Translations from other sites
Travel Log! The
Quantum Future Group Goes to Rennes-le-Chateau
Strike Flash Presentation by a QFS member
Publication! 'The Wave' finally in book form!
Wave: 4 Volume Set
With a new
introduction by the author and never before published, UNEDITED sessions
and extensive previously unpublished details, at long last, Laura Knight-Jadczyk's
vastly popular series The Wave is available as a Deluxe four
book set. Each of the four volumes include all of the original illustrations
and many NEW illustrations with each copy comprising approximately 300
is an exquisitely written first-person account of Laura's initiation at
the hands of the Cassiopaeans and demonstrates the unique nature of the
Volumes 1 and 2 now!
of the Day
There was an extremely interesting
hour on last night's FOX News Live with Alan Colmes when guests
Paul Guercio and George Hart came on to discuss something called
the Merlin Project which is, supposedly, a scientific way of predicting
I listened to the entire segment twice and still don't quite understand
their theory or how it works but, to quote one of them (it was nearly
impossible to distinguish which voice belonged to whom), George
Hart, a noted scientist, came up with a computer program that "taps
into patterns that are in the universe, time and geometry patterns."
Alan asked them for some predictions for the coming year. Unfortunately,
the news does not look good.
Here are their predictions for 2005 and beyond:
Something out of the ordinary starts in the next year or two and
culminates at the end of the decade.
At the end of 2005, something profound will happen. They're not
sure what, exactly, it may be but it could be an asteroid strike
or a massive UFO invasion. (Comment: I swear to you, these guys
sounded scientific, not flaky.)
In 2008-2009, something even more profoundly changing will happen
that will affect about 4 out of 6 people. Something like a pandemic.
Osama bin Laden will be "in strength" in 2005 and 2006.
Something very peculiar will happen to Sadam Hussein. "He
could be sprung loose or perhaps even re-emerge as part of the new
The Iraqi elections; "First go round will be useless"
but about halfway through the year there could a civil war. We could
get a government in January that says they want us out.
The second Bush administration: Bush will be "teetering on
the edge of disaster and he'll be lucky to be in office for a full
|Americans “have borne 90 percent of
the casualties in Iraq”. ~ John Kerry, US Democrat.
As a result of the Anglo-American invasion and occupation of Iraq,
more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed — half
of them women and children. Eighty-four per cent of the deaths were
caused by the actions of the Americans and the British, and 95 per
cent of these were killed by air attacks and artillery fire; thousands
more are imprisoned and tortured; the lives of millions more have
In addition, the conditions of child health in US-occupied Iraq
today are even worse than during the genocidal years of sanctions.
Acute malnutrition among Iraqi children between the ages of six
months and 5 years has doubled, and over 400,000 Iraqi children
are suffering from conditions of chronic diarrhoea and protein deficiency.
The pretext for this wanton of destruction was few lies fabricated
in Washington and London. Iraqi civilians have been massacred by
US-British weapon of mass destructions (WMDs). In addition to the
use of weapons made from radioactive waste or ‘Depleted Uranium’
(DU), the US and Britain are using internationally banned WMDs such
as napalm and cluster bombs in heavily populated urban areas like
Baghdad, Fallujah and Mosul.
Since 1991, Iraq tried rationally to build its good relation with
the rest of the world, and Iraq has made very significant commitment
to destroy it weapons of defence. Countless reports by UN and US
officials have now confirmed that Iraq was defenceless nation and
free from any WMDs since 1991. Genocide was in the making.
According to Scott Ritter, the former UN weapons inspector in
Iraq between 1991 and 1998, “By 2002, on the eve of the US-led
invasion, Baghdad was full of booming businesses, restaurants were
full, and families walked freely along well-lit parks. Compare and
contrast that image with the reality of Baghdad [and the whole of
Iraq] today”. They “hate our freedom”, said George
These crimes committed for no reasons other
than to spread fear and terror upon defenceless people. These
crimes are justified in American/Western psyches on the basis that
Iraqis are not white and therefore “unpeople”,
and that Iraqis “do not value life as we value life in the
US/West”. It follows, that the element of racism against
non-white and Muslims in policy formation should not be discounted.
It is alive in every institution of power.
In all US-British wars against other nations,
“generally, with the exception of Serbs, the victims of Pentagon
firepower have been people of colour who've looked different than
the USA's white majority and power structure. In the United
States, racial biases have helped to grease the war machinery”,
wrote Norman Solomon of Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting. “Meanwhile,
inside the policy arena, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice are frequently
in front of cameras to personify Uncle Sam in blackface”.
The best warmongering PR ever produced.
The soldiers who are the tools of US-Britain wars are recruited
from working-class, low-income disfranchised whites, blacks and
Latinos. They are recruited from isolated and marginalized communities
and towns affected by the economic recession and the downturn sweeping
the US and Britain with employment opportunities steadily decreasing.
It is assumed that life in the army is the
only way out of their misery into “better” life.
These soldiers are recruited to fight wars orchestrated by the
elites and rich white Anglo-Americans to spread their ideology of
conquest and fear. “You go to war with the Army you have,
not the Army you might want or wish to have”, Donald Rumsfeld
told one of his “death fearing” soldiers asking about
the lack of equipment and inadequate protection. The Secretary of
Defence forgot that it was the Bush administration that decided
to go to war against Iraq not the poor soldiers. Does Rumsfeld cares
more about his wars than the soldiers fighting it?
Soldiers who are exposed to chemical and radioactive weapons in
contaminated battlefields are considered “throw away soldiers”,
who are dispensed with once exposed, and replaced by others who
become throw away in their turn with risks of cancer, deformed children
from genetic damage and serious health problems, wrote Professor
Niloufer Bhagwat of Indian Association of Lawyers. Soldiers who
desert during wartime and get caught are usually thrown in jail
for years. The penalty under the US law is execution.
The children of the leaders of the war on Iraq are studying in Oxford,
Harvard and Yale.
According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, nearly
300,000 US veterans are homeless on any given night, and almost
half of those are Vietnam veterans, who participated in previous
US atrocity against demonised innocent people.
Ordinary “soldiers are pilloried. White House officials
are promoted. The cost of hypocrisy in the billowing prison abuse
scandal has not mattered much up to now. Tomorrow we might care
a lot more. The next victim of the hypocrisy could be you or me”,
wrote Derrick Jackson of The Boston Globe. The Bush administration
is prosecuting the “few bad apples” stationed in the
Abu Ghraib, while defending the larger process of war and systemic
The systemic torture of Iraqi civilians and prisoners of war at
Abu Ghraib which was introduced by the US have now “survived
its public exposure”, opined The Washington Post. Its chief
torturer, Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, the Zionist Paul Wolfowitz
remain in their jobs perpetuating this systemic violation of human
rights, and planning their next attack.
Furthermore, the Washington Post reported, that a report by retired
Colonel Stuart Harrington found that Special Operations and CIA
task force members abused Iraqi prisoners throughout that nation
in secret facilities. The report found that
the US military sweeps of thousands of people off the streets were
so indiscriminate that they were “counterproductive to the
coalition’s efforts to win the cooperation of the Iraqi citizenry”.
The crimes of torture and murder of innocent Iraqis at Abu Ghraib
prison are not the work of a few bad apples who are on TV trial
for their actions, this kind of crimes could not have taken place
without orders from leaders in the Bush administration. The leaders
of those nations who are perpetuating an illegal war and occupation
are committing crimes against the Iraqi people. Their actions and
policy are copied from the US and British textbooks of racism, and
Around the world, and particularly in the Developing World, the
photographs “have strengthened the feeling that there is a
deep racism underlying the occupiers' attitudes to Arabs, Muslims
and [other coloured people] generally”, wrote the Egyptian
novelist, Ahdaf Soueif. She noted that “the acts in the photos
being flashed across the [TV] networks would not have taken place
but for the profound racism that infects the American and British
A senior British officer in Iraq told a reporter about the attitude
of the U.S. military toward the Iraqi people, “My view and
the view of the British chain of command is that the Americans use
of violence is not proportionate and is over-responsive to the threat
they are facing. They don't see the Iraqi
people the way we see them. They view them as ‘untermenschen’.
They are not concerned about the Iraqi loss of life”. ‘Untermenschen’,
a Hitler-derived term used by the Nazis to describe Jews, Romanies
and Slavs as inferior human beings. However, the way the
British see Iraqis is much more settled.
The British Prime Minister, Tony Blaire
told the House of Common before the invasion, “these [Iraqis]
are different people, they are not like us, they don’t behave
the way we behave”. Few weeks later, his army participated
in the slaughter and torture of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians.
The ‘pall of racism...hovering over’ Middle East affairs
under all British governments from Churchill to Blair. In
the 1920s British occupation of Iraq, Churchill was quoted as saying,
“the Iraqis, like all Arabs, were “niggers”, against
whom poison gas could be used. Does Blair call Churchill
“an evil man”?
The West hasn't really changed very much;
the Jews of yesterday are the Muslims of today. Only time
has changed. George Bush’s ill-defined “War on Terror”
is now a euphemism for an ideological war against Muslims around
the world. Here in the land of the most insignificant of the “coalition
of the willing”, and in many other countries, the War on Terror
has been internalised without question. The introduction of the
so-called “terrorism laws” that solely targeting Muslims
is one case in point.
Governments-induced fear is turning citizens of one nation against
each other. A recent US survey conducted by Cornell University in
New York found that nearly half of all Americans believe the US
government should restrict the civil liberties of Muslim-Americans.
Poor Muslims, even in their “Land of the Free”, are
easy targets. Patriotism is ‘bringing the war home’.
In order to deny the world the full scale of civilian deaths,
and make the atrocity in Iraq palatable to Americans and Western
consumers, US authorities have barred journalists and aid workers
from entering the city of Fallujah before the US assault and massacre
begun there. All Iraqi men aged between 14 to 60 years of age were
prevented from leaving the city. ‘The full force of America's
arsenal of terror, including F-16s, C-130s, Abrams tanks, and Apache
Helicopters were unleashed on the city’ writes Mike Whitney.
The City of 300,000 people has been bombed to rubble by all kinds
of terror bombs. The Red Cross estimated that more than 6000 civilians
have been killed in the assault made no headlines in Western media.
In addition, the media remain silent and downplayed the most credible
report by the British medical journal, The Lancet, which estimated
more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians were killed. The report excludes
the atrocity of Fallujah. Unlike the death toll from the latest
Tsunami in South-East Asia, which has morphed into an urge to hear
more updates and to see more TV footages, the death of innocent
Iraqi women and children is systematically ignored. The “stingy”
outcry over natural disaster, and complete silence over the US-made
disaster(s) is the West self-induced moral hypocrisy. Uninterrupted
and in full view, we can see all the “beasts in Samaritan’s
clothing” helping those who once called the “Asian hordes”.
This deliberate media ignorance is followed because George Bush
believes that the death of Iraqi women and children is “inflaming
[public] opinion throughout the country” and the world. These
are the “moral values” that the American people were
concerned with when they voted for President Bush.
Any one observing US atrocities in Iraq and Palestine knows what
are these American moral values that Bush is defending.
The Canadian author and journalist, Naomi Klein rightly described
the attitudes of her big neighbours, Americans,
she wrote, “are incapable of caring about anyone's lives but
their own, the Kerry campaign and
its supporters became complicit in the dehumanisation [and murder]
of Iraqis, reinforcing the idea that some lives are insufficiently
important to risk losing votes over. And it is this morally
bankrupt logic, more than the election of any single candidate,
that allows these crimes to continue unchecked”. Americans
are enjoying their “peaceful Christmas” holiday, while
their poor and destitute soldiers murdering innocent Iraqi men,
women and children resisting the occupation of their country.
Iraqis who resist the Occupation are merely ‘insurgents
holed up in the city’, dehumanised and will be ‘flushed
out’. With the exception of few honourable voices in the West,
no body care about the death of Iraqis. In the West, “’We’
are still seen as benign. We're not seen as illegal, rapacious occupiers”,
said John Pilger recently. The US and Britain
are masters of racism and dehumanisation of “others”.
The Iraqi people are seen, thanks to this media racism and dishonest
liberal intellectuals, as “insurgents” incapable of
appreciating the “freedom we brought them”.
The Iraqi people are fighting to liberate their
country from foreign occupation and terrorism. Their cause is noble
and legitimate within international law. They are not “insurgents”.
They are Iraqi men and women resisting the occupation and destruction
of their country and society by foreign powers.
The destruction of Iraqi cities violated the principle of the
Geneva Conventions, and hence under the US War Crimes Act of 1996,
the atrocities carry the death penalty. The genocide in Fallujah
is reminiscent to those of Serbrenica and Grozny, both condemned
by the US administration as ‘genocides’. These unprovoked
acts of aggression against the Iraqi people and the destruction
of their society constitute a clear violation of the Laws of Land
War found in the US army Field Manual 27-10.
George Bush and Tony Blair are guilty of the “supreme international
crime” in violation of the Geneva conventions should be held
accountable for their crimes against the Iraqi people. There is
an overwhelming prima facie evidence to indict George Bush and Tony
Blair with war crimes. Equally guilty is Western mass media. It
has become one of the main instruments of deception and lies and
should be held accountable for the role it plays in promoting war
and racism not only against the Iraqi people, but also against other
peoples struggling against Western domination.
Furthermore, recent evidence provided by the American Civil Liberties
Union and the Centre for Constitutional Rights has strengthened
the case of war crimes. The Nuremberg Tribunal, established after
World War II, defined war of aggression as follow:
“To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an
international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing
only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the
accumulated evil of the whole”.
The war crimes tribunal in Japan established by the US after the
War found Japan's prime minister, Tojo Hideki, and Foreign minister,
Hirota Koki guilty of ‘not preventing atrocities’ against
US prisoners of war and sentenced them to death by hanging. Similar
tribunal should be established to investigate alleged war crimes
committed against Iraqi prisoners and civilians at Abu Ghraib and
Both the US and Britain are democracies, and their laws and constitutions
forbid the unlawful crimes against innocent people. American and
British prosecutors have duties to prosecute George Bush and Tony
Blair, and their accomplices not only for their crimes against the
Iraqi people, but also for their crimes against the American and
Instead, we are treated to the latest news that Saddam and his
government officials will be put on “trail”. The trial
that is already called by law experts the Iraqi Kangaroo Court.
It is a political ploy controlled by the US. The so-called “prime
minister”, Allawi, has no authority to announce the trial
of Saddam. Allawi is the Occupation Spokesman’s spokesman
and doesn’t have the power to make decisions.
According to Professor Charif Bassiouni of DePaul University,
an expert on International Criminal Law, “All efforts are
being made to have a tribunal whose judiciary is not independent
but controlled, and by controlled I mean that the political manipulators
of the tribunal have to make sure the US and other western powers
are not brought in cause. This makes it look like victor's vengeance:
it makes it seem targeted, selected, and unfair. It's a subterfuge”.
There is no need to define a Kangaroo Court.
If Saddam and his official to be put on trial, then US leaders,
British leaders and other Western leaders who supported and encouraged
Saddam should be with him in the dock. Saddam trial is illegal.
There is no law in Iraq to allow for the trial of Saddam or his
officials. Iraq is an illegally occupied nation by foreign army.
Saddam and his government officials are prisoners of war under the
Geneva Conventions. It is those leaders who violated the Geneva
Conventions and the Laws of War on Land to commit the crimes against
the Iraqi people should be put on trial in an international court.
According to professor Richard Overy of King’s College London,
a leading authority on Nuremberg Trial and international law, “International
law works only against weaker states. Big powers have an unmerited,
but unassailable, [self-induced] immunity”. “What
had happened in Iraq was a major crime against humanity, and Bush
and Blair could be in the dock”, he wrote.
Nonetheless, it is encouraging to see the action of some German
lawyers filing criminal complaints against the US Secretary of Defence,
Donald Rumsfeld and his cohorts. Similar actions should be pursued
by other nations. Those leaders who participated in this illegal
war of aggression against the Iraqi people should be brought to
justice. Civilised nations, who believe in justice, have an obligation
to arrest and indict those leaders with war crimes if they entered
Ghali Hassan lives in Perth Western Australia: He can be reached
at e-mail: G.Hassan@exchange.curtin.edu.au
BAGHDAD - Gunmen assassinated Baghdad's governor
and a suicide truck bomb killed 10 in the latest attack to hit Iraqi
security forces, raising further concerns
about the viability of Iraq's landmark elections.
Against the backdrop of violence, Prime Minister Iyad Allawi telephoned
US President George W. Bush to discuss the obstacles to January
30 elections, the New York Times reported.
A car of gunmen drove up and opened fire Tuesday morning on Baghdad
governor Ali Radi al-Haidari and his bodyguard, killing both of
them, in the northwestern district of Hurriyah, an interior ministry
Accounts of a meticulously-plotted assassination
gave the impression the governor's
circle had been infiltrated.
One witness said the governor's three-vehicle
convoy was traveling east when two cars coming from the opposite
direction stopped in the street and three masked gunmen stepped
out and unleashed a barrage of gunfire.
Another account described the gunmen as lying in
wait on the roadside for the governor's convoy to arrive.
Two bodies were pulled out of a black armoured BMW and splotches
of blood stained the asphalt.
"The gunfire we heard was so heavy. We felt like it was all-out
war outside," said Ali al-Amari, a principal whose school was
located where the ambush took place.
Also Tuesday morning, insurgents assaulted a base of the interior
ministry's elite commandos force with a suicide truck bomb, killing
at least 10 and wounding 56, Iraqi security and US military officials
One witness, Abu Maiss, said the vehicle slammed into the gates
of the base of the elite commando division and hit a car, before
bursting into flames.
Commando Hamid Attiyah, 19, said: "I was being handed my weapon
when I saw a yellow truck drive over. My comrade manning the machine
gun opened heavy fire at him but he wouldn't stop and then the truck
exploded. It was a heavy shake, we were blown back."
The explosion was not far from the fortress-like Green Zone, home
to the US embassy and the interim Iraqi government.
The latest violence followed two car bombings on symbols of Iraqi
power on Monday, as insurgents intensified their efforts to derail
Iraq's first free elections in five decades.
Four people were killed and 24 wounded Monday in a suicide blast
near the Baghdad headquarters of Allawi's Iraqi National Accord.
Two of the dead and 18 of the wounded were Iraqi policemen.
Al-Qaeda linked Ansar al-Sunna group claimed responsibility
for the attack in a statement posted on the Internet.
Hours after that attack and in the same western
section of the capital, a vehicle belonging to the US-based Kroll
security firm was gutted by fire after a suicide car bomb exploded
There were casualties from the blast near a checkpoint entrance
to the Green Zone, the citadel-like headquarters of the Iraqi government
and US embassy.
A spokesman for Kroll Associates in New York told Britain's domestic
Press Association that at least two of the men killed were Britons
employed in the Iraqi capital by the security firm.
The British Foreign Office reported a third Briton died in a car
bombing in the capital, but did not clarify where the person died.
In the restive western province of al-Anbar, one US marine was
killed in action early Tuesday, the military said, refusing to give
further details on the death. [...]
However, the daily said other US and Iraqi officials
interpreted Allawi's call as a sign that he is worried about his
own party's prospects in the election and may be preparing the ground
to make the case for a postponement of the vote.
Amid the perils looming over the country ahead of January's elections,
Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem al-Shaalan said the landmark legislative
vote could be delayed if a deal was worked out to get Sunni Muslims
to take part.
The United States is also considering adding hundreds
of military advisers to work directly with the under-fire Iraqi
security forces after the national elections, The New York Times
In other developments, two Lebanese businessmen
held hostage by an Islamist group in Iraq have called on their government
to help free them, as their captors say they are being "investigated,"
in a videotape broadcast by Dubai TV.
The men, who appeared in good health, were kidnapped by a hitherto
unknown group called the Mussab bin Omeir Brigades for Islamic Jihad,
according to the video, a copy of which was obtained by AFP Tuesday.
WASHINGTON - Gen. George W. Casey
Jr., the top commander in Iraq, is reviewing a proposal to add hundreds
of American military advisers to work directly with Iraqi units,
whose disappointing performance could jeopardize the long-term American
exit strategy from Iraq, senior military officials said Monday.
Americans are training Iraqi police officers and national guard
troops to replace them in securing the country, but
the results over all have been troubling, with growing desertion
rates in the most violent provinces, gaps in leadership, and poor
battlefield performance, American military officers and troops say.
The advisers would bolster the Iraqi will to fight, help train
officers who would lead the troops, curb desertion and provide Iraqi
forces with the confidence that American units would back them up
- in some cases fighting alongside them if needed, military and
Pentagon officials said.
Several hundred American troops are already embedded with Iraqi
units, following a long tradition in American military actions.
But the proposal would greatly expand this presence.
The details of the proposal are still being discussed
among American and Iraqi officials, and more troops would probably
not be embedded until after the Jan. 30 elections, in which Iraqi
forces will play a crucial part.
Embedding more Americans with Iraqis would mean diverting perhaps
several hundred additional American troops away from combat operations,
military officials said. There are 150,000 American forces in Iraq.
Although diverting soldiers might be risky at a time when commanders
say they need troops to press offensives against insurgents, the
plan addresses a widely acknowledged need.
American commanders have praised the skills of some Iraqi forces,
particularly new commando units that have seen combat throughout
the country. But the Americans have criticized
other Iraqi forces for their slovenly appearance and lack of commitment,
raising questions about how soldiers and marines will respond to
joining such units.
There has been widespread concern in the Bush administration about
the poor performance of Iraqi troops. President Bush himself discussed
the issue in a news conference on Dec. 20. "They've
got some generals in place and they've got foot soldiers in place,
but the whole command structure necessary to have a viable military
is not in place," he said. "And so they're going to spend
a lot of time and effort on achieving that objective."
If approved, the plan would expand and standardize steps already
taken by some American units, including the Army's First Cavalry
Division and some Marine Corps units, to enhance the training that
the Iraqi Army, National Guard and police forces receive after boot
"The development of Iraqi security forces is, in my view,
necessarily the main effort," Brig. Gen. Carter Ham, commander
of American forces in northern Iraq, said in an e-mail message from
his headquarters in Mosul on Monday. "Building capable and
loyal Iraqi forces is what will eventually lead to the defeat of
the insurgency and to a sufficiently stable environment so that
U.S. and other forces can begin to reduce our presence."
General Ham, noting the earlier efforts by some units, said, "It's
time to apply it on a larger scale."
"It seems to me that this is something we
want to start doing in the immediate post-election
period," he said.
The proposal that General Casey and his top aides are weighing
has received support in principle from Pentagon officials at a time
when Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has been urging commanders
in Iraq to accelerate the creation of Iraqi security forces and
to improve their quality, a senior Pentagon official said Monday.
General Casey, at a Pentagon news conference on
Dec. 16, said an exhaustive internal review of the military's campaign
plan for Iraq concluded that training the local police and building
a better border patrol were two of three essential areas that were
well behind schedule. The other area was establishing effective
Iraqi intelligence services.
Proponents of embedding programs readily acknowledge that they
will lose the American troops for active combat operations, but
they insist that the Iraqis' training and confidence has improved.
"It's cost us," Brig. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, an assistant
commander of the First Cavalry Division in Baghdad, told reporters
last week of the division's 540 soldiers who are now assigned to
Iraqi National Guard units in the city. But, he added, "It
Some influential lawmakers, however, including Senator John W.
Warner, a Virginia Republican who heads the Armed Services Committee
and who recently visited troops in Iraq, have expressed pessimism
that Iraqis will be able to develop independent security forces
potent enough to thwart the insurgency. "The
raw material is lacking in the willpower and commitment after they
receive this training to really shoulder the heavy responsibilities,"
he said on the NBC News program "Meet the Press" on Dec.
On paper, there are reasons for worry and for hope, military officials
say. There are plans to produce a total of 179,600 police and border
patrol officers. Of about 116,000 officers
on duty now, only 73,000 are fully trained and equipped, according
to Pentagon statistics on Dec. 27. About half of a projected 100,000
Iraqi Army, National Guard and commando troops are now operating.
CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - Many of President
Bush's assertions about progress in Iraq -- from police training
and reconstruction to preparations for January elections -- are
in dispute, according to internal Pentagon documents, lawmakers
and key congressional aides on Sunday.
Bush used the visit last week by interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad
Allawi to make the case that "steady progress" is being
made in Iraq to counter warnings by his Democratic presidential
rival, Sen. John Kerry, that the situation in reality is deteriorating.
Bush touted preparations for national elections in January, saying
Iraq's electoral commission is up and running and told Americans
on Saturday that "United Nations electoral advisers are on
the ground in Iraq."
He said nearly 100,000 "fully trained and equipped" Iraqi
soldiers, police officers and other security personnel are already
at work, and that would rise to 125,000 by the end of this year.
And he promised more than $9 billion will be spent on reconstruction
contracts in Iraq over the next several months.
But many of these assertions have met with skepticism
from key lawmakers, congressional aides and experts, and Pentagon
documents, given to lawmakers and obtained by Reuters, paint a more
TROOP, POLICE TRAINING
The documents show that of the nearly 90,000 currently
in the police force, only 8,169 have had the full eight-week academy
training. Another 46,176 are listed as "untrained," and
it will be July 2006 before the administration
reaches its new goal of a 135,000-strong, fully trained police force.
Six Army battalions have had "initial training," while
57 National Guard battalions, 896 soldiers in each, are still being
recruited or "awaiting equipment." Just eight Guard battalions
have reached "initial (operating) capability," and the
Pentagon acknowledged the Guard's performance has been "uneven."
Training has yet to begin for the 4,800-man civil intervention
force, which will help counter a deadly insurgency. And none of
the 18,000 border enforcement guards have received any centralized
training to date, despite earlier claims they had, according to
Democrats on the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee.
They estimated that 22,700 Iraqi
personnel have received enough basic training to make them "minimally
effective at their tasks," in
contrast to the 100,000 figure cited by Bush.
"Let me tell you exactly what the story is. They're saying
they're trying to train them, yet they have not trained," Sen.
Joseph Biden, the ranking Democrat on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, said on CNN.
The White House defended its figures, and
a senior administration official defined "fully trained"
as having gone through "initial basic operations training."
Gen. John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command that covers Iraq,
told NBC's "Meet the Press" that the number of trained
Iraqi forces "will continue to grow."
Did you catch that? To the White House, "fully trained"
means that an individual has passed basic training. The
other 87% aren't even "minimally effective" at their jobs.
But no matter, because they do know how to kill people,
and that seems to be what is really important...
On CBS "Face the Nation," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham
of South Carolina said Bush needed to deploy more troops to secure
areas of Iraq before the elections.
"We are making progress, but we need to adjust," Graham
ELECTIONS, RECONSTRUCTION DISPUTED
The status of election planning in Iraq is also
in question. Of the $232 million in Iraqi funds set aside for the
Iraqi electoral commission, it has received a mere $7 million, according
to House Appropriations Committee staff.
While Bush said the commission has already hired personnel and
begun setting election procedures, congressional
aides said preparations in other areas were behind schedule.
According to a one-page election planning "time line,"
registration materials are supposed to be distributed in early October
and initial voter lists to go out by the end of October, which is
during the holy month of Ramadan.
So far, the United Nations has been reluctant to send staff back
into the battle zone. It only has 30 to 35 people now in Baghdad,
no more than eight working on the elections.
"The framework for it (free and fair
elections) hasn't even been set up. The voter registration lists
aren't set. There have to be hundreds of polling places, hundreds
of trained monitors and poll watchers. None of that has happened,"
Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State for President Bill
Clinton, a Democrat, told ABC's "This Week."
With the violence expected to intensify in
the run-up to the elections, congressional experts were also
skeptical $9 billion could be spent on reconstruction projects within
several months, as Bush asserted.
A top Republican aide briefed by the administration said, "at
best," the $9 billion would be disbursed by late 2005 or early
2006. A top Democratic aide called Bush's projections "laughable."
A British detainee at Guantanamo Bay has told
his lawyer he was tortured using the 'strappado', a technique common
in Latin American dictatorships in which a prisoner is left suspended
from a bar with handcuffs until they cut deeply into his wrists.
The reason, the prisoner says, was that he was caught reciting
the Koran at a time when talking was banned.
He says he has also been repeatedly shaved against his will. In
one such incident, a guard told him: 'This is the part that really
gets to you Muslims, isn't it?'
The strappado allegation was one among many made about treatment
at both Guantanamo and the US base at Bagram in Afghanistan made
to the British lawyer Clive Stafford Smith when he visited his clients
Moazzam Begg and Richard Belmar at the Cuban prison six weeks ago,
having tried for the previous 14 months to obtain the necessary
But it is clear the disturbing claim is only the tip of the iceberg.
Under the rules the United States military
has imposed for defence lawyers who visit Guantanamo, Stafford Smith
has not been allowed to keep his notes of meetings with prisoners,
and will not be able to read them again until they have been examined
and de-classified by a government censor.
He cannot disclose in public anything the men have
told him until it too has been been de-classified, on pain of likely
imprisonment in the US.
Stafford Smith has drawn up a 30-page report
on the tortures which Begg and Belmar say they have endured, and
sent it as an annexe with a letter to the Prime Minister which Downing
Street received shortly before Christmas. For
the time being - possibly forever - the report cannot be published,
because the Americans claim that the torture allegations amount
to descriptions of classified interrogation methods.
However, Stafford Smith's letter to Tony Blair - which has been
declassified - says that on his visit to the Guantanamo prisoners,
he heard 'credible and consistent evidence that both men have been
savagely tortured at the hands of the United States' with Begg having
suffered not only physical but 'sexual abuse' which has had 'mental
Thousands of documents obtained last month
under the US Freedom of Information Act by the American Civil Liberties
Union support the claims of torture at Guantanamo, which has apparently
continued long after the publication last April of photographs of
detainees being abused at the US-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
They include memos and emails to superiors by FBI and Defense
Intelligence Agency officers, who say they were appalled by the
methods being used by the young military interrogators at Guantanamo.
Last night the Foreign Office said 'we are trying to do our utmost'
for the four British detainees while 'we take every allegation of
torture seriously'. The request for information about the MI5 man
would be considered.
Azmatt Begg, Moazzam's father, said he had given
up hope the British government would intervene in a meaningful way
to help his son. 'They are not protecting their own citizens, but
merely falling in with whatever the Americans want to do.'
A policeman was killed and two others wounded
when a booby-trapped beheaded corpse exploded in a town in northern
The policemen on patrol had discovered the beheaded corpse in
the volatile town of Tallafar west of Mosul, where Iraqi and US
forces fought intense street battles with insurgents in September,
the Government said.
"The Iraqi police officers secured the site and attempted
to search the remains in order to identify the body. As the officers
approached the remains, an improvised explosive device attached
to the body exploded," the statement said.
The Government called it another attempt "to thwart Iraq's
efforts to conduct free and fair elections" on January 30.
Baghdad — A suicide bomber blew up an
explosives-laden car near the Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's
party headquarters in Baghdad Monday, killing two police officers
and one civilian and injuring 25 other Iraqis as insurgents pressed
their campaign to disrupt national elections.
Mr. Allawi, a secular Shia leader, was not inside the building
in Baghdad's western district of Harithiya, his aides said.
Car bombings have become a standard feature of the deadliest violence
in Iraq. On Sunday, a car bombing killed at least 22 national guardsmen
and their driver. Ten other people were killed in separate attacks.
BEIT LAHIYA, Gaza Strip (Reuters) - Moderate
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas called Israel "the Zionist
enemy" for the first time on Tuesday after an Israeli tank
killed seven Palestinian youths in a Gaza strawberry field.
The words were certain to stir concerns in Israel where images
of Abbas embracing fighters during the campaign for a Jan. 9 election
have led some to question hopes for reviving peace talks after Yasser
The Israeli army said it had targeted militants
who had crept into the strawberry field and fired mortar bombs into
a nearby Jewish settlement in the occupied territory.
Palestinian witnesses and medics in Beit Lahiya,
a north Gaza village, said the militants had vanished by the time
the tank shell crashed and all the dead were youths aged 11-17 from
two farming families. Four people were critically wounded.
The field, where farmers had been harvesting strawberries,
was spattered with blood and body parts.
Word of the incident clearly angered Abbas, widely tipped to win
the presidential election, as he continued campaigning in the Gaza
Strip despite further fighting between militants and the Israeli
"We are praying for the souls of our
martyrs who fell today to the shells of the Zionist enemy,"
Abbas told a rally in the south Gaza refugee camp of Khan Younis,
a hotbed of militants.
It was Abbas's first known resort to the
language of radicals sworn to Israel's destruction. Abbas,
69, long known as a relative moderate, has raised peace hopes since
Arafat's death by condemning militant violence in favor of talks
with Israel. [...]
Jerusalem — Jewish settler leaders warned
Monday that hundreds, and possibly thousands, of soldiers could
refuse to carry out orders to evict Gaza Strip settlers.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to pull out of Gaza and four
West Bank settlements has drawn stiff opposition from hardliners
in his own government and Jewish settlers.
At a meeting late Sunday, settler leaders
told the army's top brass to prepare for the possibility of mass
insubordination during the evacuation, adding that they were powerless
to stop it.
“I have to be honest with the heads of the army about where
the implementation of this Draconian law will lead,” settler
leader Pinchas Wallerstein told army radio on Monday. “If
there will be dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of insubordinates,
it will take the state of Israel decades to rehabilitate its society.”
Opinion polls show most Israelis support the plan to remove 8,200
Gaza Strip and 600 West Bank settlers. Many
of the 230,000 Jewish settlers, however, led
by religious ideologues who believe the West Bank and Gaza are the
biblical birthright of the Jewish people,
are strongly opposed.
With political efforts to sink the withdrawal foundering, opponents
have turned to other means to scuttle the plan.
Last week, government officials overseeing
the pullout were prevented from entering four West Bank settlements
slated for evacuation when settlers
blocked their bus by lying on the road with
infants strapped to their chests.
The Yesha Settlers' Council has deemed it acceptable to break
the law when opposing the plan but has said it does not support
Some settler rabbis – who have great influence among religious
settlers – have called on their followers who serve in the
army to refuse to carry out any evacuation orders.
Israeli officials have expressed concern about possible insubordination,
especially with settlers filling prominent roles in the army's officers
JERUSALEM - Israeli troops trying to tear down
unauthorized buildings at a West Bank outpost clashed with Jewish
settlers Monday, as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's planned withdrawal
from some settlements continued to draw opposition.
One soldier was injured in the melee at Mitzpe Yizhar, a small unauthorized
satellite of the Yizhar settlement on the West Bank. Several settlers
who opposed the demolition were arrested.
Adding to the confusion, an off-duty soldier
who sided with the settlers faces charges after encouraging his
fellow soldiers to defy orders to tear down the two buildings.
Earlier, Jewish hardliners had warned Israel's army chief that
hundreds of soldiers may refuse orders to clear settlers out of
the Gaza Strip if the government proceeds with its plan to withdraw
from the area this year. [...]
Young Jewish settlers are flocking to Gaza
from their homes in the West Bank to bolster a planned and potentially
bloody resistance to Israel's withdrawal from the territory this
Military officials expressed alarm on Sunday
at the steady flow of militant Jews entering the Gaza Strip in what
they fear is part of the preparation for a violent struggle against
soldiers sent to close the settlements.
Known as the "hilltop youth", many are militant settlers
from places such as Hebron who have become notorious for clashes
in the West Bank with the security forces over the establishment
of illegal outposts, as well as for violent
attacks on Palestinians.
Young men have been absorbed by settlements in Gush Katif as reinforcements
for the emerging battle against the disengagement plan, of the Prime
Minister, Ariel Sharon, under which the Israeli Government will
leave all Gaza settlements by the end of this year.
While some Gaza settlers have agreed to accept compensation packages
and leave their homes peacefully, others have vowed to stay and
Some of those arriving from the West Bank have already been involved
in clashes with soldiers in Gaza over the military's attempts to
dismantle an improvised outpost established near a settlement in
memory of two people killed in attacks in the Gaza Strip.
Military officials told the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz that the
growing numbers of "hilltop youth" in the Gaza Strip had
been especially felt since the disengagement bill was approved in
The youths are congregating in relatively isolated settlements
that suffer the brunt of Palestinian attacks, such as Netzarim,
Kfar Darom and Morag.
TEHRAN - US warplanes flying out of bases in
Afghanistan and Iraq have committed a string of violations of Iranian
airspace, Iranian press reports said Monday.
According to the Aftab newspaper, the latest violation came on
Saturday when a US fighter flew at low altitude over an area in
the northeastern province of Khorrasan which borders Afghanistan.
Other press reports said the overflight followed a recent intrusion
by F-16 and F-18 fighters over the southwestern province of Khuzestan
which borders southern Iraq. Papers said
the planes appeared to be spying on nuclear sites.
No further details or official confirmation were immediately available.
Last month the Iranian army's chief General Mohammad Salimi said
the Iranian military led by the air force has been ordered to stand
ready to defend the country's nuclear sites in case of attack.
Israel and the United States accuse Iran of seeking to develop
nuclear weapons, leading to speculation over the possibility of
military strikes. Iran insists its nuclear programme is strictly
Currency of choice
The dollar's decline against the euro shows no sign of ending. Clearly,
currency traders have made a long-term judgment about the relative
value of the currencies of the Old and New Worlds. That sounds bad
enough. But now there are signs that we're losing some of the most
devoted fans of the greenback: drug dealers, Russian oligarchs,
and black-market traffickers of all kinds.
James Grant, of Grant's Interest Rate Observer, whose animadversions
about the dollar and other subjects are as droll as they are pricey,
highlighted the latest indignities to befall the once-mighty dollar
in his Dec. 17 issue. (Alas, it's not available on the Web.)
People the world over—central banks, companies, and individuals—like
to hold the dollar. It's stable, liquid, easily convertible, and
never goes out of style. The dollar is popular in the official global
economy—the money that changes hands through computer terminals,
checks, and wire transfers. But it has also been extremely popular
in the world's vast cash economy. For American tourists, Chinese
smugglers, Ukrainian arms dealers, and African dictators, the dollar
has long been the currency of choice. The fearful and shady, those
who subsist on tourism, and residents of countries with unstable
domestic currencies love the greenback. Citing Federal Reserve estimates,
Grant writes that "between 55% and 70% of the $703 billion
of U.S. currency outstanding circulates outside the 50 states."
The United States benefits greatly from the fact that the dollar
is the world's reserve currency. Many of the $100 bills circulating
throughout the globe are essentially loans that we never have to
pay back. Americans use them to buy goods, services, or other currencies.
But many of those bills never return to our shores to be redeemed
for anything we make or produce. Instead, they stay under mattresses
in Bogotá, circulate in Iraq, and are stashed in bank accounts
around the world.
But among a subset of global cash connoisseurs, the dollar is losing
ground to the euro—and it has nothing to do with concerns
over U.S. multilateralism. First, the euro zone has been expanding
with the addition of new countries and the continued integration
between Eastern and Western Europe. So there are simply more people
who accept and use euros now. Since 2002, the growth rate of euros
in circulation has far outpaced that of dollars. Add in the euro's
recent strength against the dollar, and the case for Eastern Europeans
and euro-neighbors to use euros becomes more compelling. In the
1990s, the dollar was remarkably popular in Russia, where residents
had long been deprived of coveted Western imports. But between January
2002 and August 2004, Grant notes, the percentage of private Russian
currency transactions employing the dollar fell from 94.1 percent
to 84 percent while the euro's share rose from nothing to about
Finally, in the past two years, euros have also become easier to
carry, store, and hide than dollars. Generally, the largest denomination
of U.S. currency readily available is the $100 bill. But in the
past two years, the European Central Bank has started to print 200-euro
and 500-euro bills. These larger bills thus allow for the concentration
of wealth in smaller packages. At today's rates, a 500-euro note
is worth $682.
So if you wanted to, say, hide cash by swallowing it temporarily,
euros would the obvious (and more comfortable) way to go. And indeed,
as Grant notes, in October a drug mule traveling from Spain to Colombia
was found to have an unexpected form of contraband in his stomach:
$197,000 in euro notes. The same month, Fidel Castro declared that
the dollar, which is tolerated as a means for Cuban-Americans to
support their relatives in Cuba, was officially currency non grata
and that the euro was most welcome.
For most products, losing international drug cartels and corrupt
Third World dictators as customers would seem to be a desirable
outcome. But these guys represent part of our long-standing and
faithful base. If you think pundits are fretting about the slumping
dollar now, just imagine what might happen if we start to lose the
Here are what will be the big stories of 2005,
according to my cloudy crystal ball: - The killer tsunami that struck
Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and India a week ago will cause years of ongoing
economic damage and human tragedy. Damage to Thailand will be quickly
repaired. But Indonesia and Sri Lanka, both rent by decade-old civil
wars, will particularly suffer.
- The biggest problem the world faces this
new year is the continuing fall of the U.S. dollar. The Bush administration's
reckless spending, ruinously expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
(now costing as much as the Vietnam War), America's galloping trade
deficit and credit spending frenzy are creating the perfect economic
Japan and China's central banks may give up trying to artificially
shore up the U.S. dollar by buying U.S. currency and securities.
A plunging dollar could cause foreign investors to start dumping
U.S. securities and assets. The result: A
potential worldwide financial crisis that could collapse the housing
bubble, cause interest rates to soar, and send securities markets
- China's banking system is a house of cards. Uncontrolled credit
expansion has fuelled China's property boom and international buying
spree. Banks are swamped by bad, non-performing loans made to huge,
money-losing state-owned corporations. Collapse of China's insolvent
banking system would threaten world financial markets.
- The U.S.-led occupation of Iraq is a disaster for all concerned.
The war is slowly being lost. The big question in 2005 is if and
how President George W. Bush will extricate the U.S. from this catastrophe,
which is costing $6 billion US per month. The elections in Iraq
four weeks from today won't resolve this huge mess.
- "Terrorism" -- the insurgency against U.S. domination
of the Muslim world and its resources -- will intensify even after
Osama bin Laden is killed. He has created a new, powerful ideological
movement that will continue to shake the Muslim world and challenge
its corrupt, autocratic rulers and their foreign masters.
- As the U.S. gets sucked ever deeper into
its disastrous crusade against the Muslim world, it may -- possibly
with Israel -- attack Iran's nuclear
infrastructure, or invade Syria. An attack on Iran would
leave the U.S. garrison in Iraq trapped amid a sea of hostile Shia
-- as well as Sunnis.
- A real, viable peace between Israel and the Palestinians seems
unlikely. Israel's PM Ariel Sharon already has everything he wants,
and, according to U.S. National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft,
has "wrapped Bush around his little finger." So why make
concessions? Palestinians will remain trapped in their giant open-air
- Now that Vladimir Putin has crushed all domestic political and
business opposition, his control over Russia is absolute. Only the
courageous Chechen mujahadeen have resisted Putin's restoration
of Kremlin autocracy. Putin is determined to rebuild the old Soviet
Union. Watch for him to put increasing pressure on Ukraine in the
wake of last week's election.
The Bush-Putin alliance will strengthen. By regaining state control
of Russia's oil industry, Putin is poised to become a kingpin of
world oil, even an equal to the Saudi royals -- if he can raise
enough cash to tap his nation's vast but remote deposits.
- The European Union, for all its growing pains, economic doldrums,
and bureaucratic obesity, has replaced the United States as the
world's champion of human rights and support for civilized world
By contrast, under Bush, the U.S. has become a reactionary power
devoted to protecting the status quo in league with Britain, Russia,
China and India. In short, a re-run of the Holy Alliance of 1815
in which Europe's autocrats sought to protect their power and privileges,
and halt the rise of bourgeois democracy.
- Look for an increasingly independent-minded Europe and
China to draw closer strategically as a result of the Bush administration's
aggressive policies. Russia will
play both sides, backing the U.S. in its "anti-terror"
campaigns, and, discreetly, China, in opposing U.S. influence in
East Asia. European arms may begin to flow to China in 2005.
- Revolution is under way in Saudi Arabia. The U.S.-backed royal
family will be increasingly besieged in 2005. As for U.S. claims
it will promote democracy in the Muslim world, any honest votes
there will produce pro-Islamic parties advocating opposition to
Israel, higher oil prices, and eviction of U.S. influence from the
So no true democracy, just U.S.-implemented "guided democracy"
in Iraq, meaning a Vichy regime that keeps U.S. bases, sells oil
cheap, makes nice to Israel, and allows U.S. firms to exploit Iraq's
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration has signaled
that it will propose changing the formula that sets initial Social
Security benefit levels, cutting promised
benefits by nearly a third in the coming decades, according to several
Republicans close to the White House.
Under the proposal, the first-year benefits for retirees would
be calculated using inflation rates rather than the rise in wages
over a worker's lifetime. Because wages tend to rise considerably
faster than inflation, the new formula would stunt the growth of
benefits, slowly at first but more quickly by the middle of the
The White House hopes that some, if not
all, of those benefit cuts would be made up by gains in newly created
personal investment accounts that would harness returns on stocks
and bonds. [...]
At least 25 people have been killed after a
bus overloaded with passengers crashed on a road in Burundi.
Most of those on board were said to be students returning to the
capital Bujumbura after the Christmas break.
Officials said the bus had more people on board than it had spaces
for and was speeding along the road some 18 km (11 miles) north
of the capital.
At least six cyclists were reportedly also killed on the spot
when the minibus overturned.
Provincial governor Ignace Ntawembarira said the driver lost control
of the vehicle as it was going down a slippery hillside road.
"The vehicle, which had the capacity to carry only 18 people,
was transporting 24 passengers - including three people who were
crammed behind the driver's seat and made it difficult for him to
have full control of the car," he was quoted by the Associated
Press as saying.
Eighteen people died on the spot and another died later in the
hospital, said officials.
The relief operation in India's Andaman and
Nicobar Islands has been so poor that starving tsunami survivors
kidnapped a senior Government official to demand food supplies.
Speaking at a refugee camp in Port Blair yesterday, Lilly Ooman
said she was one of a group of survivors who captured the most senior
official on Great Nicobar, the Assistant Commissioner, together
with the local police chief.
Ooman told how her group had to trek for days through dense jungle
after their village was completely destroyed by the tsunami. There
was no rescue mission in that area of the island and no air drop
"After four days of starving we got to HQ to find out what
was going on," she said. "We found the Assistant Commissioner
eating platefuls of biryani, along with the DSP [Deputy Superintendent
of Police] and the SHO [another senior policeman].
"We told them: 'While we are starving you are eating - you
didn't do any rescue. There are dead bodies lying all over the island
and you have not done anything to bury them. You are here enjoying
The group took the men captive but released them after a short
Refugees continue to arrive in Port Blair by the boatload. One
week after the disaster, there are still believed to be survivors
stranded on some of the islands.
So inept have the civilian authorities been in their handling
of the relief operation on the most heavily affected island, Car
Nicobar, that control has been handed over to the Indian military.
The death toll here is believed to be much higher than the Government
A volcano has erupted and is spewing lava onto
an island in India's Andaman and Nicobar chain that was devastated
by last week's earthquake.
But officials say there is no cause for alarm, as the lava from
the volcano on the uninhabited Barren Islands will flow into the
The volcano has erupted three times in the last decade.
More than 800 people are known to have died in the tremor and
tsunami on the islands, with thousands still missing.
Residents of Diglipur, a village on an island near the Barrens,
reported seeing smoke and fumes rising from the volcano after the
earthquake and tsunami waves.
A senior official of the Geological Survey of India, MM Mukherjee
told the BBC that the eruption was minimal.
The volcano has been dormant since it last erupted in 1996, he
It is widely thought tsunamis are rare, many
countries believe they are immune to them, and popular wisdom holds
earthquakes responsible for the killer waves. None of these beliefs
is entirely true.
A tsunami is a surge of water, or a series of surges generated
by an impulsive, shock-displacement of ocean water that can occur
Like earthquakes, volcanoes can cause these surges, and often
do. One of the most destructive tsunamis in recent history occurred
when the island volcano of Krakatoa erupted in 1883.
Submarine landslides, which can involve thousands of cubic kilometres
of material, can also generate a tsunami.
Tsunamis can have their origins in space. Australian geographer
Professor Ted Bryant points out that a meteorite striking the ocean
can have a devastating effect. He maintains that on February 22,
1491, a meteorite strike caused tsunamis more than 130m high along
the Australian coast.
Many countries believe they are immune from tsunamis but almost
all coasts are at risk, says Bryant.
There was a tsunami in India in 1941. The 1755 Portuguese earthquake
is reported to have caused a 15m tsunami that destroyed part of
Lisbon and the nearby coasts of Spain and Morocco.
Tsunamis have been common around the Japanese islands for the
past 200 years. Other large tsunamis occurred in Alaska in 1946,
1957, 1958 and 1964.
Bryant has found signs of tsunami waves more than 100m high on
such unlikely places as coastal southeast Australia and the Scottish
coastline north of Edinburgh.
Geographers Drs Roy Walters and James Goff have classified tsunamis
by the distance from their source to the area of impact; that is,
local and remote tsunami.
Locally generated tsunamis have short warning times - 15 to 30
minutes - while remote tsunamis have warning times ranging up to
The destructive potential of a tsunami is not simply a function
of the size of the underwater disturbance, the so-called "source
The gradient and shape of the seashore, coastal topography and
shoreline configuration are, in many instances, as important as
strength of the initial water displacement.
These "coastal response characteristics" and the source
characteristics, determine the impact potential.
In 1958, a landslide into Lituya Bay, Alaska, created tsunami
waves reportedly more than 400m high along a wilderness coastal
area, stripping the forest to bare rock to an incredible height
of more than 500m above sea level. Presumably this mammoth wave
resulted from the distinct configuration of the coast, in particular
the shoreline topography, which channelled the water along a narrow
Some earthquakes generate tsunamis disproportionately large for
the surface movement, or so called "surface wave", created.
For example, on September 1, 1992, an earthquake with the magnitude
of 6.9 generated a tsunami with waves up to 15m high that struck
26 towns along 250km of Nicaragua's Pacific coast. The waves swept
as far as 1km inland at one point. The tsunami left more than 110
people dead and 490 injured.
Experiences of highly destructive tsunamis in our general region
are not as uncommon as many people might think.
According to physical geographers Dr Willem de Lange and Professor
Terry Healy, of the University of Waikato, there have been 11 tsunamis
in ocean waters next to the Auckland metropolitan region since 1840.
Most are thought to have been less than 2m high.
However, 150 years is not a long time and more extreme events
are likely to have happened in the past. Local sources (earthquakes
and volcanic eruptions) are thought to produce the most damaging
tsunamis, but none have occurred during recorded history.
The Auckland Regional Council believes there is about a 50 per
cent chance that within the next 50 years Auckland will be hit by
a tsunami originating from a large earthquake off the west coast
of South America. Estimates are that wave heights of around 4m could
occur in the outer Hauraki Gulf.
Major tsunamis occur in the Pacific Ocean region only about once
a decade. The Moro Gulf, Philippines, tsunami in 1976 was followed
by another highly destructive tsunami in New Guinea in July, 1998.
An earthquake off northwest New Guinea has been blamed for this
tsunami, which killed around 2000 people near Aitape.
But Bryant and others argue the 7.1 magnitude earthquake was too
small to be responsible for the 15m wave that swept 500m inland
at Aitape. They believe that a submarine landslide was the likely
The consequences of the Aitape event were, fortunately, quite
localised. This is not always the case.
The earthquake that caused the catastrophic Boxing Day tsunamis
was hardly felt in Indonesia, and not at all in Sri Lanka, yet the
water displacement caused by the driving of the Indian plate beneath
the Burma plate created waves that killed people on the east African
coast almost 5000km away.
Following the great Chilean earthquake of 1960, tsunamis travelled
almost 10,000km to Hawaii, where waves of more than 10m killed 60
people and destroyed many buildings along the coast of Hilo.
There is no doubt that tsunamis are an underrated hazard.
The biggest question in natural hazards research is not will events
like these happen again, but when?
* Chris de Freitas is an associate professor in physical geography
at the University of Auckland.
Fears more bushfires could be caused by lightning
strikes across Western Australia have proved warranted. During storms
on Sunday night, three blazes were sparked.
On Monday morning, WA's Department of Conservation and Land
Management responded to two fires at the Lake Muir Nature Reserve
east of Manjimup, and in Wattle forest block between Manjimup and
Another blaze had also been detected in the Fitzgerald River National
Park between Bremer Bay and Hopetoun.
The fire at Lake Muir was relatively inaccessible because of the
nearby wetlands, and there were fears the blaze may expand to over
1000ha before it could be contained.
Meanwhile, a fire started by lightning in the Albany area last
week continued to burn yesterday, with water bombing helicopters
being used to damp down hotspots.
LOS ANGELES - Ice and snow kept California's
heavily traveled main north-south highway closed for a second day
Tuesday as residents awaited the next storm in the parade of wild
weather that has hammered the state.
The storms that started just over a week ago have piled snow 9
feet deep on higher spots in the Sierra Nevada, soaked Los Angeles
with record rainfall, caused mudslides and knocked out power to
thousands of customers.
A 40-mile stretch of Interstate 5 remained shut Tuesday north of
Los Angeles because as much as 2 feet of snow had fallen on top
of a layer of ice at Tejon Pass, elevation about 4,200 feet, the
California Highway Patrol said. The CHP closed the freeway early
Monday and there was no immediate indication Tuesday when it might
The closing idled hundreds of truckers and other travelers who
didn't want to turn around to take a detour looping around the mountains
and through the desert.
The storms were sparked by an extensive low pressure system that
edged down from the Gulf of Alaska and remained parked off the Pacific
Northwest coast. The latest front was expected to linger through
Tuesday and another system was to move across the state later this
Yes, it was a shocker.
Snow, frost, hail and a tornado marked the first month of summer,
with the coldest temperatures recorded in
December since 1945.
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research figures for
last month show it was the fifth coldest since records were established
in 1853. The national average temperature was just 13.4C - 2.2C
below normal and more like spring than summer.
The record-breaking low temperatures not only kept the summer
clothes in the cupboard but slowed the growth and ripening of berries,
stone fruit and crops.
Southerlies produced dramatic amounts of rain, with more than
double normal rainfall in eastern regions from Hawkes Bay to Southland.
Rainfall was also well above average in Auckland, Coromandel, Waikato,
Ruapehu and Wanganui.
Despite that, less than three-quarters of average rainfall was
recorded in sheltered parts of Fiordland and south Westland.
And if you thought there was a dire shortage of sun, there was.
Auckland recorded only 174 hours of sunshine - 83 per cent of the
normal figure and the third lowest since records began in 1963.
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