Wednesday, November 10, 2004
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Picture of the Day


Foreboding
©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

New York Times - Disinformation Central

November 10, 2004

Protecting the Islamic cultural center in Falluja was one the marine's objectives today.

Comment: Yesterday, the New York Times carried the above picture and comment as part of it's reporting on the US army's assault on the innocent people of Fallujah. Of course, we would all really love to believe that US forces in Iraq are genuinely acting in the interest of the Iraqi people and preserving "Islamic cultural centers" and the like.

Sadly, the facts simply do not bear out such a statement.

Standing four square with this report from the New York Times is a report that half of Fallujah's 150 Mosques have been destroyed. What are we to believe?

Standing four square with THAT report is a report from Yahoo News that bombs had been raining down "indiscriminately" on the city and people of Fallujah.

What are we to believe?

Logic forces us to conclude that, despite the best attempts of the New York Times and other similar publications to spin the truth on behalf of Dick Cheney, the US forces in Iraq do not have the best interests of the Iraqi people at heart, and protecting "Islamic cultural centers" is not part of the US military's plan for Fallujah. Any assertions to the contrary are simply war time propaganda and lies. You are all aware that traditionally in times of war governments deliberately tell lies, aren't you? Consider again the words of that great manipulator of public opinion Adolf Hitler as he wrote in "Mein Kampf":

"The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, because the vast masses of a nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad.

The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them more easy victims of a big lie than a small one, because they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell big ones.

Such a form of lying would never enter their heads. They would never credit others with the possibility of such great impudence as the complete reversal of facts. Even explanations would long leave them in doubt and hesitation, and any trifling reason would dispose them to accept a thing as true.

Something therefore always remains and sticks from the most imprudent of lies, a fact which all bodies and individuals concerned in the art of lying in this world know only too well, and therefore they stop at nothing to achieve this end."

Sobering words are they not? But then, they don't apply to America or Americans anyway, right? They are too smart to be taken in, right? Yes, Hitler too understood the value of an external threat as a way to galvanise the masses. He realised that by evoking notions of national pride and patriotism the people would be much more unlikely to ever think that they could be being deceived.

The type of "sound bite" (with accompanying image) that appeared in yesterday's NY Times serves well to programme the malleable minds of the masses with lies and disinformation. When offered a prepackaged predigested easy-to-swallow opinion, the people willingly partake of this "free lunch", given that in doing so they are saved the bother of having to prepare an opinion of their own based on their own analysis and research.

Needless to say, the media corporations like the New York Times understand this dynamic only too well and they deliberately bombard those foolish enough to turn on the news channel with an endless and repetitive slew of lies and propaganda, the nature of which depends on the nature of the lie that the government wants disseminated.

Sadly, most people seem to be unaware of the true extent of the corrupt nature of major media and therefore fail to understand the danger which exposure to repeated media lies poses to them. We know for a fact that there are literally millions of people in the US who could not point to Iraq on a map of the world and know nothing of the history of the Middle East, yet ask them what they think of the Iraq invasion and you will likely be treated to a very clear-cut and definitive statement on the matter.

The fact is that a person cannot continually expose themselves to and assimilate lies, even in the case that they are unaware that they are doing so, without becoming part of the entire deception machine itself. Lies need an audience to receive and perpetuate them, without this the lie cannot exist. To use an analogy - lies are like a seed people are like the soil. It is lies and their successful dissemination among populations that have permitted the gravest and most barbaric atrocities to be perpetrated throughout history. Today, it is lies and their successful dissemination throughout the American population that is facilitating the murder of hundreds of innocent men women and children in Fallujah and across Iraq.

Make no mistake, all those that buy into the lies of their leaders are directly responsible for the crimes committed by those same leaders.

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'Watching tragedy engulf my city'

BBC

US and Iraqi forces are locked in desperate street battles against insurgents in the Iraqi city of Falluja.

The BBC News website spoke by phone to Fadhil Badrani, a journalist in Falluja who reports for the BBC World Service in Arabic.

Iraqi man buries his brother in Falluja
I am surrounded by thick black smoke and the smell of burning oil.

There was a big explosion a few minutes ago and now I can hear gunfire.

A US armoured vehicle has been parked on the street outside my house in the centre of the city.

From my window, I can see US soldiers moving around on foot near it.

They tried to go from house to house but they kept coming under fire.

Now they are firing back at the houses, at anything that moves. It is war on the streets.

The American troops look like they have given up trying to go into buildings for now and are just trying to control the main roads.

I am sitting here on my own, watching tragedy engulf my city.

Looks like Kabul

I was with some of the Falluja fighters earlier. They looked tired - but their spirits were high and they were singing.

Local fighters have reportedly been joined by Iraqis from other cities
Recently, many Iraqis from other parts of the country have been joining the local men against the Americans.

No one has had much sleep in the past two days of heavy fighting and of course, it is still Ramadan, so no one eats during the day.

I cannot say how many people have been killed but after two days of bombing, this city looks like Kabul.

Large portions of it have been destroyed but it is so dangerous to leave the house that I have not been able to find out more about casualties.

Mosques silent

A medical dispensary in the city centre was bombed earlier.

I don't know what has happened to the doctors and patients who were there.

It was last place you could get medical attention because the big hospital on the outskirts of Falluja was captured by the Americans on Monday.

A lot of the mosques have also been bombed.

For the first time in Falluja, a city of 150 mosques, I did not hear a single call to prayer this morning.

I broke my Ramadan fast yesterday with the last of our food - two potatoes and two tomatoes.

The tomatoes were rotten because we have no electricity to run the fridge.

My neighbours - a woman and her children - came to see me yesterday. They asked me to tell the world what is happening here.

I look at the devastation around me and ask - why?

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'Scores of civilians' killed in Falluja

Tuesday 09 November 2004, 23:53 Makka Time, 20:53 GMT

Muhammad Abbud said he watched his nine-year-old son bleed to death at their Falluja home, unable to take him to hospital as fighting raged in the streets and bombs rained down on the Iraqi city.

In the midst of a US onslaught and hemmed in by a round-the-clock curfew, he said he had little choice but to bury his eldest son, Ghaith, in the garden.

"My son got shrapnel in his stomach when our house was hit at dawn, but we couldn't take him for treatment," said Abbud, a teacher. "We buried him in the garden because it was too dangerous to go out. We did not know how long the fighting would last."

Residents say scores of civilians have been killed or wounded in 24 hours of fighting since US-led forces pushed deep into the city on Monday evening.

Doctors said people brought in at least 15 dead civilians at the main clinic in Falluja on Monday. By Tuesday, there were no clinics open, residents said, and no way to count casualties.

Medical supplies low

US and Iraqi forces seized control of the city's main hospital, across the Euphrates river from Falluja proper, hours before the onslaught began.

Overnight US bombardments hit a clinic inside the Sunni Muslim city, killing doctors, nurses and patients, residents said. US military authorities denied the reports.

Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said troops detained 38 fighters entrenched at Falluja hospital and accused doctors there of exaggerating civilian casualties.

Sami al-Jumaili, a doctor at Falluja hospital, said the city was running out of medical supplies.

"There is not a single surgeon in Falluja. We had one ambulance hit by US fire and a doctor wounded. There are scores of injured civilians in their homes who we can't move," he said by telephone from a house where he had gone to help the wounded.

"A 13-year-old child just died in my hands."

ICRC voices concern

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Tuesday that it was extremely worried about the fate of people wounded in the battle for control of the Iraqi city of Falluja.

"The ICRC urges the belligerents to ensure that all those in need of such care - whether friend or foe - be given access to medical facilities and that medical personnel and vehicles can function without hindrance at all times," a statement said.

The organisation said it was "deeply concerned about reports that the injured cannot receive adequate medical care".

Families flee

Weekend air raids destroyed a clinic funded by an Islamic relief organisation in the centre of Falluja and a nearby warehouse used to store medical supplies, witnesses said.

Many families fled the city of 300,000 long before the offensive began. An official from a Sunni Muslim group with links to some fighters in Falluja said on Monday only about 60,000 people remained.

Residents say they have no power and are using kerosene lamps at night. They say they keep to ground floors for safety. Food shops have been closed for six days.

"My kids are hysterical with fear," said Farhan Salih. "They are traumatised by the sound but there is nowhere to take them."

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Monday he did not foresee large numbers of civilian casualties in the assault, saying US forces were disciplined and precise.

Those words were of little comfort to the Abbud family, sitting in a house damaged by the bomb that killed their child.

"We just bandaged his stomach and gave him water, but he was losing a lot of blood. He died this afternoon," said Abbud.

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Mosques bombed as fighting rages in Falluja

Wednesday 10 November 2004, 17:53 Makka Time, 14:53 GMT

Almost half of the mosques in the Iraqi town of Falluja have been destroyed, with US warplanes launching air strikes and fierce fighting on the ground continuing.

An Iraqi journalist told Aljazeera that US forces on Wednesday resumed attacks on the city, targeting Julan in the north-west to al-Jughaivi in the north-east.

Fadil al-Badrani said there are an estimated 120 mosques in the city.

"Almost half of the city's mosques have been destroyed after being targeted by US air and tank strikes," al-Badrani added.

Fierce clashes also erupted between armed fighters as the US forces thrust deeper into the city in the early hours, he said.

Machinegun, mortar and rocket fire shook the city as planes made several bombing runs over Julan district in the space of 15 minutes, a Reuters reporter said.

Smoke was rising from houses just beyond Falluja's captured rail station, where marines and Iraqi forces have a base.

Marines said their opponents showed no signs of giving up, even though US forces penetrated to the centre of the city, west of Baghdad, after an offensive launched on Monday night.

In-depth organisation

A tank platoon that moved along Falluja's main street saw fighters who had just come under mortar fire climb on to rooftops and fire rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and machineguns.

"There are lots of them. We took heavy fire," Gunnery Sergeant Ishmail Castillo told Reuters. "They opened up on my tank. They don't look like they are going to cave in."

Castillo said his tank had killed six fighters and that two marines were wounded in fighting. "One of the marines was hit in the head by RPG shrapnel," he said.

"They hit us from one area and then another right afterwards. There is in-depth organisation. There were small-arms attacks all night," he said.

Al-Badrani said US forces had taken some casualties. "Two US military tanks have been so far destroyed in Julan neighbourhood, where the most violent clashes are taking place," he said.

"Three US armoured vehicles have been also destroyed in other parts of the city. The clashes are very violent. Fighters have showed up from other neighbourhoods and streets the US forces are unfamiliar with.

"US forces entered central Falluja city at around 12:00 (Iraqi local time) but were fiercely attacked by the fighters," al-Badrani said.

"They withdrew from the area after half an hour, heading for their positions in the northern parts of the city," he added.

Residents told al-Badrani the crews of two US tanks deserted their vehicles in Julan, leaving them to be seized by fighters.

Explosions heard

Marine tanks that pushed through central Falluja on Tuesday night encountered stiff resistance.

The Pentagon said on Tuesday evening that at least 10 US and two Iraqi soldiers had died in the offensive unleashed by 10,000 US soldiers and marines and 2000 Iraqi troops.

US marines poured hundreds of rounds into rebel positions and blasted buildings with tank shells on Tuesday, but also took casualties, with bloodied troops stretchered away.

Explosions could be heard across Falluja after nightfall, but large-scale fighting appeared to have eased.

"I think we are looking at several more days of tough urban fighting," said the US commander in charge of day-to-day military operations in Iraq, Lieutenant-General Thomas Metz.

Children dying

The assault on Falluja, where residents say wounded children are dying from lack of medical help, food shops are closed and power is cut, angered Muslim clerics who urged Iraqis to boycott January elections seen as vital to peace.

Al-Badrani said many civilians had died in indiscriminate bombing of the city and people had resorted to burying their dead in gardens. Many houses have been destroyed.

Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, who on Tuesday imposed a night curfew on Baghdad for an indefinite period, got a personal taste of the clerics' anger at a Ramadan iftar meal the same day.

"You have to stop fighting for four or five hours," Adnan al-Dulaimi, a Sunni official in the Religious Affairs Ministry, told Allawi before the evening meal, a pool reporter said.

"There are a lot of injured that have to be taken care of. Give them time to rescue the injured. There are civilians getting killed in Falluja. You are responsible for their lives in front of God," Dulaimi declared.

"As you know, we tried every alternative before resorting to military force," Allawi replied. "We have nothing against the civilians of Falluja ... . They are the sons of this country."

Boycott call

In a move that could potentially undermine the 27 January polls, the Sunni body, the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS), urged a boycott.

"The clerics call on the ... people of Iraq to boycott the coming elections that they want to hold on the remains of the dead and the blood of the wounded from Iraqi cities like Falluja and others," Harith al-Dhari, its top official, said.

Residents say scores of civilians died and for those struggling to live in the city, life is grim.

Many of the city's 300,000 people had fled to escape air strikes and artillery bombardments preceding the assault. The US military said about 150,000 residents had left.

Those left behind say they have no power and use kerosene lamps. They keep to ground floors for safety, some living in shattered homes because it is too dangerous to move.

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'Body parts everywhere' in Fallujah
Posted Tue, 09 Nov 2004

"Body parts everywhere!" cries a US soldier as a shell crashes onto a group of suspected rebels in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, where a punishing torrent of firepower thundered down on Tuesday.

More than 500 rounds of 155-millimetre Howitzer cannon shells have been fired on the besieged Sunni stronghold west of Baghdad since a US-Iraqi offensive to take control of the city started on Monday evening, said Sergeant Michael Hamby.

Using a global positioning system, each shell is precision aimed and fired at insurgent spots, while unmanned reconnaisance aircraft check whether the target was hit and feed back the information, Hamby told AFP.

Unconfirmed estimates suggest that as many as 100†000 residents of Fallujah could still be inside the city.

In the northwestern Jolan neighbourhood alone - branded the hotbed of insurgent activity in Fallujah - US forces unleashed more than 20 air strikes and some 60 artillery rounds on Monday, said Major Todd Desgrosseilliers.

"We probably had 20-to-30 air strikes in the Jolan and probably two-to-three times that in artillery missions," he said.

Attack helicopters swooped overhead, dropping flares on buildings from where the muzzle of insurgent rocket heads jutted out.

"Nothing is being indiscriminately fired at. These are spots where they (militants) are either getting ready to fight or already are," the major said.

Further demonstrating its superior firepower, the military said it fired an air-to-surface missile on a suspected insurgent building in Fallujah on Monday.

"The building was destroyed and enemy fire ceased," it said in a statement.

Casualty figures were unavailable from Fallujah, where estimates for the number of its 300†000-strong population who fled ahead of the long-threatened assault vary widely from 20 to 90 percent.
US warplanes pounded suspected rebel targets in the city over the past few weeks with air strikes on a daily basis in the build-up to the assault.

An AFP reporter in the Jolan district said one building in every 10 had been flattened. As US-led troops closed in on the neighbourhood overnight, at least four 900-kilogram bombs were dropped in the city's northwest.

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The Fire is Spreading…
November 09, 2004

The blasts of mortars exploding in the so-called "Green Zone" are thumping out my window as I type tonight. The blades of military helicopters chop the air as they circle above the area looking for, well, looking for something.

"I know what they are doing to us-they are putting is in a big jail. First they close the borders with Syria and now Jordan, so we are trapped in Iraq," says Salam. "Now they put a curfew on Baghdad. This is the first. The second is that the highway bridge connecting us to the west of Baghdad is bombed. Another bridge that leads to the south (Kerbala, Hilla, Najaf) was bombed. And now the other highway south to Amara, Nasiriya and Basra is blocked."

"So all they have left to close is the highway to Diala…when that last one is closed, we are locked in to Baghdad," explains Salam, his face stoic but concerned, "We are in. This is our life here man."

Iraqi Secretary of Defense, Hassim al-Sha'alan, today announced to al-Arabia television that the resistance is organized and they have already prepared to fight in other places. So the fighting in Falluja will not end when the Americans take the city. The fighting will begin in other places like Baghdad, Baquba, Latifiya, Ramadi, Samarra, Khaldiya, Kirkuk and elsewhere.

Thus, the word on the street that the resistance was mostly out of Falluja prior to this battle is verified by the Iraqi Minister of Defense himself. The fire had begun to spread long before the current onslaught of Falluja.

Salam has a friend who just came from Baquba and said that the resistance came to the police station and told them to leave because they would be bombing the station. This policemen who left said he watched the resistance bomb the station. At least 25 policemen have been killed there, between two stations that were bombed.

In Kirkuk, the retaliatory strikes by the resistance for what is happening in Falluja have commenced as well. A suicide bomber detonated his car at a base for Iraqi National Guard, killing at least 1 national guard member and 2 civilians.

Of course the random gun battles and retaliation is ongoing in Baghdad. The so-called "Green Zone" continues to take mortars. This has been going on sporadically throughout the day, but is consistent now…the whumping explosions are incessant, even with choppers circling about overhead.

Also today, two churches in Al-Dora were destroyed by car bombs which detonated 5 minutes apart. When the injured and dead were taken from the scenes to Yarmouk Hospital, the hospital was car bombed. At least 8 people died it the hospital car bombing.

"We are looking at this just as numbers," says Salam with a deep breath, "But this is 8 families. This is 8 families that are suffering now."

5 policemen were killed in Al-Dora as well-not by car bomb, but by fighting with the resistance.

The growing fire of resistance has spread into the political realm in Iraq as well. The Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) has called upon people not to vote in the upcoming election.

Dr. Harith al-Dhari, the secretary-general of the AMS, openly supports the Iraqi resistance to the occupation and has from the beginning. "We have said we support the resistance since the occupation of this country began," he said today, "This is our right as Iraqis. Therefore, we don't need a fatwa on this issue as this matter is clear."

Also today, a major Sunni political party, the Iraqi Islamic Party, has withdrawn from the Iraqi Interim Government. "We are protesting the attack on Falluja and the injustice that is inflicted on the innocent people of the city," said Abd al-Hamid, "We cannot be part of this attack."

Abu Talat called and told me of the curfew now in Baghdad. We have to be off the streets by 9:30 pm or we will be shot on sight.
"You know Dahr, I used to stay out until 3am. Now this is our life," says Abu Talat. He is enraged. "This is some kind of freedom. Thank you, George Bush. This is our life."

Everyone is nervous on the streets in Baghdad tonight. Every car left unattended is suspected as a car bomb.

Another man I met with today, Haythem, expressed his feelings about the occupation, Falluja, and the martial law.

"Iraq is pregnant with an American fetus," he pauses for emphasis and says, "And we need birth control pills." He sits for a moment, and after making a toast with a soft drink adds, "Long life to Falluja."

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God's Holy Warriors
Don Nash
11/10/04 ICH"

-- Let me be perfectly clear, there were no weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq. There was no imminent 45 minute threat to the United States of America or to any other nation on the planet. Bush's preemptive war on Iraqi continues for only one reason and that is to murder Iraqis. The new interim Prime Minister of Iraq, Iyad Allawi issued the order for martial law to be imposed on all of Iraq so, there goes the wondrous Bush experiment in giving the Iraqi people democracy. The north of Iraq that is controlled by the Kurds is exempt from Allawi's martial law order. Why would that be? Is Allawi concerned about upsetting Turkey? I found the Kurdish exemption to be curious in the very least. 

The assault on Fallujah has been under way since four or was it five, American mercenaries were assassinated in Fallujah. America will extract it's revenge on the residents of Fallujah and pacification is mere pretext and cover for the real plan of the U. S. government and that is the complete destruction and razing of Fallujah. How dare those nasty insurgents kill four American mercenaries. America is going to show those Iraqis and insurgents just exactly who is boss and competent killer supreme. The American military has now killed in excess of 100,000 innocent Iraqis and the number escalates every day. The United States military isn't fighting Saddam Hussein's army, that was over in about three weeks way back in April of 2003. George W. Genocide proclaimed proudly from the deck of a Navy aircraft carrier, "mission accomplished" and the hostilities were over. Right, tell that to the Iraqi people that are being brutally butchered in Iraq right this very minute.

The Iraq preemption is a "holy crusade" and we'll take the word of one U.S. Marine Corp Lieutenant Gareth Brandl. I distinctly remember prior to Bush's preemption of Iraq, Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Iraq had forty five minute threats that were ever so scary and nuclear intentions to cause our President George W. Genocide worlds of trouble. President George W. Genocide, Vice-President Dick Genocide Cheney, Secretary of State General Colin Genocide Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald Genocide Rumsfeld, National Security Director for Genocide Condoleeza Rice, Paul Genocide Wolfowitz, Scooter Genocide Libby, the Reverend Genocide Jerry Falwell, the Reverend Pat Genocide Robertson, the Wall Street Journal of Genocide, the New York Times for Genocide, and all to a man/woman stated categorically, "hell yes Iraq and Saddam Hussein are a very real threat to America and MUST be preempted!"

Now we discover that all along, the war on Iraq was just a crusade? Shades of General Jerry Jesus Boykin, is it constitutional to wage a war, preemptive or otherwise for God? Does God really give two figs whether a war or any war should be preemptive or just aggravated aggression? Granted, these are some very pressing theological questions and these questions deserve a deep and well reasoned answer. Maybe we should go and ask the Pope. I recall that the Pope issued a Papal encyclical decrying the Iraq war and the preemption question was deemed to be irrelevant by his Holiness.

I need to ask our brave Lieutenant Colonel Gareth Brandl, what weapons are you going to use and direct at Satan? Does an all out frontal assault on Satan preclude that it is already a given that Fallujah is militarily considered to be the gates of hell? Will standard military and Marine Corp weapons issue, be an appropriate enough response for use on Satan? Were tactical nuclear battlefield weapons considered at any time as a possible armament for use against Satan? Does the military's admission that the enemy is indeed Satan, now qualify the military's assessment of the residents of Fallujah, to be considered satanic and collateral damage would then be of no consequence?

My dear Lieutenant Colonel Brandl, I understand your desire to give your troops the old pre-invasion pep talk. Did you take any time to spend on the intricacies of making a last will and testament? Did you explain to the boys that are going to die in this Fallujah insanity, that this is all for nothing? No threats, no w.m.d.'s, no Iraqi democracy, no rational reason for President George W. Genocide to issue the preemption order in the first place, and that these brave young souls are dying for political deceit?

So many freaking and troubling questions. Here is one that is probably just a snudge off track, was the presidential election of 2004 just a rigged affair? How would one ascertain an answer to the question...an honest and factual answer. Is the President of the United States of America George W. Genocide, insane? I would be referring to a certification of authenticity that would/should come from a board certified psychiatrist. Is the preemptive war on Iraq, to be considered some kind of retributive payback for the failure of Vietnam? Realistically, there are an amazing number of similarities between Vietnam and the preemptive atrocity that is Iraq. When is genocide actually qualified by the United Nations High Commission on Qualifying Genocide, as being genocide? Is there an official United Nations commissioner that determines when genocide is indeed, genocide? Isn't there something wrong with our world when such a question needs to be asked?

What in the hell was Lieutenant Colonel Gareth Brandl thinking when he made his now infamous remark about Satan being the focus of the assault on Fallujah? I understand the psychology of reducing the enemy to a mere pile of human meat that is only fit for slaughter. It relieves the guilt...or so all the official military authorities maintain. I find the premise to be condescending swill that is unworthy of an Arkansas pig trough. I mean no offense to Arkansas pigs or the troughs they might eat from. The statement is metaphor. George W. Genocide's preemptive war on Iraq has turned into a nightmarish swamp of no return, especially for the fine young American service personnel that are following the orders given by their military commanders. Thus, America finds itself in one colossal moral quandary. President Genocide's preemptive war is illegal, immoral, and outright deceit. The President has placed our nations military into an illegal category that now qualifies as war crimes and crimes against humanity. President George W. Genocide has played the religion card and unmercifully dragged the religious into the equation. Major media concerns are portraying the religious as "in support" of the Genocide agenda and therefore, moral responsibility falls on the Christian right wing, America in general, and the U.S. military. The government of President George W. Genocide was implicated from the beginning. Lieutenant Colonels in the U.S. Marine Corp have become so caught up in the Iraq insanity, they are grasping at straws and the invocation of incarnate evil spirits to justify the guilt that is swallowing their souls like sushi treats at a cocktail party. Our predicament as a nation qualifies the U.S. as having truly hit the skids.

The United States of America is fully qualified to be historically remembered as being at least on par with Nazi Germany. Illegal preemptive wars that are started using deceit as the premise, thus qualifies our nation for the designation. Any David Brooks assertion that the reasons for the war are now irrelevant as "Saddam Hussein was an evil man and is no longer in power", would be disingenuous and laughable. 

President George W. Genocide is celebrating an upcoming spending spree where Genocide will be able to spend his "political capital" granted him by the American people. Our President should consider the possibility that he maybe should go shopping for a half decent international lawyer. President George W. Genocide is going to need one. 

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Fallujah 'like hell' as US blazes in
irishexaminer

The skies over Fallujah lit up from the flashes of air and artillery barrages as US troops launched an offensive to seize key insurgent strongholds in a city that became the major sanctuary for Islamic extremists who fought Marines to a standstill last April.

Heavy firing continued into the pre-dawn hours today, and residents reached by satellite telephone reported the constant drone of warplanes overhead.

As night fell a civilian living in the centre of Fallujah said hundreds of houses had been destroyed.

"Every minute, hundreds of bombs and shells are exploding," Fadril al-Badrani said in an interview. "The north of the city is in flames. I can also see fire and smoke … Fallujah has become like hell."

A US military spokesman estimated that 42 insurgents were killed across the city in bombardment and skirmishes before the main assault began yesterday. Two marines were killed when their bulldozer flipped over into the Euphrates near Fallujah.

Hours after starting the offensive, US tanks and Humvees from the 1st Infantry Division entered the north-eastern Askari neighbourhood, the first ground assault into an insurgent bastion.

In the north-western area of the city, US troops advanced slowly after dusk on the Jolan neighbourhood, a warren of alleyways where Sunni militants have dug in. Some were inside by dawn today.

US troops cut off electricity to the city, and most private generators were not working – either because their owners wanted to conserve fuel or the wires had been damaged by explosions.

Residents said they were without running water and were worried about food shortages because most shops in the city have been closed for the past two days.

Masked insurgents roamed Fallujah streets throughout the day. One group of four fighters, two of them draped with belts of ammunition, moved through narrow passageways, firing on US forces with small arms and mortars. Mosque loudspeakers blared: "God is great, God is great."

The top US commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, predicted a "major confrontation" in the operation he said was called "al-Fajr", Arabic for "dawn".

He told reporters in Washington that 10,000 to 15,000 US troops along with a smaller number of Iraqi forces were encircling the city.

The offensive is considered the most important military effort to re-establish control over Sunni strongholds west of Baghdad before elections in January.

"One part of the country cannot remain under the rule of assassins … and the remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime," US Defence Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said.

He predicted "there aren't going be large numbers of civilians killed and certainly not by US forces."

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Urban Warfare Deals Harsh Challenge to Troops
By DEXTER FILKINS
Published: November 9, 2004

FALLUJA, Iraq, Nov. 8 - The two marines were pinned down on a roof on Monday, pressing themselves against a low, crumbling wall as insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades at them from a building near the middle of town.

Hours before, they had clambered over a railroad embankment - a berm, to the engineering-minded - and started their advance into this rebel-held city.

Commanders called in artillery fire on the building where the grenades were emerging, their tails spitting and glowing like sparklers across the sky. But the artillery only flattened the building next door to the one occupied by the insurgents.

"This is crazy," one of the marines said. "Yeah," his buddy said, "and we've only taken one house."

This is urban warfare, where the technological advantages of the American military can be nullified, at least for a few terrifying hours, by a few determined fighters in a warehouse or an abandoned home.

During the night, the insurgents fired off brilliant red and blue flares, blinding the Americans' sensitive night-vision equipment, and slipped quickly from house to house in hopes of confusing the artillery spotters.

For hours, they succeeded, pinning down perhaps 150 marines led by Capt. Read Omohundro, a strapping graduate of Texas A&M who has a habit of walking around upright during bursts of mortar and grenade fire while everyone else is hugging an outcropping of concrete.

Even the captain concedes that this is nothing like a fight in the open desert, where the Americans are always fated to win, quickly. "The challenge is that the battlefield is three-dimensional," he said. "Not only do you have to look in front of you and behind you, but also above you and below you, even subterranean.''

This night would become a textbook illustration of those complexities. Captain Omohundro's unit started rolling toward the berm in armored personnel carriers from an encampment about a mile north about 7 p.m. He was supposed to meet up there with another outfit, but it had gotten lost.

Finally he found it, and his men started their part of the invasion by firing a 200-yard cord containing 1,800 pounds of explosive southward from the berm, toward downtown Falluja. The marines worried that their way into the city had been mined. But when the charge exploded, it also set off any mines in a narrow path around it.

That tactic worked, but when the marines climbed the berm in pitch blackness and went over, they discovered rocky ground with rusty junk littering the way - a typical railroad district on the edge of town. They worked their way toward their first objectives, a small traffic circle, and beyond that, the first buildings of the city.

But the marines were getting shelled even before they went over the berm. The area exploded with sporadic gunfire, rocket-propelled grenade rounds and mortars. The advance bogged down as spotters tried to locate pockets of insurgents and wipe them out with the big guns.

For a time, this frightening urban battlefield became a pulsing cacophony of strange and deadly sounds. The mosques in the city broadcast calls to jihad through their speakers. F-18's fired 3,000 rounds a minute in bursts that sounded oddly like burps. AC-130 gunships droned overhead, their big cannons going thunk, thunk as they found targets.

Perhaps strangest of all, the American troops brought in their own "psyops" trucks - for psychological operations - and blared sounds that created a nightmarish duet with the mosques: old AC/DC songs, something that sounded like a sonar ping, the cavalry charge.

Captain Omohundro did not like sitting still in this theater of doom, and for good reason. "My biggest fear is staying in the same place for too long," he said. "Then they'll pinpoint us and start firing."

Eventually the artillery found the house that had been spitting the grenades and flattened that one, too. An AC-130 passed overhead but decided that the threat had been annihilated along with the building.

Then the shooting started again, from some other window among the cracked streets and twisted alleyways of Falluja.

Comment: The U.S. marines will benefit from lots of practice in the art of urban warfare, as someday soon they will be needed to use these tactics against their own citizens when martial law is declared in America.

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The Satanic Christians of the USA
11/08/2004 12:08

Which Bible do they bash? Not mine

Between a cult of Satanic devil-worshippers and a group of Christians, which of the two would condone an act of mass murder, torture, rape, destruction of homes, wanton vandalism and acts of terrorism? The former, or the latter?

Anywhere else in the world, it would be considered that only those who walk in legion with Satan would or could support such shocking acts of butchery. Not so in the USA apparently, where the so-called Christian Fundamentalists handed George Bush the presidency on a silver platter, complete with a pat on the back and a reassuring wink. More of the same, George, more of the same.

However, what "Christians" are these and whose Bible are they bashing?

Christianity stands for the values preached by Jesus Christ, which, like other main religions, are based upon the principles of peace, love, tolerance, dialogue and fundamentally, the respect for life, property and the basic laws which govern mankind. The main religions are guardians of the unwritten bond which defines human decency and that which is considered as unacceptable. [...]

Yet today, two thousand years after the Passion of Christ and fifteen hundred years after the death of Muhammed, we continue to see acts of depravity and blasphemy justified under religious banners on a scale as primary and warped as that used five hundred years ago by the Inquisition.

One such example was the blasphemy of the Taleban regime, which usurped the Noble Qu'ran and substituted its core message with a mixture of Pashtun lore and extremist Islamist law. The result: an insult and a direct attack against Islam itself. Similarly, the so-called Christian Fundamentalists in the United States of America, whose warped and blasphemic view of their religion supports the acts of the Bush regime.

The Christian Fundamentalists of America are the mirror image of the Taleban, both of which insult and deny their Gods.

How can any Christian, in whatever shape or form, support an act of murder, much less mass murder? How can any Christian turn a blind eye to acts of torture? How can any Christian accept an act of rape? Did these fundamentalist Christians in the USA know when they voted for Bush that a substantial number of sisters, wives and mothers of men wanted by the USA in Iraq were raped in custody and rather than abort or face the humility of their condition, meted out by the soldiers of Bush, preferred to commit suicide?

Did these Fundamentalist Christians know that Bush's military forces targeted civilian infra-structures so that rebuilding contracts worth billions of dollars could be handed to Cheney's friends at Halliburton without even the decency of a tender?

In targeting civilian infra-structures, we are speaking about power plants, which keep babies alive in winter, we are speaking about water supply systems, we are speaking about electricity units, we are speaking about schools, we are speaking about hospitals.

Where in the Christian faith does it state that it is acceptable to destroy such structures? Where in the Christian religion does it state that a soldier should open fire on civilians, including children, yelling "Burn, you mother-f.. Burn"?

Where in the Christian religion is it stated that a soldier can stick his automatic weapon in the face of a frightened six-year-old boy and scream: "Get ya f. hands up, now?"

No, it is no good to simply deny everything and turn to the cross. Such instances are documented and recorded. They happened and continue to happen and will continue to happen, so long as Bush and his evil regime, which hoodwinked their people with ludicrous tales of fear, which made fools out of America's good people with their lies, continues in power. The good Christians of the United States of America have just given a four-year lease of life to this Satanistic regime.

As everyone now knows and as George Bush himself now admits, Iraq and 9/11 were unconnected, wholly and totally unconnected. Saddam Hussein is not Bin Laden, indeed they hate each other and Islamism detests Saddam Hussein as being not Islamist enough. Therefore any connection between Islamist terrorism and Iraq is in plain English, and I apologize, bullshit.

Yet this bullshit sees US troops, every day, slaughtering Iraqis, including women and children and let it be said that if any Iraqi men are resisting this illegal invasion (which breaks the UN Charter and also breached the Geneva Convention, on many counts), are only doing what any patriotic US citizen would do if his country was invaded.

Therefore every time that the Christian Fundamentalists of America enter into a Church and are faced by a barrage of blasphemy connecting Christ or Christianity to Bush, may they choke on the Host if they believe it.

The Christian Fundamentalists of the United States of America are, at best, a well-meaning slice of the population which allowed itself to be misled and deceived by its collective ignorance and bloody-mindedness. At worst, they are a gullible clique of sniveling sycophants who cow-tow to authority, whatever it is and whatever its precepts, listening blindly to the criminals who burn their money every month in acts of depravity, the hard-earned money which they donate to their "churches", so often controlled by masters of mass hysteria who once again have mastered the gift of mixing religion and politics.

The Christian religion has nothing to do with what Bush is doing abroad. The Christian religion never did, does not and never will, condone acts of murder, condone acts of torture, condone acts of rape, condone invasion of property, condone acts of disrespect for human life.

Iraq is not about 9/11, it is about oil and a geo-strategic position because Saudi Arabia is becoming too unstable. Afghanistan was not about bin Laden, it was about the pipeline for gas from Turkmenistan and Iran is (or will be) about the connectivity of the oil and gas pipelines, greatly benefiting the corporate elite which gravitates around the White House, in the figures of Messrs. Cheney and Rumsfeld.

Those who wish to disbelieve and cocoon themselves in a nice, cozy, protective environment, believing that Mr. President knows what he is doing, will soon see the errors in their judgement. Mr. President, in this case, does what he is told.

And the forces behind Mr. President are not Christian or Islamic or anything else remotely religious. They are guided by greed, by the lust and thirst and quest for power, in short, they are guided by the precepts upon which Satan acts and they are wily enough to have duped the good Christians of the United States of America hook, line and sinker.

They have taken these good people, they have insulted their beliefs and they have manipulated them, through fear.

To conclude, a message from my friend of 26 years, Ali, who I spent three years with at University, whose son Rashid, six years old, was in Baghdad in the opening days of George Bush's Shock and Awe campaign.

He told me, among many tears staining the writing paper, that his son Rashid had been killed as he stayed with his grandparents in Baghdad, at the beginning of the horrific bombing campaign unleashed by the Bush regime, supported by the fundamentalist Christians of the USA.

He had been found by his grandmother in the ruins of her home, with a gaping hole in his abdomen through which blood and faeces seeped. Knowing his condition, he bravely looked into his grandmother's eyes and said: "Grandmother, please tell daddy that I was brave and didn't cry".

Then he died. Six years old.

How can any Christian anywhere on earth say that he supports such Satanistic acts of depravity? These are not the soldiers of Christ. They are the legions of Baal. And the Christian Fundamentalists of the United States of America, in voting in favour of the regime which perpetrated these evil actions, are as guilty as the demons which performed them.

Call yourselves anything you like, but do not insult Christianity and please do not insult the Christians who respect the fundamental principles of the religion, by calling yourselves Christians. Instead, call yourselves a cult of Satan worshippers, or the like.

And be ashamed of what you have done, namely supporting a regime of mass murderers and war criminals.

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Ashcroft, Evans quit Bush administration
AFP
November 10, 2004

WASHINGTON - US Attorney General John Ashcroft and Commerce Secretary Don Evans have resigned their posts, kicking off a series of cabinet changes in the White House after President George W. Bush won his second, four-year term in office last week.

The White House said Bush on Tuesday had accepted both resignations. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said it was not yet clear who would replace Ashcroft, 62, and Evans, 58.

Political observers have named former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, who if tapped would become the first African-American to head up US law enforcement, as possible replacements for Ashcroft.

Cabinet overhauls are common features of presidential second terms, and several other high-profile departures were expected -- including that of Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The New York Times on Wednesday said Treasury Secretary John Snow would probably step down within the next six months to a year, and White House National Economic Council director Stephen Friedman was also under consideration to replace Robert Zoellick as US trade representative.

"I believe that the Department of Justice would be well served by new leadership and fresh inspiration. I believe that my energies and talents should be directed toward other challenging horizons," Ashcroft wrote Bush.

"While the promise of your second term shines bright, I have concluded with deep regret that it is time for me to return home," to Texas, said Evans, one of Bush's oldest and closest friends.

Evans and Ashcroft were no strangers to controversy: The commerce secretary drew fire for suggesting that job losses on Bush's watch were a myth, while the attorney general, a deeply religious conservative, was a perpetual lightning rod for opposition Democrats.

Some critics assailed Ashcroft over the Patriot Act, legislation that broadened law enforcement powers after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, saying it did so at the expense of civil liberties.

"John Ashcroft has worked tirelessly to help make our country safer," Bush said in a statement released by the White House.

"During his four years at the Department of Justice, John has transformed the Department to make combating terrorism the top priority," he said.

In an implicit knock at critics, Ashcroft wrote in his resignation letter that "Americans have been spared the violence and savagery of terrorist attack on our soil since September 11, 2001."

And the former senator also celebrated that: "During the last four years, our violent crime rate has plunged to a 30-year low."

However, Ashcroft said in a letter to department employees that it "would be the height of arrogance to assume we achieved this alone."

"The Psalms remind us: 'Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stands guard in vain'."

"I express my gratitude to God for the each day the sun rises on a free and safe America," the devout Ashcroft wrote.

The American Civil Liberties Union, in a statement, described Ashcroft as "one of the most divisive forces in the entire Bush administration," whose legacy has been "an open hostility to protecting civil liberties and an outright disdain for those who dare question his policies."

More than the mere replacement of Ashcroft, the rights group urged a "wholesale reexamination of the Justice Department policies that trample on civil liberties and human rights." [...]

Comment: It is obvious that Ashcroft, like Bush, cannot separate his governmental duties from his religious beliefs. Ashcroft was doing the Lord's work, just like Bush believes he has a hotline to the Almighty. These are the type of religious fanatics who have been running the show in the US for the past four years, and who will be running things for the next four years - and maybe even longer.

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Gonzales to Succeed Ashcroft, Sources Say
By SCOTT LINDLAW, Associated Press Writer
November 10, 2004

WASHINGTON - President Bush has chosen White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, a Texas confidant and one of the most prominent Hispanics in the administration, to succeed Attorney General John Ashcroft, sources close to the White House said Wednesday.

Ashcroft announced his resignation on Tuesday, along with Commerce Secretary Don Evans, a Texas friend of the president's.

After a National Security Council meeting, Bush was sitting down Wednesday with Secretary of State Colin Powell, another figure being closely watched for signs of whether he will stay or go. Powell has been largely noncommital when asked about his plans.

Gonzales, 49, has long been rumored as a leading candidate for a Supreme Court vacancy if one develops. Speculation increased after Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist announced he has thyroid cancer.

Gonzales' career has been linked with Bush for at least a decade, serving as general counsel when Bush was governor of Texas, and then as secretary of state and as a justice on the Texas Supreme Court.

Gonzales has been at the center of developing Bush's positions on balancing civil liberties with waging the war on terrorism — opening the White House counsel to the same line of criticism that has dogged Ashcroft.

For instance, Gonzales publicly defended the administration's policy — essentially repudiated by the Supreme Court and now being fought out in the lower courts — of detaining certain terrorism suspects for extended periods without access to lawyers or courts.

He also wrote a controversial February 2002 memo in which Bush claimed the right to waive anti-torture law and international treaties providing protections to prisoners of war. That position drew fire from human rights groups, which said it helped led to the type of abuses uncovered in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

Some conservatives also have quietly questioned Gonzales' credentials on core social issues. And he once was a partner in a Houston law firm which represented the scandal-ridden energy giant Enron.

Comment: Great! A new US Attorney General who is gung ho on eliminating civil liberties and using torture...

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All the makings of a war crime - with Australia silently onside
Tony Kevin
November 9, 2004

A US-led attack on the Iraqi Sunni-stronghold will breach the Geneva conventions, writes Tony Kevin.

We need to be clear on what is about to happen in the Iraqi city of Falluja, about 64 kilometres west of Baghdad and a key centre of Sunni population in Iraq. This city has for many months held out as a centre of Sunni-based political-military resistance, refusing to accept the authority either of the former US-led occupying authority nor, since July, of the interim Iraqi administration led by the Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi.

Falluja is now to be brought to heel by overwhelming military power. As I write this, the US attack on the city has begun. The message to Falluja from the US armed forces in Iraq and from Allawi was brutally simple: submit now to Baghdad's authority or face attack.

It is still possible that resistance in Falluja will melt away in the face of US attack. While this would be a more optimistic scenario, I think it more likely at this point that the insurgents will fight, because too much is at stake politically for them to accept a bloodless Allawi victory. I look here at the - in my judgement, now more likely - scenario that Falluja insurgents will dig in and defy the invasion force.

What I believe is then likely to be done to Falluja will be a war crime and crime against humanity, morally indefensible by any civilised standard or for that matter, by the Statute of the International Criminal Court (to which, conveniently, neither the US nor Iraqi Government adheres).

This will be no neat, surgical strike. To get the measure of this, think of the Warsaw rising in 1944, or the Russian Army's destruction of the Chechen capital, Grozny. In 1999 this already battered city (of originally 400,000 people) was finally destroyed by massive Russian bombardment. Today, insurgents still fight it out with Russian troops among the ruins.

Eighteen months ago, before the US-led invasion of Iraq, Falluja was a living city of 300,000 people. Now - depopulated of most of its civilians by intimidation and fear - what is left looks like it is about to be blasted out of existence, simply as a demonstration of overwhelming US power in Iraq.

Of course, the US Army has been for weeks "humanely" encouraging women and children to leave the encircled city through checkpoints while there is still time to save their lives.

The Russians did the same before and during the destruction of Grozny. In a few days, as the battle and the flight of civilians expands, there may be tens of thousands of new refugees in tent cities, and tens of thousands of women left without husbands, and children left without fathers.

If this attack goes ahead as appears inevitable, it will obviously breach the laws of war and the Geneva conventions. First, it will grossly exceed proportionality in terms of ends and means. What intended political or military objective could justify so much death, the creation of so many new refugees, and wholesale destruction of homes?

What threat does the city of Falluja pose to the Iraqi state at this point? Allawi has claimed that free elections cannot take place unless Falluja is subdued. What a spurious argument.

The truth is that this city, which has become a symbol of Sunni-Iraqi political resistance to the occupiers, is to be made an example of, to deter others. The message the siege of Falluja sends is brutally simple: resist us and we will destroy you. It is the same message that the Wehrmacht sent in Warsaw in 1944, and the Russian Army in Grozny in 1999.

This attack will also violate the rules of war and the Geneva conventions in having grossly indiscriminate effects on civilians and civilian homes and infrastructure. America's largely untrained in battle but over-armed forces will start their attack "humanely", but as they inevitably take numbers of lethal casualties, their tactics will quickly escalate to indiscriminate bombing and shelling of the city using their WMD armouries.

Eventually, the attackers will flatten the city and kill everyone that still resists in it. Falluja will be the Iraqi people's Masada, and it will sow seeds of deep anti-Western hatred in the Middle East for decades to come.

The UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, understands all this, in pleading for a negotiated solution. And as usual, Washington is summarily ignoring his pleas.

As a military ally with our troops in Iraq, Australia is morally implicated in this. While Australian former SAS commanders, the Governor-General, Major-General Michael Jeffery, and the Australian Christian Lobby's executive chairman, Brigadier Jim Wallace, moralise about abortions and gay marriages, Australia's military ally is about to destroy a living city and its families.

An unnamed US military commander in the tightening military ring around Falluja proudly boasted (as heard on ABC Radio yesterday) that this battle will go down in US military history as another Hue. Indeed it will - who can forget the wholesale artillery destruction of that sacred, historic Vietnamese city? "We had to destroy it in order to save it" was the line at the time. Now it looks like our military ally in Iraq is about to do it all over again in Falluja.

What are Australian political leaders - Government or Opposition - saying to Washington at this point? Are they saying anything at all? We reap what we sow.

Tony Kevin, a former Australian diplomat, is a visiting fellow at the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, Canberra.

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Crushing Fallujah Will Not End the Iraq War

Likely to Prove as Disappointing to US as the Capture of Saddam

By PATRICK COCKBURN
November 9, 2004

The belligerent trumpetings of the US Marines bode ill for Fallujah. Sgt Major Carlton W Kent, the senior enlisted marine in Iraq, told troops that the battle would be no different from Iwo Jima. In an analogy the Pentagon may not relish, he recalled the Tet offensive in Vietnam in 1968 and added: "This is another Hue city."

American voters last week never seemed to take on board the extent of the US military failure in Iraq. The rebel control of Fallujah, half an hour's drive from Baghdad, was the most evident symbol of this. It was as if a British government in London had been forced to watch as an enemy force occupied Reading for six months.

The US army ceded control of much of western Iraq during the Sunni uprising last April. Its failure to recover fully from this setback underlines the extent to which the US as a military power has proved itself much weaker than the rest of the world had assumed before the invasion of Iraq last year.

There is no doubt that the US can recapture Fallujah, if only by blowing most of it up. But this is unlikely to have much of an effect on the guerrilla war in central and northern Iraq which continues to escalate. It is still unclear how far the rebels will stand and fight against the massed firepower of the marines and the US air force. They know they are far more effective in launching pin-prick attacks with roadside bombs and suicide bombers.

The recapture of Fallujah is likely to be as disappointing in terms of ending the resistance as was the capture of Saddam Hussein last December or the hand-over of sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government at the end of June. Each event was billed as a success which would tip the balance towards the US. Instead the fighting got bloodier and more widespread.

There should be no mystery about why this is happening. All countries object to being occupied. Foreign invasions provoke nationalist resistance. This has happened with extraordinary speed in Iraq because of the ineptitude of the US civil and military commanders, but in the long term it would have happened anyway.

The US in Iraq has always behaved as if the resistance was fomented by foreign powers or adherents of Saddam Hussein. A lesson of the ground war last year was that few Iraqis were prepared to get killed for their old leader. Earlier this year I asked American helicopter pilots operating from a base near Fallujah whom they thought they were fighting. They said firmly that they were at war with "FFs" and "FRLs". These turned out to be Foreign Fighters and Former Regime Loyalists. One of the pilots added nervously that there seemed to be a third somewhat shadowy group "who want us to go home".

The US and the British are trying to seize Fallujah and the central Euphrates cities . These may have been the original heartlands of the rebellion, but today there are guerrilla attacks in every Sunni region in Iraq. US and interim government control of Baghdad is limited.

One of the strangest justifications for the attack on Fallujah is that it will allow an election to take place. This would only be true if the Sunni rebellion was a mirage and was entirely the work of FFs and FRLs oppressing a local population yearning to break free. A much more likely result of an increase in the fighting is a boycott of the election by the Sunnis. Even if they do vote then there is no reason to suppose that the guerrillas will stop fighting any more than the IRA laid down its arms despite numerous elections in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 1980s.

The election will take place in January and voting will be heavy because Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the Shia religious leader, wants the Shia to show at the polls that they are 60 per cent of the population. The Kurds, who total another 20 per cent, will also take part. But Sistani has made clear ever since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein that he is against the occupation and has steadfastly refused to meet American officials. The Sunni, another 20 per cent of the population, have shown that they are strong enough to destabilise Iraq just as long as they want to. (The Kurds, with a similar proportion of the population, were able to destabilise Iraq for almost half a century.)

It is worth remembering that the elections are taking place largely because of armed resistance. Until guerrilla war started in the summer of last year US officials in Baghdad were speaking airily of an American occupation going on for years. It was only as the military situation deteriorated by the week that the US suddenly decided to appoint an interim government and hold elections. Many Iraqis say quietly that the only way to get concessions from the Americans is to shoot at them.

The French failed to hold Algeria against a nationalist revolt despite fielding an army of half a million. With similar numbers the US failed in Vietnam. With a much smaller army in Iraq, it will fail again. As in Algeria and Vietnam, the war in Iraq will only cease when an end to the occupation is in sight.

Comment: At some point, one might step back and look at the big picture. If it is so painfully obvious to anyone with two neurons in contact with one another that bombing Fallujah back to the stone age will only make the situation in Iraq worse, then that would generally lead one to conclude that Bush and gang are serious when they believe that they "create their own reality" as one administration official put it. Don't have an enemy? Create one! Unfortunately for the Bush administration, they aren't nearly as clever as they might like to think. This has all been tried before by other empires throughout human history. The consequences were always dire.

Fortunately, the rest of us are right smack in the middle of it all. We each have a unique opportunity at this point in "time" to learn to see what is happening, and to take actions in favor of our own destiny. That does not mean acting against people like Bush and Company - they are serving their purpose in this world. They fit here, just as we all do until we learn enough to consciously stop engaging in the entropic dance.

Readers who would like to learn more are encouraged to read Laura Knight-Jadczyk's book Ancient Science, and our new series of books entitled The Wave, complete with never-before-published and unedited sessions - and extensive new information not found in the online Wave series.

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Japan set to extend Iraq deployment as key ally gives nod
AFP
Wednesday November 10, 8:22 PM

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said he wants Japanese troops to stay in Iraq as a Buddhist party which gives him crucial coalition support backed extending the mission past December.

"Members of the Self-Defense Forces are carrying out a mission appreciated by local residents. We want to continue these activities that are highly regarded by residents there," Koizumi said in parliament.

New Komeito, a pacifist party drawn from lay Buddhists, signalled it supported keeping troops in Iraq beyond December 14, when their one-year deployment is set to expire.

"As far as I see there at present, I believe we are in a situation in which we can continue the deployment," New Komeito leader Takenori Kanzaki told reporters.

But a New Komeito spokesman said later the party was not giving blanket support.

"Our official stance remains unchanged -- the government should make a decision by examining the situation in Iraq up to the very last moment," the spokesman told AFP.

Some 550 troops are conducting non-combat operations in the southern city of Samawa in Japan's first military deployment since World War II to a country of active combat.

Japan passed special legislation declaring the military, known as the Self-Defense Forces, to be in a "non-combat zone" so as not to violate its constitution which forbids the use of force.

"There is no way I can say whether a certain area in Iraq would be 100 percent safe," Koizumi said.

"If it (Samawa) changes from the non-combat status, we would have to withdraw."

Recent opinion polls have showed a majority of Japanese oppose extending the mission. Five Japanese have been killed in Iraq: two diplomats, two journalists and a backpacker who was kidnapped and beheaded last month after Koizumi rejected the kidnappers' demand to withdraw his forces. [...]

Japan "expects Iraq's security situation to improve if the United States inflicts considerable damage on the insurgents," the daily said, quoting anonymous government sources.

Japan, a close US ally, also wants to show its commitment to rebuild Iraq as the country elects a new administration next year and does not foresee changes in US policy toward Iraq after President George W. Bush's re-election, the report said.

Defence Agency chief Yoshinori Ono is to make a five-day trip to the United States and Britain from November 19, discussing the security situation in Iraq with his US and British counterparts Donald Rumsfeld and Geoff Hoon.

Comment: Meanwhile, Japan may have bigger problems to deal with...

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Japan on alert as suspected Chinese sub detected in territorial waters
AFP
Wednesday November 10, 7:51 PM

Japan was on alert after a suspected Chinese nuclear submarine entered its waters near a disputed gasfield, setting off a high seas chase amid mounting disputes between the two countries.

The submarine was detected in Japanese waters near islands disputed with China about 300 kilometers (180 miles) southwest of Okinawa, officials said. The southern island of Okinawa is home to a major US military base.

Japan was following the submarine with a PC-3 surveillance airplane, a destroyer and at least one navy helicopter, a military spokesman said.

"The submarine is (now) cruising in international waters and it is not necessarily cruising straight. The PC-3 is continuing to follow it," Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda, the government spokesman, told reporters.

The Kyodo News agency, quoting unnamed defense sources, said the vessel was a nuclear submarine from China. Jiji Press said the vessel was in Japanese waters for about three hours.

The incident comes amid a series of disputes between Japan and China, including friction over the right to explore for gas near their maritime border in the East China Sea.

Japanese officials declined to blame China.

"We are still in process of confirming the nationality," Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told reporters who asked him if the submarine was Chinese.

"Once we confirm it, we will disclose it," said Koizumi, who earlier called the incident "regrettable."

A Defense Agency spokesman said Japan had between Friday and Monday spotted two Chinese ships near southern Japan -- one designed to rescue submarines and the other to tow wrecked ships.

The Chinese ships were in international waters some 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) south of Tokyo, the spokesman said.

Asked if the Chinese ships had a link to Wednesday's submarine incident, the spokesman said: "We don't know."

Japan wants the submarine to surface and show its flag but has not given orders to attack the vessel as it is in international waters, the Defense Agency spokesman said.

Hosoda said the submarine was found near Okinawa's Sakishima island chain, which lies close to islands disputed between China, Japan and Taiwan -- known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese.

The only other time Japan has ordered such a hunt was in March 1999, when two suspected North Korean ships were spotted off its coast. A plane dropped 12 bombs as a warning.

Okinawa hosts about 65 percent of the more than 40,000 US forces in the country.

China feels deep resentment about Japan's refusal to admit its atrocities during its occupation from 1931 to 1945 -- a feeling reinforced by Koizumi's regular visits to a Tokyo shrine that honors the war dead including convicted war criminals.

A fact-finding mission to China by six Japanese lawmakers recommended Wednesday slashing aid to China, noting that Beijing tolerated anti-Japanese sentiment and was making its own loans to other countries.

Japan has also said China may be planning new fields in a disputed gas project around the maritime boundary between the countries, which are both major energy importers.

A Japanese defense study reported Monday envisaged three scenarios for a possible Chinese attack on Japan, including one focused on Okinawa in which China would try to stop US forces from helping Taiwan in the event of a conflict over the island.

China voiced anger over Japan's "Cold War mentality" and said it was not certain that President Hu Jintao would meet Koizumi when they attend a regional meeting in Chile this month.

Comment: Fallujah has become hell on Earth, there are unconfirmed reports of Arafat's death, the Netherlands has been struck by "terrorism", and China seems intent on provoking Japan. The world appears to be teetering on the brink of WWIII.

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War Not an Option Against Iran - Germany's Fischer
Reuters
Wed Nov 10, 4:13 AM ET

BERLIN - War is not an option against Iran and no one expects the standoff over Iran's nuclear program to lead to an "Iraq-like confrontation," German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

But Fischer added in an interview with Germany's Stern magazine there were "deep concerns" about Iran's nuclear and missile programs, saying the acquisition of nuclear weapons would pose a grave threat to the region and Europe.

The European Union's "Big Three" -- Germany, France and Britain -- have struggled for more than a year to persuade Iran to give up its enrichment program, which Washington believes will be used to produce fissile uranium for nuclear weapons.

"I don't see that we're immediately heading for an Iraq-like confrontation," Fischer said. "I believe that it's clear to all parties involved that war is not an option."

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has also ruled out this week that the United States was preparing to resolve the standoff with military force.

The United States, which accuses Iran of developing nuclear weapons under cover of an atomic energy program, wants Iran reported to the U.N. Security Council for hiding its enrichment program for 18 years.

Iran denies wanting nuclear weapons and says its nuclear ambitions are limited to the peaceful generation of electricity. "A military nuclearization of Iran would have unforeseen consequences in one of the most dangerous regions of the world. That would not only threaten Israel but also Europe," Fischer said.

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Britain's MI-5 security service warns Britons still face threat of terror attack
November 8, 2004

LONDON (AP) - The head of Britain's MI-5 domestic security service said Monday that Britons face a "serious and sustained threat" of terror attacks at home and abroad.

Eliza Manningham-Buller said Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network can still mount attacks, despite the arrest and killing of many of its senior leaders. The terrorist group has also inspired other militants, she said.

"There is a serious and sustained threat of terrorist attacks against U.K. interests at home and abroad, including against the business community," Manningham-Buller told the Council of Business Industry annual conference in London.

"There might be major attacks like Madrid earlier this year. They might be on a smaller scale," she added.

"The terrorists are inventive, adaptable and patient. Their planning includes a wide range of methods to attack us."

Manningham-Buller has repeatedly warned that the al-Qaida network was resilient and that the threat of attack by Islamic terrorists would remain for "a long time."

She said Monday that counterterrorism has helped to prevent attacks in Britain since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

"Responding to the threat has not been easy, and difficult judgments have to be made," she said. "Balancing liberty against security is perhaps the most difficult of them."

Comment: What MI-5 is saying with this obvious piece of propaganda is that although there is no credible evidence of an imminent attack, all Britons must get used to the idea of "perpetual war".

By claiming that terrorists "might" attack at any time is essentially meaningless, because such a statement also includes the possibility that they "might not " attack also.

This announcement adds up to nothing more than predictable fear-mongering from the mouthpiece of those who would stand to profit from exactly such a scenario.

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ARAFAT Update
MIDDLEEAST.ORG

MIDDLEEAST.ORG - MER - Washington - 10 November: Yasser Arafat has been all but legally dead for many days now. He has been kept 'between life and death' in a very 'complex situation' (to use the crafty words that have come from key officials) for financial and political reasons rather than for medical reasons. A mad scramble has been underway by various parties -- including his 'wife' Suha as well as his U.S. and Israeli-approved successors -- to get as much of the money and power as they can manage at this critical time. Much more important however to the Israelis and the Americans -- and to the Europeans as well -- is what they can all manipulate to happen now with Arafat finally eliminated.

By a preponderance of the circumstances and the evidence Yasser Arafat has effectively been stealth assassinated by the Israelis as MER first reported and explained last Saturday. His long-time personal physician has been removed from the scene after announcing he had been blood poisoned. The French 'military doctors' have been ordered not to reveal the cause of death and the details of what has happened to Arafat. Most others not playing ball with the the U.S. and Israeli approved 'new Palestinian leadership' have been pushed aside in the past few days. The widely despised 'Palestinian Foreign Minister', Nabil Sha'ath, long working with Israel and the U.S., was put in front of the cameras yesterday to attempt to publicly discredit the death by poisoning verdict and to help confuse and coverup as much as can be managed before the funeral and burial.

The Israelis never really thought Arafat would be buried in relatively obscurity in 'a family plot' in Gaza -- though they pushed for it thinking they just might manage that final insult on top of everything else. They knew all along the burial would likely take place at the Muqata in Ramallah and have thus appeared to give their reluctant 'permission' with all kinds of secret restrictions worked out with their new team of 'Palestinian leaders' -- Sha'ath, Abu Mazen, and Abu Ala. They are working now to undermine the possibility that Arafat might first be taken to Arab League Headquarters in Cairo. And 'negotiations' over just what is now going to happen continue to hold up the official announcement of Arafat's death even as a senior 'approved' Muslim Cleric has been rushed to Paris to give a kind of religious OK to 'pulling the plug' as soon as the crucial political details are finally approved by all parties, including Israel and the Americans.

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Palestinians await announcement of Arafat's death
AFP
Wed Nov 10, 5:18 AM ET

RAMALLAH, West Bank - The death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who has been lying in a coma in a French hospital for a week, was set to be announced at his West Bank headquarters, a Palestinian official told AFP.

As a top Islamic cleric prepared for a bedside visit to Arafat, other sources meanwhile said Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had offered to host an official funeral in Cairo in the event of Arafat's death.

"The death of President Arafat should be announced Wednesday after meetings of the central committee of Fatah and the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to be held at the Muqataa," said the official who asked to remain anonymous.

The announcement of the ailing 75-year-old leader's death was expected after the return here early Wednesday of four top Palestinians from a visit to the military hospital at Clamart near Paris where Arafat was admitted 12 days ago.

However negotiations minister Saeb Erakat told AFP early Wednesday that Arafat was still fighting for his life as he confirmed that the veteran leader would be buried at the battered Muqataa compound in the event of his death.

"There is no doubt that if President Arafat dies he will be buried at the Muqataa," Erakat said.

However, he stressed that the head of the Palestinian Authority, who was dramatically flown from Ramallah for treatment in France on October 29, was still alive "at 2:00 am (midnight GMT)". [...]

Comment: The timing couldn't have been better for Sharon and the Zionists given the increasing pressure they were feeling regarding the pullout of Israeli settlers. Arafat's death - especially considering the suspecting involvement of Mossad - cannot be a good omen for the Palestinian people.

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Israel agrees to Ramallah burial: Palestinian minister
AFP
Wed Nov 10, 5:38 AM ET

GAZA CITY - Israel has agreed that the eventual burial of comatose Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat can take place in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinian negotiations minister Saeb Erakat said.

"Israel made it known to us a few minutes ago that the Israeli government agrees to a Palestinian request to bury president Arafat in the Muqataa," Erakat told AFP, referring to Arafat's battered headquarters.

Israeli public radio had earlier reported that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's security cabinet had given the go-ahead for the burial in Ramallah.

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Israeli nukes a key to peace
By Tom Allard, Foreign Affairs Reporter
November 9, 2004

Eliminating Israel's nuclear arsenal is essential to a lasting peace in the Middle East and should be part of comprehensive talks to solve the dispute over Palestine, says the head of the UN's nuclear watchdog.

The director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, told the Herald in Sydney yesterday: "This is not really sustainable, that you have Israel sitting with nuclear weapons capability there while everyone else is part of the non-proliferation regime."

With optimism rising that Iran may be prepared to suspend its uranium enrichment program, Dr ElBaradei said Israel's nuclear stockpile created great resentment among Muslims. "It is a very emotional issue in the Middle East."

Dr ElBaradei said he hoped to get the disarmament process started soon, convening a summit in January of Middle East nations, including Israel.

The British prime minister Tony Blair is to visit Washington this week, where he will urge President George Bush to re-invigorate the Middle East peace process as a second-term foreign policy priority.

The US and its allies have largely turned a blind eye to Israel's undeclared nuclear arsenal, recognising that many of its neighbours want Israel wiped from the face of the earth and the weapons are an important deterrent against invasion. [...]

Comment: What Dr. ElBaradei seems to be forgetting is that there are two different set of rules for countries when it comes to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

For countries with wealth and power like the U.S. and Israel, there essentially are no rules. They get to make up rules for other countries to follow, but are exempt from following such rules themselves.

This double standard is seen not only in the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (which Israel has never signed), but also the Geneva Convention, the International Criminal Court, the land-mine ban, reduction of greenhouse gases, and the list goes on.

Perhaps, Dr ElBaradei is well aware of these two sets of rules, but continues to pretend like such rules apply to everyone, in order to give the "appearance" of fairness to pundits in the media and the masses who continue to swallow this tripe.

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Bomb blast targets Dutch Muslim school after murder of filmmaker
09 November 2004 0328 hrs
- AFP

THE HAGUE : A bomb exploded at an Islamic school in the Netherlands, spreading fear among the country's 900,000-strong Muslim community which has been targeted by a wave of hate attacks in recent days.

Three mosques were targeted by arsonists and two by vandals at the weekend, one of them daubed with offensive slogans and pig heads, in apparent reprisal attacks for the murder of a Dutch filmmaker by a suspected Islamic extremist.

The blast took place before dawn at a Muslim school in the southeastern city of Eindhoven, causing heavy damage but no injuries, authorities said. No one has been apprehended over the attack, police said. [...]

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Dutch police mount major anti-terror raid
AFP
Wed Nov 10, 7:50 AM ET

THE HAGUE - Dutch police mounted a major anti-terror raid against suspects holed up in an apartment in The Hague, who retaliated by hurling a grenade that wounded three policemen and jolted nearby residents awake in this normally quiet city.

Authorities closed down air space over the city, police said, evacuated people living in five streets near the targetted apartement and cordoned off the area.

Officials would not identify the suspects nor give their number, but said police had surrounded the building in a working class neighborhood near the Holland Spoor train station.

The Netherlands has been on alert since the November 2 murder of controversial Dutch director Theo van Gogh, killed by a suspected Islamic radical in the capital Amsterdam. [...]

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Kentucky Gas Explosion Injures 9 People
5:22 PM PST, November 8, 2004

IVEL, Ky. — A gas line exploded Monday in rural Kentucky, burning four houses and injuring nine people, including an off-duty state trooper who helped rescue a woman and child, officials said.

Trooper Rick Conn suffered third-degree burns and was hospitalized in fair condition late Monday.

State police said Conn was heading to work when he smelled gas from a 4-inch line that leads to a processing plant. The force of the subsequent blast blew out the windows in his cruiser, but Conn kept driving toward homes to evacuate residents.

"He heard a call for help and pulled a woman and small child out and then collapsed," said Sgt. Phil Crumpton, adding Conn suffered burns on his face, neck, chest and hands.

By late afternoon, the fire had destroyed four homes and continued to burn. The cause of the blast was not immediately known. [...]

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Korean Air gets OK to carry stun guns
Nov. 8, 2004, 3:40PM
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Korean Air is the first airline granted permission by the federal government to carry electric stun guns aboard jetliners that fly within U.S. airspace.

The Transportation Security Administration last week approved Korean Air's request to carry "Tasers," agency spokesman Mark Hatfield said today. The weapon, made by Taser International Inc., gives off a jolt of electricity that incapacitates the victim.

Korean Air has been using Tasers on flights outside the United States for several years, airline spokeswoman Penny Pfaelzer said.

The airline has 50 flights a week to the United States.

Hatfield said Korean Air was the only airline so far to submit an application to use Tasers.

Taser International Inc.'s stock price on the Nasdaq exchange jumped on the news by more than 20 percent, or $9.67, to $56.16.

In recent months, the company has secured big orders from the Army National Guard and major U.S. police departments, including Houston. Tasers also were approved in September by police forces throughout England and Wales.

Pilots on U.S. airlines are allowed to carry handguns if they undergo special training. Thousands have done so, although the exact number is classified.

USA Today first reported that Korean Air was given permission to use Tasers.

Comment: Anyone wishing to make a "killing" in the stock market these days could consider investing in companies like Taser International, or any other company tied to the Military Industrial Complex. As the U.S. continues it's rapid descent into a fascist dictatorship, it seems any company that profits from the clampdown and subjugation of ordinary citizens is bound to do well in the days to come.

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Taiwan Intends To Build Asia's Largest Missile Base: Report
by Xinhua News Agency
Beijing (XNA) Nov 09, 2004

'A large bunker project is being constructed at the Jiupeng missile test-launch ground by the Zhongshan Scientific Research Institute, under Taiwan's "Defense Ministry", and upon completion next year, will be used to deploy a "Patriot III" missile system purchased from the United States', Taiwan newspapers reported October 27.

Jiupeng base, located in Pingdong Province, has been a key site for missile research and testing for the Taiwan army, known also as the "Space Center Houston" of Taiwan. It has drawn wide attention as it is reportedly being developed into Asia's biggest missile base.

Large bunker suspected to be a nuclear test ground

The arms research by the Zhongshan institute has drawn close attention from the United States due to frequent remarks made by the Taiwan authorities for developing offensive arms to be used against the mainland, and You His-kun ("president of the Administrative Yuan") advocating the so-called "balance of terror" approach.

US intelligence satellites recently noticed that a large reinforced concrete structure is being built at Jiupeng base, which belongs to the Zhongshan institute. From its unusual thickness, the Americans guessed it to be a bunker able to resist heavy bombs.

It is suspected the bunker was built for "special purpose", which may relate to Taiwan's alleged research into medium-range missiles, cruise missiles, and even nuclear weapons. [...]

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Powerful bomb injures 36 civilians in Kathmandu
09 November 2004 1853 hrs

KATHMANDU : A powerful bomb planted by suspected Maoists exploded in a government office block in Kathmandu on Tuesday, injuring 36 people and shattering a six-week calm in the Nepalese capital, police said.

The blast occurred on the ground floor of the newly built Civil Servants Provident Fund Office near the army headquarters, a police official said.

"Suspected Maoists left a bag packed with a powerful locally made bomb which went off, injuring some workers ... and some pedestrians waiting outside for three-wheeler autorickshaws," the official said.

The explosion, which was heard some two kilometres away, shattered windows in the building and damaged rickshaws and a motor cycle outside. [...]

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Explosive material found at St. John's school
WebPosted Nov 9 2004 03:39 PM NST

ST. JOHN'S  —  Almost 500 students were forced to leave a St. John's school Tuesday afternoon after explosive material was discovered on the front steps.

St. Teresa's School was evacuated after a police officer discovered a suspicious package while he was there on a routine visit to talk about bus safety.

To the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer's surprise, he found a package on the steps marked 'explosive'.

The officer went to the principal's office to alert staff of the situation.

The entire school body was moved to nearby St. Teresa's Parish.

After the students left the building, police took a closer look at the package. They discovered a piece of commercial explosive that was not dangerous by itself, but could detonate if it was combined with other materials.

Police say it's possible the explosive material came from a nearby construction site.

They're still trying to find out how the package ended up on the school's steps.

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Anthrax kills nearly 200 Ugandan hippos
November 9, 2004

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) - An anthrax outbreak has killed 194 hippos in western Uganda, wildlife officials said Tuesday and scientists are struggling to develop a way to quickly diagnose and contain the disease.

The first hippos died in late July in Queen Elizabeth National Park but it took months of research and testing to determine the cause, said John Bosco Nuwe, the park's chief warden. The disease has also killed 14 buffalo, he said.

Unconfirmed reports said 10 people died after eating infected hippo meat but officials could not verify those reports.

"We are vaccinating the livestock around the park or those in close proximity," Nuwe said.

"We're telling people not to panic and stop eating hippo meat." [...]

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Many of Europe's birds in danger of vanishing: report
Last Updated Mon, 08 Nov 2004 13:17:53 EST

AMSTERDAM - Almost half of the species of birds in Europe are at risk of disappearing, according to a new report.

The latest assessment by BirdLife International, an umbrella organization of conservation groups, says 226 species of birds on the continent, or about 43 per cent, are in danger of being wiped out.

The northern lapwing has suffered declines across much of Europe since 1990. (Andy Hay/RSPB Images) "Birds are excellent environmental indicators and the continued decline of many species sends a clear signal about the health of Europe's wildlife and the poor state of our environment," said Clairie Papazoglou, head of BirdLife. [...]

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Oil slick pollutes World Heritage coastline
Associated Press

Perth, Australia — An oil slick up to 12 kilometres long is polluting a World Heritage-listed stretch of the Western Australian coast that includes an important nesting site for threatened loggerhead turtles, a state government said Tuesday.

The slick in the Shark Bay area of Western Australia state's northern coast includes a turtle habitat on Dirk Hartog Island. It was reported to the state government Monday, state Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan said.

Authorities have not yet determined the source, she said. [...]

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World at risk of bird flu pandemic: WHO official
09 November 2004 1459 hrs

MIAMI : The world is at great risk of a new pandemic of deadly bird flu, but is ill-prepared to handle it, a top World Health Organization official said at an international conference in Miami.

"It's a very difficult issue ... where there's been a crescendo to the present situation and where incomplete understanding of the risk factor could lead to a global pandemic," said David Heymann, who heads WHO's communicable diseases section.

"We can say the risk is great, but we cannot quantify it," he told AFP during the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene's annual meeting.

"The world is not prepared to handle it," he said.

He told experts at the gathering the flu vaccine's current production capacity of 300 million doses was far short of what is needed, and that the vaccine cannot be stockpiled.

Public health officials and vaccine manufacturers were to convene in Geneva, Switzerland, this week to plan for the eventuality of a pandemic. [...]

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MDs back flu shots for every Canadian
By ANDRÉ PICARD
From Tuesday's Globe and Mail

Ottawa — Canada should become the first country in the world to systematically vaccinate all citizens over the age of six months against the flu, a blue-ribbon panel of scientists recommends.

In a statement to be made public today, the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care says that doing so could reduce cases of influenza by as much as 93 per cent.

Universal vaccination would sharply reduce deaths among the elderly (almost 5,000 of whom die annually in Canada from flu-related illnesses), cut sick days among workers and schoolchildren, lower health-care costs and potentially save the economy hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

"Ideally, we would like to have everyone immunized against influenza," said task force member Joanne Langley of the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at Dalhousie University.

"Universal vaccination would likely be of great benefit and unlikely to cause any significant harm, so we are recommending this approach," she said in an interview.

The only people who should not be vaccinated against influenza are babies under the age of six months, people who are allergic to eggs or thimerosal (a mercury-based preservative used in the flu vaccine), and those who have had a severe reaction to a previous flu shot. [...]

Comment: See our Signs Flu Supplement to see what this push towards universal vaccination is really about, and the dangers associated with it.

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Mystery outbreak hits Calgary shelter
By DAVE BREAKENRIDGE, CALGARY SUN

About 140 people were under quarantine last night as fire, police and EMS crews investigated a mysterious viral outbreak at the Calgary Drop-In Centre. The decision was made to lock down the facility -- at 423 4 Ave. S.E -- after staff called 911 around noon because a number of people were suffering from symptoms including nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.

A staff member identified a number of sick people around 6 a.m.
"As the night progressed into the morning, the number of people who were sick increased as did the severity of their symptoms," said Calgary EMS spokesman Mike Plato.

A floor-by-floor assessment of the 500 people in the building identified 140 who were ill to some degree, but the decision was made not to take any of them to hospital.

"Everybody is stable enough and their symptoms are such that the decision was made to treat all of them in the Drop-In Centre," Plato said, adding people were being treated with medication and intravenous fluid.

Calgary Health Region staff said it's possible it could be the Norovirus -- formerly known as Norwalk virus -- but at this point it's unclear. [...]

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Climate expert says Western drought may linger for years
Tuesday, November 9, 2004
(11-09) 11:27 PST

DENVER (AP) -- A government climate researcher is predicting that the five-year Western drought could linger for several more years and more frequent droughts are likely.

"It could continue for several more years, and it's something we need to be aware of," Gregory McCabe of the U.S. Geological Survey said. "I think people should be on their guard."

Drought in the West often is linked to periods when the northern Atlantic Ocean is warmer than normal, periods that tend to last nine to 23 years, McCabe said.

The northern Atlantic switched into a warm phase nine years ago, and it shows no signs of fading, McCabe said Monday at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. [...]

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Queen's talk to discuss asteroid impact threat
08 November 2004

The prospects and implications of an asteroid impact on Earth will be the topic of the November meeting of the Café Scientifique at Queen's University. [...]

On average 30- 40 Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) are discovered each month - asteroids and comets that could one day collide with the Earth. Over 3,000 NEOs have been found, and a world-wide effort involving professional and amateur astronomers attempts to keep track of these objects. Now a team of astronomers at Queen's will endeavour to track some of these objects each week using large high-performance telescopes.

Dr Fitzsimmons and his colleagues from the UK Astrometry and Photometry Programme (UKAPP) for Near-Earth Objects, based at the University, are currently tracking NEOs and feeding their information into the international programme of protecting the Earth from any future impact by a comet or asteroid.

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Kilauea lava hissing into the sea
Tuesday, November 9, 2004
By Kevin Dayton

HILO, Hawai'i — For the first time since August, lava from the Kilauea volcano is flowing into the sea, but it probably won't trigger a surge in visitors to Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.

The flow is difficult to reach, and getting close to it requires a 90-minute hike over rough, potentially dangerous lava fields. Park rangers don't recommend it.

Lava first reached the sea Friday night, and peaked Saturday night and Sunday morning, with open cascades visible, said Don Swanson, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. [...]

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SHIVELUCH VOLCANO IN KAMCHATKA ACTIVE AGAIN
November 8 (RIA Novosti)

PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKI, - The Shiveluch volcano, which is located in the so-called "Country of geysers and volcanoes" - the Kamchatka peninsula in the north-east of the Asian part of Russia, washed by the waters of the Bering Sea and the Okhotskoe Sea - continues to eject ashes to the heights between 1,500 and 4,500 meters.

According to experts from the Kamchatka scientific and methodological seismology research group, they registered a 3,000-meter-high emission at 11:05 local time on Monday (the time difference with Moscow is 9 hours)

Poor weather conditions hindered the visual observation of the volcano for the most part of yesterday. However, according to seismic data, the volcano has already registered at least 5 high-altitude emissions of gas and ashes.

Satellite pictures, provided by the Alaska volcanological observatory, show an 85-km long ash cloud moving in southeast direction. Seismic stations in the vicinity of the volcano register ground shocks at the depth of 5 kilometers and intermittent volcanic vibration.

Kamchatka's northernmost active 3,283-meter-high Shiveluch volcano registered the increase in its activity back in January of this year.

At present, it does not pose any danged to residents of nearby villages. Nevertheless, clouds of emitted ashes might be very dangerous for aircraft and tourists, anglers and hunters who get too close to the volcano.

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Powerful earthquake shakes Solomon Islands
Last Update: Wednesday, November 10, 2004. 4:02pm (AEDT)
A powerful earthquake hit the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific today but there were no reports of injury or damage.

The US Geological Survey said the quake registered 6.9 on the Richter scale and hit at 9:58am local time.

It was 10 kilometres deep and 205 kilometres from the nearest settlement, the regional capital of Kira Kira on San Cristobal Island.

State-owned Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, which maintains a two-way radio service around the scattered island nation, said no one had reported feeling the quake.

The Solomon Islands, 2,575 kilometres east of Australia has just under 500,000 people living on dozens of islands.

Part of the Pacific "ring of fire", the Solomons frequently reports volcanic and seismic activity.

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Japan's Northern Niigata Region Hit By Series of Earthquakes
Bloomberg

Nov. 10 (Bloomberg) -- An earthquake of preliminary magnitude 5.3 struck Japan's northern Niigata region, where repeated quakes have killed more than 30 people and forced tens of thousands into temporary shelters since late last month.

There were no immediate media reports of injuries from today's temblor and others that followed. The first struck the Niigata region at 3:43 a.m., according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and was centered in a mountainous region near the coast about 210 kilometers (130 miles) north-northwest of Tokyo.

It was followed by earthquakes in the 3-4 magnitude range, and a 2.9-magnitude quake at 6:57 a.m., according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

A 6.5-magnitude earthquake jolted the Niigata area on Oct. 23, and the region has since been hit by hundreds of aftershocks.

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Strong quake rocks Taiwan
09 November 2004 0328 hrs
- AFP
TAIPEI : An earthquake measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale rocked Taiwan, swaying buildings and waking people from their sleep, seismologists said.

In the capital Taipei, buildings swayed for some 14 seconds and "as the earthquake was on the island, its strength was felt strongly," said Kuo Kai-wen, head of the Seismology Centre.

The tremor struck at 11:55 pm (1555 GMT) with its epicenter located one kilometre (0.6 miles) northwest of the northeastern coastal town of Nanao, 19.4 kilometres under the earth, it said.

Some residents in Ilan city, near Nanao, fled their homes after being awakened by the strong tremor, TVBS cable news network said, adding that the quake also triggered rock falls on to a highway.

The world's tallest building, the 508-metre Taipei 101, remained intact, passing a key safety test, and the capital city's mass rapid transit system was not interrupted, TVBS said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The destructive force of the quake was greatly reduced by the sea, the seismological centre added.

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Taiwan seismology centre says quake larger than first thought
09 November 2004 0328 hrs

TAIPEI : Taiwan's seismology centre said Tuesday that an earthquake overnight was far stronger than first thought and measured 6.7 on the Richter scale.

The centre had originally given the quake as measuring 5.7 on the open-ended scale, but said a computer glitch had caused a false reading. There were no reports of any casualties or damage from the tremor.

"It was the first time our automatic computer system misjudged the magnitude of an earthquake," said an analyst at the seismology centre. [...]

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Magnitude 5.2 earthquake felt in parts of city
-- Anchorage Daily News
An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.2 struck central Alaska at 9:21 p.m. on Sunday, according to Bill Knight with the Alaska Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer. The quake was centered about 140 miles northwest of Anchorage and 90 miles west of Cantwell. No injuries were reported. The rumble was felt in certain parts of Anchorage. People in Trapper Creek called the tsunami warning center and reported a strong jolt and snow being knocked off tree branches, Knight said.

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Too early to estimate damages by earthquake in Afghanistan
Tuesday November 09, 2004 (1418 PST)

KABUL, November 10 (Online): It was still too early to estimate potential casualties or damages brought about by an earthquake that struck the war-ravaged Afghanistan, an official said.

The Interior Ministry of the transitional government has not received any report regarding the latest earthquake, and it was premature to make a judgment about the possible loss, a government source told Xinhua via phone minutes after the tremor jolted the capital. [...]

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Many flee as flood spreads
Agus Maryono and Puji Susanto,
The Jakarta Post, Kebumen/Pekanbaru

The flooding that began on Saturday in Kebumen, Central Java, has spread through the regency to affect several towns and villages, sweeping away at least four houses and forcing hundreds of victims to flee on Tuesday.

On Saturday, dozens of villages in the four districts of Karanganyar, Adimulyo, Kuwarasan and Poncowarno became inundated, and one person was killed in the disaster. [...]

Floodwaters rushed through Tegalsari, damaging or destroying dozens of houses after a 100-meter local dike on the Kemit River gave way.

At least four houses in Tegalsari were swept away and 15 others heavily damaged, while 200 homes were submerged in water. No new reports on casualties have been issued. [...]

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Storm System Brewing in Central Caribbean
AP
Wed Nov 10,12:33 AM ET

MIAMI - A storm system brewing in the central Caribbean could develop into a tropical cyclone this week while dropping heavy rain and causing dangerous flooding and mud slides on Puerto Rico and the island of Hispaniola, forecasters said.

Clouds and thunderstorms stretched over a vast area from Costa Rica to Puerto Rico, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami reported.

Though the storm had no defined center, it became better organized Tuesday and could develop into a tropical or subtropical storm by Thursday, forecasters said.

"The primary threat right now is heavy rain that will continue whether the system develops or not," said Jack Beven, a hurricane specialist at the center.

Satellite estimates showed more than 10 inches of rain falling each hour.

The next tropical storm to form during the Atlantic hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30, would be named Otto.

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Diplomatic row over sonic boom
RICHARD BATSON
09 November 2004 19:28

The aircraft that caused a sonic boom over North Norfolk was a passing foreign warplane flying up the North Sea, it emerged tonight.

But defence officials are staying tight-lipped over the identity of the offending military pilot and his nationality.

People across a stretch of east and north Norfolk from Sheringham to Halvergate heard Monday's big bang at about noon.

The window-rattling boom sparked fears it was huge gas explosion, but it was later confirmed as a sonic boom caused by an aircraft that was not British.

Ministry of Defence spokesman Lt Col Stuart Green said last night the aircraft involved was from another country, and had not been taking off, landing or involved in an exercise in Britain. [...]

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Small Plane Crashes in Detroit
AP
Mon Nov 8, 5:50 PM ET

DETROIT - A small plane crashed in a Detroit neighborhood Monday afternoon, setting at least two houses on fire. Witnesses said construction workers at the scene helped pull two people out of the wreckage of the aircraft.

The man and woman were taken to a hospital, where they were in serious condition, said Detroit Fire Commissioner Tyrone Scott.

Police said nobody on the ground was injured.

The roof of one house was completely burned away, and another house was damaged by fire. The mangled remains of the two-engine Piper Aztec plane rested on the ground across the street from one of the homes.

The plane went down after taking off from Detroit City Airport and clipping a utility pole, Scott said. The cause of the accident was not immediately known.

Lakisha Roberts, 29, was in the kitchen cooking with her 1-year-old son when she heard the plane hit her brand-new house. "I just heard a boom, then I (saw) all the fire in the yard and I just started running," she said.

The Red Cross was offering the family temporary shelter.

A small plane also crashed into the roof of a suburban Atlanta house Monday. Authorities said no one was injured.

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Airplane slams into home
By BEN SMITH
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 11/08/04

A single-engine plane crashed into a Chamblee home Monday, sending the pilot and two occupants of the house to the hospital.

The three victims — the male pilot, and a woman and her son on the ground — suffered minor injuries, said DeKalb County Fire Department Capt. Eric Jackson.

The incident occurred a little after 3 p.m., when the aircraft crashed into the roof above the kitchen of the one-story bungalow at 3018 Villa Esta Drive.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known, but witnesses said the aircraft appeared to fall from about 350 feet directly onto the house — about 10 feet off the ground.

"I thought it was a bomb or something," said Lucero Espinoza, a neighbor. [...]

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Close Encounters - UFOs and Alien presence in India's heaven of culture and arts!
By Sudipta Guha, Special Correspondent
November 08, 2004

Country side village residents near Boalput in West Bengal are reporting strange activities in the sky surrounding the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore's heaven of cultire and arts - the Vishwabharati University in Shantiniketan!

According to poor villagers, these are "Gods" from heavens who really like to understand world's most spophisticated and advanced culture of arts and litterature. UFO sighting, presence of alliens in the area is being reported. According to sources, the University is tight lipped about anything. However, it seems something is going on there specially in the India-China cultural center.

According to some, the aliens are trying to understand creativity and excellence in arts and litteratire. The UFO sightings in India specially in the Hamalayas has increased very heavily in recent days. 

UFO presence around Shantiniketan is not new. But the number of UFOs now are so high that villagers are experiencing them every day. Young children are reporting seeing aliens. [...]

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UFO boom - Unidentified Foreign Object
EDWARD FOSS
08 November 2004 17:50

A suspected sonic boom heard across north-east Norfolk today was not caused by a British aircraft, it was confirmed tonight.

The loud bang, heard at least from Sheringham to Halvergate near Yarmouth, startled hundreds of people going about their daily business at around noon.

But a Ministry of Defence spokesman said it was not a domestic fighter that caused the incident, although he was unable to confirm the source of the sonic boom.

"We believe there was a sonic boom, but it was not a British aircraft that caused it," said Lt Col Stuart Green. "It was not one of ours."

Whether the aircraft was European or American was not clear, but they would be the most likely suspects. But it would have been a military aircraft, as no civilian plane is capable of going fast enough to make a sonic boom.

A spokesman for the UK Civil Aviation Authority said the now out of service Concorde was the only civilian craft that had ever been able to travel fast enough to create the phenomenon.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb described how he had been sitting in his office in North Walsham when he heard an "incredible boom".

"The building shook and like many people I was shocked. I thought 'has there been some sort of gas explosion?'"

Mr Lamb said he felt the "disturbing" incident begged questions that needed to be answered. He pledged to approach ministers for an explanation.

Ben Dunnell, assistant editor of Aircraft Illustrated and formerly from Norfolk, said sonic booms were rare in the UK. "There are regulations governing supersonic flight, but it is not clear what happened on this occasion."

When the sonic boom was heard, windows and homes shook while some people were reported to have been running for cover.

"I heard this enormous explosion," said John Hilton, who was in Stalham at the time. One or two people were very worried, although most realised fairly quickly what it probably was. But I don't feel things like this should be happening."

Police and RAF bosses received scores of calls from those concerned at the explosion. [...]

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