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Pyréenés Waterfall

As millions of American citizens go to the polls today to exercise what they have been led to believe is their "democratic right", convinced of the fact that their vote will actually be considered in the process of deciding who becomes the "front man" for the real governing elite, they would do well to keep the following points in mind:

George Bush disenfranchised 55,000 people in the state of Florida during the 2000 election and was subsequently appointed as President by Florida judges, who had themselves been appointed by George Bush's brother Jeb Bush.

Osama Bin Laden was not involved in the 9/11 attacks

The CIA knew exactly where Osama Bin Laden was on September 11th 2001 and had agents on hand to arrest him if they so chose.

The CIA have, in the past, peddled fake Osama Bin Laden tapes as real

Osama Bin Laden may already be dead

Al-Qaeda is a creation of the the Pakistani Intelligence agency the "ISI" and is used to recruit mercenaries to carry out "terrorist" attacks. The ISI itself is controlled by the CIA.

According to a classified document prepared for Rumsfeld by his Defense Science Board, a new government group called the "Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group (P2OG)" created in 2002 would carry out secret missions designed to "stimulate reactions" among terrorist groups, provoking them into committing violent acts which would then expose them to "counterattack" by U.S. forces.

The Bush administration knew perfectly well that Iraq had no WMDs and posed no threat to America

Al-Zarqawi, the man that the US government claims is behind the Iraq insugent attacks was killed two years ago

The Nick Berg beheading video was a fake staged under the direction of the CIA and/or the Mossad at the Abu Gharib prison in Iraq.

The invasion of Iraq was planned years in advance of the 9/11 attacks

In 1997 a number of influential members of the current Bush administration were planning a "new Pearl Harbor" to galvanise public opinion and provide justification for a more agressive US foreign policy.

The 9/11 attacks were planned years in advance and carried out by Israeli and US intelligence agencies in league with sections of the US military command and constituted the "new Pearl Harbor"

A Boeing 757 did not hit the Pentagon on the morning of September 11th 2001

Happy Voting

Los Angeles Citizens’ Grand Jury Condemns Government Role In 9/11 & Coverup; Sees U.S. "Treasonous Inside Cabal" As Responsible For 9/11 Terror Attacks; Finds Official Story "Impossible, Implausible" On Multiple Points


Demands Immediate Release of CIA Inspector General’s Report, Cheney Counter-Terrorism Task Force & War Game Records, Pentagon Evidence Seized by FBI & Suppressed 9/11 Report of "broadly inaccurate accounts by several civil & military officials"

Los Angeles, Oct. 31 – In findings issued today, the Los Angeles Citizens’ Grand Jury condemned the 9/11 Commission’s official version of the events of September 11, 2001 as "physically impossible, untenable, contradictory, implausible and fraudulent" and called for the release of several documents specifically naming officials responsible for 9/11, being withheld until after the election.

Citing evidence that at least 8 of the 19 alleged suicide hijackers reported themselves alive after 9/11, that the World Trade Center Towers and Building 7 came down not from fires from the planes but controlled demolition explosives which require weeks to prepare, and Administration managed "war games" (including a field training exercise scenario covering multiple hijackings and a plane going into a building) that were actually happening on 9/11 as causing air traffic controller confusion & lack of fighter response, the nation’s first Citizens’ Grand Jury on 9/11 unabashedly concluded 9/11 was "an inside job" that demands "legal prosecution, civil liability and political condemnation" around the world.

According to the nation’s first Citizens’ Grand Jury on 9/11, the US government must immediately release the CIA Inspector General’s report on 9/11, which assigns blame to certain high level officials but whose release is being suppressed by new CIA Director Porter Goss until after the election, according to published reports. Goss is reported to have been having breakfast on the morning of 9/11 with the Pakistani ISI "money man" himself, General Mahmud Ahmed, who had wired $100,000 to the alleged head-hijacker Mohammed Atta.
LA’s Citizens’ Grand Jury also issued a demand that the records of the Vice-President’s Counter-Terrorism Task Force and preparation and co-ordination of the emergency exercises/war games the Vice President was overseeing on 9/11 be released as they may well have contributed to the lack of fighter response to the hijackings.

In addition, the Citizens' Grand Jury demanded that the FBI release all surveillance videotape and related evidence being withheld bearing on the flying object which hit the Pentagon on the morning of 9/11. Evidence presented to the Jury suggested that due to the absence of debris from a 60-ton 757, limited damage to the Pentagon, an "implausible" flight pattern and lack of skill of the alleged Arab hijacker pilot, possibly a missile or a remote controlled drone actually hit the Pentagon instead of American flight # 77 which was last tracked over Ohio by air traffic controllers. The Jury chose to delay a finding on the Pentagon, pending further deliberation of eye witness reports and surveillance documentation.

Acknowledging vast resources and unacknowledged evidence ignored by the 9/11 Kean-Hamilton Commission Report, the Los Angeles Citizens’ Grand Jury rejected the official version of 9/11 labeling it "a propaganda fabrication designed to favor the unleashing of aggressive war, while hiding the activity of a treasonous cabal of high-level elected and appointed civilian U.S. government and military officials, and private and/or contracted third parties and rogue agents under their known or unknown direction yet to be determined who both actively prepared, promoted, organized, assisted, fomented, and/or passively favored the September 11 attacks and supported the cover-up that followed".

The Citizens’ Grand Jury, which had begun its deliberations on Saturday, October 23 with a large public meeting in the Bob Hope Patriotic Hall near the Los Angeles Civic Center, refuted the claims of the 9/11 Commission Report on several detailed points. They decided to evaluate the attacks as a crime by considering "motive, means and opportunity" which on several counts were beyond what Osama bin Laden and 19 suicide hijackers could have accomplished unaided. Noting in particular the lack of fighter response for 1 hour and 40 minutes when "67 times in the year prior to 9/11 by following established procedures when planes went out of communication or off course, the system worked perfectly" and fighter planes were usually scrambled within 15 minutes.

In addition, they noted the fate of WTC building 7, a 47-story building housing the DOD, IRS and Security and Exchange Commission, among others, which has generally been ignored in press reports. At 5:20 pm on 9/11, it collapsed into its own footprint – characteristic of a controlled demolition - without being hit by a plane or debris from the falling Towers and with minimal fires that allegedly could have been easily extinguished. Jurors viewed a video of the WTC Leaser, Larry Silverstein, who said he and the fire department in the afternoon of 9/11 agreed to "pull it" which is a controlled demolitions industry phrase that means to demolish through the use of pre-placed explosives. They concluded the liklihood of a controlled demolition of WTC7 was beyond what Osama bin Laden and 19 hijackers could have done unaided, which further suggested 9/11 was an inside job. [...]

"It is the hardest thing in the world to confront," explained Citizens’ Grand Jury convener, Lynn Pentz, "that members of our own government are responsible for perjury, treason and mass murder of their own citizens as well as citizens from 82 other nations around the world.

"Given our political and judicial systems have refused to deal with the reality of 9/11," she explained, "We the People must now be responsible for our representatives’ lies, their war on our freedoms, their terrorizing tactics, the death and destruction they are waging in our names, their bankrupting of our nation with their endless war for profit and global hegemony, and for our allowing the increasing rise of a police state here in America - all rationalized by the official story of 9/11 and the politicians and media who have exploited it. The Citizens’ Grand Jury has shown we are way past begging for the unanswered questions to be answered. We know a lot of the answers and they are not pretty." [...]

"We call on citizens here and around the world to have your own Citizens’ Grand Juries, review the evidence and decide for yourselves", said Ms. Pentz. "Then, we must all, demand our governments hold the real perpetrators of 9/11 criminally, civilly and politically responsible. In the meantime, we must do the hard work of confronting ‘the enemy is us’ and not settle until we have truly cleaned house".

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Study: Terror Warnings Up Approval Ratings

Tue Oct 26, 5:25 PM ET
By WILLIAM KATES, Associated Press Writer

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - When the government issues a terror warning, the president's approval rating increases an average of nearly three points, a Cornell University sociologist says.

"The social theories predict it, and anecdotally we know it to be true. Now we have statistical science to confirm it," said Robb Willer, assistant director of Cornell's Sociology and Small Groups Laboratory.

On average, a terror warning prompted a 2.75 point increase in President George Bush (news - web sites)'s approval rating the following week, said Willer, who published his study in Current Research in Social Psychology, a peer-reviewed online journal.

Robert Greene, a professor of history and communication at Cazenovia College, said he did not doubt the correlation, but considered the small increase barely noteworthy.

"And I would think any benefit would be very temporary. Americans like crises to be solved," said Greene.

Willer said he took up his study in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks after watching Bush's approval rating soar from 51 percent on Sept. 10 to 86 percent five days later.

Willer tracked the 26 times that a federal agency reported an increased threat of terrorist activity — not just changes in the alert level — between February 2001 and May 2004. He compared that with the 131 Gallup Polls conducted during the same period.

"From the perspective of social identity theory, threats of attacks from foreigners increase solidarity and in-group identification among Americans, including feelings of stronger solidarity with their leadership," he said.

Terror warnings increased presidential approval ratings "consistently," Willer said. However, he said he was unable to measure how long the increase lasted.

Comment: Could it be any more obvious? The present government clearly knows that they can "scare" votes out of people, yet millions refuse to believe that they would do such a thing.

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Bin Laden video inspires Rove conspiracy theories

By Anne Penketh, Diplomatic Editor
01 November 2004

For weeks now, the Republicans have been suggesting that a vote for Senator John Kerry means a vote for al-Qa'ida. Even bumper stickers have reinforced that message.

As the House Speaker Dennis Hastert put it before his remarks were drowned out by protests from the Democrats, Osama bin Laden's network would be able to operate in more comfort if the Democratic candidate won the vote.

Mr Hastert uttered his opinion six weeks before the al- Qa'ida leader lobbed his own grenade into the US election on Friday night.

Now, in the light of the Bin Laden video, people are asking: "Why would the media-savvy Saudi dissident issue a tape that could lead to the re-election of President George Bush?"

As conspiracy theories ran rife over the weekend, one of the most bizarre was that the man who had stage-managed the video's release was the chief political strategist of the US President, Karl Rove. [...]

Comment: Why is it that the most obvious and reasonable explanation for the latest Osama tape is described as "one of the most bizzare conspiracy theories" by this reporter?

The first Osama video was clearly a fake, yet the government claimed it was bone fide. Now, just a few days prior to the election, another dubious Osama video is released that virtually ensures that Karl Rove gets to keep his job, and we are expected NOT to suspect that people like Rove are behind it?? Now that truly IS bizzare.

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An Election Spoiled Rotten
Greg Palast
November 01, 2004

It's not even Election Day yet, and the Kerry-Edwards campaign is already down by a almost a million votes. That's because, in important states like Ohio, Florida and New Mexico, voter names have been systematically removed from the rolls and absentee ballots have been overlooked—overwhelmingly in minority areas, like Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, where Hispanic voters have a 500 percent greater chance of their vote being "spoiled." - Investigative journalist Greg Palast reports on the trashing of the election.

John Kerry is down by several thousand votes in New Mexico, though not one ballot has yet been counted. He's also losing big time in Colorado and Ohio; and he's way down in Florida, though the votes won't be totaled until Tuesday night.

Through a combination of sophisticated vote rustling—ethnic cleansing of voter rolls, absentee ballots gone AWOL, machines that "spoil" votes—John Kerry begins with a nationwide deficit that could easily exceed one million votes.

The Urge To Purge

Colorado Secretary of State Donetta Davidson just weeks ago removed several thousand voters from the state's voter rolls. She tagged felons as barred from voting. What makes this particularly noteworthy is that, unlike like Florida and a handful of other Deep South states, Colorado does not bar ex-cons from voting. Only those actually serving their sentence lose their rights.

There's no known, verified case of a Colorado convict voting illegally from the big house. Because previous purges have wiped away the rights of innocents, federal law now bars purges within 90 days of a presidential election to allow a voter to challenge their loss of civil rights.

To exempt her action from the federal rule, Secretary Davidson declared an "emergency." However, the only "emergency" in Colorado seems to be President Bush's running dead, even with John Kerry in the polls.

Why the sudden urge to purge? Davidson's chief of voting law enforcement is Drew Durham, who previously worked for the attorney general of Texas. This is what the Lone Star State's current attorney general says of Mr. Durham: He is, "unfit for public office... a man with a history of racism and ideological zealotry." Sounds just right for a purge that affects, in the majority, non-white voters.

From my own and government investigations of such purge lists, it is unlikely that this one contains many, if any, illegal voters.

But it does contain Democrats. The Dems may not like to shout about this, but studies indicate that 90-some percent of people who have served time for felonies will, after prison, vote Democratic. One suspects Colorado's Republican secretary of state knows that.

Ethnic Cleansing Of The Voter Rolls

We can't leave the topic of ethnically cleansing the voter rolls without a stop in Ohio, where a Republican secretary of state appears to be running to replace Katherine Harris.

In Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), some citizens have been caught Registering While Black. A statistical analysis of would-be voters in Southern states by the watchdog group Democracy South indicates that black voters are three times as likely as white voters to have their registration requests "returned" (i.e., subject to rejection).

And to give a boost to this whitening of the voter rolls, for the first time since the days of Jim Crow, the Republicans are planning mass challenges of voters on Election Day. The GOP's announced plan to block 35,000 voters in Ohio ran up against the wrath of federal judges; so, in Florida, what appear to be similar plans had been kept under wraps until the discovery of documents called "caging" lists. The voters on the "caging" lists, disclosed last week by BBC Television London, are, almost exclusively, residents of African-American neighborhoods.

Such racial profiling as part of a plan to block voters is, under the Voting Rights Act, illegal. Nevertheless, neither the Act nor federal judges have persuaded the party of Lincoln to join the Democratic Party in pledging not to distribute blacklists to block voters on Tuesday.

Absentee Ballots Go AWOL

It's 10pm: Do you know where your absentee ballot is? Voters wary about computer balloting are going postal: in some states, mail-in ballot requests are up 500 percent. The probability that all those votes—up to 15 million—will be counted is zip.

Those who mail in ballots are very trusting souls. Here's how your trust is used. In the August 31 primaries in Florida, Palm Beach Elections Supervisor Theresa LePore (a.k.a. Madame Butterfly Ballot) counted 37,839 absentee votes. But days before, her office told me only 29,000 ballots had been received. When this loaves-and-fishes miracle was disclosed, she was forced to recount, cutting the tally to 31,138.

Had she worked it the other way, disappearing a few thousand votes instead of adding additional ones, there would be almost no way to figure out the fix (or was it a mistake?). Mail-in voter registration forms are protected by federal law. Local government must acknowledge receiving your registration and must let you know if there's a problem (say, with signature or address) that invalidates your registration. But your mail-in vote is an unprotected crapshoot. How do you know if your ballot was received? Was it tossed behind a file cabinet—or tossed out because you did not include your middle initial? In many counties, you won't know.

And not every official is happy to have your vote. It is well-reported that Broward County, Fla., failed to send out nearly 60,000 absentee ballots. What has not been nationally reported is that Broward's elections supervisor is a Jeb Bush appointee who took the post only after the governor took the unprecedented step of removing the prior elected supervisor who happened be a Democrat.

A Million Votes In The Electoral Trash Can  

"If the vote is stolen here, it will be stolen in Rio Arriba County," a New Mexico politician told me. That's a reasoned surmise: in 2000, one in 10 votes simply weren't counted—chucked out, erased, discarded. In the voting biz, the technical term for these vanishing votes is "spoilage." Citizens cast ballots, but the machines don't notice. In one Rio Arriba precinct in the last go-'round, not one single vote was cast for president—or, at least, none showed up on the machines.

Not everyone's vote spoils equally. Rio Arriba is 73 percent Hispanic. I asked nationally recognized vote statistician Dr. Philip Klinkner of Hamilton College to run a "regression" analysis of the Hispanic ballot spoilage in the Enchanted State. He calculated that a brown voter is 500 percent more likely to have their vote spoiled than a white voter. And It's worse for Native Americans. Vote spoilage is epidemic near Indian reservations.

Votes don't spoil because they're left out of the fridge. It comes down to the machines. Just as poor people get the crap schools and crap hospitals, they get the crap voting machines.

It's bad for Hispanics; but for African Americans, it's a ballot-box holocaust. An embarrassing little fact of American democracy is that, typically, two million votes are spoiled in national elections, registering no vote or invalidated. Based on studies by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and the Harvard Law School Civil Rights project, about 54 percent of those ballots are cast by African Americans. One million black votes vanished—phffft!

There's a lot of politicians in both parties that like it that way; suppression of the minority is the way they get elected. Whoever is to blame, on Tuesday, the Kerry-Edwards ticket will take the hit. In Rio Arriba, Democrats have an eight-to-one registration edge over Republicans. Among African American voters...well, you can do the arithmetic yourself.

The total number of votes siphoned out of America's voting booths is so large, you won't find the issue reported in our self-glorifying news media. The one million missing black, brown and red votes spoiled, plus the hundreds of thousands flushed from voter registries, is our nation's dark secret: an apartheid democracy in which wealthy white votes almost always count, but minorities are often purged or challenged or simply not recorded. In effect, Kerry is down by a million votes before one lever is pulled, card punched or touch-screen touched.

Greg Palast, contributing editor to Harper's magazine, investigated the manipulation of the vote for BBC Television's Newsnight. The documentary, "Bush Family Fortunes," based on his New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, has been released this month on DVD .

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Go Ahead. Waste Your Time and Vote
Nov 1, 2004, 05:58

It's time to make up your mind and vote.

You've analyzed all the issues, studied the candidates, calculated which one - if any - will make a difference in your life and you're ready to go into the voting booth on Tuesday and exercise your democratic right to vote.

Go ahead. Vote. Waste your time. It won't make a bit of difference.

Excuse my cynicism but only a blithering idiot can possibly believe it will make one ounce of difference if we replace one son of privilege with another at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or if one corrupt political party replaces another in the leadership of Congress.

Voting is a sham, an exercise in deception designed to perpetuate the myth that an average American has any say in how this country is governed or what happens to you and me in the future.

Replacing George W. Bush with John Kerry won't change how things are done in Washington. Kerry will still be stuck with a war in Iraq that we can't win, a economy that rises and falls on its own and a Congress that would rather stall in bitter partisan gridlock than do anything to deal with the real issues that face this nation.

If Democrats take control of the House or Senate or both, the margin will still be razor thin and the minority party, be it Republican or Democrat, will still be able to deadlock Congress.

The answer to this nation's ills won't be found in replacing one set of political hacks for another. It doesn't matter which party controls the White House or Congress as long as both parties put their own interests above that of the nation.

America's current system of government is a bloated, aging, belching sow - laid low by decades of corruption, deceit and inaction. The sow is non-partisan, willing to wallow in the mud under a Democratic or Republican flag. It exists only to feed on the gullibility of Americans.

The problems that face America are many; the corruption eats at the guts of our society, destroying it like a cancer.

Continuing to live with that cancer is not an option. It must be eradicated, cut out of the body politic before the body dies.

You can't fix it in the voting booth. You can't eradicate it by continuing to support a political system that thrives on it.

The only answer is change - radical change of the system that continues to deliver a corrupt government run by corrupt men and women elected by a flawed system.

America is no longer the beautiful. We are no longer the land of the free and the brave are dying in a far-off land because a inadequate system of government allowed a incompetent man to wage war for false reasons.

Sadly, the vote you cast tomorrow won't change any of that. It won't restore beauty to this once-great land. It won't restore freedom and it won't stop the carnage in Iraq.

The faces may change but the problems remain. Anybody who thinks their vote changes that left their brain outside before they entered the polling booth.

Comment: While we agree with the author's sentiments that casting a vote for either Bush of Kerry is a complete waste of time, and that the entire American political system is corrupt from top to bottom, we must respectfully disagree with the notion that a change in "the system" is the answer to America's woes.

The United States, and the world for that matter, is the way it is for a reason. The nature of hierarchal power, where the most cunning, ruthless and psychopathic human beings rise to the top is a reflection of our self-serving materialist world view. "Looking out for number one" and "every man for himself", are the mantras of western civilization.

And as evil as this present reality seems, we also acknowledge that it is perfect just as it is, and do not wish to change it one bit. We feel that any realistic change to be possible must start from within. To be able to divest ourselves of lies and illusion about making things better, to be able to look at our world objectively, without any dreams or wishful thinking that it can be any thing other than what it is.

To spend our time and energy on the long and arduous self-work of ridding internal programs and belief systems just might be the first step towards true freedom and the possibility of a different reality, something most people in this world have rarely, if ever, seen.

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It's the war, stupid
Sun, October 31, 2004
By Eric Margolis -- Contributing Foreign Editor

A broad majority of people around the globe share the same feeling about next week's American elections: Better the devil you don't know than the one you do.

The George Bush-Dick Cheney partnership has been the most radical presidency in memory. Their re-election in next week's tight election will likely produce an even more aggressive U.S. foreign policy driven by religious fundamentalists and the military-petroleum interests.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, humiliated and sidelined, is expected to resign and be replaced by one of Bush's neocons. Scott McConnell, editor of American Conservative magazine, accurately sums up the Bush Doctrine: "His international policies have been based on the hopelessly naive belief that foreign peoples are eager to be liberated by American armies -- a notion more grounded in Leon Trotsky's concept of global revolution than any sort of conservative statecraft."

Recently, former U.S. National Security chief Brent Scowcroft, the dean of Republican foreign policy experts and adviser to Bush's father, warned of the baleful influence of Israel's far right over Bush. "(Ariel) Sharon has got him wrapped around his little finger," said Gen. Scowcroft.

A second Bush term could bring U.S. attacks on Iran and Syria, as Israel's PM Sharon has urged, and widening Mideast conflict. More troops and money will be poured into the Iraq quagmire. A military draft will almost certainly become necessary.

Neither Bush nor his opponent, John Kerry, are telling Americans two hard truths: First, the principal cause of anti-American terrorism is the oppression of Palestinians, and U.S. support for dictatorial regimes across the Muslim World.

Second, Bush's wars in Iraq -- which has caused 100,000 civilian deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University study -- and Afghanistan are already lost. Not on the battlefield, but on the strategic level.

War is the extension of politics by other means, as Karl von Clausewitz postulated. Bush's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan must be judged defeats because no viable solution is remotely in sight in either nation now run by unpopular U.S.-imposed puppet regimes. Soviet-style rigged elections will not legitimize them.

Kerry's plans for Iraq are specious, too: No important nations are likely to help the U.S. colonize Iraq. Kerry's biggest failings have been his spineless support for war in Iraq, and his pandering to special interests over the Mideast.

The best President Kerry could do is talk tough while finding a way out of Iraq. But he will be harassed by Republicans and neocons crying "treason," and forced to wrestle the huge budget mess Bush left behind.

In Asia, Bush is on a collision course with nuclear-armed North Korea. His neocons are pressing for a confrontation that could ignite a major war. Kerry will be far likelier to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the Korean crisis.

The pro-war neocons around Bush are also pressing a hard line against China that risks a clash over Taiwan. China will not allow itself to be bullied by anyone. Kerry has rightly called for co-operation rather than ideological antagonism towards China.

Europeans are dismayed and frightened by Bush and his aggressive polices. If Bush wins, Europe, led by France and Germany, will speed up its growing alliance with China, an entente that can quickly become an anti-U.S. pact.

Kerry would quickly restore relations with Europe and return America to its former course of internationalism.

Bush's entente with Russia's Vladimir Putin has tacitly encouraged restoration of dictatorship in Russia. It will be too late for Kerry to do anything about this grave development.

Unless the next U.S. administration imposes a just peace on Israelis and Palestinians and ends the occupation of Iraq, anti-U.S. terrorism will intensify.

Bush has debauched America's finances by his $290-billion US wars and $521-billion deficit. Whoever wins, the global economy will be hit by waves of inflation caused by Bush's ruinous spending.

Kerry is a weak candidate with a lacklustre record. But at least he is a sensible, educated man who will bring in a team of moderate advisers that do not want to launch catastrophic foreign crusades or spend like drunken sailors. Kerry is a cautious internationalist; Bush an unapologetic Bible-belt imperialist.

Most non-Americans believe the U.S. under Bush has become a dangerous rogue state that threatens world stability and peace. For them, anyone is better than George W. Bush.

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Deputy tackles, arrests journalist for photographing voters
By Jane Daugherty
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 01, 2004

A widely published investigative journalist was tackled, punched and arrested Sunday afternoon by a Palm Beach County sheriff's deputy who tried to confiscate his camera outside the elections supervisor's headquarters.

About 600 people were standing in line waiting to vote early when James S. Henry was charged with disorderly conduct for taking photos of waiting voters about 3:30 p.m. outside the main elections office on Military Trail near West Palm Beach.

A sheriff's spokesman and a county attorney later said the deputy was enforcing a newly enacted rule from Elections Supervisor Theresa LePore prohibiting reporters from interviewing or photographing voters lined up outside the polls.

But the arrest drew expressions of outrage from a leading Florida civil liberties expert — and even from one of LePore's fellow county election supervisors.

When Deputy Al Cinque tried to grab Henry's camera, Henry ran about 100 feet across the pavement on the side of the elections office before he was tackled by the deputy.

Cinque yelled at Henry, "Hold still, stop moving," after he pinned Henry on the pavement, punched him in the back and grabbed Henry's left arm to put a handcuff on his wrist.

Cinque then jerked Henry, 54, to his feet by his left arm and slammed his body against a parked car, where the deputy punched him again as Henry tried to hand him identification cards that were later found on the pavement.

A widely published free-lance journalist, as well as a Harvard-educated lawyer and economist, Henry has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, U.S. News and World Report and The New Republic.

According to his Web site, www.submergingmarkets.com, he is working on "an election-year book, due out this fall, that explores how the U.S. is falling behind the rest of the democratic world, including countries like Brazil and South Africa, with respect to the practice of electoral democracy."

Asked why Henry was being arrested, Cinque said, "You're not allowed to take pictures of voters."

Henry repeatedly told the deputy: "I'm a journalist. I'm a journalist doing my job."

A Palm Beach Post reporter and British journalist Marcus Warren, of the London Daily Telegraph, witnessed Henry's arrest. So did dozens of waiting voters.

Sheriff's spokesman Paul Miller said that before being transported to the Palm Beach County Jail, Henry was examined by paramedics when he complained of shoulder pain. Henry has been charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without violence, Miller said.
"We're not going to let anyone interfere with the orderly conduct of the elections process here," Miller said.

LePore refused to come to the main desk of elections headquarters to comment on the arrest. She did not return later calls for comment.

One of LePore's peers, Leon County Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho, called restricting reporters and photographers on public sidewalks outside polling places "an outrage. I'm shocked. The First Amendment right to be there is absolute.

"Outside our early voting place we had Japanese journalists, the BBC, all kinds of reporters and photographers," added Sancho, who is based in Tallahassee. "It's a public place, a public sidewalk. There is no statute, no law that can take away your right to talk to someone who is willing on a public sidewalk as long as no one is obstructing or interfering."

Howard Simon, executive director of the Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, also called Henry's arrest an outrage. "Where did Theresa LePore get the authority to criminalize activities protected by the First Amendment?"

Henry was one of the original "Nader's raiders" who worked decades ago with consumer advocate Ralph Nader, and was vice president for strategy for IBM/Lotus before he founded the Long Island-based Sag Harbor Group, a consulting firm that focuses on technology strategy. He has continued his investigative reporting career at the same time, in 2004 publishing The Blood Bankers, a book reporting on "dirty banking" in developing countries. The book includes an introduction from former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley.

The Rev. George Wilson, a Presbyterian minister from Long Island, N.Y., who accompanied Henry to West Palm Beach Sunday morning, said Henry was interested in touch-screen voting in Palm Beach County and had arrived to observe the process.

"We flew down this morning," Wilson said. "I can't believe they're treating him this way. He was just standing there taking pictures.
"When did taking photographs outside in a public place become a crime?"

Wilson retrieved Henry's Minolta camera with a large lens from the top of the trunk of the parked car after Henry was put in a sheriff's car.

Assistant Palm Beach County Attorney Leon St. John, who represents the elections supervisor, said Henry had been charged with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, based on LePore's instructions to deputies.

He said the charge against Henry was based on new rules LePore implemented Friday, prohibiting reporters from talking to or photographing voters while they are in line outside the polls. He said she made the rule as the result of "numerous complaints by voters about being photographed and interviewed."

However, The Post and other newspapers and television stations had previously interviewed and photographed voters in line without incident since early voting began Oct. 18. LePore did not mention any new restrictions on interviews and photographs during a meeting with news media representatives Friday.

As for Henry, St. John said: "From what I understand, this man (Henry) was taking photos of people in line close up. He was ordered by the deputy to stop and to move to the media tent...

"He said something inappropriate to the deputy, like 'screw you,' then took a picture of the deputy. He then took off running and tripped and fell in the parking lot."

In fact, Cinque tackled Henry in the parking lot a few feet from a Post reporter and Warren, the British journalist.

"That's not what the deputy told me," St. John said.

LePore spokesman Marty Rogol described Henry as "a so-called investigative reporter who gave people phony credentials."

Told that Henry had been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post and other publications, Rogol said Henry had presented "Xeroxed credentials that looked phony and were not accepted" by the deputy who arrested him.

Late Sunday, Miller said Henry "will probably spend the night in jail." He was still there late Sunday night on $500 bail.

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'I don't think I can stay if Bush wins'

Some Californians vow move to Canada if Kerry loses

Catherine Elsworth
The Daily Telegraph
November 1, 2004

LOS ANGELES - Some left-leaning Californians say they would rather leave the United States -- and go to Canada or elsewhere -- than stay with George W. Bush as president.

''I certainly don't love the climate of Vancouver, but I love the sanity,'' said Steve Crawford, 54, a singer and actor working as a volunteer at the Democratic Party offices in Santa Monica.

He and his wife, Karen, have been investigating selling their home in Pacific Palisades, an upmarket area close to the coast, and moving to Canada.

''For someone like me, if this happens, I can't in good conscience allow myself to support another Bush government, even benignly. And a lot of other people are saying the same.

''I have a good friend who is adamant he will leave if Bush is re-elected. He's picked two countries and will definitely go to one should this happen.''

In the heavily Democratic state, famous for its Hollywood- and San Francisco-inspired latte liberal politics, such talk has become increasingly common at Starbucks and at dinner parties.

At first, the threat was little more than a joke. Now, on the eve of one of the most polarized elections in recent history, some say they really do intend to leave should ''the worst'' occur.

There seems little doubt Californians will deliver the state's valuable 55 electoral votes to the Democratic candidate. In a poll on Friday, Mr. Kerry had a seven-point lead statewide, with a 24-point lead in Los Angeles county and a 35-point lead in the San Francisco Bay area.

But fear at what may happen in the key swing states of Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania has led to an escalation in coffee-shop chatter about emigration to Canada, Britain and elsewhere.

''Do you think Great Britain would give us political asylum?'' a woman in Starbucks asked. ''It's just ... I don't think I can stay if Bush wins again.''

Mr. Crawford said it would be a difficult decision to move his nine-year-old son from his elementary school. ''But if I feel he's going to be living in an environment that's not safe for him, then I will do it. First and foremost I'm a dad.''

Gretchen Witte, 35, from Alhambra, east of Los Angeles, who runs her own Internet business, is making plans to move to London, where she previously lived for eight years, should Mr. Bush win.

''As a woman, the current climate is becoming intolerable. Bush has just appointed a man to the FDA reproductive health panel who believes that women with medical trouble should pray to Jesus for relief. If this is what America is becoming, I cannot live here. The only reason I can sleep at night is the thought that I can leave the country if he wins.''

Robert Boleyn, a 35-year-old independent consultant from Los Angeles, says he hears people ''all the time' 'saying they will emigrate if Mr. Bush wins.

''But I think it's often more a measure of frustration with the last four years than a real intention to leave,'' he added.

Voluntary exile as a political statement is nothing new. Democrat-supporting celebrities have a habit of making (usually empty) threats to leave should the election not go their way. Robert Redford, a vocal critic of Mr. Bush's policies, was reported this month to have vowed to move to Ireland, where he owns homes near Dublin, if Mr. Bush is re-elected.

Before the 2000 poll, Alec Baldwin's then wife, Kim Basinger, told Germany's Focus magazine the actor ''might leave the country if Bush is elected ... and then I'd probably have to go, too.'' Mr. Baldwin did not leave.

The only public figure to carry out his promise was Pierre Salinger, the White House press secretary during the Kennedy administration, who died last month. Before the 2000 election, he said: ''If Bush wins, I'm going to leave the country and spend the rest of my life in France.'' He did.

Comment: Well, even though the last person you might want to take advice from is a Hollywood celebrity, in this particular instance it may not be a bad idea.

If history is anything to go by, those citizens of Germany who prior to 1939, by virtue of being able to see the creeping fascism of the Nazi's, were able to emigrate before the clampdown of martial law, might be described as heroes and visionaries today.

How many American citizens will be able to wake up to the horrors of the Bush Reich and choose to escape from pre-fascist Amerika before it's too late?

Not many it would seem.

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Scientists are scanning our brains to learn how to sell a candidate
By PAUL ELIAS, Associated Press

Applying some of the same brain-scan technology used to understand Alzheimer's and autism, scientists are trying to learn what makes a Republican's mind different from a Democrat's.

Brain scanning is moving rapidly beyond diseases to measuring how we react to religious experiences, racial prejudice, even Coke versus Pepsi. This election season, some scientists are trying to find out whether the technology can help political consultants get inside voters' heads more effectively than focus groups or polls.

Already, the scientists are predicting that brain scanning --known as functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI -- will be a campaign staple four years from now, despite ethical concerns about "neuromarketing."

Brain scans measure blood flow. When brain cells start firing in a part of the brain that governs a particular emotion or activity, they need more oxygen, which is carried by the blood. During an fMRI, active regions of the brain can be seen lighting up on a computer monitor.

Last month, Drs. Joshua Freedman and Marco Iacoboni of UCLA finished scanning the brains of 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats. Each viewed images of President Bush, John Kerry and Ralph Nader.

When viewing their favorite candidate, all showed increased activity in the region implicated in empathy. And when viewing the opposition, all had increased blood flow in the region where humans consciously assert control over emotions -- suggesting the volunteers were actively attempting to dislike the opposition.

Nonetheless, some differences appeared between the brain activity of Democrats and Republicans. Take empathy: One Democrat's brain lit up at an image of Kerry "with a profound sense of connection, like a beautiful sunset," Freedman said. Brain activity in a Republican shown an image of Bush was "more interpersonal, such as if you smiled at someone and they smiled back."

And when voters were shown a Bush ad that included images of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the amygdala region of the brain -- which lights up for most of us when we see snakes -- illuminated more for Democrats than Republicans. The researchers' conclusion: At a subconscious level, Republicans were apparently not as bothered by what Democrats found alarming.

"People make tons of decisions and often they don't know why," Iacoboni said. "A lot of decision-making is unconscious, and brain imaging will be used in the near future to perceive and decide about politicians."

Freedman came to political brain scanning through his brother Tom, who served as a consultant to President Clinton. Tom Freedman asked his neuroscientist brother if the technology could improve on how campaigns woo voters.

"No one had done fMRI with politics," Dr. Freedman said. "So we decided to see what we could find."

The UCLA researchers said they have not been contacted by any political consultants other than Freedman's brother and a collaborator, though they expect to change after the election.

Already, some companies are dabbling in neuromarketing.

DaimlerChrysler used MRIs to gauge interest in different makes of cars. Researchers at the Caltech are scanning brains for reaction to movie trailers. Baylor University scientists just published brain scans suggesting preference for Coke or Pepsi is culturally influenced, and not just a matter of taste.

"This is a story of the corruption of medical research," warned Gary Ruskin, who runs a Portland, Ore., nonprofit organization called Commercial Alert. "It's a technology that should be used to ease human suffering, not make political propaganda more effective."

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How Republicans Are Manipulating Soldiers' Children To Get the Military Vote
by Bruce Cole
A little over three weeks ago, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz visited American military bases in Germany and, while there, delivered speeches to gatherings of Department of Defense officials and members of the Family Readiness groups. His visit coincided with the full onset of absentee voting by American military personnel, and the trip was paid for by US taxpayers; but handshakes, speeches and personal photographs weren't the only things he delivered.

He also brought with him a stack of DVDs, fresh from the White House assembly line, containing a short speech by Laura Bush, directed at school-age children of military parents. The DVDs were distributed to the attendees to the Wolfowitz soirees, which included Department of Defense school administrators, and they were subsequently shown to children by homeroom teachers and school counselors. I received a transcript of the speech from a concerned base resident who got my email address from a recent piece on the military that appeared on this site. Here's the transcript of Mrs. Bush's speech, in full (I have also obtained confirmation of this presentation from other sources in Germany):

"Message from Mrs. Laura Bush"

"Greetings from back home in America.

President Bush and I are thinking about you and your families while your mom or dad is protecting our country and helping people in other nations build a better life. People all across the world have witnessed the bravery and the courage of your parents. We’ve seen their kindness, especially to the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. In those two countries, your parents have helped to free millions of families and children from violence and hatred. They’ve given children everywhere, especially here in America, the chance to grow up in peace.

As they defend our country and advance freedom, they’re also changing people’s lives. Your moms and dads are supplying whole villages with their first taste of clean water. They’re delivering medicine to sick children and supplies to hospitals. They’re rebuilding schools so that millions of children can study and learn. In fact, thanks to your parents, little girls who were not allowed to read or to sit in a classroom at all are going to school for the first time in their lives. You should be incredibly proud of your parents, just as every American is grateful for their service.

We’re also incredibly proud of you. You don’t fly jet planes or wear uniforms, but as children of our troops, you serve too. The courage with which you do so is an inspiration to us all. You face the challenge of moving to new bases, new schools, and even new countries. You have to learn new languages, and make new friends while helping your parents at home with housework, babysitting, and lots of letter writing. And the hardest part, you worry about your moms and dads far away.

I know being apart from the people you love is not easy, but as long as there is hatred in the world, there will be a need for brave men and women like your parents to protect America. We’ll never forget their commitment to our country. As your moms and dads are helping others, I hope you’ll continue to help your families at home. You can set the table for your mom or dad, or read to your brothers and sisters. You can clean up your room without being asked, or write a special letter to your parents where they are deployed. And keep studying and working hard in school. Being kind to others, helping around the house, and doing well in school are great ways you can support and honor your parents.

Remember that people all across America care about you and your parents. You are all in our thoughts and prayers. Next time you write to your mom or dad, tell them how much President Bush and I appreciate their courage and dedication. Thank you for everything that you do to support your families and serve your country. May God grant you strength and patience, and may God bless America."

Coming, as it did, with the arrival of the absentee ballots, this little classroom "tutorial" by the wife of the Commander-in-Chief represents a particularly nefarious form of psychological manipulation, one that should not go unnoticed or remain unchallenged.


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Bin Laden's Audio: Threat to States?
Juan Cole

A complete English transcript of the Bin Laden audiotape released last week has now been posted by al-Jazeera. The Arabic text, for those who can use it, has also been posted.

A re-interpretation of the speech, put in motion by the neoconservative organ, MEMRI, has been flying around the web, suggesting that Bin Laden is threatening individual American states if they vote for Bush.

At the end of his message, Bin Laden said this:

In conclusion, I tell you in truth, that your security is not in the hands of Kerry, nor Bush, nor al-Qaida. No. Your security is in your own hands. And every state [wilayah] that doesn't play with our security has automatically guaranteed its own security.

MEMRI is claiming that the word used for "state" in this sentence means state as in Rhode Island and New Jersey.

But while they are right to draw attention to the oddness of the diction, their conclusion is impossible.

Bin Laden says that such a "state" should not trifle with Muslims' security. He cannot possibly mean that he thinks Rhode Island is in a position to do so. Nor can he be referring to which way a state votes, since he begins by saying that the security of Americans is not in the hands of Bush or Kerry. He has already dismissed them as equivalent and irrelevant, in and of themselves.

Moreover, the way he uses "wilayah" is strange if he meant a Rhode Island kind of state. He should have said "ayy wilayah min al-wilayaat," "any state among the states" or some such diction.

Since MEMRI's conclusion is impossible given what else Bin Laden says, then we must revisit their philological point. It is true that in modern standard Arabic, wilayah means "state" or "province" and that al-Wilayaat al-Muttahaddah is the phrase used to translate "United States." A state in the sense of government or international Power would more likely nowadays be "dawlah" or "hukumah."

But there are two possible explanations for Bin Laden's diction here. The first is that he regularly uses archaicisms. He has steeped himself in ancient, Koranic Arabic and the sayings of the Prophet, and he and his fellow cultists in Qandahar had developed a peculiar subculture that rejected much of modernity. The Taliban state characterized itself as an Emirate (imarah) ruled by an Amir in the sense of a caliph or Amir al-Mu'minin ("Commander of the Faithful"). In the contemporary Gulf, in contrast, an "amir" is a prince. The amir (emir) of Kuwait is not claiming to be a caliph! Bin Laden and Mulla Omar went back to the classical meaning of amir.

In classical Arabic, a ruler is a wali, who then rules over a wilayah or walayah. Wilayah can have connotations even in modern Arabic (see Hans Wehr) of sovereignty and it can mean "government." Bin Laden is attempting to revive ways of thinking he maintains were common among the first generation of Muslims, and to slough off centuries of accretions.

So the first possibility is simply that Bin Laden is using a fundamentalist archaicism. It would be like a Christian fundamentalist wedded to the King James Bible who insisted on using the word "charity" to mean a form of selfless love, with the Greek word caritas in mind, rather than in its contemporary meaning of "philanthropy."

The other possibility is that Bin Laden has lived most of the past 25 years in Persian, Pushtu and Urdu-speaking environments and that he occasionally lapses into non-standard usages. In Hindi-Urdu, I noticed that one meaning of vilayat is "the metropole." At least in past generations, people going from British India to the UK said they were going to "vilayat." More important, there is some evidence for fundamentalist Muslims using the word "wilayah" or "walayah" to mean "country." The Pakistani radical group Hizb al-Tahrir locates itself in "Walayah Pakistan", i.e., the country of Pakistan.

I think archaicism is a more likely explanation than what linguists call "interference" from other languages for Bin Laden's diction here. But I am quite sure for the reasons of logic given above that he means "government" by the word, not state as in province, in this speech.

MEMRI was founded by a retired Israeli colonel from military intelligence, and co-run by Meyrav Wurmser, wife of David Wurmser. David Wurmser is close to the Likud Party in Israel and served in Douglas Feith's "Office of Special Plans" in the Pentagon, where he helped manufacture the case that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was linked to al-Qaeda. David Wurmser, who wants to get up American wars against both Iran and Syria, then moved over to Vice President Dick Cheney's rump national security team.

MEMRI is funded to the tune of $60 million a year by someone, and is a sophisticated anti-Arab propaganda machine. The organization cleverly cherry-picks the vast Arabic press, which serves 300 million people, for the most extreme and objectionable articles and editorials. It carefully does not translate the moderate articles. I have looked at newspapers that ran both tolerant and extremist opinion pieces on the same day, and checked MEMRI, to find that only the extremist one showed up. It would sort of be as though al-Jazeera published translations of Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Jerry Falwell on Islam and the Middle East, but never published opinion piences on the subject by William Beeman or Dick Bulliet.

MEMRI is enormously popular with strong Jewish nationalists in the United States, who often subscribe to it by email, and are being given an unbalanced view of the region as a result. In some instances the translations are not very good, but the main objection is the selectiveness of the material. MEMRI is one of a number of public relations campaigns essentially on behalf of the far rightwing Likud Party in Israel that tries to shape American perceptions of Muslims and the Middle East in a negative direction. Think tanks like the "Hudson Institute" are another (it is run by . . . Meyrav Wurmser). The Benador talent agency, which books a lot of talking heads on US television, is another. (Google it).

It would be just as easy to set up a translation service that zeroed in on racist and "Greater Israel" statements in the Hebrew Israeli press and made the articles available in English, while ignoring more liberal newspapers like Haaretz. If most educated Americans heard the raving against "ha-aravim" (the Arabs) that goes on among West Bank settlers, they'd be completely taken aback by the bigotted terms of reference. Much of such Likudnik discourse is not different in kind from what one hears from the Ku Klux Klan about minorities in this country.

Anyway, I am not suggesting that the MEMRI report was an attempt on behalf of the Likud Party to intervene in the US election. I suspect they just didn't think through the issue and depended on a surface reference to modern standard Arabic.

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Arafat & the Original 'October Surprise'
By Morgan Strong
November 2, 2004

A top aide to Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat has dropped a new clue about the original “October Surprise” mystery of 1980: the name of the Republican operative who sought the Palestine Liberation Organization’s help to block President Jimmy Carter’s negotiations to free 52 Americans then being held hostage in Iran.

Longtime Arafat confidant Bassam Abu Sharif said that in mid-1980, he met in Paris with John Shaheen, a friend to both Ronald Reagan and Reagan’s campaign chief, William J. Casey. Abu Sharif told me that Shaheen, a former U.S. intelligence officer of Lebanese origin, extended a Republican offer of improved U.S. relations with the PLO if the Arafat-led organization would assist in persuading the Iranians to delay the hostage release until after the November 1980 elections.

Shaheen, who died in 1985, has long been a central figure in the so-called "October Surprise" case, allegations that Republicans sabotaged Carter’s hostage negotiations as a way to ensure the 1980 election of Reagan as president and George H.W. Bush as vice president. Though Abu Sharif and Arafat have previously discussed the Republican overture, they had refused to identify the Republican intermediary until now.

The alleged secret deal between the Reagan-Bush campaign and the Iranians popularized the idea of an “October Surprise,” a last-minute event that might alter the outcome of a U.S. presidential election. The phrase was coined by then-vice presidential candidate Bush in the context that Carter’s success in freeing the hostages might be his “October Surprise,” though it later came to refer to the alleged Republican scheming to derail Carter’s hostage talks.

Republican leaders have long denied that any deal with the Iranians was struck, although more than two dozen witnesses – including Iranian officials, European intelligence officers and international arms dealers – have described aspects of the 1980 Republican-Iranian contacts carried out behind President Carter’s back.

In 1992-93, a House Task Force conducted a half-hearted investigation of the controversy and judged the allegations of a Republican-Iranian deal to be false. But it was later discovered that the Task Force had concealed evidence that pointed in the opposite direction, including a classified report from the Russian government stating that Bush, Casey and CIA officers had met with Iranians in Europe in 1980 to strike a deal.

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Bomber strikes crowded market in Tel Aviv
Associated Press

Tel Aviv — A Palestinian bomber blew himself up in a crowded outdoor market in central Tel Aviv on Monday, killing three Israelis and wounding 32 in the first such attack since Yasser Arafat left the region for medical treatment last week.

The blast came at a time of growing concern about instability during Arafat's absence. Extremists appeared to be signalling that they are setting the pace rather than Mr. Arafat's stand-ins, who have been trying to convey normality.

Israel has said that while the Palestinian leader is away it would show restraint in its battle with Palestinian extremists.

The ground shook in the Carmel Market as the explosion ripped through a dairy store and damaged a neighbouring vegetable stall. The force of the blast blew the store's sign away, leaving loose wire dangling out of the wall. Lettuce and parsley were strewn on the pavement.

Paramedics treated dazed shoppers and wheeled away bodies in black plastic bags. Rescue workers dug through piles of cheese and spices inside the store in search of body parts.

"I saw lots of people lying on the ground, lots of people wounded," shopper Michal Weizman told Israel Army Radio. "There was a woman whose entire body was torn up."

Police said four people were killed, including the bomber.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a radical PLO faction, said in a telephone call to Associated Press that it was behind the attack. The statement could not immediately be verified.

It was the 116th suicide bombing since the outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian fighting in 2000. In all, 493 Israelis have been killed in such attacks. The previous bombing, in September, killed two Israeli policemen in Jerusalem.

Monday's explosion came as both Israelis and Palestinians were contemplating the possible repercussions of Mr. Arafat's departure for medical treatment in France. [...]

Comment: How convenient! Just when the eyes of the world are focused on Arafat's declining health, resulting in an outpouring of sympathy for the ailing Palestinian leader, a teenaged suicide bomber blows himself up in Tel Aviv. This act of violence does nothing for the Palestinian cause and only serves Zionist interests by once again portraying Moslems as dangerous fanatics, thus taking the spotlight away from Arafat and shining it once again on the Israeli victims.

Coincidence? We think not.

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Baghdad deputy governor assassinated
Irish Examiner

Gunmen killed the deputy governor of Baghdad today on his way to work, Iraqi officials said.

Hatim Kamil was assassinated in a drive-by shooting this morning, said Baghdad Governor Ali al-Haidari. He had no other details.

Interior Ministry spokesman Colonel Adnan Abdul-Rahman said Mr Kamil was killed when gunmen opened fire on his car in the southern Doura neighbourhood. Two of his bodyguards were also wounded in the attack, Mr Abdul-Rahman said.

Insurgents have killed dozens of Iraqi politicians and government workers in recent months in a bid to destabilise the country’s reconstruction.

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377 tons small part of absent Iraq explosives

Missing prewar stockpiles may total 250,000 tons

The Associated Press
Updated: 2:56 p.m. ET Oct. 31, 2004

VIENNA, Austria - From the deserts of the south and west to the outskirts of Baghdad, Iraq is awash in weapons sites — some large, others small; some guarded, others not. Even after the U.S. military secured some 400,000 tons of munitions, as many as 250,000 tons remain unaccounted for.

Attention has focused on the al-Qaqaa site south of Baghdad, where 377 tons of explosives are believed to have gone missing — becoming a heated issue in the final days of the U.S. presidential campaign.

But with the names of other sites popping up everywhere — al-Mahaweel, Baqouba, Ukhaider, Qaim — experts say the al-Qaqaa stash is only a tiny fraction of what’s buried in the sands of Iraq.

"There is something truly absurd about focusing on 377 tons," said Anthony Cordesman, a defense analyst and Iraq expert with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. He contends Iraq’s prewar stockpiles "were probably in excess of 650,000 tons."

Underscoring the depth of Iraq’s militarization before the March 2003 invasion, the Pentagon says U.S.-led forces have destroyed 240,000 tons of munitions and have secured another 160,000 tons that is awaiting destruction.

A nation ‘awash in weapons’

Through mid-September, coalition forces inspected and cleared more than 10,000 caches of weapons, U.S. arms hunter Charles Duelfer said in a recent report. But up to 250,000 tons remain unaccounted for, according to military estimates, much of it in small stashes scattered around the country.

"I caution that there is a lot that we probably don’t know about, because this was a country, as the inspectors acknowledged, that was awash in weapons," Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said Friday in Washington.

The 377 tons that Iraq says vanished from Al-Qaqaa sometime after the April 9, 2003 fall of Baghdad represents just "one 1,000th of the material that we are aware of," Di Rita said.

The Bush administration has touted the thousands of tons of explosives it did find after the March 2003 invasion as a sign of success, and officials argue that U.S. forces pushing to Baghdad to topple Saddam Hussein could not stop to secure every cache.

Critics, however, say war planners should have committed more troops to the task of securing sites or let U.N. inspectors back to help.

In insurgents’ hands?

The debate is sharpened by the possibility that whatever munitions unsecured may since have fallen into the hands of Iraqi insurgents leading a bloody campaign of bombings and attacks on U.S. forces since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Among the sites that don’t appear to have been secured was a cache of hundreds of surface-to-surface warheads at the 2nd Military College in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad. Each warhead is believed to have contained 57 pounds of high explosives.

Peter Bouckaert, who heads the emergency team for New York-based Human Rights Watch, told The Associated Press he was shown a room "stacked to the roof" with the warheads on May 9, 2003. He said he gave U.S. officials in Baghdad the exact GPS coordinates for the site, but that it was still not secured when he left the area 10 days later.

"Looting was taking place by a lot of armed men with Kalashnikovs and rocket-propelled grenades," Bouckaert said Saturday in a telephone interview from South Africa.

"Everyone’s focused on Al-Qaqaa, when what was at the military college could keep a guerrilla group in business for a long time creating the kinds of bombs that are being used in suicide attacks every day," he said.

What about Ukhaider?

Another prominent site is an ammunition storage area at Ukhaider, 75 miles south of Baghdad, where U.N. inspectors found 11 empty chemical warheads in "excellent" condition in January 2003.

Two U.S. aid workers reported looting at Ukhaider in October 2003, but were told the U.S. military didn’t have enough troops to seal the site, The Oregonian reported Friday.

David Albright, a former U.N. inspector, said the sheer volume of weapons stored across Iraq should have prompted the United States to invite inspectors back to check on key sites such as Al-Qaqaa.

Instead, he told the AP, "there was a lot of arrogance" on the part of U.S. officials who rebuffed the International Atomic Energy Agency’s repeated requests to resume general inspections.

IAEA inspectors pulled out of Iraq on March 16, 2003, a few days before the invasion. They since have been allowed to return only twice, both times to check on the Tuwaitha nuclear complex, the U.N. agency’s main concern in Iraq. They have not been back to Al-Qaqaa.

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Report on unguarded weapons 'ignored'

By Kim Sengupta in Baghdad
31 October 2004

A human rights group disclosed yesterday that it had told US forces of unguarded weapons in an Iraqi military college without anything being done.

Peter Bouckaert, head of the New York-based Human Rights Watch, said he told American officials about rooms "stacked to the roof" at Baquba, north-east of Baghdad, with surface-to-surface missiles on 9 May 2003. But the weapons still had not been secured 10 days later, and were being looted daily. [...]

Comment: Conclusion? The US government allowed the weapons to "disappear" so that they can be used at a later time to justify another fake terror attack.

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CIA roughed up Iraqi prisoners, Navy Seal testifies
Nov. 1, 2004. 04:40 PM

SAN DIEGO — The CIA interrogated and roughed up Iraqi prisoners in a "romper room" where a handcuffed and hooded terror suspect was kicked, slapped and punched shortly before he died last year at the Abu Ghraib prison, a Navy SEAL testified today.

Blood was visible on the hood worn by the prisoner, Manadel al-Jamadi, as he was led into the interrogation room at Baghdad International Airport in November 2003, the navy commando said at a military pretrial hearing for another SEAL accused of abusing Iraqi prisoners.

Testifying under a grant of immunity, the witness, identified only by his rank as a hospital corpsman, said he kicked al-Jamadi several times, slapped him in the back of the head and punched him. Five or six other CIA personnel in the room laid their hands on the prisoner, he said, but he did not provide details.

Sometime later, Al-Jamadi was found dead in a shower room at Abu Ghraib less than an hour after two CIA personnel brought him into Abu Ghraib as a so-called "ghost detainee," according to army Maj.-Gen. George Fay's report on the notorious prison. Such detainees were not listed in the normal roster of military prisoners.

The testimony about the CIA's role came during a hearing for an aviation boatswain's mate who is accused of punching al-Jamadi and posing in humiliating photos with the prisoner. The boatswain's mate allegedly twisted other prisoners' testicles and struck a prisoner in the buttocks with a wooden board.

An Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a civilian grand jury, was held to determine whether the boatswain's mate should be court-martialled.

The hearing concluded Monday. An investigating officer will recommend what charges, if any, the boatswain's mate should face.

The accused SEAL, who received the Purple Heart for wounds suffered in Iraq, could get up to 11 years in prison if convicted.

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Psst. President Bush Is Hard at Work Expanding Government Secrecy
Published: November 1, 2004

It is only inevitable, I suppose, that some big issues never make it onto the agenda of a presidential campaign, and other lesser issues, or total nonissues, somehow emerge instead. Electoral politics, as Americans are regularly being reminded these final hard-fought days before the election, is a brutal, messy business, not an antiseptic political science exercise.

That said, I hereby confess to feeling disappointed over Senator John Kerry's failure to home in hard on one of the more worrisome domestic policy developments of the past four years - namely the Bush administration's drastic expansion of needless government secrecy.

President Bush's antipathy to open government continues to garner only a trivial level of attention compared with the pressing matters that seem to be engaging the country at the moment, including, in no particular order, the Red Sox, Iraq, terrorism, taxes and the mysterious iPod-size bulge visible under the back of Mr. Bush's suit jacket at the first debate. But the implications for a second term are ominous.

Beyond undermining the constitutional system of checks and balances, undue secrecy is a proven formula for faulty White House decision-making and debilitating scandal. If former President Richard Nixon, the nation's last chief executive with a chronic imperial disdain for what Justice Louis Brandeis famously called the disinfecting power of sunlight, were alive today, I like to think he'd be advising Mr. Bush to choose another role model.

As detailed in a telling new Congressional report, Mr. Bush's secrecy obsession - by now a widely recognized hallmark of his presidency - is truly out of hand.

The 90-page report, matter-of-factly titled "Secrecy in the Bush Administration," was released with little fanfare in September by Representative Henry Waxman of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Government Reform, and one of the most outspoken critics of the Bush administration's steady descent into greater and greater secrecy. The objective was to catalog the myriad ways that President Bush and his appointees have undermined existing laws intended to advance public access to information, while taking an expansive view of laws that authorize the government to operate in secrecy, or to withhold certain information.

Some of the instances the report cites are better known than others. Among the more notorious, of course, are the administration's ongoing refusal to disclose contacts between Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force and energy company executives, or to explain the involvement of Mr. Cheney's office in the awarding of huge sole-source contracts to Halliburton for Iraq reconstruction; the post-9/11 rush to embrace shameful, unconstitutional practices like secret detentions and trials; and the resistance and delay in turning over key documents sought by the Sept. 11 commission.

The report lists many other troubling examples as well. Mr. Bush and his appointees have routinely impeded Congress's constitutionally prescribed oversight role by denying reasonable requests from senior members of Congressional committees for basic information. They forced a court fight over access to the Commerce Department's corrected census counts, for instance, withheld material relating to the prison abuses at Abu Ghraib and stonewalled attempts to collect information on meetings and phone conversations between Karl Rove, the presidential adviser, and executives of firms in which he owned stock. The administration has also taken to treating as top secret documents previously available under the Freedom of Information Act - going so far as to reverse the landmark act's presumption in favor of disclosure and to encourage agencies to withhold a broad, hazily defined universe of "sensitive but unclassified" information.

Under a phony banner of national security, Mr. Bush has reversed reasonable steps by the Clinton administration to narrow the government's capacity to classify documents. Aside from being extremely expensive, the predictably steep recent increase in decisions to classify information runs starkly counter to recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission geared to strengthening oversight of the intelligence agencies.

Not one for self-criticism - or any kind of criticism, for that matter - President Bush says he's content to leave it to historians to assess his presidential legacy. What he fails to mention is that he has seriously impeded that historical review by issuing a 2001 executive order repealing the presumption of public access to presidential papers embedded in the 1978 Presidential Records Act.

On a superficial level, the hush-hush treatment of this issue on the fall campaign trail might seem perversely fitting. But Mr. Bush's unilateral rollback of laws and practices designed to promote government accountability surely rates further scrutiny by voters. We've learned over the last four years that what we don't know can hurt us.

Comment: To Bush and his cronies, the freedom of information act is just another unfortunate nuisance that gets in the way of their relentless global takeover. If they had it their way nothing would be public, as the evil deeds of psychopaths and power mongers are much easier to implement under the cover of shadows.

Bush's real handlers, whoever they are, thrive on secrecy for success. There will never be a "smoking gun", and at best we can can only see their footprints in time. Bush and his ilk, are merely the public representations of a much more dark and sinister force, and being puppets, they unconsciously follow the script.

Thus, in these days of perpetual war and impending martial law, the Freedom of Information Act, like the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, has become a quaint myth of the past.

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Chinese town under martial law after riots
Associated Press

Langchenggang, China — Thousands of police were guarding a country road on Monday outside a village in central China where witnesses said rioting between hundreds of members of the Han ethnic majority and Hui Muslims killed at least seven people.

Martial law was imposed in Langchenggang in Henan province after the violence erupted Friday, according to residents contacted by phone. They said groups of as many as 500 rioters fought with sticks and burned several houses.

Residents could not confirm a report by The New York Times that as many as 148 people had been killed.

Police lined the road beginning 10 kilometres from town, spaced every few metres on the dusty shoulder of the narrow two-lane road, clumped in groups or packed into buses. Cars were being stopped at checkpoints, but it was not clear if any had been turned away.

Minivans with loudspeakers strapped to their roofs drove between buildings broadcasting appeals for calm, and similar messages were printed on posters stuck to buildings. Local government and Communist Party officials visited homes telling people not to worry.

The cause of the violence was not immediately clear.

The Times said it erupted after a Han girl was struck and killed by a Hui taxi driver. An accountant contacted at a factory in the town said, however, that it grew out of an incident Friday in which three Hui men beat up a 17-year-old Han boy who blocked their car on a street.

A group of Han men retaliated by beating the three Hui men, prompting a group of 30 to 40 Hui to come from a nearby town seeking revenge, said the accountant, who would give only his surname, Liu. He said that after that group was driven away, a group of up to 500 Hui arrived, setting off full-scale violence.

Mr. Liu said he saw several thousand police and soldiers on the streets of the town after martial law was imposed.

"A lot of people were carrying clubs to fight. They set fire to several houses," said another Langchenggang resident surnamed Liu, who was no relation to the accountant. "Right now, there are lots of police. The local government is allowing local residents to move around but everyone is afraid of going out."

Town, county and provincial officials refused to confirm whether the violence occurred.

Several residents said local officials had told them not to give information to reporters.

The town, about an hour's drive from the major city of Zhengzhou, was still tense Monday, according to a man who said he lived less than a kilometre from the scene of the fighting.

"I still dare not leave the house," said the man, who would give only his surname, Li. "To the west and east are Hui villages. So people are afraid to go outside."

"Right now, the road to Langchenggang is under martial law," said a resident who lives near the village boundary and refused to give his name.

Police were blocking vehicles carrying large numbers of people from entering the town, the man said. [...]

Comment: Imagine for a moment, the above scenario happening in towns and cities all across America. Only instead of the Han's and the Hui's, this time it would be the Dem's and Rep's. Is it plausible that an uncertain outcome leads to a second Supreme court-installed Bush Reich, resulting in massive outrage and violent clashes between the two groups?

How far would the new Bush government go to quell dissent? It would be prudent to remember the way the protestors were treated at the RNC this summer in New York City.

At any rate, the way things are going, it seems almost certain that in a few years we may not have to "imagine" this scenario at all.

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Bloody weekend in troubled Indonesian province
Last Updated Mon, 01 Nov 2004 10:18:11 EST

JAKARTA, INDONESIA - At least 19 people died in violence in Indonesia's troubled Aceh province on the weekend.

The bloodshed continued ahead of a key review of the military's efforts to crush a long-running separatist struggle.

An Aceh military spokesperson said one soldier and 10 rebels were killed in separate clashes on Sunday, while Indonesian troops killed eight suspected rebels in five encounters a day earlier.

The latest deaths follow one of the bloodiest weeks for the Free Aceh Movement rebels since the May 2003 launch of a government offensive to end their 28-year fight.

Clashes saw 17 die on Thursday and Friday.

As many as 13,000 people have been killed since May 2003. Human rights activists says many of them were civilians. Rebels say more than 2,000 guerrillas have been killed.

After a year of martial law, Jakarta put control of Aceh back into the hands of civil authorities, but kept the impoverished region under a state of emergency. The state of emergency expires later this month forcing Indonesia's government to decide whether to renew it.

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Tourists Wade Through Flood Waters In Venice
2:30 pm EST October 31, 2004

VENICE, Italy -- High waters are forcing tourists and residents in Venice, Italy, to roll up their pants or put on rubber boots to get around the city.

Tourists and residents make their way through a flooded St. Mark's Square, Venice, Italy.

More than a foot of water is covering St. Mark's Square in the heart of Venice. Officials said about 80 percent of the city is underwater.

Officials have put out raised wooden walkways in some areas to help people get around. At least one person took the matter in his own hands and canoed through the city.

Venice's boat public transportation system suspended service for about one hour and some stores called to report water damage as a result of the flooding

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Flood descimates building, work at University of Hawaii
By James Gonser and Dan Nakaso,
The Honolulu Advertiser

HONOLULU — Heavy rain sent water as much as 8 feet deep rushing through the University of Hawaii's main research library Saturday, destroying irreplaceable documents and books, toppling doors and walls and forcing a few students to break a window to escape.

Flood water also washed through a biomedical lab, destroying at least a third of a professor's collection of flies used for genetic research.

Ten inches of rain fell in 24 hours starting Saturday morning in the Manoa Valley near Waikiki. Several cars were carried downstream when Manoa Stream overflowed its banks, and a school and church that were supposed to serve as polling places for Tuesday's election also were damaged.

Gov. Linda Lingle toured the university Sunday and declared Manoa Valley a state disaster area.

Manoa residents shoveled mud and debris out of their homes Sunday, while University of Hawaii officials canceled Monday classes and estimated damage in the millions after daybreak revealed the full extent of damage caused by the Halloween Eve flood.

The UH-Manoa campus was hit hard after the flash flood topped the banks of Manoa Stream and created a new river that raced through the heart of campus. Hamilton Library and the Biomedical Sciences building sustained the most serious damage, officials said. [...]

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Experts try to solve meteorite mystery
Express News Service

Vadodara, October 31: Forensic experts and geologists in village Nandgaon, about 18 kms from the nearest police station in Kaprada, South Gujarat, are trying to ascertain whether a black stone — weighing a kg — which fell in one of the farms, is a meteorite.

Villagers reported a loud bang and falling of a burning stone in a farm on Sunday evening. The fallen stone had created a little crater on the ground.

Villages like Nandgaon and Dharampur and other neighbouring villages in the hilly areas near the Maharashtra-Gujarat border have been experiencing unseasonal rains for past couple of days. However, on Saturday evening, the villagers reported hearing a loud bang-like noise and a streak of fire across the sky. ‘‘The villagers first thought it was an aeroplane or a fireball, but it turned out to be a black stone which had fallen in a farm in the village,’’ said a Kaprada police station personnel.

With rumours rife that the incident had led to burning of trees and could be a likely meteor, Kaprada police personnel reached the spot and brought the stone to the police station. ‘‘It must be some stone boulder which might have fallen down due to the rains. There are no burnt trees or anything of sort in the area,’’ said Abhaysinh Chudasama, Valsad DSP, who also visited the village.

Taking no chances, Chudasama added that a geologist from Valsad district collectorate had been summoned to check the stone.

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The End is Near
October 29, 2004
By Kurt Vonnegut

I am writing this before the election, so I cannot know whether George W. Bush or John F. Kerry will be our President, God willing, for the next four years. These two Nordic, aristocratic multi-millionaires are virtually twins, and as unlike most of the rest of us as a couple of cross-eyed albinos. But this much I find timely: Both candidates were and still are members of the exclusive secret society at Yale, called "Skull and Bones." That means that, no matter which one wins, we will have a Skull and Bones President at a time when entire vertebrate species, because of how we have poisoned the topsoil, the waters and the atmosphere, are becoming, hey presto, nothing but skulls and bones.


What was the beginning of this end? Some might say Adam and Eve and the apple of knowledge. I say it was Prometheus, a Titan, a son of gods, who in Greek myth stole fire from his parents and gave it to human beings. The gods were so mad they chained him naked to a rock with his back exposed, and had eagles eat his liver.

And it is now plain that the gods were right to do that. Our close cousins the gorillas and orangutans and chimps and gibbons have gotten along just fine all this time while eating raw vegetable matter, whereas we not only prepare hot meals, but have now all but destroyed this once salubrious planet as a life-support system in fewer than 200 years, mainly by making thermodynamic whoopee with fossil fuels.

The Englishman Michael Faraday built the first dynamo, capable of turning mechanical energy into electricity, only 173 years ago. The first oil well in the United States, now a dry hole, was drilled in Titusville, Pennsylvania, by Edwin L. Drake only 145 years ago. The German Karl Benz built the first automobile powered by an internal combustion engine only 119 years ago.

The American Wright brothers, of course, built and flew the first airplane only 101 years ago. It was powered by gasoline. You want to talk about irresistible whoopee?

A booby trap.

Fossil fuels, so easily set alight! Yes, and as Bush and Kerry are out campaigning, we are presently touching off nearly the very last whiffs and drops and chunks of them. All lights are about to go out. No more electricity. All forms of transportation are about to stop, and the planet Earth will soon have a crust of skulls and bones and dead machinery.

And nobody can do a thing about it. It’s too late in the game. Don’t spoil the party, but here’s the truth: We have squandered our planet’s resources, including air and water, as though there were no tomorrow, so now there isn’t going to be one.

So there goes the Junior Prom, but that’s not the half of it.

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Climate fuelling fires

Increase in forest blazes linked to greenhouse gases
Scientists study recent wildfires across Canada

Nov. 1, 2004. 01:00 AM 

OTTAWA—Canadian climate researchers have found compelling evidence linking the rise in severe forest fires across the country to higher summer temperatures from greenhouse gas warming.

"When the temperature goes up, the area burned goes up," said University of Victoria climate researcher Nathan Gillette, the study's lead author.

Higher summer temperatures boost evaporation and lower moisture, leaving tinder-dry forests easy to set ablaze by lightning strikes or human carelessness.

Using a computer climate model and statistical tests, Gillette found that rising summer temperatures could explain almost two-thirds of the increase in the total area burned by forest fires since 1920. The research also demonstrated that the temperature rises matched the projected warming effect from higher atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases over Canada from human activity, largely burning fossil fuels.

Last year British Columbia was hit with the worst outbreak this century with 2,500 wildfires causing damage estimated at $700 million, the evacuation of more 45,000 people, destruction of 300-plus homes and three deaths.

The results confirm previous theoretical predictions by federal forest officials that human-induced climate warming would trigger more frequent and more damaging forest fires.

"We're pretty sure those sorts of forest fires across Canada are a consequence of climate change that's associated with greenhouse gases, mostly carbon dioxide," said climate expert Andrew Weaver, a University of Victoria professor who supervised Gillette's research. [...]

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Global Warming Has Arrived: Arctic Study
Monday, November 1, 2004
by Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON – With only eight weeks left before the elves finish their work and Santa Claus mounts his sleigh, an eight-nation study on global warming co-sponsored by the United States has concluded that the North Pole is melting beneath St. Nick.

The 144-page report, which is due to be officially released a week after Tuesday’s elections, says the accelerated warming of the globe – which it blames mostly on the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases produced by the industrial age – is transforming the Arctic region dramatically.

The Arctic "is now experience some of the most rapid and severe climate change on Earth," according to the report, which was obtained by the New York Times and the Washington Post this weekend, apparently from European sources that wanted to publicize its findings before Tuesday.

The European Union (EU), some of whose member states co-sponsored the study, strongly supports the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse emissions, while President George W. Bush has rejected the accord. His Democratic challenger, Sen. John Kerry, has called for the U.S. to rejoin negotiations on the treaty’s terms.

"Over the next 100 years, climate change is expected to accelerate, contributing to major physical, ecological, social and economic changes, many of which have already begun," the report stated, adding that greenhouse gas emissions have clearly become "the dominant factor" in the Arctic’s changing climate. [...]

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Paid Bush supporters cause uproar

Mark Henle and Kaitlin Bell – The Dartmouth Online November 1, 2004

State Democrats reacted quickly when the Republican Party, trying to garner last-minute support with New Hampshire's swing voters, began paying part-time workers $75 this weekend to devote a day to the Bush campaign -- especially in liberal areas like Hanover.

Democratic field organizers in the area alerted supporters and volunteers Friday about students from nearby colleges who had been paid to hold Bush-Cheney signs and wear campaign stickers on the Green.

The program, meant to boost volunteer numbers in key swing states, is offered nationally, with students from less contentious states like Vermont being bussed into swing states to campaign for President Bush. The College Republicans began offering this opportunity to Dartmouth students Sunday and will continue to do so through Election Day.

In some cases, the Bush-Cheney workers who lined the east side of the Green Friday supported neither Bush nor his opponent, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry.

David Carney, 21, a senior from St. Michael's College in Vermont, has already cast an absentee ballot for Ralph Nader in his home state of California. The self-described socialist said he's tried to find a job, and this was the only work he could get.

"I need food. I haven't had a job for so many months," Carney said. "I've got to buy groceries."

The money has attracted Carney and other students from colleges in the region such as Vermont University and Norwich University. In contrast to volunteers for Kerry, who stood waving signs on the corner of the sidewalk, most of the Bush-Cheney campaigners sat listlessly on the Green's senior fence, wearing campaign stickers but not brandishing signs.

A few said they were ardent Bush supporters, but the majority said they just needed the money.

The New Hampshire Democratic Party was quick to disparage the Bush-Cheney team for paying people to campaign.

Comment: Bought President, bought government, bought "democracy", bought politicans, bought voters. The only thing that cannot be bought however is the truth. For that most have to pay with their lives.

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Volcano Erupts in Isolated Iceland Area
Associated Press

REYKAJVIK, Iceland - A volcano erupted in a remote area of Iceland on Monday, setting off tremors across the area and prompting officials to warn pilots to avoid flying through gasses being emitted by the blast.

No evacuations were needed in the unpopulated area around Grimsvotn mountain in eastern Iceland, the Meteorological Office said, but visual confirmation of the damage being done was impossible because heavy winds and rains reduced visibility in the area.

The eruption was believed to have been caused by expansion of a lake underneath the Vatnajokull glacier.

"The water is under extreme pressure from the glacier. We believe it could open a part of the Grimsvotn mountain, causing the release of some magma, though this cannot be confirmed without visual identification," said Oli Thor Arnarsson at the Meteorological Office.

His office issued the warning to pilots on Monday evening.

Grimsvotn last erupted six years ago. It also erupted in 1995 and 1993, causing flooding.

The mountain lies on the Atlantic Rift, the meeting of the Euro and American continental plates. The three major volcanoes of Icelan

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Alert level raised in Taal volcano
Updated 04:33pm (Mla time) Nov 02, 2004
By Norman Bordadora
Inquirer News Service

THE PHILIPPINE Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has raised the alert level in Taal Volcano and called on visitors to the island to be vigilant, following a marked increase in the number of earthquakes since last weekend.

The main crater of Taal is now off-limits to visitors as sudden steam explosions might occur or high concentrations of noxious gases might accumulate, said Phivolcs in its latest bulletin on the volcano.

“The ongoing seismic unrest could intensify in the coming days and weeks so that Phivolcs is recommending appropriate vigilance by the public when visiting the island,” said Phivolcs.

Phivolcs said there were also several fissures on the Daang Kastila Trail which, if reactivated and combined with steam emission, could be potentially hazardous to people.

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Killer heatwaves to blight developed world

By Steve Connor Science Editor and Tony Paterson in Berlin
01 November 2004

Killer heatwaves will take a greater toll as the population grows older and the climate warms, according to a major study on global disasters.

The developed world can expect to suffer the devastating effects of even hotter summers than the one last year in Europe, which is estimated to have killed up to 35,000 people.

A report by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies warns that more extreme heatwaves can be added to the long list of natural and man-made disasters that will affect the world in the coming decades. Extreme summer temperatures in the developed world will be one of the extra problems affecting humanity in the 21st century, said Markku Niskala, secretary general of the federation. "The face of disasters is changing. Soaring urban populations, environmental degradation, poverty and disease are compounding seasonal hazards such as droughts and floods," he said. "The developed world faces new threats too. Five degrees more summer heat than usual triggered a disaster that shamed modern, wealthy societies across Europe in 2003. Up to 35,000 elderly and vulnerable people suffered silent, lonely deaths, abandoned by state welfare systems in retreat." [...]


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The human casualties of Brazil's rainforest disaster

01 November 2004
Cahal Milmo

The systematic destruction of the Amazon is being carried out by slave labour.

The knock on the door Valdemir Maria de Jesus had been hoping for came at 3am. The early hour was strange but after three and a half months of clearing rainforest, the salary owed to him and his friend Antonio was finally to be paid. It was a moment for celebration.

Like thousands of Brazilian labourers working in the Amazon, the meagre £800 the two men had earned from their back-breaking efforts in the frontier state of Para would provide them with the means to start new lives, enough to build a new house, marry or support their families.

But when Valdemir went to the door, it was not a wad of banknotes but a gun that his boss, Maciel, was brandishing. "I opened the door and he shot me," said Valdemir, a slight man in his twenties who still has the bullets lodged in him. "When the first hit me, I fell down and pretended to be dead. He shot me a second time. Then he went over and shot my friend. After he finished with him, he came back and kicked me several times in the head to check if I was dead. After he left, people found me and they somehow got me to hospital."

The first bullet hit Valdemir in the lung, the second in his back. But, despite being critically wounded, his instinct to feign death saved him. He is now in hiding at his father's home, hundreds of miles of away in another province, awaiting surgery to remove the bullets.

Antonio was not so fortunate. The wife and children he left behind to seek his fortune in Para probably do not even know he is dead. His identity card was stolen by his murderer and nobody else knows his surname.

Perhaps the most shocking element is that, far from being an isolated incidence of greed and inhumanity, it is part of the dark secret that lurks in Brazil's rural heartlands. Valdemir, whose real name has been withheld to protect him from reprisals, and Antonio were among 25,000 men working as slave labourers, forced to destroy thousands of acres of virgin rainforest or work in Dickensian conditions to work off debts that can never be paid. [...]

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300 children bitten by 'blood sucking' monkeys at famous Indian temple

Tuesday November 2, 4:23 PM

Monkeys lurking at an ancient Hindu temple in India's northeast have attacked up to 300 children over three weeks, temple officials said Tuesday.

"They hide in trees and swoop on unsuspecting children loitering about in the temple premises or walking by, clawing them and even sucking a bit of blood," Bani Kumar Sharma, a priest at the Kamakhya temple in Assam state, told The Associated Press. The temple, one of the most famous in India, is located in Gauhati, Assam's capital.

"I was returning home from school when a monkey suddenly pounced on me, scratched my head and hand and pushed me to the ground," said Jolly Sharma, a 6-year-old girl.

At least 2,000 rhesus monkeys roam in and around the temple, but none had shown aggressive behavior in the past, the priest said.

Monkeys are often found in tens of thousands of temples across India. They are seen as a symbol of Hanuman, the mythical monkey god, and devotees visiting temples often feed them. While occasional attacks by monkeys are not uncommon at temples, the sudden surge in attacks at the Gauhati temple has experts perplexed.

Comment: Interestingly, exactly one year ago today the following story was reported.

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Flashback: Monkeys terrorize government workers, visitors in India's capital

07:25 AM EST Nov 03 2003

NEW DELHI (AP) - In a capital city where cows roam the streets and elephants plod along in the bus lanes, it's no surprise to find government buildings overrun with monkeys.

But the officials who work there are fed up. They've been bitten, robbed and otherwise tormented by monkeys that ransack files, bring down power lines, screech at visitors and bang on office windows.

[...] To no avail. Hindus believe that monkeys are manifestations of the monkey god, Hanuman, and worshippers come to Raisina Hill every Tuesday handing out bananas.

Last year the monkeys made their presence felt by hanging from window ledges and screeching at reporters arriving for a news conference with visiting U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Comment: Within two days of this event last year, the largest solar flare ever was recorded. Is it possible that the monkeys sense another explosion of some sort in the next few days?...

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