Wednesday, January 5, 2005

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Picture of the Day



Blaziert Twilight
©2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte


Lincoln County says meteor probably caused lights, explosions
Posted on Tue, Jan. 04, 2005
Associated Press

MERRILL, Wis. - Authorities in north central Wisconsin received dozens of reports Tuesday evening of bright flashes of light in the sky, as from an explosion, and they said it likely came from meteor activity.

The Lincoln County Sheriff's Department said the first call was at 6:12 p.m. and told of a large bright flash in the town of Harrison.

More reports soon came from all over the county about lights and strange noises. In all, the sheriff's department got about 50 calls, and similar calls were received in Oneida, Taylor, Price and Langlade counties.

The Lincoln County officials said that at 6:34 p.m. people logging near the Lincoln-Taylor county line reported seeing a glow as from a fire after they saw a flash of light and heard an explosion, but deputies went into the woods with the others and couldn't find the source of the glow.

The Federal Aviation Administration tower at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport advised that the lights and explosions mostly likely were from a meteor, the sheriff's department said.

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Meteor burns over northeast counties
Residents, officer report hearing sonic boom
By JESSE GARZA
jgarza@journalsentinel.com
Posted: Jan. 4, 2005
An apparent meteor and accompanying sonic boom Tuesday evening over northeast Wisconsin prompted scores of telephone calls to law enforcement authorities, a Shawano County sheriff's sergeant said.
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Sgt. Dennis Kleman said reports of the meteor sighting were made in Marinette, Menominee, Oconto, Langlade and Shawano counties between 6 and 6:15 p.m.

Kleman himself spotted the meteor while patrolling in the westbound lane of county Highway A about four miles west of Gresham, he said.

"It had a really bright tail," said Kleman, who noticed a bright flash in his windshield coming from the northeast.

"It came over the top of my squad. It didn't appear to be coming down. It went across," Kleman said. "It went toward the southwest and looked like it extinguished."

There were no reports of the object landing, but it is suspected of causing the sonic boom Kleman and others heard shortly after it flashed.

"It was well up in the sky," the deputy said. "It was just a matter of a second, then it went out."

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Boom and flash startles residents
Wed, Jan 5, 2005

A loud boom and flash of light heard by many residents Tuesday evening might have been caused by a meteorite.

The Lincoln County Sheriff's Department took about 50 calls after its first report at 6:15 p.m. from someone in the Harrison Hills area who heard what sounded like an explosion and saw a flash of light. Dispatchers then took calls from residents all over the county. Other area counties, including Marathon, also received similar reports. A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said it could have caused by a meteor shower.

There was an expected meteor shower on or around Jan. 3, said Theo Koupelis, an astronomy professor at the University of Wisconsin Marathon County. The loud noise and light might have been caused by a meteoroid hitting the ground, he said.

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Fiery Object Shoots Across Wisconsin Sky
WBAY
January 5, 2005

Many people called Action 2 News to let us know about a strange sight in the sky Tuesday night.

Calls came from all over -- especially Brown, Oconto, and Shawano counties.

Callers described what they saw around 6:15 p.m. as a large, red- and green-colored glowing ball with a tail, shooting through the sky.

Lincoln County authorities report it may have crashed into a wooded area there in northcentral Wisconsin. Witnesses said they heard a loud explosion then saw a fire in the woods. Deputies were out there late Tuesday night trying to find where the object might have struck.

The FAA reports the object was likely a meteorite.

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Bring Them Home - Sooner rather than later
By Sheila Samples
ICH
01/02/05

USA Today founder Al Neuharth's New Year's Resolution that we should support the troops in Iraq by bringing them home has stirred up a hornet's nest, according to Editor & Publisher Magazine which, after describing Neuharth's Dec. 22 Christmas column, was inundated with hate mail.

The E&P staff wrote that Neuharth said if he were eligible to serve in Iraq, "I would do all I could to avoid it." Neuharth also wrote in his weekly column for the paper that America's New Year's Resolution should be to bring the troops home "sooner rather than later."

Neuharth, who is 80, recalled his duty as an infantryman in France, Germany and the Phillipines during World War II as "highly moral." But he said that troops floundering around in the bloody Iraqi mess today were, like those in Vietnam, thrust into an "ill-advised adventure by an unwise commander-in-chief," and should be brought home post-haste.

The vitriolic response was immediate, and got the attention of editor Greg Mitchell, who said E&P's little four-paragraph article "drew more letters than virtually any story we have ever posted."

Mitchell made the strange conclusion that the vicious responses to Neuharth's commentary (opinion) were mostly a result of Americans increasingly hating or distrusting the press.

Although "hate" is a bit strong, it is true that as more Americans rouse from their stupor and begin to compare what the mainstream US media says is happening both here and abroad with what is actually happening -- it's easy to see that they have ample reason to distrust the entire Fourth Estate.

Mitchell did say, however, "Apparently, it is now an act of treason to offer an editorial opinion on the Iraq war that goes against the conventional wisdom."

I agree that this uproar is primarily about stifling any sound of criticism or dissent. And, it's frightening that, for some Americans, the "conventional wisdom" is for the rest of us to just shut the hell up and allow our uniformed citizens to make the ultimate sacrifice in peace -- and honor.

Our duty is to be there, waving our flags, when they are shuttled back to the US under cover of darkness, boxed up and ready to be buried. For those Americans, that seems to be the only definition of "patriotism."

To give you an idea of this particular mindset, here are just a few extracts from some of the letters published in E&P on Dec. 29...

***

Frank Butash, West Hartford, CT.: “Apparently it's easier to run with jackals than to stand up for your country when it needs support.”

Kenneth Genest: “They had two of these in World War 2. One was called Tokyo Rose and the other Axis Sally. Their job was to discourage the American soldiers. I see they have one now at USA Today.”

Jerry Martin, San Francisco, CA.: “Yet another self-defeating fool with a large bank account shoots himself in the foot. Their dissent equals treason. The terrorists got him just like all the other rich liberals who side against our victory. They forget that wars end, and then the country takes stock of who was where. I encourage the fool to keep mouthing against our victory over the Muslim jihad, he'll pay the social price in the end.”

Peter Kessler: “And as for the good war, WW II, the lefties were four-square for that one. Yes sir, they were saving the USSR, Stalin and Communism. It's sad we didn't join Hitler until he wiped out the USSR. Alger Hiss and the Uptown Daily Worker (The New York Times) be damned. I see you've joined the club. Well, you're probably a founding member.”

Joe McBride, Fort Dodge, Iowa: “Mr. Neuharth, thanks to you and your ignorance the terrorists are probably booking their flights to the U.S. now! If we pull out of Iraq with the job unfinished the terrorists will be bombing McDonalds, and blowing up malls and schools here, killing our innocent men, women and children.”

Craig Wood, Waianae, Hawaii: “Today's press undermines our troops and supports our enemies. They convince parents that supporting your President is dangerous. They concentrate their ire on any fight that involves the United States and ignore all others. Like the sex scandal in the Congo with United Nations forces…. But, let some Army private put panties on an Iraqi's head and all hell brakes (sic) loose.”

Duggan Flanakin, Austin, Texas: “Neuharth should be tried for treason along with a lot of other blowhards who should be spending their energies condemning the barbarism of our enemies, the same people who destroyed the Twin Towers.“

Mel Gibbs: “The Patriot Act will put both of you (Neuharth and Mitchell) on trial for treason and convict and execute both of you as traitors for running these stories in a time of war and it should be done on TV for other communist traitors like you two to know we mean business. This is war and you should be put in prison NOW for talking like this. Who the hell do you people think you are? You give aid and comfort to our enemies and aid them in murdering our proud soldiers. You people are a disgrace to America. Your families should be put in prison with you, then be made to leave and move to the Middle East ...This is a great Christian nation and god wants us to lead the world out of darkness with great leaders like President George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Communists like Al and Greg will soon be in prison and on death row for your ugly papers. We won the election and now you are mad. We own America and all the rights, you people are trash, go back to Russia and Africa and take your friends with before we put you on death row after a fair trial.”

***

Ah, yes. Good ol' Mel Gibbs -- giving Neuharth and Mitchell a choice of Lone Star punishment for exercising their right of free speech. For daring to criticize the commander-in-chief, they and their families can either go to prison and then move on out to the Middle East -- or they and their friends can walk the long, green mile on death row -- er, after a fair trial, of course.

One man who knows full well how this could play out is Desmond Tutu, winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize. Tutu was interviewed by Arlene Getz for Newsweek's Dec. 30 issue from his home in Johannesburg, South Africa.

When Getz asked him about Iraq, Tutu said, "Any normal human being ought to be feeling considerable outrage and deep, deep, deep hurt for so-called ordinary [Iraqi] people. We hardly ever hear about what the casualties have been on that side. How I wish that politicians could have the courage and the humility to admit that they have made mistakes. President Bush and Prime Minister [Tony] Blair and whoever supported the invasion ought to at least have the decency to say [they] went into this war because [they] were given the wrong reasons for going to war."

Tutu also commented that most Americans didn't seem to worry too much about the number of American soldiers who have died since Bush claimed the war had ended.

He recalled that during the recent election campaign he was teaching in Jacksonville, Fla., and was "shocked, because I had naively believed all these many years that Americans genuinely believed in freedom of speech. [But I] discovered there (in Fla) that when you made an utterance that was remotely contrary to what the White House was saying, then they attacked you."

Think about that. Those who dare criticize the commander-in-chief will be attacked. This is, in my opinion, the most important -- the most critical -- reason we must not be silenced. We must stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Al Neuharth, and proclaim that our 2005 New Year's Resolution is -- Bring Them Home.

Sooner rather than later.

Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma freelance writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a columnist/regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites. Contact her at rsamples@sirinet.net

Comment: No American wants to believe that fascism could come to the US. In fact, if one speaks with many Europeans, they also will deny that such a thing could happen in the US of A. And yet, after reading this article, and considering all the implications of the war on terror and the resulting police state legislation, can anyone honestly say that the possibility is remote?

Those who wrote letters in response to the editorial written by USA Today founder Al Neuharth would probably not believe that fascism is sprouting in the US for the simple reason that they are on the side of the fascists - although perhaps not consciously. They have been duped by Bush and the Neocons just as many in Germany were duped by Hitler and the Nazi party. The problem for the rest of Americans is that those in power, and the citizens who support them, have the ultimate weapon at their disposal: fear. It doesn't matter if the "Bush side" is fewer in number than the "anti-Bush side" - those who oppose Bush will either silence themselves out of fear for themselves and their families, or they will be silenced.

When we write, "they will be silenced," we're not talking about a little slap on the wrist; we are talking about full-blown imprisonment without charge and even death for committing treason. You know, concentration camps and that sort of thing. No one can say that these ideas are outlandish or conspiratorial in nature, because a major US newspaper just published the apparent views of its American readers, and those readers advocated imprisonment and death for Neuharth for simply disagreeing with them and their president on the Iraq issue. Neuharth didn't even get half way down the rabbit hole in his editorial. Heck, he didn't even find the rabbit hole. His comments focused only on Iraq and bringing the troops home.

All that remains is for the PTB to unleash the straw that will break the camel's back. Perhaps it will be another terrorist attack, or a meteor strike spun into a terrorist attack. Perhaps the economy will crash. In any case, it will be just enough to push people like those who responded to Neuharth over the edge. The time for talk will be over. It is only a matter of time.

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Concentration Camps for American Muslims?
January 02, 2005
kurt nimmo

Since Bush’s “war on terrorism” will last generations, effectively forever, and the Bushcons have decided to “indefinitely imprison suspected terrorists” (that is to say, people not convicted of a crime), the Zionist fanatic Daniel Pipes’ recent comments in favor of throwing Muslims in concentration camps becomes, for many Americans, an acceptable response to non-existent terrorism in America. Such a draconian idea—reminiscent of the Nazis—was not long ago expected from the likes of Meir Kahane, not a member of the U.S. Institute of Peace. How times have changed.

In Bushzarro world, it is entirely normal for a “leading anti-Muslim hate propagandist” (as Left Turn has characterized Pipes) to be allowed to spew his hatred on ABC World News Tonight, CBS Reports, Crossfire, Good Morning America, NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Nightline, The O’Reilly Factor, and The Today Show, viewed by millions, while somebody like Noam Chomsky is almost completely denied access. As if to confirm that rounding up Muslims and throwing them in concentration camps is a natural response to terrorism—and an all-American response to boot—Pipes wrote in the Star Telegram last month:

For years, it has been my position that the threat of radical Islam implies an imperative to focus security measures on Muslims. If searching for rapists, one looks only at the male population. Similarly, if searching for Islamists (adherents of radical Islam), one looks at the Muslim population. And so, I was encouraged by a just-released Cornell University opinion survey that finds nearly half the U.S. population agreeing with this proposition. Specifically, 44 percent of Americans believe that government authorities should direct special attention toward Muslims living in the United States, either by registering their whereabouts, profiling them, monitoring their mosques or infiltrating their organizations. That’s the good news; the bad news is the near-universal disapproval of this realism. Leftist and Islamist organizations have so successfully influenced public opinion that polite society shies away from endorsing a focus on Muslims. In the United States, this intimidation results in large part from a revisionist interpretation of the evacuation, relocation and internment of ethnic Japanese during World War II.

Emphasis added. I’m not sure what Pipes is referring to precisely when he mentions the “revisionist interpretation” of the forced migration of 110,000 people of Japanese descent to “relocation centers,” in other words internment or concentration camps. As Rep. John H. Tolan, a California Democrat, heading a House committee investigating “national defense migration,” said in 1942 after polling the governors of 15 states west of the Mississippi River on proposals to send “evacuees” from Pacific Coast states, “No Japanese wanted—except in concentration camps.” Pipes and Michelle Malkin, who wrote a book whitewashing the forced internment of Japanese Americans, are engaged in a “revisionist interpretation” of events, not “Leftist and Islamist organizations” that have supposedly “so successfully influenced public opinion that polite society shies away from endorsing a focus on Muslims,” that is demonizing all Americans who take advantage of our so-called “religious freedom” and follow Islam.

The Israelification of America is almost complete. “For many years now, American presidents of both parties have been staunchly committed to Israel and its security,” writes Mark Weber. “This entrenched policy is an expression of the Jewish-Zionist grip on America's political and cultural life. It was fervent support for Israel—shared by President Bush, high-ranking administration officials and nearly the entire US Congress—that proved crucial in the decision to invade and subdue one of Israel’s greatest regional enemies.”

Going after generally peaceful Arabs and Muslims in America, sending FBI undercover agents into their mosques and communities, preparing the ground to throw them in concentration camps, trashing the Constitution and habeas corpus—these are the results of the Israelification of the United States, formerly a constitutional republic. Apartheid has arrived in America as it has existed in Israel for decades. Fox News and its wannabes have done an effective job of brainwashing the American public and instilling anti-Arab xenophobia, a precondition to “total war” as envisioned by criminal fanatics such as Michael Ledeen, Richard Perle, Norman Podhoretz, Irving Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, David Wurmser, and other Strausscons and fellow travelers of the Republikud alliance.

“Change—above all violent change—is the essence of human history,” Michael Ledeen proclaims. “Creative destruction is our middle name. We do it automatically … it is time once again to export the democratic revolution.” In America, it would seem, this “democratic revolution” is in the process of manifesting itself along the lines of Nazism in Germany—going after internal enemies, as urged by the likes of Daniel Pipes and the revisionist historian Michelle Malkin. In Germany, political prisoners were forced to wear inverted triangle badges—for instance, red for political prisoner, pink for homosexual. How far are we from forcing Arabs to wear a high-tech alternative to the inverted triangle here in America? In Fallujah, Arabs are forced to wear, under penalty of death, ID badges with DNA and retina scan data. If 44 percent of all Americans, as noted by Pipes, believe Muslims and Arabs should be “focused” on, how many of them would approve of chipping Mulsims like household pets or shipping them off to concentration camps? Millions, no doubt.

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Muslim charges bias led to firing

U.S. citizen sues, cites harassment

By Matt O'Connor
Tribune staff reporter
Published January 4, 2005

A Muslim-American who formerly worked for a suburban manufacturer filed a federal lawsuit Monday alleging he was fired after he complained of harassment by co-workers and supervisors after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The suit by Syed Abbas, a native of Pakistan, said one co-worker at AFI Industries Inc. repeatedly called him a terrorist while a supervisor drew laughter at the factory when he made a crude drawing of Abbas and labeled it a "wanted" poster.

In a telephone interview, Abbas, a naturalized U.S. citizen who lives in Carol Stream, said he was so alarmed when one supervisor told him he was under government surveillance that he sold his house at a loss and moved his family in with relatives.

The same supervisor had warned Abbas that someone would break into Abbas' house and shoot him, the suit said.

"They took advantage of him because they knew they could play on his fears," said Kamran Memon, one of Abbas' attorneys. "They picked a guy who they knew was vulnerable."

A company official was faxed a copy of the lawsuit but had no comment Monday on the allegations. AFI Industries, based in Carol Stream, makes screws and other fasteners.

The number of cases alleging workplace discrimination based on religion has increased significantly since the Sept. 11 attacks, according to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In the three years after Sept. 11, the number of discrimination charges by Muslims or those perceived to be Muslim nearly doubled to 1,778, compared with 892 in the three years before the terrorist attacks, the EEOC said.

And that does not include the complaints filed with state anti-discrimination agencies or individuals who did not file complaints for fear of retaliation from employers or fear of attracting the attention of law enforcement, Memon said.

Abbas, 40, married and the father of four, said he worked as a machine operator for AFI Industries for nearly nine years before he was fired in March 2003 as the U.S. prepared to invade Iraq.

Before Sept. 11, Abbas said, "Everything was OK."

His boss considered him a good employee and team player, Abbas said.

But after the terrorist attacks, a supervisor repeatedly told Abbas he was dangerous and that no more Pakistanis would be hired full time, the suit said.

On one occasion, a co-worker asked Abbas how his cousin was doing. When Abbas inquired which cousin, the co-worker replied, "Osama bin Laden," the suit alleged.

"He's your Muslim brother," Abbas quoted the co-worker as telling him.

The supervisor told Abbas that the CIA and FBI were watching him and warned that someone would break into his house and shoot him, the suit charged.

At that point, the supervisor formed his hand into the shape of a gun and motioned like he was shooting at Abbas, the suit said.

"He genuinely believed his life was in danger," Memon said.

After he repeatedly complained about the alleged harassment, Abbas said the factory manager became hostile, yelling at him in front of other employees and unfairly criticizing his work.

He also was given more difficult assignments and reduced overtime, the suit said.

The suit does not seek specific damages from AFI Industries, but Memon said he wants compensation for emotional abuse as well as economic losses. Abbas has been undergoing counseling since he was fired, Memon said.

Comment: Amid these stories of anti-Muslim sentiment, we have the following article...

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Anti-Semitism Rising, State Dept. Says
By BARRY SCHWEID, AP Diplomatic Writer
Tue Jan 4, 5:30 PM ET

WASHINGTON - A rise in the number of Muslims in Western Europe, many of them poor and uneducated, is contributing to an increase in deeply rooted anti-Semitism there, the State Department said in a report to Congress.

Comment: Here we go again: "Those poor, stupid heathens just don't know any better."

Far-right groups still account for a significant proportion of attacks on Jews and Jewish property, the report said.

In eastern Europe, skinheads and other members of the radical political fringe are responsible for most anti-Semitic incidents, according to the report, obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.

In Russia, Belarus and elsewhere in the former Soviet Union, anti-Semitism remained a serious problem, with most incidents carried out by ultra-nationalists and other far-right elements, according to the report.

"The stereotype of Jews as manipulators of the global economy continues to provide fertile grounds for anti-Semitic aggression," said the report to the Senate and House foreign relations committees.

Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., who pushed for annual State Department reports and for close monitoring through a new office in the department, welcomed the first global report on anti-Semitism.

"It is only a beginning," said Lantos, the senior Democrat on the House committee. "The department must act quickly to appoint an advocate of substantial rank and experience to coordinate our government's response to the current outbreak of anti-Semitic violence."

The report, which covers the period between July 2003 and December 2004, gave no worldwide totals but did include statistics provided by some countries.

There are dwindling Jewish populations in North Africa and the Middle East, except for Israel, and there are few incidents involving Jews who remain in those areas. But Syria condones and supports "a virulent domestic anti-Semitism" as government-supported media demonize Israel and its leaders, the report said.

Comment: Guess who's up next for target practice? The only question is, who will invade: Israel, the US, or both?

Beyond Europe and the Middle East "there are also worrying expressions" of anti-Semitism, the report said.

In Pakistan, where there is no Jewish community, anti-Semitic sentiment fanned by press articles is widespread, the report said. Anti-Semitism where there are virtually no Jews is a recent phenomenon, the State Department told Congress.

In Europe, where millions of Jews died in the Holocaust, anti-Semitic acts have increased both in frequency and severity since 2000, the report said.

The sense of safety and security of Jewish communities has been disrupted, the report said.

Contributing to the trend, the report said, is a rising Muslim population with "long-standing antipathy toward both Israel and Jews" as well as developments in Israel, the occupied territories and Iraq.

In Europe and other regions of the world, many governments have become increasingly aware of anti-Semitism and have spoken against it. Countries such as France, Belgium and Germany have taken effective measures to combat anti-Semitism and have increased protection for Jewish communities and Jewish properties, the report said.

Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said the United States should be applauded for its leadership in recognizing the reality of the problem, which he called the old anti-Semitism and the newly Muslim extremist-engendered anti-Semitism.

"It is forthright in recognizing the changing nature and threat of anti-Semitism, its connection, and its virulent demonization of Israel and Zionists," Foxman said in a statement.

And, he said, the United States is more direct in linking anti-Semitism to an increase in Muslim extremists in Europe and not to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Comment: More direct? How could the Arab-Israeli conflict not contribute greatly to Muslim discontent regarding Israel? If there is a rise in angry Muslim "extremists" anywhere in the world, it seems highly likely that it is the result of US and Israeli actions under the direction of Neocon and Zionist leadership, respectively. We imagine that if the 10-year-old daughters of most people in the world were shot in the head by Israeli snipers, or blown to pieces by American smart bombs, those same parents would feel at least a slight increase in anger towards the perpetrators.

While we certainly do not advocate racism or any other violent response, we do advocate calling a spade, a spade. This article is just another piece of propaganda to fan the flames of hatred towards Muslims everywhere. It is actually quite an effective manipulation on the part of the Zionists and Neocons. They distort the truth or present half-truths in such a way that they are promoting hatred against Muslims, while simultaneously accusing Muslims of anti-Semitism - essentially the same crime.

Finally, we would like to remind the reader of the stunning number of times that the Palestinians have shot themselves in the foot with "suicide bombings" directed against Israelis. See our Suicide Bombing Cycle Supplement for more details.

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Abuse of Palestinian detainees decried
By Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank
Monday 03 January 2005, 20:08 Makka Time, 17:08 GMT  

Israeli army has mistreated 10 detained Palestinian community leaders who were arrested in the run up to Palestinian elections, their lawyer has said.

The leaders were rounded up from their homes in Dura, south of Jerusalem, on Saturday night and have been in detention ever since.

Israel's occupation army says the men were detained because they posed a threat to the Jewish state. However, Palestinians believe the real reason is their intention to run in the upcoming Palestinian polls.

According to an east Jerusalem lawyer who visited the detainees at the Etzion detention camp, north of Hebron, on Monday morning, the 10 had been kept in freezing conditions at the Adoraiem military camp, outside Dura.

"The soldiers kept them for over 16 hours under heavy rain and in harsh, cold weather," said the lawyer, Tawhid Shaaban.

At least two of the community leaders Husain Amr, 51, and Fathi Amr, 53, reportedly fell ill during detention. Amr, a diabetic, also suffers from heart problems.

Shaaban said the two were transferred to the Ofer internment centre. It was not clear if the two were given medical care.

Provocative move

Palestinian Authority officials have accused Israel of carrying out sweeping and unjustified arrests in the West Bank for the purpose of forestalling further election gains by the resistance group Hamas.

The bulk of the Dura detainees are associated with Hamas' religious, cultural and charitable activities, but are not proven to be connected with resistance against the Israeli occupation army.

Hasan Yusuf, Hamas spokesman in the West Bank, accused Israel of "seeking to trigger a new wave of violence and bloodshed for the purpose of thwarting the Palestinian election".

"Now the world should see for itself who is stoking the fire of violence," he said. "Rounding up innocent people from their homes and dumping them in concentration camps like this is the ultimate incitement of violence."

'Threats to Israel'

Israeli army spokesman Eitan Arusi said the detainees constituted a security threat to the state of Israel.

Arusi said the army was only carrying out instructions from the Shin Beth, Israel's chief domestic intelligence agency.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli human rights organisation B'tselem said the mistreatment of detainees - keeping them in cold conditions for many hours - was a violation of the law and army orders.

"The army may arrest people, but has no right to brutalise them and treat them with indignity," a B'tselem spokeswoman told Aljazeera.net.

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Israeli spy's passport sparks row

The Guardian
Saturday January 1, 2005

The use of forged British passports by Mossad assassination squads triggered a Foreign Office protest.

But just as diplomats were about to call in the Israeli ambassador, it was discovered that civil servants elsewhere in Whitehall were in the process of renewing the UK passport held by a senior Israeli secret service agent.

"David Kimche is... controller of Israeli intelligence service operations in western Europe," a secret Foreign Office memo said in 1974. "He is a member of the diplomatic staff in the Paris embassy. He was born in the UK and for many years had a British passport. This has expired."

The murders of a Moroccan in Norway and Arab activists in Lebanon had infuriated diplomats when it was discovered that both had been carried out by Mossad agents, several of whom were using falsified British documents.

The realisation that Kimche was about to get a new passport astonished officials. "This is really extraordinary," one wrote. "At the same time as the minister is about to protest to the Israeli ambassador over the misuse of British passports for Israeli intelligence operations, we are apparently contemplating issuing a British passport to a man who may well have been in charge of the operation complained of."

Kimche was discouraged from applying.

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Abu Musab al-Zarqawi reportedly arrested in Iraq
(itar-tass.com)
Updated: 2005-01-04 14:37

Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, whom the US occupation authorities declared to be the "target number one" in Iraq, has been arrested in the city of Baakuba, the Emirate newspaper al-Bayane reported on Tuesday referring to Kurdish sources.

Al-Zarqawi, leader of the terrorist group Al-Tawhid Wa'al-Jihad, was recently appointed the director of the Al-Qaeda organisation in Iraq.

The newspaper's correspondent in Baghdad points out that a report on the seizure of the terrorist, on whom the US put a bounty of US$10 million, was also reported by Iraqi Kurdistan radio, which at one time had been the first to announce the arrest of Saddam Hussein.

There have been no official reports about the arrest of the terrorist. Al-Zarqawi, 38, a Jordanian, whose real name is Ahmad al-Khalayleh, aims to turn Iraq into a "new Afghanistan". [...]

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US military denies arrest of al-Zarqawi

Agencies
2005-01-05

U.S. military and intelligence sources are denying print and broadcast reports that terrorist Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi has been arrested in Iraq, MSNBC reported Tuesday.

MSNBC said senior U.S. military and intelligence sources told it the reports are not true. A newspaper in the United Arab Emirates, al-Bayane, reported in its Tuesday edition that the Jordanian-born terrorist had been arrested in Baqouba, Iraq. Iraqi Kurdistan radio also reported the arrest of al-Zarqawi.

The U.S. military in December said al-Zarqawi likely is in the Baghdad area.

Al-Zarqawi reportedly arrested in Iraq

Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, whom the US occupation authorities declared to be the "target number one" in Iraq, has been arrested in the city of Baakuba, the Emirate newspaper al-Bayane reported on Tuesday referring to Kurdish sources.

Al-Zarqawi, leader of the terrorist group Al-Tawhid Wa'al-Jihad, was recently appointed the director of the Al-Qaeda organisation in Iraq.

The newspaper's correspondent in Baghdad points out that a report on the seizure of the terrorist, on whom the US put a bounty of US$10 million, was also reported by Iraqi Kurdistan radio, which at one time had been the first to announce the arrest of Saddam Hussein.

Comment: Perhaps an overzealous presenter of an Israeli-sponsored Iraqi Kurdistan radio jumped the gun on this one, forcing the Americans to issue a quick and frantic rebuttal.

Al-Zarqawi simply cannot be caught because he is the American government's "face of terrorism". Without him many more Americans might begin to ask awkward questions about what is actually happening in Iraq and who exactly is it that American troops are fighting. Al-Zarqawi provides the persona onto which the simplistic and childish notions of "evil terrorists" can be projected. He is, after all, the man that wants to turn Iraq into a "new Afghanistan", not that many Americans could even point to Afghanistan on a map let alone understand the history of that country and its ties to the US. Of course, the other little detail that al-Zarqawi is more than likely already dead should give no cause for concern either. As long as the world has a face to fear then it matters not whether a living person exists behind it.

It is rather interesting that the same source that reported the faked capture of Saddam is also first to press with the aborted capture of al-Zarqawi. As Seymour Hersh has reported, the Mossad are very active in northern Iraq and have long-standing ties with the Kurds there. For quite some time now we have been of the opinion that Israel's goal in carrying out the 9/11 attacks, leading to the Iraq invasion has been two-fold. The first goal is to bog the US down in a guerilla war which it cannot win, mainly due to Israel's funding and directing of many Iraqi insurgent attacks, which will ultimately lead to a collapse of the US economy. The second goal, resulting from the first, is to bring about the break up of Iraq into independent states and in doing so create the right conditions for war in the wider Middle East.

In his article Plan B of June 2004, Hersh details Israeli involvement with the Kurds of Northern Iraq and provides evidence showing how the Balkanisation of the Middle East may well be the main agenda of Israel.

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Flashback: PLAN B

by SEYMOUR M. HERSH
2004-06-28

As June 30th approaches, Israel looks to the Kurds.

Israeli intelligence and military operatives are now quietly at work in Kurdistan, providing training for Kurdish commando units and, most important in Israel’s view, running covert operations inside Kurdish areas of Iran and Syria. Israel feels particularly threatened by Iran, whose position in the region has been strengthened by the war. The Israeli operatives include members of the Mossad, Israel’s clandestine foreign-intelligence service, who work undercover in Kurdistan as businessmen and, in some cases, do not carry Israeli passports.

Asked to comment, Mark Regev, the spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, said, “The story is simply untrue and the relevant governments know it’s untrue.” Kurdish officials declined to comment, as did a spokesman for the State Department.

However, a senior C.I.A. official acknowledged in an interview last week that the Israelis were indeed operating in Kurdistan. He told me that the Israelis felt that they had little choice: “They think they have to be there.” Asked whether the Israelis had sought approval from Washington, the official laughed and said, “Do you know anybody who can tell the Israelis what to do? They’re always going to do what is in their best interest.” The C.I.A. official added that the Israeli presence was widely known in the American intelligence community.

The Israeli decision to seek a bigger foothold in Kurdistan—characterized by the former Israeli intelligence officer as “Plan B”—has also raised tensions between Israel and Turkey. It has provoked bitter statements from Turkish politicians and, in a major regional shift, a new alliance among Iran, Syria, and Turkey, all of which have significant Kurdish minorities. In early June, Intel Brief, a privately circulated intelligence newsletter produced by Vincent Cannistraro, a retired C.I.A. counterterrorism chief, and Philip Giraldi, who served as the C.I.A.’s deputy chief of base in Istanbul in the late nineteen-eighties, said:

Turkish sources confidentially report that the Turks are increasingly concerned by the expanding Israeli presence in Kurdistan and alleged encouragement of Kurdish ambitions to create an independent state. . . . The Turks note that the large Israeli intelligence operations in Northern Iraq incorporate anti-Syrian and anti-Iranian activity, including support to Iranian and Syrian Kurds who are in opposition to their respective governments. [...]

Israeli involvement in Kurdistan is not new. Throughout the nineteen-sixties and seventies, Israel actively supported a Kurdish rebellion against Iraq, as part of its strategic policy of seeking alliances with non-Arabs in the Middle East. In 1975, the Kurds were betrayed by the United States, when Washington went along with a decision by the Shah of Iran to stop supporting Kurdish aspirations for autonomy in Iraq. [...]

The former Israeli intelligence officer acknowledged that since late last year Israel has been training Kurdish commando units to operate in the same manner and with the same effectiveness as Israel’s most secretive commando units, the Mistaravim. The initial goal of the Israeli assistance to the Kurds, the former officer said, was to allow them to do what American commando units had been unable to do—penetrate, gather intelligence on, and then kill off the leadership of the Shiite and Sunni insurgencies in Iraq. (I was unable to learn whether any such mission had yet taken place.) “The feeling was that this was a more effective way to get at the insurgency,” the former officer said. “But the growing Kurdish-Israeli relationship began upsetting the Turks no end. Their issue is that the very same Kurdish commandos trained for Iraq could infiltrate and attack in Turkey.”

The Kurdish-Israeli collaboration inevitably expanded, the Israeli said. Some Israeli operatives have crossed the border into Iran, accompanied by Kurdish commandos, to install sensors and other sensitive devices that primarily target suspected Iranian nuclear facilities. The former officer said, “Look, Israel has always supported the Kurds in a Machiavellian way—as balance against Saddam. It’s Realpolitik.” He added, “By aligning with the Kurds, Israel gains eyes and ears in Iran, Iraq, and Syria.” He went on, “What Israel was doing with the Kurds was not so unacceptable in the Bush Administration.”

Senior German officials told me, with alarm, that their intelligence community also has evidence that Israel is using its new leverage inside Kurdistan, and within the Kurdish communities in Iran and Syria, for intelligence and operational purposes. Syrian and Lebanese officials believe that Israeli intelligence played a role in a series of violent protests in Syria in mid-March in which Syrian Kurdish dissidents and Syrian troops clashed, leaving at least thirty people dead. (There are nearly two million Kurds living in Syria, which has a population of seventeen million.) Much of the fighting took place in cities along Syria’s borders with Turkey and Kurdish-controlled Iraq. Michel Samaha, the Lebanese Minister of Information, told me that while the disturbances amounted to an uprising by the Kurds against the leadership of Bashir Assad, the Syrian President, his government had evidence that Israel was “preparing the Kurds to fight all around Iraq, in Syria, Turkey, and Iran. They’re being programmed to do commando operations.” [...]

At the moment, the former American senior intelligence official said, the Israelis’ tie to Kurdistan “would be of greater value than their growing alliance with Turkey. ‘We love Turkey but got to keep the pressure on Iran.’” The former Israeli intelligence officer said, “The Kurds were the last surviving group close to the United States with any say in Iraq. The only question was how to square it with Turkey.”

There may be no way to square it with Turkey. Over breakfast in Ankara, a senior Turkish official explained, “Before the war, Israel was active in Kurdistan, and now it is active again. This is very dangerous for us, and for them, too. We do not want to see Iraq divided, and we will not ignore it.” Then, citing a popular Turkish proverb—“We will burn a blanket to kill a flea”—he said, “We have told the Kurds, ‘We are not afraid of you, but you should be afraid of us.’” (A Turkish diplomat I spoke to later was more direct: “We tell our Israeli and Kurdish friends that Turkey’s good will lies in keeping Iraq together. We will not support alternative solutions.”)

“If you end up with a divided Iraq, it will bring more blood, tears, and pain to the Middle East, and you will be blamed,” the senior Turkish official said. “From Mexico to Russia, everybody will claim that the United States had a secret agenda in Iraq: you came there to break up Iraq. If Iraq is divided, America cannot explain this to the world.” The official compared the situation to the breakup of Yugoslavia, but added, “In the Balkans, you did not have oil.” He said, “The lesson of Yugoslavia is that when you give one country independence everybody will want it.” If that happens, he said, “Kirkuk will be the Sarajevo of Iraq. If something happens there, it will be impossible to contain the crisis.”

In Ankara, another senior Turkish official explained that his government had “openly shared its worries” about the Israeli military activities inside Kurdistan with the Israeli Foreign Ministry. “They deny the training and the purchase of property and claim it’s not official but done by private persons. Obviously, our intelligence community is aware that it was not so. This policy is not good for America, Iraq, or Israel and the Jews.”

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Iraqi insurgents threaten attack inside United States

Agence France-Presse, with files from The Daily Telegraph
Tuesday, January 04, 2005

BAGHDAD - The Islamic Army in Iraq, one of the main armed groups fighting U.S. forces in the war-torn country, has threatened to carry out attacks inside the United States, according to a statement posted on a Web site yesterday.

This year "will bring woes on America. The mujahedeen [holy warriors] have prepared big surprises for your sons outside America and a big surprise for you inside America," said the statement, the authenticity of which could not be confirmed.

The statement appeared to mark a disturbing shift in strategy by the shadowy Sunni Muslim group that has claimed a number of attacks and killings of hostages in Iraq, including an Italian journalist and two Pakistanis.

The mujahedeen "will take the battle from inside our country [Iraq] to yours," the statement said.

"We address you after you finished celebrating the new year, hoping that you are no longer drunk.... We will give American civilians a taste of what civilians in our country go through," said the statement, presented as a "message to the American people."

The statement, which described Americans as "uncivilized" and "ignorant," claimed that "the whole world" hates the United States.

"Are you aware that the number of those who support striking America on its own turf has greatly increased?" it said.

"Last year was a picnic for your soldiers [in Iraq]. The year 2005 will witness a quantitative and qualitative change in the operations against your army, which will go down in history," the statement said.

The Islamic Army was one of three militant groups, along with the al-Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Sunna and the previously unknown Army of the Mujahedeen, that warned in an Internet statement last week that they would strike at anyone taking part in Iraqi elections this month.

"Those who participate in this dirty farce will not be sheltered from the blows of the mujahedeen," the statement said.

Militant groups have mounted an increasingly effective insurgency against U.S.-led troops inside Iraq, particularly on their home turf in Sunni Arab areas north and west of the capital.

A suicide bomber from Ansar al-Sunna managed to infiltrate a U.S. base in the northern city of Mosul last month and blow himself up inside the mess tent, killing 22 people in the deadliest single strike against the U.S. military since the March, 2003, invasion.

The Iraqi government's intelligence chief said yesterday he believes the insurgents wreaking havoc across the country outnumber the U.S. forces stationed there.

General Mohammad Shahwani said there are an estimated 200,000 partisans in Iraq, although he believed their hard-core fighters number about 40,000.

Asked whether the insurgents were winning, Gen. Shahwani said: "They are not losing."

But none of the insurgent groups has claimed an attack outside Iraq, and their ability to operate outside their home territory remains unproven.

Comment: The Bottom line?

Any Islamic terror group capable of carrying out large-scale attacks on American soil requires money power and knowledge in large quantities. Any Islamic terror leader capable of leading thousands of terrorists in these attacks must surely have a in depth understanding of the current global political structure and must also understand very well the nature of his opponents, in this case the USA. Furthermore, we might assume that the agenda of an Islamic terrorist leader would be to protect his people and ensure the survival of his organisation. In this case, any Islamic terror leader would simply give up the idea that continuing to attack US interests at home or abroad will do anything but play into the hands of American and Israeli political aspirations, further the suffering and demonisation of Muslims and Arabs everywhere and accelerate the demise of Arab terror organisations.

The Conclusion?

Significant Arab terrorism and terrorist leaders are the creation of American and/or Israeli covert intelligence agencies.

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The Duplicity of the Media

Mike Whitney – Znet December 31, 2004

The American media has descended on the Asian tsunami with all the fervor of feral animals in a meat locker. The newspapers and TV’s are plastered with bodies drifting out to sea, battered carcasses strewn along the beach and bloated babies lying in rows. Every aspect of the suffering is being scrutinized with microscopic intensity by the predatory lens of the media.

This is where the western press really excels: in the celebratory atmosphere of human catastrophe. Their penchant for misery is only surpassed by their appetite for profits.

Where was this “free press” in Iraq when the death toll was skyrocketing towards 100,000? So far, we’ve seen nothing of the devastation in Falluja where more than 6,000 were killed and where corpses were lined along the city’s streets for weeks on end. Is death less photogenic in Iraq? Or, are there political motives behind the coverage?

Wasn’t Ted Koppel commenting just days ago, that the media was restricting its coverage of Iraq to show sensitivity for the squeamishness of its audience? He reiterated the mantra that filming dead Iraqis was “in bad taste” and that his American audience would be repelled by such images? How many times have we heard the same rubbish from Brokaw, Jennings and the rest of their ilk?

Well, it looks like Koppel and the others have quickly switched directions. The tsunami has turned into a 24 hour-a-day media frenzy of carnage and ruin, exploring every facet of human misery in agonizing detail.

The festival of bloodshed is chugging ahead at full-throttle and it’s bumping up ratings in the process.

Corporate media never fails to astound even the most jaded viewer. Just when it appears that they’ve hit rock-bottom, they manage to slip even deeper into the morass of sensationalism. The manipulation of calamity is particularly disturbing, especially when disaster is translated into a revenue windfall. Koppel may disparage “bad taste”, but his boardroom bosses are more focused on the bottom line. Simply put, tragedy is good for business.

When it comes to Iraq, however, the whole paradigm shifts to the right. The dead and maimed are faithfully hidden from view. No station would dare show a dead Marine or even an Iraqi national mutilated by an errant American bomb. That might undermine the patriotic objectives of our mission: to democratize the natives and enter them into the global economic system. Besides, if Iraq was covered like the tsunami, public support would erode extremely quickly, and Americans would have to buy their oil rather than extracting it at gunpoint. What good would that do?

Looks like the media’s got it right: carnage IS different in Iraq than Thailand, Indonesia or India. The Iraqi butchery is part of a much grander scheme: a plan for conquest, subjugation and the theft of vital resources, the foundation blocks for maintaining white privilege into the next century.

The Iraq conflict is an illustration of how the media is governed by the political agenda of ownership. The media cherry-picks the news according to the requirements of the investor class, dumping footage (like dead American soldiers) that doesn’t support their policies. That way, information can be fit into the appropriate doctrinal package, one that serves corporate interests. It’s a matter of selectively excluding anything that compromises the broader, imperial objectives. Alternatively, the coverage of the Asian tsunami allows the media to whet the public’s appetite for tragedy and feed the macabre preoccupation with misfortune. Both tendencies are an affront to honest journalism and to any reasonable commitment to an informed citizenry.

The uneven coverage (of Iraq and the tsunami) highlights an industry in meltdown. Today’s privately owned media may bury one story, and yet, manipulate another to boost ratings. They are just as likely to exploit the suffering of Asians, while ignoring the pain of Iraqis. Neither brings us closer to the truth. It’s simply impossible to derive a coherent worldview from the purveyors of soap suds and dog food. They’re more devoted to creating a compatible atmosphere for consumerism than conveying an objective account of events.

We need a media that is dedicated to straightforward standards of impartiality and excellence, not one that’s rooted in commercialism, exploitation and hyperbole.

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The right to a call girl
By Nomi Levenkron
Haaretz
A young man of 19, Y., was injured in a car accident and filed a claim with his insurance company. Thousands of these sorts of claims are submitted each year and receive no publicity. However, Y.'s affair received wide publicity and struck a chord in the media in particular, and Israeli society in general. The special interest had to do with one of the sections of the subsequent court verdict: Aside from various types of monetary compensation, the court also ruled in favor of human compensation for Y. The Tel Aviv District Court ruled that the claimant would be entitled to receive medication against impotence once a week, and that "in addition, he will be entitled to visit a brothel once a week."

Prior to stating the sum to be allocated to this compensation category, the verdict offers a few relevant details: the fact that the plaintiff's girlfriend left him after a lengthy relationship and that he was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward due the development of a psychotic condition that he claimed was brought on by the split; in the post-accident period he had a few partners, but was able to have sex during this period "only with call girls." As such, the court essentially puts its stamp of approval on the plaintiff's contention that he has only one recourse - to pay for sex services.

This assertion leaves certain things concealed from the eyes of the court. One, that women are not a form of "compensation" that may be handed down in a verdict to a person, no matter what his condition; two, that brothels have been prohibited by the lawmaker, and only the blatant incompetence of law enforcement authorities caused this section to become a dead letter; and three, that according to police testimony presented December 22 to a session of a parliamentary committee of investigation chaired by MK Zahava Gal-On, 99 percent of all the women engaged in prostitution in Israel are victims of trafficking.

In other words, there is a 99 percent chance that in the weekly visit to a house of prostitution granted to him by the court, Y. will be having sexual relations with a victim of human trafficking and contributing the insurance company's money directly to organized crime, all with the blessing and assent of the district court.

Israeli society, which has clear patriarchal characteristics, had over the years provided men nearly unlimited access to women: rape victims were raped a second time by the enforcement authorities; women who experienced sexual harassment and complained were systematically persecuted by colleagues and superiors; rape of women by their husbands was not considered a crime until the late 1970s; and victims of trafficking were defined here as prostitutes who came to Israel of their own volition, and not as women whose human rights were violated in every possible way. Now the court comes and takes it a step further - a more extreme step - by legitimizing this access.

Prostitution services are only one section of the court verdict, along with future loss of livelihood, medications, sports activity required by the plaintiff, telephone and housing expenses, etc. One section of the verdict debates the plaintiff's claim that as a result of the accident he has begun to "smoke like a chimney" and is seeking the insurance company's funding for his increased smoking expenses. The court states that smoking is harmful to health, and that as part of the psychiatric treatment to be given him, "it would be appropriate for an effort to be made to cure the plaintiff of this habit."

From this passage we learn that the court is concerned with the plaintiff's health and feels that smoking is unhealthful, but prostitution is healthful. Nevertheless, the verdict devotes not one word to the health, dignity or freedom of the victim of trafficking that will be compelled to serve as a "consolation prize" for Y.'s condition of impotence.

The court awarded Y. a sum of NIS 150,000 for the "impotence treatment" section of the claim. The victim of trafficking, purchased by a dealer in Israel's meat market, is bought for between $4,000 and $6,000. A quick calculation demonstrates that through the amount that Y. will be funneling to organized crime, its minions will be able to buy between five and eight additional women. One wonders about the court's moral authority to hear indictments filed against traffickers in women at a time that deplorable court verdicts like this essentially promote trafficking and ensure its prosperity.

Comment: For more on the habits of certain inhabitants of Israel, we offer you the following article by Israel Shamir.

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Tsunami in Gaza
Israel Shamir

While the whole world had sent aid to the tsunami-hit South East Asia, Israel forwarded a team entrusted with unique task. Not many Israeli tourists were swept away by the giant waves – official death toll stands at three, with some twenty missing; not many comparing with hundred thousand Indonesians or even with three thousand Swedes. Still the Israeli teams were very active on the ground. The highly trained experts led by Rabbi Meshi Zahav did not go to save trapped survivors or alleviate suffering of millions; their job was to save dead Jews from fate worse than death – that is to be buried with the goyim in the same grave. The Haaretz daily[i] reported: “The Israeli rescue teams in Thailand split up Thursday: one team worked on identifying bodies in Krabi, while another worked on the same task in Phuket. The Israeli crews - from the police and Zaka (a non-profit group that specializes in identifying victims of disasters) - are trying to locate dead Israelis before they are buried”.

They pressed upon the Thai government to postpone the mass entombment, though it was necessary to prevent spread of epidemics; and Bangkok gave in. Every dead Jewish body should be taken to Israel, or at least buried separately from impure non-Jews. Witty Gilad Atzmon remarked: “the ‘altruistic’ Jews … are in a state of panic, as we all know, dead Jews are precious, they deserve a special burial. The fact that 5-10 Jews might be lost forever among some other 125.000 gentiles is pretty horrifying, I am sure you can see it.”

This is a part and parcel of Jewish faith, the pinnacle of “The Nation Shall Dwell Alone” commandment – Jews are not supposed to live or to die with non-Jews. Their separate burial is necessary to guarantee their bodily resurrection when Messiah comes. A Jewish body defiled by gentile proximity won’t be resurrected, according to the Jews. Even irreligious Jews follow this separation rule without giving it a second thought.

This squeamish attitude is particularly unpleasant: whenever the Jews discover that a person of doubtful Jewishness is buried among their lot they remove the body and dump it elsewhere. It happened to an Israeli citizen Teresa Angelowitz. She was buried in the Jewish cemetery; later on the religious authorities discovered that she was a wife of a Jew, but not a Jew. They exhumed her body at the dark of the night and re-buried on the dumping ground. It happened to many Russian soldiers who died defending the Jewish character of Israel and were refused the burial. Now, in face of the huge tragedy in South East Asia, this insistence of ‘not being counted among the goyim” is especially offensive, bordering on denial of our common humanity. What is so bad about Thais, French, Chinese and other people who found their death in the catastrophe that you can’t leave your dead lying next to them?

This nasty exclusiveness has to be taken into account while trying to comprehend the long-running show of Israeli redeployment in Gaza. Sharon’s government wants to withdraw its troops from within the strip to its perimeter. Fine and good: this is a reasonable (from his point of view) decision: it is cheaper to keep Gaza under lock and key, surrounded by Israeli troops. The redeployment is not good neither bad for the Palestinians – the Jews will be able to kill whoever they wish from their bases outside the narrow strip, but this act is presented as an important step on the way to creation of a Palestinian state.

Now, instead of redeployment, Israelis discuss the fate of some (probably two thousand) Jewish settlers in Gaza strip. Sharon wants to evacuate them and pay them hefty compensation; they object to evacuation. The whole Israeli society discusses whether they can be removed; how much force should be applied; whether ‘Jews may remove Jews’; whether the ruling of the Rabbis forbidding the evacuation takes precedence over the government decision.

Nobody, but absolutely nobody is ready to consider an obvious (for a non-Jew) solution: remove the army and leave the settlers where they are. If they want to stay in Gaza, let them. Do not pay a penny for their removal: they are free men and women; they knew what they did when they accepted the lands and houses in Gaza. There are hundreds of American Jews who want to buy their houses, there are Palestinians who will be willing to buy – so there is no problem, whoever wants stays, whoever wants to leave sells his house and leaves. If they will be nasty to their neighbours, they will flee; if they will be good neighbours, they will flourish.

Indeed, when the British Empire left Palestine, or India, or Africa, they did not evacuate their citizens by force. Whoever felt that he caused too much grief to the natives, left for England; whoever preferred to stay – stayed.

Kenya is a good case to consider. The country had a sizeable English settler community; there was also very active Mau-Mau native resistance, much more violent than the Palestinian; still, when Kenya was granted independence, the settlers stayed. I have met them in the Highlands near Lake Rudolf: prosperous farmers, strong and sunburned, similar to old-style Israelis, they speak local language, are involved in local life. Many of them have their small airplanes and pop into Nairobi for an evening drink whenever they get tired from watching pink flamingos at the lakeside. The settlers try to be good neighbours to the native people – after all, the political power in hands of native Kikuyu; and RAF is not likely to defend them.

This is the example for the Israeli settlers to emulate, while the Israeli government should not tell them what to do and where to live. Their settlements won’t be ‘for Jews only’. They will have native neighbours, not only farm hands, but native officials, native police and native judges – but this consideration did not stop thousands of Brits and French, Portuguese and Spaniards, Russians and Germans to remain in the newly independent countries. The evacuation discourse that brought Israel to the verge of civil war can’t be comprehended outside of the general nasty picture of Jewish exclusiveness.

Only people, who can’t bear the thought of being buried in one grave with a goy, can’t imagine the possibility of staying as equals without the army and colonial administration to enforce their superiority. Azmi Bishara, our MP from Nazareth, was right when he refused to support Sharon’s initiative; while the Labour party of Peres and Barak added another shameful deed to its long roll of shame when they joined Sharon’s government to carry on the ‘disengagement’. The case of the Gaza settlers may be used to undermine and destroy the “Jewish character of the state”. There is no reason to play into the game of Jewish exclusivity, whether in Thailand or in Gaza.

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US considers tougher sanctions on Syria to stem Iraq insurgency:report
www.chinaview.cn 2005-01-05 23:29:47
WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 (Xinhuanet) -- The Bush administration is considering imposing new sanctions on Syria to prod it to crack down on Iraqis in Syria who are providing financial and logistical support to insurgents in Iraq, the New York Times said in a report on Wednesday.

Among the steps being considered is a Treasury Department action that could essentially isolate the Syrian banking system, the report said citing senior US officials.

The officials said the Syrian government has not taken action against the network of Iraqis in Damascus despite months of quiet protest from the United States. The network includes former officials of Saddam Hussein's government and recent intelligence suggests that the network's role in providing support to insurgents in Iraq is more extensive than previously suspected, the report said.

However, although the Iraqis in Syria are playing a "significant" role in coordinating flows of money, weapons and combatants inside Iraq, the anti-American insurgency would continue to thrive even without help from Syria, US officials admitted.

Syrian officials have sought to rebut American criticism by saying the United States has yet to provide them with sufficient accurate information to prompt action against individual Iraqis the Americans say are in the network.

Syria has long been subject to limited US economic sanctions because of its designation by the US State Department as a state sponsor of terrorism. The Bush administration imposed additional sanctions last spring that prohibit exports to Syria of most goods,excluding food and medicine, and outlaws commercial flights between the United States and Syria by Syrian-owned aircraft.

Comment: The propaganda war continues for the justification of further US military intervention in the Middle East. The article is long on accusations and very short on any concrete details, which is pretty much the Syrian response to the US. But the Bush Administration has never let the facts get in the way of a good war, witness the excuse given for going into Afghanistan -- wanting to get bin Laden, and the numerous lies told to convince the US public that Saddam was a serious threat to the continental US.

With the new term beginning in a couple of weeks, and the purge of those felt to be soft on the neocon agenda, things should be heating up again by spring.

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White House counsel intervened with controversial ruling on torture: report
www.chinaview.cn 2005-01-05 23:56:57
WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 (Xinhuanet) -- Alberto R. Gonzales, the White House counsel and President George W. Bush's nominee for attorney general, intervened directly with Justice Department lawyers in 2002 to obtain a controversial legal ruling on the extent of the president's authority to permit extreme interrogation practices, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Gonzales's role in seeking a legal opinion on the definition of torture and the legal limits on the force that could be used on terrorist suspects in captivity is expected to be a central issue in the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings scheduled to begin Thursday.

The Justice Department produced the much-debated memorandum on Aug. 1, 2002, which concluded that interrogators had great leeway to question detainees using coercive techniques and said that Bush could circumvent domestic and international prohibitions against torture in the name of national security.

As the White House's chief lawyer, Gonzales supervised the production of a number of legal memorandums that shaped the administration's legal framework for conducting its battle against Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. He wrote in a memorandum dated January 2002 that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to fighters captured in Afghanistan.

The next month the White House decided that the Geneva Conventions would be applied to Taliban captives but not to detainees linked to Al Qaeda.

The Justice Department formally rescinded the Aug. 1, 2002 memorandum last week and replaced it with a legal opinion saying that "torture is abhorrent both to American law and values and international norms."

The Times report said, quoting current and former officials, that Gonzales's request resulting in the original memorandum was somewhat unusual. He went directly to lawyers at the Office of Legal Counsel, bypassing the office of the deputy attorney general, which is often notified of politically delicate requests for legal opinions made by executive-branch agencies, including the White House, the report said.

Democrats and human rights groups have complained that the memorandum created a permissive atmosphere that led to serious abuses of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

A senior administration official said the memorandum's conclusions appeared to closely align with the prevailing White House view of interrogation practices, according to the Times.

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French hostages’ driver sues US for torture
AFP, January 4, 2005
PARIS, Jan 4 (AFP) - Muhamed al-Jundi, the Syrian driver of two French journalists taken hostage in Iraq in August, filed suit at a Paris court Tuesday alleging torture and mistreatment by the US army.

"The suit is against members of the US armed forces in Iraq who were guilty of mistreating me, who tortured me, who threatened to kill me," he said.

Jundi, 47, was captured with reporters Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot on August 20 south of Baghdad and found in a house in Fallujah on November 12 when US troops invaded the city.

The two Frenchmen were released on December 21.

The driver is a member of the Baath party of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. He is represented by
a veteran lawyer, Jacques Verges, who has made a name for taking on controversial cases.

Verges said that Jundi has the right to present the suit at the Paris courts because after his release he was flown out of Baghdad under French protection.

Announcing his intention to file suit last month, Verges said his client was beaten by the US troops who found him at Fallujah.

He said Jundi was tortured with electric shocks and subjected to mock executions by the US soldiers.

In press conferences after his release Jundi made no mention of his alleged mistreatment.

He told AFP that he had put off the decision to file suit in order not to endanger the lives of Chesnot and Malbrunot while they were still held hostage.

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Egypt hid nuclear experiments: UN
January 4, 2005

VIENNA, Austria (AP) - The UN atomic watchdog agency has found evidence of secret nuclear experiments in Egypt that could be used in weapons programs, diplomats said Tuesday.

The diplomats told The Associated Press that most of the work was carried out in the 1980s and 1990s but said the watchdog - the International Atomic Energy Agency - is also looking at evidence that suggests some were as recent as a year ago.

Specifically said one of the diplomats, the Egyptians "tried to produce various components of uranium" without declaring it to the IAEA, as they were bound to under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

Among the products were several kilograms of uranium metal and of uranium tetrafluoride - a precursor to uranium hexafluoride gas, said the diplomat, who demanded anonymity.

Uranium metal can be processed into plutonium, while uranium hexafluoride can be enriched into weapons grade uranium - both for use in the core of nuclear warheads.

The diplomat said the Vienna-based agency has not yet drawn a conclusion on the scope and purpose of the experiments.

But the diplomat - who is well connected to IAEA sources - said the work appeared to have been sporadic, involved small amounts of material and to have lacked a particular focus.

That, he said, indicated that the work was laboratory scale and not directly geared toward creating a full-scale program to make nuclear weapons.

Egypt has denied in the past that it is trying to develop a nuclear weapons program.

Comment: So now it's Egypt that has a secret nuclear program. Surprise surprise. Virtually every country surrounding Israel seems under the IAEA spotlight at the moment. Yet Israel itself, who has proven nuclear weapons but still denies having them, continues to operate without interference.

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Danger Of Nuclear War Mounting On Korean Peninsula: North Korea
Seoul, South Korea (AFP) Jan 01, 2005

North Korea said Saturday that the risk of a nuclear war was mounting on the Korean peninsula as the United States attempts to "stifle" it by force.

It urged Washington to drop its "hostile" policy toward the communist state and demanded solidarity among all Koreans in order to drive out US troops stationed in South Korea, calling them the "very source of a nuclear war."

The statement was made in a New Year editorial run in North Korean newspapers.

"The danger of a nuclear war is growing on the Korean peninsula as the days go by owing to the US moves to stifle the DPRK (North Korea)," the editorial said, according to Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency.

"All Koreans should stage a powerful struggle for peace against war in order to drive the US troops out of South Korea, remove the very source of a nuclear war and defend the peace and security on the Korean peninsula," it said. [...]

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Report says North Korea sold weapons to al-Qaeda linked group
Last Updated Tue, 04 Jan 2005 17:48:20 EST

TOKYO - A newspaper report in Japan suggests North Korea has been selling weapons to Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), an Islamic extremist group in the Philippines.

Japan's biggest-selling newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, quotes Southeast Asian security sources saying North Korea sold 10,000 rifles and other weapons to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The group is based in the Philippines and allegedly has ties to al-Qaeda.

"Considering the close ties between al-Qaeda and the MILF, it cannot be ruled out that the money paid to North Korea for the arms could have been from al-Qaeda," the paper reported.

The report claims that grenades and other weapons also changed hands, but that plans to sell special underwater infiltration vehicles fell through.

The story has not been confirmed, although North Korea does have a track record of exporting military equipment.

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Malaysian police seize US$875 billion of fake US bonds
04 January 2005 1500 hrs
- AFP

KUALA LUMPUR : Malaysian police said Tuesday they have seized boxes stashed with fake United States government bonds with a total face value of 875 billion dollars being smuggled through a domestic airport.

Three Malaysians, aged 24 to 45, were arrested in two separate incidents last week as they tried to board flights to Kuala Lumpur from Kota Kinabalu in Sabah state on Borneo island, city police chief Azizan Abu Taat told AFP.

He said initial investigations showed the men obtained the counterfeit US Federal Reserve Bonds, which have a face value of a billion dollars each, from the Philippines. No other details were available.

"So far, there are no indications that the men are part of an international smuggling ring but we are still investigating," he said, adding that they would likely be charged with possession of forged currency notes, an offence which carries a jail sentence of up to 10 years.

US government bonds have usually been issued in dominations of 1,000 to one million dollars.

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Lab Director Fired for Questioning Official 9/11 Story

By JOHN DOBBERSTEIN
Tribune Staff Writer

Area man stirs debate on WTC collapse

South Bend firm's lab director fired after questioning federal probe

SOUTH BEND -- The laboratory director from a South Bend firm has been fired for attempting to cast doubt on the federal investigation into what caused the World Trade Center's twin towers to collapse on Sept. 11, 2001.

Kevin R. Ryan was terminated Tuesday from his job at Environmental Health Laboratories Inc., a subsidiary of Underwriters Laboratories Inc., the consumer-product safety testing giant.

On Nov. 11, Ryan wrote a letter to the National Institute of Standards and Technology -- the agency probing the collapse -- challenging the common theory that burning jet fuel weakened the steel supports holding up the 110-story skyscrapers.

Underwriters Laboratories Inc., according to Ryan, "was the company that certified the steel components used in the construction of the WTC buildings."

Ryan wrote that last year, while "requesting information," UL's chief executive officer and fire protection business manager disagreed about key issues surrounding the collapse, "except for one thing -- that the samples we certified met all requirements."

UL vehemently denied last week that it ever certified the materials.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is conducting a $16 million, two-year investigation of the collapse of the twin towers. The agency expects to issue a draft report in January, and UL has played a limited role in the investigation.

Ryan wrote that the institute's preliminary reports suggest the WTC's supports were probably exposed to fires no hotter than 500 degrees -- only half the 1,100-degree temperature needed to forge steel, Ryan said. That's also much cooler, he wrote, than the 3,000 degrees needed to melt bare steel with no fire-proofing.

"This story just does not add up," Ryan wrote in his e-mail to Frank Gayle, deputy chief of the institute's metallurgy division, who is playing a prominent role in the agency investigation. "If steel from those buildings did soften or melt, I'm sure we can all agree that this was certainly not due to jet fuel fires of any kind, let alone the briefly burning fires in those towers."

He added, "Alternatively, the contention that this steel did fail at temperatures around (500 degrees) suggests that the majority of deaths on 9/11 were due to a safety-related failure. That suggestion should be of great concern to my company."

Ryan declined to comment about his letter Thursday when reached at his South Bend home.

But his allegations drew a sharp rebuke from UL, which said Ryan wrote the letter "without UL's knowledge or authorization." The company told The Tribune "there is no evidence" that any firm tested the materials used to build the towers.

"UL does not certify structural steel, such as the beams, columns and trusses used in World Trade Center," said Paul M. Baker, the company's spokesman.

Ryan was fired, Baker said, because he "expressed his own opinions as though they were institutional opinions and beliefs of UL."

"The contents of the argument itself are spurious at best, and frankly, they're just wrong," Baker said.

Seeking to head off controversy just months before its report is released, the National Institute of Standards and Technology issued its own statement Thursday.

Some steel recovered from the WTC was exposed to fires of only 400 to 600 degrees, the institute said, but computer modeling has shown higher temperatures of 1,100 to 1,300 degrees or greater were "likely" experienced by steel in regions directly affected by the fires.

The institute believes impact from the jets dislodged fireproofing surrounding some of the steel, and the higher temperatures led to the buckling of the towers' core columns.
Wrangling on the Web

Ryan's statements have generated interest on many Web sites, including some advocating sharp scrutiny of the federal government's WTC probe.

Ryan copied his e-mail to David Ray Griffin, author of "The New Pearl Harbor," and to Catherine Austin Fitts, a board member of 911Truth.org -- a Web site organized by citizens who believe the government is covering up the true cause of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

One day later, Griffin requested and received permission to distribute Ryan's letter to other parties.

An official from 911Truth.org called Ryan to confirm his authorship. They said Ryan made it clear he is speaking for himself only, not on behalf of his laboratory or the company, but that others at UL were aware of his action.

The letter was published Nov. 11 on the Web site

septembereleventh.org, site of the 9/11 Visibility Project. On Tuesday, organizers of the 911Truth.org Web site noted Ryan had been fired.

In his letter, Ryan appeared confident in his statements about the WTC's fire protection levels.

"You may know that there are a number of current and former government employees that have risked a great deal to help us to know the truth," he told the institute's Gayle. "Please do what you can to quickly eliminate the confusion regarding the ability of jet fuel fires to soften or melt structural steel."

UL moved immediately to discredit Ryan.

The company said Ryan "was not involved in that work and was not associated in any way with UL's Fire Protection Division, which conducted testing at NIST's request."

The company said it "fully supports NIST's ongoing efforts to investigate the WTC tragedy. We regret any confusion that Mr. Ryan's letter has caused 9/11 survivors, victims' families and their friends."

"We prefer to base our conclusions, and NIST would say the same, on science rather than speculation," Baker said. "We anxiously await the outcome of the NIST investigation."

Organizers of 911Truth.org came to Ryan's defense Thursday, although they couldn't persuade him to speak publicly.

"He just saw too many contradictions, and it set off his sense of what was the right thing to do," said David Kubiak, 911Truth.org's executive director. "It's unfortunate for the country, and it's particularly tragic for him, but inspiring as hell."

"The way things are working in the country right now," Kubiak added, "it's only going to be citizens like this who take their professional knowledge and sense of personal integrity, and put it ahead of the strange status quo, that we will see truth and justice out of the system."

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Man Charged Under Patriot Act for Laser
Jan 4, 8:39 PM EST
By WAYNE PARRY
Associated Press Writer

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- Federal authorities Tuesday used the Patriot Act to charge a man with pointing a laser beam at an airplane overhead and temporarily blinding the pilot and co-pilot.

The FBI acknowledged the incident had no connection to terrorism but called David Banach's actions "foolhardy and negligent."

Banach, 38, of Parsippany admitted to federal agents that he pointed the light beam at a jet and a helicopter over his home near Teterboro Airport last week, authorities said. Initially, he claimed his daughter aimed the device at the helicopter, they said.

He is the first person arrested after a recent rash of reports around the nation of laser beams hitting airplanes.

Banach was charged only in connection with the jet. He was accused of interfering with the operator of a mass transportation vehicle and making false statements to the FBI, and was released on $100,000 bail. He could get up to 25 years in prison and fines of up to $500,000.

Banach's lawyer, Gina Mendola-Longarzo, said her client was simply using the hand-held device to look at stars with his daughter on the family's deck. She said Banach bought the device on the Internet for $100 for his job testing fiber-optic cable.

"He wasn't trying to harm any person, any aircraft or anything like that," she said.

The jet, a chartered Cessna Citation, was coming in for a landing last Wednesday with six people aboard when a green light beam struck the windshield three times at about 3,000 feet, according to court documents. The flash temporarily blinded both the pilot and co-pilot, but they were later able to land the plane safely, authorities said.

"Not only was the safety of the pilot and passengers placed in jeopardy by Banach's actions, so were countless innocent civilians on the ground in this densely populated area," said Joseph Billy, agent in charge of the FBI's Newark bureau.

Then, on Friday, a helicopter carrying Port Authority detectives was hit by a laser beam as its crew surveyed the area to try to pinpoint the origin of the original beam.

According to the FBI, the Patriot Act does not describe helicopters as "mass transportation vehicles." As for why Banach was not charged with some other offense over the helicopter incident, Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, did not immediately return calls for comment.

A few hours after the helicopter was hit by the laser, FBI agents canvassed Banach's neighborhood, trying to find the source of the beams. Banach told the agents it was his daughter who shined the laser at the helicopter, according to court papers.

Similar incidents have been reported in Colorado Springs, Colo., Cleveland, Washington, Houston and Medford, Ore., raising fears that the light beams could temporarily blind cockpit crews and lead to accidents.

Last month, the FBI and the Homeland Security Department sent a memo to law enforcement agencies saying there is evidence that terrorists have explored using lasers as weapons. But federal officials have said there is no evidence any the current incidents represent a terrorist plot.

Comment: If the incident had no connection to terrorism, then it seems strange that this man should be charged under the Patriot Act. Twenty-five years in prison and a half million dollar fine is outrageously excessive for what appears to be a honest mistake.

This very real sign of the times serves as an omen as to what's in store for average American citizens as the Patriot Act is used to prosecute more and more ordinary crimes.

Of course they could have saved a lot of trouble by just skipping the trial and shipping him straight to Guantanamo Bay.

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Pacifica man dies after Taser shock
By Ethan Fletcher | Staff Writer
Published on Tuesday, January 4, 2005

PACIFICA -- A 30-year-old man died Sunday night after getting stunned with a Taser gun wielded by Pacifica police.

Pacifica resident Greg Saulsbury was pronounced dead shortly after police shocked him with the Taser while attempting to subdue him at around midnight Sunday, according to the Pacifica Police Department.

Detective Sgt. Pete Newell said Pacifica police encountered Saulsbury after responding to a medical assistance call at 11:34 p.m. to a residence on the 400 block of Inverness Drive in Pacifica's Westview neighborhood. EMS personnel had refused to enter the house without police support.

Saulsbury was allegedly combative and fought with police, who attempted to stun him with the Taser gun to subdue him, Newell said. Saulsbury then suffered an unknown medical condition and was transported to an area hospital where he died shortly after.

Newell did not divulge much information about the nature of the confrontation, how many times Saulsbury was shocked or why he fought with police.

"Why he was combative, whether he had mental issues or drugs or anything like that, I don't know," Newell said.

While not sure whether Saulsbury actually lived in the residence he was found, Newell said there were several relatives in the home at the time. [...]

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Social Security ‘Reform’ : Robbing workers to pay the banks
By Richard Becker
01/04/05

"MPSL" -- Social Security “reform” is at the top of the Bush administration’s agenda. The idea is for the federal government to divert at least $1 trillion away from the Social Security Fund and into privately held investment accounts for workers under 55 years old. Investment bankers and stockbrokers would invest the money in mutual funds, stocks and other speculative financial areas.

One trillion dollars is hard to imagine. To use up $1 trillion would require spending $114 million per hour for an entire year. Another way to express that would be $57,000 per hour every day of every year for the past 2004 years.

Proponents argue the accounts will multiply in value, assuring participating workers a prosperous retirement. Of course, the bankers and brokers will be paid a percentage of each transaction as a reward for their “work.” The investment firms would be guaranteed huge profits.

If the brokers received just a two percent fee on $1 trillion, it would amount to $20 billion, paid whether the investment fared well or poorly. Hundreds of billions of dollars would flow through the banks and other giant financial institutions. Everyone will come out ahead, they say.

Well, maybe not everyone. The recently exposed decline into near-bankruptcy of the Teamsters’ Central States Pension Fund should raise a red flag for all workers regarding Social Security “reform.” The Central States fund, which covers 460,000 truckers and other Teamster workers, is famous for its role in building Las Vegas into the fastest growing city in the U.S.

Now, the pension benefits of these workers are in jeopardy, and retirees’ benefits are already being reduced.

From the 1950s to the 1970s, the Teamsters’ Fund lent hundreds of millions of dollars to build many of Las Vegas’ big casinos and hotels. While there were charges of involvement with organized crime and corruption, the Central States Fund was repaid its loans and never had a problem paying benefits to retirees. The Fund’s assets increased steadily through the 1970s.

Gov’t attacks Teamsters

The federal government, beginning with the 1961-63 Kennedy administration, and continuing under Democratic and Republican presidents, waged a campaign to break or curtail the power of the Teamsters union.

The pretext for the anti-Teamsters campaign, aimed especially at the union’s long-time president, James Hoffa, Sr., was fighting corruption and mob influence. Teamster leaders, including Hoffa, were investigated, indicted and imprisoned. After being released from prison in the early 1970s, Hoffa disappeared without a trace. It is believed he was murdered.

In the eyes of U.S. corporations and their politicians, Hoffa’s real crime was not corruption. Hoffa advocated uniting workers in all transport industries—truck, rail, air and ports—into a single, powerful federation. Such a union would have the power to shut down the country.

After decades of persecution and prosecution, Teamsters union leaders signed a consent decree in 1982 allowing the federal government to take control of the union. Even though the Central States Fund was legally independent of the union, the government turned over control of the Fund to Morgan Stanley. Morgan Stanley is one of the major investment banking companies in the U.S.

Morgan Stanley’s duties were to “pick money managers, to allocate the assets among them, and to advise the new board of trustees on investment objectives and strategies.” (New York Times, Nov. 15, 2004) The money managers shifted Central States’ funds into increasingly high-risk investments. If successful, such investments usually carry big bonuses for the broker. When these investments failed, as most did, the brokers still collected their fees. Only the workers lost out.

J.P. Morgan took over administration of the Fund before the stock market crash of 2000. The Fund was heavily invested in energy trading, telecommunications and high tech stocks. The price of many of these stocks fell by 80 to 90 percent. Some became nothing more than worthless pieces of paper.

By 2003, the pension fund only had assets of 60 cents for every dollar owed to retirees—present and future. It cut benefits for the first time. As pensions were being reduced, a new rule was implemented to punish retirees: their benefits would be totally cut off if they began working again.

Widespread pension looting

The pension crisis is not limited to the Teamsters or the trucking industry. According to an October 2002 report by the Labor Research Association, “private company pensions were under funded to the tune of $111 billion last year, the highest level ever reported, up from $26 billion in 2000.”

The list of the top ten “under funded” employer pension plans in 2002 included many of the biggest corporations: General Motors, Ford, SBC Communications, IBM, Boeing, Exxon Mobil, DuPont, Verizon, Lucent and Delphi Automotive. (Merrill Lynch Co. 10k Reports)

Many major corporations, particularly in the airline, steel and other industries, have completely defaulted on their pension plans. The practice of diverting money from pension funds to cover lavish executive salaries and other expenses, and then going bankrupt, has become commonplace for big business.

“Under funding” should be given a more accurate label: out-and-out theft. Pensions are really a deferred part of workers’ wages. In union contracts, workers agree to postpone receiving a portion of their pay so that it can be set aside as retirement income.

While millions of poor and oppressed people are jailed in the U.S., no one should expect to see corporate bosses marched off to prison for stealing billions from their employees. That’s not how the capitalist legal system works.

Workers pay the bills—twice

Three decades ago, the government established the federal Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation. It was intended to be a back-up for employer pension funds that went bankrupt. Today, the PBGC insures the pensions of 34.6 million people in 29,600 single-employer plans. It is funded by insurance premiums paid by the corporations.

On Nov. 15, the PBGC—the insurer of last resort—issued a press release announcing a net loss of $12.1 billion in fiscal year 2004. The 2004 losses increased the PBGC’s deficit to $23.3 billion. It now has assets of $39 billion, and liabilities—pension funds owed to retired workers—of $62 billion.

In other words, the PBGC will go bankrupt unless it receives massive funding from the government.

Corporations pay very little of the federal tax bill anymore. They now pay around seven percent as compared to 48 percent a half-century ago. This means that working people may be forced to pick up the tab, which would be a kind of double robbery.

Making matters worse, when a company defaults on its pension plan, and the workers are turned over to the PBGC, their pension benefits are usually slashed.

An angry worker, identified as “Ivan,” confronted Bradley Belt, head of the PBGC, on National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation” program on Nov. 18. Ivan described how the company where he worked for 29 years had found a way to attach his pension plan to a shaky subsidiary, and then spin-off the subsidiary. The new entity went bankrupt and Ivan’s disability pension was transferred to the PBGC forcing his benefits to be cut by $600 a month.

When the show’s host asked Belt if this could be true, Belt replied, “Yes, under the current law.”

The pension disaster is affecting tens of millions of workers. It threatens millions more. But the majority of U.S. workers have no pension plan aside from Social Security.

If the bankers, financiers and investors have their way, the entire Social Security system. The future of hundreds of millions of workers will be at risk.

The government is preparing to do to Social Security what has already been done to pension funds.

They must be stopped.

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Bio-Chemical Tests in Alaska Whitewashed By Government

By Greg Szymanski

President Bush extended holiday greetings to military troops this Christmas, but one gift he’ll never open is the executive order he signed, which keeps sensitive documents secret about biological and chemical testing at Fort Greely near Fairbanks, Alaska.

The president, by sealing important documents, obviously feels military health concerns were of secondary importance to protecting the Department of Defense (DOD) against potential exposure for injuries resulting from chemical testing and dumping.

What little is known about chemical and biological testing at Fort Greely has surfaced from leaked documents, eyewitness accounts and other general information provided reluctantly by the DOD after health problems began to surface by those living near the base.

Other information, scratching the surface of what really happened, has also appeared in Seymour Hersh’s book Chemical and Biological Testing: America’s Hidden Arsenal, a historical account of the base by Norman Chase and a March 2003 article entitled “Northern Exposure” in The Nation magazine by Korey Capozza.

“The real story of what went on is in the classified documents kept secret by the DOD and President Bush,” said Capozza, a critic of the recent executive order signed by Bush. “They have yet to give veterans a clear definition of possible causes of their health problems. The DOD also refuses to grant any of the veterans health care based on exposure to agents used in the secret site’s experiments.”

Records show that Fort Greely, as far back as 1952 and continuing to at least 1970, was used for the explicit purpose of testing chemical and biological weapons. The base, located 100 miles southwest of Fairbanks on 640,000 acres, originally began operating in 1942 as a staging area for planes ferried to the Soviet Union during World War II.

However, seven years later a nuclear reactor was built to serve as the military’s power plant. Then in 1966, the Army began testing biological, chemical and various other weapons. The reactor was dismantled in 1973, and in 1995 the base was scheduled for closure.

But recently, under the Bush administration, the DOD proposed Fort Greely be used as a storage site for interceptor missiles in support of the space-based missile defense program.

However, what transpired on the base during the 1960s and 1970s is still heavily debated as veterans are now surfacing with what amounts to “chemical horror” stories.

According to several veterans who spoke to VA officials, between 1962 and 1967, the Army blasted hundreds of rockets and bombs containing sarin and VX nerve gas into the region which is densely populated by forests and wildlife.

Veterans recall canisters of VX nerve agents being indiscriminately buried approximately a mile from the Alaskan highway or tossed in a nearby frozen lake in the winter of 1966, where the canisters later sank to the bottom when the ice melted in the spring. Regular dumping expeditions were reportedly carried out until 1970, when the testing discontinued.

Now, 30 years later, veterans and civilians are coming forward with serious health concerns, but since no records are available due to Fort Greely’s top-secret status, VA officials at first had a hard time believing the veterans’ credibility.

After heavy pressure was applied by watchdog groups, the DOD has released some documents revealing the test site may have been operated with blatant disregard for human and environmental safety.

The documents also suggest that some of the deadly materials used may still be unaccounted for and buried somewhere beneath the pristine Alaskan wilderness.

Critics suggest the executive order signed by Bush was designed to protect the DOD against conclusive evidence, hiding a massive cover-up of illegal chemical and biological testing.

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BBC Shelves £3M Volcano Drama
10:49am (UK)
By Anita Singh, PA Showbusiness Editor

The BBC has shelved plans to screen a £3 million drama showing the devastating effects of a giant volcanic eruption.

Bosses decided to postpone Supervolcano, due to be broadcast at the end of the month, out of respect for the victims of the tsunami disaster.

A BBC spokeswoman said: “Supervolcano has been postponed. We decided it is not appropriate to show the programme at this time.”

The BBC1 docu-drama predicts one billion people would die worldwide if the volcano underneath Yellowstone National Park in the US were to erupt.

It claims 100,000 Americans would be wiped out in minutes. The disaster would cause massive climate change, leading to one billion deaths from famine and arctic blizzards.

The programme is billed as “a true story – it just hasn’t happened yet”.

The Yellowstone volcano usually erupts every 600,000 years but 640,000 years have passed since the last eruption.

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

No decision has been made on when the two-part drama will be broadcast.

Comment: The relationship to events in Southeast Asia may be more pertinent that the article lets on. There is discussion on the net of the possibility that the tsunami was brought on either by nuclear testing in the ocean, or by a new type of weapon that affects the weather. While such weaponry may well exist, we tend to think that these explanations serve to draw people's attention away from the real cause: the earth is entering a period of major geological upheavals that is cyclic, that the Powers That Be know about, and that they have been planning for.

If one buys the "weapons" explanation, then the solution is simply to get the "bad guys" with the weapons to stop using them. While actually do such a thing would not be easy, it does give us a solution that would end the problem. There is a way out.

If the cause is something more serious, a cyclic period of upheavals, then there is no way to avoid it. It is part of the natural process. The study of earth sciences shows that such catastrophes have happened before -- although, of course, we are told they are events that only come about every 100,000 years or less. But we do not need a world-wide catastrophe to do enough damage to kill hundreds of millions or to wipe out large parts of the planet. Such an event over Europe or the US would be catastrophic without ending life or civilisation as a whole.

One of the triggers for this geological upheaval may well be the influence on the earth of a cloud of comets heading our way, comets pushed into the solar system by the close passage of the Sun's dark star twin. Our analysis hypothesises that the Maunder minimum from 1645 - 1715, an extended period with no solar maximums, was caused by the close passage of the twin sun. This explanation suggests that the components of the Oort cloud disturbed by the passage of the dark star should be arriving anytime now. For more on this question, please see our article on the question.

We have noticed an increase in reports of fireballs in the last couple of years, such as those reported on this page today in Northeastern Wisconsin. These reports are coming from around the globe. Last week, a house in Iran was hit by a meteorite. For more reports, see our meteor supplement. Might these be some of the early birds from the comet cloud?

Mainstream science pushes aside such questions and tells us the odds are very slim, that they arrive infrequently, and the like. But we note that NASA has sent up a probe that will attempt to land upon and then blast a comet next July 4. We also note in passing that Laura Knight-Jadczyk's article on the Maunder Minimum was entitled "Independence Day".

Coincidence? We think not.

It is obvious that if there were a group of people on the planet who had the knowledge of cyclic catastrophes, human nature and power being what they are, they would be looking out for themselves and be quite willing to sacrifice the rest of humanity for their own survival. Recent propaganda in the press about the warm outpouring of support for the victims of the tsunami and earthquake aside, our experience with our species and our study of history does not lead us to believe that in the midst of catastrophic upheaval mankind will pull together. It will be a return to the law of the jungle and every man for himself.

If such a group did exist, they would do their best to keep the mass of humanity in ignorance of their fate. They would likely seek to divert our attention from the realities of the planet through bread and circuses, through 24 hour entertainment, and where that doesn't work, through restrictions and problems that would necessitate our undivided attention on our own survival, with no time left for thinking of the future. Of course, these tricks are used to control populations even in the best of times, so their existence today proves nothing more than that we are controlled.

It is the other work on our site that attempts to piece together the puzzle of what is really happening on the planet, what the deep forces at work really are. The best place to start to begin to unravel the secrets is with the book Ancient Science.

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Strong earthquake aftershock felt in Indonesia's Banda Aceh
Time is GMT 8 hours
Posted: 05 January 2005 1214 hrs

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia : A strong aftershock from the earthquake that triggered the Asian tsunami disaster struck the devastated Indonesian province of Aceh on Wednesday but caused no major damage, the government said.

The aftershock, measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale, hit at 01:26am local time but there have been no reports of damage or tsunamis, the Indonesian government's Meteorology and Geophysics office said in a statement.

The aftershock was centred 33 kilometres under the Indian Ocean floor, 66 kilometres southwest of Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province, the office said.

An AFP reporter in Banda Aceh said the aftershock was felt in the city.

The government has said at least 94,200 people have been killed on Sumatra island from the tsunamis that were triggered by a 9.0-magnitude undersea earthquake just off the coast of Aceh on December 26.

The quake and tsunamis killed more than 146,000 people in 11 Asian and African countries, including Indonesia.

Dozens of aftershocks have been recorded.

Comment: Relief efforts continue. We note that it appears the US is once more attempting to usurp the role of the UN by organising a group of countries to give aid outside of the structures already in place through the international organisation.

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Fresh quake shakes India's Nicobar island
04 January 2005 1242 hrs
- AFP

NEW DELHI : An earthquake of moderate intensity, registering 5.3 on the Richter scale, hit the coast of India's Great Nicobar island early Tuesday, the meteorological department said.

The Andaman and Nicobar islands have been rattled by dozens of aftershocks since a huge undersea earthquake off nearby Indonesia generated tsunamis that crashed into Asian coastlines killing almost 150,000 people on December 26.

At least 820 people died and nearly 5,700 people are missing on the islands.

The regular aftershocks unsettle about 16,000 survivors sheltering in camps on the Andamans.

The official toll across India on Monday reached at least 9,479 people confirmed dead and 5,796 missing, many of them presumed dead.

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Earthquake rattles Athens, no damage
Agence France-Presse
Athens, January 4, 2005|18:10 IST

The region around the Greek capital was hit by an earthquake overnight but no damage was reported, the Athens observatory said on Tuesday.

The epicentre of the quake, which measured 4.9 on the Richter scale, was located 50 kilometres south of Athens in the Saronic Gulf at a depth of 100 kilometres.

The tremor "of weak intensity" was registered at 11:44 pm local time on Monday.

Greece is the European country most affected by earthquakes, with more than half of all temblors registered on the continent on record.

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Earthquake of 4.8 Magnitude Struck East Java, Antara Reports
Jan. 4/05 (Bloomberg)

-- A 4.8-magnitude earthquake hit Indonesia's East Java province this morning, state-owned Antara news agency reported, citing Eddy Waluyo, head of the meteorology and geophysics office in Surabaya. No casualties have yet been reported, Antara said.

The earthquake at 10:08 am Jakarta time was centered 16 kilometer (9.9 miles) east of Bondowoso regency in East Java province at a depth of 15 kilometers, Antara said, citing Waluyo.

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Record Number of Tornadoes Reported in '04
AP
Mon Jan 3, 9:20 PM ET

WICHITA, Kan. - The bad news: more tornadoes were reported in Kansas and the nation last year than at any time since records have been kept.

The good news: no one died in the Kansas tornadoes, and the national death toll was far below the annual average.

Kansas recorded 124 tornadoes last year, breaking the mark of 116 set in 1991. The state also set a record for most tornadoes in a single month: 66 in May.

There were 1,555 tornadoes recorded in the country through September, according to statistics compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. Even without figures for the final three months, that breaks the record set in 1998 by more than 130.

The higher numbers do not necessarily mean more tornadoes are occurring than in the past. Better reporting systems contribute to the record, said Mike Smith, founder and chief executive of WeatherData, a private forecasting service based in Wichita. [...]

Comment: There, see? Nothing to worry about. There's nothing wrong with the weather...

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Trio of storm systems could have devastating impact on U.S.

By SETH BORENSTEIN
Knight Ridder Newspapers
Posted on Tue, Jan. 04, 2005

WASHINGTON - Moisture-laden storms from the north, west and south are likely to converge on much of America over the next several days in what could be a once-in-a-generation onslaught, meteorologists forecast Tuesday.

If the gloomy computer models at the U.S. Climate Prediction Center are right, we'll see this terrible trio:

- The "Pineapple Express," a series of warm wet storms heading east from Hawaii, drenching Southern California and the far Southwest, which already are beset with heavy rain and snow. It could cause flooding, avalanches and mudslides.

- An "Arctic Express," a mass of cold air chugging south from Alaska and Canada, bringing frigid air and potentially heavy snow and ice to the usually mild-wintered Pacific Northwest.

- An unnamed warm, moist storm system from the Gulf of Mexico drenching the already saturated Ohio, Tennessee and Mississippi valleys. Expect heavy river flooding and springlike tornadoes.

All three are likely to meet somewhere in the nation's midsection and cause even more problems, sparing only areas east of the Appalachian Mountains.

"You're talking a two- or three-times-a-century type of thing," said prediction center senior meteorologist James Wagner, who's been forecasting storms since 1965. "It's a pattern that has a little bit of everything."

While the predicted onslaught is nothing compared with the tsunami that ravaged South Asia last week, the combo storms could damage property and cause a few deaths.

The exact time and place of the predicted one-two-three punch changes slightly with every new forecast. But in its weekly "hazards assessment," the National Weather Service alerted meteorologists and disaster specialists Tuesday that flooding and frigid weather could start as early as Friday and stretch into early next week, if not longer.

"It's a situation that looks pretty potent," Ed O'Lenic, the Climate Prediction Center's operations chief, told Knight Ridder. "A large part of North America looks like it's going to be affected."

Kelly Redmond, the deputy director of the Western Regional Climate Center at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nev., where an unusual 18 inches of snow is on the ground already, said the expected heavy Western rains could cause avalanches. Since Oct. 1, Southern California and western Arizona have had three to four times the normal precipitation for the area.

"Somebody is in for something pretty darn interesting," Redmond said.

The last time a similar situation seemed to be brewing - especially in the West - was in January 1950, O'Lenic said. That month, 21 inches of snow hit Seattle, killing 13 people in an extended freeze, and Sunnyvale, Calif., got an unusual tornado.

The same scenario played out in 1937, when there was record flooding in the Ohio River Valley, said Wagner, of the prediction center.

Meteorologists caution that their predictions are only as good as their computer models. And forecasts get less accurate the farther into the future they attempt to predict.

"The models tend to overdo the formation of these really exciting weather formations for us," said Mike Wallace, a University of Washington atmospheric scientist.

Yet the more Wallace studied the models the more he became convinced that something wicked was coming this way.

"It all fits together nicely," Wallace said. "There's going to be weather in the headlines this weekend, that's for sure."

Wagner was worried about the Ohio and Tennessee River valleys as the places where the three nasty storm systems could meet, probably with snow, thunderstorms, severe ice storms and flooding. Some of those areas already are flooded.

The converging storms are being steered by high-pressure ridges off Alaska and Florida and are part of a temporary change in world climate conditions, O'Lenic said.

Over equatorial Indonesia, east of where the tsunami hit, meteorologists have identified a weather-making phenomenon called the Madden-Julian Oscillation. It's producing extra-stormy weather to its east. Similar oscillations in the north Atlantic and north Pacific are changing global weather patterns. Add to the strange mix this year's mild El Nino - a warming of the equatorial Pacific - which is unusually far west, Redmond said.

There's also another, more playful explanation: The nation's weathermen are about to converge on Southern California, and they bring bad weather with them.

The American Meteorological Society will meet next week in usually tranquil San Diego, which should be hit with the predicted storms and accompanying flooding in time for the group's gathering.

In 1987,when the meteorologists met in San Antonio for their convention, the city had ice storms. In 1993, when they gathered in Anaheim, Calif., it rained for 4.5 out of five days and triggered mudslides. Atlanta got rare snow during the meteorologists' 1996 convention. And in 2003 in Long Beach, Calif., heavy rain greeted them.

Ron McPherson, the group's recently retired executive director, said: "It always rains on the weatherman's parade."

Comment: More of this "once-in-a-" [fill in the timespan] type weather. How convenient when each weather event is isolated and treated as something unique. It prevents us from having to draw the necessary connections between them to understand a changing weather pattern.

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Storm Blows Snow Through Rockies, Plains
Jan 4, 8:03 PM EST
By ROGER PETTERSON
Associated Press Writer

A wintry blast closed schools and glazed roads with ice and snow Tuesday in the Rockies and on the central Plains, part of a parade of wild weather that had closed a major highway in California and caused new flooding in Arizona.

Various levels of winter weather advisories and storm warnings were in effect from Tuesday into Wednesday morning from Arizona to Connecticut, the National Weather Service said.

"It's nothing that is going to make history, but it's a pretty good-sized storm," said Pat Slattery, a spokesman for the National Weather Service office in Kansas City.

Snow and freezing rain swept through Colorado, causing scores of accidents during the morning rush hour and closing schools. One crash near Ordway in southeastern Colorado was blamed for a fatality, but authorities did not have details.

The storm was expected to bring up to a foot of snow to the Denver area and up to 2 feet to parts of the southern mountains, where avalanche warnings were posted.

An avalanche blocked U.S. 550 about 40 miles north of Durango in the state's southwest corner. [...]

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Portugal facing worst drought in over a decade: meteorology office
LISBON (AFP) Jan 04, 2005

Many regions of Portugal, including the southernmost province of Algarve, the country's main tourism centre, are facing their worst drought in over a decade, the national meteorology office said Tuesday.

Water levels at dams and lakes are at their lowest levels in the Algarve, the southern province of Alentejo and the northwestern province of Minho, since the early 1990s, said a meteorologist with the office, Fatima Espirito Santo.

"We need Janaury to be extremely rainy, something that only happens in 20 percent of all years, in order to bring water levels to normal," she told state radio RDP.

The national weather office forecast sees no chance of rain until at least January 15.

In October Environment Minister Luis Guedes threatened the government would ration water in the Algarve, which is home to scores of golf courses, if the province did not receive enough rain by the end of 2004.

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'You're George Bush's brother? Good for you.'

Jonathan Watts at Phuket town hall
Wednesday January 5, 2005
The Guardian

Tragedy turns to comedy as US envoys arrive

It was one of the few moments of light relief in what has otherwise been a week of heart-rending loss, ghoulish encounters with death, and heroic self-sacrifice.

The scene was Phuket town hall, which has become the polyglot headquarters of the huge international operation to recover bodies and support the survivors of last week's tsunami.

The stage was set by sniffer dogs which checked the building for explosives, and secret service agents, easily identifiable by the wires coiling down from their earpieces as they cased every room several hours before the principal US actors arrived to seize the international limelight.

The comedy was provided by the visiting governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, who might reasonably have expected at least a celebrity's welcome, if not a hero's. But even though he is the brother of the most powerful man of earth and came bearing news of a $350m (£186m) US contribution to the $2.5bn international relief effort, nobody seemed to know who he was.

"Who are you?" asked one slightly bemused Australian consular official as the large-girthed US stranger pumped his hand.

"I'm Jeb Bush."

"Oh, are you a relative of the president?" said the interlocuter, jokingly.

"Yes I am. I am his little brother."

"Oh," came the reply. "Good for you."

The confusion was understandable.

The volunteers at the visitors' centre in the town hall have been working long hours in fraught circumstances for more than a week.

Mr Bush was just one of a long stream of visitors who have come through the doors on life-and-death missions. This room - where 36 countries have a desk, each marked with its own flag or sign - is the first port of call for families of the missing, who come here to find translators, accommodation and advice. It is around here that they give DNA samples, pin up missing persons notices, and check through the lists of casualties at the hospitals and the morgues. This location is also the rallying point for the army of volunteers who have flown in from around the world to offer their services as doctors, counsellors, builders and morticians.

Jeb Bush was not the only senior US official who appeared to feel awkward.

The US secretary of state, Colin Powell, came close to damaging his reputation as the Bush administration's leading diplomat when he walked into the room, strolled to the US desk, shook the hands of the people working there and then walked straight back out again. It was only when he was downstairs that an aide suggested he "might like" to meet the volunteers from some of the other countries, too. Reminded that he is part of an international relief mission, Mr Powell promptly turned on his heels once again and marched back up the stairs to belatedly press some non-American flesh.

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