Thursday, January 6, 2005

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New Publication! 'The Wave' finally in book form!

The Wave: 4 Volume Set
Volume 2

by Laura Knight-Jadczyk

With a new introduction by the author and never before published, UNEDITED sessions and extensive previously unpublished details, at long last, Laura Knight-Jadczyk's vastly popular series The Wave is available as a Deluxe four book set. Each of the four volumes include all of the original illustrations and many NEW illustrations with each copy comprising approximately 300 pages.

The Wave is an exquisitely written first-person account of Laura's initiation at the hands of the Cassiopaeans and demonstrates the unique nature of the Cassiopaean Experiment.

Order Volumes 1 and 2 now!





Mourning Moms Differ On Iraq War

CBS News
Jan 6 2005

Lynda Unger, left, supports the war; Cindy Sheehan doesn't. (Photo: CBS)
On the home front of a nation at war, one of the toughest jobs in the military is delivering the worst of news.

"Three Army officers, and I knew the only reason they would be there was to tell me that Casey was dead," says Cindy Sheehan.

"And when I walked in and saw the soldiers standing there I just started saying, 'No, no, no, no,'" says Lynda Unger.

Losing a child in combat, Lynda Unger and Cindy Sheehan are now Gold Star Mothers, but they are divided by the same thing that brings them together: the war that took their sons' lives.

"Iraq was never going to attack us," says Sheehan.

"If we just sit back and don't do anything, they're going to overrun us," says Unger.

As CBS News Correspondent John Blackstone reports, Unger's son Daniel, 19, was killed by shrapnel in Iraq. But it was his own small hometown, Exeter, Calif., that his mother believes he was defending.

"If we'd waited any longer, I would be wearing a burka," says Unger.

In Vacaville, Calif., Cindy Sheehan mourns her son Casey, who was 24 when he was killed in an ambush in Sadr City.

"He didn't agree with the war," says Sheehan. "He didn't think that Iraq was an imminent threat to the United States, but he wanted to go because he said that if he didn't, his buddies needed him," says Sheehan.

Casey's death moved his mother to become politically active, speaking out against the war in public forums.

"Not only the Sheehan family, but the whole country and world has been betrayed by this war and the lies and the rush to a war that should never have happened," says Sheehan.

"I still don't know who's connected to who and all this stuff," says Unger. "I don't care. I really don't care.

"We were attacked, we need to defend. If going to Iraq is the way to do it, we got Saddam Hussein."

Unger's support for the war is bolstered by her strong fundamentalist Christian faith and an unshakeable trust in the Bible.

"I don't believe God makes mistakes," says Unger.

She has told the story of Daniel's death in church pamphlets as an example of Christian sacrifice and as a call to others to be born again.

"The fact that he died doesn't mean he stops being great," says Unger.

Sheehan has been showing others the human cost of war through a mother's grief.

"This is his teddy bear. He ate all the fuzz off of it when he was a baby but he wouldn't go to bed without it," Sheehan tells an audience at a town meeting.

The gold star designates those who have given something more precious than their own lives - they have given the lives of their children.

Comment: Give the life of your child to corporate interests and get a "gold star". Sounds like a good deal for sure. Note the Christian fundamentalist's comment above: "I don't believe God makes mistakes." Was she aware that the event she was referring to was not an act of God but that of a group of power-crazed politicians? Then again, for people like Mrs Unger, there is no longer difference between the actions of the Bush regime and those of God, and as she says herself "she doesn't want to know" anyway.

What kind of a person, when faced with the death of their child, can say that "they don't want to know" that "they don't care" about why they will never see their child again?

The above article and the two opposing view points it presents, make a good case for the idea of two races inhabiting this planet. For one group life is fundamentally an enigma and the pain and suffering that we all experience gives rise to deep questioning about the reasons, if any, for our existence and what responsibility we might have for our future.

For the other group life is lived from moment to moment with no real thought for the past or the future, responsibility for their lives and actions is given over to their "leaders", which, in the case of Bush-loving Americans, has become synonymous with giving over responsibility for their lives to "God" or "Jesus".

If we consider the matter carefully, we come to the conclusion that the ongoing association of Jesus and God with Bush and the actions of the American government and its military, is an insidiously clever ploy where the age-old control system that is organised religion has been merged with the figure-head of a modern global empire and is designed to appeal directly to the at least 50% of the American people who simply do not possess the 'qualities' that would make them responsible human beings capable of true empathy for their fellow "man". Walter Lippmann summed up the matter in this way:

"When [modern man] is completely infantile ... he does not need and does not have an understanding of the outer world. It exists for him merely as gratification or denial."

Gratification or denial, or as Gurdjieff said: "such people live their lives only between "I like" and "I don't like". For them, there is no mystery to life, despite their apparently religious leanings. In fact, their immersion in fundamentalist Christian beliefs is actually for the purpose of suspending any need, and eventually any ability, to think for themselves and experience the objective truth of reality directly. They desire only to "shut it out" and for that specific job there is no better system available today than fundamentalist Christianity married with the extremist, racist, elitist world view of the Neocons that are busy creating a entirely fear-based world view for the American people.

In her fascinating new book "The Wave" Laura Knight-Jadczyk explores just what it is that is 'wrong' with America, focusing particularly on the so-called "Christian Right" who, like lemmings jumping off a cliff, seem willing to sacrifice everything to ensure that the version of reality being presented to them by Bush and the Neocons prevails to the very last.

The below excerpt from 'The Wave' begins with a quote from an interview with Marjoe Gortner, formerly a Fundamentalist Evangelist. The discerning reader will most definitely want to read the full four volume set, available by clicking here.

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Get Faith - Switch Off Your Mind

Excerpted from 'The Wave' by Laura-Knight-Jadczyk

"As the preacher, I'm working with the crowd, watching the crowd, trying to bring them to that high point at a certain time in the evening. I let everything build up to that moment when they're all in ecstasy. The crowd builds up and you have to watch that you don't stop it. You start off saying you've heard that tonight's going to be a great night; then you begin the whole pitch and keep it rolling."

For Marjoe, who had seen it a million times, the divine moment of religious ecstasy had no mystical quality at all. It was a simple matter of group frenzy that had its counterpart in every crowd.

"It's the same as a rock-and-roll concert. You have an opening number with a strong entrance; then you go through a lot of the old standards, building up to your hit song at the end."

The hit song, however, was spiritual rebirth, the product of a time-tested recipe for evangelical religion to which the preacher and every member of the audience contribute some small but active ingredient. Afterwards, according to Marjoe, the only fitting encore to the overwhelming moment of being saved is a personal demonstration of the power of that newfound faith. This is the motivating factor that prompts speaking in tongues, also known as the 'receiving of the holy ghost.' As Marjoe explained it, this well- known evangelical tradition required even greater participation on the part of the tongues recipient and the entire audience.

"After you've been saved," Marjoe continued, "the next step is what they call 'the infilling of the Holy Spirit.' They say to the new convert, 'Well, now you're saved, but you've got to get the Holy Ghost.' So you come back to get the tongues experience. Some people will get it the same night; others will go for weeks or years before they can speak in tongues. You hear it, you hear everyone at night talking in it in the church, and they're all saying, 'We love you and we hope you're going to get it by tonight.' Then one night you go down there and they all try to get you to get it, and you go into very much of a trance - not quite a frenzy, but it is an incredible experience.

"During that moment the person forgets all about his problems. He is surrounded by people whom he trusts and they're all saying, 'We love you. It's okay. You're accepted in Christ. We're with you, let it go, relax.' And sooner or later, he starts to speak it out and go dut-dut-dut. Then everyone goes, 'That's it! You've got it!' and the button is pushed and he will in fact start to speak in tongues and just take off: dhandayelomosatayleesaso... and on and on."

Marjoe paused. We were dumbfounded by his demonstration, although he hadn't gone into the jerking, trance-like ecstasy that is commonly associated with the tongues moment. ...Yet even in this restrained demonstration, he seemed almost uncannily to be triggering some innate releasing or babbling mechanism. We asked him how he brought it about.

"You'll never get it with that attitude," he joked. Then he went on to explain the true nature of the experience.

"Tongues is something you learn, " he emphasized. "It is a releasing that you teach yourself. You are told by your peers, the church and the Bible - if you accept it literally - that the Holy Ghost spake in another tongue; and you become convinced that it is the ultimate expression of the spirit flowing through you. The first time maybe you'll just go dut-dut-dut-dut and that's about all that will get out. Then you'll hear other people and the next night you may go dut-dut-dut-UM-dut-DEET-dut-dut and it gets a little better. The next thing you know, it's elahandosatelayeekcondelemosandreyaseya... and it's a new language you've got down."

Except that, according to Marjoe, it's not a real language at all. Contrary to most religious understanding, speaking in tongues is by no means passive spiritual possession. It must be actively acquired and practiced. Although the "gift" of tongues is a product of human and not supernatural origin, Marjoe displayed tremendous respect for the experience as an expression of spirituality and fellowship.

"I really don't put it down," he said. "I never have. It's just that I analyze it and look at it from a very rational point of view. I don't see it as coming from God and say that at a certain point the Holy Spirit zaps you with a super whammy on the head and you've 'gone for tongues' and there it is. Tongues is a process that people build up to. Then, as you start to do something, just as when you practice the scales on the piano, you get better at it."

During his years on the Bible belt circuit, Marjoe came to see the evangelical experience as a form of popular entertainment, a kind of participatory divine theater that provided its audiences with profound emotional rewards.

"The people out there don't see it as entertainment," he confessed, "although that is in fact the way it is. Those people don't go to movies, they don't go to bars and drink, they don't go to rock-and-roll concerts - but everyone has to have an emotional release. So they go to revivals and they dance around and talk in tongues. It's socially approved and that is their escape.

"It was my duty to give them the best show possible," he said. "Say you've got a timid little preacher in North Carolina or somewhere. He'll bring in visiting evangelists to keep his church going. We'd come in and hit the crowd up and we were superstars. It's the charisma of the evangelist that the audience believes in and comes to see.

"When I was traveling, I'd see someone who wanted to get saved in one of my meetings, and he was so open and bubbly in his desire to get the Holy Ghost. It was wonderful and very fresh. But four years later I'd return and that person might be a hard-nosed intolerant Christian because he was better than anyone who drinks and better than the world because he had Christ. That's when the danger comes in. People want an experience. They want to feel good and their lives can be helped by it. But then as you start moving into the operation of the thing, you get into controlling people and power and money. "Moon's [Unification Church] is doing the same thing I do, only he's taken it one step further. He's suggesting to people that he IS the Messiah. In my religion, the old-time religion, it's total blasphemy to suggest that. Moon has gone too far, but that's a very heavy number on people, because everyone wants to meet a Messiah."

Marjoe was quick to point out that Moon's preaching powers, like his own, were by no means divine or even innate. Marjoe acknowledged that his power over an audience derived primarily from the skills he perfected as a child, techniques of rhetoric and public speaking that have passed down from the Greeks.

"It's the same whether you're a preacher, a lawyer or a salesman," he told us. "You start off with a person's thought processes and then gradually sway him around to another way of thinking in a very short time."

Many of the techniques he commanded were simple and age-old, but so effective that they proved equally powerful even when an audience had been explicitly forewarned of their use. Toward the end of our conversation, Marjoe told us a story that revealed the fineness of his skills. In contrast to the massive physical experiences, intense group rituals and intimate personal crises that [are popular in the New Age crowd], Marjoe demonstrated how words alone, artfully manipulated, may be used to influence groups and individuals, even to the point of evoking the overwhelming emotional response of being "saved."

"I lecture in about twenty colleges a year," he began, "and I do a faith- healing demonstration - but I always make them ask for it. I tell them that I don't believe in it, that I use a lot of tricks; and the title of the lecture is 'Rhetoric and Charisma,' so I've already told them how large masses are manipulated by a charismatic figure. I've given them the whole rap explaining how it's done, but they still want to see it. So I throw it all right back at them. I say, 'No, you don't really want to see it.' And they say, 'Oh, yes. We do. We do!' And I say, 'But you don't believe in it anyway, so I can't do it.' And they say, 'We believe. We believe!' So after about twenty minutes of this I ask for a volunteer, and I have a girl come up and I say, 'So you want to feel better?' You're just up here for a good time and you want to impress all these people and you want to make an ass out of me and an ass out of this whole thing, so why don't you go back and sit down?' I really get hard on her, and she says, 'No, no, I believe!' And I keep going back and forth until she's almost in tears. And then, even though this is in a college crowd and I'm only doing it as a joke, I just say my same old line, In the name of Jesus! And touch her on the head, and WHAM! They fall down flat every time!”

[Conway, Flo, Siegelman, Jim. 1978. Snapping: America’s Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change. Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins.]

So the programming begins. During the early contacts, a potential convert can be manipulated with absolute precision by the rhetorical ploys described by Marjoe. Conversations using similar Neuro Linguistic Programming techniques also build rapport, as does the use of confrontation and direct emotional assault.

Once the individual has been drawn into the teaching, they are bombarded with ideas and doctrines that they cannot fit together while at the same time being led through ceremonies or rituals that induce intense emotional highs and peak experiences.

They are then subjected to more personal encounters in which these experiences are given the prescribed interpretation that is being inculcated. During this period, they are usually involved in intensive repetitive things, which can be as simple as the "order of worship" in an ordinary church. There can be orders to "stand up, sit down, kneel, pray, sing, stand up, sit down, sing, pray" and so on. More intense formats include chanting and meditation that can induce physical and psychic highs. The end result is, of course, that all of this STOPS THE MIND! And when that happens, the individual is completely open to suggestion and command.

The convert is instructed at this time to "refrain from doubt," and "do not question the wisdom of the teaching." The oldest version of this mind program is, of course, what we consider to be the standard religious teachings. But we can certainly see from all of the above that they are as much mind control as any New Age teaching or so-called cult. As a matter of fact, the key to being a Christian is "the surrender of the intellect, the emotions, and the will." To whom? Well, it's said that it is to the "One, True God." But would the "One True God" really forbid doubt and questioning if there was no doubt or question that he WAS the "One, True God?"

In the end, however, the result of all of these programs is the same: under the cumulative pressures of whatever specific mode of programming is employed, the individual's will gives way and they slide into a state of mind in which they literally are no longer capable of thinking for themselves.

This type of comprehensive assault strikes at the very heart of consciousness by undermining the processes of thinking and reflection that are crucial to individual awareness and Free Will.

Yet, the converts and adherents of religions and cults or many "new age teachings," have a different name for what is happening to them: HAPPINESS! They have found PEACE! In the labor for the cult, they are in a daily state of spiritual high, an emotional peak experience that never ends! And, if it does falter for just a moment or two, the leaders and associates work quickly to bolster the high - to get them back down to the church for another infusion! And they go because then they can return to the state of bliss that is their reward or unquestioning devotion.

Successful self-help therapy, religious or New Age philosophy graduates often achieve a sustained state of euphoria. Their problems are solved because - well, because they HAVE no problems! They have stopped worrying about the things that were bothering them. They no longer strive to change and grow and learn and do and accomplish. They are content in their condition of a shutoff mind, their state of not thinking.

Conway and Siegelman ask:

“What kind of cultural environment breeds this widespread need to shut off the mind? It could be argued that the need is universal, that everyone -from Athenians to Sufis to voodoo tribesmen to modern Americans - must have some periodic release from the ordeal of being human. In that sense, the rituals and techniques which throughout history have been used to create peak experiences and moments of enlightenment may be looked on as vital sources of rest and relaxation for the mind, momentary breathing spells that hold great powers of insight, healing and renewal.

But what value can there be in engineering these experiences to shut down the workings of the mind altogether, to persistently stunt the processes of thought and leave people numb to their own feelings and the world around them? Throughout history, this systematic stilling of human awareness has proved an efficient method of controlling members of tribes, societies and whole nations in which little value is placed upon individuality. The state of mind it produces has a tradition that dates back to the dawn of civilization.

In the remote bush country of Australia, aboriginal tribes still engage in rituals perfected more than 16,000 years ago to induce a state of mind in their adolescents that is surprisingly similar to the plight of many of society's brightest youth today and people of all ages.

In recent years, aboriginal Dream Time has been hailed as a state of profound sophistication in human awareness. Anthropologists point to the aborigine's physical endurance, spiritual satisfaction and telepathic powers as marks of advanced evolution in a tribe that may represent humankind's longest unbroken line of cultural development. However, they make the error of implying that this efficient and admittedly remarkable form of social control in a primitive, unchanging environment holds some promise for the future of our vastly more complex and fast-changing technological society.” [Conway and Siegelman, 1978]

We need to make careful note that this mode of consciousness exists for the very purpose of keeping the aborigine PRIMITIVE and UNCHANGING! It's no surprise that they still live as they did many thousands of years ago. That should give us pause!

“In all the world, there is nothing quite so impenetrable as a human mind snapped shut with bliss. No call to reason, no emotional appeal can get through its armor of self-proclaimed joy.” [Ibid.]

It doesn't matter who it is, whether it is a graduate of some group therapy, a born-again Christian, a meditator, or the follower of this week's channel o'choice. If you ask a question, the individual will spin around and around in circles of nonsensical beliefs and dogma. If you interrupt and re-ask your question, they simply start right where they left off, or go back to the beginning and start over again.

Such people are not just simply incapable of carrying on a conversation they are completely programmed. And they don't have to be worked on by aliens or secret government mind control programs to get that way.

Comment: The indoctrincation and mind programming offered by modern mainstream religion by itself is a dangerous thing, but when mixed with the rampant patriotism and scaremongering that form the political policies of a burgeoing fascist state, then there can only be one outcome. The world has seen it happen once in the last 70 years. There are those who have been sounding the warning bells...ignore them at your peril...

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Warning From a Student of Democracy's Collapse

By CHRIS HEDGES
January 6, 2005

FRITZ STERN, a refugee from Hitler's Germany and a leading scholar of European history, startled several of his listeners when he warned in a speech about the danger posed in this country by the rise of the Christian right. In his address in November, just after he received a prize presented by the German foreign minister, he told his audience that Hitler saw himself as "the instrument of providence" and fused his "racial dogma with a Germanic Christianity."

"Some people recognized the moral perils of mixing religion and politics," he said of prewar Germany, "but many more were seduced by it. It was the pseudo-religious transfiguration of politics that largely ensured his success, notably in Protestant areas."

Dr. Stern's speech, given during a ceremony at which he got the prize from the Leo Baeck Institute, a center focused on German Jewish history, was certainly provocative. The fascism of Nazi Germany belongs to a world so horrendous it often seems to defy the possibility of repetition or analogy. But Dr. Stern, 78, the author of books like "The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the Germanic Ideology" and university professor emeritus at Columbia University, has devoted a lifetime to analyzing how the Nazi barbarity became possible. He stops short of calling the Christian right fascist but his decision to draw parallels, especially in the uses of propaganda, was controversial.

"When I saw the speech my eyes lit up," said John R. MacArthur, whose book "Second Front" examines wartime propaganda. "The comparison between the propagandistic manipulation and uses of Christianity, then and now, is hidden in plain sight. No one will talk about it. No one wants to look at it."

Dr. Stern was a schoolboy in 1933 when Hitler was appointed the German chancellor. He ran home from school that January afternoon clutching a special edition of the newspaper to deliver to his father, a prominent physician.

"I was young," he said, "but I knew it was very bad news."

The street fighting in his native Breslau (now Wroclaw in Poland) between Communists and Nazis, the collapse of German democracy and the ruthless suppression of all opposition marked his childhood, and were images and experiences that would propel him forward as a scholar.

"I saw one of the last public demonstrations against Hitler," he said. "Men, women and children walked through the street and chanted 'Hunger! Hunger! Hunger!' "

His paternal grandparents had converted to Christianity. His parents were baptized at birth, as were Mr. Stern and his older sister. But this did not save the Sterns from persecution. Nazi racial laws still classified them as Jews.

"It was only Nazi anti-Semitism that made me conscious of my Jewish heritage," he said. "I had been brought up in a secular Christian fashion, celebrating Christmas and Easter. My father had to explain it to me."

His schoolmates were swiftly recruited into Hitler youth groups and he and other Jews were taunted and excluded from some activities.

"Many of my classmates found the organized party experience, which included a heavy dose of flag waving and talk of national strength, very exhilarating," said Dr. Stern, who lost an aunt and an uncle in the Holocaust. "It was something I never forgot."

His family fled to New York in 1938 when he was 12. He eventually went to Columbia University intending to study medicine. But his passion for the past, along with questions about what happened to his homeland, caused him to switch his focus to history. He wanted to grasp how democracies disintegrate. He wanted to uncover the warning signs other democracies should heed. He wanted to write about the seductiveness of authoritarian movements, which he once described in an essay, "National Socialism as Temptation."

"There was a longing in Europe for fascism before the name was ever invented," he said. "There was a longing for a new authoritarianism with some kind of religious orientation and above all a greater communal belongingness. There are some similarities in the mood then and the mood now, although also significant differences."

HE warns of the danger in an open society of "mass manipulation of public opinion, often mixed with mendacity and forms of intimidation." He is a passionate defender of liberalism as "manifested in the spirit of the Enlightenment and the early years of the American republic."

"The radical right and the radical left see liberalism's appeal to reason and tolerance as the denial of their uniform ideology," he said. "Every democracy needs a liberal fundament, a Bill of Rights enshrined in law and spirit, for this alone gives democracy the chance for self-correction and reform. Without it, the survival of democracy is at risk. Every genuine conservative knows this."

Dr. Stern, who has two children from a previous marriage, is married to Elizabeth Sifton, a book publisher. They live in New York. He is writing a book called "Five Germanys I Have Known," a combination of memoirs and reflections that looks at Weimar, Nazi Germany, the Federal Republic of Germany, East Germany and unified Germany. He is widely read in Germany and has won its highest literary prize.

"The Jews in Central Europe welcomed the Russian Revolution," he said, "but it ended badly for them. The tacit alliance between the neo-cons and the Christian right is less easily understood. I can imagine a similarly disillusioning outcome."

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Secretary of state accused of 'atrocity tourism'

John Aglionby in Banda Aceh
Thursday January 6, 2005
The Guardian

The US secretary of state, Colin Powell, admitted yesterday that the scale of destruction caused by the tsunami had taken him by surprise, and that the devastation was worse than anything he had experienced in his career.

Speaking in Banda Aceh after a helicopter had taken him over some of the most affected areas, Mr Powell said: "I've been in war and I've been through a number of hurricanes, tornadoes and other relief operations, but I've never seen anything like this."

The former general's mission to Aceh was designed to give him a better picture of what is needed to rebuild the province ahead of today's summit in Jakarta.

"I cannot begin to imagine the horror that went through the families and all of the people who heard this noise and then had their lives snuffed out by this wave," Mr Powell told a press conference in Banda Aceh.

The retiring secretary of state, who also met Indonesian officials and inspected aid operations at the airport, said it was only by seeing the devastation that he could appreciate what it must have been like for those who experienced it.

"I have never seen anything like it in my experience ... and I have a much better understanding now of what it would take to complete the recovery effort and to help these people rebuild their lives and their homes and their businesses," he said. [...]

But multinational aid agencies described Mr Powell's trip as "atrocity tourism". Several aid agencies were angered because the trip had clogged up deliveries for almost four hours, preventing the arrival of all other flights and the departure of numerous aid missions and evacuations of severely wounded survivors.

"It's unfortunate when a water buffalo causes the airport to close for hours," said one non-governmental organisation manager, referring to Tuesday's 16-hour closure when a plane damaged its undercarriage and ground to a halt on the runway after crashing into a water buffalo.

"But this caused unnecessary and avoidable delays. It could have cost lives. I don't think he had to come."

Comment: The problem is that Powell DID "have to come", that's his job you see. There was a buck to made, a point to score in a political battle, a nice picture to be had beside some poor dark children in need, there is a entire world to deceive.

With such high stakes, Powell was not about to miss out on this opportunity. Of course, make the suggestion that he go to that other notable disaster area - Iraq - and you may not see his heels for dust.

It's one thing to press the flesh and bring international attention to the *apparent* benevolence of the US government in a "natural" disaster zone, it's quite another to highlight the atrocities being carried out by the US military in places like Fallujah where a much smaller but equally brutal "tsunami" of destruction laid waste to the livelihoods and lives of the innocent. The US media has been all over the SE Asia cataclysm like a night of the living dead zombie on a fresh corpse, publishing lots and lost of grisly pictures of the thousands who fell victim to the "wall of water".

Think back to the last time you saw a picture of a dead Iraqi child, blown to bits by American firepower on a daily basis over the course of the Iraq war. There was no last time. There never have been any pictures of the brave US marines', and ultimately the Neocons', handiwork in Iraq, at least not in the American press.

Having said that, death is "good news" from the point of view of the US media and their masters in the White House and Pentagon, just as long as it is the kind of death that keeps American citizens thinking that bad things only happen to bad, or poor, people and that they themselves have nothing to worry about, which of course is the biggest deception of all. Subtle censorship of the press is of course not limited to the US...

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BBC delays volcano disaster drama after tsunami

05 Jan 2005 13:51:32 GMT
Source: Reuters
By Jeffrey Goldfarb

LONDON, Jan 5 (Reuters) - The BBC has postponed the broadcast of a docu-drama about a massive volcano eruption in Yellowstone National Park to avoid offence following the tsunami disaster that has ravaged Asia.

Britain's public broadcaster said on Wednesday it would air "Supervolcano" at a later date, likely this year. It was originally supposed to be shown in late January.

The two-part programme is one of the most expensive in the BBC's history, replete with special effects showing the aftermath of the volcano's eruption leading to climate change and tens of thousands of deaths in the United States.

"We will show it at a later time," a BBC spokeswoman said. "I'm sure it will be this year. We just don't feel it's appropriate to show at this time."

The BBC's decision recalls similar gear-shifting by Hollywood following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York City when the release of such films as "Collateral Damage," "Sidewalks of New York" and "Heist" were delayed because of their subject material.

Various television advertisements also have been pulled following the tsunami.

"Supervolcano" had been touted in December as a linchpin of the broadcaster's winter schedule -- "Supervolcano is a true story, it just hasn't happened yet" -- and includes an accompanying two-part documentary, "The Science Behind Supervolcano," on BBC2.

The BBC spokeswoman said the 2.8 million pound ($5.25 million) production, which is already finished, had five co-producers, including Discovery and ProSieben.

Yellowstone, site of one of the world's largest active volcanoes, was shaped in part by a massive eruption some 640,000 years ago that left a crater 30 miles wide by 45 miles long. The park is in the western states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

Comment: The "sensitivity" excuse is often dragged out at times of "national tragedy" and really does sound plausible until we put away the emotions that it is designed to evoke and think a little about the logic behind it. Like one of the women in our top story today, when tragedy strikes, there is a natural human desire to know and understand why it happened, at least for a portion of humanity.

As such it would seem that the BBC's documentary on Supervolcanos would seem more appropriate now than ever for many of those grieving over lost loved ones in SE Asia. The problem with this from a government point of view however is that the people are not really meant to understand the reasons why and it is not conducive to maintaining a monopoly on knowledge to give out pertinent details or information that might lead a person that is desperately seeking answers to 'connect the dots'.

Perhaps it is simply the case that all major media outlets have been told to pitch their messages at the half of humanity that prefers "not to know".

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Where are the Images from Iraq & Afghanistan?

Death on the Living Room Floor

By BRUCE JACKSON
January 5, 2005

Since the tsunami hit, the mainstream press and, to a lesser extent, the broadcast and cable network news programs, have been chockfull of images of the freshly dead. We've seen images of bodies of children and adults where the water left them; we've seen them arranged in neat rows; we've seen them bagged and stacked.

Television broadcasts have, in the main, been more suggestive, less specific, more distant in their images than the print press: often you knew that lump was a dead body only because a chattering reporter told you it was. TV executives say that is because their images come into people's homes where children might come upon them unawares, so they have to limit the reality on the airwaves. Hardly anyone believes they have the children in mind when they plan their programs.

What is perhaps more worthy of note than how many tsunami dead we've seen, however, is how many other recent dead we have not seen.

The mainstream media showed, for example, no blood and guts resulting from the 9/11 attacks. Most of the people murdered that day were pulverized or vaporized, but not all. Some of the most horrific images were the sidewalk remains of those who leapt from the World Trade Center's upper stories before the structures collapsed. The New York Times published a photo of a man diving, his body almost tranquil in flight, the implications of the image horrific. But nothing at ground level. None of the print press and none of the mainstream electronic press published anything at ground level. You could find those images on some hard-to-find web sites: skin and heads with insides elsewhere, with bodies looking like punctured balloons.

Those images showed what every cop and combat soldier knows: violent death trivializes and shifts to someplace you do not want to go every single thing you ever thought about life. But the press-individually or in some collaborative council-decided those images were too much for you to bear, so (unless you roamed the web) you never saw them.

Likewise the carnage in the Holy Land. How many reports have you read of Palestinian bombers with explosives strapped to their bodies, perhaps with added layers of nails to provide extra shrapnel to maim and mutilate whoever wasn't close enough to be killed outright? How many reports have you read of Israeli tanks blowing up inhabited buildings or nervous Israeli soldiers shooting down ordinary people on their way to work or children on their way to school? And how many Holy Land images of shattered bodies, of a hand, a jaw, an emptied skull, of guts draped over the hood of a car have you seen?

Likewise the carnage suffered by US troops in Iraq. You've read about the numbers of U.S. dead and mutilated, and perhaps (if you watch PBS "Newshour") you've seen head and shoulders studio photographs of the most recently killed soldiers. But how many images how you seen of American soldiers dead on the road, their eyes and mouths open, if they still had eyes and mouths? How many images have you see of the limbs blown off the thousands of amputees now filling VA hospitals? How many images have you see of body parts blasted into the roofs and seats and floors of Humvees they hadn't gotten around to armorplating?

And likewise the far greater carnage suffered by Iraqi civilians. A study published in the British medical journal The Lancet put the dead civilians resulting from the American war of choice in Iraq somewhere around 100,000. Critics say that is off by at least 100%: the US has killed only 50,000 Iraqi civilians, they say. The scholars who did The Lancet study say they were conservative in their numbers, that there are probably far more civilian dead who remain uncounted because there is no one responsible for counting them and no one interested in counting them. However you figure it, there are a huge number of Iraqis who died because of American violence, and a lot of Iraqis who died because of insurgent violence. For every dead Iraqi, how many mutilated Iraqis are there? Two? Five? Ten? Twenty?

Where are their pictures, those dead and mutilated Iraqis? How many images have you seen of Iraqi children blown to dripping pieces of flesh, puddles of blood, scattered white chunks of bone? How many images have you seen of Iraqis who have lost hands, feet, eyes, jaws when bombs when off, when machine guns fired, when mortars fell, when vehicles blew up?

You've gotten words about those American and Iraqi deaths and mutilations, but precious few images. The images are parked in the periphery of the information spectrum, on web sites hardly anyone visits. Time doesn't publish them, and neither does Newsweek, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post or the Buffalo News. You won't see them on CBS, ABC, NBC, PBS, or CNN.

Why? Because the daily press and evening news are so attuned to our sensitivity or sensibility they just don't want to offend us? Because their editors are old and literary enough to be crippled by T.S. Eliot's fey line, "Humankind cannot stand very much reality?" Or because they just don't want us to know what the words they hurl at us are really about?

I'll tell you how powerful pictures are in a world of words. Three photographs changed American opinion about the Vietnam war: Eddie Adams's photograph of Lt. Col. Nguyen Ngoc Loan blowing the brains out of a handcuffed prisoner on a Saigon street, Nick Ut's photograph of Kim Phuc Phan Thi running naked down a Vietnamese road after her skin had been burnt off by napalm, and Ronald Haeberle's photographs of the slaughter at My Lai. People in the U.S. saw those images and they said, "What the fuck are we doing there? Who are we when we can be doing things like that?" Those images trumped the politicians' words.

Think about what the Abu Ghraib jpgs did to American opinion about the war in Iraq. They're clumsy, low-res, amateur tourist photographs of ordinary folks having a little fun torturing some other folks nobody (they'd been told) cares about. And those low-res jpgs blew the cover off what the U.S. was really doing to Iraqis, what the U.S. government really thought about Iraqis. After those photos became commonplace, who-other than those idiots and ideologues who have shut off the upper stories of their brains-can look you in the eye and say, "We are in Iraq to make life better for Iraqis?"

But it is less and less likely that we'll have an Eddie Adams or Nick Ut or Ron Haeberle showing us what we need to see to understand what we're really doing in Iraq. During the US invasion of Iraq, almost all press photographers were imbedded, dependent on U.S. military support for their survival. (Unembedded press sometimes saw more than embedded press, but they had a far higher death rate.) Even with all the fancy technology that permitted a photographer on the ground to upload images directly to a satellite, few images that would piss off anyone in power ever made it off the ground, and the nearly all of the few that did were killed by editors stateside. Nowadays, photographers can't go anywhere without a platoon of soldiers to protect them: they can't roam the countryside, they can't roam the streets of Baghdad or any other major Iraqi city. They don't see very much and they are very careful about what they photograph, and their editors back home are even more careful about which of their images you and I get to see.

Which is why the heartbreaking images of all those innocent Pacific tsunami dead are doubly important.

First, those images help us understand the general and specific magnitude of disaster caused by the tsunami. The huge outpouring of aid would not have happened without those images.

Second, those images of tsunami death, destruction and anguish remind us of how little we are permitted to see of the death, destruction and anguish going on every day in the Holy Land and in Iraq and all the other places where raw power and greed have displaced decency and honor and human concern, all those places where weapons and violence substitute for reason and responsibility. Those images are surrogates for what we have become but have not permitted ourselves to see.

Bruce Jackson is SUNY Distinguished Professor and Samuel P. Capen Professor of American Culture at SUNY Buffalo. He edits the web journal Buffalo Report. He can be reached at: bjackson@buffalo.edu

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South Asia disaster appeal: White House tries to cover up Bush’s moment of truth
By Patrick Martin
4 January 2005

President Bush’s public appearance Monday to announce a fund-raising campaign for the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami is the latest attempt by the White House to recover from a political debacle: its callous and dismissive response to the colossal tragedy in southern Asia that killed 150,000 people.

Flanked by George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, George W. Bush declared that the two former presidents would spearhead a nationwide appeal to raise private contributions for disaster relief. The unusual joint appearance of the president, his father and his Democratic predecessor—they last stood together just after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001—underscores the growing alarm in US ruling circles over Bush’s public display of indifference to the most extensive natural disaster of the past half century.

Bush remained secluded on his Texas ranch for three days after the December 26 catastrophe, while a White House spokesman announced a derisory $15 million US contribution to emergency relief. After a barrage of media criticism and hostile comments from government officials in the affected region and UN aid coordinator Jan Egeland, the administration reacted with a public relations campaign featuring a new event or announcement every day. [...]

It would have been far more appropriate if Clinton and the senior Bush had been appealing for greater contributions from the US government, rather than from the American people. It is quite likely that, behind the scenes, that is precisely what they were doing. Among the more experienced representatives of the American corporate elite—among whom these two must be counted—the younger Bush’s performance over the last week is regarded as a foreign policy blunder that only compounds the disaster in Iraq, undermining the position of US imperialism in the world.

It may yet prove to be a political blow at home as well, especially if the number of American victims of the tsunami should grow larger. Secretary of State Powell, speaking with reporters aboard his plane en route to Bangkok, Thailand, the first stop in his tour of the disaster zone, revealed that between 4,000 and 5,000 American citizens are unaccounted for in the countries hit by the earthquake and tidal waves, although only 15 are confirmed dead.

There are two components to Bush’s evident indifference to the enormous loss of life in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and eight other countries—individual and social. The tragedy in South Asia is a moment of truth, revealing indelibly both the personality of George W. Bush and the nature of the society over which he presides.

Bush’s seeming annoyance at being forced to interrupt his Christmas vacation to make perfunctory comments on the death of 150,000 people reflects more than a racist outlook towards poor brown people on the other side of the world. His general contempt for human life has been a characteristic feature, not only of his presidency, but of his entire political career.

It is well known that Bush was responsible for the death by lethal injection of more than 150 condemned prisoners during his six years as governor of Texas. Less well publicized is the blitheness with which he dismissed their appeals for clemency. According to his Texas and White House counsel, and now nominee for attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, Bush spent less than 15 minutes on average reviewing each death row appeal. He did not approve a single one.

The Texas governor evidently derived personal satisfaction, with more than a touch of sadism, from exercising this power of life and death over helpless human beings. In at least one case, that of Karla Faye Tucker, a born-again Christian whose appeal for clemency was championed by prominent evangelists, Bush is known to have mocked the woman in the last hours before her death, mimicking her desperate pleas for mercy.

Like presidents before him, Bush has shed no tears for the victims of American military action overseas—in his case, the tens of thousands of Afghan and Iraqi citizens killed by American bombs, missiles and bullets. Unlike most presidents, however, he has also displayed a cold and unfeeling attitude to the death of American soldiers in his wars.

In the early stages of the occupation of Iraq, when the US death toll was still in the hundreds, the media briefly made an issue of Bush’s refusal to attend a single funeral or to allow the coffins of war victims to be photographed as they returned to the United States through Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Now that the total killed is over 1,300, with 8,000 or more wounded, many of them maimed or horribly disfigured, the media has largely dropped the subject.

This attitude of depraved indifference towards human life is not limited to Bush personally. It is characteristic of the clique around him—as exemplified by the report that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was using an autopen to place his signature on condolence letters to the families of the dead, rather than signing personally.

Bush, Rumsfeld & Co. reflect the attitudes of the degenerate financial aristocracy of which they are a part. The American ruling elite disposes of the fate of tens of millions of people, in the United States and around the world, with utter imperviousness to the intensity of human suffering, death and destruction which its policies cause.

Perhaps the most illuminating commentaries on the South Asian catastrophe have appeared in articles in the financial press—BusinessWeek magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, among others—and on the business pages of the daily press. This coverage has focused on a cold-blooded calculation of the economic impact of the earthquake and tsunami. On balance, these articles have concluded, the events of the past week were not all that important.

The Financial Times cited the estimate by Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurer, that tsunami-related damage will amount to $14 billion, barely a tenth of the losses from the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan, which killed 5,000 people. “The main reason for the disparity is that the tsunami largely affected economically poor areas with little industry or infrastructure,” the newspaper said.

The poverty of the population also means that little of the damage was insured, which will greatly reduce the losses to the world financial system. As one Singapore brokerage economist, interviewed in a business publication, commented, “It will be more of a story of human tragedy rather than economic costs.”

There was even a “saving grace” in the calamity: “The disaster spared output at the big Arun liquefied natural gas plant on Sumatra,” a huge facility operated by ExxonMobil Corp., which restored production within hours of the quake. Tankers bound for South Korea and Japan have resumed loading LNG and there will be no disruption in fuel supplies for the industrialized countries.

This is the deeper social meaning of Bush’s slow and uncaring response to a disaster which took the lives of 150,000 people. While a few hundred million dollars are expended for disaster relief, this is dwarfed by the vast sums flowing through the financial centers of world capitalism. The year-end bonuses on Wall Street alone topped $15.9 billion for 2004, more than the entire damage inflicted by the greatest natural disaster in decades.

The television coverage of this enormous tragedy has profoundly moved tens of millions of people around the world, provoking an outpouring of sympathy and charitable contributions. But from the ruling class of the United States, it evokes a collective yawn: those who died are, for the most part, marginal to the world economy, and there was not a great deal of money involved.

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Will the Islamic Army in Iraq Attack America?
Kurt Nimmo
January 04, 2005

The Islamic Army in Iraq, supposedly related to Ansar al-Sunnah—and thus the mythical Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and al-Qaeda—has released a statement on its web site declaring the year 2005 “will bring woes on America. The mujahedeen have prepared big surprises for your sons outside America and a big surprise for you inside America,” in other words, as Agence France-Presse reports, they will carry out attacks on American soil. “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.”

Any attack on America in the name of the Iraqi resistance, of course, would go a long way in turning around the American public’s growing skepticism of Bush’s Iraqi quagmire. Either the Islamic Army in Iraq is stupid or they are not who they claim to be. Qui Bono? Certainly not the Iraqis. Bush desperately needs public opinion where it was in the weeks and months following the 9/11 attacks. He needs America’s sons and daughters to willingly donate their lives to the Strausscon-neolib plan to “reshape” the Middle East. How better to do this than stage Iraqi resistance attacks in America? Imagine the mileage Bush would receive if even a single suicide bomber hit a mall or corporate office complex. It would be invaluable.

Earlier today I received an email from a journalist taking me to task for suggesting that Margaret Hassan was kidnapped and apparently killed in a CIA or Mossad operation designed to discredit and blacken the name of the Iraqi resistance. Since there is no evidence Hassan was killed—if indeed she was killed, since no body has turned up—the journalist suggests that the “anti-war side of things appear to have crossed the line from political criticism to, perhaps, conspiracy-mongering.”

I responded by indicating that the largest “conspiracy theory” currently afoot is the Strausscon disinformation campaign, resulting in invasion and mass murder, that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was in cahoots with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. It is a conspiracy theory believed—regardless of scads of evidence to the contrary—by millions of Americans. Obviously, such a monumental fabrication makes anything a lowly blogger, with a mere thousand people reading his site daily, has to say pale by way of comparison. Suggesting that Margaret Hassan was abducted in a “counterinsurgency” operation is less than peanuts when stacked up against the massive conspiracy theory perpetuated by Bush and Crew. And yet the corporate media essentially ignores this—or underplays it significantly—and routinely lambastes bloggers as tinfoil hatters. Of course, since the corporate media slavishly acts as the Bush Ministry of Disinformation, this is to be expected. Its mission is to portray critics of the invasion and occupation as mental cases or to ignore their arguments entirely.

I don’t know if the Islamic Army in Iraq—and thus Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and al-Qaeda—is blowing smoke out of a certain orifice with their claim they will “give American civilians a taste of what civilians in our country go through,” but logic dictates this would work in Bush’s favor, not in the favor of the Iraqi resistance. Of course, the anger of Iraqis toward a somnolent and ignorant American public—who support the murder of Iraqis through their sheepish acquiescence, even support of “our” troops—is more than understandable. However, unless they are stupid—and considering the military sophistication increasingly demonstrated by the Iraqi resistance, they are anything but stupid—they must realize that attacking the American public will only catalyze war fever among Americans and turn them in favor of “staying the course” in Iraq, that is to say murdering more Iraqis. It would be a gift to Bush and the Strausscons, who have ambitious plans for Muslims and the “enemies” of Israel. It would be extremely counterproductive for the Iraqi resistance.

But then this may simply be another conspiracy theory.

Comment: As we pointed out on yesterday's Signs page, it does nothing for the Iraqi cause to mount an attack inside the United States. Such an event would only fuel anti-Arabic sentiment and give the government carte blanche to continue their illegal war of aggression throughout the Middle East.

It goes without saying that any kind of staged attack on U.S. soil will be immediately blamed on "Arabic terrorists", but you can bet dollars to donuts that the real perpetrators, whose ties to western intelligence agencies ensure that they will never be brought to light.

And while the whole "Saddam had WMD and ties to al-Qaeda" issue does classify as an extraordinarily good conspiracy theory, nothing tops the official version of September 11th and the absurd idea that a couple dozen Muslims infiltrated the most powerful country on the planet and hijacked four jumbo jets with nothing but box cutters and the will of Allah.

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26 die in Iraqi car bombings
January 6, 2005Page Tools
AP, Reuters

A car bomb exploded outside a police academy south of Baghdad yesterday during a graduation ceremony, killing at least 20 people, a police official said.

The bomb exploded outside a gate of the academy in Hillah, about  95 kilometers south of Baghdad, said police Captain Hady Hatef.

Twenty people were killed and an unspecified number were injured, he said. No other details were immediately available.

In a separate attack, six people were killed in the northern Iraqi city of Baquba yesterday in a suicide car bomb attack on security forces, police and hospital sources said.

Thirteen people, including two civilians, were wounded in the attack on an Iraqi police and National Guard checkpoint in Baquba,  65 kilometres north of Baghdad.

These were the latest in a string of attacks against Iraqi police and security forces ahead of January 30 elections which insurgents are trying to disrupt.

The number of Iraqi policemen killed in the last four months of  2004 was 1300 before the latest blasts, according to the Iraqi Interior Ministry figures released yesterday.

The Iraqi police and security troops represent a soft target for the insurgents because of their poor training and equipment compared to the US-led coalition forces. The militants consider Iraqi soldiers as collaborators with the American occupiers.

Yesterday's violence brought the death toll in the past four days to more than 90, mostly Iraqi security forces. Despite the bloody insurgency, which US troops and Iraqi security forces have been helpless to prevent, American and Iraqi leaders insist the January 30 vote will go ahead.

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US helicopters in Iraq bomb Arbil
Wednesday 05 January 2005, 12:48 Makka Time, 9:48 GMT

Four Iraqis have been injured after US helicopters bombed residential buildings in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil, Aljazeera has learned.

Aljazeera's correspondent in Iraq's Kurdistan, Ahmad al-Zawiti, said the bombing on Wednesday damaged the building where students of Salah al-Din University live, in the Sidawa neighbourhood.

He said the building and other nearby houses were set ablaze, adding that some nearby cars were also damaged.

Four students were injured in the two-hour-long strike, officials said. The attack came after a US helicopter had come under fire from the same area, witnesses said. [...]

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Oppose the draft? It's already here

Gazette Times
January 3, 2005

While most pollsters would agree that there is almost no discernable support for reinstating the military draft, why should the public support the military's policy of forcing exhausted those who already have fulfilled their contractual obligation to serve into an open-ended term of indentured — potentially fatal — military servitude?

Yet that is exactly what is happening to people such as Oregon Army National Guardsman Sgt. Emiliano Santiago, 27, of Pasco, Wash.

Last Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Owen M. Panner denied Santiago's motion for a preliminary injunction against having to report again for active duty, less than a week before Santiago is scheduled to ship to Fort Sill, Okla. A soldier with D Company of the Oregon Guard's 113th Aviation Battalion in Pendleton, he is and his unit are expected to be deployed to Afghanistan in February.

Santiago argued that he already had completed his contracted term in 2002, but Panner's ruling means that he will have to go. And he is only one of thousands who are finding themselves back in uniform despite having honorably completed the service they signed on for.

This is possible because of an executive order President Bush enacted after 9-11 that authorized the Pentagon to involuntarily extend military personnel on active duty "for not more than 24 consecutive months."

But the military has gone further in Santiago's case. He originally signed for an eight-year tour with the Guard in 1996, but as a result of the "stop-loss" back-door draft, his service has been extended to December 2031, when he would be 54.

Judge Panner said he was ruling that Santiago had to go back because the military would be more harmed than Santiago if he allowed Santiago to leave. He correctly assumed that the thousands of others also forced to stay would file similar court challenges, complicating the United States' military actions in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

President Bush said repeatedly during his re-election campaign that there would be no military draft in his second term. But if a soldier who has completed his term of service and returned to civilian life is forced back onto the battlefield, how is that anything other than a draft, forcing involuntary servitude?

We haven't had a draft in this country since Richard Nixon abolished it in 1973. And we haven't had involuntary servitude since Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation made it illegal as of Jan. 1, 1863, freeing "all persons held as slaves within any state or designated part of a state, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free." The Emancipation Proclamation clearly stated that "the executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom."

Who knew that President Bush would overturn the acts of two past Republican presidents in deciding that, under his term, the military means not being able to declare with confidence, "I'm a civilian again."

Comment: Who knew? It has been obvious for all those with eyes to see that this course had been decided on by Bush and his planners many years ago. We have been saying it and presenting it on this page for over 2 years, but then again, many people just "didn't want to know".

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Revealed: flawed intelligence exposes the scandal of Belmarsh detainees

By Robert Verkaik, Legal Affairs Correspondent
UK Independent
06 January 2005

The case against the foreign terror suspects imprisoned in Britain without trial for three years is partly founded on flawed and inaccurate intelligence, court papers seen by The Independent reveal.

Alarming weaknesses in the secret services' evidence cast serious doubt on the Home Secretary's justification for detaining 12 men held under emergency legislation rushed through Parliament in the aftermath of 11 September.

Last month a historic judgment in the House of Lords triggered a constitutional crisis when the judges ruled that the men's detention was in breach of human rights law.

The documents reveal:

* A security service assessment was embarrassingly withdrawn after it emerged that the purpose behind a visit to Dorset by a group of Muslim men had not been to elect a terrorist leader but to get away from their wives for the weekend.

* Confirmation that the Government is using evidence of association with the Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg to hold at least two of the foreign terror suspects under its emergency powers.

* False allegations made against one of the Algerian detainees in relation to his association with Mr Begg arose from an MI5 surveillance operation of Mr Begg's Islamic bookshop in Birmingham in 2000. MI5 wrongly claimed that weapons had been found there.

* The Home Secretary has been forced to concede that some of the funds raised by the detainee Abu Rideh for alleged terrorist activity were sent to orphanages in Afghanistan run by a Canadian priest.

* Testimony against two of the detainees came from an affidavit sworn by a man who was offered a lenient sentence in return for evidence.

* Newspaper reports, including ones in The Guardian and La Stampa, were used by the Home Secretary to support allegations of terrorism against at least two of the detainees.

* Two of the detainees were awarded compensation for false arrest shortly before they were detained under the anti-terrorist emergency powers.

* MI5 reports, as part of the evidence against the detainees, describe the men as being "excessively security conscious" when travelling to and from London shopping centres.

* The detention certificate of F, one of the Algerian detainees, was revoked after it emerged he should have been deported to France rather than imprisoned without trial.

* One of the detainee's children has been taken into care.

While the papers, released in the run-up to the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act and now available on the Special Immigration Appeal [SIAC] website, only give details of the "open" evidence against the detainees, the inaccuracy of some of these assertions raises questions about the reliability of the secret evidence that the detainees have never been allowed to see.

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Australian in US custody claims torture in Egypt, Pakistan
AFP
Thursday January 6, 2:56 PM

An Australian held by the United States in Guantanamo Bay has claims he was tortured during interrogation in Egypt and abused while in US custody in Pakistan.

Egyptian-born Mamdouh Habib, a Sydney father of four, is one of two Australians being held at the US military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

He was detained in Egypt for six months shortly after his capture in Pakistan in the weeks after the September 11, 2001 attacks as Washington led an offensive to drive Afghanistan's fundamentalist Taliban rulers from power for failing to hand over Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The former Sydney taxi driver has been accused of aiding Al-Qaeda but has so far not been charged and few details of the allegations against him have been released.

Supporters want Habib and fellow Australian detainee David Hicks brought back to Australia for trial, but the US-allied government has given this little support.

There have been suggestions that Habib might instead be returned to Egypt, where he would face worse conditions than in Guantanamo Bay.

According to a US affidavit prepared by Habib's American lawyer Joe Margulies in a bid to stop that happening, his Egyptian captors gave Habib electric shocks and beat him.

"Mr Habib, always handcuffed and sometimes suspended from hooks on the wall, was kicked, punched, beaten with a stick, and rammed with what can only be described as an electric cattle prod," said the affidavit, which was reported on Australian radio.

"If he lapsed into unconsciousness, they would revive him and continue the beatings."

Habib said he was forced into false confessions, such as admitting to training Al-Qaeda fighters in martial arts.

At times his Egyptian captors would place him in a room and gradually fill it with water, leaving only his head exposed and forcing him to stand on tiptoe for hours.

In Islamabad, after his capture, a man who had introduced himself to Habib as an Australian consular official watched on while a US agent stood on his neck, the affadavit said.

The incident, which allegedly occurred while Habib was handcuffed, took place at an airfield in Islamabad in late October 2001 and photographs had been taken.

"The person with his foot on Mr Habib's neck explained, in unaccented American English, that he planned to send one picture to his girlfriend and another to his sister," the affidavit said.

Habib's Australian lawyer Stephen Hopper said it was proof the Australian government knew that he had been tortured.

Attorney General Philip Ruddock however denied any Australian official witnessed any abuse against Habib in Pakistan.

Comment: Gee, those "few bad apples" that enjoy torturing prisoners in the war on terror seem to be everywhere...

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Digitized prints can point finger at innocent
Mon Jan 3, 9:40 AM ET
By Flynn McRoberts and Steve Mills Tribune staff reporters

Deep inside a sprawling complex tucked in the hills of this Appalachian town, a room full of supercomputers attempts to sift America's guilty from its innocent.

This is where the FBI keeps its vast database of fingerprints, allowing examiners to conduct criminal checks from computer screens in less than 30 minutes--something that previously took them weeks as they rummaged through 2,100 file cabinets stuffed with inked print cards.

But the same digital technology that has allowed the FBI to speed such checks so dramatically over the last few years has created the risk of accusing people who are innocent, the Tribune has found.

Across the country, police departments and crime labs are submitting fingerprints for comparisons and for entry into databases, using digital images that may be missing crucial details or may have been manipulated without the FBI knowing it.

Not unlike a picture from a typical digital camera, a digital fingerprint provides less complete detail than a traditional photographic image. That matters little with pictures from the family vacation. But when the digital image is of a fingerprint, the lack of precision raises the specter of false identifications in criminal cases.

"There's a risk that not only would they exclude someone incorrectly--we have the potential to identify someone incorrectly," said David Grieve, a prominent fingerprint expert who is the latent prints training coordinator for the Illinois State Police crime lab system.

An FBI-sponsored group of fingerprint examiners was concerned enough about the quality of digital images that in 2001 it recommended doubling their resolution. Three years later, though, the vast majority of police agencies still use equipment with the lower resolution.

Equally troublesome, the most commonly used image-enhancement software, Adobe Photoshop, leaves no record of some of the changes police technicians can perform as they clean up fingerprint images to make them easier to compare.

This seemingly esoteric issue is crucial because it raises questions about a bulwark of the criminal justice system: chain of custody. If authorities cannot prove that a fingerprint is an accurate representation of the original and show exactly how it was handled, its validity can be questioned.

FBI officials recognize the resolution problem but say it leads to overlooking guilty people, not falsely accusing the innocent.

"The risk that we're hearing is that we miss people--because the resolution isn't enough--not that we're identifying people incorrectly," said Jerry Pender, deputy assistant director at the FBI's Clarksburg facility. [...]

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Watches Could Pose Terrorist Threat
By Bill Proctor
January 4, 2005

There is a new warning for airports that may have passengers checking their watches. Security experts are now worried that terrorists could use a digital watch to set off an explosion in the air.

There was a time when shopping for a watch was an innocent, and perhaps one of the most fun things, you could do. But now the government is concerned that watches could be used as an instrument for terror.

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are warning transportation officials to look for Al Qaeda terrorists wearing two types of watches.

The first type is called altimeters, which measure altitude, and could be used to trigger an explosion when a jetliner reaches a certain height.

They are also on the lookout for watches containing hidden cigarette lighters, which could be used to ignite a bomb, like the one Shoe Bomber Richard Reed hid in his sneakers on a flight from Paris to Miami.

Both of these types of watchers are readily available on the internet.

Bob Parkllan, of House of Watch Bands in Southfield, has sold altimeter watchers at his store for years, and never before thought of them as a potential threat.

"It’s a little scary," Parkllan told 7 Action News. "It’s scary thinking about it. It makes you think of the type of person who wants to buy this type of watch."

For now, passengers are allowed to board planes with watches that contain altimeters and butane lighters, but after this warning, expect airline screeners to take a closer look at your timepiece before you board the plane.

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Israel’s Ideologues
January 4, 2005
By Neve Gordon

“Are you a donor to Israeli universities?” the anonymous writer asks. If yes, you should “learn what is happening on Israeli campuses. Be informed about what is being done with your gifts and generosity.”

These are the opening lines of a new Web site called Israel Academia Monitor (israel-academia-monitor.com), a pathetic attempt to copy Campus Watch, which was launched in 2002 to police and discipline American university professors who criticize U.S. Middle East policy and Israel’s occupation. Campus Watch is closely connected to the academic journal Middle East Quarterly and to the Middle East Forum, a right-wing think tank whose members have access to the Bush administration. Numerous donors with deep pockets support this neocon apparatus.

The Israel Academia Monitor, which may also be an offshoot of the Middle East Forum, is both preposterous and dangerous. Its instigators would have failed introductory courses like Logic and Twentieth-Century History. The law of contradiction—i.e., that antithetical propositions P and not-P cannot be true simultaneously—ceases to exist in this cyberspace, thus allowing the site’s creators to intimate that donors should boycott all Israeli universities that employ professors who criticize state policies—while at the same time denouncing Israeli professors who favor a boycott of Israeli institutions.

Moreover, the Monitor presents itself as a human rights group of sorts, which aims to bring to light abuses of academic freedom. Its nameless perpetrators consider themselves not only the defenders of free speech, but an anti-McCarthyist movement.

The McCarthyists they inveigh against are academic rogues, professors who are critical of Israel’s rights-abusive policies yet at the same time inspired by a deep concern for Israel’s population and the occupied Palestinians. Apparently, their offense against free speech is that they do not enable zealous nationalists to voice their views—an absurd allegation considering that for some years now the balance of power within Israel has been tilted toward the far right.

At first sight, only twisted logic augmented by historical ignorance could draw a parallel between relatively powerless academics and those well-orchestrated, government-sanctioned redbaiters of ’50s America. However, this is a feint. In reality the Web inquisitors at Israel Monitor are accusing Israeli professors of McCarthyism in order to deflect criticism from themselves, while at the same time they set about exploiting fear in a McCarthy-like manner.

The Web site dedicates a page to each major Israeli university, listing “extremist professors” who, in the words of the Monitor’s anonymous press release, promote “insurrection and lawbreaking” as well as “seditious” behavior. These professors also collaborate with “anti-Semites and enemies of Israel” and support “lawlessness and terror.” An innocent reader could be forgiven for thinking that Hamas terrorist cells led by academics are currently operating within Israeli universities, preparing students for the Jihad.

Israel Academia Monitor might have been a tasteless joke if the times were not ripe for this kind of witch-hunt—if it were not symptomatic of a more general and ominous mood informed by a nationalistic and sectarian frenzy.

The site’s authors encourage students and scholars to pass on information about suspect professors, promising to publish incriminating material. The goal, it seems, is to purge Israeli universities of those who dare question the state—or, at least, silence them—and to influence hiring and tenure decisions.

This assault, however, is not only aimed at academic freedom but at democracy itself, for the danger confronting contemporary democracy is not some new wave of overt authoritarianism, as it was in the early and mid-twentieth century. It is not even terrorism. Rather, the danger comes from those for whom the freedoms that accompany democracy represent a threat, an obstacle to their uninhibited pursuit of dominance and wealth.

Like its forerunner Campus Watch, Israel Academia Monitor is indicative of the much broader attempt to silence all those who confront the powers that be.

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Terror fears close Brit embassy
Some News Source
September 5, 2004

LONDON (AP) - Britain closed its embassy in Yemen on Wednesday because of "specific security concerns" and warned that terrorists were in the end stage of planning assaults against British targets in the country.

"The British embassy will be closed on Jan. 5 in response to specific security concerns," said a statement posted on the Foreign Office Web site.

As of Dec. 30, ìthere is specific information that terrorists are in the final stages of planning attacks against British targets and other Western interests in Yemen,î the statement added, warning Britons to be vigilant in public places, such as hotels.

Foreign Office officials were not immediately available for comment. [...]

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Feds search for Middle Eastern man who tried to buy same explosive McVeigh used
Jan 5, 8:10 PM EST
By JOHN SOLOMON
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal authorities searched Wednesday for a man using a Middle Eastern name and possibly bogus construction credentials to try to purchase large quantities of an explosive ingredient used by Timothy McVeigh to blow up the Oklahoma City federal building.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said there was no indication that terrorism was involved, but the agency was still checking information that came from a company in Canada that reported the attempted purchase as suspicious.

ATF was asking the fertilizer and explosives industries to help locate the man and to report any suspicious inquiries for the fertilizer chemical ammonium nitrate, which is used to make so-called fertilizer bombs.

"We're still running down leads. But we thought it would be prudent putting out an advisory to the fertilizer industry," said Tom Mangan, an ATF agent in Phoenix, where the investigation is centered.

The suspect also made several Internet e-mail inquiries to vendors seeking to buy between 500 to 1,000 metric tons of the explosive - a quantity larger than McVeigh used to bomb the Oklahoma City federal building in April 1995 but smaller than amounts companies typically might buy in bulk for construction, explosives or farm work.

McVeigh used a combination of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil with a detonation cord to make his bomb that killed more than 160 people.

The International Society of Explosives Engineers, based in Cleveland, sent an e-mail Wednesday alerting its members and asking them to call ATF in Phoenix to report any suspicious activity.

"ATF has recently been made aware of a suspicious attempt by an individual to purchase mass quantities of ammonium nitrate, specifically between 500 to 1,000 metric tons," the alert said. "This individual, who uses a Middle Eastern name, purports to be a representative of a construction corporation. However, indications are that this is most likely false.

"The individual has previously made contact with other industry members via e-mail seeking the large amounts of 'fertilizer grade' ammonium nitrate," the alert said.

Ammonium nitrate has been linked to several recent terror plots.

Less than a year ago, Homeland Security officials put out a warning about unsubstantiated intelligence suggesting that al-Qaida or like terrorists might try to smuggle ammonium nitrate bombs aboard public transportation venues such as trains, subways or buses.

Jordanian authorities alleged in an indictment last summer that Iraqi insurgency leader Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi, backed by al-Qaida, financed a plot for suicide bombers armed with chemicals for an ammonium nitrate bomb to try to attack the country's intelligence agency building.

And in Chicago, a disgruntled ex-con was charged with plotting to blow up the federal courthouse in downtown after he was arrested during a sting with a pickup truck containing 1,500 pounds of fertilizer he thought was ammonium nitrate. Prosecutors allege he planned to sell the chemical to terrorists.

Comment: Was Waco and Oklahoma not enough? Is the BATFE planning yet another false flag operation?

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Flashback: UNRESOLVED DEATHS IN OKLAHOMA

December 10, 2000 Author: Michael A. O'Camb

In the first minutes and hours following the blasts that devastated the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, the morning of April 19, 1995, a number of selfless individuals risked life and limb to rescue many of the victims. Among them were Oklahoma City police officers, Terrance Yeakey, Gordon Martin and Ken Griffin, a number of Oklahoma City firefighters, Dr. H. Don Chumley, G.S.A. employee Mike Loudenslager and others.

In the aftermath of the "bombing" the name Mike Loudenslager holds particular significance in the hearts of many families in and around Oklahoma City. And this is so, because of the forewarning he gave to a number of those who had children in the Murrah Building's day-care center. In the weeks preceding the bombing, G.S.A. employee, Michael Loudenslager, 48, became increasingly aware that large amounts of ordnance and explosives were in the building and strongly urged (along with the operator of the day-care center) a number of parents to take their children out of the Murrah Building.

This situation arose after other employees became concerned with an increased amount of ordnance (missiles) being brought into the building by the B.A.T.F. and D.E.A. As a result of this concern, a grievance was filed with G.S.A. by the building's security director. The result was, the man who'd complained lost his job there. Then, after the operator of the day-care center (the security director's wife) notified the fire marshals after some remodeling had been done (as her license required her to do), the fire marshals were denied access to do their inspection by federal agents and told to leave! And the day-care operator lost her contract.

As a result of this (fearing the worst with all the talk around town of a possible bombing), Mike Loudenslager and the day-care center operator then told many of the parents to get their children out. And, because of their warnings, far fewer children were in the day-care center on that horrible Wednesday morning than there otherwise would have been. A number of families, in and around Oklahoma City, have these two people to thank for their children's lives today.

Shortly after the bombing, Michael Loudenslager was actively helping in the rescue and recovery effort. A large number of those at the bomb-site either saw or talked with him. During the course of the early rescue efforts, however, Mike Loudenslager was seen and heard in a very "heated" confrontation with someone (there). Much of his anger stemmed from the fact he felt the B.A.T.F. was in large part responsible not only for the bombing, but for the death and inury to those inside, including all the children.

To the absolute astonishment of a large number of police officers and rescue workers, it was later reported that G.S.A. employee Mike Loudenslager's body had been found inside the Murrah Building the following Sunday, still at his desk, a victim of the 9:02 A.M. bombing! This, mind you, after he'd already been seen alive and well by numerous rescue workers at the bomb-site AFTER the bombing! He is also officially listed as one of the 168 bombing fatalities.

The question now becomes: Was he murdered and placed at his desk by federal agents? Or was he just simply murdered by them and SAID to have been found at his desk? Access to the inside of the building, from shortly after the bombing onward was extremely limited to nearly all but federal employees by the F.B.I.

His death is UNQUESTIONABLY the most important sidelight of the Oklahoma City bombing. Mike Loudenslager's murder, most assuredly was one of the major factors leading to the demise of both Dr. H. Don Chumley and later Terry Yeakey!

For whatever reason, the Oklahoma City Police Dept. has always down-played Officer Terry Yeakey's presence at the Murrah Building the morning of April 19, 1995, even though a large number of Oklahoma City police officers, firefighters, emergency personnel and survivors KNOW he played a much larger role in the early rescue-effort than he's given credit for.

In an effort to cover up Mike Loudenslager's murder and to intimidate others who were there early-on that morning, someone has taken out a number of internal witnesses. Dr. Don Chumley AND Terry Yeakey, both, besides being at the Murrah Building that morning, shared one other commonality. Each at the time of his "death" was attempting to deliver EVIDENCE concerning the fact Mike Loudenslager was alive and well AFTER the bombing, and also to get certain other facts out about the "bombing" as well.

In Terry Yeakey's case he thought he was delivering evidence andinformation to a multi-county task force who would help get the truth out That's how he was set-up. In Dr. Chumley's case, he was killed, some months earlier, when his personal jet aircraft "crashed" while attempting to do the same thing.

Were the deaths of Jack Colvert, Jackie Majors and Buddy Youngblood also directly related to the cover-up of Mike Loudenslager's murder? Each of them had been at the Murrah Building that morning and each had also seen Mike Loudenslager ALIVE and well after the bombing. Others who were there that morning have also felt threatened. Officer Gordon Martin, for one, feels at least two attempts on his life have been made. Other police officers and emergency services personnel fear for their personal safety as well.

And while all this goes on, the moguls of themajor-media remain silent! The so-called "fourth pillar of democracy" - the press - once again falls flat on its face, foresaking its sacred duty to REPORT THE NEWS. Remember, Hell is just as hot for those who go there for sins of OMISSION as those who go for sins of COMMISSION!.

Another interesting case of "suicide" in Oklahoma, since the bombing, is that of Kenneth Trentadue, who as the result of violating conditions of his parole in California, was re-incarcerated and sent to a federal (transfer) facility in Oklahoma. Mr. Trentadue, the brother of a prominent Salt Lake City, Utah attorney, supposedly committed suicide by hanging himself. But in actuality managed to commit a "suicide" very similar to Terry Yeakey's (minus the gunshot-wound-to-the-head). Only Kenneth Trentadue's was committed with knotted or "braided" bedsheet, barely long enough to fit around his neck in a "suicide-proof" prison cell.

THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE later reported the trustees who cleaned Mr. Trentadue's cell after his "suicide" found copious amounts of blood inside. This included bloody fingerprints up a wall, to within a few inches of a "panic button" on or near the ceiling. This certainly is not consistent with hanging. When his family was contacted by prison officials and informed of his "suicide", they were asked if they wanted his remains cremated. They indicated they did not, and after a very difficult time and much red-tape, the body was finally shipped back to them.

Being very skeptical as to a suicide, family members removed the mortuary make-up and were shocked to find part of his skull crushed, his knuckles damaged, bruises, puncture-and-slash-wounds over a good portion of his body (including the soles of his feet) and his throat slashed. Boot heel marks were apparent around the right eye and on his chest. All evidence points to the fact Kenneth Trentadue was subdued after a fight - brutally beaten, tortured and murdered!

(Update: THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, Sat. July 11, 1998 - states M.E. says Trentadue death "suicide"!). This case is "supposedly" being looked into by U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch. Former 7-term U.S. Rep. George Hansen of Idaho and his organization, The United States Citizens Human Rights Commission, IS, however, actively pursuing it. Former Rep. Hansen was himself unjustly convicted and imprisoned and spent a number of years literally as a political prisoner in the federal penal system until his case was finally decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Many Americans who are familiar with the Trentadue case see a chilling similarity between Officer Terry Yeakey's "suicide" and Kenneth Trentadue's. Especially when each occurred in such close proximity to the other, in and around El Reno and Oklahoma City, AFTER the bombing. Like Terry Yeakey, Kenneth Trentadue, (although smaller) was also a powerfully-built man. He lifted weights regularly, had a 19-inch neck and was a street-fighter with street savvy. In short, he knew how to take care of himself.

Many now wonder if Kenneth Trentadue might have had information regarding the Oklahoma City bombing, or its aftermath, that certain agents wanted him taken-out for. And many also wonder why a man re-incarcerated for violating his parole would REQUEST solitary confinement. What was Kenneth Trentadue afraid of?

Could the murder of Murrah Building G.S.A. employee Michael Loudenslager and the subsequent cover-up be the reason for (many of) the unresolved deaths in Oklahoma since the bombing? A growing number of Americans certainly think so.

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North Korea's wartime guidelines revealed
Associated Press

Seoul — North Korea has ordered its people to prepare for a protracted war against the United States, issuing guidelines on evacuating to underground bunkers with weapons, food and portraits of leader Kim Jong-il.

The 33-page “Detailed Wartime Guidelines,” published on South Korea's Kyunghyang newspaper on Wednesday and verified by Seoul, was issued April 7, 2004, at a time when the communist regime was claiming that it was Washington's next target of invasion following the Iraq War.

The manual – the first such North Korea document made public in the outside world – was signed by Mr. Kim in his capacity of chairman of the Central Military Committee of the ruling Workers' Party.

That ended speculation over whether he has assumed the top military post following the 1994 death of his father, president im Il-sung.

Analysts said the guidelines reflected Pyongyang's fear over a possible U.S. military strike amid stalling talks on its nuclear weapons programs, as well as its campaign to whip up a sense of crisis among its 22 million populace reportedly growing discontented with economic hardships.

“The United States has cooked up suspicion over our nuclear programs and is escalating an offensive of international pressure to strangle and destroy our republic,” the booklet said. “If this tactic doesn't work, it plots to use this (nuclear) problem as an excuse for armed invasion.”

Kyunghyang did not clarify where it acquired the document classified as “top secret.”

Seoul's National Intelligence Service said in a one-sentence statement: “We believe the document reflects North Korea's wartime preparations.”

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U.S. Massive Military Build-up against DPRK under Fire
January 4 (KCNA)

Pyongyang, -- The U.S. came under fire by a signed commentary of Minju Joson Tuesday for having massively shipped into south Korea military hardware for mounting a preemptive attack on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The commentary says:

The U.S. massively deployed in south Korea up-to-date weapons and operational equipment it claimed tested in the Iraqi and Afghan wars or newly developed. A month ago, it rounded off the deployment of two battalions of PAC-3 in south Korea and is now contemplating the deployment of new type missile Bunker Burst there within this year. These facts clearly prove that the U.S. is, in fact, hatching a dangerous plot to stab the DPRK on the back, while paying lip-service to "peace" and "dialogue," and this is being pushed forward at a more desperate phase.

It is the DPRK's invariable mode of counteraction to the hostile forces to return fire for fire and respond to the use of force in kind.

The DPRK is left with no option but to move for increasing its defence capacity for self-defense now that it has become clear that the U.S. continues pursuing the policy to stifle the DPRK by mounting a preemptive military attack on the DPRK prompted by its inveterate negation of the DPRK.

The U.S. had better stop running amuck, clearly understanding who its rival is.

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18 dead in ambush of Algerian security patrol
05 January 2005 2056 hrs

ALGIERS : Islamic extremists killed 18 people in an ambush of an army convoy south of the capital Algiers.

The L'Expression newspaper said some 50 extremists used a bomb to blow up the convoy and then raked it with machine-gun fire, killing 13 soldiers and five civilians who were travelling with them.

The attack took place in the early hours of Monday in a remote area in the region of Biskra, some 420 kilometers (260 miles) south of the capital, the paper said Wednesday.

Some of the soldiers were able to fire back, reportedly injuring some of the assailants.

The paper said the rebels, said to be from Algeria's extremist Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), were later surrounded by security forces.

The attack was the deadliest in Algeria since 16 people were murdered more than three months ago in the region of Medea, also south of Algiers. [...]

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Truck crash kills 54 pilgrims in northwest China
Thursday, January 06, 2005
BEIJING: A truck returning from a pilgrimage to Tibet overturned, killing at least 54 people and injuring 41 in China’s dirt-poor northwestern province of Qinghai, Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday. The truck carrying 104 people overturned near Kuola mountain on Monday, Xinhua said without giving a reason for the accident. Trucks transporting people are a common sight in China’s impoverished hinterland. Fifty people died on the spot and four died on the way to hospital, the agency said, adding that 29 passengers were seriously injured. [...]

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Vietnamese child dies from bird flu
Associated Press

Hanoi — A nine-year-old boy in Vietnam has died of bird flu, bringing the number of people in the country killed by the virus to 21, a doctor said Wednesday.

The boy from the southern Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh was admitted to the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Ho Chi Minh City early Tuesday morning and died later that day, hospital deputy director Tran Tinh Hien said.

“He was tested positive for H5N1 virus,” Mr. Hien said, referring to the strain of the virus that is deadly to humans.

World health experts fear that bird flu might mutate and create the next influenza pandemic.

So far, there has been no concrete evidence of human-to-human transmission of bird flu. Only Vietnam and Thailand have recorded human deaths from the virus. [...]

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Tornadoes strike southern Brazil
Wednesday, January 5, 2005 (AP)

(Criciuma): Two tornadoes that struck southern Brazil have forced hundreds of people from their homes, civil defence officials said on Tuesday.

The tornadoes destroyed three houses in Santa Catarina state on Monday, severely damaged 27 and ripped the roof shingles off some 100 houses. At least one death was linked to the twisters.

The first tornado touched down on Monday afternoon about six kilometres (four miles) outside the centre of Criciuma, civil defence officials said.

A second twister, with winds topping 115 kilometres-per-hour (71 mph), struck an hour later even closer to the centre of Criciuma - a city 900 kilometres (560 miles) southwest of Rio de Janeiro.

Amateur video showed the moment the second tornado touched down.

One elderly man died of a heart attack, which may have been related to stress caused by the high winds. About five people suffered minor injuries.

Each tornado lasted about seven minutes. Clovis Correia, a meteorologist with the state's weather service, said that on a scale of one to five, the two tornadoes registered at level one, the weakest.

Tornadoes are rare in the region and throughout Brazil, although a weak tornado struck the same region last month.

Santa Catarina was also struck by rare subtropical cycle in March that many meteorologists said was a hurricane - a controversial classification because it has long been believed that hurricanes didn't occur in the southern Atlantic.

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Children dodge death as tornado strikes
manchester news
Wednesday, 5th January 2005

THREE children dodged death or serious injury by minutes when a tornado slammed into a row of terraced cottages at Lymm.

The climbing frame they had been playing on was hurled into the air, over the house, the road and the nearby Bridgewater Canal before landing, a twisted wreck, in a field about 50 yards away.

Four cottages were badly damaged - three of them made uninhabitable.

The roofs were ripped off two, with slates, bricks and masonry scattered over a wide area. A third had six holes punched in the roof and its dormer destroyed.

Three families had to be evacuated from the homes in Warrington Lane, Agden, after the tornado struck on New Year's Day. [...]

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Funnel cloud brings wind and hail but stays off ground
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 4, 2005 08:56 PM

It had all the makings of a genuine Midwest tornado, but the ominous funnel cloud that captivated wide-eyed residents across the Valley on Tuesday didn't spawn much more than a downpour of hail and a dousing of wind and rain.

"We're lucky it didn't touch down because it had the signature of a tornado on the radar," said meteorologist Hector Vasquez with the National Weather Service in Phoenix. "It would have done some roof damage and blown out some windows."

The funnel cloud, which took over a portion of the afternoon sky for more than an hour, blanketed portions of the West Valley with pea-sized hail after it passed over Luke Air Force Base and headed east. Vasquez said the cell, which forms through an updraft in a thunderstorm and starts to rotate, gained strength over the White Tanks Mountains before barreling into Phoenix. [...]

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Prairie deep freeze to continue through weekend
Last Updated Wed, 05 Jan 2005 22:38:44 EST
CBC News

REGINA - While still digging out from last week's massive storm, Canada's Prairie provinces have been walloped again by more snow and bitter cold.

Dramatically low temperatures swept in again and meteorologists have again issued numerous severe wind chill warnings. Health officials are urging people to stay indoors.

In Regina, with the wind chill, it felt like -51 C on Wednesday.

"I can't remember it being this cold," said one man, "and I've been here a long time. It's pretty nippy."

While the temperature is frigid, it still isn't a record for Regina, which has had it much colder: -50 in 1885, without the wind chill.

But the impact of this type of severe cold is felt.

At the Regina airport flights have been delayed as cargo doors freeze up and equipment breaks down.

The cold has also claimed hundreds of car and trucks. Those that do start, often don't get very far.

Even schools have been shut down, and that's rare on the Prairies. School boards were worried students might be stranded on broken down buses.

In Edmonton, fire forced dozens of homeless people from a shelter, leaving the city scrambling to find alternative housing.

Doctors are warning of hypothermia-induced cardiac arrests, of exhaustion from shovelling in the extreme cold, as well as exposure. [...]

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Scientists weigh West Coast wave threat
MSNBC
By Robin Lloyd
Updated: 3:43 p.m. ET Jan. 4, 2005

There are only two places in the United States where colliding tectonic plates could cause a major tsunami, and new studies show a new earthquake in at least one of these locations could be imminent.

The Cascadia subduction zone, a 680-mile (1,088-kilometer) fault that runs up to 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the coast of the Pacific Northwest — from Cape Mendocino in California to Vancouver Island in southern British Columbia — has experienced a cluster of four massive earthquakes during the past 1,600 years. Scientists are trying to figure out if it is about to undergo a massive shift one more time before entering a quiescent period.

"People need to know it could happen," said U.S. Geological Survey geologist Brian Atwater.

The historical record for this zone, which has the longest recorded data about its earthquakes of any major fault in the world, shows that earthquakes occur in clusters of up to five events, with an average time interval of 300 years between quakes, said Chris Goldfinger, a marine geologist at Oregon State University. Goldfinger and other scientists have been studying this subduction zone for many years.

The two most recent quakes on this fault occurred in the year 1700 (a magnitude 9 event) and approximately the year 1500. It has now been 305 years since the last event. So is the Cascadia subduction zone finished for now or on the brink of event No. 5?

"We know quite a bit about the periodicity of this fault zone and what to expect," he said. "But the key point we don’t know is whether the current cluster of earthquake activity is over yet, or does it have another event left in it."

The Cascadia subduction zone occurs where the relatively thin Juan de Fuca plate moves eastward and under the westward-moving North American Plate. When that collision results in a rupture, massive earthquakes occur. The other active subduction zone capable of producing a major earthquake-tsunami sequence is in Alaska, the site of a giant earthquake and subsequent tsunami in 1964.

Scientists say a rupture along the Cascadia fault would cause the sea floor to bounce 20 feet (6 meters) or more, setting off powerful ocean waves relatively close to shore. The first waves could hit coastal communities in 30 minutes or less -- too rapidly for the current warning systems to save lives.

A tsunami along the Atlantic Coast is considered extremely unlikely. [...]

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And finally...

Wisconsin authorities capture kangaroo on frigid walkabout

Associated Press
Jan. 5, 2005 02:39 PM

DODGEVILLE, Wis. - A kangaroo that went on a walkabout in frigid Wisconsin was captured Wednesday. But where the marsupial came from remained a mystery.

Sheriff's deputies cornered the 150-pound kangaroo in a barn after receiving calls for days from shocked residents who had seen it.

Officials from Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, about 45 miles away, planned to pick it up and take care of it.

Zoo director Jim Hubing said the kangaroo would not have survived long in the Wisconsin winter. Temperatures in the animal's native Australia generally do not drop below the 30s.

Sheriff Steve Michek said some people who spotted the kangaroo were hesitant to report it "because they didn't want to be made a fool of."

He said the animal might have escaped as someone was bringing it through the county.

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