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Picture of the Day



VL-Cygni
©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Predictions for the Future

Newshounds
December 31 2004

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 the future.

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 government."

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 four years."

We'll see.

Comment: According to the Merlin website the background to the Merlin project is:

Physicist, Dr. George Hart first hears Futurist, Paul Guercio with Dr. David Brudnoy on WBZ Radio in Boston in October 1988 and is intrigued with Paul’s theory of “Time-Patterns” since it parallels his own extensive research as a highly respected theoretical physicist and inventor of the excimer laser.

In January 1989 Dr. Hart comes to Paul’s office for a professional consultation. The consultation never took place and instead, the two researchers spent six hours comparing notes on time-related anomalies. The MERLIN Project evolved from a series of five meetings over the subsequent six months.

The MERLIN Project is officially born on July 4, 1989 after Dr. George Hart offers to design software built around Paul Guercio's Theory of Time. A team of SDI (Star Wars) physicists is recruited to design the MERLIN Project software, which becomes known as TimeTrak.

According to its designers Merlin is:

a computer-based forecasting technology that combines equations derived from planetary time cycles with past historical data and blends that information into a chronograph(r) or Timetrak(r) that plots the chronology of future events. It was created by Boston-based futurist Paul Guercio and physicist Dr. George Hart excimer laser co-inventor and currently a BMDO contractor performing work related to GPS test target characterization of the TMD-GBR radar and interceptor laser radar technology development.

MERLIN was initially developed in the summer of 1989. In the fall of the same year, the collapse of the Honicker government in East Germany and subsequent dissolution of the entire Soviet Union, was MERLIN's first and most prescient call to date. The chronographer for the various East European and Balkan satellites (Romania, Albania; various heads of state, etc.) were so unstable and dramatic that we initially thought that if accurate, we were either previewing World War III or the complete collapse of communism. Both seemed equally remote at the time. But clearly a series of unprecedented events was at hand. Then, remarkably, the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War ended. Abruptly, with barely a whimper. MERLIN had spotted and captured what few analysts had dared to suggest. Just like
that.

It seems that MERLIN went on to notch up repeated successes in predicting major political, social and economic events throughout the 90's to the extent that the Pentagon became interested:

"In 1995, the MERLIN creators were approached by a Strategic Planning Office of the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs of Staff and asked to provide a long-range forecast and timetable for potential incidents of domestic terrorism over the following seven years. This "white paper" which was submitted in July 1995, included indications of a significant threat culminating in the Fall of 2001, which we now know to be the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon."

So how exactly does MERLIN "predict the future"? Hart and Guercio explain further:

MERLIN sifts through an immense field of tidal intervals in the Universe looking for points of convergence and resonance patterns. In essense, it is a very sophisticated (pattern) detection system (the particular patterns it has been taught to identify are at the moment, proprietary, for obvious reasons.) What we have discovered, however, suggests that "time" has a kind of genetic- like code and behaves much like a musical score.

Think of it this way. Time, in conjunction with your DNA coding influences the relative likelihood of you developing (for instance) early onset coronary artery disease or cancer while not being the ultimate cause/effect mechanism.

Our research suggests that "time" may have a similar genetic-like aspect, when vectored from a particular point in the past and then projected forward. A unique "wave-form" composed of it's own, original array of tidal movements, a little like a symphony. Events as we know them, may be a convergence point for a series of unseen clocks that you helped set into motion (or were set into motion) years before and are now (all) "chiming" simultaneously. The magnitude of the resulting "event" may be determined by the number and sheer size, i.e. interval/duration of the converging curves. The more clocks chiming, the bigger the event that occurs.

MERLIN was designed to "keep track" of these various tidal clocks and output a picture of the resulting convergence pattern in the form of a graph with "realtime" correspondences. A kind of "timetable of the future!"

MERLIN doesn't make predictions anymore than weather computers do. They keep track of converging weather systems, giving the meteorologist a jumping- off point to speculate (often badly) about tomorrow's weather. MERLIN does the same thing with Time! We then attempt to draw conclusions about how that period will playout in the real world. So far, our ability to pinpoint actual turns in realtime events and individuals lives, has been pretty remarkable.

But, it's the TIME SCHEDULE of change, its duration (and often it's magnitude) that MERLIN finds. Not the particulars of circumstance.

For those of you who are Market-oriented, it would be like having the NYSE (market) volume charts, in advance. You'd know the time coordinates of the change and it's size, just not the direction!

And that suggests another intriguing possibility. We may affect, even control to some extent, the particular circumstances that occur, just not the time schedule (or relative impact.)

Pretty interesting eh? What makes it all the more interesting is the fact that one of the co-founders of the Merlin project is Dr. George Hart, a US Naval Research Laboratory physicist and inventor of a variation on the excimer laser, used commercially in eye surgery and which no doubt has some very interesting military applications given that the ONR funded its development. However, developing cutting edge medical technologies is not the only area to which Dr. Hart has dedicated his time:

George Hart specialized in the application of supercomputers to the mathematical modeling of systems exhibiting extremely complex behavior. As a highly respected Pentagon consultant, he continues to work on the next generation of Strategic Defense Initiative The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) is a system proposed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan on March 23, 1983 to use space-based systems to protect the United States from attack by strategic nuclear missiles. It was first dubbed "Star Wars" by opponent Dr. Carol Rosin, a former spokesperson of Wernher von Braun who was instrumental in the development of ballistic missiles.

The other half of the "brains" behind MERLIN is Paul Guercio:

a nationally-respected futurist and a long-time student of traditional and esoteric predictive systems. His 25 years of research into the Psychical Sciences and subsequent collaboration with Dr. Hart directly resulted in the creation of the MERLIN Project. His clients include many prominent business people, politicians and celebrities.

We are further told that:

the software alone does not make specific predictions regarding the precise nature of a forthcoming event or episode. It cannot provide a detailed forecast for the actual circumstances to occur. Those forecasts require review by an experienced analyst with a solid working knowledge of the cast of characters and overall context of the situation.

So the question is: just who is the "experienced analyst" that fleshes out the probable future events? Is it the "esotericist and futurist" or the "Naval physicist with significant experience in the application of supercomputers to the mathematical modeling of systems exhibiting extremely complex behavior", and from what standpoint do they make such detailed predictions?

Interestingly, we are told that Dr. Hart is currently involved in the next generation of the Regan era "Star Wars" programme which has been scaled back, or rather compartmentalised, since the end of the cold war.

On December 16, 2002 President Bush signed National Security Presidential Directive which outlined a plan to begin deployment of operational ballistic missile defense systems by 2004. The following day the U.S. formally requested from the UK and Denmark use of facilities in Fylingdales, England, and Thule, Greenland, respectively, as a part of the NMD program. The projected cost of the program for the years 2004 to 2009 will be 53 billion U.S. dollars, making it the largest single line in The Pentagon's budget.

In 2003, NMD was changed to GMD (Ground-Based Missile Defense), to differentiate it from other missile defense programs, such as space-based, sea-based, or high-altitude intercept programs.

On July 22, 2004, the first ground-based interceptor was deployed at Ft. Greely, Alaska. The system will be declared operational with the emplacement of five additional interceptors in September. The system will provide "rudimentary" protection; the Pentagon's chief weapons evaluator estimated its likely effectiveness to be perhaps only 20 percent.

What seems to be true then about the entire concept of a "National Missile Defence" programme is that is was, and to this day remains, completely unfeasible, leading us to the conclusion that, like so many other government programmes, its main purpose was to perpetuate the fear factor among the American and world population while at the same time generating vast sums of money for our "leaders". But could there be something else behind the whole idea of the "weaponisation of space"?

In Dr. Hart's bio above, the names Carol Rosin and Wernher von Braun are mentioned. Dr Carol Rosin was the first woman corporate manager of Fairchild Industries (former US defence contractor) a Space and Missile Defense Consultant and the spokesperson for Wernher Von Braun (former VP of Fairchild) in the last years of his life. She founded the Institute for Security and Cooperation in Outer Space in Washington DC and has testified before Congress on many occasions about space based weapons.

In an interview with Steven Greer (of the Disclosure Project) in 2000 for Nexus magazine, Dr. Rosin details a plan, revealed to her by Von Braun, to justify weapons in spaced based on hoaxing an extraterrestrial threat:

"When I was a Corporate Manager of Fairchild Industries from 1974 through 1977, I met the late Dr Wernher Von Braun. We first met in early 1974. At that time, Von Braun was dying of cancer but he assured me that he would live a few more years to tell me about the game that was being played- that game being the effort to weaponize space, to control the Earth from space and space itself. Von Braun had a history of working with weapons systems. He escaped from Germany to come to this country and became a Vice President of Fairchild Industries when I had met him. Von Braun's purpose during the last years of his life, his dying years, was to educate the public and decision-makers about why space-based weapons are dumb, dangerous, destabilizing, too costly, unnecessary, unworkable, and an undesirable idea, and about the alternatives that are available.

As practically a deathbed speech, he educated me about those concepts and who the players were in this game. He gave me the responsibility, since he was dying, of continuing this effort to prevent the weaponization of outer space. When Wernher Von Braun was dying of cancer, he asked me to be his spokesperson, to appear on occasions when he was too ill to speak. I did this.

What was most interesting to me was a repetitive sentence that he said to me over and over again during the approximately four years that I had the opportunity to work with him. He said the strategy that was being used to educate the public and decision makers was to use scare tactics That was how we identify an enemy. The strategy that Wernher Von Braun taught me was that first the Russians are going to be considered to be the enemy. In fact, in 1974, they were the enemy, the identified enemy. We were told that they had "killer satellites". We were told that they were coming to get us and control us-that they were "Commies."

Then terrorists would be identified, and that was soon to follow. We heard a lot about terrorism. Then we were going to identify third-world country "crazies." We now call them Nations of Concern. But he said that would be the third enemy against whom we would build space-based weapons. The next enemy was asteroids. Now, at this point he kind of chuckled the first time he said it.

Asteroids- against asteroids we are going to build space-based weapons.

And the funniest one of all was what he called aliens, extraterrestrials. That would be the final scare. And over and over and over during the four years that I knew him and was giving speeches for him, he would bring up that last card. "And remember Carol, the last card is the alien card. We are going to have to build space-based weapons against aliens and all of it is a lie."

I think I was too naïve at that time to know the seriousness of the nature of the spin that was being put on the system. And now, the pieces are starting to fall into place. We are building a space-based weapons system on a premise that is a lie, a spin. Wernher Von Braun was trying to hint that to me back in the early 70's and right up until the moment when he died in 1977.

The last card that was being held was the extraterrestrial enemy card.

The intensity with which he said that, made me realize that he knew something that he was too afraid to mention. He was too afraid to talk about it. He would not tell me the details."

Which brings us back to the predictions of MERLIN for the year 2005. The various factors involved in producing the prognostications include the expertise of Dr. Hart in mathematically modeling systems exhibiting extremely complex behavior, his knowledge of space-based weapon systems - most notably lasers - coupled with the input of the Strategic Planning Office of the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs of Staff and a guy who has allegedly spent 25 years studying traditional and esoteric predictive systems and planetary time cycles. The result of such a blend of science, mysticism and government agenda producing the "prediction" that either aliens or a few space rocks may well invade earth this autumn.

The real question, however, that should be troubling all those who place any faith in the skill of MERLIN and its operators is whether or not the predictions are an example of creating your own reality, fulfilling "prophesy" or actually determining some predetermined "future". As the public faces of the project say themselves in relation to their predictions: "we (humanity) may affect, even control to some extent, the particular circumstances that occur".

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Racism as Prelude to War Crimes
By Ghali Hassan
January 2, 2005
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 been wrecked.

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 Bush.

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 torture.

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 imperial conquest.

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 establishments”.

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 other prisons.

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 British peoples.

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 their nations.

Ghali Hassan lives in Perth Western Australia: He can be reached at e-mail: G.Hassan@exchange.curtin.edu.au

Comment: Indeed, there exists a strong racist element intertwined within the entire bogus "war on terror" and all it implies.

The mainstream western media has gone overboard to portray anyone who is Muslim or of Arabic descent as fanatical bloodthirsty terrorists. This strategy, wholly approved by the Bush administration, has gone a long way in galvanizing the sleeping American populace to support their never-ending war in the Middle East.

The reality however, is that most Arabs are ordinary people, who desiring a life of relative peace and stability, are forced to fight back against the western invaders who have illegally stolen their land and plundered their resources.

It appears that this racist ideology, inherent in the Neocon/Zionist agenda and perpetuated incessantly by their media lackeys, can be viewed in two ways;

One one hand, it seems the demonization of Arabic peoples is designed solely for the purpose of "creating an enemy", in order to keep the people in a constant state of fear. A suitable, albeit vaguely-defined enemy that justifies American hegemony across the globe and the allocation of precious tax dollars towards an ever-expanding military budget.

The sheeple must be utterly convinced that the war on terror is real, and that the threat of personal attack is imminent, otherwise they probably would not stand for the gutting of social security and gradual implementation of a fascist police state that is happening in the United States today.

But to say that their leaders share this racist ideology may be a bit misguided, as it would seem that for the few ruling elite that truly hold the reins of power on this planet, it is wealth, power, position and privilege that separate them from the 'other'.

As it will likely become apparent in cities and towns across the United States in the days and months to come, the definition of "fanatical terrorist" will soon be expanded to include dissidents of all colours and creeds.

In this respect one could say that the PTB are equal-opportunity racists, marginalizing anyone of any nation, religion or skin colour that dares oppose their demonic agenda.

On the other hand however, and on a deeper, esoteric level, there may be more to this anti-Arabic propaganda than meets the eye.

If we are to take the events of pre-war Nazi Germany as a comparison to the situation of today, then the similarity between the targeting of "semitic Jews" back then, and "semitic Arabs" now, should give one serious cause for concern.

Is there perhaps something special or inherent in the genetic profile of the semitic race that poses a danger to the plans of the ruling elite? Could there be a reason why the 'final solution' always seems to involve persons who carry these genes? Please see our Signs supplement on Ethnic Specific Weapons, or Laura's book the Occult Significance of 9-11, for more information on this somewhat speculative, but seemingly probable phenomenon.

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Baghdad governor shot dead as 10 killed in bombing of Iraqi forces
AFP
Tue Jan 4, 6:47 AM ET

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 official said.

Accounts of a meticulously-plotted assassination gave the impression the governor's circle had been infiltrated.

Comment: The interim Iraqi government is a puppet of the US government. While it is certainly possible that Iraqi freedom fighters were involved in the governor's assassination, we are not particularly interested in a reporter's impression of events. Why not just let the facts speak for themselves? The rest of the article casts doubt on the official story...

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 said.

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.

Comment: There's old "Al-Qaeda" popping up to take responsibility again. Given that Al-Qaeda appears to be a CIA/Mossad production, one has to wonder what effects these latest attacks are intended to have on the upcoming election process.

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 against it.

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 said Tuesday.

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.

Comment: So, the January 30th election may have to be postponed (no big surprise there), more civilians have been taken hostage, and the US is thinking about adding hundreds of "military advisors" to help whip the Iraqi security forces into shape.

The hostage situation simply doesn't make much sense. If America was invaded by another country, would Americans kidnap that country's soldiers, or would they just run around and kidnap whomever they could lay their hands on? Kidnapping any old person off the streets doesn't benefit the "insurgents" in any way. In fact, it would tend to turn more people around the world against the Iraqi freedom fighters.

As for the military advisors, we're a bit confused. Wasn't it US personnel who trained the Iraqi security forces in the first place? Wasn't it Bush himself who told us all many months ago how fewer US soldiers would be required because the Iraqi army and police forces were trained and ready to go? Perhaps Bush simply "misspoke"...

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U.S. May Add Advisers to Aid Iraq's Military
By ERIC SCHMITT
January 4, 2005

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.

Comment: Again, US forces were supposed to have trained the Iraqis. Either US troops are incompetent and cannot properly teach the Iraqis, or the entire process is an elaborate ruse. What perception will most Americans have of Iraqis when they read the above paragraph? They will view Iraqis as deserters (a grave crime in the military-centric US), weak, and unable to lead. At the same time, Bush and gang have created a reason to stay in Iraq. It seems far more likely that this was the intention all along. Everyone remarks that Iraq has "turned into another Vietnam". Well, maybe that was the plan all along. After all, until the next invasion is ordered, the US defense budget needs to be justified. The Neocons and a lot of their buddies in the psychopathic corporate world also need to rake in some hefty profits from the "reconstruction" of Iraq.

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.

Comment: So we have suicide attacks and the assassination of an Iraqi governor in the news today, along with talk of how ineffective the Iraqi security forces are - the very security forces that are essential in safeguarding the election - and yet the US response is to "embed" more US soldiers after the vote takes place. In the meantime, thousands more US troops have been sent to Iraq, and many more are expecting orders to deploy soon...

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.

Comment: In other words, it isn't America's fault, it's those darn Iraqis who are just lazy slobs who don't care about freedom and democracy...

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."

Comment: The US is the occupying power in Iraq. The US was supposed to be training the Iraqi forces...

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 camp.

"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 pays dividends."

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. 19.

Comment: Translation: Iraqis are lazy. It's not America's fault.

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. [...]

Comment: Are the Iraqis supposed to train themselves? The following article demonstrates that the White House has known about the sad state of Iraq's security forces - as well as reconstruction and election efforts - for quite some time now...

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Flashback: Key Bush Assertions About Iraq in Dispute

By Adam Entous
Sun Sep 26, 2004 4:38 PM ET

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 complicated picture.

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."

Comment: 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 said.

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."

Comment: It seems that the idea of "elite Iraqi troops" helping American forces is horse hockey, plain and simple.

The US will need more troops in Iraq. There is also talk of Iran having nuclear missiles - it's the same old, "If Iran does not disarm, we will disarm them". More troops may therefore be needed for Iran. Where do you think America will find more soldiers, especially considering the shaky economy?

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Guantanamo Briton 'in handcuff torture'
The Observer
Sunday January 2, 2005

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 security clearance.

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 health consequences'.

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.'

Comment: Huh?! They didn't say, "Gee, we'll have to read the report and make sure none of our people are using torture." No, instead America just admitted that the tortures in the report are used by US forces. If they weren't using torture, why would the "interrogation methods" be classified? It isn't even a question of whether or not US troops would ever systematically employ torture techniques - Abu Ghraib and the Rumsfeld torture memo should have effectively dispelled any doubts about that.

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Booby-trapped corpse kills policeman
January 4, 2005
AFP

A policeman was killed and two others wounded when a booby-trapped beheaded corpse exploded in a town in northern Iraq.

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.

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Four die, 25 injured in suicide attack
Some News Source
September 5, 2004

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. [...]

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Palestinian Leader Assails 'Zionist Enemy'
By Nidal al-Mughrabi
Reuters
Jan 4, 6:19 AM (ET)

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 Arafat's death.

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 army.

"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. [...]

Comment: Language of radicals? Let's think about this for a minute... Abbas stated:

"We are praying for the souls of our martyrs who fell today to the shells of the Zionist enemy,"

Let's take his statement a piece at a time:

"We are praying for the souls..."

So far, so good.

"...of our martyrs..."

Well, let's see: Some farmers were picking strawberries, and the Israeli army fired a tank shell into the field, blowing apart the farmers - who were all apparently aged 11-17. Given the recent stories of Israeli troops murdering young children for no good reason, it seems highly likely that they are at it again. If the children were doing nothing wrong, then they are indeed martyrs for the persecuted Palestinian people. There is nothing particularly "radical" about this part of Abbas' statement if he is simply speaking the truth.

"...who fell today to the shells of the Zionist enemy."

Israel does seem to have a beef with the Palestinians, so for a Palestinian to call Israel his enemy is not so unusual. The only word that could be considered radical is "Zionist". Well, Sharon is a Zionist, and he seems to be directing the Israeli military in their current endeavours. Israel is controlled by Zionists at the moment, just as the US is run by a bunch of Neocons. Not all Jews are Zionists, just as not all Americans are Neocons. There is nothing particularly racist or inflammatory about using the word "Zionist". If Zionism can be defined as a movement of world Jewry that arose late in the 19th century with the aim of creating a Jewish state in Palestine, then Abbas is again merely stating the truth.

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Gaza settlers predict mass army disobedience
Associated Press

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 insubordination.

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 corps.

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Israeli soldiers clash with West Bank settlers
Last Updated Mon, 03 Jan 2005 14:16:51 EST

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. [...]

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Israeli youths prepare for battle
January 4, 2005

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 year.

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 fight.

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 October.

The youths are congregating in relatively isolated settlements that suffer the brunt of Palestinian attacks, such as Netzarim, Kfar Darom and Morag.

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US planes violate Iranian airspace: reports
(AFP) Jan 03, 2005

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 peaceful.

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Even drug dealers are giving up on the dollar

By Daniel Gross
Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2004, at 3:20 PM PT

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 15 percent.

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 arms dealers.

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U.S. dollar's freefall to have global effect
Sun, January 2, 2005
By ERIC MARGOLIS -- Contributing Foreign Editor

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 storm.

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 into freefall.

- 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 prison.

- 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 order.

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 region.

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 wealth.

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Bush may seek change in how benefits figured

Social Security formula would cut payouts to retirees

By JONATHAN WEISMAN and MIKE ALLEN
Washington Post
Jan. 4, 2005, 6:25AM

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 century.

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. [...]

Comment: Bush then cackled and said, "Don't worry Granny, you can always join the Marines!"

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Burundi bus crash leaves 25 dead
Tuesday, 4 January, 2005, 01:21 GMT

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.

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Angry survivors kidnap inept officials
04.01.05
By JUSTIN HUGGLER

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 of supplies.

"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 yourselves'."

The group took the men captive but released them after a short time.

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 claims.

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India volcano roars back to life
Monday, 3 January, 2005, 08:46 GMT
BBC News

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 sea.

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 said.

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No coast safe from wave of destruction
Chris de Freitas
04.01.05

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 anywhere.

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 several hours.

The destructive potential of a tsunami is not simply a function of the size of the underwater disturbance, the so-called "source characteristic".

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 bay.

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 source.

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.

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Lightning strikes spark bushfires in WA
January 4, 2005
AAP

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 Walpole.

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.

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California's Wild Weather to Continue
By GREG RISLING, Associated Press Writer
January 4, 2005

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 be reopened.

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 week. [...]

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December chill the worst for 59 years
New Zealand Herald
04.01.05
By REBECCA WALSH

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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