Article - 911 Eye-witnesses
Article - High Strangeness
Article - The Blair Belief Project
Strike Flash Presentation by a QFS member
of the Day
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
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.
"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
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
- 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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
If you want to judge the reliability of the president's gut, consider
what he reportedly told Robertson. Then consider the latest casualty
And finally, ask yourself why we're keeping that forgery on the
At this point, the only people being fooled are those who want
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
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
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.
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
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
''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.''
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
''The result has been that the rhetoric is very destructive. .
. . You end up distorting policy, and it can only hurt Israel,''
'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
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
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
''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.' ''
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,
"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.
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. [...]
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.
| 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.
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.
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
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...
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
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
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.
Israel killed the top bombmaker and rocket
engineer of the Hamas militant group in an aerial drone strike in
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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?
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
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
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
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
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.”
| 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
And an estimated 36,000 Palestinians and 6,297 Israelis had been
These "staggering" figures, he said, demanded action.
"Are we going to go on like this? Is there not a better way?"
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.
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
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." [...]
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
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"
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.
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.
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".
| 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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
"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
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.
|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.
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,"
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."
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
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
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
"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
"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.
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
"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
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
Accurate Arms president John Sonday, also named in Hudak's lawsuit,
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
CRAIG, Colo. -- Authorities are investigating
the mutilation and killing of three cows on a small ranch in northwestern
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."
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
The noise is so strange, said Kathy Ostrander,
"I've found myself thinking, 'Am I the subject of a scientific
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,"
One night she took her sleeping bag out in the yard to try to escape
"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
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."
A KEEN gardener got the shock of her life
when a freak storm rained 20 crabs down on
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
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,
* From about 1982 to 1986, kernels of corn rained down on several
houses in Evans, Colorado. Oddly, there were no cornfields in the
*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
* 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.
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
"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
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. [...]
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
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
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
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.
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,
The virus contaminated at least four batches
of vaccine totalling almost three million doses between 1956 and
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
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
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
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
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.
| 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
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
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.
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
"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
Aside from Montreal, hospitals in Calgary and Ottawa have experienced
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
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."
2004/10/23 10:45:57 37.30N 138.61E
13.6 5.8 NEAR WEST COAST OF HONSHU,
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
| 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
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.
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
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
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
"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 [...]
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
"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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