Tuesday, October 26, 2004
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Investigative Reporter and Author Robert Parry Plumbs History, Unearths the Roots of the Bush Dynasty
A Buzz Flash Interview
BuzzFlash: You stated that in order to understand the two Bush family administrations, we have to understand the Watergate scandal, Nixon’s resignation, and also the Vietnam catastrophe. What would you say are the most important things to know about these events that contributed to the Republican and right-wing takeover of American politics? Many forces on the right saw these losses as an opportunity to build a right-wing infrastructure. At first it was meant as more of a defensive strategy -- to build think tanks, alternative media, public relations specialists, pressure groups -- to not let the fallout of Watergate continue. But eventually it would lead to a coordinated and sophisticated machine that could go on the attack.

Robert Parry: If you go back to the Watergate period, and the period right after the Vietnam War, you had a very demoralized Republican Party. And you had an essentially shattered conservative movement. They had lost not just the White House; they were the minority in the House and the Senate. They’d lost a lot of seats in the '74 election in particular. They’d been faced with a popular movement there that they could not really deal with, and they felt it undercut them. They felt that the press was hostile to them. But they decided the world they saw was a very weak environment.

Now what they did about it is very important. They started building in their own institutions. A person who was the Treasury secretary under Nixon, William Simon, plays an important role here. He starts pulling together these conservative and right-wing foundations, and they begin making strategic investments in media, in think tanks, in attack groups. They build effectively their own establishment in Washington and make it heavily focused in Washington, which is their key point.

So they begin to counteract very aggressively what they see as this hostile situation. It starts relatively modestly by some standards. It's in the tens of millions of dollars, but then it accelerates. After the Reagan-Bush victory in 1980, the Executive Branch gets behind this effort.

There is coordination that we find in documents that came out -- especially during Iran Contra hearings -- about the role of the Reagan-Bush White House in helping to build this infrastructure. So you had this development of this counter-establishment that has more and more magazines, more and more commentators and supporters, larger and larger think tanks. And suddenly Washington begins to react to it. And reporters who try or tried to do their jobs in disclosing some of the negative information that existed about the Reagan-Bush operation -- those reporters find themselves under heavy pressure.

And I think traditionally newspapers and news organizations have been more Republican-oriented than Democrat. Historically, far more publishers endorse Republican candidates than Democratic.

But this got darker and more difficult for reporters to deal with. There was also an effort to do what'’s called "perception management" which is a concept that really comes out of the Central Intelligence Agency, that is then applied increasingly to the domestic political operations in the United States.

Because of the Vietnam demonstrations, and the opposition to the war generally, the conservatives came to see the American people as the strategic threat. Their response to that was to develop these mediums to do what they called perception management. They felt that if they could control how the American people perceived events, especially overseas, then they could keep the American people in line in supporting the policies that the Reagan-Bush Administration wanted to carry out.

So in other words, if the right-wing could make the American people really angry about the Nicaraguan Sandinista government, then that would help build support for the contra operations to attack and undermine it. If the White House could minimize or contain the information about atrocities being committed in El Salvador and Guatemala by security forces, then again the Reagan Administration would have a freer hand in sending weapons to those security forces that are carrying out these mass blood baths.

So the idea was, if you could control how Americans perceived events, and use essentially CIA tactics to do it, then you could make these policies work.

There was a combining of these different factors. There was a growing infrastructure that was essentially a conservative echo chamber. There was an ability to beat down reporters or other people who were coming up with information that said otherwise. There were these new strategies for putting in place propaganda to manage the perceptions of the American people. And that’s what evolved in the 1980s. And sadly, it was remarkably effective.

Comment: In other words, if you could create a subjective view of the world, tailored to the beliefs of Americans about themselves ("America defender of the world's freedom"), the true state of the world didn't matter. The American population could be led by the nose to give its support to the most outrageous atrocities, all committed in the name of "freedom".

This strategy has been extremely successful. Many Americans believe the lies they are told. Couple this to the campaign of fear that has been waged since 911 and people's economic insecurities, and you have a very powerful means of controlling the population: ignorance married to fear with the diversion of sex to keep them sedated.

"Knowledge protects; ignorance endangers." If you are unaware of the truth of what is happening in your external environment, you will always be caught unawares. Who would try to cross a busy highway on foot with their eyes closed and their ears covered? This is how most people are living. They have a belief that their "leaders" will protect them, in spite of the shoddy track record of these same leaders. They have given over their Will to another. How many of us would want even our closet friends or family to take all the decisions for us? Yet this is what we do with our politicians. This is what we have done in allowing corporations to assume so much control over our work lives, and, often, our personal lives.

We have given our Free Will over to another to do with what they please.

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Religious right believes Bush truly is the candidate of God
October 26, 2004

Does God favour the Republican George Bush or the Democrat John Kerry? Bush supporters have no doubts.

"God is out there, actively campaigning for President Bush," said Beverly Ryan, a retired legal secretary and born-again Christian from West Palm Beach, Florida.

But Barry Lynn, a United Church of Christ minister and the executive director of the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, said: "It is, I think, extremely dangerous for people to believe that God is a Republican or a Democrat or a Naderite or even a Libertarian."

When Mr Bush sought the presidency in 2000 he played down his religious convictions and played up his "compassionate conservative" values. But his political strategist, Karl Rove, realised that about 4 million evangelical Christian voters had not turned out in 2000, and set out a plan to get them on board in this year's re-election campaign.

Mr Bush's campaign has made no secret that it wants support from the 40 million Americans who consider themselves evangelical Christians.

Mr Bush has reportedly suggested that he is not only putting his faith in his God, but apparently believes that he is an agent of God's plans.

In the The Faith of George W. Bush, a sympathetic portrait written by Stephen Mansfield, the author recounts a statement that a Texas minister said Mr Bush made to him in 1999.

"I feel like God wants me to run for President," Mr Bush reportedly told James Robison.

"I can't explain it, but I sense my country is going to need me."

Senator Kerry, after months of saying little about his own Catholic faith, has in recent weeks started to criticise Mr Bush obliquely.

At the urging of advisers, he has also started speaking seriously about his own Catholic faith.

At the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Miami he spoke of politicians who "talk a lot" about faith but who don't back up the talk with programs to help the needy.

"It is written in James: 'What does it mean, my brother, to say that you have faith if there are no deeds?"' Senator Kerry told a predominantly black congregation.

"Faith without works is dead."

That is a persuasive argument for Todd Daniel, who said he was supporting Senator Kerry, despite their disagreement on abortion, because of his interest in helping the disadvantaged.

"It's a strong Christian value," Mr Daniel said. "I just think that John Kerry is going to help more people in the United States achieve the American dream."

Heidi Wilson, 48, a schoolteacher, who attended a recent rally by Mr Bush in West Palm Beach, said Senator Kerry's support of abortion rights showed he was not a serious Catholic. "The Pope would be ashamed of him."

For the Bush faithful, whether Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11 terrorists attacks is irrelevant. Mr Bush had all the justification he needed to attack Iraq in the Bible.

Beverly Ryan said: "George Bush did what God wanted him to do. Who cares what the rest of the world thinks?"

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Why Are Some American Christians So Bloodthirsty?

Understanding Pro-war Christians' Indifference to Civilian Deaths

by Dr. Teresa Whitehurst
It's been going on for years now. Almost daily we read that another child, another parent, another sister or brother, another grandpa or aunt, is killed in Afghanistan or Iraq by U.S. weaponry in Mr. Bush's "war on terror." Sometimes it's a wedding party, or a bunch of kids, or a family of six. Sometimes it's a journalist, or a whole group of journalists, who may even be killed on camera in real time for all the world to see and hear.

But no matter how bad it gets, nothing seems to change Americans' support for war, which for some reason is stiffest among Christian supporters of the Bush administration. "Stuff happens in a war zone." "Don't worry because God is in control." With these and other slogans, I've been reassured by countless pro-war Christians that, as long as civilians aren't intentionally targeted, taking their lives is okay, maybe even predestined, God's will.

Recently a Christian from Australia wrote to ask, "Why are American Christians so bloodthirsty? Why do they support the war in Iraq, no matter how many innocent people are made to suffer? We just don't understand why they're willing to kill other people so that they can feel more safe – it's so selfish!"

She's right, and she's wrong. She's right about the fact that many Christians in America will blindly support whichever war their president promotes, with the assumption that his much-advertised praying guarantees us that God approves of all those bombs and missiles, and even the inevitable collateral damage.

This "don't worry, be happy" stance of pro-war Christians can make those of us who suffer at the news of civilian deaths almost green with envy: How do they go blithely to church, pray and give an offering, then go eat some nice mashed potatoes and gravy at Cracker Barrel with nary a worry about the families being bombed or shot or crushed by their own military at that very moment?

But she's wrong in her assumption that all Christians in the U.S. find civilian deaths an acceptable price to (let someone else) pay for Mr. Bush's ultimate goals. Many, including those in the evangelical community, were raised to obey Jesus' teachings above any other, and suffer mightily whenever they learn that more innocent people have lost their lives to this terrorizing "war on terror."

She's also wrong about the seemingly bloodthirsty attitude of pro-war Christians; most of them are nice people on a personal basis. They love their kids and their fellow Americans, and would never have supported the bombing of, say, Oklahoma City's malls and suburbs in an effort to target a Timothy McVeigh. And they certainly don't go around saying they hope a lot more civilians are killed by U.S. bombs and guns. They've been trained to deny it's happening or downplay its importance, thinking instead about Iraq's future democracy, the next life, or the "big picture."

Failure to Care: How it Happens

The reasons for blindness or indifference toward civilian casualties are several. Many if not most pro-war Christians, particularly those in the southern and midwestern states:

1. rarely see news accounts of civilian casualties because our major TV news programs and newspapers either omit those stories altogether or mention them in passing (without photos, the crucial element in terms of public opinion) and, wanting to believe that Bush's war is working, do not seek out evidence of the maiming and killing of our troops or of Iraqi civilians,

2. have been immunized against thinking for themselves or doubting the Bush administration with certain Bible verses (particularly those verses in Romans telling us to obey and submit to governmental authority figures) – a passive stance that's strikingly different from the questioning that Jesus both urged and modeled toward greedy, power-seeking, and hypocritical authority figures (e.g., "false prophets" and "wolves in sheep's clothing"),

3. are told not to worry, when they do hear of civilian casualties, that life in the flesh is less important than life eternal (one European writer told me that a friend confided, "Yes it's sad, but if some Iraqi civilians are killed by U.S. bombs and it saves even one soul, it will have been worth it" – a sentiment that, sadly, is not unusual),

4. feel they dare not oppose this or any war because talking about peace, objecting to war's human cost, or even referring to the United Nations has become associated in their minds with the Antichrist and eternal damnation, thanks to fictional works based on Thessalonians such as the Left Behind books and video (this video makes clear the fearful reasoning behind the knee-jerk reactions of many pro-war Christians against peace itself, peacemakers of any kind [poignant indeed in light of Jesus' teaching, "Blessed are the peacemakers"], the Middle East "road map," international dialogue and cooperation, and any form of human rights accountability), and

5. have been convinced by right-wing preachers, authors and radio hosts (people like Rush Limbaugh are the most influential, because their voices are heard for hours daily rather than written in a book or heard once a week in church) to shift their allegiance away from Jesus' teachings about merciful behavior toward and compassion for family and stranger alike ("the least of these") to the more pro-violence, pro-war values espoused by various non-Gospel biblical writers.

Each of these is a powerful influence, but when combined, they dramatically alter Christian values in fundamental ways. Whereas evangelical churches used to teach compassion (in liberal doses, not conservative soundbites) and warn against responding to threats or attacks with violence, today's conservative churches urge parishioners to support capital punishment, zero-tolerance policies of all kinds, and corporal punishment to "shape the will" of babies, toddlers, and children. Someone raised in this kind of environment grows up to become an adult who's afraid to step out of line, and who naturally resents or even hates those who feel free to do so.

White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card summed it up best: President Bush sees Americans as so many children who need a father to guide and protect them. Indeed, conservative Christians are raised for a dictatorship where the "leaders" make the calls and are not to be questioned, rather than a democracy, where dissent is a cherished right. As linguistics professor George Lakoff has concluded from his study of the conservative-liberal divide that's polarizing American society, conservatives (the popular but by no means accurate label) are accustomed to, hence gravitate toward, a strict father – and nothing can be more strict than "our father" Bush demanding that we accept without question all the "stuff" that happens in his war.

Moral Relativism: In War, Anything Goes

But most importantly, conservative Christianity in the U.S. has succumbed to that which it has, in decades past, most rigorously warned against: moral relativism. By restricting any discussion of morality to sexual behavior, right-wing politicians have obliterated the once-central Christian teaching that the way we teach others is of paramount importance to God. Cleverly "working the room," pro-war politicians have infiltrated churches to such a degree that killings and torture are no longer within the province of morality. When morality is only about sex, no aspect of war – even the killing of entire families – can arouse criticism, much less condemnation.

In short, everything that happens in the execution of war, even that which is flagrantly in violation of the moral values that Jesus taught regarding violence and revenge, prayer for enemies and peacemaking, becomes acceptable when Jesus' teachings are compartmentalized as relevant only in our personal lives. When Jesus is sidelined, those parts of the Bible that support authority, no matter what it does to innocent people, will take precedence. This is what has happened (often with the prodding, political influence and financial support of right-wing political organizations) in many of our churches today. Unless Christians begin to speak up publicly for the teachings of Christ – the cornerstone of our faith – we will continue to slide into the kind of moral relativism that causes others to wonder why we are so bloodthirsty.

Comment: If you are a Christian who is appalled at Bush's use of the Bible to justify his actions, you may be interested in Bob Fraley's web site.

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When voting is a matter of faith
From Monday's Globe and Mail

Manheim, Penn. — Erin Randolph cannot imagine voting for a U.S. presidential candidate who does not believe in God.

"That would be a scary thing," said Ms. Randolph, 22, who is studying to be a teacher. "I lead my life based on belief in a higher power to give me direction. Without a set of core beliefs, you can do whatever you want."

Comment: Yet, because Bush supposedly has this "set of core beliefs", he can still do whatever he wants, only it's acceptable now because it is sanctioned by God.

That's the main reason Ms. Randolph and her boyfriend, Justin Shaw, are staunch supporters of George W. Bush, and plan to vote for him in the presidential election next week. "I see Bush as a man of integrity and knowing that he's a man of faith, I have so much trust in him," she said.

Comment: "Psychopaths seem to have in abundance the very traits most desired by normal persons. The untroubled self-confidence of the psychopath seems almost like an impossible dream and is generally what "normal" people seek to acquire when they attend assertiveness training classes. In many instances, the magnetic attraction of the psychopath for members of the opposite sex seems almost supernatural."

"If you're serious about your faith, it shapes the way you view the world and everything you do in the world," said Mr. Shaw, a 20-year-old biology student, after the two left Sunday services at the Lancaster County Bible Church. [...]

Churches like this one are at the core of Mr. Bush's re-election campaign, particularly in Pennsylvania and the other swing states where the race is too tight to call.

The Republicans are depending on conservative semi-rural areas such as Lancaster County to deliver a big vote for Mr. Bush to balance Democratic strength in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, with their concentration of minorities and more liberal voters.

Republican election strategist Karl Rove has said he is convinced that four million Christian evangelical voters stayed home in 2000, and the party's grassroots efforts are concentrating on those potential supporters.

"We believe that people who are regular churchgoers . . . tend to be far more supportive of the President than they are [John] Kerry," Lancaster Republican chairman Dave Dumeyer told a local newspaper. "We decided to look at all church members more closely."

Judging from the proliferation of Bush-Cheney bumper stickers in the Bible Church's parking lot, the effort has been effective, a trend that is also reflected nationally. An Ipsos-Associated Press opinion poll published Friday found that 72 per cent of white evangelical respondents plan to vote for Mr. Bush. [...]

At the Bible Church yesterday, congregants crowded the Scripts bookstore, which offers a wide variety of inspirational books and tapes, including a guide to improving your golf game with help from the Bible and Jack Nicklaus. The store also features a selection of political books that cater to the Christian right, including a guide entitled We Will Pray for Election Day that features a prayer for A President After God's Own Heart.

"Please lead us to a man who not only has deep-seated morals but is grounded in a relationship with you," the prayer says. [...]

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White ice, jets and the grace of God

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - U.S. President George W. Bush used all the trappings of incumbency yesterday, shutting airspace, scrambling military aircraft and buzzing a football stadium with Air Force One in a mad sprint across Florida, the scene once again of an epic political showdown.

The U.S. president made four stops on both coasts, energizing his base 10 days before election day, climaxing in a huge rally here at the home of the football Jacksonville Jaguars.

He kicked up dirt on supporters at the winter home of the Boston Red Sox when his chopper, escorted by five U.S. Marine helicopters, landed for the first stop at the baseball stadium in Fort Myers, where Bush disembarked to the theme from the movie Top Gun and a huge cheer from an estimated 12,000 supporters.

Later, fighter jets were scrambled to escort two private planes out of the president's airspace when they wandered too close to his second stop in Lakeland, where he spoke to 13,000.

Bush also spoke in Melbourne but it was here at Alltel Stadium, site of this season's Super Bowl, where a crowd estimated by organizers at 50,000 was treated to all the flourishes — some would say kitsch — of late-campaign presidential rallies.

In the hours before the president's entry to the stadium through clouds of dry ice, a sun-splashed crowd more realistically put at 30,000 was serenaded by country music, entertained by pom-pom waving "Dubya cheerleaders" and heard testimonials to their commander-in-chief suffused in religious and biblical references.

Among the thousands of signs in the crowd, one read "God Wants Bush.''

The U.S. president won a testimonial from a Canadian-born former National Hockey League star, Ron Duguay, followed by Duguay's wife, model Kim Alexis, who called the U.S. president "God's gatekeeper."

"One man can determine the nation, in God's mind,'' she said. "How can one man deliver so much? Well, only by the grace of God.''

She also likened the U.S. military effort in Iraq to the armies of Israel which "as long as they pleased the Lord, they could not be defeated.''

They were followed to the podium by the parents of Todd Beamer, the passenger on the American Airlines flight on Sept. 11, 2001, who is credited with saying "let's roll,'' before leading passengers who overpowered the hijackers and forced the plane to crash at Shanksville, Pa.

Both campaigns are using the parents, spouses and children of those killed that day in political ads and testimonials.

The flyover of the football stadium and a tour of the Fort Myers baseball field by helicopter made for a bevy of pretty pictures, but the latest poll released here shows Bush with a one-point lead over Democratic challenger John Kerry — in effect, a statistical dead heat.

Both sides are alleging dirty tricks during early voting and a repeat of the Florida voting fiasco of four years ago is a real possibility. Bush won a disputed election here over Al Gore in 2000 by 537 votes and he brought his brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush to every stop, reminding Floridians how well he performed following a string of four hurricanes here. [...]

But Bush played the fear card all day long with polls still showing he's well ahead of Kerry on questions of homeland security.

"Americans will go to the polls in a time of war and ongoing threats unlike any we have faced before. Terrorists who killed thousands are still dangerous. They are determined to strike us again.

"The outcome of this election will set the direction of the war against terror.''

Kerry, Bush says, does not understand the nature of the war and has a "Sept. 10'' mindset.

"If America shows uncertainty or weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy,'' Bush said. "This will not happen on my watch.'' [...]

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Be afraid of the big bad wolf, voters warned
By Marian Wilkinson, Herald Correspondent in Washington
October 26, 2004

Vote for us or your children will die. It is a compelling message and President George Bush has no qualms about delivering it as he heads into the final week of this election in a neck-and-neck race with John Kerry.

Mr Bush may dance around the words, but there can be no doubt about their subliminal meaning.

Campaigning in Florida over the weekend, he warned his supporters: "The choice in this election cannot be clearer. You cannot lead our nation to the decisive victory on which the security of every American family depends if you do not see the true dangers of the post-September 11 world."

Weakness, Mr Bush says repeatedly, will hound the US if Senator Kerry is elected next Tuesday. Anyone who votes for him, by extension, is throwing their family to the wolves.

Just in case any swinging voter has failed to grasp his warning, the Bush campaign team has begun airing a scary political ad.

It is perfectly timed, one week before Halloween, to crank up the fear factor several notches.

The opening scene is a moonlit night in a dark forest where a pack of hungry wolves is eyeing the camera. A female announcer gravely intones:

"In an increasingly dangerous world ... Even after the first terrorist attacks on America ... John Kerry and the liberals in Congress voted to slash America's intelligence operations ... Cuts so deep they would have weakened America's defences ... And weakness attracts those who are waiting to do America harm."

On cue, wolves start skulking towards camera, growling ominously, waiting to pounce.

The commercial, like Mr Bush's speeches, is aimed squarely at the so-called security moms, a new voting block that the Republicans say has replaced the "soccer moms" who once supported the Democratic president Bill Clinton and his economic program.

Since the September 11 attacks the security mom is more worried about terrorism than job tenure.

The Vice-President, Dick Cheney, was the first to hammer the message on the campaign trail in the struggling Midwest, where job losses are holding back support for Mr Bush. Now his daughter Liz Cheney, mother of four, is workshopping this message to Republican women activists around the country.

Is it working? Yes, she said. In the 2000 election Mr Bush's macho image cut into his support among women but now, Ms Cheney said, they were giving their support almost equally to both candidates.

"As I travel the country and talk to women, talk to mothers in particular, they tell me they know George Bush will do whatever it takes to keep them safe. And they're frankly confused and concerned about where Senator Kerry is on this issue."

Mr Bush appears convinced the message is working. In a television interview he repeated the warning that terrorists still hoped to attack the country during the elections.

"I don't want to alarm anybody because's nothing specific at this point in time," he said, while agreeing that a nuclear, chemical or biological attack in the US was still possible. "That's the biggest threat we face."

Senator Kerry is trying to puncture this potent message by accusing Mr Bush of running a campaign based on visceral fear.

"I believe our future belongs to freedom and not to fear," he told supporters in Florida. [...]

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Poll: Americans Doubt Voting Process
By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer
October 26, 2004

WASHINGTON - Memories of Florida's contested 2000 presidential election and a growing number of pre-election lawsuits are making Americans skeptical about a voting process they once took for granted.

Six in 10 of those surveyed in an Associated Press poll say it's likely there will not be a clear winner in the presidential race by Nov. 3 — the day after the election — and fear the results will be challenged in court. The poll was conducted for the AP by Ipsos Public Affairs.

Both Democrats and Republicans worry about the possibility of an unresolved election — though Democrats express more worries. About seven in 10 Democratic voters, 69 percent, say they think it's likely there won't be a clear winner by Election Day, while almost six in 10 Republican voters, 56 percent, say they feel that way.

With both political parties putting thousands of lawyers on call for Election Day, a majority of both Democrats and Republicans — just over half of each — expect the election results will be challenged in court.

"I read the other day that there's going to be a perfect storm," Jack Martin, a businessman who lives near Salt Lake City, said of the growing number of lawsuits. "I think it's coming down to the courts. It worries me about our election system. I used to think every vote counts." [...]

Worries about politics and legal challenges far outweigh worries about terrorist attacks intended to disrupt the elections, the poll found.

Just under one-third of those polled say they expect terrorists will attempt to disrupt elections. [...]

Comment: Now, when Bush wins in a landslide, the American people will have "proof" that the electoral process is alive and well in the US.

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Bush doesn't 'misspeak.' He lies. Lies. Lies."
By Sheila Samples

"They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country. But in modern war, there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason." ~Ernest Hemmingway

My friend Bernie says anyone who believes that George W. Bush's war on terror isn't a miserable, howling failure is surely a member of the media, a perp over at the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), or has had "the lobotomy." Bernie says if Bush manages to screw up another election, the second thing he's going to do is hit us with a full-blown draft.

"The second thing?" I asked. "Okay -- since Bush always screws up everything he touches -- I'll bite. What's the first thing?"

"Iran!" Bernie snorted. "Don't you pay attention? The articles have already been written. The graphics are loaded. The media is just waiting for Bush to give 'em the signal so they can write the headlines and fill in the date and time of the attack. Then," he grinned, "Hi-ho, hi-ho -- it's off to war we go..."

Bernie could be on to something. Anybody even remotely familiar with the totally mad ravings of the Machiavellian Michael Ledeen for the past two decades, or the sheer inhumanity lurking behind the chilly smile frozen on the warmongering face of Bill Kristol, editor of Rupert Murdoch's neoconservative Weekly Standard, knows that Iraq was only the beginning of a struggle with the "terror masters" of evil -- a war that Ledeen cheerfully announces will "go on forever."

"I've been watching Ledeen for years," Bernie said, "ever since the '80s, when he weaseled his way not only into the National Security Council and the Pentagon, but into Alexander Haig's brain over at State. Now, he squats in the 'freedom chair' at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and works with folks at AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and JINSA (Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs) whippin' up blind fear that Iran is gonna nuke us before sunset.

"Nobody makes a better livin' at killin' than Mikey Ledeen. Hell," Bernie continued. "The body parts hadn't been scraped off the streets of Baghdad from Bush's premature and giddy attack on Iraq before Ledeen was ready to move on -- to deliver God's gift of freedom to millions of folks unfortunate enough to live on top of the oil in Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and even little ol' Libya. Liberation's a dirty job," Bernie said. "It's hard work -- but like Ledeen says, somebody's gotta do it."

"Bernie," I said, fighting the impulse to skitter into the corner to crouch there, whimpering and gnawing on what little remains of my hair, "there must be another way. Surely, if George Bush screws up...er, wins another election, surely he's learned his lesson. He won't listen to people like Kristol and Ledeen..."

"Naw, Bush don't listen to 'em," Bernie grinned. "He don't have to listen. He wouldn't understand what they were sayin' even if he did listen. He just opens up, and whatever they shout in his ear immediately blasts out through his pie hole. I call it Bush's pie-hole foreign policy. I call it Bush's premature, pre-emptive pie-hole foreign policy. I call it Bush's predatory, pre-emptive, pie--"

"Okay -- okay! I get the picture!" I interrupted hurriedly. "But you're right, Bernie. There's no way we can continue on this course without a draft. As of today, we've lost 1,110 American troops in Iraq. Seven of that number are reported as killed but not identified because their families don't yet know they are gone forever. More than 8,000 have been wounded and nearly that many more evacuated because of disease, much of which -- like Ledeen's eternal war -- is the depleted uranium gift that just keeps on giving.

"Americans need to snap out of it," Bernie said, his eyes suddenly hard. "Time's up. Americans are out there dancin' alone on the brink of catastrophe, and nobody's covering their backs. They've been played for fools by the media, betrayed by their political leaders and cuckolded by their religious leaders.

"Help is not on the way for folks who think they can barricade themselves behind closed doors and ride out the storm," Bernie said. "War is on the way. A draft is on the way, and you can take it to the bank that these guys agree with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who has been widely quoted as saying contemptuously that military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy. [...]

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Increase In War Funding Sought: Bush to Request $70 Billion More
By Jonathan Weisman and Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, October 26, 2004; Page A01

The Bush administration intends to seek about $70 billion in emergency funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan early next year, pushing total war costs close to $225 billion since the invasion of Iraq early last year, Pentagon and congressional officials said yesterday.

White House budget office spokesman Chad Kolton emphasized that final decisions on the supplemental spending request will not be made until shortly before the request is sent to Congress. That may not happen until early February, when President Bush submits his budget for fiscal 2006, assuming he wins reelection.

But Pentagon and House Appropriations Committee aides said the Defense Department and military services are scrambling to get their final requests to the White House Office of Management and Budget by mid-November, shortly after the election. The new numbers underscore that the war is going to be far more costly and intense, and last longer, than the administration first suggested.

The Army is expected to request at least an additional $30 billion for combat activity in Iraq, with $6 billion more needed to begin refurbishing equipment that has been worn down or destroyed by unexpectedly intense combat, another Appropriations Committee aide said. The deferral of needed repairs over the past year has added to maintenance costs, which can no longer be delayed, a senior Pentagon official said.

The Army is expected to ask for as much as $10 billion more for its conversion to a swifter expeditionary force. The Marines will come in with a separate request, as will the Defense Logistics Agency and other components of the Department of Defense. The State Department will need considerably more money to finance construction and operations at the sprawling embassy complex in Baghdad. The Central Intelligence Agency's request would come on top of those.

"I don't have a number, and [administration officials] have not been forthcoming, but we expect it will be pretty large," said James Dyer, Republican chief of staff of the Appropriations Committee.

Bush has said for months that he would make an additional request for the war next year, but the new estimates are the first glimpse of its magnitude. A $70 billion request would be considerably larger than lawmakers had anticipated earlier this year. After the president unexpectedly submitted an $87 billion request for the Iraq and Afghanistan efforts last year, many Republicans angrily expressed sticker shock and implored the administration not to surprise them again.

This request would come on top of $25 billion in war spending allocated by Congress for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. The two bills combined suggest the cost of combat is escalating from the $65 billion spent by the military in 2004 and the $62.4 billion allocated in 2003, as U.S. troops face insurgencies that have proven far more lethal than expected at this point. [...]

In making cost estimates for the supplemental budget request, Pentagon officials have distanced themselves from the Bush administration's public optimism about trends in Iraq. Instead, they make the fairly pessimistic assumption that about as many troops will be needed there next year as are currently on the ground. [...]

Yale University economist William D. Nordhaus estimated that in inflation-adjusted terms, World War I cost just under $200 billion for the United States. The Vietnam War cost about $500 billion from 1964 to 1972, Nordhaus said. The cost of the Iraq war could reach nearly half that number by next fall, 2 1/2 years after it began.

A Pentagon spokeswoman declined to comment. "We are going to let OMB talk for the administration on this issue," Marine Lt. Col. Rose-Ann Lynch said.

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Tom Brokaw wraps it up
Monday, October 25, 2004 Posted: 4:18 PM EDT (2018 GMT)

NEW YORK -- As a 16-year-old high school student, Tom Brokaw spent his first working Election Night in a radio station newsroom in Yankton, South Dakota. He reported results from rural polling places, and ate chicken catered from Kip's Blue Moon restaurant.

His last Election Night will be considerably grander.

NBC News is building a huge temple of democracy at New York's Rockefeller Center. A giant jigsaw-puzzle map of the United States will cover the famed ice skating surface and the General Electric building will be the backdrop for an electronic bar graph tracking the Bush-Kerry fight.

And when either candidate reaches the magic mark of 270 electoral votes, fireworks will explode over the New York City skyline.

OK, that last part's a fib.

But you get the idea.

NBC is expecting a big night for TV viewers, and Brokaw will be at the center of it all.

Election Night will also mark the end of an era in broadcast journalism. For more than two decades, the three biggest networks have turned to the same men to anchor coverage of important news stories -- Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather.

This should be Brokaw's last hurrah, since he steps down as NBC's chief anchorman December 1. By Election Day 2008, certainly one and maybe all three network faces will be different. Rather turns 73 on Halloween and is fighting for his future after CBS's botched story on President Bush's National Guard service. Jennings is 66.

"It's a natural transition and it's a new generation taking over," said Brokaw, 64. "I had my opportunity when I replaced John (Chancellor). Dan replaced Walter (Cronkite)."

'They rely on us'

What Brokaw has found most touching are the moments in airports -- most recently Phoenix after the final presidential debate and Los Angeles -- where folks approached him to say they'll miss seeing him on television.

"That probably means more to me than anything we could do around here because I've always felt that the essence of television news (is) it's a mass medium," he said. "We are connected from these large, glittering, bells-and-whistles sets in New York to ordinary households in the Southwest, the Midwest, to barrooms and schools and other places.

"They rely on us," he said. "You feel at the end of having done it all these years that if people still have faith in what you've done and feel a personal connection, and feel it so strongly that they're willing to come up to you and express that, that's very gratifying."

Comment: It is interesting that Brokaw finds it gratifying that people still have faith in what he's done. One can have faith that a lie is true, but that does nothing to change what really is.

His biggest disappointment after two decades anchoring "Nightly News" is that the broadcast is still 30 minutes long and not an hour.

On Election Night, his sidekick in an anchor booth overlooking the rink will be Tim Russert. Brokaw's eventual replacement, Brian Williams, will report that night from a nearby booth adjacent to the rink.

NBC will almost certainly be the most-watched network that night, and not for nostalgic reasons. Brokaw has been lengthening NBC's lead in the evening news ratings race in recent months, and it has been the network of choice for most big political events this year.

Citing an NBC News poll that found 74 percent of Americans who said the election was very important to them, Brokaw said the last time he saw such a tuned-in electorate was during the 1968 Vietnam-era campaign between Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey.

"Here you have two men of privilege, both from Yale University, both from the same fraternity, members of Skull & Bones, with distinctly different points of view about how the world should take shape in the next four years and what the place of the United States should be in it," he said.

"That's a story of almost Shakespearean proportion, when you think about it," he said. "And that's the story that we need to tell." [...]

Comment: "Distinctly different points of view"? Both Bush and Kerry want to continue the war on terror. Both candidates believe that a group of Arab terrorists who were barely able to fly a Cessna hijacked airliners and flew them into the WTC. Both candidates support the butchering of Americans' civil liberties. We agree, however, that it is a story of immense proportion. Unfortunately, it seems Brokaw sold out to the powers that be a long time ago...

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Bombshell for Bush: 350 tons of explosives go missing in Iraq
By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
26 October 2004

In a massive pre-election embarrassment for the Bush administration, nearly 350 tons of lethal explosives - which could be used to trigger nuclear weapons - have vanished from a military facility in Iraq supposed to have been guarded by US troops.

Hardly had the disappearance come to light than John Kerry, the Democratic presidential challenger, seized on the episode as proof that George Bush was incapable of keeping America safe. The material could already be in terrorist hands, he warned yesterday.

This was "one of the great blunders of the war," Mr Kerry said on the campaign trail in the swing state of New Hampshire. A statement from his campaign said the "unbelievable incompetence of this President and this administration has put our troops at risk and this country at greater risk", adding that Mr Bush, "who talks tough and brags about making America safer, has once again failed to deliver".

According to The New York Times, which broke the story in a lengthy front-page story, the missing stockpiles - some 350 tons in all - are of HMX, RMX and PETN, extremely powerful, conventional explosives that are used to blow up buildings, fill missile warheads or detonate nuclear weapons. So devastating are they that just one pound of a similar explosive was enough to destroy Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in December 1988. HMX, RMX, or explosives like them have been used in car and apartment bombings in Moscow and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in recent years.

At the time of the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the explosives were being stored by the Saddam regime, under United Nations control at the al-Qaqaa military facility south of Baghdad, which was mentioned in the Government's September 2002 dossier as a source of possible chemical-weapons production. Some time after the fall of Saddam the explosives disappeared, but their loss was not formally notified to the Bush administration and the IAEA nuclear watchdog agency in Vienna until two weeks ago.

In a letter on 10 October 2004, the Ministry of Science and Technology of the interim Iraqi government of Iyad Allawi detailed the losses to the IAEA, which it ascribed to "theft and looting". Five days later, the agency sent the letter to Bush's administration.

Mohamed ElBaradei, the director of the IAEA, is said to be "extremely concerned" about the "potentially devastating consequences" of the vanished explosives. Yesterday, the agency made clear that the US, as leader of the coalition in Iraq, had been repeatedly warned of the importance of making sure the stockpiles were safe. "The coalition was responsible" for looking after the weapons, an IAEA spokeswoman said. "We had hoped that they would be protected."

After the news was disclosed, Mr ElBaradei formally informed the UN Security Council in a letter yesterday. Agency officials denied suggestions that the IAEA director had been under pressure from the administration to keep the news quiet until after the presidential election next Tuesday.

The White House immediately moved to contain the possible political damage, playing down the threat posed by the explosives. The material did not constitute a risk in terms of nuclear proliferation, said Scott McClellan, Mr Bush's spokesman.

As soon as US officials in Vienna, where the IAEA is based, had been told of the disappearance, the news was passed to Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Adviser, who then informed the President. Dismissing complaints that the news should have been made public earlier, the White House said the Iraq Survey Group - which reported last month - would try to find out what had happened.

It remains to be seen whether the episode is lost in the swirl of the campaign, or whether it becomes the "October surprise" - the unexpected event dreaded by both parties, capable of tipping a close election to the other side.

Democrats see the debacle as a perfect means of discrediting Mr Bush's claim that he is the commander-in-chief best able to protect America from terrorists. "The unbelievable blindness, stubbornness, arrogance of this administration to do the basics have now allowed this President to once again fail the test of being the commander-in-chief," Mr Kerry said.

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Twelve Iraqis Die in Upsurge in Ramadan Bloodshed
By Michael Georgy
Mon Oct 25, 2004 01:30 PM ET

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Bombs and clashes killed 12 Iraqis Monday in a surge of Ramadan attacks that also claimed the lives of an Estonian and an American soldier.

An Interior Ministry official said he had no figures for the violence since the Muslim fasting month began 10 days ago but added: "We can't deny that there has been an increased number of attacks during Ramadan."

An Estonian soldier was killed and five were wounded in a bomb blast in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, officials said.

A roadside bomb killed a U.S. soldier and wounded five in western Baghdad, the U.S. military said. The death brought to 845 the number of U.S. troops killed in action since the start of the Iraq war last year.

In the first attack on their contingent since the end of the war, three Australians were hurt when a car bomb blew up near the Australian embassy in central Baghdad. The U.S. military said the blast killed three Iraqis and wounded at least six. [...]

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7-year-old boy kidnapped in Iraq
Last Updated Mon, 25 Oct 2004 13:42:38 EDT

BEIRUT - A seven-year-old Lebanese boy was taken hostage in Iraq over the weekend, and his kidnappers are demanding $150,000 in ransom.

On Monday, Lebanon's foreign ministry said it was working with Iraqi authorities to secure the release of Mohammed Hammad, who was reportedly abducted on the way home from school on Saturday.

The officials did not say who they were negotiating with in Iraq.

The kidnapping took place in Diyala province, east of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. Mohammed 's father, Abdel-Ghani Hamad, is a Lebanese citizen who has lived in Iraq for 30 years.

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, hundreds of Lebanese people, many of them construction workers, have gone to Iraq looking for opportunities in the war-torn country's reconstruction.

Three other Lebanese nationals are believed to be hostages in Iraq. One Lebanese hostage has been killed.

More than 150 foreigners have been kidnapped in Iraq in recent months. Most were kidnapped for ransom and freed unharmed, but at least 30 – including three Americans – have been killed in order to drive out foreign troops and companies.

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France says Iraq sovereignty requires US withdrawl
PARIS, Oct 25 (AFP) - The withdrawl of US troops from Iraq would be "a real signal of the return of sovereignty" for the violence-wracked country, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said Monday.

Such a withdrawl should be discussed during an international conference on Iraq to be held in Egypt on November 22-23, Barnier told French television news channel LCI.

A solution to bring stability to Iraq can only be brought about "by negotiation, discussion, a political process, by elections and, at a given moment, by the departure of international troops, notably the American ones," he said.

But while France hoped to see the troop issue put on the conference agenda, it was not making it a precondition to participating, Barnier stressed.

US President George W. Bush's administration has embraced the idea of the conference, long called for by Paris, but French officials have suggested that Iraqi insurgents also have seats at the table and that a pull-out of US-led forces be raised.

Washington wants the conference to rally international support ahead of Iraq elections which continue to be planned for January despite the daily bloodshed in Iraqi cities and towns.

Barnier said of the elections that "everything must be done so that they take place as planned" but he added "that will be difficult".

The French minister on Monday chaired a smaller regional meeting looking at the situation in Iraq. The gathering - of foreign ministers and senior diplomats from 11 EU, north African and Middle East countries - took place in Paris under the aegis of the Mediterranean Forum.

The forum's members comprise Algeria, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey.

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New French documentary tries US and Saddam
PARIS, Oct 25 (AFP) - What if Saddam Hussein were to have a genuinely fair trial? That is the central question of a hard-hitting documentary to be aired on French television Tuesday.

Michel Despratx of France's Canal Plus television teamed with independent Canadian filmmaker Barry Lando to produce "The Trial of Saddam Hussein, the Trial You'll Never See."

The 43-minute film begins with frank and graphic highlights of Saddam's brutal reign. But it soon delves into a history of collusion going back to the cataclysmic Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, when Washington, fully aware that Saddam was using mustard and nerve gas against Iranian civilians, calculated that it was better to keep backing him as the lesser of two evils.

"There are your options. Neither one palatable," says retired Air Force
Captain Rick Fontana in the film.

US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is shown in a clip from Iraqi television shaking hands with Saddam in 1983 when he was president Ronald Reagan's special representative for the Middle East.

Shown the clip 20 years later, Rumsfeld muses: "Where did you get this video? ... Isn't that interesting? There I am."

Copies of the documentary have been ordered by television outlets in Canada, Japan and Australia, but "American stations are not interested," Despratx told AFP.

One of the most notorious episodes of Saddam's rule was the gassing of 5,000 Kurds in northern Halabja, an atrocity which drew little international condemnation.

In the heat of the Iran-Iraq war, news programmes mentioned it without naming Saddam, leaving open the suggestion that the Iranians were responsible.

"That was the diplomatic language of the time," said former French foreign minister Roland Dumas.

"The West closed its eyes a little bit ... Iraq was a strategic country for the balance of the region," adds Peter Galbraith, top adviser to the Senate foreign relations committee at the time.

"Nobody wanted to upset Saddam Hussein, and if Kurds getting gassed was something that would cause troubles, neither the Reagan nor the Bush administration wanted to hear a word about it."

Another part of the film deals with the numerous companies which supplied Saddam with chemical weapons.

"Our estimation is that Germany supplied far more than anyone else to Iraq's chemical weapons program, but the French certainly were important suppliers," says Gary Milhollin, an expert on arms proliferation.

The 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait provides another scathing indictment of the US collusion with Saddam.

The film shows a meeting between then US ambassador April Glaspie and Saddam eight days before the invasion in which she assures him that Washington will take "no position in the event of any border conflict between Iraq and Kuwait."

Four months later, the United States and its allies unleashed the first Gulf War, removing Saddam from Kuwait but leaving him in Baghdad to dispense new terror to his people, killing 300,000 Shiites who rose up against him at the encouragement of the first president George Bush, broadcast repeatedly on Iraqi radio.

In the north, the Kurds also rose up, only to be crushed once again. Galbraith says in the film: "Having called for the uprising the Bush administration then decided they didn't want it to succeed."

The damaging consequences of 12 years of international sanctions against Iraq, during which at least half a million children under five died of disease, according to the UN childrens fund (UNICEF), are also examined in the film.

The deliberate destruction of Iraq's water system during the war led to outbreaks of typhoid and other waterborne diseases, and the embargo prevented Iraq from importing the parts needed to repair the system, the film reveals.

At the end of the documentary Madeleine Albright, then US ambassador to the United Nations, and later secretary of state, is asked whether containing Saddam was worth the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children, and replies yes.

Comment: Ah, what a question! What would come out if Saddam, or his double, were given a fair trail? As this documentary demonstrates, and as alternative news sites have been saying over and over again since the period prior to the invasion and occupation of Iraq, Saddam was America's man. As Robert Parry says elsewhere in the interview published above:

Another scandal breaking out in 1991 after the Persian Gulf War was known as Iraqgate. And Iraqgate was in a sense the opposite side of the coin from Iran-Contra because, while one part of the Reagan Administration was helping the Iranians in the mid-'80s, another part was helping the Iraqis, who were at war with the Iranians. Essentially the United States was playing both sides in providing sophisticated equipment, including material that could be used for weapons of mass destruction, to Saddam Hussein. Now this was also an embarrassing set of facts that George H.W. Bush did not want to have out. He had been calling Saddam Hussein worse than Hitler at that point. And so the idea that he had been secretly involved in a program in the 1980s to assist Saddam Hussein was information that they wanted to keep under board.

The psychopath can lie without remorse, changing his story as it suits his needs. When psychopathy is raised to the level of "diplomacy", we see the same dynamic.

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Letters from the home front
Tom Engelhardt
Tom Dispatch

Last week, at this site, Teri Wills Allison, a mother from Texas whose soldier son is now in Iraq, wrote an up-close and personal piece on "the costs of war" -- for her and us. It was a brave essay in which she discussed, among other things, how it feels to have your son so far away and in danger, and the kinds of angry emotions Bush's war evokes in her. It brought a small flood of e-mail to the Tomdispatch mailbox.

One thing struck me: Amid all the pundits opining and journalists reporting on the state of the nation, we almost never hear the voices of Americans who, like Teri Allison, have to deal with the fallout from the mess this administration has created. There's no place in our media for that.

To give but a small example, Allison spoke of the way Bush's war has driven a wedge into her extended family -- between herself and relatives who have "become evangelical believers in a false faith, swallowing Bush's fear mongering… cheering his ‘bring ‘em on' attitude as a sign of strength and resoluteness." When pundits and journalists write about "polarization" in America, they talk about red states and blue states. It sounds politically important, yet strangely abstract; just those big colored squares on a map. What Allison's piece and the letters in response tell us is that, as at the height of the Vietnam War, such polarization is reaching deep into families, causing intense pain and anguish. This is another kind of reality, possibly more important than what you read in the papers.

I was also struck by the offers of help of all sorts directed to Teri Allison (who had, in her piece, mentioned the plight of a Kurdish translator her son works with and of wounded friends of his now back in the U.S.). I've included several of these letters below because in their generosity of spirit they offer a kind of hope and renewal all their own.

Among letters not reprinted were a number from mothers of draft-age or younger children offering Allison thanks for her piece and expressing strong opposition to any future draft -- a potentially explosive issue in our country. In the end, I chose ten of the many letters that came in -- articulate and filled with emotion, with pain and tears, empathy and anger. (Many more, just as heartfelt, came to Allison via Military Families Speak Out, an organization with which she's associated and which posted her piece on-line.) All of the letter writers below wrote me in their own names. Some, despite the very personal nature of their letters, felt determined that those names be used; others understandably felt differently. I've identified each of them as they asked to be identified.

Just going through the letters that arrived was, for me, an emotional experience. I especially want to express my admiration to the parents of soldiers in, or heading for, Iraq who wrote so forthrightly of their situations. Whoever is elected on November 2, their strength will be needed if this war is to be ended. Tom

Comment: The division between the fundies and the others is ripping the fabric of American society apart. With the already existing fault lines between blacks and whites, the obvious although denied rift between the rich and poor (one that grows with each year), the phony divisions between Democrats and Republicans, both of whom serve corporate interests, the US is being pulled apart.

Add a future economic crisis, and you have the recipe for chaos.

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Results leave Karzai one step from victory

Monday October 25, 2004

President Hamid Karzai has won the majority of votes in the Afghan election, securing over 55 % and paving for the way for him to become the country's first popularly elected president.

Results posted on the website of the Joint Electoral Management Board (JESB) - an Afghan and United Nations election commission - showed Mr Karzai way ahead with 55.3 % of the vote while his nearest rival, former education minister Yonous Qanooni secured only 16.2 %

With nearly 95 % of votes counted, the interim leader already has more than half the estimated 8.1m votes cast. Under election rules, a candidate must secure 50 % plus one vote to win.

A spokesman for Mr Qanooni conceded defeat last night, according to Reuters, but official confirmation of Karzai's victory was frozen pending the outcome of an investigation into alleged polling irregularities.

The official result will be announced by the JESB later this week, after it has seen a report into the allegations by an independent. The three-man panel, made up of a Canadian diplomat and election experts from Britain and Sweden, is due to meet most of the 18 candidates later today to discuss claims of fraud.

The biggest problem was the use of imperfect indelible ink on voters hands, which potentially allowed for multiple voting.

Among the other candidates, Hazara Shia leader Muhammad Mohaqeq received 11.8 % and Uzbek general Abdul Rashid Dostum had 10.3 %. The only female presidential candidate, Masooda Jalal, was running sixth, with 80,922 votes, or 1.1 %.

Voting for the historic election began on October 9, with approximately 22,000 polling stations operational in all districts of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. Millions of mostly illiterate Afghans braved threats of violence and harsh weather to cast their first vote.

A European envoy to Afghanistan said that while there has been some flaws, they were not serious enough to affect the actual outcome of the vote. "The vote pretty accurately reflects what the people feel," Francesc Vendrell, the EU's special representative, told the BBC.

The JESB has reported that 60 % of votes were cast by women and in some provinces there was a 100 % voter turnout. In the largest out-of-country voting operation ever, 2,800 polling stations served refugees in Iran and Pakistan.

Mr Karzai has served as interim leader of Afghanistan since the US forces toppled the ruling Taliban regime. With a likely victory, he will be president for the next five years and his most immediate task will be to prepare for parliamentary elections.

Comment: Representative democracy for Afghanistan? We think not...

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Provisional leader Karzai links to US Oil

Wayna Madsen | 22.01.2002 02:28

Afghanistan, The Taliban, And The Bush Oil Team

According to Afghan, Iranian, and Turkish government sources, Hamid Karzai, the interim Prime Minister of Afghanistan, was a top adviser to the El Segundo, California-based UNOCAL Corporation which was negotiating with the Taliban to construct a Central Asia Gas (CentGas) pipeline from Turkmenistan through western Afghanistan to Pakistan.

Karzai, the leader of the southern Afghan Pashtun Durrani tribe, was a member of the mujaheddin that fought the Soviets during the 1980s. He was a top contact for the CIA and maintained close relations with CIA Director William Casey, Vice President George Bush, and their Pakistani Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) Service interlocutors. Later, Karzai and a number of his brothers moved to the United States under the auspices of the CIA. Karzai continued to serve the agency's interests, as well as those of the Bush Family and their oil friends in negotiating the CentGas deal, according to Middle East and South Asian sources.

When one peers beyond all of the rhetoric of the White House and Pentagon concerning the Taliban, a clear pattern emerges showing that construction of the trans-Afghan pipeline was a top priority of the Bush administration from the outset. Although UNOCAL claims it abandoned the pipeline project in December 1998, the series of meetings held between U.S., Pakistani, and Taliban officials after 1998, indicates the project was never off the table.

Quite to the contrary, recent meetings between U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlain and that country's oil minister Usman Aminuddin indicate the pipeline project is international Project Number One for the Bush administration. Chamberlain, who maintains close ties to the Saudi ambassador to Pakistan (a one-time chief money conduit for the Taliban), has been pushing Pakistan to begin work on its Arabian Sea oil terminus for the pipeline.

Meanwhile, President Bush says that U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan for the long haul. Far from being engaged in Afghan peacekeeping -- the Europeans are doing much of that -- our troops will effectively be guarding pipeline construction personnel that will soon be flooding into the country.

Karzai's ties with UNOCAL and the Bush administration are the main reason why the CIA pushed him for Afghan leader over rival Abdul Haq, the assassinated former mujaheddin leader from Jalalabad, and the leadership of the Northern Alliance, seen by Langley as being too close to the Russians and Iranians.

Haq had no apparent close ties to the U.S. oil industry and, as both a Pushtun and a northern Afghani, was popular with a wide cross-section of the Afghan people, including the Northern Alliance. Those credentials likely sealed his fate.

When Haq entered Afghanistan from Pakistan last October, his position was immediately known to Taliban forces, which subsequently pinned him and his small party down, captured, and executed them. [...]

A chief benefactor in the CentGas deal would have been Halliburton, the huge oil pipeline construction firm that also had its eye on the Central Asian oil reserves. At the time, Halliburton was headed by Dick Cheney. After Cheney's selection as Bush's Vice Presidential candidate, Halliburton also pumped a huge amount of cash into the Bush-Cheney campaign coffers. And like oil cash cow Enron, there were Wall Street rumors in late December that Halliburton, which suffered a forty per cent drop in share value, might follow Enron into bankruptcy court.

While Clinton's State Department omitted Afghanistan from the top foreign policy priority list, the Bush administration, beholden to the oil interests that pumped millions of dollars into the 2000 campaign, restored Afghanistan to the top of the list, but for all the wrong reasons.

After Bush's accession to the presidency, various Taliban envoys were received at the State Department, CIA, and National Security Council. The CIA, which appears, more than ever, to be a virtual extended family of the Bush oil interests, facilitated a renewed approach to the Taliban.

The Clinton administration made numerous attempts to kill Bin Laden. In August 1998, Al Qaeda operatives blew up several U.S. embassies in Africa. In response, Bill Clinton ordered cruise missiles to be launched from US ships in the Persian Gulf into Afghanistan, which missed Bin Laden by a few hours.

The Clinton administration also devised a plan with Pakistan's ISI to send a team of assassins into Afghanistan to kill Bin Laden. But Pakistan's government was overthrown by General Musharraf, who was viewed as particularly close to the Taliban. The CIA cancelled its plans, fearing Musharraf's ISI would tip off the Taliban and Bin Laden. The CIA's connections to the ISI in the months before September 11 and the weeks after are also worthy of a full-blown investigation. The CIA continues to maintain an unhealthy alliance with the ISI, the organization that groomed bin Laden and the Taliban.

Last September, the head of the ISI, General Mahmud Ahmed, was fired by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for his pro-Taliban leanings and reportedly after the U.S. government presented Musharraf with disturbing intelligence linking the general to the terrorist hijackers.

General Ahmed was in Washington, DC on the morning of September 11 meeting with CIA and State Department officials as the hijacked planes slammed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Later, both the Northern Alliance spokesman in Washington, Haron Amin, and Indian intelligence, in an apparent leak to The Times of India, confirmed that General Ahmed ordered a Pakistani-born British citizen and known terrorist named Ahmed Umar Sheik to wire $100,000 from Pakistan to the U.S. bank account of Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker.

When the FBI traced calls made between General Ahmed and Sheik's cellular phone - the number having been supplied by Indian intelligence to the FBI - a pattern linking the general with Sheik clearly emerged. According to The Times of India, the revelation that General Ahmed was involved in the Sheik-Atta money transfer was more than enough for a nervous and embarrassed Bush administration. It pressed Musharraf to dump General Ahmed. Musharraf mealy-mouthed the announcement of his general's dismissal by stating Ahmed "requested" early retirement.

Sheik was well known to the Indian police. He was arrested in New Delhi in 1994 for plotting to kidnap four foreigners, including an American citizen. Sheik was released by the Indians in 1999 in a swap for passengers on board New Delhi-bound Indian Airlines flight 814, hijacked by Islamic militants from Kathmandu, Nepal to Kandahar, Afghanistan. India continues to believe the ISI played a part in the hijacking since the hijackers were affiliated with the pro-bin Laden Kashmiri terrorist group, Harkat-ul-Mujaheddin, a group only recently and quite belatedly placed on the State Department's terrorist list. The ISI and bin Laden's Al Qaeda reportedly assists the group in its operations against Indian government targets in Kashmir.
The FBI, which assisted its Indian counterpart in the investigation of the Indian Airlines hijacking, says it wants information leading to the arrest of those involved in the terrorist attacks.

Yet, no move has been made to question General Ahmed or those U.S. government officials, including Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who met with him in September. Clearly, General Ahmed was a major player in terrorist activities across South Asia, yet still had very close ties to the U.S. government. General Ahmed's terrorist-supporting activities - and the U.S. government officials who tolerated those activities - need to be investigated.

The Taliban visits to Washington continued up to a few months prior to the September 11 attacks. The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research's South Asian Division maintained constant satellite telephone contact with the Taliban in Kandahar and Kabul. Washington permitted the Taliban to maintain a diplomatic office in Queens, New York headed by Taliban diplomat Abdul Hakim Mojahed. In addition, U.S. officials, including Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Christina Rocca, who is also a former CIA officer, visited Taliban diplomatic officials in Islamabad. In the meantime, the Bush administration took a hostile attitude towards the Islamic State of Afghanistan, otherwise known as the Northern Alliance.

Even though the United Nations recognized the alliance as the legitimate government of Afghanistan, the Bush administration, with oil at the forefront of its goals, decided to follow the lead of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and curry favor with the Taliban mullahs of Afghanistan. The visits of Islamist radicals did not end with the Taliban. In July 2001, the head of Pakistan's pro-bin Laden Jamiaat-i-Islami Party, Qazi Hussein Ahmed, also reportedly was received at the George Bush Center for Intelligence (aka, CIA headquarters) in Langley, Virginia.

According to the Washington Post, the Special Envoy of Mullah Omar, Rahmatullah Hashami, even came to Washington bearing a gift carpet for President Bush from the one-eyed Taliban leader. The Village Voice reported that Hashami, on behalf of the Taliban, offered the Bush administration to hold on to bin Laden long enough for the United States to capture or kill him but, inexplicably, the administration refused.

The obvious, and woefully underreported, interfaces between the Bush administration, UNOCAL, the CIA, the Taliban, Enron, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, the groundwork for which was laid when the Bush Oil team was on the sidelines during the Clinton administration, is making the Republicans worried. Vanquished vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman is in the ironic position of being the senator who will chair the Senate Government Affairs Committee hearings on the collapse of Enron. The roads from Enron also lead to Afghanistan and murky Bush oil politics.

UNOCAL was also clearly concerned about its past ties to the Taliban. On September 14, just three days after terrorists of the Afghan-base al Qaeda movement crashed their planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, UNOCAL issued the following statement: "The company is not supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan in any way whatsoever. Nor do we have any project or involvement in Afghanistan.

Beginning in late 1997, Unocal was a member of a multinational consortium that was evaluating construction of a Central Asia Gas pipeline between Turkmenistan and Pakistan [via western Afghanistan]. Our company has had no further role in developing or funding that project or any other project that might involve the Taliban."

The Bush Oil Team, which can now rely on the support of the interim Prime Minister of Afghanistan, may think that war and oil profits mix. But there is simply too much evidence that the War in Afghanistan was primarily about building UNOCAL's pipeline, not about fighting terrorism. The Democrats, who control the Senate and its investigation agenda, should investigate the secretive deals between Big Oil, Bush, and the Taliban.

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Israeli government deceives world by withdrawal plan
www.chinaview.cn 2004-10-26 18:01:58
RAMALLAH, Oct. 26 (Xinhuanet) -- Palestinian senior official has accused Israel of deceiving the whole world by its Gaza withdrawal plan.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's top aide Nabil Abu Rudeineh told a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday evening that what happens inside the Israeli Knesset (parliament)and the government about the intended withdrawal from the Gaza Strip is a gambit to deceive the world.

"If Israel was serious of its withdrawal, it would pull out from the Gaza Strip as it did in southern Lebanon," said Abu Rudeineh. He added that "what happened in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis are continuous Israeli massacres to put obstacles before any international and Arab peace effort."

He called on Palestinians and the Arab world to unite to face the Israeli gambits, adding that "the Israeli government is not only attacking the Palestinian security, but also the Arab's security too."

Comment: Another call that will fall on deaf ears.

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Israeli commandos and pilots conducting special operations in Iraq: sources
Tehran Times
October 5, 2004

TEHRAN (MNA) -- Israeli commandos played an active role in the occupying forces’ attacks on Najaf, Sadr City, Tall’Afar, Mosul, Samarra, Falluja, and some areas in Tikrit, Ramadi, and Baqubah.

With the increased crackdown on the Iraqi people, the presence of Zionist forces has become more evident, to the extent that Israelis have taken over some military operations in Tall’Afar, Samarra, and Falluja, informed sources in Iraq, including two Iraqi National Guard officers, said.

One of these officers told the Mehr News Agency that Israeli commandos significantly increased their presence in Iraq after some Israeli jet pilots joined the occupying forces.

U.S. occupation troops have been using the experiences of these commandos in suppressing the Palestinian people, he added.

The Iraqi National Guard officer said the Zionist commandos are now stationed at the Baghdad airport, just south of Falluja, and in two palaces of toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, adding that one of their headquarters came under missile attack last month.

He said the U.S. military is making serious efforts to prevent contact between the Israeli forces and members of the new Iraqi National Guard and police, even though these commandos may have contact with Baathist commanders who have taken over the security of Falluja.

According to certain reports, there are over 200 Zionist troops in Iraq dressed in U.S. Army uniforms and under the command of a fully-equipped intelligence network.

A short time ago, the head of Israeli military intelligence, General Aharon Zeevi, acknowledged that Tel Aviv should compensate the United States for the Iraqi quagmire.

Aharon even warned that the U.S. may put pressure on Israel to modify its policies toward the Palestinians because of the problems it is facing in Iraq.

The Zionist general admitted that the deeper the U.S. sinks in the Iraqi quagmire, the more Israel should pay.

After the occupation of Iraq, reports surfaced about the extensive activities of Israeli companies and Jewish organizations in Iraq, especially in the north of the country. The reports also said that the Jewish companies attempted to buy Iraqi land at high prices.

Even though these reports have been dismissed by Iraqi officials, some media outlets have occasionally published reports about the clandestine activities of the Israeli intelligence service Mossad and the active presence of Israeli companies in Iraq.

In addition, some time ago senior Israeli officials ordered the Mossad to provide a report on the country as the Iraqi crisis worsened. The intelligence service received help from Iraqi and other Middle Eastern experts and some research centers which have ties with the Israeli military and security services in compiling the report.

A single draft of the 40-page report has been delivered to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Some other organizations have received drafts of the report.

The report says that Israeli security and commercial companies have succeeded in earning great profits from the Iraqi market. It adds that Israel is preparing to insert specialized security groups into sensitive Iraqi centers with the consent of the Iraqi interim government.

The report argues that security and military cooperation with any side would be like opening a brilliant chapter of cooperation and diplomatic ties and would also be in the best interests of Israeli national security.

Comment: Of course Israel is involved in Iraq. We think that many of the kidnappings of foreigners by "Islamic groups" are in fact Mossad false flag operations. Why would the Iraqis kidnap foreign aid workers?

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Duke newspaper writer says Jews use Holocaust to rebut criticism

Thu, Oct. 21, 2004
Associated Press

DURHAM, N.C. - A columnist for the Duke student newspaper denouncing Jewish opposition to last weekend's Palestinian conference on campus argued Jews use the Holocaust to rebut legitimate criticism.

The column by Philip Kurian in Monday's edition of The Chronicle also called Jews "the most privileged 'minority' group in the country."

"What Jewish suffering - along with exorbitant Jewish privilege in the United States - amounts to is a stilted, one-dimensional conversation where Jews feel the overwhelming sense of entitlement not to be criticized or offended," Kurian wrote.

By Wednesday evening, more than 100 people had posted messages on The Chronicle's Web site, most of them critical of the column.

The column was deeply offensive, said Rachael Solomon, student president of the campus' Freeman Center for Jewish Life. Besides statements about the Holocaust, the column mentioned the belief that Jews were over-represented at top universities.

Solomon's organization now wants an investigation of The Chronicle to see whether its top editors are fit for their jobs. Others have already called for Karen Hauptman, The Chronicle's student editor, and other editors to resign and for Kurian to give up his column. No resignations are planned, Hauptman said.

No one answered the telephone listed to Kurian late Wednesday.

In closing his column, Kurian said his intent was not to ignore Jewish oppression or the Holocaust, but to encourage Jews to "own up to their privilege in America" and to use it more wisely to confront inequality.

In a letter to the editor Wednesday in The Chronicle, Duke President Richard Brodhead wrote that he was "deeply troubled" by the column.

"The column was (headlined), 'The Jews,' as if Jews were susceptible to group definition, and though its author probably did not mean to, it revived stereotypical images that have played a long-running role in the history of anti-Semitism," he wrote.

Brodhead's decision to allow the Palestinian Solidarity Movement conference on campus last weekend provoked several weeks of debate on and off campus.

More than 90,000 people signed an online petition calling for the conference to be barred from Duke. Jewish groups organized events in response after campus officials refused.

Jewish students felt the student paper was unbalanced in its coverage of events surrounding the conference, Solomon said.

The Chronicle's editors had been scheduled to meet Monday with Jewish student leaders to talk about the paper's coverage of the conference, but the meeting was postponed after the column appeared, Hauptman said.

The Chronicle reported that about 45 people met Tuesday at the Freeman Center for Jewish Life on campus to discuss the column and the paper's news coverage of events surrounding the conference.

The paper will probably publish a response to the criticism, Hauptman said.

"We are internally talking about some of the issues that have been raised, and how to discuss them," she said.

Hauptman also said she understood why Kurian's column may have angered some readers.

"Do I think Philip Kurian is anti-Semitic? The answer is no," she said. "Do I think the column could be read as anti-Semitic and does it employ arguments that have been used for anti-Semitic purposes? Yes. That's a fact."

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Depleted Uranium Released During Canadian Plane Crash

By Christopher Bollyn
October 22, 2004

Little-Known Use of DU in Commercial Jets Exposed

The recent crash of a Boeing 747 in Halifax, Canada, raises a number of questions about the use of depleted uranium (DU) in airplanes, public health concerns and the 9-11 attacks. When a Boeing 747 crashed and burned on takeoff at Halifax International Airport in Nova Scotia, Canada, on Oct. 14, an official accident investigator said the aircraft probably contained radioactive depleted uranium.

Bill Fowler, an investigator with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, said the plane was likely equipped with DU as counterweights in its wings and rudder.

“A 747 may contain as much as 1,500 kilograms [3,300 lbs.] of the material,” the Canadian Press reported. It took 60 firefighters and 20 trucks about three hours to control the fire.

Fowler said: “there is no threat or concern” about DU exposure to those working on the wreckage.

“That’s baloney,” Marion Fulk, a retired staff scientist from Lawrence Livermore National Lab, told American Free Press. Fulk, 83, is currently researching how low-level ionizing radiation causes cancer, birth defects and a host of other health problems. Burning depleted uranium creates a “whole mess of oxides,” Fulk said, “which is what makes it so wicked biologically.”

In 1988, American physicist Robert L. Parker wrote that in the worst-case scenario, the crash of a Boeing 747 could affect the health of 250,000 people through exposure to uranium oxide particles. “Extended tests by the Navy and NASA showed that the temperature of the fireball in a plane crash can reach 1,200 degrees Celsius. Such temperatures are high enough to cause very rapid oxidation of depleted uranium,” he wrote.

“Large pieces of uranium will oxidize rapidly and will sustain slow combustion when heated in air to temperatures of about 500 degrees Celsius,” Paul Lowenstein, technical director and vice-president of Nuclear Metals Inc., the company that has supplied DU to Boeing, wrote in a 1993 article.

Now, some researchers are turning to the large number of sick firefighters and workers from the World Trade Center site and reports of elevated radiation levels around the Pentagon after 9-11. They contend that the Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft involved in the attacks may have also contained depleted uranium counterweights.


Around the Pentagon there were reports of high radiation levels after 9-11. American Free Press has documentation that radiation levels in Alexandria and Leesburg, Va., were much higher than usual on 9-11 and persisted for at least one week afterward.

In Alexandria, seven miles south of the burning Pentagon, a doctor with years of experience working with radiation issues found elevated radiation levels on 9-11 of 35 to 52 counts per minute (cpm) using a “Radalert 50” Geiger counter.

One week after 9-11, in Leesburg, 33 miles northwest of the Pentagon, soil readings taken in a residential neighborhood showed even higher readings of 75 to 83 cpm.

“That’s pretty high,” Cindy Folkers of the Washing ton-based Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) told AFP. Folkers said 7 to 12 cpm is normal background radiation inside the NIRS building, and that outdoor readings of between 12 to 20 cpm are normal in Chevy Chase, Md., outside Washington.

The Radalert 50, Folkers said, is primarily a gamma ray detector and “detects only 7 percent of the beta radiation and even less of the alpha.” This suggests that actual radiation levels may have been significantly higher than those detected by the doctor’s Geiger counter.

“The question is, why?” Folkers said.

If the radiation came from the explosion and fire at the Pentagon, it most likely did not come from a Boeing 757, which is the type of aircraft that allegedly hit the building.

“Boeing has never used DU on either the 757 or the 767, and we no longer use it on the 747,” Leslie M. Nichols, product spokesperson for Boeing’s 767, told AFP. “Sometime ago, we switched to tungsten, because it is heavier, more readily available and more cost effective.”

The cost effectiveness argument is debatable. A waste product of U.S. nuclear weapons and energy facilities, DU is reportedly provided by the Department of Energy to national and foreign armament companies free of charge.

DU is used in a wide variety of missiles in the U.S. arsenal as an armor penetrator. It is also used in the bunker-buster bombs and cruise missiles. Because no photographic evidence of a Boeing 757 hitting the Pentagon is available to the public, 9-11 skeptics and independent researchers claim something else, such as a missile, struck the Pentagon.

A white flash, not unlike those seen in videos of the planes as they struck the twin towers, occurs when a DU penetrator hits a target.

Photographs from the Pentagon reveal that large round holes were punched through six walls in the three outer rings. The outside wall is 24 inches thick with a six-inch limestone exterior, eight inches of brick and 10 inches of steel reinforced concrete; the other walls are 18 inches thick.

The object that hit the Pentagon on 9-11 penetrated several feet of reinforced concrete, leaving holes with diameters between 11 and 16 feet.

Bill Bellinger, then head of the EPA’s Radiation Program for Region III, which includes Virginia, told AFP that he had received information of elevated radiation levels and contacted EPA officials at the Pentagon.

“I was concerned about that,” Bellinger said. “I didn’t disregard it at all.”

Bellinger told AFP that he thought the radiation was from DU in the aircraft.

Bellinger, who was based in Philadelphia, did not personally visit the Pentagon site and said that EPA personnel at the site had not reported high levels of radioactivity. However, the EPA official who Bellinger said had worked at the Pentagon, Craig Conklin, now at FEMA, told AFP that he had not been involved at the site, “directly or indirectly.”

Workers and FEMA officials at the Pentagon were seen wearing special protective outfits and respirators. FEMA photos show the workers going through decontamination procedures.

Bellinger told AFP that the Department of Defense was responsible for on-site safety procedures at the Pentagon/ [...]

AMEC Construction Management, a subsidiary of the British engineering firm AMEC, renovated Wedge One of the Pentagon before 9-11 and cleaned it up afterward.

AMEC had also renovated Silverstein’s WTC 7, which collapsed mysteriously on 9-11, and then headed the cleanup of the WTC site afterward. The AMEC construction firm is currently in the process of closing all its offices in the United States.

Comment: If we put together the available evidence, at this point we come to the conclusion that it was a specially modified unmanned drone aircraft much like the "Global hawk" that hit the Pentagon on 9/11. The modifications may have included fake windows and an AA logo painted on the side and some form of explosive device, perhaps a DU coated explosive missile.

This would account for the many differing eyewitness reports of some kind of aircraft hitting the Pentagon, for the relative lack of damage to the facade and for the hole that was punched through 3 rings of the building.

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6 killed, 12 injured as forces move to stop rioters in Thailand's restive south
05:00 PM EDT Oct 25
A Thai plaincloth police officer, left, tie the
arms of an ethnic Thai Muslim rioter as
others lie on the ground after dispersing
them at Takbai district of Narathiwat
province, southern Thailand Monday. (AP)

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) - Security forces fired shots in the air and used water cannons and tear gas to disperse about 2,000 angry Muslim youths rioting in Thailand's troubled south Monday, leaving at least six people dead and 12 injured, an official said.

A protest to demand the release of six detained security guards turned violent earlier Monday, with demonstrators hurling rocks at a police station in southern Narathiwat province's Takbai district and overturning a military truck.

The rioters then tried to storm the building and a nearby district office during the six-hour melee. Police and soldiers responded by firing water cannons and tear gas, while shooting in the air to scatter the rioters.

"There are 12 injured and six dead," said Sirichai Pattananutaporn, Narathiwat's public health officer. He was unable to give more details about the deaths but said autopsy results would be available Tuesday. The casualties include one injured policeman.

One protester had been grazed by a bullet, said an emergency room official at Sungai Kolok hospital who asked not to be identified.

Local television footage showed soldiers dragging, kicking and hitting some of the protesters with their rifle butts. Near-constant gunfire can be heard in the background.

It also showed close-up footage of the body of a man who appeared to be dead, slumped over a cement planter with a large open wound on his head. [...]

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Thai Officials Say 78 Suffocated in Detention
By Noppawan Bunluesilp
October 26, 2004

PATTANI, Thailand (Reuters) - Almost 80 people died of suffocation in southern Thailand while being taken to detention at a military barracks after a violent demonstration, a justice ministry official said Tuesday.

Only six people were previously believed to have been killed in the violence in the Muslim-dominated region on Monday, but the official said 78 others later died of suffocation. "We found no wounds on their bodies," the official, Manit Sutaporn, told a news conference in Pattani, a provincial capital 700 miles south of Bangkok.

He said the 78 victims were among hundreds arrested after the 1,500-strong rally was dispersed from outside a police station in Narathiwat province.

The deaths appear to have occurred while the men were being taken in trucks to a military barracks in Pattani, a journey that took five hours, Major General Sinchai Nutsatit told the news conference.

Army spokesman Akom Pongprom confirmed the toll and cause of death as suffocation. He said the bodies were being kept at the barracks.

Troops and police fired live rounds, as well as water cannon and teargas, during a six-hour standoff Monday with the crowd of Muslims demanding the release of six villagers accused of handing over government-issue shotguns to militants.

Shots were also fired from the crowd, officials said, adding that some of the protesters were under the influence of drugs or were frail because of fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Six protesters were killed in the violence, and 20 people injured.

"This is typical," Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra told reporters when asked about accounts of scores dead. "It's about bodies made weak from fasting. Nobody hurt them." [...]

Sarcastic Comment: Here we have to agree with the Prime Minister. It's obvious that protestors' fasting was directly responsible for police officers shooting at them, blasting them with water cannons and teargas, and packing them into trucks where some of them suffocated. Yup, had to be the fasting...

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Indonesian police find 123 bombs
Last Updated Mon, 25 Oct 2004 10:58:38 EDT

JAKARTA, INDONESIA - Efforts to enlarge a Muslim cemetery in Indonesia turned up a cache of 123 bombs, police said on Monday.

Abdi Darma, police chief in Poso, a city in Sulawesi about 1,500 kilometres east of Jakarta, said 123 home-made bombs were found when bulldozers were preparing to clear shrubs to enlarge the graveyard.

The bombs were ready to be used for possible attacks, said Darma, although it wasn't clear how long they had been there. At least eight of them were filled with shrapnel such as nails and sharpened metal.

Police wouldn't speculate on who might have been stockpiling the explosives, or whether they were leftovers from previous violence.

The ethnically mixed region was swept by violence between Muslims and Christians in the late 1990s, in which 2,000 people were killed.

Intermittent violence has continued despite a government-brokered truce in 2001.

The al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah group is believed to have had a military camp around Poso at the height of the conflict, but Indonesian intelligence officials say it has long been closed.

Jemaah Islamiyah has been blamed for a number of deadly bombings in recent years.

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False alarm over anthrax threat closes Canadian Embassy in Sri Lanka
05:05 PM EDT Oct 25

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) - A Buddhist monk with suspicious white powder on his passport sparked a security scare the Canadian High Commission in Sri Lanka, prompting authorities to close the building and evacuate staff, officials and police said.

Police said they later discovered the powder wasn't anthrax, but bug repellent. The powder was detected when a visa officer opened the passport of the saffron-robed monk, a commission official said on condition of anonymity.

Embassy staff were immediately evacuated and all departments shut after the discovery. The embassy will reopen Tuesday, the official said.

Embassy officials forced the monk to take a shower as a precaution, said the official. The monk was then taken to a nearby police station, but he was later released, said Sirisena Herath, deputy inspector general of police.

In August, the U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka was closed and staff were evacuated after it received mail containing a suspicious white powder. Subsequent tests found the powder to be harmless.

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Biological weapons pose biggest threat to world, scientists warn

THE threat posed to the world by biological weapons is now far greater than that from nuclear and chemical because of the "riotous" development in biotechnology, a leading scientist has warned.

He said if nothing is done, bio-weapons technology could be harnessed by terrorists to target specific ethnic groups to release devastating diseases, such as the 1918 Spanish flu.

Among the biological weapons with the potential to wreak havoc are genetically engineered anthrax and a synthetic version of the polio virus.

The warning came yesterday as the British Medical Association (BMA) published its second report in five years into biological and genetic weapons.

In 1999, the BMA called for the 1975 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) to stop the spread of biological and chemical weapons to be strengthened.

The new report, Biotechnology, Weapons and Humanity II, warned that the "window of opportunity" to tackle the spread of these weapons is shrinking fast.

Professor Malcolm Dando, the head of Peace Studies at Bradford University, who has studied arms control for 20 years, wrote the report. He said: "What we are talking about here is the development of a technology which could clearly be misused by terrorists or deranged individuals.

"We have a much more difficult problem in controlling biological weapons (as opposed to nuclear) in the long term. If life sciences are misused there are major threats to human rights, human dignity and human safety."

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, the head of science and ethics at the BMA, said it was appropriate for a medical association to report on weapons of mass destruction. She explained: "As far as doctors are concerned, the issue of weapons control is important, because at the end of the day doctors literally pick up the pieces."

The reason for publishing a second report only five years after the first was because biological science had developed so rapidly, she said.

"It’s never been easier to develop biological weapons - all you have to do is look on the internet."

She went on: "The situation today is arguably worse than it was when we published our last report five years ago.

"The very existence of international laws to protect us is being questioned, and the anthrax attacks in the US in 2001 caused widespread panic."

Urging the international community to take up the issue, she said: "This report does not make comfortable reading, but it is essential governments take action on this issue now. If we wait too long it will be virtually impossible to defend ourselves."

The BMA studied the impact of terrorist atrocities such as September 11, the anthrax attacks of 2001, the Moscow theatre siege in 2002 and the Beslan tragedy this year.

In 1975, the BTWC was set up to provide some protection over biological weapons. Calls in 1999 to strengthen the convention "failed abysmally", after the US government claimed imposing controls on bio-technology would interfere with benign research being carried out.

As a result, the US pulled out of international talks aimed at boosting the BTWC in 2001.

The issue is now being used as a political football in the US, with the Democratic presidential contender, John Kerry, hinting that he would consider a multi-lateral agreement if he got into office.

In its recommendations today, the BMA report urged the international community to try to find a way to increase the power of the BTWC.

It also called for scientists to realise the potential risks and responsibilities associated with their cutting-edge work.

Dr Nathanson added: "We can never produce 100 per cent security, but what we can do is significantly lessen the likelihood of the knowledge available being misused."

The 165-page report has been sent to the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, as well as numerous international agencies.

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Entangled skydiver dies in plane crash
Monday, October 25, 2004

TAYLORVILLE, Ill. -- A skydiver whose parachute deployed prematurely and got tangled in the plane's tail was killed when his head slammed into the wing, a coroner said Monday.

The other four members of the parachuting club, along with the pilot, jumped to safety before the plane crashed into a bean field Sunday near Taylorville Municipal Airport in central Illinois.

Investigators were trying to determine whether the tangled chute caused the crash or the plane had stalled as some of the survivors reported.

Bill Jensen, 38, was jumping from the single-engine Cessna with the Mid-America Sport Parachute Club. Coroner Rick Sutton said Jensen's parachute deployed too soon and got tangled around the tail of the plane, jamming the rudder.

The other skydivers and the pilot thought Jensen had cut himself loose from the tangled main parachute and jumped to safety, Sutton said.

But Jensen's reserve parachute became caught on the plane's wing, he said. Though Jensen was wearing a helmet, his neck slammed into the wing, fracturing his skull, Sutton said.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which is leading the investigation, declined to comment on a possible cause of the crash. A final report should be completed within a year, said Mitch Gallo, an NTSB air safety investigator in Chicago.

Sutton said the pilot suffered minor injuries when he was jarred by a hard landing after his jump. The other club members were not hurt, he said.

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Plane forced to return to O'Hare airport after flames "shoot out" from engine
Associated Press
October 25, 2004

CHICAGO - A United Airlines flight to Brazil was forced to return to O'Hare International Airport and make an emergency landing because of mechanical trouble in one of the plane's engines.

United Flight 835 to Sao Paulo landed without incident about 40 minutes after takeoff Sunday, United spokeswoman Andrea Arroyo said.

The Boeing 767 was carrying 179 passengers and 12 crew members when it departed, she said.

No injuries were reported, Arroyo said.

"The plane is intact," she said.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane's crew reported a problem with one of its engines shortly after its departure from O'Hare at about 9:50 p.m.

The pilot reported "a compressor stall, something that caused flames to shoot out from the engine," according to the FAA.

The plane was over Lake Michigan when the problem was noticed, Arroyo said.

The pilot then reduced the aircraft's weight before making an emergency landing by circling over the lake, said the FAA, which is investigating the incident.

The Elk Grove Village Fire Department said residents of the suburban Chicago community called the emergency number and reported seeing flames coming from the plane.

Elk Grove Village Fire Capt. Scott Miller said some of the firefighters heard a series of "explosions or concussions" from inside their station, which is near O'Hare.

"We went out in front of the station and we observed the plane circling the community," Miller said. "We thought we had observed a bit of flames coming out from one of the wings."

Arroyo said hotel accommodations were being provided to the passengers who were to resume their trip later Monday, she added.

Engine failure forced an American Airlines plane to make an emergency landing at O'Hare in September. It was later determined that a bird had been sucked into one of the plane's engines, apparently causing a fire.

The incident occurred just after the MD-80 jet had taken off from O'Hare, bound for Philadelphia. None of the 112 people aboard that plane were injured.

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Search for missing fighter jet called off yesterday
Monday, October 25, 2004
By Jennifer Sullivan
Seattle Times staff reporter

A five-day search for a missing jet was called off yesterday.

The 40-foot-long Czechoslovakian jet disappeared off the Seattle Center Air Traffic Control radar screen late Tuesday. Pilot Rocky Stewart and passenger Scott Smith were on board, said Department of Transportation spokeswoman Nisha Hanchinamani.

"They lost radar contact near Kachess Lake and Keechelus Lake. They searched that area several times," said Hanchinamani. "If someone sees something or there are new leads they'll go back again."

Search and rescue crews focused much of their search in the vicinity of Cle Elum, Kittitas County. But the jet could have come down anywhere within a nearly 2,400-square-mile area, said Hanchinamani.

The single-engine, two-seat L-39 took off from Boeing Field en route to Lewiston, Idaho, when the pilot radioed air-traffic control to report difficulty controlling the plane shortly before noon.

The mens' families traveled from California to Ellensburg, where a search and rescue camp was set up. They were notified about the search being called off.

The jet, built in 1981, is one of several bought by Americans and was certified by the Federal Aviation Administration.

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CN train carrying explosive material derails in Detroit residential area
04:58 PM EDT Oct 25

DETROIT (AP) - A CN freight train carrying a highly explosive material derailed Monday in a residential neighbourhood on the city's east side, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of people in a 1.5-kilometre radius, the fire department said.

There were no reports of injuries or illness related to the derailment. About 1,500 students at three city schools were evacuated. Nine cars, including a few containing a flammable liquid, left the tracks about 10 a.m. EDT near Interstate 75. Some of the tankers were flipped over.

At least two of four derailed tank cars contained methyl alcohol, which is used as an antifreeze and is highly explosive. Some liquid reportedly leaked from the train, but fire officials described the leak as minimal.

CN spokeswoman Gloria Combe said the methanol had been leaking at the rate of eight drops per minute and the leak was contained.

Parents and others rushed to the schools to pick up their children. At the same time, school buses and city buses helped transport students to another school outside the evacuation area, Mattie Majors, a schools spokeswoman, told the Detroit Free Press.

Combe said railway employees were working with local emergency officials to assess the situation.

"Our focus in on securing the safety of the community," she said.

Authorities did not know the cause of the derailment. A crew from Toledo, Ohio, was called to the scene to help the company lift the derailed cars.

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Meteors visible in Knox County
Published: Monday, October 25, 2004 07:17 AM

MOUNT VERNON — Several Knox County residents reported seeing a mysterious blue glow in the sky last night. It was actually a meteor shower.

Sarah Graham and Carri Yost, Mount Vernon Nazarene University students, witnessed the shower about 11:15 p.m. The students were traveling on Lower Gambier Road near Ohio 229 when, according to Graham, “The atmosphere turned blue, then there was a little split in the sky and an orange color appeared. It happened very quickly.” A 9-1-1 dispatcher confirmed that it was indeed a meteor shower over Licking County.

According to NASA, on any night, at any location, a few meteors can be seen each hour. These are called sporadic meteors, or simply sporadics. Occasionally, though, intense meteor displays fill the sky with tens, hundreds, or even thousands of meteor trails. These displays are called meteor showers. Many meteor showers can be predicted, as they repeat every year when the earth passes through the path of a comet. The bits of debris left behind by the comets, most no larger than a grain of sand, create a spectacular light show as they enter the earth’s atmosphere. [...]

Comment: Hmm... the dispatcher seems pretty certain that the "mysterious blue glow" reported by several residents was part of the Orionid meteor shower, and perhaps it was. However, should we take their word for it just because they work for 9-1-1 dispatch?

Do meteor showers normally emit a mysterious blue glow?

Often when we witness an anomalous or unexplained event, our conscious mind automatically tries to classify it according to what is known or generally accepted by consensus reality.

Rather than face the unknown with an open and inquiring mind, we tend to pigeonhole and classify everything we experience to conform with our preconceived ideas. It is much more comfortable that way.

If this story was all we had to go by, one would be left with the impression that the "mysterious blue glow" was not much of anything at all.

Fortunately, there are others who report the facts.

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Meteors visible in Knox County
Published: Monday, October 25, 2004 07:17 AM
MOUNT VERNON — Several Knox County residents reported seeing a mysterious blue glow in the sky last night. It was actually a meteor shower.

Sarah Graham and Carri Yost, Mount Vernon Nazarene University students, witnessed the shower about 11:15 p.m. The students were traveling on Lower Gambier Road near Ohio 229 when, according to Graham, “The atmosphere turned blue, then there was a little split in the sky and an orange color appeared. It happened very quickly.” A 9-1-1 dispatcher confirmed that it was indeed a meteor shower over Licking County.

According to NASA, on any night, at any location, a few meteors can be seen each hour. These are called sporadic meteors, or simply sporadics. Occasionally, though, intense meteor displays fill the sky with tens, hundreds, or even thousands of meteor trails. These displays are called meteor showers. Many meteor showers can be predicted, as they repeat every year when the earth passes through the path of a comet. The bits of debris left behind by the comets, most no larger than a grain of sand, create a spectacular light show as they enter the earth’s atmosphere.

Known meteor showers are usually named for the constellation from which the meteors seem to originate, called the radiant, or for the comet responsible for the shower. In this case, the meteor shower Orionid is scheduled through Wednesday, stemming from the Orion constellation.

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Reports of Meteorite in Licking County
October 25, 2004

Was it a bird? A plane? A lot of people are wondering what lit up the sky around 11:15 p.m. on Sunday.

The mysterious blue light was seen flying over Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania. The fireball was left by Halley's Comet and was part of a meteor shower that peaked last week.

All those who saw it say it really was a sight.

Judy Spaulding says, "It was just amazing.  We thought it was lightning but it couldn't have been it was blue and it lit up the whole the sky. It was weird. That's all I can say. It was weird."

"You think maybe UFO. You never know with everything that going on," says Carl Lovingshimer.

An amateur astronomer in Hocking County in southeast Ohio says a fireball lit up the sky for about two seconds and then left a trail of light and smoke that lasted for several minutes.

He describes fireballs as large, bright meteors.

Craig Kelly from COSI says, "When the earth plows through that, that's when you see a meteor show. This time it was hitting the Earth at 66 kilometers per second."

It is unknown where the meteor landed. It is believed to have landed somewhere on earth, but no reports just yet.

Comment: From this report we find out it was most likely a meteor, and perhaps even a meteorite. Still, the writer. having no other explanation, ascribes the fireball to originating from Halley's comet as part of the same meteor shower, which may or may not be true, and also falls into the "publicly acceptable definitions" category.

What is suppressed by mainstream science and media, and would be frightening to contemplate for most people, but seems more likely based on the scientific evidence, is that the rash of meteorite sightings over the last little while, are the result of a periodic meteor and asteroid swarm that passes through our solar system every few hundred thousand years causing havoc and destruction in it's path.

If one thing seems certain, what we are seeing now is just the beginning of a much larger event.

Now for some eye-witness reports...

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Viewer Descriptions Of Flash In Sky
POSTED: 11:48 am EDT October 25, 2004

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The following are viewer e-mails to NBC 4 after they saw a bright flash of light in the sky Sunday night in Central Ohio.

*At 11:20 p.m. over in the sky northeast of Pataskala Ohio, we just saw a strange flash of light, it was blue-green, it lit up our street and then orange smoke (was) in the sky.

*I live off of Holt Road in Grove City. As I was driving home this evening around 11:15 p.m., I saw a bright flash of light, looked up and saw what looked to be a streak of fire that quickly dimmed. At first I thought the flash of light was lightning, but then I saw the streak in the sky. I've seen "shooting stars," but this was extremely bright and I had never seen one "burning out" so clearly before.

* I was on I-270 driving and at approximately 11:18 p.m., I saw what was probably a large meteor that looked like it was traveling east and lit up the sky.

* My husband and I were driving in Pickerington toward Baltimore and we saw something amazing in the sky. It looked like something exploded, making a white flash, then the entire sky was glowing bright blue. We saw something that seemed to be burning, falling in the direction of I-70. The trail of the object was also glowing orange, and then it turned to smoke and dissipated.

*There was a flash of blue light in the sky, like an explosion! It was bright enough to light up my block.

*I was laying in bed last night looking out my bedroom window when I saw the blue light just beneath the crack in my window shade. It was like a turquoise-blue light lighting up the sky. The sight reminded me of a light bulb that had just burnt out after you turn on the switch except it was a pretty blue color.

*I was on I-71 North last night, maybe 40 minutes outside of Columbus, when the whole sky lit up a bluish-green color and then there was a giant flash of white. It looked like a firework, but my friend and I knew it was too far away to be a firework. We thought maybe it was a meteor or even an alien spacecraft. It was quite beautiful!

*I was returning home from a concert sometime after 11 p.m. last night. As I opened the front door to my house, suddenly the whole sky seemed to light up for a brief instant in a bright shade of blue. I turned around to face the eastern sky, and I saw in the distance a bright blue ball of light and a trail of white and yellow "sparks" emanating from it, streaking across the sky. It looks like an offshoot from a fireworks display, only clearly at a much higher altitude than fireworks -- and no sound. As the "sparks" trailed off, they left a faint, hazy glowing trail in the sky for several minutes. I opened the door and called to my wife to come and see, but by the time she made it out, the trail had nearly vanished.

*I saw it last night as I was standing out talking to a friend. It did not "streak across the sky." It dropped from the sky down.

*First of all there was the bright blue flash that lit up the whole sky area, I was facing slightly away from it so it was in the edge of my sight when it exploded, but I turned quickly to it. I saw something twirling down leaving a glowing trail like no other meteorite I have ever seen. I then saw something large drop below it very fast but not like a meteorite.

*The stream was not sparking, it was glowing, as seen from here. It was obviously glowing residue. It did not fade away as I have seen all other meteorites fade. It gradually spread out and the glowing got dimmer. If you did not know it was there and looked in the sky you might not see it. Knowing it was there I kept watching. You could see the stream slowly spreading out with the spiraling route seen easier.

* At no point did I think, not now do I believe it was a meteorite, It had the appearance of either a plane exploding then falling from the sky, Or a space capsule exploding then falling from the sky in a swirling motion as some planes do when they lose control suddenly and crash.

*The stream looked like the space capsule that exploded after take off, and spiraled up, but this was in reverse.

*I saw the light in Galloway. The only reason I did was because my dogs started going crazy, very agitated and barking right before it happened and I got up to put them outside. It looked like a spotlight from a helicopter it was so bright, only it was blue.

*I am a resident in Athens, Ohio. I saw the light last night when I was leaving my friend's house at 11:21 p.m. to be exact. It did undoubtedly leave the sky bright blue for a split second. However, it burned, literally, red like it was on fire and left a trail of smoke behind it. The smoke lingered in the air for some time after it disappeared.

*I walked outside Sunday onto the porch around 11:15 p.m. and happened to be looking toward the eastern sky. That's when I saw it the object in the sky. The sky lit up like a welder's torch and the entire neighborhood lit up like a silent flash of lightning. The object was traveling northeast as it exploded instantly leaving a broad long trail of glowing embers that remained visible for nearly 20 seconds. It was a clearly visible over porch lights and a bright moon. I consider myself lucky to have seen such a magnificent show.

*I live in southern Ohio, in Jackson County, and I saw the meteor. It came from the east, lighting up the sky as it traveled, leaving a long, bright trail. It disappeared over the northern horizon. The light was bright enough that the dogs outside started barking.

*The meteor last night provided a little extra "scare" for me and three of my friends. We had just gotten out of "The Grudge," a new scary movie with Sarah Michelle Gellar, and we were all a little spooked. As we were walking out to our car there was a sudden booming sound and the entire sky lit up. We looked up and saw a streak across the sky. Everyone in the parking lot just stopped what they were doing and looked up to the sky. I think everyone got a little Halloween spook out of the meteor.

Comment: So much for space dust.

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Typhoon lashes Taiwan
October 25, 2004

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) - Typhoon Nock-ten lashed northern Taiwan with powerful winds and driving rain Monday, disrupting international flights and closing financial markets, schools and government offices.

Flash floods killed three people, including a TV cameraman and a firefighter. The typhoon's eye passed just north of the capital, Taipei, and forecasters said the storm would churn northeast toward Japan, still recovering from another typhoon that killed 83 people last week.

But Nock-ten, which was weakening, could be downgraded to a tropical storm before reaching Japan, Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau said. [...]

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Magnitude 5.4 Earthquake - KEPULAUAN ALOR, INDONESIA
2004 October 25 01:50:49 UTC

A moderate earthquake occurred at 01:50:49 (UTC) on Monday, October 25, 2004. The magnitude 5.4 event has been located in KEPULAUAN ALOR, INDONESIA. The hypocentral depth was poorly constrained. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)

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2004 October 25 12:43:26 UTC

A moderate earthquake occurred at 12:43:26 (UTC) on Monday, October 25, 2004. The magnitude 5.0 event has been located in the ROTA REGION, NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)

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2004 October 25 16:40:39 UTC
A moderate earthquake occurred at 16:40:39 (UTC) on Monday, October 25, 2004. The magnitude 5.4 event has been located near the NORTHERN MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)

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Strong earthquake hits southwest Tibet
Updated: 2004-10-26 13:15
A strong earthquake shook southwest Tibet on Tuesday, but no damage or injuries were reported, state television said.

The magnitude-5.7 temblor hit at 10:11 a.m. (0211GMT) in Zhadapulanjian, near the Himalayan mountain range, China Central Television reported.

The snow-covered area is sparsely-populated, the report said.

In August, a quake struck the northern part of the region, near the tracklaying base for a railway project that stretches from Tibet to neighboring Qinghai province.

No deaths or injuries were reported.

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Magnitude 5.4 Quake - SOLOMON ISLANDS
2004 October 26 07:24:19 UTC

A moderate earthquake occurred at 07:24:19 (UTC) on Tuesday, October 26, 2004. The magnitude 5.4 event has been located in the SOLOMON ISLANDS. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)

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Moderate earthquake shakes southeastern Taiwan?
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP)
A moderate earthquake shook southeastern Taiwan on Tuesday, the Central Weather Bureau said, but no damage or injuries were immediately reported.

The magnitude-4.4 quake was centered under the Pacific Ocean about 22 kilometers (14 miles) east of the town of Taitung, the weather bureau said.

Taitung is about 250 kilometers (155 miles) southeast of the capital, Taipei.

Quakes frequently rattle Taiwan, but most are minor and cause little or no damage. However, a magnitude-7.6 earthquake in central Taiwan in September 1999 killed more than 2,300 people.

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Japan experiences more aftershocks after deadliest earthquake
By Channel NewsAsia's Japan Bureau Chief Michiyo Ishida
TOKYO : More aftershocks jolted central Japan on Monday, following a powerful earthquake on Saturday that left 25 people dead.

It is the country's deadliest earthquake in nearly a decade.

Even as rescue efforts continue, Japan is bracing itself for yet another typhoon, the 10th to hit this year.

Exhaustion seems to have taken a toll on the estimated 100,000 people, who are prepared to spend a third night in shelters, as more aftershocks jolted Japan in the wake of Saturday's first quake, measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale.

"There are things all over the floor of my house and I am worried about that, but I am also worried about how long the earthquakes and this situation will last. "

Niigata Prefecture appeared to have suffered the most damages and casualties.

And aftershocks on Monday were felt as far away as Tokyo, about 250 kilometres away.

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Exhaustion takes toll as new tremors rock earthquake-hit Japan
Channel NewsAsia

OJIYA, Japan : Strong aftershocks rocked central Japan as exhaustion took its toll on thousands spending a third night in shelters after the country's worst earthquake in nearly a decade left 25 people dead.

Nearly 400 tremors have followed the first quake of 6.8 on the Richter scale late Saturday in Niigata, a coastal area 200 kilometres (125 miles) northwest of Tokyo, with the biggest Monday measuring 5.6 at 6:05 am (2105 GMT Sunday). [...].

US Ambassador to Japan Howard Baker offered a largely symbolic 50,000 dollars in disaster aid and said the United States "stands ready to provide additional assitance to help ease the burden of the victims."

The quakes flattened hundreds of houses, cracked more than 1,000 roads and triggered 11 fires and some 90 landslides, particularly in ground softened by the typhoon, officials said.

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Cassini closes in on moon target
BBC News
The Cassini spacecraft is set to reveal the closest views yet of Saturn's moon Titan, when it makes a close pass of the satellite on Tuesday.

At 1744 BST, the probe will make its closest approach to Titan, passing within 1,200km of the enigmatic world.

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And finally...

Weekly Reader kids select Bush in Presidential Poll

Some News Source

The students who read Weekly Reader’s magazines have made their preference for President known: they want to send President Bush back to the White House.

The results of this year’s Weekly Reader poll have just been announced, and the winner is President Bush. Hundreds of thousands of students participated, giving the Republican President more than 60% of the votes cast and making him a decisive choice over Democratic Senator John Kerry.

Since 1956, Weekly Reader students in grades 1-12 have correctly picked the president, making the Weekly Reader poll one of the most accurate predictors of presidential outcomes in history.

President Bush was a strong winner in the student poll; the only state Senator Kerry won was Maryland. Senator Kerry was also in a statistical dead heat with President Bush in New York, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C. and Vermont. President Bush won most grades, although Senator Kerry did win among tenth-graders.

This year students caught election fever, with an increase of more than 20% in the number of students participating in the Weekly Reader poll than in any prior year. While there were participants from grades K through 12, third- and fourth-graders were the most enthusiastic voters. More than 57,000 students from each of those two grades voted.

The presidential poll, in which teachers collected their students’ votes and forwarded them to an independent polling company to be tabulated, is part of Weekly Reader’s “Promote the Vote” program, created to teach students about the election process, the issues, the candidates, and how democracy works.

“This program teaches students that voting is a privilege and a responsibility,” said Emily Swenson, President of Weekly Reader. “Through this authentic experience, we are hoping students will become advocates and lifelong voters. And even though the election may be over in eight days, the learning will continue.”

Comment: Confirmation of the mean mental age of the American public?

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