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Tin Pot Dictator and Puppet-in-Chief

Text of Bush's New Year's Day message

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
December 31, 2004

As we begin the new year, our prayers go out to the people who have lost so much to the recent series of disasters in the Indian Ocean region. The past few days have brought loss and grief to the world that is beyond our comprehension. America will continue to stand with the affected governments to bring aid to those in need. Together the world will cope with the loss and prevail over this destruction.

In the United States, we go forward in the new year with confidence and faith in the future.

Over the past year, Americans have shown resolve and patience in the war on terror.

Comment: More so than resolve and patience, over the past year many Americans have exhibited apathy and intransigence in the face of government lies and deceit, with this speech by Bush being a perfect example of the type of crass propaganda being used to con an entire nation.

Our military men and women have brought justice to the enemy and honor to our country. Because of their bravery, over 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan are now free.

Comment: Not so. The US military has brought overwhelming death and destruction to Iraqi civilians and the Iraqi men and women who are attempting to defend their country from a force of occupation.

At home, Americans have restored the vigor of our economy and answered the call to serve neighbors in need.

Comment: "At home" the US economy is in tatters, a mere illusion that is set to crumble in the very near future.

In the year ahead, we will persevere in the ongoing war on terror to make our nation safer and stronger.

Comment: We do not doubt that the "war on terror" will be "ongoing", but it will not increase the security of the American people. With every day that passes the American people continue to accept the big lie as truth and in doing so bring closer the day when their own "leaders" will once more sacrifice the lives of American civilians to further the agenda of the elite few.

We will continue to confront disease, hunger and poverty at home and abroad. We will build on our economic progress and strengthen Social Security for the next generation so that all our citizens can realize the promise of America.

Comment: When Bush made the comment that the job of governing the American people would be much easier if he were dictator, it seems that he was giving the world an insight into his secret agenda. At present the gap between what the American government is actually doing and what the American people believe it is doing is so vast that Bush can enact laws that destroy any vestiges of American social security and within a few weeks declare to the public that he is going to "strengthen social security". It really would be comical if it were not so tragic.

And we will continue to improve our public schools and uphold our deepest values of faith, family and service.

Comment: The American school system has been in serious decline for many decades now. The average US high school graduate is so chronically under-educated, and the US economy so dilapidated, that very soon the only job prospects for the majority of America's youth will be to sign up for active duty in the global "war on terror".

We are grateful to the men and women of our armed forces who serve and sacrifice to defend our liberty. These heroes and their families have the thanks and respect of our entire nation. We pray for their safety and for peace and understanding throughout the world.

Comment: Well, it doesn't get any more cynical and hypocritical than this. The only liberty that the uniformed men and women of America are "defending" is the liberty of a small select group of men to wage war on the world for personal profit. While Bush claims that he prays for peace and understanding throughout the world, he continues to push forward with policies that actively foment war and suffering. Perhaps this is the result of praying to a god that speaks to the President in his quiet moments and urges him to indiscriminately kill and maim innocent civilians.

Laura joins me in sending our best wishes for a happy New Year. May God bless you, and may God continue to bless America.

Comment: The god of Bush will no doubt continue to "bless" America and the American people with further lies, wars, death and destruction, at least until they wake up and recognise that they are living in an overt fascist state-in-waiting.

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Narcissitic Roots of Fascism
By John N. Cooper
Dec 29, 2004, 12:00
Axis of Logic
Based on his study of other countries, Lawrence Britt's 14 characteristics typical of Fascism can be used at the governmental level as a checklist to assess the extent to which any nation, ours or others, has descended into the morass:

- Powerful and Continuing Nationalism;

- Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights;

- Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause;

- Supremacy of the Military;

- Rampant Sexism;

- Controlled Mass Media;

- Obsession with National Security;

- Intertwining of Religion and Government;

- Protection of Corporate Power;

- Supression of Labor's Power;

- Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts;

- Obsession with Crime and Punishment;

- Rampant Cronyism and Corruption;

- Fraudulent Elections.

Useful as these criteria may be for assessing national status, they fail to account for how a nation's citizenry comes to allow its country to adopt such an 'ethic'. Nationally, Fascism embodies the supremacy of the state over the wants or needs of its individual citizens. In the ideal of Fascist leaders, the citizenry voluntarily subjugates its well-being to the welfare of the state and its ruling class in a gesture that objectively would seem almost altruistic: surrendering their individuality for the good of the whole. How are the governmental characteristics cited above consistent, or at odds, with typical behaviors of ordinary citizens at the individual, personal level?

At risk of sounding like old fogeys, some my age-cohort sense changes over the last decade or two in the behavior of many of our countrymen, changes that reflect not voluntary subjugation of individuals to the general good, but rather an appropriation and defense of personal perogative and entitlement regardless of their effect on others. At first these expropriations of personal privilege seem trivial:

from little rudenesses, incivilities and discourtesies like entering a lecture or performance late, disrupting the field of view of other attendees;

little cheats presumed to harm no one such as detecting but not correcting a favorable arithmetic error in a bill;

to more problematic activities such as obstructing a narrow sidewalk, walking two or more abreast, bowling oncomers into the shrubbery or off the curb; or

running red lights or stop signs, when no one is coming.

Gentle readers are invited to compile their own lists limited only by their experience or imagination: doing for your own benefit whatever you think you can get away with, regardless of its impact, potential or actual, on others.

I suspect most of us were brought up to think ill of such behaviors, to avoid them ourselves or at least to feel guilty when we realize we've engaged in them. So if they are becoming more prevalent, why? What's happened that more and more of our compatriots' upbringing is either lacking or fails to inhibit their problematic behaviors? Where are the inhibitors in our culture that once circumscribed our propensity for our most egregious behaviors within limits not readily violated?

One contributor is easily perceived in commercials viewed daily, if not hourly, on much of commercial TV. Try this experiment: watch a advertisement NOT from the point of view of a potential consumer but as a critic of the social behavior of its participants. Keep track of the fraction of commercials viewed, four to eight per break, that display duplicity, deceit, deception, dishonesty, gulling the innocent or ignorant, up to outright stupidity and unwarranted violence. Quite apart from the question why any thoughtful person would wish to purchase goods or services represented by such reprehensible behaviors, what do merchants imagine is the draw of such vignettes? I suppose some are deemed humorous but I recall, after viewing violent cowboy films as a child, my acting out the tough and ruthless, violent and vengeful behavior of the characters on my chums. Is the constant barrage of unseemly, unethical, insensitive behavior in commercials in effect condoning, if not actively encouraging, the same in impressionable youth of whatever chronological age?

In his film "Fanny and Alexander", Bergman has the latter utter what has to be for a youth one of the most unbelievable flashes of insight in all literature; in response to his stern father's demand, "Why do you lie?": "To gain advantage." Consider the little cheats, the little lies, the little deceits and betrayals above. Aren't they each and all the product of a will to co-opt some personal advantage at the expense of others: The supreme importance of self over and above all consideration of the rights or welfare of others?

Although Britt's characteristics of Fascism are easily found in numerous international venues, I think they are merely symptoms of an underlying pathology, present in both personal and national behaviors: narcissism, a fundamental attribute of sociopathic, psychopathic behavior from the interpersonal to the international. At the personal level socio- and psycho-paths behave as though their personal interests were the prime, if not the only, consideration governing their behavior. At the international level, most "failed states", our own included, justify any level of treachery toward, or atrocity against, other nations or peoples, even their own, in terms of the overarching importance of the "national interests".

But truly whose are these "national interests"? What is the connection between states' and personal behavior? No state is ever a discrete, integral entity unto itself. Each is directed, ultimately, by individuals, or collections of individuals, who deem themselves the state or its representative: L'Etat c'est moi! Aren't 'national interests' in fact those of the individual or individuals, or their clients, deemed to represent the nation?

Narcissistic behavior by nations results from uncontrolled narcissistic impulses on behalf of, or by, nations' leaders or representatives. A nation that breeds, trains, rewards or sustains narcissism, that selects or elects narcissists as its representatives or leadership, will inevitably display international behaviors consistent with the primacy of self-interest, whether personal or national, over the welfare of others, of the community of nations as a whole. The general weal is not well served by a million, or a billion, points of greed.

What can we individuals do to minimize the predominance and effect of narcissism? Nationally, little, it might seem on the basis of the most recent election. Individually, a first step might be to interdict and counteract one's own personal narcissistic impulses; when you catch yourself taking advantage of others for personal gain, stop and reconsider. A second, potentially more problematic, step might be actively to resist, refuse to cooperate with, perhaps even interdict other's narcissisms. For one example boycott products associated with repellant behavior, corporate or commercial. Let others know that rampant self-service, putting others' welfare and well-being at risk for their own benefit, is personally, socially and fiscally unacceptable. Beyond these measures, continue to encourage and support those moral and ethical leaders, clerical or secular, who put the welfare of the truly needy before the grimy ambitions of nationalistic politicians and lobbyists for entrenched interests.

A bumperstick seen in some areas of the country - Partnership for an Idiot-Free America - might well be adapted to read: Partnership for a Narcissism-Free America.

© Copyright 2004 by AxisofLogic.com

Comment: We have long thought that psychopathology was an important issue. See our article on the question. We have also traced the connections between psychopathy and the capitalist system. While the author of the above piece identifies the problem and is able to suggest an individual response, we do not think that he gets to the root of the problem.

What is the root? It is esoteric and relates to the fundamental nature of life on this planet, the very existence of our reality rooted in the mixture of creative and entropic forces. A close reading of our reality will demonstrate that it is the entropic force that rules. We are moving towards a crisis of great proportions in every area of our existence. We have created a society where the needs of a few at the top of the hierarchy override the needs of the majority, and here we are not talking of a majority such as the one Bush claims as his mandate, a simple majority of 50% plus one. We are speaking of the needs of perhaps a few million that override the needs of the other 6 billion people on the planet. Clearly such a situation is not just.

Does anyone care? Yes, there are a few. But the excuse that you normally hear is that the world is not fair and has never been fair. Is not this belief, certainly rooted in an objective view of things as they are and as they ever have been throughout recorded history, a clear expression of the fact that ours is a world of entropy?

But rather than follow through their thinking and recognise the consequences of this admission, people turn towards those few good things that do exist in the world to tell us that "it isn't all bad". Of course it isn't all bad if we use the criteria that such people use. But does that change the fundamental nature of the world? For entropy to be the reigning force does not mean that the creative force is unable to find expression whatsoever; it simply means that the entropic force is the dominant force, it is the determinant force in deciding the direction towards which life is headed in our world.

Chaos, disorder, injustice, hatred, war, famine, disease, and upheaval. These are the traits of entropy.

The esoteric lesson, to come back to Mr. Cooper's suggestions on how to fight the growing narcissism, is that we can not change the fundamental character of this world. We can only change ourselves. We do this, not to change the world, but to manifest the force of creation in this world. Let is look more closely at Mr. Cooper's two proposals. Here is the first:

Individually, a first step might be to interdict and counteract one's own personal narcissistic impulses; when you catch yourself taking advantage of others for personal gain, stop and reconsider.

Cooper's first proposal, taken in its deeper, esoteric meaning, is the work on the self, the work to rid oneself of the programs instilled within us by our socialisation and education. It is the combat against our Personality, the impermanent part of ourselves comprised of many conflicting impulses and desires. The Tradition calls these the "little 'I's". They stand as a wall around the permanent part of ourselves, the real 'I', that part of us that connects to the Creative force. The small 'I's are so loud, busy, and demanding that we remain lost in their chatter as they push and pull us in myriad directions throughout the day and prevent the Creative force from becoming manifest.

It is also called the "Predator's Mind" because it is the manifestation of the predator that we each have within us, that part that seeks to take "advantage of others for personal gain", as Cooper so aptly puts it. It is the manifestation of the entropic force within us all. When we identify with these desires, we become the manifestation of the entropic force in the world. As it takes a conscious choice to go against our programmes, and thus there are few people in the world who have made this choice, it is no surprise that the world is at it is. It is the simple reflection on the large scale of the behaviours of billions of individuals in their lives on the local scale.

Learning to see ourselves as a collection of programmes is not easy, learning to identify those moments when we are taking advantage of others is not easy. There is always a little voice, one of the small 'I's, to tell us that we are justified in our thoughts and our actions. The Predator's Mind is sophisticated, clever, and cunning, able to set up subtle traps. To see oneself objectively, one needs a network of trusted individuals who are engaged in the same battle with their own Personalities, who have successfully identified these programmes in themselves so that they are able to see them in others. Such a group can hold the mirror up to you, can help you see yourself as you are. Of course the predator within will scream and scheme and do everything to convince you that the image you are seeing is not the complete picture. It will find fault with those who hold the mirror. As no one is free from contradictions, it is easy for the predator to turn the criticism back upon them, to focus upon the weaknesses of others in order to deflect the Truth about yourself.

Therefore, the first suggestion offered by the author is no mean feat. It is a difficult battle waged against one's own mind, the impermanent part of one's own mind, in favour of the real 'I'. Once, however, a small piece of one's true self has been brought to light, it can serve as an enclosure to pursue the battle, a safe ground from which to watch the activities of the predator within. While the fight still continues with the inner forces of entropy, one can then begin to do battle with the external forces, as is suggested by Cooper in his second proposal:

A second, potentially more problematic, step might be actively to resist, refuse to cooperate with, perhaps even interdict other's narcissisms.

Such a process is already defined in esoteric work. We call this process the struggle against the petty tyrant or the battle against the "general law", that is, the manifestations of entropy in others.

To put it bluntly, most relationships are feeding relationships. We are in them for what we get from the other person. In some rare cases, this feeding may be explicit and well-understood between the two parties. There is a contract of sorts. Most of the time, however, the feeding is hidden under the illusion of giving, of "just wanting to help", of "just wanting you to be happy", of "just wanting things to be the way they were", etc. The truth is that we all lie to ourselves about the fundamental character of our relations with our friends, family, and significant others.

When one begins to seek to change the nature of these relationships, a funny thing happens. The people around us get upset. They get upset because we are cutting off their supply of food, that is, of the energy that we have been giving to them or that has been sucked out from us.

When we begin to change ourselves, we change the dynamic of every one of our relationships. The people around us turn into petty tyrants, they begin to demand that we turn back on the food supply. Sometimes they do this in very explicit ways, other times, it is done with great subtlety, and it is only later when we realise we have been drained that we can see that it was done. It may take long reflection to understand the how's and why's.

Refusing to cooperate with the petty tyrant can lead to one's life being overturned in an instant as the true character of our relationships with others becomes evident. People who claim to love you for yourself, who claim to want only your happiness, refuse to accept changes that bring us closer to our true selves, that make us truly happy, because in refusing to cooperate with the petty tyrant, with the narcissism identified by Cooper, we are going against the very fabric of our reality. We are saying "No" to the very nature of our world and, therefore, to their own nature.

To question the natural of the world and to begin to live differently is in a very real way "unnatural".

Is it any wonder people who take up such work are labeled as "troubled" by their family and friends, that they are accused of "cultic" behaviour? Such accusations are manifestations of the general law, but it is impossible to reason with those around you for they are committed to a different way of living. For them to admit that your path is correct, even if only for you, is to admit that there is a possibility their choices are not what they seem.

Mr. Cooper's proposals are an open door towards a radical change in the lives of those who would seek to put them into practice. The trouble is that without the deeper understanding of the laws of our world, such action is doomed to failure. One who lacks the deeper, esoteric understanding is calling upon his head the reaction of the basic forces of this reality. Esoteric work gives one the understanding of how to deal with these forces by offering the knowledge of the roots of the problem.

One can only escape with the help of a group, guided by those who have successfully gone before and found the pathway to true freedom.

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US considers permanent detentions
Sunday 02 January 2005, 8:40 Makka Time, 5:40 GMT

The US government has begun to plan for the possible lifetime imprisonment of detainees it does not have enough evidence to charge in court, according to The Washington Post.

Citing intelligence, defence and diplomatic officials, the newspaper said on Sunday that the Pentagon and the CIA had asked the White House to decide on a more permanent approach for those it would not set free or turn over to courts at home or abroad.

The Defence Department - which holds at least 500 prisoners in Guantanamo Bay - plans to ask the US Congress for $25 million to build a 200-bed prison to hold detainees who are unlikely to ever go through a military tribunal for lack of evidence, defence officials told the newspaper.

The new prison, dubbed Camp 6, would be designed for prisoners the government believes have no more intelligence to share, the newspaper reported.

Pentagon comment

"Since global war on terror is a long-term effort, it makes sense for us to be looking at solutions for long-term problems," Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, was quoted as saying.

"This has been evolutionary, but we are at a point in time where we have to say: 'How do you deal with them in the long term?'"

The paper said the outcome of a review under way would also affect those expected to be captured in the course of future counterterrorism operations.

One proposal would transfer large numbers of Afghan, Saudi and Yemeni detainees from the US military's Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention centre into new US-built prisons in their home countries, it said.

Comment: Permanent detentions. In a few short years, all of the principles of justice have been jettisoned by the Bush Administration in the name of Homeland Security.

Welcome to tyranny.

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Bush Faces Challenges with New Republican Congress
By Thomas Ferraro
Reuters
Sat Jan 1,10:59 AM ET

WASHINGTON - The 109th Congress convenes on Tuesday with Republicans flexing more political muscle. Yet it is unclear how far they can, or in some cases want to, push President Bush's ambitious second-term agenda.

The record federal deficit, the rising cost of the Iraq war, plus competing positions of rival Democrats and even within the Republican Party, all pose risks to such White House goals as overhaul of the federal tax code and the Social Security retirement program.

Still, Bush has high hopes. He sees his re-election, coupled with bigger Republican majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives, as a mandate for his stewardship.

Yet as Rep. Deborah Pryce of Ohio, a member of the House Republican leadership says: "Everything is going to be hard."

"There are no slam dunks," Pryce said in discussing Bush's legislative agenda, which also seeks to revamp immigration laws and obtain a sweeping energy plan. [...]

In the Nov. 2 elections, Republicans expanded their majority in the 100-member Senate by four to 55 -- five short of the 60 needed to end a Democratic procedural roadblock known as a filibuster. Republicans boosted their majority in the 435-member House by three to 232. [...]

"I don't expect a highly productive year (in Congress)," said Norm Ornstein, a congressional scholar at The American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think thank.

"Even though Republicans have more numbers -- and maybe because they have more numbers -- they're going to have real difficulty coming to agreement among themselves," Ornstein said.

"Increased numbers in the Senate will make them more pugnacious, but they still don't have enough to jam things through," Ornstein said.

Larry Sabato of University of Virginia's Center for Politics, offers a different view. He predicts a "fairly productive" Congress -- for at least half of 2005.

"Historically, a president who is re-elected and adds congressional seats tends to get to get a good six months window of opportunity," Sabato said. [...]

Comment: Given the number of Democrats who voted for Bush's policies in the past, and the fact that any new "intelligence" coming from the recently reorganized CIA will most certainly be completely twisted in the Neocons' favor, it probably isn't going to be too hard for Bush and the gang to get exactly what they want. Most Democrats have done almost nothing to combat the rise of fascism in the US. In fact, they have helped. Many seem to be either helpless or afraid of the power of the Neocons and their enforcers. The US judicial system is most certainly on its way towards obsolescence...

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Evangelical Leader Threatens to Use His Political Muscle Against Some Democrats
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
Published: January 1, 2005

COLORADO SPRINGS - James C. Dobson, the nation's most influential evangelical leader, is threatening to put six potentially vulnerable Democratic senators "in the 'bull's-eye' " if they block conservative appointments to the Supreme Court.

In a letter his aides say is being sent to more than one million of his supporters, Dr. Dobson, the child psychologist and founder of the evangelical organization Focus on the Family, promises "a battle of enormous proportions from sea to shining sea" if President Bush fails to appoint "strict constructionist" jurists or if Democrats filibuster to block conservative nominees.

Dr. Dobson recalled the conservative efforts that helped in the November defeat of Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota, the Senate minority leader who led Democrats in using the filibuster to block 10 of Mr. Bush's judicial nominees.

"Let his colleagues beware," Dr. Dobson warned, "especially those representing 'red' states. Many of them will be in the 'bull's-eye' the next time they seek re-election."

He singled out Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Mark Dayton of Minnesota, Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico and Bill Nelson of Florida. All six are up for re-election in 2006.

James Manley, a spokesman for Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the new Democratic leader, said Democrats had allowed 204 judicial appointments to move forward in Mr. Bush's first term.

"James Dobson needs to take a moment to focus on the facts," Mr. Manley said. He called Dr. Dobson a "front for the White House." [...]

Comment: In other words, support Bush or else...

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Rehnquist Sees Threat to Judiciary
By David G. Savage, Times Staff Writer
January 1, 2005

WASHINGTON — Ailing Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist said today that judges must be protected from political threats, including from conservative Republicans who maintain that "judicial activists" should be impeached and removed from office.

"The Constitution protects judicial independence not to benefit judges, but to promote the rule of law: Judges are expected to administer the law fairly, without regard to public reaction," the chief justice, whose future on the court is subject to wide speculation, said in his traditional year-end report on the federal courts.

The public, the press and politicians are certainly free to criticize judges, Rehnquist said, but politicians cross the line when they try to punish or impeach judges for decisions they do not agree with.

His comments come as the new Congress faces what many predict will be a contentious battle over President Bush's nominees to the federal bench. And if Rehnquist's health forces him to announce his retirement, there would be more partisan wrangling over his successor.

The 80-year-old chief justice has been absent from the Supreme Court since he disclosed in late October that he was being treated for thyroid cancer.

Since 2000, when Republicans took control of the White House and Congress, many conservative critics have focused their ire on "judicial activists" on the bench.

In his report, the chief justice did not name names, but instead spoke of his concern for the "mounting criticism of judges for engaging in what is often referred to as 'judicial activism.' "

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), for example, has repeatedly threatened to impeach liberal-leaning judges for their rulings, such as the ban on school-sponsored prayers.

"A judge's judicial acts may not serve as a basis for impeachment. Any other rule would destroy judicial independence," Rehnquist said. "Instead of trying to apply the law fairly, regardless of public opinion, judges would be concerned about inflaming any group that might be able to muster the votes in Congress to impeach and convict them."

As the chief justice of the United States, Rehnquist leads the federal judicial system as well as the Supreme Court. Since taking office in 1986, he often has used his year-end report to set forth his views on controversies affecting the judicial system. The controversy over political leanings of judges and their rulings is one of them.

And despite Rehnquist's reputation for conservatism, he has been just as willing to fault Republicans as Democrats when their actions and ideas threaten the courts.

In the late 1990s, for example, he faulted Senate Republicans for blocking votes on the judicial nominees of President Clinton. More recently, he faulted Senate Democrats for blocking votes on Bush's judicial nominees.

In both instances, he said the nominees deserved a hearing and an up-or-down vote.

DeLay has often criticized judges when he thinks they have overstepped their authority.

"Many of these judges begin to grow drunk on their own power. Why shouldn't the people have a right to impeach these out-of-control judges?" DeLay said in one 1997 statement.

Last year, DeLay called for Congress to enact legislation that would remove certain issues, such as the Pledge of Allegiance, from the jurisdiction of the federal courts.

DeLay was reacting to the ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that held that Congress' inclusion of the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance used daily in the nation's schools amounted to an unconstitutional official endorsement of religion. The Supreme Court, though divided on its reasons, later set aside that ruling. [...]

Court officials said [Rehnquist] has continued to work at home. And to the surprise of some, he also has announced that he plans to give the oath of office to Bush at his second inauguration on Jan. 20.

Comment: If Rehnquist actually cared about the law, why would he give the oath of office to Bush after an election that was so clearly rigged? As the following article demonstrates, Rehnquist is certainly no "liberal". His actions have allowed the Neocons to continue to fool many Americans into believing that the justice system still works. Nothing could be further from the truth. The ailing judge has done quite a bit to support Bush and the Neocons in their rise to power. It seems that these latest moves are simply an effort by the Neocons and the conservatives who support them to gather even more power for themselves. The opinions and views of the people have been, and will continue to be, irrelevant.

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Flashback: Hamdi, Padilla and Rasul v. Rumsfeld and Bush: Who Really Won?

By ELAINE CASSEL
June 29, 2004

Forget what the media's talking heads have told you about these three Supreme Court decisions that tested the power of George W. Bush. The President won far more than he lost, so administration "officials" who pronounce themselves victors are more on target than the press who tell you that the decisions represent a defeat for the Administration, or rein in its power. Taken together, the decisions are more important for what they did not do. Their significance for the future, particularly if Bush is reelected, cannot be underestimated.

Rumsfeld v. Padilla

To begin with, the Court dodged the most important case - the case of Jose Padilla. Padilla, recently vilified by a highly-placed Department of Justice attorney, is the American citizen arrested on a material witness warrant in Chicago two years ago.

The government's story then was that he was planning to detonate a dirty bomb. Attorney General John Ashcroft held a press conference and announced the incarceration of Padilla and told us what a dangerous man he was. Of course, if they had evidence that he was planning to detonate a dirty bomb, they would have charged him with a host of crimes, and tried him. But they never charged him with anything. What does that tell you?

A couple of weeks ago, Ashcroft sent out one of his top deputies to change the story on Padilla. That story may have influenced the Court's decision, though we will never know this. Though the official denied that the press conference- at which he announced that Padilla had "confessed" to plotting to blow up high- rise apartment buildings-may have been held when it was to punctuate the government's belief that Padilla was a very, very dangerous man.

So if he is so dangerous, why is he not being charged?

Oh, you have to love this reason: because the government denied him his rights and repeatedly interrogated him without an attorney (and, maybe even tortured him, for all we know) his confession is no good! Can't be used in court. So since we denied him his rights, we cannot try him, but we can hold him without charging him forever. Because we say he is dangerous.

And what did the Supreme Court have to say about that?

In a 5-4 decision, it said...nothing. It ruled that Padilla's court' appointed attorney, Donna Newman, filed the petition for writ of habeas corpus (challenging the detention of her client without charge, without access to her) in the wrong federal court. She sued Rumsfeld, on whose order Padilla was named an "enemy combatant" in the Southern District of New York, where he was brought and incarcerated and where she was appointed. But after she got into the case, and without notice to her, the government moved him to a brig in South Carolina.

So the government argued that the warden of the brig is the party to be sued, not Rumsfeld. As if that warden does not answer to Rumsfeld, at least if she is holding an enemy combatant-so-called.

So with Rehnquist writing for the majority, the court threw out his petition. Altogether. Padilla has to start all over again, suing the warden wherever he or she is.

Ah, but keep in mind, that once his attorneys file a another petition, the government just has to move him again. And again. And again. To avoid answering for his detention.

So the most important of the three cases was not decided. In not deciding, the Court fully sanctioned the continued detention of Padilla, without a charge, without a lawyer (Newman is now out of the case, since the suit was dismissed), for years to come.

George Bush 1, Civil Liberties, 0.

Hamdi v. Rumsfeld

On first glance, which is all the nightly news gave you, the Hamdi case looks like a win for lovers of freedom. Even Hamdi's public defender, Frank Dunham, said that they "won big."

I disagree. And amazingly to this writer, so did Scalia, who was joined in his dissent by Justice Stevens. The majority opinion was written by Justice O'Connor, and we all know what that means - a tortured crafting of facts cobbled to law that tries to give everybody something. A little here, a little there.

Here is what we got: The Congress gave the President the authority to detain anyone involved with fighting with al Qaeda or the Taliban when it voted for war in Afghanistan. Hamdi was supposedly captured in Afghanistan. As long as the U.S. is fighting in Afghanistan (I guess that will be forever, don't you think?), Hamdi can be held WITHOUT BEING CHARGED WITH A CRIME. But, he gets a lawyer (a lawyer subject so special instructions by Ashcroft and Rumsfeld, a lawyer whose conversation with his client will be monitored and limited as Rumsfeld and Ashcroft see fit) and he can file a petition for writ of habeas corpus, challenging his detention.

Ah, but the government gets the benefit of the doubt in such a hearing. It puts forth its conclusory affidavit, like the one cranky Judge Doumar in Richmond did not like one bit, and Hamdi gets to try - just try, if he can-to prove them wrong.

Yes, the burden will be on Hamdi to prove the government's allegations against him to be wrong. Now that will be kind of difficult, won't it, since Hamdi has been incarcerated for going on three years, has no contact with anyone in the outside world, and will have a hell of a time coming up with the witnesses to refute the conclusion of the government that he was indeed fighting with the Taliban or al Qaeda against the U.S.

Let's see, even if he knew people to subpoena to support an alibi-if he has one- federal marshals don't serve subpoenas in Afghanistan.

Scalia and Stevens joined in the call to either charge him with a crime - Scalia suggested treason - or have Congress suspend the writ of habeas corpus (Scalia contends that only Congress, not the President, can properly do this). But don't create some mechanism that allows the President to weasel out the result that the majority wanted - that is, to give Hamdi a lawyer, let him file his papers, but give him the burden of proving his "innocence." An insurmountable burden of proof.

George Bush 2, Civil Liberties, 0.

Guantanamo Detainees

On this one, a 6-3 majority ruled that those poor bastards in Guantanamo, those men that have been there for going on three years and, we now presume, subject to all kinds of physical torture and mental and sexual abuse, can file a petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging their detention, but, so what?

The court was silent on what trial courts will do with the petitions.

Presumably, let them file their papers then promptly toss them out. This was an expected outcome. No way the Court was going to accept the Administration's "tortured" (pun intended) view of jurisdiction to think that the government that rules over Guantanamo Naval Station does not have jurisdiction over the prisoners that he holds there. That would just be too stupid, even for a court eager to please. It found that the detainor is the key to jurisdiction, not the detainee. So where the detaining party is, is where there is jurisdiction. That would be Rumsfeld. Of course, what court that would be in, what venue, is open to question.

Since venue was such a big deal in the Padilla case, I wonder why the court did not toss out Guantanamo cases brought in the District of Columbia? (I have a clue-the Guantanamo cases were far easier to answer, and less an affront to presidential power than is Padilla's case). Rumsfeld's seat of power is in the Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia, so venue ought to be in the Eastern District of Virginia, not the District of Columbia.

I believe the Guantanamo prisoners will meet the same fate of most illegal immigrants who challenge their deportation with a writ of habeas corpus. They get a summary proceeding that sounds more than what it is because of the value attached to the term "habeas corpus." After a cursory reading of the petition, and a brief hearing to satisfy the bare requirements of the law, the gavel slams, and the immigrant is escorted to an airport and sent to whatever country can be found to receive them -- after they serve their time for any crimes they can be charged with.

Though nothing was said of this in the opinion, I imagine that the prisoners will be under the same disability as Hamdi-proving their "innocence," just as persons facing deportation.

But, you might ask, their innocence of what? They have been charged with no crime, neither has Hamdi. They, too, will have to prove that they were not fighting against the U.S. or preparing to do so.

Again, where will they get their alibi witnesses and, if they have any, how can they be subpoenaed into court? You think the government is going to give visas to their witnesses? Or pay their expenses?

Fat chance.

George Bush 3, Civil Liberties, 0.

The Contrarian View

Reading the cases and placing them in the context of the "war on terror" supports a view that is admittedly contrary to what mainstream media are saying. But if you have been listening to them since September 11, you don't know much about what has happened to the legal system in this country, all in the name of preserving liberty.

In these three cases, the Supreme Court did not want to totally abrogate its responsibility (except for one Justice, Thomas, who, as a reluctant justice on a court he often expresses contempt for, not surprisingly wants to be left out of any judicial interference with the almighty President) or the Constitution so it threw a vote or two in the direction of the Constitution.

But it left plenty of room for this despotic President, and all who follow him (you think Kerry cares about civil liberties? You think he would not want the same power Bush is wielding?) to incarcerate Americans at whim, concoct a story about "fighting" against American, and dare you, just dare you, to try your luck at proving your innocence.

Oh, about that?

Finally, we have the Supreme Court, in the Hamdi case, putting the lie to that myth. There is no presumption of innocence - not if you are Hamdi. There is no mercy - not if the government moves you around so you never know whom to sue. There is a cruel hint at mercy for the Guantanamo Bay prisoners - file your papers, but tell your family to abandon hope. You aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

Game, set, match to George Bush.

Elaine Cassel practices law in Virginia and the District of Columbia, teachers law and psychology, and follows the Bush regime's dismantling of the Constitution at Civil Liberties Watch. Her book, The War on Civil Liberties: How Bush and Ashcroft Have Dismantled the Bill of Rights, will be published by Lawrence Hill this summer. She can be reached at: ecassel1@cox.net

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Judge won't let pregnant woman divorce
Saturday, January 1, 2005
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Husband is abuser and not the father, she argues in vain

SPOKANE -- A Spokane woman trying to divorce her estranged husband two years after he was jailed for beating her has been told by a judge she can't get out of the marriage while she is pregnant.

The case pits a first-year lawyer, who argues that state law allows any couple to divorce if neither spouse challenges it, against a longtime family law judge, who asserts that the rights of the unborn child in this type of case trump a woman's right to divorce.

"There's a lot of case law that says it is important in this state that children not be illegitimized," Superior Court Judge Paul Basting in Spokane County told The Spokesman-Review.

Further complicating things, Shawn Hughes said her husband is not the child's father.

The bottom line, said Hughes' attorney, Terri Slayer, is that there is nothing in state law that says a mother can't get a divorce if she is pregnant.

"We don't live in 15th-century England," Slayer said. "I am absolutely dumbfounded by it." [...]

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Homeland Insecurity

December 28th, 2004 2:41 AM

The American empire goes for broke - and it could be heading that way

WASHINGTON, D.C. Running below the surface of the year-end self-congratulatory assertions of American supremacy (as in Monday's Washington Times: "The world really is becoming more 'American' ") are warnings, often ignored, of our decline. The steady loss of the dollar against the euro is one. The spiraling trade deficit is another.

And in the past weeks, there were two serious economic signs signaling momentous change, if not outright decline.

The first concerns China's invasion of Canadian oil fields, heretofore a U.S. energy fiefdom. The second came in the form of an all-but-hidden report from the Department of Agriculture that America, the breadbasket of the world, is now a net importer of food.

OIL

If the half-dozen planned projects worth $2 billion go through, Canada, our No. 1 energy supplier, could end up sending as much as one-third of its total oil exports to China. One project would give the Chinese a 49 percent interest in a 720-mile-long pipeline running from Alberta to British Columbia. The Chinese are also eyeing an expansion of a second Canadian pipeline system, and they're discussing gaining an interest in companies with oil leases.

Much of this interest centers on extracting oil from oil sands. In the U.S., prospects for synthetic fuels based on oil shale during the energy crisis of the early 1970s never got off the ground. It was discussed along with coal gasification as a possible alternative to what the industry at the time insisted were declining reserves. But when prices were deregulated and rose, along with profitability, all the talk about coal gas and oil from shale died down. For the big international oil companies, synthetics based on oil sands or oil shale historically have been dicey because of the high development cost, and hence reduced profitability. However, as Kang Wu of the East-West Center in Honolulu told The New York Times last week, "For China, it is foremost about securing supply and secondly about profits." And that is one reason China is willing to go so far abroad.

China's energy consumption is up some 40 percent in the past year, making it the second-biggest energy consumer in the world, ahead of Japan. Its booming economy depends on fossil fuels, especially oil imports.

By 2020 China is expected to be importing two-thirds of its oil, some 80 percent of it from the Middle East. It currently imports oil from Oman and Yemen, and China has explored deals with Saudi Arabia. Its imports of natural gas come from the Middle East as well as from Australia, and there is a possibility of China importing Caspian Sea gas through an extensive pipeline that would run all the way from Shanghai across the country into the rich Caspian finds of Central Asia.

As China's energy needs grow, emphasis shifts to protecting supply lines running through South Asia, some of them close to the always contentious straits between Taiwan and China. For the U.S. military, protecting energy supply lines always has been a prime consideration of national security. And these economic shifts in Asia can only mean a further strain on U.S. military operations in that part of the world.

More immediately, a diversion of Canadian petroleum resources to China is about the worst thing that could happen to the U.S. Since the '70s energy crisis, we have been seeking to diversify supplies, trying to shed our dependence on the Middle East, and as a result the U.S. now relies increasingly on Canada and Mexico. We have always viewed Canadian energy resources as a backup - to be used when we are in need. To say they are taken for granted is an understatement. We view them as our own. Free trade makes that condition even more explicit. If Canada actually begins to commit resources to the Chinese, that will lead to more direct U.S. manipulation of Canadian politics and economics; right-wing Republicans will use the China-Canada deals as one more argument for stepped-up drilling in Alaska, the eastern front of the Rockies, and on the outer continental shelf, all of them areas where remaining U.S. petroleum stocks are located. [...]

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U.S. market crash is in the stars
By Carolyn Leitch and Angela Barnes
Saturday, January 1, 2005

An ominous alignment of the planets leads Arch Crawford, publisher of the financial newsletter Crawford Perspectives, to predict the U.S. stock market will crash before March 23. "It could be any time between now and then."

Mr. Crawford, based in Tucson, Ariz., advises readers of his newsletter how to pick stocks, in part based on the alignment of the stars.

Mr. Crawford is a market timer who consults more conventional technical analysis measures -- including advance-decline lines, moving averages and trading volume -- but for a longer-term view, he analyzes the market's star charts.

At the moment, Mars is opposing Uranus, which is bad news, Mr. Crawford says. But it's a phenomenon that happens every couple of years and the market does not crash every time, he points out.

Another ill harbinger this time is the buoyant mood in markets in recent weeks.

"Sentiment indicators are rather extreme." [...]

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Update: Person Questioned About Laser Beam, Planes

By BRUCE SHIPKOWSKI
Associated Press
Dec 31, 11:33 PM (ET)

TRENTON, N.J. - A laser beam was aimed at a police helicopter Friday - one of several incidents involving aircraft across the country in the past week - and federal authorities were questioning someone who had been at a house where they said the light had originated.

Officials said no one was hurt when the laser hit the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police helicopter as it flew over an area where a similar incident occurred Wednesday.

Soon after, Port Authority officials and the FBI went to a Parsippany home where they had tracked the laser beam and were questioning a person there in connection with both incidents, said Steve Coleman, an authority spokesman.

No charges had been filed as of late Friday night, Coleman said.

Police in the helicopter were trying to pinpoint the spot where three green lasers were pointed at a pilot preparing to land a plane at Teterboro Airport on Wednesday night. The force's superintendent and some detectives were in the helicopter at the time, Coleman said.

The plane involved in Wednesday's incident, a corporate-owned Cessna Citation with 13 people aboard, was about 11 miles from the airport when the incident occurred, authorities said. It landed safely and no injuries were reported. [...]

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Morris man was 'playing' with laser

Lawyer: Parsippany resident wasn't trying to distract pilot

By Michael Daigle and Rob Seman, Daily Record
01/02/05

PARSIPPANY -- The attorney of a Lake Parsippany resident questioned by authorities about his suspected use of a laser light said Saturday her client was in the "wrong place at the wrong time."

David Banach was showing his daughter a common laser pointer that he had purchased on the Internet, said attorney Gina Mendola Longarzo. Longarzo said she met with Banach on Saturday.

"At one moment he was in the backyard playing with his daughter," said Longarzo, "and 10 minutes later 12 police cars descended and he was whisked away by authorities and interrogated until 4 a.m."

Banach was taken from his Pitman Road home Friday by state, local and federal authorities investigating the shining of green lasers onto aircraft flying over the region.

Longarzo said once authorities fully investigate the incident, her client will be exonerated. He has not been charged, she said.

Jay Patel, who lives across the street from Banach, said Banach often buys many toys for his two young children. Patel said Banach was not doing anything sinister.

"I don't think he was doing it purposely," Patel said.

No one was home at the Banach residence later Saturday.

On Friday FBI agents, police from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and a federal terrorism task force were seeking the source of green lasers that were aimed at separate aircraft flying over Morris County in the last several days. The local incidents were among several being investigated nationwide. [...]

Comment: It seems we are meant to believe that this whole green laser thing is simply the result of people playing with laser pointers. While it seems that some green laser pointers can project a spot of light up to two miles in darkness, we are still skeptical of the official explanation. Here's a question: If the local incident mentioned in the above article is one of several being investigated nationwide, do we then assume that Americans all across the US have just become crazy about playing around with their new green laser pointers outdoors, trying to illuminate low clouds and even airplanes? And how easy is it to accidentally - or even intentionally - aim a small dot of laser light through the cockpit window of any airplane many thousands of feet in the air?

Doesn't seem very likely, does it?

We suspect that someone wants to cover up the REAL cause...

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Iraq's 'Dr Anthrax' on verge of death, should be freed: lawyer
01 January 2005 1757 hrs
- AFP

DUBAI: A top female scientist from Saddam Hussein's deposed regime should be freed from detention in Iraq as she is terminally ill with cancer, a lawyer said on Saturday.

Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash, accused of being a leader of Saddam's alleged biological warfare programme and dubbed "Dr Anthrax" by the tabloid press, was captured by US forces in May 2003.

Lawyer Badiaa Aref Ezzat, who is acting for former Iraqi deputy prime minister Tareq Aziz, called on Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, US President George W. Bush and aid groups to "assume their responsibility and free her".

"I urge immediate action because her state of health has deteriorated and she will certainly die," said Aref Ezzat, who last met with Aziz on December 23 at a detention centre outside Baghdad.

The lawyer said that the plea for the release of Ammash had been made at on the request of Aziz himself.

"He asked me to do all I can in the case of Mrs Ammash owing to the deterioration in her health as a consequence of the cancer she is suffering from."

Ammash was appointed to Iraq's ruling Baath Party's regional command in 2001 and is believed to have worked with another female biologist, Rihab Taha, known as "Dr Germ," who is also held in a US-controlled jail in Iraq.

The pair are believed to be the only two women still held by US forces in the country.

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Israel arrests Palestinian candidates
By Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank
Sunday 02 January 2005, 10:42 Makka Time, 7:42 GMT
In an apparent effort to forestall gains by Hamas in Palestinian elections, the Israeli army has arrested a large number of potential candidates in the southern part of the West Bank.

The arrests began shortly after midnight on Saturday in the town of Dura, nearly 50km south of Jerusalem, where the Israeli occupation army arrested an undisclosed number of Islamist leaders.

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Guard shot dead at attaché's home
PAUL ANASTASI
IN ATHENS

A GUARD assigned to protect the home of Britain’s military attaché in Athens was shot dead yesterday, prompting fears of a resurgence of terrorism in Greece.

The assassination, bearing all the hallmarks of a well-organised terrorist attack, took place outside Brigadier Mark Blatherwick’s home in the exclusive suburb of Kifissia. The brigadier and his family were inside the house at the time but escaped injury.

The shooting brought to mind the assassination of Brigadier Blatherwick’s predecessor, Brigadier Stephen Saunders, in June 2000 by a terrorist group that has since seen many of its members arrested.

Police said ballistic tests showed the guard was shot at close range with nine 9mm bullets.

Vasilis Dumas, the president of the Greek government’s VIP Special Guards Association, said the guard was shot by assassins in a passing car. He died instantly, despite wearing a bullet-proof vest.

The killers, believed to be two men, then stole the dead guard’s weaponry.

George Voulgarakis, Greece’s public order minister, said: "Initial indications point to a terrorist attack, but we cannot be sure yet."

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China spying on us: CSIS
Robert Fife
CanWest News Service
December 29, 2004

OTTAWA - China's intelligence services have systematically targeted Canada's science and technology sectors and use Chinese students and visiting scientists to steal technology for military use and to enhance the country's global economic competitiveness, a senior intelligence source says.

In its annual report to Parliament, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service warns foreign spies are seeking to acquire ''Canada's scientific and technological developments, critical economic and information infrastructure, military and other classified information, putting at risk Canada's national security.''

CSIS does not cite a specific country, but a high-level intelligence source identifies China as the ''most aggressive'' in seeking to illegally acquire Canadian technology.

The official said CSIS was mainly referring to China in its 2003-04 report when the spy service discussed how ''certain foreign governments direct their departments, state-owned corporations and intelligence services to engage in economic espionage against Canada.''

China uses visiting students, scientists, business people and delegations to obtain industrial secrets and high-technology that will benefit Chinese companies and its military-industrial complex, said the source, who asked not to be identified for national security reasons.

Russian intelligence services have also sought to obtain Canadian technology, which led to the 1996 arrest of two of their agents.

However, the official said China has been the most enterprising in using clandestine or coercive activity to gain access to economic and military intelligence. China has targeted Canada's nuclear, aerospace, biotechnology, mining and metallurgy, environmental and oil and gas sectors. [...]

The Prime Minister [Paul Martin], whose family's shipping company has built ships at low-wage Chinese shipyards, is under pressure from the opposition and some Liberal backbench MPs to reject China's takeover of Noranda, one of Canada's biggest mining firms.

Noranda is in talks to be acquired by China Minmetals Corp, a metals producer controlled by the Chinese government, which wants to buy 100% of the $6.7-billion mining giant. [...]

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Tsunamis cap year of death and destruction in Asia
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AFP) Dec 31, 2004
The huge earthquake off Indonesia and the tidal waves it spawned, killing more than 120,000 people and leaving millions homeless, capped a year of natural disasters and extreme weather that had already claimed thousands of lives and left a trail of destruction costing tens of billions of dollars across Asia in 2004. [...]

Ironically, several of the countries hit by the waves had escaped the more extreme natural phenomena that pummeled their neighbours earlier in the year.

Incessant monsoon rains, the heaviest in years, had lashed Bangladesh, northeast India and parts of Nepal in July and August, killing at least 1,240 people.

Large swathes of Bangladesh, one of the world's poorest and most densely populated nations, were submerged for weeks. At least 700 people died and many were left homeless.

Powerful storms in the Philippines in early December spawned flash floods and landslides that swept away whole villages, leaving 1,600 dead or missing.

In both cases human activity -- building development in Bangladesh and illegal logging in the Phipippines -- were blamed for worsening the effects of the downpours.

The World Bank estimated the cost to Bangladesh at 2.2 billion dollars this year.

"Farmers have had huge losses and siltation of much land means that many areas will be barren for around 10 years," said Dilruba Haider, assistant representative at the United Nations Development Fund.

Months after the floodwater subsided, aid agencies have described the increased hardship endured by millions already living on less than a dollar a day as a "quiet disaster".

An unusual high pressure system in the Pacific was the main reason for a record 10 typhoons that hit Japan and the heaviest rain in 29 years, the country's Meteorological Agency said.

About 216 people died and damage reached one trillion yen (9.7 billion dollars), government agencies said.

Tokyo is now racing to develop new measures to better warn senior citizens, who accounted for most of the victims, and to improve evacuation orders.

Many elderly were swept away in floods or buried alive in landslides. Of the 93 killed by Typhoon Tokage, the deadliest in 25 years, which struck in October, two-thirds were aged over 60.

Also in October Japan suffered its worst earthquake in a decade, measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, which killed 40 people.

China suffered too, from floods, typhoons, and the worst drought in more than 50 years which still gripped large parts of the south and east at the end of the year.

More than 1,000 people died in weather-related incidents but the toll was lower than the previous year's figure of 1,900 because of better emergency planning, officials said.

Total economic losses for the year were put at 10 billion dollars.

In Taiwan, massive floods brought by storm Mindulle killed 29 and caused 4.07 billion Taiwan dollars (126 million US) in losses to agriculture and fisheries.

Mudslides triggered by Typhoon Aere in August claimed 15 lives and 767 million dollars in losses, prompting government officals and experts to restrict farming and land use in some conservation and landslide prone areas.

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Volcano Barren-1 and Narcondum erupt in Andaman - Seismic disturbance can cause more Tsunami
Jan. 2, 2005

Andaman's active volcanos Barren-1 and Narcondam have started erupting. The chain of islands in ndaman and Nicobar are facing tremor, aftershocks and volcano. Severe seismic activities are seen in these islands. Some of Indian Army personnel who have reached these remote areas are facing shattering earth vibrations and high waves.

Some scientists are predicting severe aerthquake again in the North of Andaman Nicobar Islands. The effect can be severe on Mayanmar, Andaman, Indi's east coast, Bangladesg and Sumatra.

Andaman's tribals strangely are uneffected as most of them somehow went higher ground before the Tsunami. So did the anumals.

According to some Indian Air Force choper pilots, some people among the tribes sensed the devastation way before. They even moved their belonging and make shift home in grounds where waves could not effect.

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Fresh earthquake hits India's Nicobar Islands
Time is GMT 8 hours
Posted: 02 January 2005 1220 hrs

HONG KONG : A fresh earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 on the Ricter scale hit India's Nicobar Islands on Sunday morning, seismologists in Hong Kong said.

Nicobar and neighbouring Andaman Islands have been struck by tremors repeatedly since the magnitude 9.0 quake that occurred off Indonesia's coast on December 26.


The quake sparked tsunamis, sweeping Asia's southern coastlines and Africa's eastern coast and killing more than 120,000.

It was not immediately clear if there are any casualties. - CNA

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Small earthquake hits Canberra
Herald Sun
02 jan 05

THE national capital was shaken but not stirred by a small earthquake this afternoon.

The tremor measuring 3.0 on the Richter scale hit at about 2pm AEDT with its epicentre 20 kilometres west of Canberra in the Namadgi National Park.

Director of the Australian Seismological Centre Kevin McCue said the quake would not have caused any damage, and would only have been noticed by bushwalkers in the area.

"It's not a big one, but it's big in terms of the quakes that we get in the Canberra area and big enough to be felt," Mr McCue told AAP.

No reports had been received from the public by the seismological centre about the earthquake.

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Strong earthquake rocks Indonesia's Sumatra
Pakistan Times Wire Service

BEIJING (China): An earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale struck under the sea off Indonesia's Sumatra Islands on Saturday afternoon, the State Seismological Bureau of China said.

The tremor took place at 08:25 GMT, about 410 kilometers (240 miles) from the epicenter of last Sunday's earthquake, which measured 9.0 on the Richter scale and unleashed tsunamis which killed at least 125,000 people around Asia.

The tremor happened at 5.2 degrees north latitude and 92.3 degrees east longitude, Xinhua news agency, citing the bureau, reported.

The Hong Kong Observatory reported a "severe earthquake" at 08:22 GMT, with an estimated magnitude of 6.5 on the Richter Scale, with its epicentre 350 kilometres west of Banda Aceh.

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Deadly diseases threaten tsunami survivors
www.chinaview.cn 2005-01-02 11:09:25
GENEVA, Jan. 1 (Xinhuanet) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Saturday that first signs of potentially deadly diseases are threatening survivors in tsunami-hit areas in Asia.

There are increasing reports of diarrhea disease outbreaks in displaced persons' settlements in Sri Lanka and India, said David Nabarro, a top official of the Geneva-based WHO.

Speaking to reporters, Nabarro called for continued preventive measures and treatments. "What we need to do is to make sure that we continue to distribute all rehydration salts and treatment for diarrhea and we continue to do our work in sanitation and water supplies," he said.

Noting the international operation is "incredibly strong" and relief distribution has started and gone on pretty well in Sri Lanka, Nabarro cautioned that it needs a few more days before the WHO can say there is no danger of major outbreaks of disease.

By Saturday the death toll from the deadly quake and tsunami was reportedly edging toward 126,000 but the United Nations has warned that it could rise to 150,000.

WHO says it has circulated an emergency health action program for the region, identifying the immediate needs for the next three months. The program says it needs about 40 million US dollars.

The organization also urged countries in the region to prepare for possible outbreaks of malaria and dengue fever which are endemic in South East Asia.

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Slight earthquake felt in eastern India
Saturday, 01 January , 2005, 20:42

New Delhi: An earthquake of slight intensity shook border areas of West Bengal and Orissa on Saturday evening, the Meteorological department said.

Measuring 4.4 on the Richter scale, the quake was felt at 18:06 IST.

The quake was epicentred at 21.7 degree North latitude and 87.3 degree East longitude on the West Bengal-Orissa border, it said.

It was not yet known whether any damage had been caused by the temblor and whether it was related to over 80 aftershocks that have rocked Andaman and Nicobar Islands and its surroundings since last Sundayís giant quake off the coast of Indonesia triggered tsunami waves.

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'Mini-Tornado' Damages 100 Houses
By Senan Hogan, PA

Dozens of families were clearing up storm debris tonight after a “mini-tornado” damaged around 100 houses in the Irish Republic.
The sudden squall ripped slates from roofs, smashed windows and overturned sheds and cars at around 1pm.

The worst affected area covered three housing estates in Clonee in Co Meath on the Dublin border.

Gardai and fire officers said it was amazing nobody was injured.
A main road between the Hansfield, Castaheaney and Hunters Run estates was closed off and residents were urged to stay indoors.

“There is still a danger of falling branches and slates,” said one fire officer.

Earlier, residents fled into their homes as the freak storm swept through their estates.

One resident said: “It got very dark and blustery. I saw a flash of lightning and then the house started to shake. It was the most frightening thing I have ever gone through.

“It felt like an earthquake or a mini tornado.”

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Merciless rains swamp aid routes
MARTIN REGG COHN
Jan. 1, 2005. 09:28 AM

AKKARAIPATTU—Flying emergency aid 14,000 kilometres from Canada to Colombo's international airport is the easy part. Hauling it the next 200 kilometres overland into the hands of desperate refugees from Sri Lanka's battered eastern coastal communities is proving far more difficult — and dangerous.

Foreign aid workers struggled with a day-long torrential downpour yesterday that paralyzed relief efforts across Sri Lanka's isolated northeast, just days after tsunami waves wiped out entire coastal settlements.

The relentless monsoon rains washed away roads and flooded highways, forcing hundreds of relief trucks and other supply vehicles to turn back to the capital and preventing aid flights from landing.

Refugees waiting for help here in the Ampara district — the worst-affected areas that account for roughly half of Sri Lanka's nearly 30,000 dead — were forced to huddle on the floors of crowded schools and temples braced for possible flooding and leaks.

Aid workers had to set aside some of their most urgent efforts to burn bodies and chlorinate drinking water wells that were contaminated by salt water when the tidal waves engulfed local fishing villages.

"The water level is rising because of the flooding, but also because the drainage system has now completely collapsed," said Canadian aid worker Raga Alphonsus, who arrived here this week to help ZOA, a Dutch aid agency for displaced people.

He predicted major difficulties after the first wave of food distributions has been completed, because water and sanitation problems will become more pressing with the swelling tide of refugees.

"If it's not solved we're heading to a different type of calamity," Alphonsus warned, adding, "The real issue now is co-ordination of aid."

Relief groups said the continuing rains have not only slowed aid shipments, but seriously hampered the recovery of bodies in the Ampara and Batticaloa districts that bore the brunt of the tsunami. [...]

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Police probe hoax e-mails
2 January 2005

Friends and relatives desperately seeking news of loved ones after the Asian tsunami have been plagued by hoax e-mails saying they are dead, police said.

Messages purportedly from Government officials have been sent to people who placed appeals for information on the Sky News website.

Police said they were treating the matter as a "very serious crime" and have launched a full investigation.

A spokesman said: "The Metropolitan Police Service would like to reassure the public that these messages are hoaxes.

"The British Government would not use e-mail to convey news of the death of a loved one."

The hoax e-mails have all been sent from the same bogus e-mail address: ukgovfoffice@aol.com.

They claim to come from the "Foreign Office Bureau" in Thailand and state that the missing person has been confirmed dead.

Anyone receiving such an e-mail has been advised to treat it with the "utmost caution".

If caught the hoaxers could face charges of malicious communication or causing a public nuisance.

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Temperatures plunge as Hong Kong marks 2005  
January 01 2005 at 01:54PM

Hong Kong - Hong Kong on Saturday had its coldest New Year's Day for more than 40 years as temperatures in the normally balmy territory plunged to as low as three degrees Celsius.

Urban temperatures fell to 6.4 degrees Celsius while in the rural New Territories, temperatures of three degrees Celsius - the lowest on record for this time of year - were recorded on Saturday morning.

Cold shelters have opened across the territory of 6.8 million people, which is ill-equipped to deal with low temperatures, and welfare workers were distributing blankets to elderly people.

The cold snap is being caused by a winter monsoon that has been blown down from northern China, where seasonal temperatures usually plunge below zero at the end of December and beginning of January.

The coldest temperature recorded in Hong Kong on a New Year's Day before this year was six degrees Celsius in 1988. Overall, meteorologists said it is the coldest New Year's Day for more than 40 years.

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And Finally...

Psychic Sea Lion Can Avoid Tsunamis and Write in Chinese

Bush Warns of New Terrorism, Declares War on Animal Kingdom

SOTT

Jonao, a sea lion, uses a brush to write a Chinese character which is translated as 'rooster,' at the Hakkeijima-Sea Paradise amusement park in Yokohama, January 1, 2005. (REUTERS/Toshiyuki Aizawa)

President Bush today warned that psychic powers are the work of the devil, and that many animals who avoided the disaster in Asia could be members of Al-Qaeda, according to unnamed intelligence sources.

When asked for clarification about whether he thought the animals were responsable for the massive Asian quake, the President mumbled something about hating our freedoms and pretzels.

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