-Lao government groups may be planning to detonate several explosive devices in Vientiane," the department said in a public announcement.

The department warned US citizens in Laos to "exercise extreme caution."

The threat information obtained by the embassy also covers the provinces of Bolikhamxai, Khammouan, Savannakhet, Salavan and Champassak, the department said, adding that it had no details on specific targets or methods for the attacks.

Leaders of the 10 ASEAN members -- Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam -- are to gather in Vientiane on November 29 and 30 for their annual summit at the end of the longer conference that begins four days earlier.

It was not immediately clear if the threat covered only the two-day summit or meetings of senior ASEAN officials that will precede it.

Thursday's announcement replaced an existing July 9 alert that warned US citizens of ongoing security concerns in Laos that began four years ago to reflect the fact that those concerns "may be heightened due to the ASEAN summit conference." [...]

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Insurgents funded by Saudis, U.S. says
By John J. Lumpkin
The Associated Press
October 22 2004

WASHINGTON - Iraq's new security forces are heavily infiltrated by insurgents, and the guerrilla groups have access to almost unlimited money to pay for deadly attacks, according to a U.S. defense official who provided new details on the evolution of the rebels.

A significant part of the insurgents' money is coming from sympathizers in Saudi Arabia, and the Saudi government is neglecting the problem, said the official, who was authorized by the Pentagon to speak on the issue this week, but only on condition of anonymity.

Money is flowing into Iraq through Syria, the official said.

In both cases, it comes from a diffuse network of supporters, funneled through charities, tribal relations, and businesses -- not necessarily the same funding networks that transfer money to al-Qaida from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries, but following a similar model, the official said.

Saudi government officials have repeatedly said they are cracking down on money networks that support terrorism, but their focus has been primarily on stopping al-Qaida, not the Iraqi resistance. A spokesman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington did not return a call seeking comment Thursday.

Some experts called the money trail new evidence that the Iraqi resistance has gained support in the Arab world.

"The overall resistance in Iraq is popular and is getting more popular in the Arab world," said Vince Cannistraro, a former counterterrorism chief for the Central Intelligence Agency.

But Anthony Cordesman, a defense analyst in Washington, said the U.S. government has presented little evidence to support its claims of notable foreign involvement in Iraqi insurgency, be it from Syria, Iran or Saudi Arabia.

"You get a different story from virtually every official," Cordesman said. Any money flowing to terrorist groups from the Arabian peninsula more likely would pass through banks in Europe, making it difficult for Arab governments to track, he said.

The defense official described a country where a fearful citizenry doesn't fully accept the concepts of Western law and order and remains unwilling to take their future into their own hands, where police are often corrupt and the security forces are "heavily infiltrated" by insurgents.

In some cases, members of the Iraqi security services have developed sympathies and contacts with the guerrillas; in other cases, infiltrators were sent to join the groups, the official said.

The official pointed to a mortar attack Tuesday on an Iraqi National Guard compound near Baghdad as a probable inside job. The attackers apparently knew precisely when and where the unit's members were gathering and dropped mortar rounds in the middle of their formation.

Comment: Do you see the deliberate spin put the story above? How convenient that they insert the names of Syria and Saudi Arabia, who both happen to be recently demonized Arabic countries. Syria is alleged to be a part of the "axis-of-evil", and the Saudis are being set up (by Moore and others) as being likely responsible for the Sept 11th attacks.

Notice too how the insurgent's money supply is portrayed as virtually limitless, being funneled through Arabic "charities, tribal relations, and businesses", so as to give foreign governments an excuse to go after these organizations in their own country.

It would be wise to remember the words of the defense analyst above... "the U.S. government has presented little evidence to support its claims of notable foreign involvement in Iraqi insurgency, be it from Syria, Iran or Saudi Arabia."

So even though there is "little evidence", the claims of this "anonymous" US defense official are taken verbatim and made into a national news story.

Who could possibly benefit by this piece of propaganda?

A clue might be found in the last paragraph where the facts seem to suggest that the mortar attack on the Iraqi National Guard was an "inside job". Whereas, the story assumes that by "inside" they mean a guardsman with loyalties to the insurgents, it could also be mentioned that both American and Israeli secret service agents are on the "inside" as well in Iraq.

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US Raids Computer Centers, Internet Cafes To Quell Resistance Reporting
By Omar Al-Fair, JUS
Oct 22, 2004

In a continuing effort to silence information coming out of Iraq, US forces began early this week an offensive against Iraq's computer centers and Internet cafes. On Tuesday US occupation forces raided an internet center in the city of Bayji, 180km north of Baghdad. The owner of the establishment, Ali Hamid, told Reuters that "members of the US forces raided the center this [Tuesday] morning and took five computers and their equipment." Hamid noted, "This isn't the first time the Americans have raided the center and took computers. Some time ago they did the same thing and they took a number of computers then too."

Residents of the city of Samarra', 100km north of Baghdad, were quoted by Mafkarat al-Islam as saying that similar raids had taken place on computer cafes in their area as well. There the American troops "confiscated the contents of the as-Safir Internet Center and, in particular, all its computers."

In recent weeks, the US has employed a variety of strategies to stop the information flow, including bombing "strategic targets" of communications towers, Telecom switches and grids. In addition, satellite phone operators have become legitimate targets of US air strikes as signals are picked up on US GPS systems.

Information Controls Stepped Up At Home

The US has also stepped up its efforts to control information at home in advance of the elections. Several large ISPs in the Middle East have been blocked en mass, and pressure has been put on even the so called "uncensored" new outlets. Soldiers "blogs" have been shut down in some cases, particularly those that tell of unreported US casualties. Google has come under either self inflicted censorship or pressure from the US government in recent weeks, with many alternate news sources being delisted from Google News.

Further, mainstream news reports that provide some Iraq coverage is being pushed from the front pages and top searches on Google, making it difficult to obtain even mainstream news reports. In fact, if one searches Google News today, you would be hard pressed to know that there is even a war going on.

The latest effort at censorship is critical for the US to tightly control the false perception that the "war on terrorism" , which is a war on Islam and its resources, is a war they can win and a war that is necessary. If and when the American people come to their senses, as they did eventually in Vietnam after thousands of unnecessary casualties had been incurred, Americans will demand an end to their governments terrorism and it is this the US administration and its allies must prevent at all costs.

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DEPLETED URANIUM: OBSERVATORY LAMENTS DENIAL
(AGI)
Oct. 19, 2004

Rome, Italy, - According to the Italian Military Health Observatory a total of 109 Italian soldiers have died thus far due to exposure to depleted uranium. The observatory stressed the fact that 41 pct of active personnel casualties relate to disease. According to Domenico Leggiero at the Military Health Observatory, "The total of 109 casualties exceeds the total number of persons dying as a consequence of road accidents.

Anyone denying the significance of such data is purely acting out of ill faith, and the truth is that our soldiers are dying out there due to a lack of adequate protection against depleted uranium". Leggiero pointed out the fact that the Senate has to date failed to establish a probe committee on this matter: "it is proof of a worrying lack of oversight on matters which are frankly dramatic". Members of the Observatory have petitioned a urgent hearing "in order to study effective prevention and safeguard measures aimed at reducing the death-toll amongst our serving soldiers".

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France considers Pinochet trial
BBC News
French prosecutors have called for former Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet to be tried over the disappearance of four French citizens in the 1970s.

Along with 20 other former military officers, he is suspected of having ordered their arrest and detention.

General Pinochet, 88, is currently under house arrest in Chile.

French investigating magistrate Sophie Clement is expected to decide within six weeks whether he and the others should be tried in absentia.

Preliminary charges against Mr Pinochet hold him responsible of "illegal confinement accompanied or followed by acts of torture" of the French men.

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George Bush as Manna From Heaven
Friday, October 22, 2004. Page 8.
By Alexei Bayer

You don't often see Russia's political leaders endorse American presidents, certainly not conservative Republicans. But Vladimir Putin's recent comments at a news conference in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, amount to a ringing endorsement of U.S. President George W. Bush.

Moreover, by declaring that terrorists in Iraq are directing their attacks personally against Bush and that their goal is to prevent his re-election, Putin clearly played into the hands of the Bush campaign. The American incumbent's central message has been that he is the best man to make the world, and the United States, safe from terror.

This wasn't the first time the Kremlin extended a helping hand to Bush. Last June, for example, Putin suddenly declared -- without a shred of evidence -- that Russian security services had repeatedly warned Washington about terrorist attacks on U.S. soil being prepared by Saddam Hussein's agents. That too was helpful to Bush, who at the time was struggling to explain to the American public the link between the war on terror and the Iraqi dictator.

But for the source of those statements, they could have easily been used in Bush/Cheney commercials running in battleground U.S. states. However, you can't separate the message from the messenger. An apparent endorsement by Putin puts Bush into a rogue gallery of foreign political leaders whom Russia supports, including Belarussian strongman Alexander Lukashenko and convicted felon and Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

At first sight, it seems clear why Moscow should back that unsavory twosome. Keeping the two Slavic ex-Soviet republics on a tight leash is integral to the revival of Russia's imperial ambitions under Putin. It seems far less obvious what Russia hopes to gain from Bush's re-election.

In reality, it is exactly the opposite. Lukashenko has been nothing but an embarrassment and a financial burden on Russia, and Ukraine under a universally ostracized President Yanukovych would be the same.

On the other hand, Russia should thank its lucky stars for Bush's first term. In fact, Bush should be placed high on the list of crazy favors Providence seems to have showered Russia with in the course of its history. [...]

Things seemed dire enough until 2000, when the United States elected Bush as president. Bush's foreign policy blunders have been tailor-made to help Russia resolve its numerous problems. First and foremost, Bush's misguided invasion of Iraq stirred trouble in a volatile, unstable region, driving oil prices to record levels and heightening Russia's strategic position as a relatively predictable supplier of energy. In addition, Washington's single-minded concentration on the war on terror in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, provided a unique opportunity for Moscow to find a multilateral solution to its festering separatist war in Chechnya. Finally, by straining the United States' relations with its allies in Western Europe, Bush's White House raised fears in Paris and Berlin that America could turn into a rogue nation, driving them closer to Moscow.

All this created conditions for Russia to become a pivotal international player once again, and to develop its economy by attracting foreign investment. During Putin's stable first term, the country seemed to be moving in this direction. However, the judicial persecution of Yukos, which began in the summer of 2003, was a watershed. Since then, Russia has definitively turned away from economic reforms and democracy, wasting its considerable financial windfall and reminding potential Western partners why they had been so leery of Russia to start with.

The good luck represented by Bush's election has not run its course yet. Bush may yet be re-elected. However, having good luck is not the same as taking advantage of it. While the hero of Russian folklore is always skillful in exploiting his big chance, Russian leaders have been rather the opposite. Russia's great good luck of having Bush in the White House for another four years is likely to be wasted as well. What Russia has never had good luck with is the quality of its leadership.

Comment: Evidence of the unseen hand of providence? In this world, the unseen is more likely to be that of something else.

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Neo-con Kristol Says Blair Has Reached ''Exalted'' Neocon Status

Saturday October 23, 2004
Toronto Star

Religion As backhanded compliments go, the one British Prime Minster Tony Blair received from a leading "neo-conservative" guru this week ranked among the least helpful.

It came from Bill Kristol, founder of the Project for a New American Century think tank, and son of the movement's best-known founding father, Irving Kristol.

He noted that a Blair speech on foreign policy was part of a new book on neo-conservative thought in the United States, where the prime minister has attained what Kristol called the "exalted status" previously reserved for former British Tory leaders Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher.

"I wish him well so I feel I shouldn't say this on the BBC," Kristol said, before adding, "I would say he has neo-conservative tendencies."

Being associated with a crusading doctrine of unilateral "pre-emptive" strikes and regime change to further American national interests might get a politician re-elected in the U.S.

But for a Labour prime minister in Britain, it's like tying a boulder to his sinking credibility. It certainly didn't help Blair sell a controversial U.S. request to move British troops from their relatively calm bases in southern Iraq to the more dangerous, U.S.-controlled sector near Baghdad.

The redeployment of 850 British soldiers to the U.S.-controlled sector, which the Blair government announced Thursday, marked a turning point in Blair's relations with some key members on his backbenches.

At least 16 Labour MPs, who supported the Iraq war, publicly expressed serious doubts about the troop movement or came out strongly against it. Privately, the unease was much higher.

Considering that 139 Labour MPs voted against the war to begin with — the largest parliamentary rebellion in more than a century — Blair could ill afford more backbench defections.

Said Robin Cook, who resigned his cabinet post over the war: "When they come to write the history of the Iraq adventure, the decision to deploy British troops to the U.S. sector may be seen as the tipping point at which the patience finally snapped of many of those who had hitherto given Tony Blair the benefit of the doubt."

The government says the troops are needed to free U.S. Marines for an expected assault on rebel strongholds before January elections in Iraq. Labour MPs have accused the government of putting British soldiers in greater danger to help U.S. President George W. Bush get re-elected on Nov. 2.

Wrote Peter Riddell, a political columnist with The Times: "What most voters want is evidence that Mr. Blair has learnt the lessons of Iraq.

"That is what this week's fuss is really all about, a warning to Mr. Blair that he cannot take MPs for granted in his dealings with Washington."

Although Blair still looks poised to win a third term in office in elections expected as early as next spring, an increase in British casualties as a result of the redeployment could spark a serious public backlash.

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Islamophobia Linked to War on Terror, Says Prosecutor

By Robert Verkaik Legal Affairs Correspondent
UK Independent
23 October 2004
Around the World An explosion in racist crime and a sharp rise in the number of young Asian men being stopped by the police threatens to alienate Britain's Muslim communities, the Director of Public Prosecutions has warned.

Ken Macdonald QC, speaking to The Independent after his first year in charge of prosecutions, said that the war on terror had sparked a growth in Islamophobia and led to a more divided society. He warned: "Terrorism is creating divisions between our diverse societies. We have to be careful that we respect diverse cultures and we prosecute cases without discrimination.

Comment: "Terrorism is creating divisions between our diverse societies". Consider that the entire "war on terror" is a manipulated hoax and applying the maxim "by their fruits you shall know them", we get an insight into the real goals of "the powers that be".

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Journalist Stabbed to Death
By Carl Schreck
AP Staff Writer
Friday, October 22, 2004

A prominent Belarussian journalist was stabbed to death in her Minsk apartment on Wednesday afternoon, a Minsk police spokeswoman said Thursday.

The body of Veronika Cherkasova, a reporter for the independent newspaper Solidarnost, was discovered in her apartment Wednesday night with about 20 stab wounds, the spokeswoman said by telephone.

She said police have not ruled out the possibility that the murder was connected to Cherkasova's work but believe she was probably killed by an acquaintance.

"With 20 knife wounds, it looks much more like a crime of passion," the spokeswoman said.

She said there was no sign of forced entry into the apartment.

Police have located most of Cherkasova's acquaintances, but no suspects were in custody as of Thursday night, she said.

Police said Cherkasova was born in 1959; a former colleague said she was 45.

Oleg Panfilov, head of the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, said that despite the fact that the name of Cherkasova's newspaper, which means Solidarity, sounds political in nature, Solidarnost could hardly be called an opposition newspaper. "Half of the newspaper is yellow journalism, and it hardly ever covers politics," Panfilov said.

Friends, colleagues and Belarussian officials said Cherkasova was far from an investigative or political journalist."She wrote mainly about religion and sects," said Viktor Martinovich, deputy editor at Belarusskaya Gazeta, where Cherkasova worked from 1995 to 2003. "I don't exclude the possibility of a political murder. She had written some stories on arms dealing in Belarus. But this doesn't really look political, especially compared to other cases of attacks on journalists in Belarus."

Marina Zagorskaya, a columnist at Solidarnost, which has a circulation of 5,000, said Cherkasova was not a controversial journalist. "Everything she wrote was pretty neutral," she said.

An official in President Alexander Lukashenko's administration echoed that assessment.

"Veronika Cherkasova never had any sort of dangerous information and never plunged into any serious cases," the unidentified official told APN, a Russian news agency. "A quiet woman didn't die the quiet death that, it seems, her fate would have dictated."

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Two sombre warnings for Canada
Ian MacLeod
The Ottawa Citizen
Thursday, October 21, 2004

It is only a matter of time before terrorists exploit the openness and diversity of Canadian society and strike here, Israel's new ambassador to Canada warned yesterday.

Alan Baker said Canadians must realize additional restrictions on rights and freedoms are necessary to counter the relative ease with which terror groups can now infiltrate Canadian society and launch attacks here, against the United States or on Israeli and other foreign interests in Canada.

His comments to the Citizen's editorial board come as a parliamentary committee prepares to review a sweeping series of anti-terrorism laws enacted in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and which many legal and civil liberties experts believe already violate fundamental rules of law and democratic rights.

Mr. Baker is a lawyer and expert on the legal aspects of the fight against terrorism.

Mr. Baker said people must understand just how tempting Canada's open society is to terrorists.

"I very much fear that the openness of Canada might be interpreted by the various terrorist organizations as a sort of naivete that can be utilized and abused," he said. "If I've become familiar with the psyche of the way terrorist organizations function, I suspect that it's a matter of time before they will abuse this Canadian openness.

"Canada, being confident of its diversity and openness, might be allowing itself to be misled and abused. It worries me. Canada should be very wary of this situation and should prepare itself. It's happened in Spain, it's happened in Turkey, it's happened in Moscow and I'm very fearful," about it happening in Canada.

He suggested Canadians who believe in a society largely unfettered by new security restrictions and extraordinary legal powers do not realize the extent to which terrorists will exploit the vulnerabilities of an open society.

"I've had discussions ... with Canadian international lawyers about this. Is it right to check people at airports? Is it right to have people take their shoes off? Isn't it an intrusion in their basic rights?

"I hope and pray that it will never happen to you. But if it does happen, you'll understand why it is necessary."

Because he assumed his post only five weeks ago, Mr. Baker said he is not aware of the measures Canada has taken to combat terrorism, notably the 2001 Anti-Terrorism Act (Bill C-36), and was reluctant to say what additional measures should be considered.

"The only advice that I can give on the face of things generally, is that I would hope that those responsible in Canada have their eyes fully open and won't allow themselves to be deceived by terrorist organizations which use the openness such as exists in Canada to further their own needs.

"The fact that I have to wander around everywhere with two RCMP (guards) ... says something about the acknowledgment of the fact that there is a threat. This is important, this is good."

The ambassador's comments come the week after Prime Minister Paul Martin's national security adviser, Robert Wright, warned it was "absurd" to think Canada is immune to a terrorist strike.

"Osama bin Laden has publicly identified Canada as a country he believes his followers should attack," Mr. Wright told a conference on intelligence and security matters last week. "He ranked Canada as fifth out of seven countries and every other country on that list has already been attacked," he said.

"So this is not someone else's problem. And experience shows that it's absurd to think that these attacks could not happen here," Mr. Wright said.

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Canadian businessman acquitted of stockpiling missiles sues Halliburton
10:27 PM EDT Oct 21

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) - A Canadian acquitted last year of illegally stockpiling warheads at his counterterrorism training school in Roswell is suing Halliburton Co.

David Hudak of Vancouver contends Halliburton, the Houston-based company that sold him nearly 2,500 warheads, defrauded him by offering the devices at a deep discount for use in his demolition business and telling him he could legally buy them. Hudak spent 17 months in prison while awaiting trial for possessing the military explosives.

"It was illegal for David Hudak to possess illegal warheads, it was even more illegal to sell illegal warheads - to anyone, particularly a foreigner," said Hudak's lawyer, Bob Gorence.

The lawsuit was filed Oct. 13 in U.S. District Court here.

Hudak also claims that Halliburton, its former Jet Research Center subsidiary and another military contractor, Tennessee-based Accurate Arms Co., sold thousands more of the warheads to others in similar transactions.

The companies should have paid to have the warheads destroyed, as required by their military contracts, the lawsuit alleges.

"Defendants agreed it would be more lucrative to sell the warheads illegally, avoiding the cost of destruction and earning profits from the sales," the lawsuit states.

The warheads were in Hudak's possession at his Roswell counterterrorism training centre when it was raided by federal agents Aug. 16, 2002.

Hudak's businesses were destroyed while he was in jail, the lawsuit says.

In a prepared statement, Halliburton officials said the 10 years that have passed since the sale of the warheads make this a difficult case to investigate.

Accurate Arms purchased Jet Research from Halliburton in early 1994, on the same day Hudak completed his purchase of the warheads.

Accurate Arms president John Sonday, also named in Hudak's lawsuit, declined comment.

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American Airlines to Lay Off Up to 1,100
By BOBBY ROSS JR.
Oct 22, 9:23 PM (ET)

DALLAS (AP) - American Airlines, struggling with rising fuel costs and competition from low-fare carriers, will furlough up to 650 maintenance workers in Kansas City and St. Louis and up to 450 pilots, the company said in a memo given to employees Friday.

The news came two days after Fort Worth-based AMR Corp. (AMR), parent of American, reported that it lost $214 million from July through September and expected an even bigger loss in the fourth quarter. [...]

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Dow Slides to Year Low on Oil, Microsoft
By Megan Davies
Fri Oct 22, 5:13 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The blue-chip Dow closed at its lowest point this year on Friday as oil prices climbed to another record and Microsoft Corp.'s revenue forecast lagged analysts' expectations.

Earlier in the session, U.S. light crude jumped to a new high of $55.50 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange as traders fretted over supplies of heating fuel as winter approaches in the northern hemisphere. Crude futures settled at $55.17, up 70 cents on the day. [...]

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Caronia, still inexplicable phenomena
lasicilia.it
21 October 2004

CARONIA (MESSINA) - Dopo sei mesi di calma ritrovata, ritorna la paura nella piccola frazione di Canneto, la borgata teatro, tra gennaio e aprile scorsi, di misteriosi fenomeni di autocombustione mai definitivamente chiariti. Negli ultimi giorni dei flessibili, che collegano i tubi dell'acqua ai rubinetti di bagni e cucine di tre diverse abitazioni della frazione, hanno presentato inspiegabili fori con conseguenti perdite.

I pezzi idraulici sono stati sequestrati dai Carabinieri che hanno svolto una serie di sopralluoghi. I cittadini della borgata hanno avvisato la Protezione Civile a cui hanno chiesto un immediato monitoraggio. Secondo i residenti, infatti, i fori sarebbero provocati da dispersione di corrente catodica che dal sottosuolo si propaga attraverso la condotta idrica. Una tesi già esposta dal consulente di parte, nominato dagli abitanti della frazione, in una relazione depositata in Procura.

L'ultimo caso si è verificato ieri notte e anche stavolta i carabinieri hanno acquisito la prova. Nella frazione di Canneto, intanto, si attende l'arrivo della Protezione Civile, sollecitata dai residenti quattro giorni fa, dopo la ripresa di misteriosi episodi collegabili alla presenza di elettricità nel terreno. Niente a che vedere con gli incendi che tra gennaio ed aprile tennero in scacco esperti provenienti da tutta Italia, ma piccoli fori negli impianti dell'acqua che arriva in casa.

Episodi, questi ultimi, che secondo Franco Valenti, consulente di parte degli abitanti, sembrano confermare le ipotesi depositate nelle precedenti relazioni. «Si tratta di correnti catodiche localizzate sulle condotte - scrive Valenti in una relazione - che incrementano lo squilibrio geoelettrico del sottosuolo, in presenza di cariche vaganti». In pratica, secondo l'esperto, bisognerebbe realizzare le adeguate protezioni catodiche alla rete idrica per evitare che l'elettricità, evidentemente presente ancora nel terreno, raggiunga le case.

A Reader Comments:

This evening the Italian TV networks, Rai1, claim once more that Canneto is under new unexplicable events.

In brief, in 9 cases and 3 different houses, holes are appearing in water pipelines(!), showing signs of corrosion from the inside.

All the broken pipes have been confiscated.

Just a big ? here.

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Flashback: MYSTERIOUS FIRES IN THE MESSINA AREA

AGI
10 February 2004

MESSINA - The mysterious phenomenon of the spontaneous fires that provoked fear and surprise among the residents of Canneto on the Tyrrhenian coast of the province of Messina has come to a standstill in the last twelve hours. The thirty or so inhabitants of the village who were evacuated for security reasons have not yet been able to go home. Experts of the State Rescue Services continue to carry out checks whilst awaiting special machinery from Milan in order to get more precise results.

Yesterday the fires had become paradoxical and were even breaking out in water pipes or between pieces of electrical wire which had been cut and were lying on the ground without being connected to any source of energy. The electricty has been turned off in Canneto for several days but this did not stop the fires breaking out.

In the course of the last few days the flames developed again and again without any plausible explanation in domestic appliances, intercoms, plugs, meters. Checks by electricity company ENEL and technicians from the RFU have for the moment excluded any link between the fires and the electrical pylons of the Palermo-Messina railway line which passes only a few metres from the houses and which the residents believe are in some way responsible.

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Mutilated calf may have been shot
EMMA LEE
October 04, 2004 18:01

Police in West Norfolk believe that a calf whose mutilated body was found in a field may have been shot before having its tail cut off.

Officers investigating the brutal killing at Pott Row, near King's Lynn, say that the three-month old animal had bite marks round its mouth and hooves when it was discovered by a member of the public on Sunday afternoon.

Its tail had been cut off cleanly with a sharp instrument and was missing from the scene.

PC Caroline Eleftheriou, who is investigating, said: "This is a very strange case and distressing for all those involved. I have never come across anything like this before. We can think of no reason why anyone would want to inflict such cruelty.

"It is very upsetting for the owner that the calf has been killed in such a painful way," she said.

Officers are awaiting the results of an autopsy to confirm whether the hole in the calf's body is a gunshot wound.

PC Eleftheriou said that it is believed the attack could have been premeditated.

It is not yet known what caused the bite marks, although it is believed a dog could have been responsible.

The calf, valued at £275, was one of a herd that grazes on a field in Back Lane.

It was last seen alive at around 6.30pm on Friday.

Its body was discovered by a member of the public at 2.30pm on Sunday.

The calf's owner, a local farmer, was too distressed to talk to the EDP.

PC Eleftheriou said: "We are appealing for anyone with information about this offence or anyone who may have seen or heard anything strange in the vicinity at the relevant times to come forward."

An RSPCA spokesman said: "We condemn anyone attacking an innocent animal like that. It seems completely uncalled for and unnecessary.

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Cattle Killed, Genitals Removed On Western Slope Ranch
October 21, 2004

CRAIG, Colo. -- Authorities are investigating the mutilation and killing of three cows on a small ranch in northwestern Colorado.

The two steers and one heifer were killed and had their genitals removed last week but there were no visible marks on the cattle indicating how they were killed, Moffat County sheriff's deputy Courtland Folks said. The state veterinarian has been asked to investigate.

"Possibly it could have been done for some type of worship with the organs," Folks said. "It's something that makes livestock owners uncomfortable."

Rancher Jacque Osburn said the cattle, which had already been sold to a buyer, were in a pasture near the Craig-Moffat County Airport when they were killed. The animals were worth about $2,400.

"I guess if it's going to happen anytime, it's going to happen around Halloween," she said. "I hope it's not the start of something but you never know."

Osburn, who has 200 head of cattle, has been telling other ranchers about what happened so they can watch their livestock.

She said livestock mutilations were rampant in the area about 20 years ago but this was the first time any of her cattle have been hit. She has moved the calves in her herd to a different pasture.

"It's scary," she said. "People feel pretty immune from crime when out here, but we're not. It wasn't a good trick, and it sure as hell wasn't a treat."

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Camano hum has some on edge

By Scott Morris
Herald Writer

Strange noises in the night have occurred for years

CAMANO ISLAND - For the past several years, some people who live on Camano Island and near Stanwood have been hearing strange noises in the night.

The mystery has fueled speculation as wild as Navy sonar and Russian submarines to as mundane as buried power lines. But nobody seems to know.

The noise is so strange, said Kathy Ostrander, "I've found myself thinking, 'Am I the subject of a scientific experiment?'"

Pat Timko first noticed it on Dec. 1, 2003. A bizarre low hum woke her from a sound sleep about 1 a.m.

Describing the sound is difficult, she said. It reminded her of a small plane approaching or a diesel truck idling. But she couldn't pinpoint the source. Upon investigation, there was no plane or truck.

"This was omnipresent," said Timko, who lives alone on the east side of Camano Island. "It was almost like something I was not only hearing but feeling as well."

The hum was in every room of the house, coming up through her bed. The noise returned many other nights. Walking outside, it seemed to emanate from the ground. Driving to the island's shore, she could feel the sound coming from the water.

Others related eerily similar descriptions.

Ostrander said she's been losing sleep because of the off-and-on hum for the past six years, since moving into their current house in a rural area north of Stanwood.

"It's like my central nervous system is resonating with something," Ostrander said.

One night she took her sleeping bag out in the yard to try to escape the noise.

"The hum was in the earth," she said. "You could almost hear it better."

Her husband has heard the noise but does not hear it as often as she does.

Theresa Metzger first heard the noise after she and her husband moved to the north end of Camano Island in 1997.

"It's almost like I feel the vibrations in my inner ear," she said. Her husband has never heard it.

The three women do not know each other. Metzger and Ostrander were unaware that others also were hearing the sound.

Timko tried to play sleuth, documenting times and dates when the noise returned. She called Snohomish County PUD, but the electric utility could find nothing out of the ordinary to explain the noise.

She called Twin City Foods nearby in Stanwood, but their food processing doesn't occur at night.

She called the Navy and was told that no maneuvers had been done nearby, although one official told her some Russian submarines might have been in the area.

She even found a "Taos hum" Web site where people describe similar sounds in Taos, N.M., and elsewhere.

Some inquiries about the hum made by The Herald on Thursday ran into similar dead ends.

Jim Creek Naval Radio Station east of Arlington has a powerful "very low frequency" radio transmitter that communicates with the submarine fleet in the Pacific Ocean.

But the station's commander, Chief Warrant Officer Jay Lorenz, said the long, slow radio waves from Jim Creek are well below the human range of hearing.

Lorenz said a more likely source would be a communications tower, power line or transformer.

If so, the PUD is willing to work with customers to resolve the problem, spokesman Neil Neroutsos said.

"Occasionally, we do get calls about noises that may be underground," he said. "In some cases, it's an issue related to a transformer that may require maintenance."

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A real nip in the air in Dartford
By Samantha Payne
10:19am Wednesday 20th October 2004

A KEEN gardener got the shock of her life when a freak storm rained 20 crabs down on her.

Kate Walker was picking beans in her garden when she felt what she thought was heavy rain hitting her.

But the 33-year-old got a fright when she looked up and saw the brown coloured creatures falling from the sky.

Miss Walker, of Powder Mill Lane, Dartford, collected 19 of the crabs and put them in her neighbour's pond.

The 20th crab died and she is currently keeping it under a pot to show disbelieving friends.

She said: "They think I'm mad, I thought it was something out of the X-Files. The crabs were covered in sand.

"Where have they come from? I've heard of fish falling from the sky but this is ridiculous.'' Miss Walker, who is currently unemployed, lives next to Brooklands Lake and speculates the crabs could have come from there or the Thames, which is about two-and-a-half miles away.

She said: "The lake is a possibility. They could have also come from the salty end of the Thames.'' Fish and frogs falling from the sky are not common occurrences but have been reported many times around the world.

It happens when a mini-tornado passes over water and sweeps up objects of all shapes and sizes.

If the item is lightweight, like a fish or a small frog, it may be caught in a strong storm or a cloud updraft for a long time rising higher until it is thrown out like a hailstone.

Met Office spokesman Barry Gormett said: "It can happen because of the dynamics of the atmosphere.

"When there is a convective motion of air beneath a cloud, it can draw things upwards. I've heard of fish and frogs but crabs are a first.''

Falling from the heavens

*In 1995, Nellie Straw of Sheffield was driving through Scotland in a storm when hundreds of frogs suddenly pelted her car.

*In 1881, a thunderstorm in Worcester brought down tons of periwinkles and hermit crabs.

*In 1890, bird's blood rained down on Messignadi in Calabria, Italy.

* From about 1982 to 1986, kernels of corn rained down on several houses in Evans, Colorado. Oddly, there were no cornfields in the area.

*In 1877, several 1ft-long alligators fell on J L Smith's farm in South Carolina.

*In November, 1996, a town in southern Tasmania was slimed. Apparently, it had rained either fish eggs or baby jellyfish.

* A Korean fisherman, trolling off the coast of the Falkland Islands, was knocked unconscious by a single frozen squid which fell from the sky.

* In a town in Guatemala, money, blue rain, frogs and toads, fish, gold, cigarettes and Star Wars figures have on occasions rained from the sky.

A poor village in Mexico was showered with gold. Supposedly, a treasure chest from a ship sunk off the nearby coast was whipped up by a tornado and deposited on the village.

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Worries over mysterious retrovirus
By HELEN BRANSWELL

TORONTO (CP) - Health authorities in Canada are trying to determine what measures need to be taken to ensure the safety of the country's blood supply after learning a little-understood primate virus can be transmitted through blood transfusion.

Scientists from the Canadian Public Health Agency reported late this week that work with animal models has shown simian foamy virus can be transmitted through blood, leaving a question mark over what steps are needed to protect Canadians who get blood transfusions. [...]

"Right now people have absolutely no symptoms even if they have this virus. But because we know that it is transmitted through blood, measures will be taken," said Nathalie Lalonde, a spokeswoman for Health Canada. [...]

Simian foamy virus is a retrovirus, which is the same class of viruses as the human immunodeficiency virus. Upon exposure - through contact with body fluids like saliva or blood - it integrates itself into the host's genome, leading to life-long infection. It is found in between 70 to 90 per cent of primates, such as chimpanzees and macaques, born in captivity.

The virus is not currently believed to cause disease, either in primates or humans, though a question-and-answer page dedicated to the virus on the public health agency's website admits no one knows whether there are health risks in the long term.

Cases of humans infected with the virus have only been followed for about 20 years.

"Most retroviruses, if they cause disease, have a long latency period," the website states. [...]

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Breeding the Plague
By Mark G. Field
Published: October 22, 2004

Wendy Orent's investigation of the Soviet bioweapons program does not make for bedtime reading.

When the Black Death swept across Europe in the 14th century, it wiped out one-third of the continent's population. Today, with terrorism spreading around the globe, it wouldn't be much of a stretch to call it a plague. Especially if plague were to become its weapon of choice, as it was for scientists in the Soviet Union.

An anthropologist and freelance science journalist, Wendy Orent was researching the Soviet bioweapons program several years ago when she came across a monograph by Igor Domaradsky, a biologist who for a period of 23 years had played a major role in studying plague and used his knowledge to design and develop bioweapons. Correspondence between Orent and Domaradsky followed, and eventually the two met in Moscow. He was willing to talk on a subject that had been very secret. She soon realized that many -- thousands, perhaps -- of the Soviet Union's bacteriologists were obsessed with plague: its history, characteristics and transmissibility, but also its potential exploitation as a weapon of mass destruction.

The human and financial resources that the Soviets devoted to the militarization not only of plague, but of other deadly agents such as anthrax and smallpox, were considerable. There is also evidence that the United States did the same kind of research, particularly at Fort Detrick in Maryland, but the Americans were more concerned with other diseases. Perhaps the Soviets chose plague because of their historical proximity to Asia, from which outbreaks such as the Black Death had consistently emerged, ravaging the vast expanses of Russia before moving on to Europe.

Orent's "Plague" is a formidable book, and riveting in the sense that it is frightening. The author examines two aspects of "the world's most dangerous disease," beginning with its history and devastating killing power -- what she calls the "natural" plague.

In great detail, she recounts its catastrophic impact on the human race, its social, political and economic damages, the millions of deaths it inflicted throughout the ages, and its capriciousness, unpredictability, volatility and virulence. Its outbreaks are well-known and documented, and Orent diligently walks us through their sorry course, particularly the Justinian Epidemic, the Black Death and the Third Pandemic.

For the record, it is interesting to note that when plague first broke out, communities initially denied its existence, then looked for scapegoats such as Jews and Quakers, or dismissed it as God's punishment for mankind's sins. The same chain of early reactions was seen in the late 20th century with the outbreak of HIV and AIDS, as homosexuals and other "deviants" were initially blamed, and the disease explained away as divine retribution.

Orent approaches the plague as if she were writing its biography, supplementing a detailed history of the scourge with copious quotations from witnesses, writers and historians to bolster its mass-murderous nature. The subject of her biography vacillates from sluggish to explosive, from lethal but not contagious at times to capable of slaughtering millions at others. During outbreaks in the 14th century, bubonic plague had a mortality rate of about 60 percent, and pneumonic and septicemic plague 100 percent. There is no effective vaccine to date, and there do exist strains that are resistant to antibiotics. At the present time, however, natural plague does not pose the threat to mankind that it did in the past. Better living conditions, better hygiene and the use of soap have practically eliminated the possibility of plague breaking out and spreading again, and scientists know much more about the nature of the disease.

But all this is history. The real and important purpose of the book is to alert us to the "unnatural" or artificial aspect of the scourge -- its potential exploitation and utilization as a weapon and instrument of war. Indeed, that is the most important message of the book, and Orent devotes her final chapter, "The Enduring Threat," to it entirely. If one is short on time, this is one section that should not be missed.

It is a sad fact that practically every bit of knowledge, science and technology can be turned into a weapon of destruction and death, and so biological warfare is part of the sword of Damocles hanging over mankind, along with atomic and nuclear weapons. Before and during World War II, Japanese scientists conducted experiments in biological substances that rivaled those at Auschwitz and Dachau in their atrocity, sometimes involving the dissection of human beings while still alive and conscious. There is evidence that Soviet -- as well as American -- scientists used their results to augment the power and the virulence of their own bioweapons "beyond the wildest dreams" of the Japanese program. Though some laboratories in Russia are off-limits to outside observers, it is unlikely that Russia, formerly the leading nation in the weaponization of biological agents, is actively contemplating their use. But we are no more capable of "de-inventing" knowledge of biological agents than we are of de-inventing atomic and nuclear weapons.

The overriding fear is that "rogue" nations or terrorist organizations in search of more destructive weapons will seek expertise on biological warfare, and, as Orent chillingly suggests, the Soviet Union trained thousands of such experts during the years of the communist regime. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, many bioscientists found themselves out of work, and were easily enticed to take jobs abroad. Some of these scientists have emigrated to the West, including to the United States. Many others have simply disappeared. Where are they, and what are they doing?

This is not a book for bedtime reading. It is well-written and documented, and should be read (particularly the last chapter) by government officials and the general public.

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Millions given infected polio vaccine
By Gary Hughes
October 23, 2004
Sydney Morning Herald

A federal government agency knowingly released polio vaccine contaminated with a monkey virus in the 1960s that has since been linked to a range of cancers, including mesothelioma.

The virus contaminated at least four batches of vaccine totalling almost three million doses between 1956 and 1962.

Two of the batches were released after testing positive to contamination. The other two were released before tests could be done. An unknown number of earlier batches were also almost certainly contaminated.

An investigation by The Age has found documents from the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories which reveal bosses there released one batch of about 700,000 doses of contaminated vaccine in 1962 on the grounds that "much vaccine issued in the past was probably similarly contaminated".

Australia's leading experts on the virus, which is known as simian virus 40 or SV40, have found traces of it in human tumour cells and are calling for urgent funding to clarify the links.

Commonwealth Serum Laboratories knew from its own internal research that the monkey virus was a potential cause of cancer in humans. The research, which was never made public, was carried out in August 1962, while contaminated batches of vaccine were still being released. Tests carried out at the time also showed monkey virus contamination of some of the "seed" polio virus used to produce all Salk polio vaccines between 1956 and 1962.

Commonwealth Serum Laboratories produced more than 18 million doses of Salk polio vaccine, enough to vaccinate six million Australians, during that period. Nine out of every 10 Australian children aged between 5 and 14 are estimated to have been injected with Salk vaccine by 1965, when it was replaced with Sabin oral vaccine. Polio vaccinations were given to children as young as three months.

SV40 was known to have contaminated polio vaccines in the United States and other countries before 1963. A spokeswoman for the federal Health Department said the charge that Australian polio vaccines may have been contaminated had been previously acknowledged but no proof had been found.

Scientists have already linked SV40, which is known to cause cancers in small animals, to a range of rare human lung, brain and blood cancers, but opinion is split on whether the virus actually causes human cancer. [...]

Polio vaccinations are no longer routinely given in Australia following the declaration in 2001 that the western Pacific region was polio-free.

Documents held in the National Archives relating to Commonwealth Serum Laboratories' production of Salk polio vaccine show that the first tests for SV40 were carried out in February 1962, after the alarm was raised internationally in 1961 of possible contamination.

They were found earlier this year by a Melbourne researcher, Brenda Coughlan, who was searching for material for a book.

SV40 came from pulped infected monkey kidneys used to produce cell cultures to grow the polio virus. The polio virus was then killed using formaldehyde to produce the vaccine, but SV40 survived the process.

The Age confirmed the contents of the documents, including research work notes, with the biochemist who carried out the SV40 testing in 1962 for Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. His name is John Withell and he was later head of the Therapeutic Goods Administration's laboratory in Canberra.

Minutes of a meeting held at Commonwealth Serum Laboratories on May 1, 1962 record how the organisation's then director, Ron Greville, confirmed that SV40 had been found in vaccine batch number 64, which was being readied for release.

"Dr Greville opened the discussion by stating that although SV40 was present in batch 64, the batch would be issued; a decision which was founded on the belief that probably much vaccine issued in the past was probably similarly contaminated," the minutes say.

The agency's records show that batch 64 was officially released in December 1962.

Mr Withell's research results show that three other batches of vaccine also tested positive for SV40: batch 49, released in October 1959, batch 63, released in February 1962 and batch 65, released in January 1963. Batch 66 was also positive, and was destroyed after an attempt to rid it of SV40, ordered by health authorities in Canberra, killed the vaccine's effectiveness. The authorities said no further vaccine containing living monkey virus could be released.

Later batches of vaccine were made from the kidneys of monkeys shown to be free of SV40 infection. Only one batch of those tested, number 58 released in September 1961, was negative.

Mr Withell also tested three "seed" polio viruses that had been originally obtained from the Salk laboratories in the US in 1955 and used to manufacture Australian polio vaccines.

His test results contained in the National Archives show that one of the seed viruses was heavily contaminated with SV40.

"Type two [polio seed virus] was stuffed full of SV40," Mr Withell said.

He stressed that the negative results for the other two types of polio seed virus did not necessarily show they were free from SV40, because the test was not sensitive enough.

Research notes also show that in August 1962 Mr Withell tested the effect of SV40 on human embryo cells. The SV40 caused "transformation" in the cells, which indicated it was potentially carcinogenic.

Mr Withell said the results were reported to an internal research panel for Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, but were never made public.

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Algerian removed from Quebec church denied refugee status in U.S.
Last Updated Fri, 22 Oct 2004 19:01:06 EDT
BUFFALO, N.Y. - An Algerian man removed from a Quebec church by police and sent to the U.S. was denied political asylum Friday by American authorities.

Mohamed Cherfi had been seeking refugee status in the U.S., claiming his life will be in danger if he's sent back to Algeria because he has publicly denounced his country's regime and refused to join its military.

Cherfi's lawyer said he will appeal the decision, which could delay his deportation by two to three months.

Cherfi sought refuge in the Quebec City church in February when police tried to arrest him for allegedly violating bail conditions. He had been arrested earlier for taking part in a demonstration in Montreal.

The first person in Canada in recent history to be pulled out of sanctuary by police, Cherfi was then turned over to immigration officials and sent to the U.S.

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C. difficile superbug likely to spread beyond Quebec: microbiologist
Last Updated Fri, 22 Oct 2004 09:47:54 EDT

TORONTO - Quebec's epidemic of C. difficile shows all hospitals need to be vigilant about hygiene to prevent the dangerous strain from spreading across Canada, public health experts said Thursday.

Researchers found 7,000 people have been infected with C. difficile in Montreal since 2003, an infection rate that is four times higher than the preceding year. At least 600 of the 7,000 people infected with C. difficile in Montreal have died.

Clostridium difficile can cause severe diarrhea and death from dehydration.

"We need to take it very seriously," said Dr. Allison McGeer, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital. "[C. difficile] is an increasing problem in the United Kingdom and the United States. We've had a number of big outbreaks in Canada."

Aside from Montreal, hospitals in Calgary and Ottawa have experienced periodic outbreaks.

So far, evidence suggests the more virulent strain is confined to Quebec. The province is seeing four times the number of infections as the national average.

The bacteria may not stay in Quebec, according to Dr. Andrew Simor, a microbiologist at Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. He is a leading a national study on the extent of the C. difficile problem.

"Some of the patients transferred to us from Quebec or from the United States may well bring this organism with them and introduce to Ontario or to other parts of the country," said Simor.

The strain that is killing patients in Quebec has also caused outbreaks in hospitals in at least six states.

Infectious disease experts said conditions at hospitals in Quebec probably helped to escalate the epidemic. At many older hospitals, three or four patients stay in the same room and share the same bathroom.

The problem is that microscopic spores from feces can survive on surfaces for months. The bacterial spores are very difficult to clean off or kill.

Others said the main factor is health-care workers who fail to wash their hands. People in Quebec are worried about sending family members to affected hospitals, and some are angry the public wasn't told sooner about the problem.

"In this particular outbreak, patients could have done things to protect themselves had they known," said Dr. Ken Flegel, a specialist in internal medicine at Royal Victoria Hospital. "Visitors could have done things to help patients be protected."

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Six Large Earthquakes Rock japan

USGS 23 Oct 2004

2004/10/23 10:45:57 37.30N 138.61E 13.6 5.8 NEAR WEST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

2004/10/23 10:36:46 37.21N 138.60E 15.0 5.5 NEAR WEST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

2004/10/23 09:34:07 37.28N 138.79E 22.2 6.1 NEAR WEST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

2004/10/23 09:11:56 37.21N 138.68E 10.0 5.9 NEAR WEST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

2004/10/23 09:03:13 37.32N 138.82E 10.0 6.1 NEAR WEST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

2004/10/23 08:56:01 37.20N 138.81E 15.8 6.9 NEAR WEST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

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2 die in powerful quakes in northwestern Japan
www.chinaview.cn 2004-10-23 20:45:13
TOKYO, Oct. 23 (Xinhuanet) -- A series of powerful earthquakes, one measuring a preliminary magnitude of 6.8, rocked northwestern Japan, mainly in the Niigata Prefecture, Saturday evening, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

Two people have been killed, including a man who died from neckinjury, NHK TV station reported.

Scores of people have been admitted to hospitals, media reported.

The M6.8 quake hit at 5:56 p.m.(0856 GMT), the second one, measured M5.9 and hit at 6:12 p.m. (0912 GMT), and the third, measured M6.3 and hit at 6:34 p.m (0934). All the three major quakes measured upper 6 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of7 in Niigata, the agency said. A M5.0 quake hit the area two minutes after the third one. It was followed by a bigger one of M5.9 at 7:46 p.m. (1046 GMT), measuring at lower 6 in intensity.

The agency has warned of more strong aftershocks.

The meteorological agency said the epicenter of the first earthquake, which struck at around 5:56 p.m. (0856 GMT), is in a small town of Niigata, northwestern Japan.

The focus of the earthquake was estimated at about 10 km under the Earth surface, the agency said.

Under the Japanese seismic classification, an intensity-6 earthquake is strong enough to damage houses, trigger landslides and crack up roads.

A Shinkansen bullet train derailed in Niigata, but no casualties have been reported.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said its nuclear power plant in Kashiwazaki, Niigata, is unaffected and is running normally.

Power blackout was reported in some areas. Some house were collapsed.

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Two die in Sierras snowfall, nearly two dozen hikers rescued
By Ben Margot, AP

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) — Rangers completed a dramatic rescue Thursday of two climbers from a snowy mountain and removed the ice-encrusted bodies of two other hikers who died on the peak in an unexpected early blizzard in the Sierras.

A man tries to dig his camper free on a blocked road Wednesday in Yosemite National Park, Calif.

The deaths occurred on El Capitan, a forbidding 3,200-foot granite mountain at Yosemite National Park, following a fierce blizzard that stranded nearly two dozen hikers and climbers across Northern California this week. Other than the two deaths, everyone was found or rescued.

The two deaths created a gruesome sight for a helicopter crew that managed to fly close enough Wednesday to spot the bodies, which were blue and dripping with icicles as they dangled from their ropes about two-thirds the way up the precipice.

To retrieve the corpses, rangers rappelled down El Capitan and carried the bodies on their backs hundreds of feet to the summit. Rescue crews also rappelled down the mountain to get the surviving climbers, who were expected to be airlifted off the mountain later Thursday.

"They're cold and they're tired but they're in fine condition," said Jen Nersesian, a park spokeswoman.

The two victims — a Japanese man and woman — had been ill-prepared for the weather, a ranger said.

The surviving climbers had spent the night on a portable ledge secured high above the valley floor. A team of 12 began trying to reach them late Wednesday.

The blizzard blew in early Sunday and continued through Wednesday, creating deadly white-out conditions and 50 mph gusts as it dumped several feet of snow across the Sierra Nevada [...]

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Officials: Small Tornado Caused Moderate Damage
October 21, 2004

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A small tornado that tore through a Port Canaveral cargo area caused moderate damage, officials said Thursday.

Weather Calculators The tornado started as a waterspout in the Banana River about 6 p.m. Wednesday, then came ashore on the north edge of the port. There were no injuries, although there was damage to property and cargo, and power lines were pulled down.

"We're just so very blessed that it wasn't more," Port Authority spokeswoman Roslyn Postell said Thursday. [...]

The tornado came with little warning because the waterspout was spawned by a 20-mile line of thunderstorms that developed rapidly, said meteorologist Scott Spratt with the National Weather Service's Melbourne office.

"It was a real experience, after all the hurricanes we've been through and everything. It was just another thing about living in Florida," said eyewitness Jim Johnson.

Reported damage included the flipping of several used cars that were part of a shipment waiting at the port and the destruction of an office trailer. "It looks like Bigfoot stepped on it," Postell said. [...]

Ironically, earlier in the day the port held a grand reopening ceremony to honor those who got the facilities running again following the three hurricanes to hit Florida's Atlantic coast. [...]

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