Friday, December 3, 2004
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Picture of the Day


Won't Get Fooled Again?

SOTT Editorial
3/12/2004

"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
- George Santayana

"We learn from history that we learn nothing from history."
- George Bernard Shaw

History is repeating itself yet again, a point that we have been
attempting to communicate to our readers for some time now. This
re-run of events appears to be playing out in two places at the moment - the US and Israel - soon to be shown in a country near you, if the imperialist US/Israeli coalition fulfills its objective of a New World
Order.

We have discovered that a few comparisons of the Roman Polanski film, The Pianist, might be a good way to illustrate that we are living a
replay of historical events, as there are stark parallels between
events depicted in the film and certain events that have played out
and are playing out on the world stage, particularly in the Middle
East and the US. If you have not seen the film, we suggest that you
do. It may be just what you need to wake up to the reality in which we currently reside.

In the first scene of The Pianist, the protagonist of the film,
Wladyslaw Szpilman, is sitting at the piano playing a piece of music
(by Chopin?) for Warsaw radio. There is an explosion. He continues to
play. Even though the radio technicians are startled, he is calm and
collected. Another blast. He insists on continuing. In fact, it is
only when the building starts falling down around his head that he
decides he had better make a run for it. Until the very last possible
second, he ignorantly continues on with what he is doing as though
nothing is happening, putting not only himself in mortal danger, but
the radio technicians who were in the booth as well.

Now, let's look at that a little closer. Szpilman ignores - out of
pure stupidity or arrogance - the clear signs that things are amiss.
That there is a clear and present danger. He ignores REALITY. In fact,
this blindness, this denial, this desire to maintain the illusion of
normalacy is so strong, that when he is finally on his way out, he
still finds that his thoughts are not primarily concerned with the
danger that is, quite literally, falling down right on his head, but
rather with chatting up a woman.

Denial. Blindness. Arrogance. Ignoring the signs. An adamant refusal
to accept reality, which consequently puts both himself and others in
danger.

Do we not see precisely this now, in the US and elsewhere? How many are ignoring the signs, right here and now? How many are in denial, right here and now? How many are refusing to face the Truth, the facts, the REALITY of the situation? How many did it during WWI and WWII? How many deaths resulted as a consequence? How many are in denial about, or willingly agreeing to, the genocide that is taking place in Iraq and Palestine today? How many think that such only happens to "other people"? How many think that a government would never do anything so horrific to its own people? Well, let us tell you a secret, if a government will murder people of other nations for the sole sake of obtaining as much wealth and power as they possibly can, then life - regardless of whose - is of no consequence to them in the slightest.

Yes, the situation is terrifying, if and when one finally accepts it
for what it is. But will we allow ourselves to be frozen by that fear,
and cower in the dark, trembling like a frightened dog? Or will we use
that fear to motivate and move us to DO something?

The mission of Signs of the Times is to provide its readers with that
information, those signs that tell us that something is amiss. That
the bombs are dropping and the building is falling down around us.
Like Szpilman, most are ignoring those signs and many will continue to do so until it is too late. The mission of Signs of the Times is to
serve those who are interested in seeing the reality for what it is,
who are interested in the Truth, no matter how painful.
That pain,
that Truth, could save your backside.

What do the signs tell us? They tell us that the United States
government, in collaboration with the Zionists in the Israeli
government, are bringing the world to the brink of another World War. The signs tell us that the United States is the hub of a new, vivified Nazi regime intent upon world domination, just as Hitler and Nazi Germany were in the past. The signs tell us that those who are "other", whether from a religious, ideological or ethical point of
view, those who do not follow willingly and keep in line as good
sheeple should do, will be slaughtered. Exterminated.

There is a scene in The Pianist when, having ignored all of the signs
and stayed in Warsaw, all of the Jews, including Szpilman's own
family, are herded into boxcars to be transported to their deaths.
What do you think all of those white box cars that have been seen
crossing the US will be used for?

There is another scene in the film where Szpilman and his family see
something from the window of their tiny apartment. They look down and suddenly see that there are workers there building a wall around the ghetto. They are being fenced in. Penned up like so many cattle, for later transport to the slaughterhouse. Does this not bring to mind
the wall the Israelis have built around the West Bank, albeit on a
smaller scale? And what about the concentration camps where the Nazis housed, tortured and executed countless human beings? Do you think such camps do not already exist in the US, just waiting for the right time to be utilized? Again, what do you think those white boxcars are for?

There is another scene in The Pianist when Szpilman, by sheer luck,
has survived and is wandering from place to place in Warsaw, hiding
and scrounging for food. He ends up in an abandoned hospital, but he
is eventually forced out. After a crew of Nazi soldiers burn a pile of
bodies (while casually eating yoghurt) which Szpilman saw from the window, the Nazis begin torching all of the buildings. Szpilman escapes out the back of the building and over the wall encasing the back courtyard. Over this wall is a scene of utter destruction and devastation. Warsaw behind this wall is nothing but a mass of ruins. Dead. A wasteland.

Today, Falluja is a wasteland. Today, the occupied territories
are a wasteland. Tomorrow, if the regime in the US continues
its course of world domination, your backyard, your own cities, will
be a wasteland.

Don't think it can't happen to you.

If you believe that it can't, then you may likely end up being among
the millions that will perish in what will very likely be WWIII. If
you believe that your government wouldn't do something so horrific,
that it is just too absurd a notion, then you may likely end up being
among the millions that will perish in what will very likely be WWIII.
If you believe that you are too special, priviledged or chosen for
such a thing to happen to you, then you may likely end up being among the millions that will perish in what will very likely be WWIII.

However, if you do accept that such a thing can happen, that the signs all indicate that there is a high probability that it will happen,
what do you intend to DO?

Will you wait for a "savior"? Will you wait for the "allies" to come
to your rescue? Will you rely on "good fortune", the good will of
others, as did Szpilman in the film, who only survived by pure accident?

Or will you DO something yourself?

Take your fate in your own hands. That is where it belongs. Take it.
Grasp it. Recognize it for what it is, and fulfill it.

Once you do that, you will not only be capable of helping yourself,
but ultimately, capable of helping others as well.

If you so choose.

"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

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"The Pianist" of Palestine

Israel's Colonial Racism and Impunity

by Omar Barghouti
November 29, 2004

When I watched Oscar-winning film The Pianist I had three distinct, uneasy reactions. I was not particularly impressed by the film, from a purely artistic angle; I was horrified by the film's depiction of the dehumanization of Polish Jews and the impunity of the German occupiers; and I could not help but compare the Warsaw ghetto wall with Israel's much more ominous wall caging 3.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza in fragmented, sprawling prisons.

In the film, when German soldiers forced Jewish musicians to play for them at a checkpoint, I thought to myself: "that's one thing Israeli soldiers have not yet done to Palestinians." I spoke too soon, it seems. Israel's leading newspaper Ha'aretz reported last week that an Israeli human rights organization monitoring a daunting military roadblock near Nablus was able to videotape Israeli soldiers forcing a Palestinian violinist to play for them. The same organization confirmed that similar abuse had taken place months ago at another checkpoint near Jerusalem.

In typical Israeli whitewashing, the incident was dismissed by an army spokesperson as little more that "insensitivity," with no malicious intent to humiliate the Palestinians involved. And of course the usual mantra about soldiers having to "contend with a complex and dangerous reality" was again served as a ready, one-size-fits-all excuse. I wonder whether the same would be said or accepted in describing the original Nazi practice at the Warsaw ghetto gates in the 1940's.

Regrettably, the analogy between the two illegal occupations does not stop here. Many of the methods of collective and individual "punishment" meted out to Palestinian civilians at the hands of young, racist, often sadistic and ever impervious Israeli soldiers at the hundreds of checkpoints littering the occupied Palestinian territories are reminiscent of common Nazi practices against the Jews. Following a visit to the occupied Palestinian territories in 2003, Oona King, a Jewish member of the British parliament attested to this, writing: "The original founders of the Jewish state could surely not imagine the irony facing Israel today: in escaping the ashes of the Holocaust, they have incarcerated another people in a hell similar in its nature - though not its extent - to the Warsaw ghetto."

Even Tommy Lapid, Israel's justice minister and a Holocaust survivor himself, stirred a political storm last year when he told Israel radio that a picture of an elderly Palestinian woman searching in the debris for her medication had reminded him of his grandmother who died at Auschwitz. Furthermore, he commented on his army's wanton and indiscriminate destruction of Palestinian homes, businesses and farms in Gaza at the time, saying: "[I]f we carry on like this, we will be expelled from the United Nations and those responsible will stand trial at The Hague."

Some of the war crimes that concern people like Lapid have been lately revealed in eyewitness accounts given by former soldiers, who could no longer reconcile whatever moral values they held with their complicity in the daily humiliation, abuse and physical harm of innocent civilians. Such crimes have become normalized in their minds as acceptable, even necessary, acts of "disciplining" the untamed natives, as a measure to maintain "security."

According to a recent report in the Israeli media, an army commander was accused of gratuitously beating up Palestinians at the notorious Hawwara checkpoint. Ironically, the most damning evidence presented against him was a videotape filmed by the army's education branch. In that particular episode, the senior officer at that roadblock, knowing that an army film crew was located nearby, and without any provocation, beat a Palestinian "flanked by his wife and children," punching him in the face, and "even kicked[him] in the lower part of his body," the report said.

A recent exhibit titled "Breaking the Silence," organized in Tel Aviv by a number of conscientious Israeli soldiers who served in occupied Hebron, exposed in photographs and objects more serious belligerence towards defenseless Palestinians. Inspired by Jewish settlers' graffiti that included: "Arabs to the gas chambers"; "Arabs = an inferior race"; "Spill Arab blood"; and, of course, the ever so popular "Death to the Arabs," soldiers used a myriad of methods to make the lives of average Palestinians intolerable. One photograph showed a bumper sticker on a passing car, perhaps explaining the ultimate goal of such abuse: "Religious penitence provides strength to expel the Arabs." The exhibit's main curator described a particularly shocking policy of randomly spraying crowded Palestinian residential neighborhoods, like Abu Sneina, from heavy machine guns and grenade launchers for hours on end in response to any minor shooting of a few bullets from any house in the neighborhood on the Jewish colonies inside the city.

The Hebron horrors pale, however, in comparison to what Israeli army units have done in Gaza. In an unnerving interview with Ha'aretz in November last year, for instance, Liran Ron Furer, a staff sergeant (res.) in the Israeli army and graduate of an arts school, described the gradual transformation of every soldier to an "animal" when staffing a roadblock, irrespective of whatever values he may bring with him from home. From his perspective, those soldiers get infected with what he calls "checkpoint syndrome," a glaring symptom of which is acting violently towards Palestinians in "the most primal and impulsive manner, without fear of punishment …." "At the checkpoint," he explains, "young people have the chance to be masters and using force and violence becomes legitimate … ."

Furer cites how his colleagues degraded and mercilessly beat a Palestinian dwarf just for fun; how they had a "souvenir picture" taken with bloodied, bound civilians whom they'd thrashed; how one soldier pissed on the head of a Palestinian man because the latter had "the nerve to smile" at a soldier; how another Palestinian was forced to stand on four legs and bark like a dog; and how yet another soldier asked Palestinians for cigarettes and when they refused "broke someone's hand" and "slashed their tires."

The most chilling of all the incidents was his own personal confession. "I ran toward [a group of Palestinians] and punched an Arab right in the face," he admitted. "Blood was trickling from his lip onto his chin. I led him up behind the Jeep and threw him in, his knees banged against the trunk and he landed inside." He then goes on to describe in gruesome details how he and his comrades stepped on the tightly handcuffed captive, dubbed "the Arab;" how they hit him until "he was bleeding and making a kind of puddle of blood and saliva;" how he "grabbed him by the hair and turned his head to the side," until he cried aloud, and how the soldiers then "stepped harder and harder on his back," to make him stop crying.

Furer then reveals that the company commander cheered them on: "Good work, tigers." And after they took their prey to their camp, the abuse continued in different forms. "All the other soldiers were waiting there to see what [my emphasis] we'd caught. When we came in with the Jeep, they whistled and applauded wildly." One of the soldiers, Furer said, "went up to him and kicked him in the stomach. The Arab doubled over and grunted, and we all laughed. It was funny ... I kicked him really hard in the ass and he flew forward just as I'd expected. They shouted … and laughed ... and I felt happy. Our Arab was just a 16-year-old mentally retarded boy."

As savage as it is, checkpoint abuse is not unique in any sense. It fits perfectly well into the general picture of viewing the Palestinians as relative humans who are not entitled to the dignity and respect that full humans deserve. At the height of Israel's massive reoccupation of Palestinian cities in 2002, for example, soldiers used their knives to engrave the star of David on the arms of a number of detained Palestinian men and teenage boys. The haunting pictures of the victims were first shown on Arab satellite TV channels and eventually exposed on the internet.

In the same year, at al-Amari refugee camp, during a mass roundup of Palestinian males, teenagers and elderly included, Israeli troops inscribed identification numbers "on the foreheads and forearms of Palestinian detainees awaiting interrogation." The late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat compared the act to well known Nazi practices at concentration camps. Tommy Lapid was incensed, saying: "As a refugee from the Holocaust I find such an act insufferable." Nonetheless, Raanan Gissin, a spokesman for Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, was worried only about Israel's image being tarnished: "clearly it conflicts with the desire to convey a public relations message," he told Israel Army Radio. Parroting that line, the mainstream media in Israel, too, were far too concerned about the "public relations disaster" to express any abhorrence or protestation at the immorality of the act and the irony of it all.

Yoram Peri, a professor of politics and media at Tel Aviv University, sees PR as "a fundamental issue in Israeli life." "We do not think we do anything wrong," he clarifies in an interview with the Guardian, "but we think we explain ourselves badly and that the international media is anti-Semitic." Obsessed with how Israel is seen rather than with what it actually does, Israelis, according to Peri, are mostly worried that "we do not explain ourselves well. When we discuss the horrible things that happen in the West Bank, we don't talk about the issue but about how it will be seen."

Recognizing this prevailing cynicism, apathy and acquiescence among the majority of Israelis in the criminal oppression of the Palestinians, former Knesset member Shulamit Aloni pronounced in a recent interview with the Irish publication the Handstand that "gross insensitivity" was threatening a moral disintegration of Israeli society. Referring to the Germans during the Nazi rule, she added, "I am beginning to understand why a whole nation was able to say: ‘We did not know.'"

I wonder when the time will come when a glamorous, award-winning director braves predictable intellectual terror and intimidation tactics to expose the venomous Israeli cocktail of racism and impunity by making a Palestinian version of "The Pianist."

Omar Barghouti is an independent political analyst based in Palestine. 

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Syria rejects Israeli talks demands

Thursday 02 December 2004, 20:19 Makka Time, 17:19 GMT

Damascus has dismissed an offer by Israel to resume peace negotiations because it came with strings attached.

"We have proposed a resumption of negotiations without conditions. I now notice the Israeli prime minister is setting conditions on Syria, and that is unacceptable," Foreign Minister Faruq al-Shara said on Thursday.

His comments came shortly after Israeli premier Ariel Sharon expressed willingness to talk to the Syrians under "certain conditions".

These included demands that Syria stop supporting what Israel calls "terrorist organisations".

But Syrian state radio accused Israel of deliberately trying to sabotage peace efforts.

"Israel is allowing opportunities for peace to slip by and blocking international efforts by setting defective conditions which sabotage the peace process and raise tension in the region," Damascus Radio said.

Comment: We have said it almost daily here on the Signs page - The LAST thing that Israel wants is any kind of peace with the Palestinians. The Palestinians DESPERATELY want peace. Why? Because they have been systematically oppressed and murdered for decades. Their position is such that they have NOTHING to loose by sitting down with the Israelis and negotiating some form of settlement, even if it were to be a settlement that was extremely unjust, it would be better than the prison in which they are currently forced to reside.

The Israelis, on the other hand, are in a position of 100% dominance and control. They will do everything in their power to avoid the negotiating table simply because once they sit down with the Palestinians, any resulting negotiated settlement will by default mean that they must give up at least some of their 100% controlling stake. As he has said on many occasions, Sharon is unwilling to give even one inch in his plans to create a "greater Israel".

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Palestinian detained infant injured in Zionist jailers' assault on female prisoners
By palestine-info.co.uk
Dec 2, 2004, 22:18  

Bethlehem - Zionist jailers' savage assault on Palestinian female prisoners a few days ago resulted in the wounding of a number of them and the injury of the baby boy of one of them.

Raíed Mahamid, lawyer of the Palestinian prisoner's club, said that the infant Waíel the son of the detainee Mirvat Taha was injured in the incident in Talmund jail.

Mahamid said that about 400 heavily armed Zionist soldiers forced all females out of their cells, sprayed them with teargas and beat them up and did not even spare the baby boy, who was born in prison.

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Zionist terrorist forces demolish home of old Palestinian woman in occupied Jerusalem
By palestine-info.co.uk
Dec 2, 2004, 14:23  

Occupied Jerusalem - Zionist special forces and policemen escorted municipal bulldozers on their devastation mission today that flattened the home of 75-year-old Suhaila Abdul Mohsen Shabana in Tal Al-Fool, Beit Hanina village to the north of occupied Jerusalem.

A number of foreign peace activists and family members of Shabana entrenched in the house in a bid to prevent the Zionist bulldozers from razing it to the ground but the security men evacuated them by force.

The old lady said that her house, which used to provide shelter for ten individuals, was only built a year and a half ago over 100 square meters of land. She affirmed that the family members had nowhere else to go to.

The Zionist occupation authorities had demolished five Palestinian houses in the holy city since last Thursday and distributed tens of demolition notifications on Jerusalemites in Beit Hanina, Shaífat and its refugee camp, Einata and Eisawiya.

The Zionist authorities last Thursday leveled the 150-square-meter house, which is still under construction, of Palestinian MP Ahmed Al-Batsh in Bir Nabala in addition to 41 huts belonging to the Jahalin Bedouin tribe that used to accommodate 157 individuals along with 27 cattle corrals.

The municipal authorities recently started a campaign against those who allegedly build houses without permits in the holy city.

Palestinian sources affirmed that the phenomenon of unlicensed buildings was due to the Zionist municipalityís racial policies that ignored the Palestinian natural growth and hence the need for more houses while allowing Jews to build at will.

The sources charged the Zionist municipality of imposing strict and complicated measures to attain a building permit.

They recalled that the municipality had distributed 43 demolition notifications last week only. [...]

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Mall Security Getting Anti-Terror Training
By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writer
Thu Dec 2,10:24 PM ET

MANCHESTER, Conn. - In a shopping mall outside Hartford, past the Abercrombie & Fitch and the cell phone kiosks, tucked away by the Barnes & Noble, a conference room full of security guards is learning how to spot suicide bombers.

They are being taught blast patterns and behavior profiles, how a bomb is packaged and how a bomber is recruited.

Suburban shopping mall security guards — whose jobs usually consist of watching for shoplifters and shooing away loitering teenagers — are receiving the type of training that just a few years ago was reserved for the Israeli police and the U.S. military.

"If they're carrying a bag, look for that white-knuckle grip. ... They're carrying that package and they're holding onto it for dear life," Patrick Chagnon, a Connecticut State Police detective and national counterterrorism instructor, tells his class of 10 students as the Shoppes at Buckland Hills mall bustles with holiday shoppers carrying bags and boxes of all sizes.

Chagnon's students are also told to watch for people wearing oversized clothes, and are instructed to make eye contact with shoppers and look for either extremely focused people or those who won't return a look. Another tip-off: Terrorists often ritualistically shave their bodies before carrying out a suicide bombing, he says.

Around the country, enrollment in these suicide bombing classes has increased in the past year, and the students include not just elite SWAT team members, but also local patrol officers and private security forces.

"Everyone has an obligation to be a soldier in this war," Connecticut Homeland Security Director John Buturla says.

In Israel, mall security guards, bus drivers and hotel managers are added eyes and ears for the police. That is what state and federal officials are trying to build in the United States.

In New York City, for example, apartment doormen and supers are being trained to be on the lookout for cars or trucks that are parked outside for a long time; for anyone who takes pictures of the building or lingers too long outside; and for new tenants who move in with little or no furniture.

The International Council of Shopping Centers held about 20 anti-terrorism classes this year and plans dozens more next year, says Malachy Kavanagh, who helps organize training for the organization. A class of mall security directors recently received training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., he says.

"Our attitude is that everybody has a role: mall managers, engineers, maintenance people," Kavanagh says. "The more people you train, the more eyes you have, the more people you have aware, the better your opportunity to prevent things."

Such training frequently is met with skeptical questions: Is al-Qaida really going to attack a Connecticut shopping mall? Anti-terrorism instructors say a bombing is nearly twice as likely at a commercial establishment than at a government building or military installation.

"A mall is packed with people. Government buildings usually are not," says Uri Mendelberg, a former Israeli military official whose company, ISDS International, teaches a three-day, $1,300 course on suicide attacks in Springfield, Mass. Mendelberg says about 60 people, including security agents for major U.S. corporations, have taken his class since it started last year.

Chagnon's lectures for mall security officials on how to prevent suicide bombings are paid for by the state and run about four hours.

"It will happen. You just need to make sure it doesn't happen here," he tells the security guards. "If terrorists know that 'Mall A' has good security and 'Mall B' doesn't, where are they going to go?"

An Associated Press reporter was allowed to sit in on the training, but the security guards were not allowed to be interviewed.

Some of the security guards questioned how much they could be expected to help, since they do not carry weapons and have no powers of arrest. But Chagnon told them their job is to alert law enforcement, and he assured them they could help thwart attacks by spotting surveillance teams and terrorism rehearsals.

"They're going to do a dry run," Chagnon said.

Comment: It seems that Big Brother is not going to just be everywhere, but everyone as well. This is the next step towards individual Americans turning in their own friends and family. It is also particularly interesting that suicide bombers have come up in the US War on Terror. But then again, they work so well for Israel, so why wouldn't the Neocons adopt the Zionists' strategy? Besides, employing individual suicide bombers to strike fear in the hearts of average Americans is so much more personal - and economical - than large-scale, elaborate "terrorist attacks".

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Airport fracas spurs inquiry
By TY TAGAMI
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 12/01/04

Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin has ordered an inquiry into "allegations of police brutality" by officers at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Franklin's directive comes three weeks after initial news reports of a physical confrontation between a Stockbridge woman and an Atlanta police officer outside a terminal. On Tuesday, the story got national attention when ABC-TV's "Good Morning America" showed video of the woman being hustled to the pavement.

Franklin said Wednesday she had asked airport General Manager Ben DeCosta and Atlanta police Chief Richard Pennington to review "any incidents" of brutality that have been alleged during her three years in office.

"As the mayor of a big city, I am always concerned about allegations of police brutality," Franklin said. The results of the inquiry will be made public, she said.

The mayor's statement came in reaction to news reports of a Nov. 2 confrontation in which Officer Terence Alexander threw Diana Dietrich-Barnes of Stockbridge to the pavement in an effort to arrest her for a traffic violation while she was dropping off her mother at the airport.

After reviewing an airport security videotape of the incident, Alexander's supervisors dropped charges of illegal parking, battery and obstruction that he had filed against Dietrich-Barnes.

The officer, who said he was injured by the woman, then tried to get three felony charges filed against her in Clayton County, where the airport is located. Clayton Magistrate Gloria Darty Reed refused Monday to hear the case.

Alexander is on medical leave and an internal investigation is being conducted by Atlanta police. The officer has been reprimanded or suspended without pay 13 times since 2001 for violating departmental rules, police said.

According to court records, more than 160 people at the airport have been jailed this year, as of October, for arguing with a police officer, not moving a vehicle quickly enough, or snatching a ticket from an officer's hand. [...]

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Tenet calls for Internet security
By Shaun Waterman
UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL
Published December 2, 2004

Former CIA Director George J. Tenet yesterday called for new security measures to guard against attacks on the United States that use the Internet, which he called "a potential Achilles' heel."

"I know that these actions will be controversial in this age when we still think the Internet is a free and open society with no control or accountability," he told an information-technology security conference in Washington, "but ultimately the Wild West must give way to governance and control."

The former CIA director said telecommunications -- and specifically the Internet -- are a back door through which terrorists and other enemies of the United States could attack the country, even though great strides have been made in securing the physical infrastructure.

The Internet "represents a potential Achilles' heel for our financial stability and physical security if the networks we are creating are not protected," Mr. Tenet said.

He said known adversaries, including "intelligence services, military organizations and non-state actors," are researching information attacks against the United States.

Comment: Intelligence services? We'd have thought that Tenet would put "Evil Terrorists" first in the list. Hmm, we wonder which intelligence service in particular he is most concerned about...

Within the federal government, the Department of Homeland Security has the lead role in protecting the Internet from terrorism. But the department's head of cyber-security recently quit amid reports that he had clashed with his superiors.

Mr. Tenet, who retired in July as director of the CIA after seven years, warned that al Qaeda remains a sophisticated group, even though its first-tier leadership largely has been destroyed.

It is "undoubtedly mapping vulnerabilities and weaknesses in our telecommunications networks," he said.

Mr. Tenet pointed out that the modernization of key industries in the United States is making them more vulnerable by connecting them with an Internet that is open to attack.

The way the Internet was built might be part of the problem, he said. Its open architecture allows Web surfing, but that openness makes the system vulnerable, Mr. Tenet said.

Access to networks like the World Wide Web might need to be limited to those who can show they take security seriously, he said.

Mr. Tenet called for industry to lead the way by "establishing and enforcing" security standards. Products need to be delivered to government and private-sector customers "with a new level of security and risk management already built in."

The national press, including United Press International (UPI), were excluded from yesterday's event, at Mr. Tenet's request, organizers said.

Comment: You heard the man: "...ultimately the Wild West must give way to governance and control."

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China 'blocks Google news site'
BBC

China has been accused of blocking access to Google News by the media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders.

The Paris-based pressure group said the English-language news site had been unavailable for the past 10 days.

It said the aim was to force people to use a Chinese edition of the site which, according to the watchdog, does not include critical reports.

Google told the BBC News website it was aware of the problems and was investigating the causes.

Chinese firewall

China is believed to extend greater censorship over the net than any other country in the world.

A net police force monitors websites and e-mails, and controls on gateways connecting the country to the global internet are designed to prevent access to critical information.

Popular Chinese portals such as Sina.com and Sohu.com maintain a close eye on content and delete politically sensitive comments.

And all 110,000 net cafes in the country have to use software to control access to websites considered harmful or subversive.

Local versions

"China is censoring Google News to force internet users to use the Chinese version of the site which has been purged of the most critical news reports," said the group in a statement.

"By agreeing to launch a news service that excludes publications disliked by the government, Google has let itself be used by Beijing," it said.

For its part, the search giant said it was looking into the issue.

"It appears that many users in China are having difficulty accessing Google News sites in China and we are working to understand and resolve the issue," said a Google spokesperson.

Google News gathers information from some 4,500 news sources. Headlines are selected for display entirely by a computer algorithm, with no human
editorial intervention.

It offers 15 editions of the service, including one tailored for China and one for Hong Kong.

Google launched a version in simplified Chinese in September. The site does not filter news results to remove politically sensitive information.

But Google does not link to news sources which are inaccessible from within China as this would result in broken links.

Comment: Why are they complaining? This is exactly what Tenet is proposing for the US!

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Former New York police chief to head homeland security: official
AFP
Thu Dec 2, 8:43 PM ET

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) - Bernard Kerik, the New York city police chief during the September 11 attacks, has been chosen as the new US homeland security secretary.

"I can confirm Kerik at DHS (Department of Homeland Security)," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity. Outgoing Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge announced his resignation on Tuesday.

The department was created in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, pulling together 22 previously disparate domestic agencies, including the Secret Service and the Coast Guard, and counts some 180,000 employees.

Kerik, a burly ex-soldier, became the New York City police commissioner in August 2000, and led the city's police department during the Al-Qaeda attacks on the city that brought down the World Trade Towers and killed almost 3,000 people.

He quit in December 2001 with the departure of mayor Rudolph Giuliani and was subsequently dispatched to Iraq by the Bush administration in 2003, after Saddam Hussein's ouster, as a senior adviser to Iraq's interior ministry on police training.

However, he only served out three months of a scheduled six-month appointment.

Kerik's curriculum vitae is straight out of the school of hard knocks.

Three years ago while researching his biography, "The Lost Son," Kerik uncovered that his mother, who abandoned him as a child, was an alcoholic prostitute who may have been beaten to death by a pimp.

Born in 1956 in New Jersey, the Big Apple's former police chief discovered that Patricia Kerik was found dead in Ohio at the age of 34, in 1964, with a severe head wound, but that her death was not classified a homicide.

Following an impoverished childhood, Kerik worked his way up into the top ranks of US law enforcement, and now appears poised to become a cabinet secretary and the chief figurehead charged with defending the United States from potential terror attacks.

Comment: Isn't that touching? You see, little people can make it big...

Before joining the New York Police Department in 1985, Kerik served in the US Army as a military policeman for three years and worked as a guard for Saudi royalty, US media said.

Upon donning the NYPD's blue uniform, Kerik wrote in his book that he found himself assigned as a beat cop to Times Square, chasing down prostitutes where his mother had once worked.

More recently Kerik -- who attended the Republican National Convention backing Bush this year -- has been working for ex-mayor Giuliani's consulting company. He has also advised the Mexican government on the crime problems of Mexico City.

If confirmed by the Senate, Kerik would become only the second person to hold the post after Ridge.

Asked on Tuesday what advice he would offer a successor, Ridge replied: "You have to work as long as it takes to get the job done on a day-to-day basis." [...]

Comment: Well, after this profound quote from Mr. Kerik himself, we can understand why George likes him so much, and why Kerik will be perfect for the job...

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The Fat Lady Has Started Singing
By George Paxinos
geopax@bluewin.ch
12-1-4

Friends,

I am a complete ignoramus at economics, but a thought has occurred to me:

Right now, what is still holding the USA above water, is the crooked corporate press, which is not giving anything like the true picture of the fact that the USA is bound to lose most ignominiously in Iraq, and is, in fact, taking a very heavy and unreported pounding now. As this finally becomes known, simply by being too obvious to hide anymore, it is bound to undermine international investor confidence, as people move their money into safer investments, elsewhere.

And in these days of a falling US Dollar, any net oil importer such as the EU, China or Japan cannot in its best interests wish to support the dollar against its own currency, because the lower the dollar falls, the relative cheaper will be its own oil imports, all else such as its own export market versus the dollar left out of the equation, and its only hope of competition against a falling dollar being cheaper oil for itself, so it will let the dollar slide in some balance of forces one against the other.

On the other hand, net oil exporters who still have to sell off their oil in dollars will be making less profit, unless the oil price in dollars is increased, or they themselves support the dollar, which latter would be tantamount to shooting themselves in the foot.

Or else they can demand payment in a more-stable currency, such as the Euro?

But if the oil-price becomes pegged in Euros, then exchange profits for the USA will fall away, and the dollar will slide still farther, and faster, too, further undermining investor confidence, and industries and jobs will be lost to the US, exacerbating an already-critical employment situation, as work is outsourced overseas in spite of a falling dollar making US exports cheaper on the world stage, because the rot in US productivity and the job market is already rampant as jobs are outsourced, and big US companies stash their own profits offshore.

And as the dollar falls, the US, as a net importer of oil, will have to pay relatively more dollars per barrel, against some other, stabler currency, making the impact of the dollar's fall noticeable at the pumps, in the USA itself.

Higher gas prices, when the entire hidden-agenda rationale for the "War Against Terrorism" was to steal someone else's oil without paying for it, will have a tremendous social impact in US daily life, which is largely, without extensive public-transport systems such as in Europe, and dependent upon high individual mobility which requires low gas prices.


Add to this inability to still relatively inexpensively commute to work areas and job opportunities becoming leaner by the passing day, the reduction of social structures for the purpose of privatising them away and with them, the safety nets of US society and the savings of the individual, together with fewer jobs, and social unrest on a quite unprecedented scale is bound to follow.

As the ruling Pirate Crew, its fingers in the oil-pie worldwide, will never back down either on raising its internal gasoline and oil prices (are they philanthropists, those for whom the killing of entire peoples is OK, just so long as they get their "free" oil, to sell at higher profits?), nor on their intent to exercise absolute control over their own people, so following on unrest will come repression, and following on repression, further loss of investor confidence, and following on that, greater loss of jobs, and so a continually falling dollar, and so higher gas prices at the pumps ... ad infinitum.

If I were a military analyst with some charge of saving my country from such a pirate crew, whereas one might believe or disbelieve the myth of some valid constitutional provision making the arrest of the President a possibility in case of his grievous wrongdoing leading to what is de-facto treason against his own people, I doubt, given the large number of people in administration apparently all on the take, and the fact that the average US citizen does not yet recognise the urgency of the situation in relation to their own country's well-being, and the closing window-of-opportunity to address this problem in any democratic way or otherwise -- I mean, pow(d)er to the people --that any such attempt would ever work out.

What I should do, as a military man, would be to organise a relatively small (200-300 or so) force of storm-troopers, enter the White House when all are known to be present (getting past the guard is something any military man will know is no problem at all), and simply take a rope for each pirate, tie a noose at one end around the necks of each traitor and the other end around the White House balcony balustrade, and toss the buggers over, to dangle there.

This is not the way it always has been done, except in some "banana"-republic, but, by God, it will set an example, to boot John and Jane Doe out of their stupor and into the present - and perhaps to even save their country -- in a rapidly-closing window-of-opportunity, which is down to such a knife-edge crack still left open, that only such an action, by a dedicated military man, might still save it.

Comment: Wow. While we certainly do NOT advocate Mr. Paxinos' proposal to "hang the pirates", it seems that the possibility of a military coup in the US may be less far-fetched than most people would like to think.

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Former Bush Campaign Official Indicted
The Associated Press
Updated: 6:55 p.m. ET Dec. 1, 2004

CONCORD, N.H. - President Bush's former New England campaign chairman was indicted Thursday on charges he took part in the jamming of the Democrats' get-out-the-vote phone lines on Election Day 2002.

James Tobin, 44, stepped down Oct. 15 after the Democrats accused him of involvement. At the time, he called the allegations "without merit."

In 2002, six phone lines run by the Democrats and the Manchester firefighters union were tied up for one and a half hours by 800 computer-generated hang-up calls.

Federal prosecutors said Tobin and other Republicans hired a company to make the calls to disrupt the organizations' get-out-the-vote efforts.

Tobin was charged with conspiracy to commit telephone harassment and aiding and abetting of telephone harassment. He could get up to five years in prison.

Calls to Tobin's lawyer and representatives of both parties were not immediately returned.

At the time of the jamming, Tobin was Northeast political director for the Republican Senatorial Committee, the party operation working to elect Republicans to the Senate.

Among the races affected by the phone-jamming was the Senate contest between Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Rep. John E. Sununu. Sununu ended up winning by about 20,000 votes.

Over the summer, Chuck McGee, former executive director of the state GOP, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and admitted paying $15,600 to a Virginia telemarketing company that hired another business to make the calls. A Republican consultant with the telemarketing company also pleaded guilty.

Comment: Ah, democracy!!

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Whistle-Blower Crackdown Spreads
By Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball
Newsweek
Dec. 1, 2004

A judge is ordering government workers to waive their confidentiality
agreements with journalists. What impact will the controversial tactic have on the media's ability to report news?

Dec. 1 - A hard-edged tactic used by a Justice Department special counsel to smoke out anonymous sources in a CIA leak case is about to be expanded to the 2001 anthrax investigation—despite profound misgivings within the department about the legitimacy of the practice.

As many as 100 FBI agents, federal prosecutors and other department employees are likely to be asked—possibly as early as the next few weeks—to sign broadly worded statements waiving any confidentiality agreements they had with journalists about the anthrax case, Justice officials tell NEWSWEEK. The waiver statement was recently ordered by a federal judge at the urging of lawyers for bioterrorism expert Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, who has filed a lawsuit alleging that government officials leaked damaging personal information about him in an effort to connect him with the anthrax attacks.

The language is to be patterned on a similar statement distributed last year to White House officials and others in the investigation headed by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, a U.S. attorney in Chicago, to determine who leaked the identify of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame to columnist Robert Novak. Like the upcoming Hatfill waiver, the so-called "Plame waiver" was designed to be an end run around journalists' claims that they are protecting the confidentiality of sources when they refuse to testify in leak investigations. The statement asserts that a government official who talked to the news media waives "any promise of confidentiality, express or implied" that was offered to them by a reporter, according to a copy of the Plame waiver obtained by NEWSWEEK.

It further authorizes any reporter with whom the official talked to disclose to investigators "any communications that I may have had … regarding the subject matters under investigation, including any communications made 'on background,' 'off the record,' 'not for attribution,' or in any other form." [...]

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UN fears for refugees who fled attack on Falluja

Rory McCarthy in Baghdad
Friday December 3, 2004
The Guardian

Aid agencies and UN officials are growing increasingly concerned about the fate of more than 200,000 Iraqis who fled their homes before the US-led assault on Falluja.

At least 210,000 Iraqis are now living as refugees in deteriorating conditions and are unlikely to be able to return to their badly damaged city for several weeks, according to reports compiled by a UN-led emergency working group.

Families fled to at least nine villages in the desert around Falluja in the weeks before the assault began last month. Others are staying in Baghdad, often with relatives. At least 100 families are camped out at Baghdad University mosque. Access to the refugees "remains sporadic due to insecurity and military operations", said the latest report.

"Shortages in fresh food items and cooking fuel have also been reported. The temperature has dropped, underscoring an urgent need for winterisation items and appropriate shelter," it said.

US troops still maintain a tight cordon around Falluja as they move from house to house, searching for insurgents and removing arms stores.

Over the summer, Falluja had become a bastion of the insurgency and too dangerous for US or Iraqi troops to patrol.

Water and electricity supplies are still cut off and the city's general hospital, the first target seized in the assault, remains under US military control, the report said.

Al-Rawda al-Mohammadia mosque has been turned into an aid centre that residents can use for only four hours each morning. One of Falluja's main health clinics was destroyed in the assault.

In another report a fortnight ago, the working group suggested that residents would not be allowed to return for some time. "Some reports are now suggesting that return to Falluja may take a matter of months rather than days, as was previously suggested by multi-national forces," it said.

Comment: Now that's what we call "bringing freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people".

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Report: Raytheon 'Heat Beam' Weapon Ready For Iraq
2:05 PM EST Wednesday
Boston Business Journal

Government defense giant Raytheon Co. has developed the first nonlethal weapon that fires a heat beam to repel enemies and reduces the chance of innocent civilians being shot, a Pentagon official said.

Raytheon, the world's largest missile maker, delivered a prototype to the U.S. military last month. The product is expected to be evaluated from February through June to determine whether to equip U.S. forces with it, Colonel David Karcher, director of the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, told Bloomberg Business News.

With U.S. casualties in Iraq rising, expectations are growing that Raytheon's weapon, called the Active Denial System, could be sent to Iraq in the next year, according to Charles "Sid'' Heal, commander of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department. A former Marine, Heal headed nonlethal-weapons training for the U.S. military in Somalia in 1995 and advised Raytheon on the beam's development.

"It's there, it's ready,'' said Heal, who has felt the weapon's beam and compares it to having a hot iron placed on the skin. "It will likely be in Iraq in the next 12 months. They are very, very close.''

The weapon, mounted on a Humvee vehicle, projects a "focused, speed-of-light millimeter wave energy beam to induce an intolerable heating sensation,'' according to a U.S. Air Force fact sheet. The energy penetrates less than 1/64 of an inch into the skin and the sensation ceases when the target moves out of the beam.

The weapon could be used for crowd control and is effective beyond the range of bullets fired by small arms, Karcher said. The effective range of an AK-47 assault rifle is as far as 273 yards, while an M16A2 rifle has a range of 400 meters.

The primary benefit would be protecting U.S. troops, Heal said. The weapon would also limit deaths of noncombatants, he said.

"This forces your adversary to declare intentions,'' Heal said. "U.S. forces get killed because they are reluctant to shoot. It happens in Iraq every day."

"This is where the future is going,'' Raytheon Chief Executive William Swanson, 55, said at a conference in Tucson, Ariz., where he introduced the weapon to investors Wednesday. "This is the ability to protect our troops, and we're talking about the speed of light.''

Raytheon is two years into a four-year, $40 million development contract, Karcher said. How soon the weapon is deployed will depend on the military's interest, and while the technology may be ready, troops must also be trained on it and engagement rules must be decided by a four-star general, he said.

Heal said the military version would cost about $1 million, and the U.S. military could require many.

Karcher said the first prototype cost about $10 million.

Heal told Bloomberg Business News that Raytheon could expand the market by selling a smaller version to law-enforcement agencies. The company is working on a smaller, tripod-mounted version for police forces, and the price would have to come down to a few hundred thousand dollars each to be affordable, he said.

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From the "State of America" Department:

Washington funds false sex lessons

Gary Younge in New York
Friday December 3, 2004
The Guardian

The Bush administration is funding sexual health projects that teach children that HIV can be contracted through sweat and tears, touching genitals can result in pregnancy, and that a 43-day-old foetus is a thinking person.

A congressional analysis of more than a dozen federally funded "abstinence-only programmes" unveiled a litany of "false, misleading and distorted information" in teaching materials after reviewing curriculums designed to prevent teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.

There are more than 100 abstinence programmes, involving several million children aged nine to 18, and running in 25 states since 1999. They are funded by the federal government to the tune of $170m (£88.5m), twice the amount when George Bush came to power.

The money goes to religious, civic and medical organisations as grants. To qualify they may only talk about types of contraception in terms of their failure rates, not about how to use them, or the possible benefits.

The survey was conducted by the staff of congressman Henry Waxman of California, a longstanding Democratic critic of the Republican administration's approach to sex education. His team concentrated on the 13 programmes that are most widely used, and found only two of them were accurate.

"It is absolutely vital that the health education provided to America's youth be scientifically and medically accurate," Mr Waxman said. "The abstinence-only programmes reviewed in this report fail to meet this standard."

Other "facts" include that abortion can lead to sterility and suicide, half the gay male teenagers in the US have tested positive for HIV, and condoms fail to prevent transmission of HIV in 31% of incidences of heterosexual intercourse. US government figures contradict all of these assertions. [...]

Mr Waxman also criticised some programmes for reinforcing sexist stereotypes to children. One - Why Know - says: "Women gauge their happiness and judge their success by their relationships. Men's happiness and success hinge on their accomplishments."

Another programme, Wait Training, says: "Just as a woman needs to feel a man's devotion to her, a man has a primary need to feel a woman's admiration. To admire a man is to regard him with wonder, delight, and approval. A man feels admired when his unique characteristics and talents happily amaze her."

Comment: And people still think that they "think for themselves". Until each person wakes up and realises that almost everything they think and believe is not, in any way, a result of their own reasoning, but rather the product of what can only be called deliberate government-sponsored "mind programming of the masses", they will continue to be victims of that "false, misleading and distorted information", and their minds, and therefore lives, will never be their own.

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Study: Fla. Streets Among Most Dangerous

Friday December 3, 2004 11:31 AM
By LISA ORKIN EMMANUEL
Associated Press Writer

MIAMI (AP) - Since moving to Miami from California 18 months ago, Arnold Dejesus has narrowly escaped getting run over twice while crossing the street. Once, the 36-year-old salesman was so angry he kicked the offending car.

Dejesus says Florida's roads are extremely dangerous for pedestrians, and according to a private study released Thursday, he is right.

The study by the Washington, D.C.-based Surface Transportation Policy Project says Florida's roads are the nation's most dangerous for people walking along them. Tampa ranked first among the state's metropolitan areas with 3.69 pedestrian deaths annually per 100,000 people. Orlando was next with 3.15, and Miami-Fort Lauderdale had 2.94.

"People here do whatever they want without thinking about the others,'' Dejesus said.

Comment: Ain't that the truth. It is just such a mentality that has enabled the current (and previous) US administration(s) to sow bloody murder and mayhem around the world, right under the noses of the slumbering, apathetic American population. What ultimate outcome can we expect for a country where such narcissism and extreme subjectivity defines the lives and outlook of the majority of the citizenry?

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U.S. Can Use Evidence Gained by Torture

Friday December 3, 2004 11:01 AM
By MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Evidence gained by torture can be used by the U.S. military in deciding whether to imprison a foreigner indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as an enemy combatant, the government concedes.

Statements produced under torture have been inadmissible in U.S. courts for about 70 years. But the U.S. military panels reviewing the detention of 550 foreigners as enemy combatants at the U.S. naval base in Cuba are allowed to use such evidence, Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Brian Boyle acknowledged at a U.S. District Court hearing Thursday.

Some of the prisoners have filed lawsuits challenging their detention without charges for up to three years so far. At the hearing, Boyle urged District Judge Richard J. Leon to throw their cases out.

Attorneys for the prisoners argued that some were held solely on evidence gained by torture, which they said violated fundamental fairness and U.S. due process standards. But Boyle argued in a similar hearing Wednesday that the detainees ``have no constitutional rights enforceable in this court.''

Leon asked whether a detention based solely on evidence gathered by torture would be illegal, because ``torture is illegal. We all know that.'' [...]

Comment: History is replete with examples of false confessions extracted under duress. The entire raison d'etre of the Bush administration is dependent upon the continued belief among the masses that "terrorists" exist, and that they "hate us because of our freedom". The US government is now planning to torture "likely suspects" (read some poor illiterate Muslim scooped up in Afghanistan) into confessing to all sorts of planned terrorist attacks and then present this "evidence" to the public. Is this reliable evidence? Understand that you too could be made to confess to literally anything when the right amount of "pressure" is applied. So are you going to believe such testimony??!

"The really dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.

"They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection."

- U.S. Vice President Henry Wallace Published in The New York Times on April 9, 1944

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U.S. Suspects Iran Is Making New Missiles

Friday December 3, 2004 10:46 AM
By BARRY SCHWEID
AP Diplomatic Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Interception of several technology shipments to Iran has bolstered U.S. suspicions that Iran is secretly developing an intercontinental ballistic missile that could threaten Europe and possibly the United States.

An intelligence report this week to Congress said North Korea, China and parts of the former Soviet Union provided Iran through the end of last year with ballistic-missile equipment, technology and expertise.

The report said Iran, in trying to improve existing missiles, was ``also pursuing longer-range ballistic missiles.''

A well-placed Bush administration official told The Associated Press on Thursday that U.S. interceptions had strengthened U.S. suspicions that Iran was trying to develop an intercontinental missile that could reach Europe and possibly the United States.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, declined to specify what material was intercepted and to identify the countries that sought to help Iran. [...]

Comment: Here it is folks, a golden opportunity to use your god-given talent for simple deductive reasoning. Over the course of the past two years, clear and irrefutable evidence was laid at the world's feet showing that the Bush administration lied and deliberately misinformed the American people and the world about the existence (or rather lack) of WMDs in Iraq. They did this in order to create the excuse for invading and occupying Iraq and murdering hundreds of thousands of its citizens. Now the are attempting to do exactly the same with Iran.

What are you going to do? Would anyone with an ounce of sense or intelligence really believe the assertions of this administration? Clearly not. It is time for people to metaphorically "stand up" and reject the attempts to , yet again, brainwash the entire world. You must realise that a major front in this "battle" is being at the level of the conscious awareness of the masses. Each of us has the right, and more importantly the responsibility, to reject these lies and speak out, at every opportunity, for the truth.

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Chemical giant to pay €9bn in Bhopal compensation

03/12/2004 - 11:23:57

Lohit, 70, a victim of Bhopal gas tragedy, participates with others at a demonstration near Parliament house, New Delhi in this file picture. US chemical giant Dow has accepted full responsibility for the Bhopal disaster in India that killed 15,000 people and today announced a €9bn compensation package.

US chemical giant Dow has accepted full responsibility for the Bhopal disaster in India that killed 15,000 people and today announced a €9bn compensation package, a company spokesman told BBC World television.

“Today I am very, very happy to announce that today, for the first time, Dow is accepting full responsibility for the Bhopal catastrophe,” said spokesman Jude Finisterra. “This is a momentous occasion.”

“We have a $12bn (€9bn) plan to finally at long last fully compensate the victims including the 120,000 who may need medical care for their entire lives and to fully and swiftly remediate the Bhopal plant site.”

A lethal gas escape from a chemical plant in the central Indian city of Bhopal has claimed the lives of 15,000 people over the last 20 years and many more have severe medical problems.

The factory was owned by Union Carbide, now a subsidiary of Dow Chemical.

“We have resolved to liquidate Union Carbide, this nightmare for the world and this headache for Dow and use the $12bn (€9bn) to provide more than $500 (€376) per victim, which is all that they’ve seen,” Finisterra told the BBC.

Dow had maintained the legal case was resolved in 1989, when Union Carbide settled with the Indian government for more than €362m.

Comment: Note: It has since come to our attention that the above story (about the compensation) is untrue. The fact that the negligence of an American company resulted in the deaths of thousands of Indians is however all too true.

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Fat lot of problems for US hospitals

Thursday 02 December 2004

Obese Americans are overwhelming medical imaging machines that now have a hard time peering inside their bodies, say doctors.

"Hospital radiology departments are increasingly unable to adequately image and assess obese patients because of the limitations in current radiolosgy equipment," said Raul Uppot, a physician at Massachusetts general hospital in Boston.

The main problem is that ultrasound waves have to penetrate body tissue to produce a quality image, and that can be hindered in even slightly overweight patients, the report said on Wednesday.

Obesity increasing

Over the 15 years, obesity increased in Massachusetts from 9% of the population to 16%.

More than 60% of Americans are overweight or obese, with a much higher risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers than people of healthy weight.

The American Obesity Association estimates that 127 million people in the United States are overweight, 60 million are obese, and nine million are severely obese.

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Ukraine court invalidates presidential result

03/12/2004 - 16:16:57

Ukraine’s Supreme Court today cancelled the presidential run-off election result and called for a repeat vote.

It said opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko cannot be considered elected president based on the first round of the vote which he won.

Kremlin-backed Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych was declared winner of the second round run-off by the Central Election Commission.

The opposition and independent observers said that vote was tainted by ballot rigging.

The court issued its verdict in response to an appeal by Yushchenko, who asked it to cancel the official results of the runoff, which he said had been rigged in favour of Yanukovych.

Yushchenko has pushed for a quick rerun of the run-off.

He has rejected outgoing President Leonid Kuchma’s call for a completely new election which was widely seen as a bid to field a new candidate more popular than Yanukovych.

Comment: During WWII a political cartoon depicted Poland being beaten by the Allies and Soviet Russia. Today, it appears that the Ukraine has taken Poland's place, with US and European "allies" engaging in a covert battle with Russia to have their patsy of choice installed.

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Putin says Iraq terrorist "incubator" posing threat to world: report
AFP
December 3, 2004

NEW DELHI - Russian President Vladimir Putin has described Iraq as a terrorist "incubator" that poses a threat to the world in an interview published in India where he is visiting.

"As had been the case with Afghanistan, Iraq turned into a major hotbed of terrorist threat, a firing ground and 'incubator' for militants," the Russian leader, who is on a three-day visit to India, told The Hindu newspaper.

"It is here (Iraq) and now that thousands of future terrorists are being recruited by terrorist networks. Those forces, most probably, can be employed in other regions of the world," he said.

Russia, which has faced a series of deadly attacks by separatists battling its rule in mainly Muslim Chechnya, opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Putin said actions by the world community to tackle "the terrorist international" should "start from international law" and be concerted and united.

He said in written responses to questions posed by the newspaper that differences between global players over Iraq had led to a "significant slowdown" in developing international "anti-terrorist interaction."

Putin said developments in Iraq had proved that the unilateral action taken by the United States and its allies was counter-productive.

"Terrorist activities there are not diminishing while peaceful Iraqis and citizens of other states become victims of violence." [...]

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Small Plane Crashes in Tenn. Killing 5
By BILL POOVEY, Associated Press Writer
Thu Dec 2,10:28 PM ET

COLLEGEDALE, Tenn. - A small plane carrying Seventh-day Adventist Church officials crashed Thursday soon after taking off from an airport in a rural, mountainous area, killing all but one of the six people on board.

The only survivor, co-pilot Jim Huff, walked away from the crash site and was taken to a Chattanooga hospital, Sheriff John Cupp said. No information on his condition was immediately available.

The twin-engine Cessna 421 crashed, caught fire and broke apart in a thicket of trees about 1 1/2 miles north of the Collegedale Municipal Airport. Airport manager Frank Zarski said the plane crashed because of engine failure. [...]

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Strong Earthquake Rocks Trinidad
Thu 2 Dec 2004

A strong earthquake shook Trinidad this afternoon, officials said. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

The quake had a preliminary magnitude of 5.4, according to the US National Earthquake Information Service in Golden, Colorado. Magnitude 5 earthquakes can cause considerable damage.

The epicentre was located around 12.5 miles south of the capital, Port-of-Spain, where most of the Caribbean country's 1.2 million residents live.

The quake came more than a week after a 6.3 earthquake rocked Guadeloupe and Dominica in the Caribbean, killing a girl and damaging scores of buildings.

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EARTHQUAKE MEASURING 4.2 ON THE RICHTER SCALE IN SOUTHERN GREECE
FRIDAY, 3 DECEMBER 2004

An earthquake measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale shook the region of Pirgos in southern Greece at 5:36 am this morning. The epicenter of the earthquake was recorded 30 kilometers north–northwest of the city of Pirgos in the Peloponesse, southern Greece.

The tremor was felt in the prefecture of Ilia, while seismologists maintain that there is no reason for alarm. No damages were reported.

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Typhoon may have killed more than 1,000 in Philippines
11:27 PM EST Dec 02

MARAGUNDON, Philippines (AP) - A powerful typhoon sliced through the Philippines on Friday, forcing more than 160,000 people to flee their homes to higher ground even as rescuers struggled to find the missing from an earlier storm that killed more than 420 people.

There was an unconfirmed report more than 1,000 were dead or unaccounted for from the typhoon that hit the Philippines earlier this week. Civil defence officials said at least 422 people were confirmed dead and another 177 missing. The military reported a toll of 479 dead and 560 missing but regional commander Maj.-Gen. Pedro Cabuay cautioned the figures were based on numbers provided by local officials that could not be immediately confirmed.

Mudslides and flash-floods caused by the earlier storm have turned entire provinces facing the Pacific Ocean into a sea of chocolate-brown mud littered with bodies, uprooted trees, collapsed homes and bridges.

Survivors sifted through piles of mud, which in some towns was ankle deep, for clothes and belongings. Soldiers, police and medical workers trekked with relief supplies across flood-ravaged roads and bare mountains to reach towns cut off by landslides.

In the town Infanta in Quezon province, east of the capital Manila, where at least 100 died, officials allowed residents to briefly leave evacuation centres to retrieve belongings from damaged homes but warned them to return because of the typhoon.

"We are not concerned so much about saving property. We just want to save lives," said Infanta Mayor Filipina America.

The latest storm, Typhoon Nanmadol, made landfall late Thursday along the northeastern coast with sustained winds of up to 185 kilometres an hour and gusts of up to 222 km/h, disrupting maritime rescue operations and partially grounding the Philippine air force. [...]

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BBC's doom drama

December 2, 2004 - 12:14PM

The BBC has made a disaster movie which predicts one billion people will be wiped off the earth by a "supervolcano".

The £3 million drama claims America's Yellowstone National Park is due an eruption of cataclysmic proportions.

If - or when - it does erupt, 100,000 Americans will be killed in minutes by a giant cloud of burning ash.

But the volcano will have such a profound effect on the global climate that up to one billion people will die as a result, the program will claim.

The doom-mongering drama is based on real life data, according to the BBC.

The Yellowstone volcano erupts every 600,000 years - and 640,000 years have passed since the last one.

Filmmakers worked with the US Federal Emergency Management Agency, which handled the September 11 tragedy, the Pentagon and the US Geological Survey to make the drama.

Comment: Disinformation from the highest levels of the US government or cold hard facts? Remember the Pentagon Report on Climate Change? Time will tell what awaits us we suppose. But rest assured, if Yellowstone doesn't blow, don't worry, there are any number of impending cataclysms to choose from, just don't let them concern you. Ignorance is bliss after all, right?

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Deadly hot summers 'to become the norm'

By Steve Connor, Science Editor
02 December 2004

Blisteringly hot summers similar to the one in 2003 when thousands of people in continental Europe died of heatstroke will become commonplace because of climate change, a study has found.

Scientists estimate global warming has already doubled the risk of similar hot summers, and if the climate continues to change, they will occur every couple of years.

It is estimated that between 22,000 and 35,000 people died heat-related deaths in Europe during the summer of 2003, when soaring temperatures and drought also caused widespread forest fires and crop failures in the Mediterranean area.

Until now it has not been possible to say with any accuracy how much of this extra heat was the result of man-made global warming and how much of it was the result of a naturally warm summer. But Peter Stott, of the Met Office's Hadley Centre, and Daithi Stone and Myles Allen, of Oxford University, have found a way of teasing apart the human and natural influences on the temperatures measured across Europe in 2003. Using a computer model of the climate, they found the extra heat that made the summer of 2003 the hottest for at least 500 years was largely the result of human influences, such as the burning of fossil fuel which exacerbates the planet's greenhouse effect.

Dr Stott said: "We simulated 2003 summer temperatures over Europe, with and without the effect of man's activities, and compared these with observations."

"We found that although the high temperature experienced was not impossible in a climate unaltered by man, it is very likely that greenhouse gases have at least doubled the risk.

"Our best estimate is that such a heatwave is now four times more likely as a result of human influence on climate."

The study, published in the journal Nature, calculates that human influence is to blame for 75 per cent of the increased risk.

At the rate at which the climate is changing, the scientists estimate that by the 2040s more than half of the summers will be warmer than that of 2003, and by the end of the century a summer similar to 2003 will be classed as unusually cold.

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