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First they came for the terrorists…

Bush administration's executive suspension of centuries-old habeas corpus right should ring loud alarm bells.

by Thom Hartmann
Dateline: Monday, January 10, 2005

The confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as the next US Attorney-General is not just about the torture memos. It's much bigger than that.

If Bush continues to roll back human and civil rights - and the installation of Alberto Gonzalez as America's chief law enforcement officer is very much a part of his campaign to do so - we may be facing a "Pastor Niemöller moment" sooner than most of us could have imagined.

Tuesday, January 10, 2005, is the third anniversary of the opening of America's first concentration camp since Japanese Americans were shamefully interned during WWII. Since the first Guantanamo camp was opened, the Bush administration has built additional concentration camps - the latest known as Camp Five - in Cuba, and is asking Congress for $29 million to build concentration Camp Six.

These concentration camps detain uncharged, untried, unconvicted individuals, who may be held for the rest of their lives because, as the UK's Guardian newspaper noted on January 5th of this year, the Bush administration "lacks proof" that they are either criminals or POWs.

This is one of the more visible parts of a much larger campaign the Bush administration has embarked on to reverse not only 229 years of the American rule of law regarding the rights of average citizens, but nearly eight centuries of human rights that go back to an epic moment in 1215 on a meadow by the River Thames.

The modern institution of civil and human rights, and particularly the writ of habeas corpus, began in June of 1215 when King John was forced by the feudal lords to sign the Magna Carta at Runnymede. Although that document mostly protected "freemen" - what were then known as feudal lords or barons, and today known as CEOs and millionaires - rather than the average person, it initiated a series of events that echo to this day.

Two of the most critical parts of the Magna Carta were articles 38 and 39, which established the foundation for what is now known as "habeas corpus" laws (literally, "produce the body" from the Latin - meaning, broadly, "let this person go free"), as well as the Fourth through Eighth Amendments of our Constitution and hundreds of other federal and state due process provisions.

Articles 38 and 39 of the Magna Carta said:

"38 In future no official shall place a man on trial upon his own unsupported statement, without producing credible witnesses to the truth of it.

"39 No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land."

This was radical stuff, and over the next four hundred years average people increasingly wanted for themselves these same protections from the abuse of the power of government or great wealth. But from 1215 to 1628, outside of the privileges enjoyed by the feudal lords, the average person could be arrested and imprisoned at the whim of the king with no recourse to the courts.

Then, in 1627, King Charles I overstepped, and the people snapped. Charles I threw into jail five knights in a tax disagreement, and the knights sued the King, asserting their habeas corpus right to be free or on bail unless convicted of a crime.

King Charles I, in response, invoked his right to simply imprison anybody he wanted (other than the rich), anytime he wanted, as he said, "per speciale Mandatum Domini Regis."

This is essentially the same argument that George W Bush makes today for why he has the right to detain both citizens and non-citizens solely on his own say-so: because he's in charge. And it's an argument supported by Alberto Gonzales.

But just as George's decree is meeting resistance, Charles' decree wasn't well received. The result of his overt assault on the rights of citizens led to a sort of revolt in the British Parliament, producing the 1628 "Petition of Right" law, an early version of our Fourth through Eighth Amendments, which restated Articles 38 and 39 of the Magna Carta and added that "writs of habeas corpus, [are] there to undergo and receive [only] as the court should order." It was later strengthened with the "Habeas Corpus Act of 1640" and a second "Habeas Corpus Act of 1679."

Thus, the right to suspend habeas corpus no longer was held by the King. It was exercised solely by the people's (elected and hereditary) representatives in the Parliament.

The third George to govern the United Kingdom confronted this in 1815 when he came into possession of Napoleon Bonaparte. But the British laws were so explicit that everybody was entitled to habeas corpus - even people who were not British citizens - that when Napoleon surrendered on the deck of the British flagship Bellerophon after the battle of Waterloo in 1815, the British Parliament had to pass a law ("An Act For The More Effectually Detaining In Custody Napoleon Bonaparte") to suspend habeas corpus so King George III could legally continue to hold him prisoner (and then legally exile him to a British fortification on a distant island).

Ironically, the third George to govern the United States now says, 190 years later, that unlike England's George III, he does not need an act of Congress to detain people or exile them to camps on a distant island.

To facilitate this, our Third George, and his able counselor Judge Gonzales, have brought forth new "legal" terms - "enemy combatant" and "terrorist" - and invented a new set of law and rights (or non-laws and non-rights) for people they label as such.

It's a virtual repeat of Charles I's doctrine that a nation's ruler may do whatever he wants because he's the one in charge - "per speciale Mandatum Domini Regis."

Interestingly, the United States Constitution does provide for special exceptions to the involuntary detention of persons - it is legal to suspend habeas corpus. But the Constitution says it can only be done by Congress, not by the President.

Article I of the Constitution outlines the powers and limits of the Legislative Branch of government (Article 2 lays out the Executive Branch, and Article 3 defines the Judicial Branch). In Section 9, Clause 2 of Article I, the Constitution says of the Legislative branch's authority: "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."

Abraham Lincoln was well aware of this during the Civil War, and was the first president to successfully ask Congress (on March 3, 1863) to suspend habeas corpus so he could imprison those he considered a threat until the war was over. Congress invoked this power again during Reconstruction when President Grant requested The Ku Klux Klan Act in 1871 to put down a rebellion in South Carolina.

But President George W Bush has not asked Congress for, and has not been granted, a suspension of habeas corpus for his so-called "war on terrorism," a "war" which he and his advisors have implied may last well beyond our lifetimes.

Nonetheless, our President, with consent of his Counsel Mr. Gonzales, has locked people up, "per speciale Mandatum Domini Regis." Some of their names are familiar to us - US citizens Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi, for example - but there are hundreds whose names we are not even allowed to know. Perhaps thousands. It's a state secret, after all. Per speciale Mandatum Domini Regis.

But how do we deal with people who want to kill us, to destroy our nation, to terrorize us?

Every president from George Washington to Bill Clinton has understood that there are two categories of people who can be incarcerated legally - Prisoners of War and criminals. The former have rights under both US law and the Geneva Conventions, and the latter under the US Constitution.

These two categories encompass every possible actual threat to a nation and its people, and have withstood the test of time from the days of King John to today.

For example, when Bill Clinton was confronted with a heinous act of terrorism within the United States - the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City - he didn't declare a "war" on whoever the terrorist may be, or suspend habeas corpus. Instead, he immediately defined the perpetrators as thugs and criminals, and brought the full weight of the American and international criminal justice system to bear, capturing Timothy McVeigh and using Interpol to search the world for possible McVeigh allies. Justice was served, the victims achieved closure, and our rights were left largely intact.

But, just as Hitler and his close advisors used the burning of the Reichstag building to declare a perpetual "war on terrorism," and then moved to suspend habeas corpus and other rights, so too have George W Bush and Alberto Gonzales.

The Founders must be turning in their graves. Clearly they never imagined such a thing in their wildest dreams. As Alexander Hamilton - arguably the most conservative of the Founders - wrote in Federalist 84:

"The establishment of the writ of habeas corpus ... are perhaps greater securities to liberty and republicanism than any it [the Constitution] contains. ...[T]he practice of arbitrary imprisonments have been, in all ages, the favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny. The observations of the judicious [British 18th century legal scholar] Blackstone, in reference to the latter, are well worthy of recital:

"'To bereave a man of life,' says he, 'or by violence to confiscate his estate, without accusation or trial, would be so gross and notorious an act of despotism, as must at once convey the alarm of tyranny throughout the whole nation; but confinement of the person, by secretly hurrying him to jail, where his sufferings are unknown or forgotten, is a less public, a less striking, and therefore A MORE DANGEROUS ENGINE of arbitrary government.''' [Capitals all Hamilton's from the original.]

While the sexy stuff that members of Congress and the news media want to talk about when they question Alberto Gonzales is torture - after all, the pictures are now iconic and have worldwide distribution - the torture of these and other prisoners in US custody is really a subset of a larger issue.

The bigger question here is whether George W Bush has the right to ignore the US Constitution and international treaties, violate human rights and civil liberties, promote "preemptive" wars, and build concentration camps for the permanent imprisonment of untried and unconvicted individuals - all simply because he says he can, per speciale Mandatum Domini Regis. And whether we want the chief law enforcement officer of the land, the man who would be charged with prosecuting Bush or those in his administration who may break the law, to be a man who agrees that Bush stands above the law and the Constitution.

The question, ultimately, is whether our nation will continue to stand for the values upon which it was founded.

Early American conservatives suggested that democracy was so ultimately weak it couldn't withstand the assault of newspaper editors and citizens who spoke out against it, or terrorists from the Islamic Barbary Coast, leading John Adams to pass America's first PATRIOT Act-like laws, the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. President Thomas Jefferson rebuked those who wanted America ruled by an iron-handed presidency that could - as Adams had - throw people in jail for "crimes" such as speaking political opinion, or without constitutional due process.

"I know, indeed," Jefferson said in his first inaugural address on March 4, 1801, "that some honest men fear that a republican government cannot be strong; that this government is not strong enough.

"But would the honest patriot,"he continued, "in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm, on the theoretic and visionary fear that this government, the world's best hope, may by possibility want energy to preserve itself? I trust not.

"I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest government on earth. I believe it is the only one where every man, at the call of the laws, would fly to the standard of the law, and would meet invasions of the public order as his own personal concern."

The sum of this, Jefferson said, was found in "freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus; and trial by juries impartially selected. These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us, and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation.

"The wisdom of our sages and the blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civil instruction, the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety."

Modern conservatives still revere Burke and Adams and sneer at Jefferson, but many are nonetheless alarmed by Bush's unprecedented attack on the Constitution. As Russell Kirk wrote in his seminal 1953 book "The Conservative Mind" - the book which inspired a generation of conservatives from Buckley to Goldwater - a "New Society," abandoning the traditional values of America, could easily come into being if "radicals" such as Bush were to take over our government and discard the Constitution.

This New Society, Kirk wrote in his chapter "The Promise of Conservatism," would be dominated by "the gratification of a lust for power and the destruction of all ancient political institutions in the interest of the new dominant elites. The great Plan requires that the public be kept constantly in an emotional state closely resembling that of a nation at war; this lacking, obedience and co-operation shrivel… " Kirk adds that "Big Brother remains to show the donkey the stick instead of the carrot."

When I was working in Russia some years ago, a friend in Kaliningrad told me a perhaps apocryphal story about Nikita Khrushchev, who, following Stalin's death, gave a speech to the Politburo denouncing Stalin's policies. A few minutes into Khrushchev's diatribe, somebody shouted out, "Why didn't you challenge him then, the way you are now?"

The room fell silent, as Khrushchev angrily swept the audience with his glare. "Who said that?" he asked in a reasoned voice. Silence.

"Who said that?" Khrushchev demanded, leaning forward. Silence.

Pounding his fist on the podium to accent each word, he screamed, "Who - said - that?" Still no answer.

Finally, after a long and strained silence, the elected politicians in the room fearful to even cough, a corner of Khrushchev's mouth lifted into a smile.

"Now you know," he said with a chuckle, "why I did not speak up against Stalin when I sat where you now sit."

The question for our day is who will speak up against George W Bush and his Stalinist policies? Who will speak against the man who punishes reporters and news organizations by cutting off their access; who punishes politicians by targeting them in their home districts; who punishes truth-tellers in the Executive branch by character assassination that even extends to destroying their spouse's careers?

Oddly, so far it's only been Justice Antonin Scalia, a man with whom I often strongly disagree. Scalia wrote in his minority dissent in the case of Hamdi v. Rumsfeld that the President does not have the power to suspend habeas corpus by executive decree. Instead, he wrote: "If civil rights are to be curtailed during wartime, it must be done openly and democratically, as the Constitution requires…"

Scalia went on to quote Alexander Hamilton from Federalist Number 8, who noted that:

"The violent destruction of life and property incident to war; the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty, to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they, at length, become willing to run the risk of being less free."

"The Founders warned us about the risk," Scalia noted in his Hamdi dissent, "and equipped us with a Constitution designed to deal with it.

"Many think it not only inevitable but entirely proper that liberty give way to security in times of national crisis..." but, Scalia added, "that view has no place in the interpretation and application of a Constitution designed precisely to confront war and, in a manner that accords with democratic principles, to accommodate it."

How ironic that Justice Scalia was willing to stand up to George W Bush and Alberto Gonzales, but most of the Senate Democrats won't.

The Democrats in Congress say they're going to confirm Judge Gonzales and "keep their powder dry" for future, larger battles like Supreme Court nominations. But as Pastor Niemöller reminds us, the loss of liberty is incremental, not sudden and dramatic.

One either totally stands for republican democracy, the Constitution, and the rule of law in our republic, or one doesn't. Gonzales has shown that he does not, both by his prevarication in his confirmation hearings, his actions in condoning Bush's illegal suspension of habeas corpus and PATRIOT Act abuses of constitutionally-protected civil and human rights, and his support of other Bush decrees implicitly per speciale Mandatum Domini Regis.

To quote Scalia's summary in the Hamdi case, "Because the Court has proceeded to meet the current emergency in a manner the Constitution does not envision [by letting the President suspend habeas corpus], I respectfully dissent."

But is dissent enough?

Or must we work for a wholesale change in our representatives, demanding that they either stand up for the principles for which so many Americans have fought and died, or leave the political arena altogether?

Where are the true democrats among the Democrats? (Or, for that matter, the true republicans among the Republicans?) Have they all lost their voices?

First Bush and Gonzales came for the terrorists, but I was not a terrorist, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the enemy combatants, but I was not a combatant, so I did not object. Then they came for the protestors resisting "free speech zones" near Bush campaign rallies, but I was not a protestor and so I only voiced my unease.

If we - and our elected representatives - do not speak out now, loudly and forcefully, it may not be long before they come for the rest of us.

Comment: As much as GW would like his subjects to believe that the US has a monopoly on democracy and freedom, as Thom Hartman shows, the modern idea of habeas corpus goes back to the Magna Carta of the 13th century. Democracy did not sprung wholly formed from the foreheads of the American Founding Fathers. Whether or not there is a future for it in the fifty states is another question, a question that Hartman's article leads one to suspect has a negative answer, at least in the near future.

What kind of change would have to occur to reclaim the Constitution? How probable is any such change? For several years now we have been reminding our readers of the quote from Pastor Niemöller. That Hartman can paraphrase it and refer to a "Pastor Niemöller moment" is quite revealing and frightening when you think about it because it means that the German cleric's words have become part of the accepted discourse. A writer, at least among those hostile to GW, now expects his audience to know to what he is referring. How many of us knew these words four years ago?

Gonzalez will be appointed. The Bush crew will spend $40 million on their inauguration. The steamroller will continue on its course with no one in Congress having the courage to stand in its way. The neocon revolution will continue, and the shots will only be fired after the measures for control are secure in place and it is too late to do anything.

If that in itself is not depressing enough (though perhaps some of you are beginning to achieve a greater ability to stare down the horror without flinching?), we would like to draw your attention to another aspect of his article, the parallels he draws between King Charles I of England and King George III of the US. In her article Independence Day, Laura Knight-Jadczyk discusses the Maunder Minimum, the 75 year solar cycle minimum that began at the end of the reign of the aforementioned King Charles. In her article she notes that at the time of the birth in 1630 of Charles' son, who would be crowned Charles the II in 1660, a "second sun" was seen in the sky. The period of Charles II's coronation was a period when many comets were seen.

For those of our readers who are willing to entertain the notion of the possibility of time loops or the repetition of certain dynamics being played and replayed on the stage of the world, we note that in both cases, we have rulers followed shortly by their sons who bear the same first names. Both periods are characterised by the visibility of comets. Both period have seen important political revolutions, as the imposition of the neocon agenda on the US has been a radical change.

Obviously, the dynamic is playing out differently this time around, which is why it is pointless to try and use a past loop as a predictive device for our current situation. These events are symbolic, signs given to us by the universe to allow those who can see them to understand the deeper significance of events. Of course it would be easy to dismiss these. The level of ambiguity is such that one could argue that we are reading into them what we wish.

Perhaps.

However, we do so within the context of many other events and within the working hypothesis that the relationship of each individual on the planet to the primal Creative force of the universe can affect events on our planet. When those who have the potential to transmute that Creative energy and do not do so, the energy is forced to manifest itself in other ways. If it is not being manifest in its "nature" form of Creation, perhaps it becomes distorted and is manifested as violence and destruction.

And so we offer these ideas to you as speculation, as a sketch of a possibility that may have some basis in reality but for which more data and reflection are necessary before any conclusions can be drawn.

We end with the idea that the twin sun was most likely seen close to 400 years ago as it moved inwards on its path around the solar system. Might we not see it again as it changes course and moves back out?

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Flashback: Washington prepares international network of permanent detention camps

By Rick Kelly
5 January 2005

The Bush administration is crafting a series of measures to secure the permanent detention without trial of alleged terrorists and those it designates as enemy combatants, the Washington Post reported Sunday. In gross violation of international law, detainees may soon be held in new US-constructed prisons in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, without access to lawyers or family members.

“The Pentagon and the CIA have asked the White House to decide on a more permanent approach for potentially lifetime detentions, including for hundreds of people in military and CIA custody whom the government does not have enough evidence to charge in courts,” the Post reported. “The outcome of the review, which involves the State Department as well, would also affect those expected to be captured in the course of future counterterrorism operations.”

One measure under consideration is the transfer of Afghan, Saudi and Yemeni detainees currently held in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp to prisons built by the US in their home countries.

These prisons may also be used to detain those currently held by the Central Intelligence Agency. Almost nothing is known about how many prisoners are in the hands of the CIA, or the conditions under which they are kept. The CIA reportedly maintains secret detention facilities on ships at sea, and at military bases in Afghanistan and on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia.

The Post noted that these detainees represent the Bush administration’s “toughest detention problem,” and that the CIA “has been scurrying since Sept. 11, 2001, to find secure locations abroad where it could detain and interrogate captives without risk of discovery, and without having to give them access to legal proceedings.” A proposal of the intelligence agency to operate its own secret prison was rejected as impractical.

Local authorities will run the new prisons, while the State Department will reportedly monitor operations, ensuring compliance with “recognized human rights standards.”

Such assurances are hardly credible. The Bush administration has systematically flouted human rights conventions in the name of the war on terror. The use of torture has been sanctioned at the highest levels of the government, and, as leaked Red Cross reports have demonstrated, US authorities routinely inflict torture upon Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

Claims regarding the protection of human rights are particularly cynical, given that the new measures are deliberately designed to violate long-established legal rights and norms. Anyone the government designates an enemy combatant now faces life imprisonment, without trial, without access to legal advice, and without any hope of appeal or review. Detainees are dropped into a legal black hole, and face totally unchecked interrogation methods.

The international prison system will effectively entrench and systematize the CIA’s illegal practice known as “rendering.” This is where the intelligence agency secretly transfers detainees to various third countries, such as Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Rendering has been used to employ local security forces’ use of extreme torture and brutality, while evading US and international law.

The Bush administration’s proposals again demonstrate the brazen criminality of its “war on terror.” Despite all of the extremely damaging revelations of US abuse of detainees in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay that emerged last year, the government is plunging ahead with a new system that will inevitably lead to further abuse and torture.

The plan has already led to disquiet among those in the political establishment who fear adverse long-term consequences for the US’s international position if the present course is maintained. “It’s a bad idea,” Senator Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, declared. “So we ought to get over it and we ought to have a very careful, constitutional look at this.”

The Post referred to an unnamed senior administration official who noted that the new detention proposals were necessary because “the current detention system has strained relations between the United States and other countries.” But rather than alter any of the features of the current system that has provoked so much international opposition—contravention of international law, secret detention without trial, abuse, torture, etc.—the government has evidently concluded that the problem lies in excessive public and judicial review of its operations.

The Bush administration’s move to shift detainees from Guantanamo Bay has been provoked, in part, by a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that allowed prisoners to challenge their detention in federal court.

While this decision did not challenge the government’s right to imprison whomever it deems an enemy combatant, the Bush administration views any measure of judicial oversight over its operations as an unwarranted irritant. It is highly unlikely that the US judiciary could claim any jurisdiction over those detainees transferred to the nominal control of authorities in their home countries.

It is unclear whether the Red Cross would have access to detainees held in the new prisons. Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Afghanistan all have atrocious human rights records. In Yemen, the Red Cross suspended prison visits last year after the government refused access to prisoners held by its Political Security department.

Detainees who remain in Guantanamo Bay will soon be held in a $25 million, 200-bed prison, dubbed “Camp 6,” replacing the existing makeshift detention facilities on the American base. The prison complements the already constructed 100-cell “Camp 5.” The Pentagon is also preparing to replace the mostly reservist force currently guarding the facilities with a 324-member military police battalion.

Unnamed defense officials told the Washington Post that the new facility will be used for those “who are unlikely to ever go through a military tribunal for lack of evidence.” This admission again demonstrates the wholly fraudulent nature of the Bush administration’s attempt to create the appearance of judicial review for detainees through the use of these tribunals.

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Dear Ken, About That Cakewalk...
What's Our Biggest Problem...the Insurgency or Bush?
By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
January 12, 2005
Three years ago in the Washington Post Ken Adelman, formerly an assistant to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, promised us "Cakewalk In Iraq." I wonder how Mr. Adelman feels about his promise today.

In his article Adelman disparaged Brookings Institution military analysts and the redoubtable Edward Luttwak for "fear-mongering." Adelman dismissed concerns about US casualties and unilateral action as misguided worries that inspire inaction when it was perfectly clear, to Adleman at least, that Iraq's Saddam "Hussein constitutes the number one threat against American security and civilization."

As for concerns about going it alone, "President Bush does not need to amass rinky-dink nations as 'coalition partners' to convince the Washington establishment that we're right."

The Washington establishment must be wondering today how it was convinced into making such a fatal mistake. Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein had no terrorist links or involvement in the September 11 terror attack. US casualties (dead and wounded) now stand at 10 percent of the US invasion force. A few thousand lightly armed insurgents have tied down eight US divisions. Iraq's infrastructure lies in ruins. Fallujah, once a city of 300,000, has been destroyed. The US has lost control of the roads, and most of the US fighting force is confined to protecting supply lines and its own bases. The US military is cracking under the strain of prolonged service in the field. The cost of the war mounts, putting more pressure on a collapsing US dollar. The US occupation has recruited thousands of new terrorists for Osama bin Laden and provided a training ground. Torture and torture memos have destroyed America's moral reputation. Civil war looms as neither Sunnis, Shiites, nor Kurds are willing to support a government they do not control. Anti-American feelings throughout the Middle East threaten to undermine the secular puppets that the US keeps afloat in Pakistan, Egypt and Jordan. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. Generals speak of staying another 3, 5, 7, and 10 years in order "to get the job done."

If this is a cakewalk, what is a failed invasion and a lost war?

Where Mr. Adelman, the neoconservatives, the Pentagon, the White House, the flag-wavers, and the media went wrong was in thinking the outcome would be settled by a set piece battle between massed Iraqi and US forces. They thought this because they knew nothing whatsoever about Iraq.

The Sunni-controlled Iraqi military chose insurgency as the strategy. Suck the invader in, and make him unsafe on every street and in every building. Blow him up in his own fortified bases.

Their strategy has worked. Ours has failed.

Comment: What if the neocon strategists knew exactly what they were doing? Much of the criticism of Bush and Co policy has the assumption that these folks believed their own lies, that they believed it would be, as the title of this article suggests, "a cakewalk" in Iraq.

However, these are not stupid people. They planned, organised, and carried off the attacks of 9/11 leaving few Americans the wiser that it was an inside job. The agenda they have implemented since that day was planned well in advance. They knew what they were doing. They have set their sights on Iran and Syria. As long as things are going so badly in Iraq, the issue of Palestine is pushed off the front pages, which, given that many of the neocons, the planners of this strategy, have dual American-Israeli citizenship, shouldn't be a surprise. One might speculate that their primary allegiance is to Israel, and having the US bogged down in the "war on terror" simply means that Israel has a strong ally. Moreover, US soldiers and dollars are doing the job and look to be set to take on the other countries that stand in the way of the establishment of Greater Israel.

Underestimating the intelligence of your enemy can be fatal. Most critics of the neocons have already underestimated the lengths to which these people are willing to go to achieve their goals. The neocons were willing to murder nearly 3000 people to provoke a "New Pearl Harbor" that justifies their wars. Until we have let this fact fully sink in, until we have been able to apprehend the horror of that fact, until we see clearly that these people are the enemy, not only of America, but of everything noble in the human spirit, there will be no way to change course because we will continue to imagine that all of this death and destruction was "only" a "mistake"...

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Bush refuses to apologise for invading Iraq

ME Online
2005-01-13

White House halts quest for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, key reason for invading Iraq.

WASHINGTON - The United States has stopped searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq - one of its key reasons for invading the country - and a report saying there are no such weapons to find there will likely stand, the White House confirmed Wednesday.

However, US President George W. Bush, who issued dire warnings about Iraq's WMD capability prior to the US-led invasion of Iraq in March of 2003, said the Iraq war had been "absolutely" worth fighting.

"Like many, many here in the United States, many around the world, the United Nations thought he had weapons of mass destruction, and so, therefore, one, we need to find out what went wrong in the intelligence gathering. Saddam was dangerous. And .. the world was safer without him in power," Bush said, according to excerpts released from an ABC television interview.

Asked whether it had been worth invading Iraq even without WMD found, Bush replied, "Oh, absolutely."

Bush made his comments on the ABC News 20/20 program.

Comment: It appears that Bush believes that if he simply contradicts the truth then that makes the truth a lie and the lie the truth. The FACT is that the UN DID NOT believe that Saddam had WMDs, which is why Bush failed to get UN approval for the US invasion. As for the everyone being safer without Saddam, the Iraqi people themselves have an interesting opinion on that one...

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Iraqi Victim Says U.S. Torture Worse Than Saddam
By Adam Tanner
Reuters
Jan 11, 6:11 PM (ET)

FORT HOOD, Texas - A former inmate at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison forced by U.S. guards to masturbate in public and piled onto a pyramid of naked men said on Tuesday even Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein did not do such things.

The inmate testified at the court martial of reservist soldier Charles Graner, accused ringleader of guards who engaged in the abuse, which prompted outrage when pictures of the sexual humiliation were published around the world.

"I couldn't believe in the beginning that this could happen, but I wished I could kill myself because no one was there to stop it," Hussein Mutar, who was sent to Abu Ghraib accused of car theft, said in videotaped testimony.

"They were torturing us as though it was theater for them," he said, as the prosecution wound up its case against Graner on assault, dereliction of duty and other charges that could bring him up to 17 1/2 years in prison.

An obviously ill-at ease Mutar added: "I was extremely emotional because (even) Saddam didn't do this to us." [...]

SEXUAL HUMILIATION

At the trial military prosecutors have presented evidence not seen before in public from Abu Ghraib, including a video of forced group masturbation and a picture of a woman prisoner ordered to show her breasts.

Graner's lawyer Guy Womack argues his client was only following orders to soften up prisoners for military intelligence agents. He said activities such as making human pyramids with naked hooded prisoners were not illegal. [...]

Three soldiers in Graner's former unit had testified on Monday about his key role in stacking naked prisoners into a pyramid, putting a leash on a prisoner and other abuses in the highest security area of the prison just outside Baghdad.

Two investigators testified that they had identified prisoners shown in the abuse pictures as common criminals arrested on charges including robbery, assault and prostitution.

On Wednesday, the defense will open its case that will include testimony from Graner.

Comment: It seems that some of the prisoners the US is holding in the war on terror are nothing more than common criminals. This fact would explain why the US wants to create a permanent prison for some prisoners and ship many others off to other countries to be tortured, probably to death. The US has no evidence to bring the prisoners to trial on charges of terrorism because the prisoners aren't terrorists. Sure, some may be common criminals, but do their crimes warrant a life of imprisonment, humiliation, and torture? Many more - if not most - of the "detainees" are probably not guilty of any crime at all. We're not sure which is more shocking: that the US routinely tortures wrongfully imprisoned people, or that the rest of the world sits idly by - along with too many hoodwinked Americans - and allows it to happen.

In response to our comments on yesterday's page about the end of the hunt for WMDs in Iraq, a reader responded:

re: no weapons of mass destruction

Please don't try to fight lies, with lies. You lose all credibility. I suppose those were civilians that were guarding the palaces of Sadam Houssien (sic). They sure looked like they were wearing uniforms to me. Maybe, to the writers of your crap, they were just wearing designer clothes. Maybe it was a coincidence that they were all wearing the same designer clothes during the first few months of the Iraq (non) war. And they all carried guns to match. How beautiful. The Rupublican (sic) guard, Sadam's assassins, civilians, dressed in designer outfits, designed by 'Adolf' Klien no doubt.

Pick a country, any country, and you will find members of the armed forces of that country guarding government buildings. If the US decides to unilaterally bomb those buildings, and the country itself, back to the stone age, using off shore carrier-launched cruise missiles and stealth bombers, is that a "war" in the traditional sense of the word? If a grown man walks down the street and begins to mercilessly beat a young child, is it a fair fight?

When we commented yesterday that there was no "war" in Iraq, we did not say there was no Iraqi army, just that, thanks to the first Gulf "war", the 10 years of "sanctions" and continuous "allied" bombing raids, there was no Iraqi army to speak of, at least none that could put up any kind of defence against the vastly superior military technology possessed by the US, and therefore no "war".

"Gulf War part I" was little different to the most recent US atrocity. Readers will remember that in that particular "war" not a single US soldier was lost in combat, yet hundreds of thousands of Iraqi conscripts were "caramelised" by the brave US forces in the infamous "highway of death" "turkey shoot" after they had surrendered and as they tried to escape. Was that a "war" in the traditional sense of the word? Was it a "fair fight"?

Perhaps the problem is in the definition of "war" as it has come to be known. The US public are now so accustomed to the pre-emptive wars of aggression to protect US "interests" that Bush has been waging in recent years, that he thinks that as long as there are some "rag heads" in uniform to shoot at, then he can call it "war", at which point members of the US public like our reader above, brimming with pride, will rush to break out the stars and stripes and scream "shekinah!"

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US warns Russia not to sell arms to Syria
www.chinaview.cn 2005-01-13 05:38:52
WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 (Xinhuanet) -- The United States on Wednesday warned Russia against selling lethal military equipment to Syria, reiterating the Arab country "is a state sponsor of terrorism."

"We're against the sale of weaponry to Syria, against the sale of lethal military equipment to Syria, which is a state sponsor of terrorism. We think those kinds of sales are not appropriate," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

Asked what action Washington would envision against Moscow if the deal went through, Boucher said, "There are potential sanctions under US law. But that would have to be looked at, if and when, such a sale should occur."

Boucher made the remarks when he was commenting reports that Russia is getting ready to sell Syria its SS-26 Iskander missile, which could hit any target in Israel.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is due to pay a historic visit to Russia on January 24 for talks with President Vladimir Putin.

Comment: Whatever happened to GW's ability to peer into his friend Vladimir's soul? They were such good buddies a few years ago. Sure, George and the CIA were supplying the rebels in Chechnya with training and support through their good buddies in Pakistan's ISI even though for Putin they were "terrorists". That dogged problem of telling the difference between a "freedom fighter" and a "terrorist" is not an easy one. Perhaps Bush thought that Putin wasn't strong enough to do more than sit on the sidelines after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Perhaps Bush doesn't care.

However, we see a realignment of China, Russia, and Europe in the face of the US beast. Such an alignment is completely understandable in an environment where the US has shown its willingness to launch preemptory wars against its enemies and rivals. The new alliance is a reaction against US belligerence. Unfortunately, the US public will be told that it is due to the belligerence of these other countries and the citizens will be lined up to protect the homeland. When the US economy tanks, someone else will have to be held accountable, will need to be made the scapegoat, and the victim of choice are all the countries that stand up and say no to Bush's politics.

Israel's stated reason for taking action to prevent the sale of arms to Syria is that it "fears the weapons may fall into the hands of Palestinian militants." Of course, they are totally justified in doing so, after all, it would be terrible for Israel if the oppressed Palestinian people had something other than rocks to defend themselves with.

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Mossad agents running operations from within the U.S.
1/12/2005 12:07:00 PM  GMT

Immediately after September 11th, stories were circulating that 5 Israelis were arrested in New York after being caught 'celebrating' the strikes. They were placed in solitary confinement for weeks but then were quietly deported.

Israeli Dominick Suter tells the same story. The owner of a moving company called Urban Moving Systems suddenly upped and moved back to Israel abandoning his business for no apparent reason.

The imprisonment of Israelis, mostly all believed to be Mossad agents, was all down to their suspicious behaviour. Shady enough behaviour to warrant the FBI to look into the 'business' of these people and arrest them. But what is even more suspicious is the way in which they were quietly released, with minimum fanfare and deported back to Israel.

The five celebrating Israelis aren't the only ones arrested for their dubious behaviour.

In October of 2002 in Plymouth, PA, a restaurant manager reported on three movers who were caught dumping furniture near his place. When he approached the driver, later identified as Moshe Elmakias, the man fled the scene. The manager made a note of the trucks sign, 'Moving Systems Incorporated' and called the police.

The truck was later spotted by the police. The two other movers, identified as Israelis Ayelet Reisler and Ron Katar began to act strangely enough for the police to search the truck and find a video which revealed footage of Chicago with zoomed in shots of the infamous Sears Tower. Falsified travel logs and fake paperwork were also found on the Israelis. When pressed for the name and number of the customer they were supposedly moving his furniture for, they were not able to provide them.

On October 10th, 2001 news broadcaster CNN made a brief mention of a scuppered bomb plot in Mexico promising to bring more details as the story unraveled. But that was the last time the TV network station ever reported on the story.

But over in Mexico the foiled bomb threat was headline news and was posted on the official website of the Mexican Justice Department.

Two terror suspects were caught in the Mexican Chamber of Deputies; in their possession were nine hand grenades, a high powered gun and C-4 plastic explosives.

The two men arrested were Salvador Gerson Sunke, a Mexican Jew, and Sar ben Zui, a colonel with the Israeli special forces, aka MOSSAD. Also found in their possession were false Pakistani passports. 

But like previous cases involving Israelis, the story disappeared from the press and the two men were released and deported back to Israel, very quietly and very top secret.

An investigative report by the news service La Voz de Aztlan revealed that plenty was going on behind closed doors.

"La Voz de Aztlan has learned that the Israeli Embassy used heavy handed measures to have the two Israelis released. Very high level emergency meetings took place between Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations Jorge Gutman, General Macedo de la Concha and a top Ariel Sharon envoy who flew to Mexico City especially for that purpose. Elías Luf of the Israeli Embassy worked night and day and their official spokeswoman Hila Engelhart went into high gear after many hours of complete silence. What went on during those high level meetings; no one knows, but many in Mexico are in disbelief at their release."

Stories of Israelis being arrested by law enforcers are widespread and plenty with one common theme – they all get released and deported back to Israel with no charges filed against them.

Furthermore, if one casts their mind a few years back the Mossad 'warned' that some 200 Al-Qaeda members were planning major attacks in the U.S. Three years on and not one of these Al Qaeda members has been arrested nor found.

However, nearly 200 Israeli agents have been. Agents who included military personnel, electronics experts, wire and phone taping experts and explosive experts with the skill to bring down buildings including high rise ones.

Could it be that the 200 Al Qaeda members, Mossad warned about, are in reality their own agents sent to frame Arabs for "terrorist attacks"?

Comment: This last question is most the important of all, as the writer has identified the very modus operandi of the Mossad itself. For "By way of deception, thou shalt do war" is their motto. It is common practice of the Mossad to "dress up" as Arabs (or any group they want to blame) before unleashing an attack. This tactic, among many others of an equally sinister bent, are described in detail by Victor Ostrovsky, a former Mossad agent, in his book "By Way of Deception".

The story of the five Israelis celebrating atop an adjacent building after the World Trade Center towers came down has been covered extensively here at Signs of the Times, and in encapsulated in an excellent article by LKJ called The Mossad Happy Dance. The question of Israeli secret service involvement in phony U.S. moving companies is also explicated in a similar article called Mossad and Moving Companies: Masterminds of Global Terrorism?.

Doing the necessary research into the shadowy world of secret intelligence and covert black-ops by American and Israeli agencies over the years is a very productive endeavor if one is to really see the invisible hand of those nefarious forces that seek to exert total dominion over the entire planet.

The fingerprints of the CIA and Mossad can be seen in many if not most of the spectacular attacks, coup-d'etat's and assassinations that have occurred since the end of World War II. The most important of these in recent times was the attack on September 11th, which was immediately blamed on al-Qaeda, and by extension all Arabic and Muslim people.

One need only look at the ongoing bloodshed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine to see the results of that very successful caper.

But don't take our word for it. Do the research and come to your own conclusions. All the information is out there on the internet if one has the tenacity, discernment and perseverance to look and study hard without attachment to any "official version of events" or previously held beliefs.

Hard work indeed, but well worth the effort, for it remains true to this day that a "labourer is worthy of his hire".

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Is Al Qaeda Just a Bush Boogeyman?

Robert Scheer
January 11, 2005
Los Angleles Times

Is it conceivable that Al Qaeda, as defined by President Bush as the center of a vast and well-organized international terrorist conspiracy, does not exist?

To even raise the question amid all the officially inspired hysteria is heretical, especially in the context of the U.S. media's supine acceptance of administration claims relating to national security. Yet a brilliant new BBC film produced by one of Britain's leading documentary filmmakers systematically challenges this and many other accepted articles of faith in the so-called war on terror.

"The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear," a three-hour historical film by Adam Curtis recently aired by the British Broadcasting Corp., argues coherently that much of what we have been told about the threat of international terrorism "is a fantasy that has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians. It is a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments around the world, the security services and the international media."

Stern stuff, indeed. But consider just a few of the many questions the program poses along the way:

• If Osama bin Laden does, in fact, head a vast international terrorist organization with trained operatives in more than 40 countries, as claimed by Bush, why, despite torture of prisoners, has this administration failed to produce hard evidence of it?

• How can it be that in Britain since 9/11, 664 people have been detained on suspicion of terrorism but only 17 have been found guilty, most of them with no connection to Islamist groups and none who were proven members of Al Qaeda?

• Why have we heard so much frightening talk about "dirty bombs" when experts say it is panic rather than radioactivity that would kill people?

• Why did Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claim on "Meet the Press" in 2001 that Al Qaeda controlled massive high-tech cave complexes in Afghanistan, when British and U.S. military forces later found no such thing?

Of course, the documentary does not doubt that an embittered, well-connected and wealthy Saudi man named Osama bin Laden helped finance various affinity groups of Islamist fanatics that have engaged in terror, including the 9/11 attacks. Nor does it challenge the notion that a terrifying version of fundamentalist Islam has led to gruesome spates of violence throughout the world. But the film, both more sober and more deeply provocative than Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," directly challenges the conventional wisdom by making a powerful case that the Bush administration, led by a tight-knit cabal of Machiavellian neoconservatives, has seized upon the false image of a unified international terrorist threat to replace the expired Soviet empire in order to push a political agenda.

Terrorism is deeply threatening, but it appears to be a much more fragmented and complex phenomenon than the octopus-network image of Al Qaeda, with Bin Laden as its head, would suggest.

While the BBC documentary acknowledges that the threat of terrorism is both real and growing, it disagrees that the threat is centralized:

"There are dangerous and fanatical individuals and groups around the world who have been inspired by extreme Islamist ideas and who will use the techniques of mass terror — the attacks on America and Madrid make this only too clear. But the nightmare vision of a uniquely powerful hidden organization waiting to strike our societies is an illusion. Wherever one looks for this Al Qaeda organization, from the mountains of Afghanistan to the 'sleeper cells' in America, the British and Americans are chasing a phantom enemy."

The fact is, despite the efforts of several government commissions and a vast army of investigators, we still do not have a credible narrative of a "war on terror" that is being fought in the shadows.

Consider, for example, that neither the 9/11 commission nor any court of law has been able to directly take evidence from the key post-9/11 terror detainees held by the United States. Everything we know comes from two sides that both have a great stake in exaggerating the threat posed by Al Qaeda: the terrorists themselves and the military and intelligence agencies that have a vested interest in maintaining the facade of an overwhelmingly dangerous enemy.

Such a state of national ignorance about an endless war is, as "The Power of Nightmares" makes clear, simply unacceptable in a functioning democracy.

Comment: First of all, the US is a "functioning democracy" in name only, and the "national ignorance" about the "endless war" on terror is required to ensure that real democracy does not break out in the US. Secondly, if BOTH sides in the war on terror have a stake in exaggerating the threat, then it is reasonable to assume that the two sides are really on the same side.

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Palestinians killed in new Israeli raids
Wednesday 12 January 2005, 10:14 Makka Time, 7:14 GMT  

Two Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank hours after Israeli troops, tanks and helicopters raided a Gaza district in the first reported deaths since Mahmud Abbas was elected president.

Both Palestinians were shot dead in an exchange with Israeli occupation troops near Ram Allah in the occupied West Bank.

Meanwhile, helicopters launched two missiles in the Shaikh Ajlin district and, according to residents, raked an open field with gunfire in what the military described as a pinpoint operation to arrest suspected resistance members on Wednesday.

There was one reported casualty in Gaza in what the army had described as a limited operation.

But Aljazeera's correspondent in the occupied territories said  the Israeli tank intrusion provoked the gun battle which led to the arrests.

The correspondent said Israeli forces detained five Palestinian citizens from the Abu Shuqa family, a father and his four sons, who live about 600 to 700 metres from the Israeli settlement of Netsarim.

The correspondent added that Israeli forces also damaged the only coastal highway linking the city with the central and southern parts of the Gaza Strip when they bulldozed lands surrounding the settlement.

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Israel to Demolish 3,000 Palestinian Homes
January 11/05
(IslamOnline.net & News Agencies)

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – No sooner had the Palestinians elected their next president in a poll hailed by Washington as an opportunity to yank the peace process out of its slumber than Israel announced plans to demolish 3,000 homes in war-battered Rafah.

Israeli press reports revealed Tuesday, January 11, that the Israeli occupation army has confirmed the destruction plan, one day after senior Israeli officials called Mahmmoud Abbas a “serious and responsible man with whom we can talk.”

The mass-circulation Maariv daily said the Israeli plan in Rafah is aimed at digging a trench along the so-called “Philadelphi route” to prevent the alleged smuggling of weapons, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

It said that the construction will be in full swing within weeks, adding the occupation authorities have already submitted for the attorney general's approval a plan for digging the trench that would extend to the southern part of Rafah.

The newspaper said the army planned to complete the project before the Israeli government's plan to pull out of the Gaza Strip and dismantle Jewish settlements to be implemented in June this year.

According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), a total of 1,728 Rafah homes have been demolished since the start of the second Intifada by the Israeli occupation army, leaving 17,400 homeless. [...]

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Israel's hand in Sudan's past and future
1/9/2005 12:07:00 PM  GMT

Was Israel behind the separatist movement of the Southern Sudanese? Was Sudan used as a tool by Tel Aviv in order to achieve a long term goal which was to weaken Egypt and come in from the backdoor?

According to a book published by the Dayan Institute for Middle East and Africa Studies called "Israel and the Sudanese Liberation Movement", Israel adopted a strategy which they called 'pulling the limbs then cutting them off'. What this policy entailed was the building of bridges with minority groups, pulling them out of the nationalist context and then 'encouraging' them to separate.

Tel Aviv hoped that this strategy would inevitably weaken the Arab world, break it down and threaten its interests at the same time. In order for this strategy to work, Mossad agents opened lines of communication and connections with the Kurds in Iraq, Maronites in Lebanon and Southerners in Sudan.

Of the three groups, the most important and strategic to Israel's interests were the Southern Sudanese due to the country's close proximity to Egypt. According to the Israeli military belief, Egypt is their most dangerous enemy in region, hence the deep concentration on achieving the goal of weakening it and threatening it from the back. [...]

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Le Pen irks French government with Nazi remarks
Reuters
01/12/2005 13:48

PARIS - France threatened on Wednesday to take legal action against far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen for saying the Nazi occupation of France during World War Two had not been "particularly inhumane."

The government, anti-racism organisations and Jewish groups sharply condemned Le Pen's latest controversial comments, made in an interview with right-wing weekly magazine Rivarol.

"It's not only the European Union and globalisation we have to free our country of. It's also the lies about its history, lies that are protected by exceptional measures," Le Pen said in comments published in Rivarol's Jan. 7 edition.

"In France, at least, the German occupation was not particularly inhumane, although there were some blunders, inevitable in a country of 550,000 sq km."

The Justice Ministry called for a preliminary police inquiry to determine whether Le Pen's comments broke the law.

"He should explain himself before the law," Justice Minister Dominique Perben told LCI television.

France anti-racism laws have made denying the Holocaust a crime, punishable by fines or prison.

Le Pen, who in 1987 dismissed the Holocaust as a "detail" of history, alarmed Europe in 2002 by reaching the second round of France's presidential election on an anti-immigrant and anti-Europe platform.

During the Nazi German occupation of France from 1940 until 1944, about 76,000 Jews were deported. Only some 2,500 returned.

The CRIF umbrella group of Jewish organisations said it was "shocked" by Le Pen's comments.

"These statements tarnish the memory of all victims of Nazism ... and of the entire French population which was submitted to the most atrocious of occupations and humiliations for more than four years," it said.

France's junior minister for veterans, Hamlaoui Mekachera, said he had read Le Pen's comments with "astonishment" and dismissed Le Pen's "attempts to rewrite history."

Richard Serero, director-general of France's Licra anti-racism league, said of Le Pen: "These comments are shabby."

French prosecutors have already opened a judicial investigation into comments by Le Pen's number two, Bruno Gollnisch, who questioned whether the Nazis used gas chambers in the Holocaust.

Le Pen was convicted and ordered to pay a symbolic one franc fine for his 1987 comments, when he said the gas chambers were a "detail in the history of the Second World War."

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Britain's Prince Harry apologizes after being pictured in Nazi uniform
AFP
Thu Jan 13, 2:07 AM ET

LONDON - Britain's Prince Harry apologized after a picture of him dressed up as a Nazi soldier was splashed across the front page of a mass-circulation newspaper.

The pictures in The Sun newspaper triggered outrage, especially from the Jewish community which pointed out that they appear as the royal family prepares to lead commemorations of the 60th anniversary of the Holocaust.

Thursday's edition of The Sun features Harry, 20, the younger son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, attending a fancy dress party wearing a khaki uniform with an armband emblazoned with a swastika, emblem of the German WWII Nazi Party.

Harry, third in line to the British throne after his father and his elder brother William, was pictured wearing the costume as he held a cigarette and drink during a birthday party for a friend last Saturday, The Sun said.

"Harry The Nazi," according to the headline of the newspaper story, which also included an apology from Prince Harry.

Contacted by AFP, a spokeswoman for the royal family read a similar statement of apology. "I am very sorry if I caused any offense or embarrassment to anyone. It was a poor choice of costume and I apologize," Prince Harry said.

Jeff Barak, deputy editor of the Jewish Chronicle, told Sky News his reaction to the photograph was one of "shock and revulsion".

He said that going to a fancy dress party as a Nazi was "something that one does not do" and is "not a laughing matter" and that Harry had "made a serious error."

The Board of Deputies of British Jews welcomed the apology.

"We're gratified that the prince has apologized. The incident was in bad taste, especially in the runup to the Holocaust memorial day, which the royal family will play a leading role in commemorating," it said.

Holocaust memorial day is marked on January 27, the day in 1945 when the Soviet army liberated Auschwitz, the most infamous of the Nazi World War II concentration camps.

Commentators described the incident as a "public relations disaster," of a far greater magnitude than previous onces facing the young prince.

A British newspaper reported only last month that Prince Harry, who has gained the reputation as Britain's most unruly royal, had avoided charges after scuffling with a photographer outside a nightclub in October.

Doug Henderson, Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne North and a former armed forces minister, said Prince Harry should scrap plans to become a British Army officer.

"After the revelations this evening I don't think this young man is suitable for Sandhurst," the elite army officer training school, Henderson said.

"If it was anyone else the application wouldn't be considered. It should be withdrawn immediately," he said.

The Queen's former assistant press secretary, Dickie Arbiter, said "this young man has got to come up front and be seen in person making an apology" because the incident is so offensive.

Arbiter, interviewed by Sky News, lamented that it appeared that Prince Charles, despite his own solid reputation, failed to exert enough discipline over his children, particularly Harry.

"There is a lack of control," he said..

Andy Pike, from Unite Against Fascism, said: "Prince Harry has had a very expensive education, is supposedly fit to be an officer serving in his country's armed forces and one would assume he is not a complete idiot.

"One would be very surprised if he were not aware of the significance of wearing the swastika and the amount of offence that would cause."

David Winnick, a Labour Party member of parliament, said: "I think everyone recognizes there is a growing-up process for youngsters but I would seriously suggest that he takes the opportunity to watch the BBC programs on Auschwitz screening this month.

The Sun reported Harry, who is due to train at the military academy, Sandhurst, later this year, was among 250 guests at the party for a friend's 22nd birthday party in Wiltshire.

His brother William was also reported to have attended, dressed in a home-made lion and leopard outfit in a party along the theme of Natives and Colonials.

The newspaper said Harry's outfit of beige shirt and trousers and Nazi insignia, which it said resembled Rommel's "hated Afrika Korps" had been the talk of party guests.

One shocked reveller told the Sun: "What on earth was Harry thinking of? A senior royal dressing up as a Nazi for a laugh? If that is his idea of a joke it went down like a lead balloon with many.

"There are a lot of old soldiers out there who will look at these photos of Harry dressed like this and be totally outraged."

He added: "The Nazis were responsible for the deaths of millions. To turn that into a jokey idea for a fancy dress is an absolute disgrace."

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That Wasn't A Nazi Salute - Di Canio
Goal.com
1/11/2005 1:02:00 PM

Lazio icon Paolo Di Canio has denied through the mouth of his agent Moreno Roggi that he made the Nazi salute to his fellow fans at the end of his team’s derby triumph over AS Roma.

“I just went to say hi to my fans. It’s clear, there were many photographers with devices that take hundreds of pictures in just one minute. It is normal that these caught me with my hand in that position for a split second,” read the statement by Di Canio, that was read out by Roggi to BBC radio.

Di Canio, who has a tattoo with written ‘Duce’ in reference to Benito Mussolini on one of his arms, is being investigated by the Italian police for the incident.

The picture we attached to this article seems to contradict Di Canio's claims, but everyone is free to judge for themselves.

Comment: Di Canio's claim about fancy cameras doesn't seem to hold water. We found the following photo on the BBC's web site:

Note that in this photo, there isn't anyone standing around Di Canio like in the photo from the above article. Obviously, he was saluting for more than just a fraction of a second as he claims. It is also somewhat difficult to explain the hideous expression on his face in both photos.

Le Pen, Prince Harry, and Di Canio... It seems strange that these three well-known individuals would do or say such outrageous things related to Nazism all at the same time. Perhaps it is all just related to the approaching 60th anniversary of the holocaust, or perhaps they have been reading about the arrangements for Bush's inauguration...

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You're Invited?

Joan Lowy
01/11/2005

WASHINGTON - The nation's 55th presidential inauguration, the first to be held since 9/11, will take place this month under perhaps the heaviest security of any in U.S. history.

Dozens of federal and local law enforcement agencies and military commands are planning what they describe as the heaviest possible security. Virtually everyone who gets within eyesight of the president either during the Jan. 20 inauguration ceremony at the U.S. Capitol or the inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Avenue later in the day will first go through a metal detector or receive a body pat-down.
Thousands of police officers and military personnel are being brought to Washington from around the country for the four-day event. Sharpshooters will be deployed on roofs, while bomb-sniffing dogs will work the streets. Electronic sensors will be used to detect chemical or biological weapons.

Parade performers will have security escorts to the bathroom, and they've been ordered not to look directly at President Bush or make any sudden movements while passing the reviewing stand.

"It's going to be very different from passt inaugurals," said Contricia Sellers-Ford, spokeswoman for the U.S. Capitol Police, which is responsible for the Capitol and grounds. "A lot of the security differences will not be detected by the public - there will be a lot of behind the scenes implementation - but the public will definitely see more of a police presence."

The Department of Homeland Security has designated the inaugural a National Special Security Event under a protocol introduced by President Bill Clinton that calls for especially heavy security during events of national significance at which large numbers of government officials and dignitaries are present.

Thousands of performers - marching bands, color guards, pompon dancers, hand bell-ringers, drill teams on horseback and Civil War re-enactors - will be bused early in the morning to the Pentagon parking lot across the Potomac in Virginia. While performers disembark and go through metal detectors, bomb-sniffing dogs will search the buses.
Then everybody will get back on the buses for a trip to the National Mall, where they will spend most of the day in heavily guarded warming tents. Participants have been warned that they will not be allowed to leave the tents except to go to portable toilets accompanied by a security escort.

Other instructions given performers include a warning not to look directly at Bush while passing the presidential reviewing stand, not to look to either side and not to make any sudden movements.

"They want you to just look straight ahead," said Danielle Adam, co-director of the Mid American Pompon All Star Team from Michigan, which also performed in the 2001 inaugural parade. [...]

Comment: Avert your eyes dear people! For the glory of Bush cannot be looked upon by mere mortals! There can be little doubt that Bush has crossed the line and is now fully insane. The question however is: who is more insane, those that follow the madman or the madman himself...

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Bush blows competition away in poll
Published January 8, 2005
Donald Kaul

Throughout my long and nearly distinguished career as a columnist I ended each year by naming an "Incredible Man of the Year," chosen by imaginary respondents to the Incredible Poll, a famously unreliable opinion survey of my invention. It honored the person who, in that particular year, was judged the most unbelievable. It was always a brisk competition.

This year I'm retiring the award. George W. Bush has so far and away outdistanced his rivals that the competition has become ludicrous.

Consider the evidence:

When he came into office the federal government was running a healthy budget surplus that, over the previous few years, had helped fuel one of the greatest economic booms in our history. Within months, he had squandered that surplus.

He went to war in Afghanistan to capture Osama bin Laden, the architect of the 9/11 attacks, and to punish the Taliban regime there for sheltering the terrorist. He succeeded in knocking over the Taliban but he didn't get bin Laden.

He then took us to war against Saddam Hussein. There were three main reasons given for the attack.

1. Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction and was a security threat to the region and to us.

2. Saddam had been a force behind bin Laden and the 9/11 attacks.

3. He was, in any case, a tyrant hated by his people and the Iraqis would welcome us as liberators.

None of that happened; none of it was true. There is still no evidence that Saddam had such weapons or more than a casual relationship with bin Laden.

Furthermore:

• Bush has withdrawn from or rejected most of the international agreements favored by our traditional allies in the Western world and has treated the United Nations with extravagant contempt, actions that have squandered the considerable international good will that fell to the United States after the 9/11 attacks.

• He has ignored reputable scientific opinion on such subjects as global warming, stem cell research and the pollution of our water supply, disdaining it as "junk science." Instead, in virtually every case, he has opted to serve corporate rather than public interests.

• He has provided money for dubious projects like the missile defense system and promoted an improbable manned mission to Mars, while failing to fund a truly valuable project of proven worth, the Hubble telescope.

• He turned a blind eye to our torture of military prisoners, a practice so at odds with the ideals of this nation that one is left speechless in the contemplation of it. As a result we have forfeited any rightful claim to moral advantage in the world.

In short, he has been an absolutely dreadful president, easily the worst since Harding and perhaps since Buchanan. Yet — and this is the incredible part --he won re-election. As many as half of the people in the country voted for him, the majority because he made them feel safer.

That, I submit, is truly incredible — stunningly, mind-bendingly, stupendously incredible. I doubt anyone else could have done it. He belongs in the Con-Man Hall of Fame, next to P.T. Barnum, Charles Ponzi and Prof. Harold Hill.

And so I give you the Once and Future Incredible Man of the Year — George Walker Bush. Look upon him, my friends, we shall not see his like again. Or so we can hope, at any rate.

Pray for the Republic.

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MIKE CHERTOFF'S DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS: BUSH'S NEW HOMELAND SECURITY CZAR
January 12, 2005
Doug Ireland

The Bush White House thinks they’re being clever by naming a prosecutor instead of a criminal to head the Department of Homeland Security: Mike Chertoff, whose appointment as DHS czar in the wake of the failed nomination of scandal-plagued Bernie Kerik (now under investigation by multiple law-enforcement agencies) was announced as the Weekly went to press. But Chertoff is as political an appointment as one can imagine--especially for those who know the arcana of politics in New Jersey, where Chertoff was U.S. Attorney, and where his naming to the DHS job caused jaws to drop.

Chertoff was a political attack dog in that job, indicting and convicting a raft of Democratic officeholders. But one who Chertoff deliberately let get away was his big buddy, Bob “The Torch” Torricelli, forced to resign his U.S. Senate seat from Sopranoland in a major corruption scandal. Nick Acocella, editor of the respected insider newsletter New Jersey Politifax, recalls that, at the height of the Torricelli scandal, and while Chertoff was U.S. Attorney, he saw The Torch and Chertoff together at a South Jersey Jewish banquet where they embraced and huddled intimately “like twins separated at birth.” One would have thought a federal prosecutor would have kept his distance from a target of criminal investigations that were making daily headlines in the Jersey press.

When Chertoff was named by Bush to head the Justice Department’s Criminal Division--partly because he was a skilled political hitman, who’d also raised a ton of money as financial vice-chair of Bush’s Garden State campaign in 2000-- it’s an open secret in Jersey that he squelched an indictment of Torricelli as a reward for The Torch’s support of key Bush legislation the Democratic Party leadership opposed, including tax cuts for corporations and the very rich. (Many of the fat-cats Chertoff shook down for Bush had also been huge givers to The Torch.)

Long active in the Federalist Society--a conspiratorial brotherhood of legal reactionaries--Chertoff, at Justice, helped to write the civil liberties-shredding Patriot Act. He was John Ashcroft’s honcho in the indiscriminate grilling of over 5000 Arab-Americans after 9/11, cooked up the use of “material witness” warrants to lock up people of Middle Eastern descent and hold them indefinitely without trial, and on behalf of the Justice Department wrote a brief (in Chavez v. Martinez) arguing there was no Constitutional right to be free of coercive police questioning.

Moreover, Chertoff wrote legislation, known as the Feeney Amendment, which gutted federal sentencing guidelines -- under which federal judges were allowed to use some discretion when sentencing criminal defendants -- by preventing judges from shortening sentences--and, worse, required judges who deviated from the Feeney Amendment to have their names and actions reported to the Justice Department, thus establishing what Sen. Teddy Kennedy denounced as a judicial “blacklist.“

Why would Chertoff give up a lifetime seat on the federal bench to take a job in the hornet’s nest of problems that is the DHS? According to a top Jersey Democratic pol who knows Chertoff well, Chertoff--described as being “as cold-blooded as they come“-- has a personal agenda that includes becoming U.S. Attorney General and, eventually, grabbing a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. But there’s a problem for Chertoff with conservative Republicans--he happens to be pro-choice. So, taking the DHS job is Chertoff’s way to “make his bones,” as they say in Jersey, and grab headlines as a hard-line persecutor of “the towel-heads” to please the right and neutralize his abortion stance.

However, Chertoff has zero experience in running anything remotely resembling DHS, a mammoth with 180,000 employees and 22 federal agencies under its umbrella. He was picked for two reasons: his political loyalty to Bush (he won’t go off the reservation on his own as Tom Ridge did) and the fact that he’s already been confirmed by the Senate thrice, so he has no hidden Kerik-like problems and will sail through with little or no opposition from the spineless Democrats (he’s already been endorsed by Sens. Chuck Schumer and Joe Lieberman for the DHS job). But choosing someone on the basis of confirmability rather than qualifications is dangerous--as is the choice of a hyper-ambitious Torquemada for a job with enormous power over our already-reduced rights and liberties, which will no doubt be further eroded under Chertoff.

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Paradise Lost

Johnny Silver Bear

I continue to receive ever increasing numbers of email from readers who request a clarification of my views about our current economic condition, how it got this way, and what, if anything, we can do about it.

I often feel faced with a dilemma akin to telling someone it's raining, and have them not only refuse to believe me, but to also refuse to walk outside.

My views are simply an amalgamation of insights provided by the wisdom of the Constitutional pundits, economic sages, financial gurus, and free market thinkers that I have come to read every day. The Libertarian / Contrarian editorial slant I provide is as much a result of their thoughts and experiences as my own personal feelings. I depend on their insights to temper my own.

We have, in general, become oblivious to the realities of human nature and corruption. We have been placated to the point of disinterest. After all, why should we be concerned with the direction that we are being led? It seems to have worked up until now. This, I think, is the gist of the problem. It's an illusion. Smoke and mirrors. We are all being set up for a fall. The tragedy of it is that it will be our children and their children who will be hit the hardest. Whose responsibility is it to insure some kind of decent future, Alan Greenspan's? Pu-leeze!

I will remain ever vigilant in my quest to achieve some sense of clarity, and to communicate whatever clarity I can through the Silver Bear Cafe and other gracious forums that are kind enough to post my essays. Whatever clarity I have here-to-fore attained is, to say the least, disconcerting. So, in order that I may vent my concerns and spread some of my frustration around, I will attempt to dissect one major travesty.

Practically all of the problems in our country can be attributed to the continuing subjugation of the U.S. Constitution. Had the remedies for such actions, which are provided in the text of the Constitution, been applied, many of our former, (as well as current), leaders would have been prosecuted and removed from public office. One of the main reasons that the American people have allowed the wholesale dismantling of their freedoms and liberties stems from the effectiveness of the all pervasive misinformation campaign that has been waged for over 100 years. Most of us believe that we live in the land of the free. A place where every child has the opportunity to grow up and be President of the United States. This belief is, in the best-case scenario, a stretch. In the worst case, a bald faced lie. Our political leaders are increasingly sourced from a pool of self-perpetuating elitists whose main concern is to distance themselves from the masses. When Constitutional law stands in their way, they ignore it. We are not being shepherded by altruistic wise men, but, rather, herded by megalomaniacal desperadoes.

If you asked Joe Six Pack if our society continues to be based on freedom and liberty, he would probably recollect his 9th grade American History teacher and respond "Yes, of course." If you were to ask him if our society was now based on a Stalinesque model of central planning, a totalitarian system in which the Government claimed all power, and there were no freedoms that the government did not allow, he would probably say, "No way." Joe hasn't got a clue. Hey, believe me. I've been trying to get across to Mr. Six Pack for years. He has been issued blinders by the state. He hasn't got a clue.

It appears to me that the markets are rigged. All games that can be rigged will be rigged, sooner or later. The Fed, working in league with the U.S. Government, rigs the U.S. markets. But don't think for a second that the Fed has some kind of monopoly on a situation where rapacity pervades honest reason. All markets are rigged. Central bankers, the world over, are primarily involved in fleecing the people. The fact that the Fed is the most powerful of the Central Bankers, and that they are primarily responsible for perfecting the insidious contrivance called inflation, has not kept the rest of Central Bankers of the world from entering into a game of "catch up". As far as they are concerned, there is only one motive, and that motive is economic world domination. Which Central Bankers will dominate will depend on which ones end up with the most. That's just the nature of absolute corruption. That is the reason that whole world is currently strapped with a fiat system. The ability to create money, out of thin air, provides for absolute economic power. Absolute power equals absolute corruption. It's as simple as that. By rigging the markets, through various forms of intervention, the central bankers have set up a scheme whereby the wealth of the world could be siphoned off at will.

The reason that this fiat system has become so all pervasive in the world is the lure of an uncapped, unending source of credit that is availed to all governments who are willing to play the Central Banker's game.

One instance is the game that we are playing with Iraq. Why are we not buying our oil from Canada for $45 per barrel, but instead, stealing it from the Iraqis at a cost of around $1,100 a barrel? Information gained from the Energy Information Administration, (http://eia.doe.gov/) provides this data. When the number of barrels of Iraqi oil that we have imported is divided into the $300 billion we have spent on the war so far, the number comes to about $1,100 per barrel. From an accountant's standpoint, this doesn't seem like a very good deal.

According to British Petroleum's Statistical Review of World Energy 2002, Middle Eastern oil accounts for one quarter of America's imports. Iraqi crude for less than one tenth. A back of the envelope calculation reveals that Iraq quenches less than 6 percent of America's Black Gold cravings. Compared to Canada (15 percent of American oil imports), or Mexico (12 percent) - Iraq is a negligible supplier. Furthermore, the current oil production of the USA is merely 23 percent of its 1985 peak - about 2.4 million barrels per day, a 50-years nadir.

During the first eleven months of 2002, the United States imported an average of 449,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) from Iraq. In January 2003, with Venezuela in disarray, approximately 1.2 million bbl/d of Iraqi oil went to the Americas (up from 910,000 bbl/d in December 2002 and 515,000 bbl/d in November).

It would seem that $200 billion - the costs of war and post bellum reconstruction - would be better spent on America's domestic oil industry. Securing the flow of Iraqi crude is simply too insignificant to warrant such an exertion.

Admittedly, there are those that would suggest far loftier goals in Iraq than simple petroleum exploitation. Personally, I have yet to be shown.

Who's getting the $1100 per barrel? Certainly not the Iraqis. The money is going to Haliburton, Ratheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin, (among many others). Where is the $1100 a barrel coming from? Why it’s coming from continuing loans to the Government by the Federal Reserve. Where does the Federal Reserve get all this money? Why, they invent it, (the term counterfeiting comes to mind.) Who's responsible for paying back the billions and billions of funny money that the Government is spending, and the interest accrued on that funny money? Good question. If your answer is "the American People", you are not entirely correct.

There are two groups in the U.S. that don't pay taxes. Those two groups consist of the very poor, and the ultra rich. As a result, the middle class has been bestowed with the sole economic responsibility of repaying the obscene abomination known as the national debt. It's not enough for the middle class to support those who are unable to work as well as those who choose not to, but to also provide the major source of wealth that is being siphoned off by the Central Bankers and distributed to the elitists. I believe their motives have always stemmed from a desire to redistribute the wealth of the middle class to the ultra rich. This is a basic ploy right out of the collectivist's handbook. In this way they are, in the words of Omar Khayyam, attempting to "tear it down, and rebuild it in their own image." They are preparing for the intended eminent worldwide financial Armageddon.

In order to continue to supply the Government with more and more funny money, the Fed has to keep creating it. Obviously, the more they create, the more it is diluted and the less valuable it becomes. They have positioned the U.S. dollar on a huge playground slide, placed a piece of waxed paper under it, and let it go. Its accelerating decent has become big news. Even the sycophantic rah-rah rooters on CNBC are talking about it. The dollar is visiting lows not seen in almost twenty-five years.

"Bubbles" Greenspan would have us believe that this is an engineered devaluation designed to reduce our trade deficit. Hooey. The Fed has lost control of the dollar. Their mindless creation of credit has insured a mind-boggling meltdown of the entire financial system. This is not a good thing for anyone, anywhere. The dollar is the world's reserve currency. Seventy-five percent of all dollars in existence are in foreign hands. Whatever their value was when those foreigners got them, that value is evaporating right before their eyes. It's like buying ice by the pound and watching it melt away before you have time to use it. "Joe Six Pack" doesn't seem to mind. He can still buy a beer for $2.50 at the pub. Five years ago they were $1.25. By the end of next year they will be $5.00.

But it’s not just the irresponsible creation of debt that has brought us to the economic gates of hell, but also the Fed’s botched attempt to control the markets through manipulation and intervention. Their attempts to "play God", in an otherwise free market, have exacerbated, skewed, and distorted market realities to such an extent that its function has become one of dysfunction.

The turn of the century brought with it a paradigm shift in economic policy in America. With the flight of the domestic manufacturing sector, America’s balance of trade rapidly became extremely unbalanced. In an attempt to keep the economy afloat, the Fed targeted the American Consumer as a replacement for the American Producer as the chief contributor to the U.S. economy. To insure the American Consumer would be, at least temporarily, capable of such a task, "Bubbles" lowered short-term interest rates to their lowest level since 1958. This action, combined with the introduction of a plethora of reckless mortgage products, (ARMS, interest only loans, etc.), provided for an unprecedented number of new home purchases. Over thirty percent of those purchases were made by lower income individuals who had previously been unable to qualify for mortgage loans. The result was a boom in residential construction, and all related industry. The domestic housing market had effectively filled the void that resulted from the flight of the manufacturing sector and, in doing so, became a primary contributor to the American economy. That, coupled with a wave of refinancing, spurred on by the lure of cheap credit, allowed homeowners to bury themselves in debt. The application of this new found cash provided borrowers the means to buy new SUVs and invest in stocks, which effectively held up the automotive industry, as well as helping to keep the markets inflated.

Fast forward to the present. Real unemployment is running around 12%. Wages have been stagnant for the past four years. Almost everyone who wanted to refinance has already done so. Their refi money has already been spent. The automotive industry, and the housing industry are both beginning to feel the pinch. Rising energy costs, which are a result of a growing scarcity, as well as inflation, are exacerbating the situation. The DOW, which has remained basically flat over the last three years when valued in U.S. dollars, is substantially down when valued against the Euro, the Rand, the Yen and several other major currencies. The continuing devaluation of the dollar has provided the DOW with the appearance of strength, at least to the American public. More smoke and mirrors. In order to continue to lure foreign investment, the illusion that the economy is healthy and robust is of paramount importance. This presents a big problem considering our economy is in the throes of a terminal illness. The Fed is desperate to come up with a new source of support.

Enter, Social Security Reform. Now politicians are suggesting that federal withholding revenues be redirected into the stock market. Wow! What an idea. That should keep the markets inflated for a little while longer. It could certainly give the Fed a new source of wealth to siphon off. But wait. One of the biggest myths about Social Security is that there is any money in the Social Security trust fund. The fund has been systematically tapped and squandered by every administration since its inception. It was an unconstitutional sleight of hand to begin with. It is, and has always been a Ponzi scheme, which depends on new workers to pay the old workers. Maybe that is why the present administration is doing everything in its power to tear down the borders and accommodate as many illegal aliens as possible. Maybe that's why they're attempting to raise the age of retirement. The privatization of Social Security is simply one more scheme to siphon off the wealth of the middle class through commissions and fees, and keep the stock and bond markets inflated for a little while longer. Do you see a pattern emerging here?

What’s next? What new source of wealth will be found to target? What if there isn't another source. How about those foreigners? How can the Fed keep them buying treasury paper, which allows the Government to keep on borrowing? When approached from this perspective, we realize that keeping the bond market inflated is the primary aim of the Central Bankers, (the Fed). To what lengths will they go to keep the bond market inflated? What new legislation will they dream up for their puppet politicians to pass? If it never occurred to you that the Federal Reserve, (a private corporation), owns the U.S. Government, please read the following statement made by Fed Governor Ben Bernanke.

"By increasing the number of U.S. dollars in circulation, or even by credibly threatening to do so, the U.S. government can also reduce the value of a dollar in terms of goods and services, which is equivalent to raising the prices in dollars of those goods and services. We conclude that, under a paper-money system, a determined government can always generate higher spending and hence positive inflation.“

What in blazes is positive inflation? And why would anyone, representing the people, want the price of goods and services to rise? Who, but a banker could benefit from inflation. Inflation equals rising prices. Rising prices equal more loans. More loans equal more interest. The natural evolution of man would have provided for a continuing improvement in the standard of life for all persons, if it wasn't for the heinous contrivance called inflation. Technology has provided new and improved ways to produce and deliver almost everything. Without inflation almost everything would be cheaper, or at least remain the same price. Let me restate that last part. If it wasn't for the Federal Reserve, everything would become cheaper, instead of more expensive. Most people believe that inflation is a natural economic occurrence. This is simply untrue.

Constitutional mandates insist that American currency be backed by precious metals. Adhering to those mandates would insure inflation and deflation would only occur if the quantity of precious metals was significantly altered, thereby skewing the supply/demand equation. Because of the energies necessary to locate, mine, refine, smelt and coin precious metals, the value will always be relatively maintained. Because of the fact that practically no energy is necessary to produce "funny money", there is no value to begin with. Producing more of it makes it worth less than nothing, as it becomes a liability and the biggest threat in the world to liberty, freedom, peace and justice. Any devaluation of American currency is a direct result of the money that the Federal Reserve is stealing out of your pocket.

Consequently, there are other ways, besides inflation, that the Fed can cloak reality and present the appearance of a robust economy. One of these ways involves direct intervention in all three major indexes. The Fed has created a fund called the repo pool, which can exceed $30 billion. When the Federal Reserve temporarily supplies these funds to the market by buying securities from dealers with a commitment to resell, the transaction is called a repo, (repurchase agreement). The Fed uses this cash to purchase securities from primary government bond dealers. This action circumvents natural free market pressures and pumps unnatural liquidity to the banking system. Member firms, at the direction of the Fed, use this liquidity to make major purchases in the futures markets or to purchase select market weighted stocks. Through the continual manipulation of a basket of major stock issues, they can effectively hold the markets up with their "funny money". All activity of this nature is covertly inflationary, and obviously unconstitutional. Because the shareholders of the Fed, complicit banks, and dealers also profit from these deals, anti-trust statutes are broken on an hourly basis. Wall Street has devolved to nothing more than a den of thieves.

Yet another way that the Fed utilizes "smoke and mirrors" to maintain the appearance of a healthy economy, rather than allowing the specter of "black death", which hangs heavily over the real situation, to become apparent, is through the use of clandestine offshore accounts. Through these accounts, agents of the Fed buy up the treasury bonds that are not bought by hedge funds, elitist transnational corporations, or foreign central banks. During a routine sale of U.S. Treasury bonds in early September 2004, an unprecedented event took place. Foreigners, who, up to that point, had been regularly buying nearly half of all debt issued by the U.S. government, didn't buy any. This could be the Fed's biggest nightmare.

The aforementioned usual suspects, (the hedge funds, elitist transnational corporations, or foreign central banks), could be buying US Treasury notes and bills via the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the Netherlands Antilles and Panama, but I find that highly unlikely. These bankers and fund managers aren’t stupid. Why buy into an asset whose value is destined to decline. Robert McTeer, head of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, stated in October of 2004;

"Over time there is only one direction for the dollar to go – lower.”

Our Government finances itself through the collection of taxes, (which basically go to pay the interest on the national debt), and the sale of treasury instruments, (i.e., bonds, bills, notes), which are effectively IOUs from "We the People". In its first term the Bush administration increased the Federal debt by $2.2 trillion. Congress raised the Treasury debt ceiling three times, by $450 billion in 2002, by $984 billion in 2003, and by another $800 billion on November 19, 2004, to $8 trillion 184 billion. The ready willingness, of the members of the House and Senate, to finance such deficits is a clear indication of the political and ideological makeup of most members of Congress.

More disturbing is the fact that the voting public continues to re-elect these people in the glaring face of fiscal insanity. The wars are obviously a ruse to convert the national debt into vast wealth for the elitists, (see $1,100 dollar a barrel Iraqi oil above). Please understand that there is no way that fiscal responsibility, a by-product of a gold backed currency, could ever provide for the reckless levels of debt that the American people, and their descendents, are currently being shackled to.

All the people in the world that hold Federal Reserve Notes are being fleeced. That's usually an occurrence reserved for sheep. How apropos. But, so long as crazy foreigners continue to loan us more of their "funny money" to fight these wars, the game can go on. When foreigners finally wise up to the insane nature of our economic policies and cease buying our IOUs, where will the money come from?

According to the research of Robert Chapman, Caribbean Treasury investments soared 54% to $85.2 billion during the first ten months of 2004, seven times the 8.3% increase of all of 2003. The region is now the fourth-largest holder of US government debt, behind Japan, China and the UK. This is not coincidence. It is very significant and it has to be the Fed keeping the dollar afloat.

The previous paragraph might suggest that the Fed has stepped in and is secretly buying government debt. The reason that they are doing it secretly is because when the Fed directly buys government debt, and then uses that debt to create more money, it is immediately inflationary. No trickle down here. It is nothing less than hyperinflationary. Obviously, if the people ever began to realize that, through this action, they were getting royally screwed, they might quit electing these bozos and start to clean up the mess. Hyperinflation will make Government bonds far less attractive. Remember, the bond market is the cash cow that the central bankers depend on to continue to milk the economy. Therefore, the Fed will do everything in its power to insure that the bond market will be the last to deflate.

In order to keep the bond market inflated, the Fed will have to substantially raise rates. They will not do this, however, IMO, until the people finally wake up and start to make some noise. The sheeple are not known for public outcries, so the throes of hyperinflation will already be choking the economy long before the Fed makes any meaningful increase, (read in: double digits). The dollar is in free fall. When it breaks below the USDX .80 there is nothing in the world that can stop it, except for a massive interest rate increase. When they finally do make a meaningful rate increase, the markets will begin overtly crashing, (as I mentioned above, they have been covertly crashing for years), and the panicked investors will stampede to the bond market for security, like lemmings heading for the cliff. The bond market will find new life, and gold and silver will enter "phase three" and explode in price.

Right before the stock market melts down, the real estate bubble will go kabloowie, Fannie and Freddy will go up in a puff of smoke, and the domestic banking system will come to a screeching halt. The Fed will mindlessly continue to keep the presses running for as long as they can, (after all, that's all they know how to do). The erosion of the buying power of dollars will accelerate exponentially. From an American economic standpoint, we will have arrived at "end game".

Everyone, (except Joe), is beginning to get very nervous. Since we are absolutely dependent on the kindness of foreigners in terms of sustaining our current standard of life, their nervousness is, to say the least, very disconcerting. If they don’t continue to hold our dollars, our economy is toast. Unfortunately, people all over the world are beginning to dump their dollars, and for good reason. What would you do, given the same set of circumstances? There are reports that in some places, U.S. dollars are no longer accepted. Where will these dollars end up? Why, right here, where they started. And when they get here, and there’s a glut of them, what will happen? The good new is that there will be so many of them that they will be a lot easier to get. The bad news is that no one will want them because they won't be worth anything. Let me put a time frame on these events and attempt to put them in perspective. I believe it will become apparent to anyone paying attention within the next six months and finally come to a head within 3-5 years.

Get ready for a $10.00 cup of coffee, a $200.00 dinner, water bills that look like your electric bill, and electric bills that look like your mortgage payment. The value of coffee is not going up. The value of food is not going up. The value of water and electricity is not going up. The value of the dollar is going down. A ten-cent candy bar can still be had for a dime, providing that it's a silver dime. If you are using Federal Reserve Notes, a ten-cent candy bar now costs $1.00, and it will soon cost $2.00.

I believe that the powers that be have employed their ability to invent money by using its corrupting influence to cataclysmically screw things up. They have, with the help of their bought and paid for acompli, screwed it up so bad that it won't be easily fixed. I have always believed their plan was to casually strip up of all our liberties before they pissed us off. They have been doing a pretty good job of stripping us of or freedoms and liberties for years, and no one seems to have minded very much. After all, they successfully debased our currency and pocketed the difference, entwined us in a mire of disputes all over the globe and managed to get the whole world pissed off at us, strapped us with untenable debt that will eventually enslave our offspring, dismantled the Bill of Rights through Patriot Acts One, Two, and soon to be Three, are currently scheming to rob us of our retirement by hijacking social security, and still we re-elect them. Apparently, they haven’t pissed us off enough for anyone to do anything about it.

Given the pandemic apathy, that addles the collective mindset of our nation, there is not much hope for a political solution. By the time the sheeple wake up and attempt to politically change things, it will be far to late. We are witnessing the decent of the Phoenix, and the plane is going down in flames. I also believe that the Phoenix will rise from the flames and soar to new heights. Unfortunately I do not believe it will be anytime soon, and when it does, it will be under far different circumstances.

What can you do? Open your eyes. [...]

Protect yourself. Get ready now. Sell everything you don't need. Accumulate gold and silver, (most especially silver). Invest in gold and silver mining issues. The day is soon coming when the people demand that precious metals regain their place in a Constitutionally sound economic system. Prepare to defend your Constitution, yourself and those you love. Follow the course opposite to custom and you will almost always do well...

Eliminate as much debt as possible, especially “variable rate” debt, such as credit cards and lines of credit. Interest rates will be rising, so the elimination of debt offers a “real return” of escaping rising rates by creditors.

If you are depending on Social Security, stop.

Its not what you don't know that will screw you up, it's what you know that is wrong. The spin you hear from the mainstream media is intended to mislead you. Open your eyes and face the future. If you leave your head in the sand and ignore it, you are only leaving your butt exposed for the world to kick. This all may sound like gloom and doom, but when you get a handle on what is going to happen, you will have a future filled with opportunity. Fortune favors the Informed.

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Trade Gap Hits Record as Exports Drop

By Doug Palmer
Reuters
January 13, 2005

WASHINGTON - The U.S. trade deficit widened unexpectedly in November to a record $60.3 billion, propelled by the highest-ever oil import bill and a drop in exports, a government report showed on Wednesday.

The surprisingly large increase sent the dollar tumbling in morning trading against both the euro and the yen.

It also suggested U.S. economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2004 was slower than expected, as steadily rising imports of goods and services cut into domestic output.

The widening of the deficit -- which topped $60 billion for the first time -- defied Wall Street forecasts for it to narrow to $54 billion. October's deficit was revised up to a $56.0 billion gap from the originally reported $55.5 billion.

"It's a disappointment. We were anticipating that the decline in oil prices from their peak in October might help narrow the trade deficit, but the average price of crude oil remained high over that period and imports remained strong," said Gary Thayer, chief economist with A.G. Edwards & Sons.

The deficit has continued to balloon despite a 50 percent drop in the value of the dollar against the euro over the past three years, which has been expected to narrow the gap.

"A big issue here is the fact that the American economy ... (is) growing faster than our trading partners," U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow told Bloomberg Television. "Whenever you grow faster than your trading partners, you create more disposable income and part of that ... is being used to buy goods and services" from abroad.

A major focus of an upcoming meeting of Group of Seven finance ministers will be getting major economies in Asia and Europe to "remove obstacles to growth," Snow said.

OIL PRICE RETREAT NOT ENOUGH

U.S. exports slipped 2.3 percent in November to $95.6 billion, as shipments of U.S. industrial supplies and materials -- including things such as plastic and chemicals -- fell in the face of weaker foreign demand.

U.S. exports of autos and auto parts, civilian aircraft and telecom equipment were also down from October.

The trade shortfall for the first 11 months of 2004 was $561.3 billion, well past the record of $496.5 billion set for all of 2003.

Although average oil import prices in November retreated slightly from October's record level, they remained high enough to push the crude oil imports to a record $13.4 billion.

Meanwhile, imports from China fell only fractionally to $19.6 billion from the record $19.7 billion set in October. The trade imbalance with China accounts for about 25 percent of the overall U.S. trade deficit.

Rising U.S. consumer demand for household goods and other products helped boost overall imports by 1.3 percent to a record $155.8 billion. Strong demand for advanced technology products widened the deficit in that category to a record $5.8 billion.

The bilateral gap with Japan was the highest since October 2000 and deficits with Canada, Russia and South Korea set records in November.

In a separate report, an industry group said applications for U.S. home mortgages dropped last week as a decrease in purchasing activity offset an increase in refinancing. [...]

Comment: It sounds like Snow wants us to believe that the US economy is healthy, and that it is the rest of the world that is screwing things up. Of course, any even half-way objective analysis of the US economy would show that the country is on the verge of economic chaos. It appears that the people are already being told that America is doing nothing wrong. When the economy finally collapses, it will be easy to place the blame on everyone else.

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The Financial Immorality of American Generosity
By Lucinda Marshall
ICH
01/12/05

The remarkable generosity of Americans in offering help to the victims of the recent Tsunami is truly heartwarming. All across our country, individuals, corporations and countless organizations, religious groups and charities have not only opened their hearts, but their wallets as well, this on top of the $350 million pledged by our government. Drug giant Pfizer promptly offered $10 million in cash and $35 million in drugs, although it is unclear if this was the retail price of the drugs or the discounted price paid by insurance companies. Regardless, it is a clear indication of the health of our pharmaceutical companies.

Individuals have also been extraordinarily generous. Perhaps most stunning was the $1 million given by actress Sandra Bullock. While not meaning to disparage Ms. Bullock's incredible example in any way, it is truly amazing that one individual can pony up 1/350th of what her government is giving and 20 times the amount being offered by tiny East Timor.

But before we pat ourselves on the back as Colin Powell did when he suggested that our largesse might well bolster our battered image in the Muslim world, we would be well advised to view our giving in the larger context of our overall spending habits. For instance, we will spend upwards of $45 million for President Bush's Inaugural festivities. And this last Christmas, Wall Streeters received $15.9 billion in bonuses (albeit this was somewhat overshadowed by the $102 million in fines levied against them).

At the same time we were so generously helping Tsunami victims, we are being less generous in other ways, cutting $300 million in Pell education grants and $100 million in international food aid (despite a rising number of hungry people in the world). However, we are still being most generous in our military funding. The budget for the U.S. military in 2004 was $450 billion and we have spent $200 billion on the war in Iraq (with Congress anticipating a request for another $100 billion in the near future).

And of course there is also the $18 billion Iraqi reconstruction funds (most of which has yet to be spent) and the $877 million being spent on more Anthrax vaccine, this at a time when we can't even competently provide flu vaccines to protect against a known annual cause of death for tens of thousands of people. Completing our spending profile, it's important to mention our national debt of $7.5 trillion and our $422 billion dollar budget deficit.

The reality is that as a nation, we are in fact quite stingy. While the U.S. gives the most foreign aid in terms of dollars, we rank the lowest compared to other developed nations in giving as a percentage of income. Currently the U.S. gives .15% of GNP (compared with highest ranked Norway which gives .92% of their GNP).

But adding up the dollars only tells part of the story. Unfortunately, we also need to count the bodies. Unquestionably, 2004 was a very deadly year. Current estimates are that 150,000 people have died in the Tsunami with hundreds of thousands at risk of starvation and disease. As many as 100,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the $200 billion that we spent invading that country and many more as a result of conflicts all over the globe. Ten million children have starved to death and there were more than 500,000 maternal deaths (95% of which were preventable). And finally, several million people throughout the world have died of AIDs and several million more from malaria.

It is a reflection of our values that these deaths are primarily footnotes and sidebars in the daily media barrage, not meriting the attention that has been lavished on the victims of the Tsunami. In the case of disease, they are deaths that happen one by one throughout the year, not in the blink of a dramatic soundbite. And in the case of war, civilian deaths are routinely discounted as collateral damage, not worthy of our attention.

But the problem is that when it comes time to balance the books, the bottom line is that we are willing to spend much more to kill people than to save people, and that our giving is minuscule compared to our hedonistic quest for power. In other words, far from being the generous nation that we portray ourselves to be, we Americans are morally bankrupt.

Lucinda Marshall is a feminist artist, writer and activist. She is the Founder of the Feminist Peace Network, www.feministpeacenetwork.org which publishes Atrocities, a bulletin documenting violence against women throughout the world.

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Verizon's E-Mail Embargo Enrages
By John Gartner
Jan. 10, 2005

Verizon Communications customers expecting e-mail from across the pond may be in for a long wait. The internet service provider has been blocking e- mail originating from Great Britain and other parts of Europe for weeks, and customers are upset about having their communications disrupted without notice.

Verizon began blocking ranges of IP addresses belonging to British and European ISPs on Dec. 22, according to the company. The blacklisting of e- mail from abroad was in response to spam coming from the region, according to a customer service representative at Verizon who identified himself only as "Gary." He said company policy prevents him from giving out his last name.

Since Dec. 28, dozens of Verizon customers have been posting their frustrations on Verizon.adsl and verizon.email.discussion-general newsgroups about being unable to receive e-mail from Britain, Germany, France and Russia. Verizon customers describe the frustrations of not knowing how many e-mails have been blocked and receiving contradictory information from Verizon's customer service, and anger at switching to free e-mail accounts until the problem is resolved.

"What essentially this policy has done is to make it clear to me that unless they change their policy, Verizon's e-mails are not reliable enough even for non-critical home usage," said Verizon user Robert Jacobson of Brooklyn, New York, in an e-mail to Wired News.

Ashley Friedlein, CEO of consulting firm E-consultancy.com in London, said several of his e-mails to Verizon customers bounced back but he assumed that the recipient's inboxes were full.

Friedlein sees irony in an American ISP blocking e-mail from Europe. "I feel a bit affronted because most of the spam we get is from the U.S.," Friedlein said. He said that some of his bounced messages were replies to e-mails, "which is about as un-spammy as you can get."

Mike Teixeira, a blacklist investigator for Mail Abuse Prevention Systems, or MAPS, which provides ISPs with lists of known spammers, said his company is always updating its blocking list, adding and removing IP addresses that indicate the country of origin.

Wired News checked several e-mail accounts from Britain and Germany that were being blocked by Verizon, and none of them were on MAPS' list of known spammers. Teixeira said it was unusual to block e-mail coming from a geographic region. "We would never block a whole country and say, 'England is bad.'" [...]

Comment: Verizon's actions certainly are unusual, especially considering the list of top spammers in the following article. Note that all the countries listed in this article are at the bottom of the list of contributors to the worldwide spam total, and Russia didn't even make the list at all...

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Flashback: U.S. leads the dirty dozen spammers

By Dan Ilett
Special to CNET News.com
Published: December 24, 2004, 3:22 PM PST

The United States is in a league of its own when it comes to sending junk mail to e-mail users.

Researchers at security software company Sophos found that 42 percent of all spam sent this year came from the United States, based on a scan by its researchers of a global network of honey pots--computers designed to attract spam e-mails and viruses.

Source of spam
Country
Share of spam (percent)
United States
42.11
South Korea
13.43
China
8.44
Canada
5.71
Brazil
3.34
Japan
2.57
France
1.37
Spain
1.18
United Kingdom
1.13
Germany
1.03
Taiwan
1
Mexico
0.89
Source: Sophos

Sophos said this is evidence that America's antispam legislation simply isn't working.

"When we released the first report back in February, the U.S. had the excuse that the Can-Spam Act had been in existence for only three months," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos, on Friday.

"Almost a year and millions of spam messages later, it is quite evident that that the Can-Spam legislation has made very little headway in damming the flood of spam," he said. [...]

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Security concerns send flight back to Britain
Last Updated Wed, 12 Jan 2005 21:44:31 EST
CBC News

LONDON - A flight from London to New York was forced to turn back Wednesday after U.S. authorities voiced concerns that a passenger was a terrorist threat.

"The flight returned to Heathrow after we received a request from the U.S. authorities saying that a passenger aboard the aircraft was not to be allowed to land in New York," a spokesperson for British Airways said.

A spokesperson from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration said the passenger, who was travelling on a French passport, "was a positive match with an anti-terrorism watch list."

"Homeland security made the match by checking data transmitted after the flight departed from London," she said.

The 239-passenger plane was three hours into the flight when it was forced to return.

The male passenger was met by police at London's Heathrow Airport. He was questioned by authorities and released without charge.

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Human torch drama in court
January 12, 2005 - 5:22PM
AAP

A man is in a critical condition undergoing surgery after dousing himself with petrol and setting himself alight at the Adelaide Magistrates Court today.

The man has extensive burns from the incident, which occurred shortly after midday (CDT).

It is understood he was carrying a note when he entered the court.
A Royal Adelaide Hospital spokesman says the man's condition is life threatening, while police say the man has burns to most of his body.

It's not known if the man was due to appear in court at the time of the incident.

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Update: Mystery ball of fire falls in Khopoli
By: The Mid Day Team
January 12, 2005

Khopoli/Mumbai: “I saw a huge ball of fire in the air. It raced down to the earth so fast that before I could do anything, my house shook and all my utensils came crashing down,” said Gangaram Waghmare, caretaker of a farmhouse in Apata village near Khopoli, nearly 100 kms from Mumbai.

Like 6,000 other villagers, Waghmare is in a state of shock after the mysterious fireball explosions that shook Horale, Wavoshi, Chriner, Apta, Kharapada and other villages in the vicinity of Khopoli, Uran and Panvel at around 8.30 pm yesterday.

An almost twister-like effect was also detected in the jungle areas of Bazruddin, Wavochi and Karoshi, which saw trees swaying.

A series of explosions was heard simultaneously in these villages, and locals ran out of their houses fearing they would come crashing down.
Most villagers remained out side their homes all through last night. “The noise was so loud, for a moment I thought I had turned deaf. It was almost like a huge bomb blast,” said R Chaitanya, a resident of Pen. Chaitanya in fact left his home and rushed to his friend’s home in Panvel to stay there for a while.

What the “ball of fire” and “explosion” was, and what caused it, was however unclear till late last night.

While Air Traffic Control officials ruled out an aircraft crash, the Mumbai Meteorological Department ruled out any asteroid or meteorite fall, and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) officials in Mumbai dismissed the possibility of any part of a satellite falling.

Police and government officials too could not figure out what the “fireball” was. Ashok Mhatre, tehsildar of Khalapur, said he rushed out of his house on hearing the loud noise.

“When I came out to inquire, people told me they had seen something like an aeroplane,” Mhatre said.

A patrolling cop D D Bharsat in Bharapada village told Mid Day he saw fire with smoke and that its impact sent leaves and other articles from the ground circling into the air.

Bhaskar Wankhede, collector, Raigad, said, “We have sent teams across Raigad, but they haven’t found anything untoward. I have spoken to Navy officials at the Nhava Sheva base. They have radar facilities but even they haven’t detected any plane or any flying object.”

Officials from the Khopoli fire brigade were also not able to shed any light. “Some are saying it’s a plane crash, while according to others it was an earthquake,” said a fire official.

Superintendent Dnyaneshwar Phadtare of Raigad police said, “The villagers here have heard the sound but it is still not clear if it was an explosion, a quake or a fireball,” he said.

Police have also not found the exact place where the “explosion” occurred.

“Our men are travelling from village to village to find out the exact spot of the unidentified explosion. Many have heard the explosion but nobody has yet been able to pinpoint the spot,” Phadtare noted.

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Geologists, astronomers rush to locate meteor debris:
PTI
Jan 12/05

Mumbai: Geologists and amateur astronomers rushed to Vavoshi near Pen in Raigad district this morning where pieces of a meteor-like object were reported to have fallen last night.

A meteor-like object allegedly hit Vavoshi village near here in Raigad district last night around 2030 hrs.

Bright light was seen and deafening noise was heard at places including Vavoshi, Rasaini, Khalapur, Khopoli, Pen, Panvel, Chirner.

The Astronomical Study and Research Centre, Pen chairman and director Sandeep Jhadav said it appears to be an explosion caused due to collision of an asteroid with earth's surface and the impact was felt over a radius of 50 km.

"We are trying to follow up the matter," he said.

Meanwhile, Indian Meterological Department here denied any earthquake struck the region last night.

Panic gripped the village with residents reporting a huge ball of fire coming down from the sky accompanied by a big bang.

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Sukhoi caused celestial fireball!
By: Vinod Kumar Menon and Kashif Khusro
January 13, 2005
Twelve hours after the news of the mysterious ‘celestial fireball explosion’ that shook villages in the Panvel-Khopoli belt in Raigad district on Tuesday night.

Officials from the Indian Air Force say the noise was caused due to a sonic boom from a fighter jet of the IAF.

Wing Commander Tarun Kumar Singha, PRO–Ahmedabad of Indian Air Force (IAF), said the fighter aircraft Sukhoi-30 MKI had crossed the sound barrier at a low altitude in the Panvel-Khopoli belt while on a routine flying exercise.

“We monitored the news on the electronic media. Gradually, when more coverage started coming in, we felt it was necessary to inform the masses about the incident,” he said.

According to Wing Commander Singha, a Sukhoi-30 MKI took off from the Lohegaon Air Force station, Pune, a little past 8 pm on a routine flying exercise in the area around Mumbai.

Though not included in the profile of the exercise, the pilot had inadvertently gone into supersonic speed (more than the speed of sound) and because of the change in the pressure pattern in the atmosphere, a big explosive sound was heard. It is commonly referred to as sonic boom.

“A departmental inquiry will be conducted to know what led the pilot to increase the speed by going supersonic. Even the pilot does not know the impact felt on the ground,” Singha said.

Light and sound

Fighter aircraft like the Sukhoi-30 MKI travel at speeds higher than sound. For this they have to break the sound barrier.

When the aircraft wants to cross this barrier, it requires more thrust. So, 150 per cent more fuel is injected to give an added 75 per cent thrust to propel it past the sound barrier.

When the aircraft breaks the barrier, a deafening sound is created.
Usually during training, the jets go supersonic at a height of above 10 kms, 12 kms and 16 kms. It is not easy to go supersonic at a low altitude.

Subsequently, the aircraft emits a trail of fire, which is actually the extra burnt fuel. But it gives the impression of fire behind the exhaust. For people on the ground, the sudden appearance of the aircraft in a night sky may look like a fireball or any other unidentified bright flying object.

Today’s airplanes, especially military, fly in many different conditions: subsonic, supersonic and hypersonic (rockets).

Was it the Navy?

Another theory doing the rounds is that the deafening sound heard by the villagers could actually be of a misfired round from a naval anti-aircraft gun placed strategically at the Karanja Naval base, near Uran.

“Normally the anti-aircraft guns are practiced by firing with a trajectory in the Arabian Sea, but in this case the gun could have misfired.

And since the impact of the shell is huge, it can actually pierce the ground,” said a naval official. That explains the absence of debris around the villages, he added.

However, a defence spokesperson debunked the theory, saying that in case of a firing exercise, notices are given to authorities 15 days in advance. “Also, the firing is done seawards and not on land,” he said.

Comment: Don't worry about it, folks. It wasn't anything more than a sonic boom!

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Venezuela's Delta Amacuro Hit by Earthquake; No Injuries
Jan. 12 (Bloomberg)

-- An earthquake rocked Venezuela's eastern state of Delta Amacuro, causing no major damage or injuries, according to a preliminary report by the country's seismic institute.

The quake hit 56 kilometers (33.6 miles) southeast of the state capital of Tucupita at 9:52 a.m., measuring 4.7 on the Richter scale, the Venezuelan Seismic Institute said on its Web site. An institute spokeswoman said in a telephone interview that there was no damage to buildings and there were no injuries or fatalities.

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Magnitude 6.8 Quake - CENTRAL MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE
USGS
2005 January 12 08:40:03 UTC
A strong earthquake occurred at 08:40:03 (UTC) on Wednesday, January 12, 2005. The magnitude 6.8 event has been located near the CENTRAL MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)

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Earthquake Hits Near Desert Hot Springs
KFMB TV
01-12-05 at 8:30AM

People living near Desert Hot Springs may have been rattled Tuesday night. Officials say a magnitude 4.3 earthquake shook the Southern California desert near Palm Springs just after midnight.

The quake was centered seven miles east of Desert Hot Springs and 12 miles northeast of Palm Springs.

Police say the quake set off car alarms, but didn’t cause any injuries or damage.

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Earthquake felt in Red Hills
Jamaica Observer
Julien Neaves
Wednesday, January 12, 2005

ON Tuesday morning, two days into earthquake awareness week, residents of Red Hills, St Andrew reported feeling a minor tremor to the Earthquake Unit of the University of the West Indies.

The quake was felt at approximately 5:27 am and the epicentre was determined to be offshore the Hellshire Hills in St Catherine. It was measured at a magnitude of 3.2, and had a level-III intensity. [...]

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BEZYMYANNY VOLCANO ERUPTION ENDS IN KAMCHATKA
Some News Source
2005-01-12 15:16

PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY, January 12 (RIA Novosti, Oksana Guseva) - The Bezymyanny volcano eruption, which started on January 11, ended today in Kamchatka.

Chief researcher of the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology under the Far East branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexei Ozerov told RIA Novosti that the ash trail formed as a result of the eruption extended for more than 150 kilometers to the northwest.

Experts predicted the eruption several days before it actually started. The seismic activity of the volcano had been gradually increasing since January 3-4. The number of tremors and their magnitude grew every day.

The eruption started at 19:52 local time (10:52 Moscow time) on January 11 and reached its apogee between 20:23 and 20:31 local time. Its magnitude was three times higher than that of the previous eruption that occurred on June 19-20, 2004.

Visual monitoring of the eruption was impossible due to bad weather conditions in the area at the time of the eruption. A deep cyclone was passing over the region. Nevertheless, experts believe that the height of ash emissions over the crater might have reached 10 kilometers.

The Bezymyanny eruptions are very powerful, but normally do not last long. They regularly occur once or twice a year.

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Mudslides In Tijuana Kill 3 Children
Last Updated:
01-12-05 at 9:59AM

In Tijuana, two massive mudslides claimed the lives of three children.

Two girls, one 11-years-old and other eight-years-old, were killed when fast-moving mud blanketed their makeshift home.

The Mexican Red Cross tried to rescue them, but by the time help reached the children, it was too late.

A five-year-old also died Tuesday in another mudslide.

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Storm that hammered California sweeps across Nevada, Arizona and Utah
10:01 PM EST Jan 12
KEN RITTER

OVERTON, Nev. (AP) - The torrential storm that caused the deadly mudslide in California is sweeping across other Western states, bringing flooding that has gobbled up homes and washed out roads.

The heaviest flooding was concentrated in the area where Nevada, Arizona and Utah meet. No serious injuries were reported, but one man was missing in Utah. A skier was missing for a third day in the deep snow of rugged western Colorado.

In California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday surveyed the devastation caused by a huge mudslide that killed at least 10 people. The overall death toll in California from the storms is 28 people.

Floodwaters from a swollen river rose in this small Nevada town about 80 kilometres from Las Vegas on Wednesday, even as evacuated residents started returning home.

An estimated 100 homhges were damaged, destroyed or cut off by flooding in the Overton area. A police helicopter had to rescue three people after they became trapped in their cars and homes. [...]

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Electricity Restored in Alaska Village
By MARY PEMBERTON
Associated Press Writer
Published January 12, 2005, 5:54 PM CST

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Electricity was restored to most homes in an Arctic village Wednesday, four days after the community lost power in a fierce blizzard and was thrown into the deep freeze.

Drifting snow prevented a cargo plane from landing in Kaktovik, a village of 300 people more than 200 miles above the Arctic Circle. But an Alaska Air National Guard helicopter delivered technicians and equipment on Tuesday.

Within a day, the technicians were able to restore electricity to about three-quarters of the village. The outage may have been caused by power lines slapping together and arcing during the storm, officials said.

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Fossil shows early mammal ate dinosaurs
Last Updated Wed, 12 Jan 2005 13:43:53 EST
CBC News
TORONTO - Researchers working in China's fossil beds have found the remains of a tiny dinosaur inside the belly of a mammal, a discovery that could change perceptions about early mammals.

The mammal, about the size of a raccoon, had a bird-like dinosaur about 12 centimetres long for its last meal. Scientists say it's the first evidence that mammals hunted small dinosaurs about 130 million years ago.

Conventional wisdom holds that early mammals were timid, rodent-like creatures, feeding on insects and seeds. The newly discovered fossils suggest some were meat eaters, occasionally preying on dinosaurs.

Meng Jin of the American Museum of Natural History, a co-author of the study, said the discovery gives researchers a drastically different picture of early mammal life.

A second mammal fossil found at the same site is the largest early mammal ever found, about the size of a modern dog and 20 times larger than most mammals living in the Cretaceous Period.

The dinosaur-eating mammal is a member of the species Repenomamus robustus, previously seen only in skull fragments. The skeleton is about 60 centimetres long and scientists think the animal weighed about seven kilograms.

Its dinosaur meal, a very young Psittacosaurus, appears as fragmented remains under the ribs on the left side, the location of its stomach.

Its larger cousin was given a new species name, Repenomamus giganticus.

The fossils were found more than two years ago in China's Liaoning province. Chinese and American researchers cleaned and analysed the remains in a lab in Beijing.

The study appears in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.

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Rocky Mountain glaciers showing effects of climate change
Last Updated Tue, 11 Jan 2005 19:43:28 EST
CBC News
CANMORE, ALTA. - Glaciers in Canada's Rocky Mountains are melting fast, scientists say, making them a barometer for climate change in Canada.

Some of the glaciers in the mountains have lost 70 per cent of their volume in the past 100 years, scientists say.

The Rocky Mountain glaciers provide most of Western Canada's fresh water.

"Every year there is more ice melting than going in. Over the last five years it's accelerated rapidly. The glaciers are really retreating," said University of Calgary climatologist Shawn Marshall.

Weather records show that the average temperature in the Rockies has risen about 1.5 degrees over the last century.

The mountain ecosystem is also seeing changes in the form of massive summer forest fires, invasive species such as the pine beetle, and changing wildlife habitat.

"Most people who live in this country have no appreciation of how crucial this is, and what kind of impact to could have on all of us," said Bob Sandford, a life-long mountain resident and historian.

The changes are evident in the mountains, Marshall says, and any effort to reverse those changes could take decades.

"The sooner we get this idea, quicker we'll be able to reverse things. But we are sort of on a path right now for the next few decades," said Marshall.

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Lightning Strikes Plague Chicagoland Area
CBS 2
Jan 12, 2005 12:09 pm US/Central

CHICAGO - A man working at a CTA maintenance facility suffered a jolt after lightning struck a nearby storage building.

The man was alert and conscious when he was transported from the East Garfield Park facility at 3920 W. Lake to Mount Sinai Hospital.

Two schools and 160 people were also affected by lightning strikes in suburban Riverside.

Central Elementary School and Hauser Junior High School were closed for the day, school officials said.

According to Commonwealth Edison spokesman John Dewey, the power outage was caused by a downed distribution line on the 2400 block of South 8th Avenue in North Riverside. He did not know what exactly caused the outage, but said it appeared as if lightning struck the line.

ComEd first received calls about the outages around 8:24 a.m. Power was restored at 9:54 a.m.

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