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Picture of the Day


Ouchie by Night
©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

 

American Born, addicted to Happiness

by Carolyn Baker
www.globalresearch.ca
30 November 2004

Last week, as I do every November 22, I reflected again on that day in Dallas forty-one years ago, my second year in college, when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. After reading Wayne Madsen’s fine article on the increasing inaccessibility to visitors of the grave of JFK in Arlington National Cemetery in 2004, I pondered once more not only the unresolved and unanswered questions of November 22, 1963, but the lingering, lethal legacy of that moment in history which is now being visited upon America in the twenty-first century. As an historian, I am frequently confronted with the agonizing consequences of human history, including humanity’s sins of omission.

I do not wish to re-hash the details of the assassination. Any astute researcher who is not serving the interests of the Central Intelligence Agency is forced to conclude that the murder of JFK was a complicated and meticulously organized coup which guaranteed the unscathed longevity of the military industrial complex and the political pre-eminence of the CIA for decades thereafter. My generation was never sufficiently committed to solving the crime of the assassination. It was much easier for us to protest the Vietnam War, revel in the counterculture we were creating, and convince ourselves that the JFK assassination was only one piece of the pie and that the revolution we thought we were creating would inevitably reveal all of its mysteries.

But the revolution didn’t happen, and wounds to the psyche, whether individual or collective, do not simply vanish. As a nation, we paid, and are still paying a price, for the crime for which we refused to demand justice. What is more, we have repeated history by passively submitting to yet another “Warren Commission” (the 9-11 Commission), as yet another coup d’etat, the U.S. government-orchestrated atrocities of September 11, 2001, fade into distant memory. As Mike Ruppert reminded his audience in his Portland State University lecture of 2001 regarding the Kennedy assassination and the 9-11 hoax, “the bills are coming due, and now it’s your turn to pay.”

The Bush coup of shamelessly rigged elections in November, 2000 paved the way for illegal mid-term “elections” throughout the country in 2002 and the most recent chapter in the overthrow of the American republic, the psuedo-election of 2004. These events ended democratic elections in the United States and guaranteed that within the next decade we will see the neocon agenda and all its horrors unleashed on the world and on the American people. It will be anything but a pretty picture.

The majority of responses to my articles contain some plea for a solution:

“What can we do?” goes the plaintive wail. While I am willing to offer suggestions, I have come to believe that the most important and useful one at this point would be: “Become willing to suffer.” Now, before you toss this article and pull the covers over your head, please hear me out. You will suffer in the next few years, whether you are willing or not, but your resistance to it can only exacerbate your misery.

I enjoy conversing with individuals not born in the United States. Their perspective is truly refreshing because almost without exception, their countries of origin have at some time experienced war, famine, revolution, corruption, or abject poverty. They have no Declaration of Independence that entitles them to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Consequently, they are much more open to hearing “bad news” and have fewer questions about how to “fix” it.

I hasten to add that Jefferson’s original phrase in the Declaration was “life, liberty and the pursuit of property.” Let us not forget that the profits from a capitalist land-conquering, land-holding system, not happiness, was the original intent of our founding fathers. Like the founders, the ruling elite of our day find “happiness” in ownership—hence Bush’s Orwellian “ownership society.”

Americans, even so-called Progressives it seems, appear to be fixated in an eternal adolescence that wants to repair adversity as quickly as possible without living it, or God forbid, learning from it. One facet of maturity is the awareness that the challenges of human existence are rarely simplistic, usually fraught with complexity, and typically last much longer than we ever dreamed we could endure them. As a result, we inwardly (or outwardly) roll our eyes at the adolescents in our lives who insist on taking the path of least resistance as quickly as possible. Yet, like adolescents, we refuse to face the reality that clean, fair, democratic elections no longer exist in our country, if they ever did. Like puerile MTV viewers, we demand that the right politician, the right book, the right motivational speaker, the right spiritual teacher, the right journalist tell us what to do and make it “all better” so that we can avoid suffering. We lament that the uninformed populace around us doesn’t want to hear any bad news, but the real truth is, neither do we.

One of the hallmarks of adulthood versus adolescence is the awareness that mistakes have consequences. Recently, a foreign-born friend of mine asked why the American people believe that they have the right to expand, exploit, rape, pillage, murder and conquer every area of the planet. I could only answer by explaining the history of the United States—an epic saga of what my friend had just verbalized. Indeed, the bills are coming due, and unfortunately, it is now time for us to pay.

During the next four years, the Bush Administration plans to screen all Americans for mental illness. The intent of the Bush mental health screening plan is not to legitimately diagnose and treat mental illness but rather determine who needs to be labeled “mentally unstable” or “subversive” and who needs to be medicated by the pharmaceutical industry from which the administration has added handsomely to its campaign coffers. Moreover, if the administration had the slightest interest in alleviating mental illness, it would have to begin with Lunatic In Chief, George W. Tragically, the nation is as mentally ill as its president, not only because the population has been entranced by the psuedo-Christian fascist paranoia of the religious right, but because overwhelmingly, most of us are pathologically “addicted to happiness.”

As the psychologist Carl Jung noted “the foundation of all mental illness is the avoidance of legitimate suffering.”

Before anyone calls me a masochist, please hear me out. We live in a painful, uncertain, dangerous, heartless world. I hear the reader saying: “I have already suffered and hold many badges of courage or at the very least, survival, and I really don’t want to surrender to further suffering because I have had quite enough, thank you very much.” But let us also remember that as Americans, we do not have the perspective on suffering that most other citizens of the world have, nor will we until we experience similar adversities.

Our children are unlikely to demand an end to a perpetual war on terrorism until they hold draft cards in their wallets which have been sucked dry by that war’s astronomical debt. We may never cherish our communities until we and our neighbors have to depend on each other for food and basic necessities of life. The preciousness of our resources will not be fully appreciated until they disappear or become very difficult to acquire.

People often ask me if I plan to leave the country. My answer: “There’s nowhere to go.” Within the next decade we are likely to see a nuclear exchange, a dirty bomb exploded in the U.S. as well as in other parts of the world, the return of the draft, the criminalization of abortion and women who have them, the suspension of the Constitution, a full-blown police state, the end of health care entirely except for the very wealthy, and an economic catastrophe in America that will make 1929 look like a cornucopia of abundance. Add to this every form of pollution humankind has created within the past century, the end of clean air and water, and intolerable climate changes resulting from global warming.

I noticed on November 3, 2004 that we were no longer living merely in the territory of political solutions or issues of social justice, but had crossed a watershed moment in history into the landscape of collective anguish that might test our mettle as a people and as individuals like nothing Americans have previously experienced.

Throughout history, citizens of nations in torment have responded in a variety of ways. Some quite naturally want to die and escape the pain. Others prefer to “fiddle” as long as possible while Rome burns. Others join resistance movements or become healers or teachers.

Surely by now, some reader is screaming: “But where is the hope?”

I can’t answer that question at this moment. That is to say, I can’t give you hope. Hope is something we all must construct in the laboratory of our own suffering.

What I do know is that as Americans, we are “hooked on hope” but generally unwilling to confront the suffering that allows us to find hope. Genuine hope is never found when we feel comfortable, affluent, safe, and secure. Ask Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, or Rosa Parks.

Perhaps the poet, T.S. Eliot,said it best:

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing;
wait without love For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting, Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought; So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

As we enter the dark time of year, and perhaps one of the darkest times in modern history, we celebrate in the Judeo-Christian tradition, the coming of the light. Darkness has never been able to unequivocally obliterate it. All great traditions and spiritual teachers declare that human existence is largely comprised of adversity interspersed with moments of light, beauty, and joy.

They have also admonished us to remember that without suffering, there will never be transformation. The days of simply applying bandaids to America’s deplorably corrupt and unjust political, economic, and social institutions are over.

It appears that nothing less than total transformation is being demanded of us.

My wish for every American in 2005 is that we recover from our addiction to happiness—our refusal to hear, ponder, and struggle with “bad news”, and with informed, illumined minds and hearts, allow the darkness to be our teacher.

That very “un-American” path may be our only hope for creating a new world

Comment: The above article contains some very important points. The idea of "conscious suffering" is not one that many will have heard of before, yet it is central to the very nature of our existence as conscious human beings.

Life is essentially one big "school". We are here not to find untarnished "bliss", but rather to learn. As is evidenced by the dire current state of our world, there is a vast and widening gulf between what the average person believes and what actually IS. We were all born ignorant of the truth of why we are here and what "here" is all about.

During the course of our lives (or lifetimes if you prefer) we are continually presented with opportunities to learn truth over lies, objectivity over subjectivity. Most of us spend our time ignoring and attempting to shut out "what is" in favor of creating our own little subjective "universe" within which we dwell. Up until now, such "bubbles of reality" were maintainable. Thankfully, this is no longer possible.

The time is fast approaching when the contrast between what most believe to be "reality" and actual Reality will be so great that bridging the gap will no longer be feasible. Reality is set to intrude into all our lives in a harsh and merciless way. Naturally, and as the above article states, this will involve a lot of suffering, as our dearly beloved beliefs and "sacred cows" are thrown to the ground. To attempt to hold on to these will result in nothing short of our individual and collective undoing. It is time to face facts, to recognise the truth that Reality is and never was what we thought it to be, to relinquish our death grip on our illusions and implacably face "what is".

For all of you wondering just what it is you can do, consider the fact that your government has gone to great lengths to create and perpetuate the illusory perception of reality within which we are all currently entrapped. From this we can deduce that the last thing that our "elected" leaders wish to see is a collective popular throwing off of this mantle of deception and and embracing of the harsh and hostile truth of our world and those who sit in governance over it. This then is what you can Do.

Take conscious and concerted steps to resist the efforts to play down just how bad our predicament really is. As you do so, you will notice that these efforts take the form of a two-pronged attack. One mode of attack comes from the forces in the world "out there" as embodied by our government and media as they attempt to shape and mould our perception. The other, and perhaps more complex mode of attack, comes from forces within each of us individually and is represented by our tendency to excuse, diffuse and generally avoid having to sit and "burn" in the "fire" that is recognition and acceptance of the objective reality of our world.

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Zionist Organization of America to Bush: Elected terrorist still a terrorist

By Jerusalem Newswire Editorial Staff

JERUSALEM - The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) took President George W. Bush to task Thursday for stating the establishment of a genuine “Palestinian” democracy should be the focus of peace efforts, while appearing to sideline the need to eliminate anti-Jewish terror.

“As we negotiate the details of peace, we must look to the heart of the matter, which is the need for a Palestinian democracy,” Bush told reporters after meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin. [...]

“Our destination is clear:two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security. And that destination can be reached by only one path, the path of democracy and reform and the rule of law,” he said. [...]

Responding to Bush’s remarks, ZOA President Morton Klein stated:

Democracy is not the heart of the problem; the heart of the problem is Palestinian Arab terrorism, the Palestinian Arabs' commitment to the destruction of Israel, and the Palestinian Authority's promotion of an entire culture of anti-Jewish hatred and violence in its official media, schools, and mosques.” [...]

Comment: Clearly the only thing that the Palestinians ever wanted was a state that they could call their own. With the years of murder and oppression by Israel however, the only thing that the Palestinians now want is to be allowed to live under their own rule, free from the threat of having their children's heads blown open by an IDF sniper bullet. Yet we see that rabid sectarian "Zionist" organizations like the ZOA and the ADL will not even allow them that.

While the ZOA accuses the Palestinians of desiring nothing less than the "destruction of Israel", the truth is that such groups are determined to ensure that Palestinian hopes for an independent state in historic Palestine will never be realised.

By asserting that the heart of the problem is "Palestinian Arab terrorism", the ZOA and other such groups merely echo the sentiments of Sharon and the Zionist Neocons that control the Bush administration and ensure that the fact that Israel is the major cause of "terrorism" in the Middle East never gets discussed openly.

The situation is rather like a man beating a child with a stick. Each time that the child is struck, he naturally attempts to defend himself. The man then claims that the fact that the child is defending himself means that his intentions are not honorable and that he is in fact intent on violence.

The only evidence of the child's peaceful intentions that the man will ever accept is when the child stops attempting to defend itself when being beaten - which of course is not likely to happen until the child is either unconscious or dead.

However, even if the child were to realise that he could stop the beatings by ceasing to respond to them, given that the man has a vested interest in beating the child, it is very likely that, in such a situation, the man would falsely claim that the child struck him, as an excuse to continue the beatings and therefore his position of dominance.

Substitute Sharon, the various Israeli lobby groups, most European leaders, the UN and last but not least the Washington Necons for the man, and the Palestinian people for the child, and you get an idea of the current state of affairs vis a vis Israel and Palestine

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Hamas Official - We will agree to two states and peace with Israel

source

[...] Yousef, in an interview with The Associated Press, said that if Israel removed settlements from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Hamas could acknowledge Israel's right to exist in peace and security.

He said he envisions a truce in which Israel and a Palestinian state "live side-by-side in peace and security for a certain period."

"For us a truce means that two warring parties live side-by-side in peace and security for a certain period and this period is eligible for renewal," Yousef said. "That means Hamas accepts that the other party will live in security and peace."

However, on Saturday Yousef retracted his statement, saying it was premature to talk about a truce at this stage. "It's too early to talk about a cease-fire," he explained. "We must focus now on reorganizing the Palestinian home. This should be the top priority."

Zahar too did not rule out the possibility of a conditioned truce with Israel.

"Israel is responsible for all the violence in the area, and we are in a position of self-defense," he said after meeting in Gaza City with PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday night.

"If the Israelis stop their aggression against the Palestinian people, I think that through negotiations we can reach a final agreement."

Comment: So we understand now the reality of the situation. Palestinians want the Israelis to stop killing them, to remove the illegal settler villages and to demilitarise the Palestinian territories. Israel will not do this. Why? Because they claim there is a "terrorist threat". Where does the terrorist threat come from? The fact that the IDF is arbitrarily killing Palestinian civilians, the fact that Sharon is allowing continued pillaging of Palestinian land by Jewish settlers, and the fact that the tiny parcels of land that have been ceded to the Palestinians are totally controlled by the Israeli military.

Conclusion? Sharon does not want peace and will use every trick in the book to maintain the "terrorist threat" so that he can continue to butcher and murder at will. It's simple when you are an amoral psychopath.

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Extremism of worldwide backstage power on the rise
05 12 2004 Sun. 01:24 Djokhar Time
Islamic Organization Ihvan-Muslimin ("Muslim Brothers"), which has been banned in Egypt, believes that the blasts in Sinai were organized by Israeli intelligence service MOSSAD and that Ariel Sharon is the main person who was interested in it. In its statement the oldest Islamic organization in the Arab World (founded in 1928) said that the purpose of these terrorist act was "to divert the attention from the slaughter that the Zionist troops have been committing for the past 10 years in Gaza Strip, where over 100 Palestinians died. The blasts also allowed [Israel] to tie legitimate Palestinian Resistance to terrorism, which is spreading in the world because of the aggressive policies of the US administration."
 
One of the leaders of that organization, Asam al-Arian excluded any participation of Palestinians, Egyptian groups or Aiman al-Zawahiri in the terrorist acts in Sinai.
 
"Egypt is not listed among Zawahiri's priorities and he has no fighters here who are capable of carrying out such an operation," Arian stated. He has no doubts that Israel remains the number one culprit.
 
Former Deputy Foreign Minister of Egypt Lt. Gen. Muhammed Omar also does not rule out that the blast of the hotel was carried out by Zionist secret service, MOSSAD.
 
Among the most important factors that affect the state of international alignment of forces, the fight for areas of influence in the world is being brought to the forefront today. This fight is being conducted by the world's ruling backstage circles under the far-fetched threat of "international terrorism". The fight against this imaginary enemy, in many aspects, has been unleashed on a national, regional and worldwide scale, which involves direct lobbying of this worldwide war by international Zionist circles, which are not making a secret out of their participation in masterminding this war.
 
Apparently, this fight is a war for domination over the world and it is the utmost form of extremism of ruling regimes of the countries that have the strongest military might. This war is threatening to turn into one of the most serious problems that the world will be facing once and for all, with which the mankind entered the new millennium.
 
Grave crimes that are being committed under a plausible pretext of maintaining international security are actually posing more and more threat to security of these countries and their populations and taking more and more lives of innocent citizens.
They entail quite tangible political, economic and moral losses and they have a strong psychological effect on large masses of the population.
 
Along with the increase of resistance to the so-called fight against "international terrorism", the ways this fight is being conducted are becoming more and more savage and perverted. More and more often "fighters against international terrorism" carry out strikes on residential areas and crowded places, when all sorts of banned weapons are used. It includes the provocation at Sinai, mentioned above, in which many tend to see the Zionist trace.
 
The dynamics of "fight against international terrorism" on a global scale, especially lately, gives us the reasons to believe that the activities of all kinds of political extremists who control the worldwide powerful circles backstage will at least remain at the same level. Attempts will be made to expand the scope and the geography of fight on "international terrorism", such as to strengthen the destructive influence of this fight on the state of social, political, economic and environmental safety of the international community.
 
Today it is becoming more and more obvious that the activities of the so-called "antiterrorist coalitions" most often have the goal not only to destabilize the situation in one region or another, or to destroy the local regimes listed among the enemy camp of the "world's civilization", but also to take control of natural resources and territories, to set up controlled local regimes that can be run from the outside, and to change the worldview and the traditions of the subdued nations.
 
International Zionist circles that have influence on the countries and their governments with their power, their media and their money are the ones playing one of the key roles in this strategy.
 
Thus, after the USSR collapsed, Russian secret services, which were in need, and newly-founded powerful elite in Russia were put on the ration of international Zionist groups. The result of this patronage is obvious: Russia got mired in senseless and absolutely destructive military scam in the Caucasus, and the bosses of the "antiterrorist coalition" are skimming the cream and taking the post-Soviet/Russian political and territorial space, which is becoming deserted quite rapidly.

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Palestinians say Israeli raids hampering renewal of peace talks
By MOHAMMED DARAGHMEH

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) - Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia condemned continuing Israeli military raids, saying Saturday that they are hampering efforts to restart the peace process.

Hopes have been high that the peace process, stalled by four years of violence, would take off following Palestinian presidential elections on Jan. 9 to replace Yasser Arafat.

On Saturday morning, Israeli troops raided the West Bank city of Tulkarem, arresting a senior Hamas militant, the army and witnesses said.

The raid comes a day after Israeli troops shot and killed an Islamic Jihad militant during a similar raid.

"Unfortunately, Israel continues with its assassinations," Qureia said at the weekly Palestinian cabinet meeting. "It is therefore sending a clear message that it does not want to give a chance for things to quiet down and bring the (peace) process back on track," he said.

"At a time when we are moving towards democracy, unfortunately . . . Israel continues with its assassinations," Qureia said, calling on the international community to pressure Israel to end the raids.

Since Arafat's death last month, both Israel and the Palestinians have scaled down the violence and Israel has promised to redeploy its troops from Palestinian towns to allow the elections to take place.

However, Israeli officials rejected Qureia's comments, saying that while Israel has promised not to initiate any new military offensives, it would continue to go after Palestinians it believes are planning attacks.

"These raids were carried out based on specific intelligence that these men were planning on carrying out suicide bombings," a senior official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

In Saturday's raid, troops surrounded a building in Tulkarem, forcing all the residents to leave and firing in the air before the Hamas militant, Rami Tayah, 26, and another man surrendered to the soldiers, witnesses said. [...]

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27 Civilians Die in New Attacks by Iraq Rebels
By ROBERT F. WORTH and RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr.
Published: December 4, 2004

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Dec. 3 - Heavily armed insurgents launched attacks here and in the northern city of Mosul on Friday morning, striking at police stations, military bases and a Shiite mosque. At least 27 Iraqi civilians and policemen and dozens of insurgents were killed.

In Baghdad, several dozen black-clad militants stormed a police station just after dawn, killing a dozen officers, police officials said. Almost simultaneously, a powerful car bomb detonated outside a Shiite mosque in the capital's Adhamiya neighborhood, killing 15 Iraqi civilians and wounding 18, mostly worshipers leaving the mosque.

In Mosul, insurgents struck at least three police stations, hit American bases with mortars and staged elaborate ambushes involving synchronized explosions of remote-controlled bombs. At least 22 insurgents were killed, while 7 American soldiers suffered minor wounds, according to American commanders.

The violence, coinciding with several smaller-scale attacks throughout the country, demonstrated the continued power of the insurgency here and the ferocity of the militants' campaign against the fledgling Iraqi security forces as the January elections approach.

Shortly after the police station attack, an Islamist Web site posted a message from the network of the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claiming responsibility. The statement was impossible to verify. But it suggested that Mr. Zarqawi, who claimed responsibility last week for attacks in Mosul that left 17 Iraqi national guardsmen and an American soldier dead, may still be capable of planning attacks here.

American military officials have said that Mr. Zarqawi appears to be setting up new cells in the wake of the American-led offensive in Falluja last month, but that he has lost the ability to communicate effectively with cellphones and messengers.

The Baghdad attacks began shortly after dawn, when several dozen men armed with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns stormed a police station in the southern Baghdad neighborhood of Seydiya, destroying several police cars and freeing about 50 prisoners, the police said.

The police inside the compound held off the attackers at first, but soon ran out of ammunition, survivors and witnesses said. They called for reinforcements, but when the new officers arrived, the guerrillas entered the compound with them. The insurgents, shouting "God is great!" in Arabic, quickly took over the station and pursued six fleeing officers to the roof, where they shot them all execution-style, with one bullet to the head.

Shortly afterward, the car bomb detonated outside the mosque. Witnesses described two explosions, one that damaged the mosque but killed no one at about 6:15 a.m., and a second, larger one 20 minutes later, just as worshipers were trying to help put out the flames.

After the blast, human remains and metal shards lay scattered in the alleyway by the mosque's shattered front gate, and the air was filled with the cries of friends and relatives of the dead. Several cars and neighboring buildings were engulfed with flames, and it took firefighters nearly two hours to put them out.

In Mosul, United States officials had received intelligence that a major attack was being planned. Insurgents there had largely avoided direct confrontations with the Americans since the uprising three weeks ago, when more than 100 guerrillas were killed.

After the attacks began late in the morning, American troops shut down three of the five bridges over the Tigris River and sealed off much of western Mosul, as insurgents roamed the streets. Overhead, fighter jets and Apache attack helicopters swooped in.

The Mosul attacks appeared to have been planned well in advance, according to American commanders. "The terrorists told the civilians they were going to attack the Americans and to stay indoors," said Lt. Col. Erik Kurilla, the commander of the First Battalion of the 24th Infantry, which controls much of western Mosul. Shops near the biggest ambush closed just before the attack, the commanders said.

Comment: The fingerprint of Mossad is all over these latest round of attacks in Iraq. The targeting of innocent civilians at a Mosque and blaming their fellow citizens, shooting Iraqi police "execution style" with one bullet to the head, are all time-tested tactics of the Israeli secret service.

Simultaneous explosions involving synchronized remote-controlled bombs speaks of a heavily funded and well organized intelligence like Mossad or the CIA, or perhaps both working in conjunction.

By attacking the Iraqi people and the American backed Iraqi police, they are playing both sides of the conflict, which further demonizes the legitimate Iraqi resistance, and solely serves the interests of the American occupiers and their Israeli backers.

We are supposed to believe that someone like Zarqawi can organize such a complicated strike even though, according to the military officials, he has lost the ability to communicate with cell phones or messengers.

It seems also highly implausible that such a well-coordinated attack could have been pulled off by common Iraqi citizens and freedom fighters, dirt poor from ten years of sanctions, trying to defend their country from illegal invaders.

An interesting exercise whenever reading articles from a "respected" newspaper like the New York Times, is to train yourself to replace the words "militant" or "insurgent", with Mossad or CIA sponsored agent, and you will likely be closer to the truth.

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General: New Photos Could Be Used As Tool
By SARAH EL DEEB, Associated Press Writer
December 5, 2004

CAIRO, Egypt - A former military spokesman in Iraq said Saturday new pictures showing apparent abuse of Iraqi prisoners were the acts of an isolated few but will be used by some to try to tarnish the entire U.S. military.

Gen. Mark Kimmitt, now based in Qatar, spoke on the pan-Arab television network a day after the U.S. military launched a criminal investigation into photographs that appear to show Navy SEALs in Iraq sitting on hooded and handcuffed detainees.

Other photos show what appear to be bloodied prisoners, one with a gun to his head.

The photos, found by an Associated Press reporter, were among hundreds in an album posted on a commercial photo-sharing Web site by a woman who said her husband brought them from Iraq after his tour of duty.

Some of the photos have date stamps suggesting they were taken in May 2003, which could make them the earliest evidence of possible abuse of prisoners in Iraq. The far more brutal practices photographed in Abu Ghraib prison occurred months later. [...]

Kimmitt, the spokesman in Iraq at the time of the Abu Ghraib scandal , said he believes the photos show the acts of an isolated few.

After months of investigation, Kimmitt said the number of U.S. military troops involved in acts of abuse has been found to be very limited.

Asked by al-Jazeera if such pictures are a problem, Kimmitt said they are certainly a "tool" and some will try to use them to show the U.S. military in a negative light. [...]

Comment: Kimmitt's comment is pure propaganda, designed to reinforce the illusion of "a few bad apples". Although Rummy himself ordered the torture, he claims that the US only uses "stress positions" which don't actually constitute torture. Yet anyone with two neurons in contact with one another can tell you that testimony or confessions obtained under torture are hardly ever grounded in reality.

If the torturer wants to know the names of a prisoner's terrorist accomplices, and the prisoner is actually innocent, he will nevertheless begin spewing forth names of anyone he knows just to end his suffering. The Neocons know this, and are simply using it to their advantage. When the torture is over, they can say, "See? He finally talked, and he named 30 other terrorists. Don't worry though, because we arrested them all and they're being interrogated as we speak."

The Neocons' tactics have other interesting effects. For example, in the article Life as a POW of the Japanese, we read the following:

In 1942, Harry Carver was stationed in Singapore with the Royal Artillery. He was captured by the Japanese and spent three years as their prisoner. He now lives in Dannevirke, New Zealand.

An Ormondville man who spent three years in a Japanese Prisoner of War camp says there would be "no New Zealand as we know it today" had the Americans not dropped two atomic bombs on Japan to end the Second World War.

Harry Carver, a member of the British Army stationed in Singapore before WW2, was captured in 1942 and believes he is one of only a few in New Zealand with the experience of a prison camp in Japan. [...]

"Our officers assured us we would only be in prison three months. We were there three years! During that time we lost 50,000 men. They were shot or bayoneted, or they died of disease, malnutrition or working on the Thai railway."

Though he describes himself as one of the lucky ones, being sent to a prison camp in Japan, Harry had many horrific experiences in captivity and was fortunate to survive. He recalls spending three days in a dog kennel on water only and having to kneel on a stick - a torture that paralyses a man's legs for up to a couple of hours afterwards. [...]

Well, hang on a minute now! According to the US, kneeling on a stick in a confined space wouldn't technically be torture; it's a stress position. Dietary restrictions are also allowed. So, according to the US' new definition of torture, many former POWs from the US and numerous other countries were not, in fact, tortured.

Isn't it fun to "create your own reality" the Neocon way?

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Columnist quits after piece spiked
December 3, 2004

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- James Goldsborough, a columnist at the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper who frequently criticized President George W. Bush's administration, has quit after the publisher spiked one of his columns.

Goldsborough, 66, said Thursday publisher David Copley pulled a column in which he sought to explain why Jewish voters overwhelmingly supported Democrat John Kerry over Bush, despite the administration's pro-Israel policies.

Harold Fuson, vice-president and general counsel for The Copley Press Inc., which publishes the Union-Tribune, said Copley spiked the column because he thought it might offend some readers.

But Goldsborough, a columnist at the newspaper for 12 years and one-time Paris bureau chief for Newsweek magazine, said he believes the right-leaning Union-Tribune was targeting moderates like himself and another columnist who was fired in April.

"There's just an effort here to control what columnists say and you can't do that. That's what columnists do."

"They're independent voices. And you might as well not have columnists if you're just going to bend their views to fit some editorial position," he said.

Goldsborough's resignation, effective Dec. 10, follows the dismissal of columnist Neil Morgan, who spent 54 years with the newspaper and its predecessor.

Morgan, also a moderate, said he believed he was forced out for angering a senior newspaper executive who shared information with him about "a prominent San Diegan." Morgan said the executive accused him of lying to other managers about their conversation.

Fuson said there was no connection between the departures.

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Politicize the CIA? You've Got to be Kidding!
By ALEXANDER COCKBURN
December 4 / 6, 2004

No alien penetration, or treachery of double agents, have ever done nearly as much damage to the CIA as the infighting consequent upon the arrival of each new Director, charged by his White House master with cleaning house and settling accounts with the bad guys installed by the previous White House incumbent.

Bush's new director, former Republican Florida rep Porter Goss and his team of enforcers, rampage through the corridors of CIA HQ at Langley. Goss was once an undercover CIA officer so there's probably a personal edge to his mission of revenge, as he strikes back at the dolts who nixed his expense accounts or poured scorn on his heroic endeavors in the field.

But Goss's most pressing task is to exact retribution for the stories emanating from the CIA in the months before the election suggesting that the Agency's measured assessments of the supposed WMD presence in Iraq were perverted by the war faction headed by (vice) president Cheney.

Goss and his hit team have acted swiftly. In early November the CIA's number 2, John McLaughlin, resigned, followed days later by the Agency's top man on the clandestine side, Stephen Kappes and his number 2, Michael Sulick. And, no surprise, into retirement goes Mr "Anonymous", Michael Scheuer, leader of the CIA unit hunting Osama bin Laden. I'm with Goss on that one. Scheuer probably spent most of each day hunting down his next book advance and kibbitizing about royalties from Imperial Hubris with his true "Controls" at Brassey's Inc, owned by shadowy Books International.

So Goss will exact vengeance, spill blood, leak to favored journalists and deliver Bush daily intelligence briefings tailored to meet the expectations of his patron.

Of course there's a portentous uproar and wringing of pious hands as the cry goes up that the abilities of the Agency to collect and analyze useful intelligence are being compromised by what Jason Vest in The Nation was pleased to call "unparalleled" political partisanship. "We need a director," cries Jay Rockefeller, ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, "who is not only knowledgeable and capable, but unquestionably independent".

There's nothing new in all this. Permit me to take you on a brisk tour of CIA Directors. Before Goss we had George Tenet, a former Congressional staffer so eager to please Bush that he uttered the imperishable words "slam dunk" about the supposed ease of making a case for Saddam's WMD.

Tenet, whose political agility is advertised in the fact that he was one of the longer serving DCIs,supplanted John Deutch, an MIT prof who divided his brief sojourn as director between downloads of the Agency's darkest secrets onto his personal laptop, business ventures with a revolving doorman from DoD, William Perry, and excursions to town meetings in Los Angeles, claiming to black audiences that the CIA had no role in funnelling cocaine into the nation's ghettoes. Among the few secret files Deutch apparently failed to download onto his laptop were materials later excavated by the CIA's own inspector general, Fred Hitz, establishing CIA complicity in the cocaine trade.

Deutsch's predecessor was Jim Woolsey, unusual for someone in the Clinton-Gore milieu in having no conspicuous record of marijuana consumption, hence a security clearance, thus qualifying him as the nation's top spy. Clinton and Gore mostly liked Woolsey for political reasons, because he had street cred with the neocons (who used to sail under the flag of "Jackson Democrats"). Woolsey later became a prime lobbyist for attacking Iraq.

DCI before Woolsey was Robert Gates, a cat torturer/ drowner in his youth, creature of Bush Sr's administration, in trouble for lying to Congress; before him William Webster, brought in as air freshener after William Casey, one of the most consummate scoundrels ever to run any government agency in the entire history of the United States. Casey was Reagan's campaign bag man, then given the CIA with the prime function of misrepresenting the threat posed by the Soviet Union and nearer at hand, Nicaragua.

Casey dislodged Jimmy Carter's man, Admiral Stansfield Turner, a relatively honest fellow. Turner, roasted for firing many in the CIA "old guard" of that era, took over as CIA chief from Bush Sr, who, like JFK, sanctioned a Murder Inc in the Caribbean, and who wilted under pressure from the Jackson Democrats, aka the Military Industrial Complex. It was Bush who appointed the notorious "Team B" to contradict previous in-house CIA analyses suggesting the Soviet threat was not as fearsome as that depicted on the cartoon (aka editorial) page of the Wall Street Journal.

Bush's predecessor as DCI was William Colby, a CIA careerman mostly famous for running the Phoenix assassination program in Vietnam, battling with the CIA's crazed counter-intelligence czar, James Angleton and testifying with undue frankness in the Church congressional hearings into the CIA. In retirement Colby continued his career as a conspiracy buff, probing the suicide of Clinton's counsel Vince Foster for his newsletter. Colby finally stepped into his canoe on Maryland's eastern shore after a dinner of clams and white wine and turned up drowned a few days later.

Colby replaced James Schlesinger who ran the Agency for a few months in the midst of the Watergate scandal. Ray McVicar, a 27-year career analyst with the CIA, now retired, remembers how he and his Agency colleagues were taken aback when Schlesinger announced on arrival, "I am here to see that you guys don't screw Richard Nixon!" To underscore his point, McGovern recalls, Schlesinger "told us he would be reporting directly to White House political adviser Bob Haldeman and not to National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger."

We'll stop with Schlesinger, but you get the idea. There's nothing new about the "political" appointment of Porter Goss, who least has the agreeable distinction of owning an organic farm in Virginia where tiny donkeys run herd on hairy sheep from Central Asia, and chickens lay green eggs, thus reduplicating the Agency's most expensive op ever, the Afghan caper, where the CIA supervised the mujahedeen at a cost of $3.5 billion, and launching Osama bin Laden on his chosen path.

Most intelligence is worthless, and with the scant truthful stuff rapidly deep-sixed. Whatever makes its way onto the desks of presidents or congressional overseers is 100 per cent "political". Anyone who wants to find out what's happening in the world would be better advised to ask a taxi driver. [...]

Comment: For more information on the many astounding feats of the CIA over the years, see our timeline.

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Bush Pressuring G.O.P. to Approve Intelligence Bill
By PHILIP SHENON
December 5, 2004

President Bush sought to stem a near-rebellion by members of his own party in Congress yesterday by describing a sweeping intelligence-overhaul bill they oppose as an effort "to do everything necessary to confront and defeat the terrorist threat" and calling for its passage during a brief Congressional session this week.

The president's remarks in his weekly radio address came a day after a powerful Senate Republican, John W. Warner of Virginia, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, expressed doubts about the bill, which would enact the major recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission and create a cabinet-level director of national intelligence.

Mr. Warner, the first member of the Senate from either party to raise such concerns publicly since the final bill was hammered out last month, said he wanted to resolve issues in the legislation that "may impact the time-tested chain of command" within the Defense Department.

His comments echo those of a group of House Republicans who blocked a vote on the bill last month.

Under the bill, the Pentagon, which is now believed to control about 80 percent of the government's estimated $40 billion intelligence budget, would have to cede some authority to a new national intelligence director, resulting in a similar loss of oversight authority for the Senate committee led by Mr. Warner, as well as the Armed Services Committee in the House.

Congressional officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity given the delicate nature of the discussions, said the White House chief of staff, Andrew H. Card, and Vice President Dick Cheney were involved in talks to appease the bill's opponents on Capitol Hill. One option may be to rewrite the legislation to provide additional guarantees to the Defense Department over its control of three large spy agencies that now reside within the Pentagon but provide intelligence to agencies outside the Defense Department.

The largest of the three is the National Security Agency, which is responsible for electronic surveillance in foreign countries. [...]

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Bush Downplays Thompson's Terror Worries
By JENNIFER LOVEN, AP White House Correspondent
December 5, 2004

WASHINGTON - President Bush played down on Saturday a stark warning from his resigning health chief that the nation's food supply is largely unprotected from terror attack.

Bush said that the government is doing what it can to safeguard the public from threats, but much work remains.

"We're a large country, with all kinds of avenues where somebody could inflict harm," said Bush, asked about the issue after an Oval Office meeting with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. "We've made a lot of progress in protecting our country, and there's more work to be done, and this administration is committed to doing it."

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said in a speech Friday announcing his coming departure from the Bush Cabinet that he worries "every single night" about a possible terror attack on the food supply.

Despite dramatic increases in inspections of food imports, only "a very minute amount" of food is tested at ports and airports, Thompson said.

"For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do," Thompson said. "We are importing a lot of food from the Middle East, and it would be easy to tamper with that."

Asked to respond to Thompson's comments, Bush neither criticized them nor implied that the food supply is safer than Thompson asserted. [...]

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Chavez lashes out against war in Iraq
AFP
Saturday, December 04, 2004

DUBAI (AFP) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has lashed out at the United States, accusing Washington of unleashing "real terrorism" in Iraq, during an interview broadcast on Al-Jazeera television late yesterday.

"We have always rejected the American way of fighting terrorism, because it is an even greater terrorism," he said in the interview shortly after completing a whirlwind tour of the Middle East.

"These bombs that kill children, women, innocent men, whole families are real. It is a more horrible terrorism. I have no hesitation in calling the Iraq invasion an act of agression.

"It is not a war on terrorism, it is terrorism itself," Chavez said.
Washington accuses Chavez of harbouring sympathies for Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

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Putin Says U.S. Government is a Dictatorship Wrapped in Pseudo-Democratic Phraseology

Dec 3
By RAJESH MAHAPATRA,
Associated Press Writer

NEW DELHI - Russian President Vladimir Putin sharply criticized the United States on Friday, accusing it of a double-standard in fighting terrorism and questioning whether any election in Iraq can be democratic when fighting is raging in the country.

Putin, who has been angered by U.S. and European denunciations of the Ukraine election as rigged unacceptable, began a three-day visit to the Cold-War era ally with continued criticism of Washington, saying it seeks a "dictatorship of international affairs."

"Even if dictatorship is wrapped up in a beautiful package of pseuo-democratic phraseology, it will not be in a position to solve systemic problems," Russia's Itar-Tass news agency quoted him as saying in a speech Friday night in New Delhi.

Putin, who has been critical of the United States for going to war without international approval, warned that the fighting in Iraq was threatening the possibility of a democratic vote slated for Jan. 30.

"All this will definitely call in question the possibility of holding honest and democratic elections in Iraq early next year," he said.

Putin and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed a joint declaration that called for ending "political expediency" in the global fight against terrorism. The declaration made no reference to any country.

But in an interview in a Hindu newspaper, Putin said the United States and European nations practiced double standards by allowing into their countries some Chechen rebels whom Moscow considers to be terrorists.

Comment: We agree, but Putin is in no position to throw around accusations of dictatorial tendencies. The simple truth is that this planet and its main resource - 6 billion people - are currently in the position of an impala surrounded by a half dozen slathering hyenas. To make matters worse, the impala is staring blankly at the hyenas wondering what they want.

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Putin Calls for More U.N. Veto Power
By NEELESH MISRA, Associated Press Writer
Sat Dec 4, 9:56 AM ET

NEW DELHI - Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected a key recommendation of a United Nations panel on expanding the Security Council, saying Saturday that any reform would be one-sided if new members did not have veto power.

Putin also backed India's aims to become a permanent member.

A high-level U.N. panel called Wednesday for expanding the 15-nation Security Council as part of a sweeping revamp of the world body. The panel presented two options: adding six new permanent members or creating a new tier of eight semi-permanent members — two each from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.

However, panel members agreed that only the current five permanent members — the post-World War II powers the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France — should retain veto power.

Putin disagreed.

"If we go to the enlargement of the permanent seats of the Security Council, I am convinced that they should have the veto power," Putin was quoted as saying by Associated Press Television News. "Otherwise, it will be a one-sided reform of the United Nations."

The panel was commissioned by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan after last year's bitter divisions over the U.S.-led war in Iraq. The United States had to abandon an attempt to get U.N. approval because of sharp opposition from France, Germany, Russia and other council members.

A possible council expansion has been on the U.N. agenda for more than a decade. But expansion faces major obstacles, including decisions on how large it should be, which countries should be permanent and which countries should have veto power.

Putin said if there was no veto for the new members, all vetoes would have to go.

"If we agree that future permanent members should not have veto power, the next step would be the abolition of veto power," he said. "But the veto power is an efficient instrument of international relations."

Brazil, Germany, India and Japan have joined forces to lobby for permanent seats.

In meetings with Indian officials, Putin "felt that India as a new member should have the full rights of permanent membership, including the right of veto," India's foreign ministry said in a statement. "If India achieves a permanent seat in the Security Council, it cannot be a permanent member of a second rank."

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Army veteran leaves life on streets, returns to military

December 3rd
The Associated Press

ATLANTA — Robert Henderson is looking for stability in one of the most unstable places on earth.

The 39-year-old Army veteran was tired of being homeless on the streets of Atlanta for the past two years, so he decided to return to the military and signed up for the Georgia National Guard. Now Spc. Henderson of the 1st Battalion, 118th Field Artillery, is preparing for deployment to Iraq next year.

Henderson, who reported for duty at Fort Stewart on Friday, said the decision was a natural one after serving four years in the Army shortly before the first Iraq war.

"I was looking for a job. I was tired of doing the hustle and bustle," he said. "I was tired of going out there and going for interviews, and it just hit me."

After losing a temporary clerical position at the Small Business Administration two years ago, Henderson was forced onto the streets while working a number of odd jobs, such as picking up trash on Atlanta streets and cleaning bathrooms at Turner Field. He said he caught his best sleep on early morning MARTA trains but more often slept in the woods of Washington Park and ironed shirts for job interviews on its picnic benches.

Comment: The above should serve as a salient reminder to all Americans of what awaits them. All of the signs indicate that an economic crash is coming to the US. As we all know, the phony "war on terror" has been billed as "indefinite". Like the man in the above story, the military will be the "natural" choice when faced with life on the streets as an alternative.

Does anyone feel like they have been setup?

Forget any ideas of moving in with friends or family. A collapsed economy does not only mean no jobs. It means massive inflation and basic commodities like food being too expensive for the average household to afford. The only group that will remain untouched will be those who have, for many years, now been amassing wealth and possessions into their own hands as a way to plan for the events that are soon to unfold.

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Christian Doctor Warns Against Radical Human Hybrid Research

By Jenni Parker and Mary Rettig

(AgapePress) - The head of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations says crossing humans with animals is a path science should not travel. However, a number of these human-animal hybrids, known as chimeras, have already been created.

In biological research, chimeras can be artificially produced by mixing cells from two different organisms, often of different species. For instance, in 1984 a chimeric "geep" was produced by combining embryos from a goat and a sheep. And in another case, a chicken with a quail's brain was created by grafting portions of a quail embryo into a chicken embryo (Wikipedia.com).

But this investigative research took a sinister leap in August of 2003, when researchers at Shanghai Second Medical University in China reported their "successful" creation of the first human-animal chimeric embryos, accomplished by fusing bio-material from a human being and a rabbit. The embryos were allowed to develop in the laboratory for several days before they were destroyed in order to harvest their stem cells.

Dr. David Stevens of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations (CMDA) says the idea of the chimera is not a new one, but it is currently being pushed with new emphasis by proponents of embryonic stem cell research. The reasons given for such explorations, he points out, can often sound harmless and even beneficial.

For instance, Stevens says, "The reason that Dolly [the sheep] was made by cloning was the hope that she was going to be able to secrete human breast milk. They were actually inserting a gene into her genetic makeup which caused her to secrete not sheep milk but human milk so they could give it to premature infants."

The researchers' intention in cloning Dolly, the Christian doctor says, was to create one sheep that had this capability, and then "to clone a whole herd of sheep to produce human breast milk" for infants in need of supplemental nourishment.

While this might sound like a good use for the technology, Stevens says scientists today are continuing to push the envelope, wanting to go ever further in their experiments. Scientists have developed pigs with human blood in their veins and mice with human brain cells; and some, he warns, are seeking to change the nature of animals outright and see how human-like they can be made.

Comment: The "new atlantis" has indeed arrived.

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Explosives search on Air France jet
December 05, 2004

AUTHORITIES searched an Air France airliner at Los Angeles International Airport early today for explosives that disappeared during a French police training exercise at an airport outside Paris, officials said.

No explosives were found on Flight 70, which arrived late yesterday after a flight from Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Three other airliners that had left Charles de Gaulle were searched at New York City's John F Kennedy International, said Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Nora Brewer.

French military police had been using the explosive material to train dogs to detect bombs, but they lost track of a piece of luggage containing an unspecified type and amount of explosive, authorities said.

The 362 passengers and crew members on Flight 70 were evacuated and screened.

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Five blasts in Madrid after ETA bomb warning
04 December 2004 0212 hrs
- AFP

MADRID : Five explosions rocked Madrid on Friday after a bomb warning from an anonymous telephone caller claiming to represent the Basque separatist movement ETA, police said.

They said the explosions were of low intensity and caused little damage.

Spanish radio reported that no one was injured.

The caller to the Basque newspaper Gara said the bombs were placed in gas service stations and would explode at 6:30 pm (1730 GMT). Police evacuated the areas.

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Suspicious damage to hydro tower
December 3, 2004

COATICOOK, Que. (CP) - Quebec provincial police said Friday they were investigating damage to a hydro tower that sends energy to the United States.

Const. Louis-Philippe Ruel said police were awaiting the results of tests on material found near the tower and didn't know whether it was explosive. A bomb squad from Montreal was called to the site near Coaticook in the Eastern Townships. Ruel wouldn't say what type of damage was done to the tower.

Marie Archambault, spokeswoman for Hydro-Quebec, said a hunter driving an all-terrain vehicle noticed the damage.

She said the tower sends electricity from James Bay to the Boston area, adding there was no disruption in service.

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Attacker slashes twelve Chinese children, cuts own throat
03 December 2004 2352 hrs

BEIJING : A man forced his way into a northeast China primary school and slashed 12 young children before cutting his own throat.

The man, whose identity is unknown, stormed into the Central Primary School in Mingcheng township in Jilin province at 9:20 am and targeted a class of grade one pupils, mostly aged about six or seven.

Of the injured, five were boys and seven girls. They were rushed to hospital where four were reported to be seriously hurt with head, ear and back injuries.

"It happened around 9:20 this morning. A man aged about 30 entered the school but not through the front gate," an official surnamed Fu at the Panshi city education committee told AFP on Friday.

"He rushed into a classroom and used a kitchen knife and injured 12 students. He was caught by the teachers and then the police arrived," Fu said, adding that 30 students were in the class at the time.

"He was mentally ill," Fu said. "The local police are investigating this case and have reported it to provincial authorities."

Police confirmed a man had been detained but refused to provide more details.

The state Xinhua news agency said the man, a resident of Mingcheng township, cut his own throat after attacking the children and was rushed to hospital. His condition was not immediately known.

Xinhua said he had a history of mental problems and 10 years ago attacked someone with an axe. [...]

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Dad Cites Boy's Antidepressants in Deaths
By JEFFREY COLLINS, Associated Press Writer
Sat Dec 4, 2004 11:15 PM ET

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Authorities say three years ago, Christopher Pittman, then 12, shot his grandparents as they slept because they had scolded him for fighting. But Christopher's father, Joe Pittman, thinks his son killed because his sense of right and wrong was clouded by the anti-depressant Zoloft.

Joe Pittman spoke out against the drug in a Food and Drug Administration hearing early this year. The boy, who had threatened suicide, was put on the drug three weeks before the slayings, and his dose was doubled just two days earlier.

Joe Pittman's hands shook as he read his son's confession to a roomful of strangers during the hearing.

"I took everything out on my grandparents, who I loved so very much," wrote then-12-year-old Christopher Pittman. "When I was lying in my bed that night, I couldn't sleep because my voice in my head kept echoing through my mind, telling me to kill them."

But prosecutors and police say Christopher's actions during and after the November 2001 slayings show he clearly knew what he was doing was wrong.

The boy waited until his grandparents were sleeping and took a pump-action shotgun from a gun cabinet. He crept into the couple's dark bedroom, first shooting 66-year-old Joe Frank Pittman in his open mouth, then firing into the back of 62-year-old Joy Pittman's head.

Christopher then set the house on fire and drove off in the family car. When he got stuck on a dirt road 20 miles away, he told hunters he was kidnapped by a man who killed his grandparents, set the fire, drove him into the woods and ran away.

Christopher was living with his father's parents in hopes of turning his life around. He told defense experts he felt abandoned by his mother and his relationship with his father was rocky. No one answered phone calls to Joe Pittman's home.

A month before the slayings, Christopher was hospitalized in Florida, where his father lives, after he threatened to kill himself. The boy was prescribed the anti-depressant Paxil, but another doctor soon put him on Zoloft instead.

Pittman decided to send the boy to live with his grandparents in Chester County, a rural area between Columbia and Charlotte, N.C. [...]

Karen Menzies, one of Christopher's lawyers and an attorney specializing in lawsuits against anti-depressant makers, said medical research is available to support the Zoloft defense.

In the three years the teen has spent in jail awaiting trial, the FDA has become increasingly wary of doctors prescribing Zoloft and other antidepressants for children.

In October, the agency ordered the drugs to carry "black box" warnings — the government's strongest warning short of a ban — about increasing the risk of suicidal behavior in children.

"The science has been out there for a while. The prescription drug companies have been able to hide it," Menzies said.

On the other side is Pfizer Inc., the maker of Zoloft, which has aided the prosecution, according to Solicitor John Justice, who has since taken himself off the case for health reasons. [...]

In April, a Santa Cruz, Calif., jury acquitted a man of attempted murder after he beat his friend, then blamed the episode on Zoloft.

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers spokesman Jack King said the "Zoloft-made-me-do-it" defense likely means that the Pittman case will come down to defense vs. prosecution experts. [...]

Chester County Sheriff Robbie Benson said interviews with Christopher left him shaken because he could not believe the lack of remorse. "This was cold-blooded."

Menzies said those observations might help her case.

"The boy was still suffering from the side-effects of this medication after the incident," she said. "I think we see a different Christopher now."

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Climate change responsible for Orissa disasters: study:
[India News]: Dec 3/04

Bhubaneswar, : Climatic changes triggered by fossil fuel related carbon emission is one of the reasons for recurring natural calamities in Orissa that have claimed tens of thousands of lives, says a study.

This is the conclusion of Greenpeace, a global NGO campaigning against environmental degradation that sent teams to the coastal districts of Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpura and Puri between Oct 25 and Nov 6.

"The three districts are known for regular cyclones and sea surges," the energy campaigner of Greenpeace India, Srinivas Krishnaswamy, told IANS.

The team traced the damage caused by the super-cyclone followed by floods in 2001 and 2002. Villagers told the team that temperatures in their areas had been going up every year.

"Due to sand and saline ingress, there is an overall reduction in agricultural productivity and the bulk of the land is no longer fit for cultivation," Krishnaswamy said.

"As a result there is a change in the diet patterns of the residents and they now depend mainly on fish for food," he said.

Krishnaswamy said it has been estimated that Orissa's industries and coal-fired power plants would be emitting 164 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually by the year 2005.

This is the equivalent of about three percent of the projected growth in man-made greenhouse gases anticipated globally over the next decade.

In addition, industries would release toxic and potent global warming agents equivalent to eight million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

As these chemicals were long lasting, they would contribute to a "perpetual change" in the earth's atmosphere, he warned.

In one of the worst natural disasters in Orissa, more then 10,000 people died in a super cyclone in 1999.

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Earthquake jolts southwest New Zealand
Last Updated 03/12/2004, 12:22:17

An earthquake measuring 4.8 on the Richter scale has struck southwest New Zealand, but officials say there are no reports of damage.

The New Zealand Earthquake Commission says the quake was recorded about 30 kilometres southwest of Haast, at a depth of nine kilometres.

Seismologists warn New Zealand could experience a series of strong aftershocks following a 7.3 earthquake off the southwest coast last week.

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Earthquake hits Mindoro, Batangas
INQ7.net
Updated 11:15am (Mla time) Dec 03, 2004

Philippines - AN EARTHQUAKE measuring 2.7 on the Richter scale shook Mindoro and Batangas provinces Friday morning, government seismologists said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage to property as the quake was barely noticed in Manila and surrounding suburbs.

The quake took place at about 10:38 a.m. with its possible source from the Lubang fault.

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Magnitude 5.4 Earthquake - PAPUA, INDONESIA
USGS
2004 December 4 09:00:11 UTC

A moderate earthquake occurred at 09:00:11 (UTC) on Saturday, December 4, 2004. The magnitude 5.4 event has been located in PAPUA, INDONESIA. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)

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Temperatures in Bulgaria break 100-year record
AFP
Dec 03, 2004
(SOFIA) -- Spring-like temperatures soaring above 20 degrees Celsius (70 Fahrenheit) were recorded in north Bulgaria on Friday, the highest for the date since records began a century ago, weather officials said.

In the central-northern town of Pleven, the temperature climbed to 21.5 degrees Celsius, while it reached 20.2 degrees in the Black Sea town of Varna -- the highest ever recorded on December 3, which is mid-winter in Bulgaria.

The previous record dated back to December 3, 1939, when the mercury had shot to 18 degrees Celsius.

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Forecasters predict above-average Atlantic hurricane season next year
AP
Saturday, December 04, 2004

FORT COLLINS, Colorado (AP) - Hurricane forecasters are predicting an above-average Atlantic hurricane season again next year after one of the most destructive seasons on record.

"We believe that 2005 will continue the trend of enhanced major hurricane activity in the Atlantic basin that we have seen over the past 10 years," Colorado State University forecaster William Gray said yesterday.

Gray's forecast team predicts there will be 11 named storms, with six reaching hurricane status. Of the six, three will likely develop into major hurricanes with sustained winds of 111 mph (178 kph) or greater. There is a 69 per cent chance of at least one of the major hurricanes striking the US mainland, Gray said.

The long-term year average for storms is 9.6 per season, with six becoming hurricanes and 2.3 becoming intense hurricanes.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. This year, there were 15 named storms in the Atlantic region, including nine hurricanes, six of them major. Florida was hit by four hurricanes in August and September, a barrage unparalleled in history going back 130 years, forecasters said. [...]

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'Mini tornado' wreaks havoc with aircraft in Joburg
By Robin Ross-Thompson

JOHANNESBURG - A freak storm, described by some as a "a mini-tornado", caused havoc at Johannesburg International Airport last night.

Eight aircraft were sent slewing sideways across the apron tarmac when wind and heavy rain struck at 5.15pm.

Sapa reported minor injuries to crew and ground staff while aircraft belonging to SAA, Nationwide and Comair were rendered unserviceable.

Flight SA 479, a Boeing 737-800 weighing 55 tons, due to depart for East London at 5.50pm, was thrown 10 metres sideways by the wind, which was accompanied by torrential rain, lightning and hail that roared in across the runway from the East Rand.

The aircraft was being refuelled and the hose severed when the aircraft swung sideways. The passenger gangway was cast aside and smashed into the port engine.

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Forecast: Drought will persist
By Steve Miller, Journal Staff Writer

No break in the drought gripping this region is expected through February, but the next three months are typically not the time of year when enough moisture falls to break a drought anyway, state climatologist Dennis Todey said.

The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center calls for drought conditions to persist through February in the northern Rockies region, including western South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, eastern Wyoming and most of Montana. Both the drier time of the year and recent below-normal snowpack are factors in the continued drought forecast, according to the NWS. [...]

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Murray choking on 'worst drought'
Asa Wahlquist
December 04, 2004

(Australia) - THE drought across the Murray-Darling Basin is the worst since records began, with authorities characterising the effect on river communities and the environment as "unprecedented".

The conditions are more severe than the three previous big drys; the Federation drought from 1895-1903, in the 1940s and the mid-1960s.

Murray-Darling Basin Commission chief executive Wendy Craik said the past three years had the lowest inflows into Menindee Lakes on the lower Darling River in NSW on record.

"And when you consider the fact that water extractions now are higher than they were in those periods, the impact on communities, in irrigators and the environment, has obviously been greater," Dr Craik said.

She said the resulting downturn in farm production was flowing through the processing and infrastructure industries in communities along the river.

Salinity in Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert, near the mouth of the Murray in South Australia, had reached extreme levels and was expected to worsen.

The commission also found a widespread decline in the health of redgums lining the river from Euston to the Murray mouth and an increased incidence of dead fish, associated with low flows and drought. [...]

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'We will be able to live to 1,000'
By Dr Aubrey de Grey, University of Cambridge
BBC
Friday, 3 December, 2004, 00:01 GMT
Life expectancy is increasing in the developed world. But Cambridge University geneticist Aubrey de Grey believes it will soon extend dramatically to 1,000. Here, he explains why.

Ageing is a physical phenomenon happening to our bodies, so at some point in the future, as medicine becomes more and more powerful, we will inevitably be able to address ageing just as effectively as we address many diseases today.

I claim that we are close to that point because of the SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) project to prevent and cure ageing.

It is not just an idea: it's a very detailed plan to repair all the types of molecular and cellular damage that happen to us over time.

And each method to do this is either already working in a preliminary form (in clinical trials) or is based on technologies that already exist and just need to be combined.

This means that all parts of the project should be fully working in mice within just 10 years and we might take only another 10 years to get them all working in humans.

When we get these therapies, we will no longer all get frail and decrepit and dependent as we get older, and eventually succumb to the innumerable ghastly progressive diseases of old age.

We will still die, of course - from crossing the road carelessly, being bitten by snakes, catching a new flu variant etcetera - but not in the drawn-out way in which most of us die at present.

I think the first person to live to 1,000 might be 60 already

So, will this happen in time for some people alive today? Probably. Since these therapies repair accumulated damage, they are applicable to people in middle age or older who have a fair amount of that damage.

I think the first person to live to 1,000 might be 60 already.

It is very complicated, because ageing is. There are seven major types of molecular and cellular damage that eventually become bad for us - including cells being lost without replacement and mutations in our chromosomes.

Each of these things is potentially fixable by technology that either already exists or is in active development. [...]

Comment: Great! Just imagine the likes of Bush and Sharon living for another 1,000 years...

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And finally...

Woman auctions ghost on eBay

From correspondents in Indiana
December 05, 2004

AN American woman's effort to assuage her six-year-old son's fears of his grandfather's ghost by selling it on eBay has drawn more than 34 bids with a top offer of $US78 ($A100).

Mary Anderson said she placed her father's "ghost" on the online auction site after her son, Collin, said he was afraid the ghost would return someday.

Anderson said Collin has avoided going anywhere in the house alone since his grandfather died last year.

In a description titled "This isn't a joke", Anderson told Collin's story on eBay: "I always thought it was just normal kid fears until a few months ago he told me why he was so scared. He told me 'Grandpa died here, and he was mean. His ghost is still around here!'"

Lest the boy's fears scare off potential bidders, Anderson added: "My dad was the sweetest most caring man you'd ever meet." [...]

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