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Travel Log! The
Quantum Future Group Goes to Rennes-le-Chateau
Control, Thought Control, World Control
Strike Flash Presentation by a QFS member
of the Day
SUNBURY, PA. - As the year-end approaches,
mortgage foreclosures in Northumberland County are approaching an
Maria Birster, the real estate officer in the Sheriff's Department,
reports 191 sheriff's sales so far this year. She says that's up
from 159 in 2003 and more than the 187 mortgage foreclosures recorded
Birster says all the foreclosures have been on homes. The lowest
was recorded value was eight-thousand dollars and the highest this
year was 262-thousand dollars.
Birster says the increase in foreclosures
is a sign of the times throughout the region. She says foreclosures
are sometimes the result of a disputed divorce but most result from
the loss of employment.
Unemployment rates dropped slightly across the central Susquehanna
Valley last month.
New figures from the state Department of Labor and Industry show
the seasonally adjusted rate is now six-point-two-percent -- down
a tenth of a percent from October -- but still higher than the state
and national unemployment rate of five-point-four-percent last month.
GEORGIA — Residential foreclosures in
Gwinnett rose almost 40 percent in December from the same time a
year ago, according to the real estate tracking service Foreclosure.com.
Gwinnett’s new foreclosures reached 176 last month versus
108 in December 2003, the Boca Raton, Fla.-based firm said. Georgia
had 2,120 newly foreclosed residential properties for sale compared
to 34,446 in the United States.
Overall, it was a busy year outside the Gwinnett Justice and Administration
Center, where foreclosed properties are publicly auctioned each
month. Gwinnett had 5,130 properties in foreclosure in 2004, the
most in the past four years and the third highest total in metro
Atlanta, behind only Fulton and DeKalb, according to Marietta-based
real estate tracking firm Equisystems.
Meanwhile, mortgage rates across the United States continued to
fall, opening new doors for home buyers.
Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of mortgage rates released Thursday
showed that rates on 30-year, fixed rate mortgages averaged 5.77
percent for the week ending Jan. 6. That was down from last week’s
For all of 2004, rates on benchmark 30-year mortgages averaged
5.84 percent, second only to last year’s 5.83 percent, the
lowest annual rate in Freddie Mac’s record keeping.
Low mortgage rates have powered home sales. Analysts believe sales
hit a record high for all of 2004. The housing market is expected
to post another good year in 2005, analysts said.
Long-term mortgage rates have remained well-behaved even as the
Federal Reserve has boosted short-term interest rates five times
in 2004. That’s because inflation, while creeping higher,
is not currently viewed as an immediate danger to the economy, analysts
‘‘Economic news seems to reflect steady growth and
low inflation, placing little upward pressure on interest rates,’’
said Amy Crews Cutts, Freddie Mac’s deputy chief economist.
DENVER - More than 12,100 homes in six of
seven metro counties fell into foreclosure in 2004, an
increase of 30 percent over the previous year.
Last year's foreclosures reached the highest
level since 1988, when 17,122 were recorded after the oil-and-gas
Risky loan strategies, such as no-money-down loans, and a year
of low housing appreciation contributed to the rise, experts say.
The rising number of foreclosures stands in contrast to the overall
market for homes, which set records in 2004. Front Range home resales
reached an all-time high of 54,012; the total price paid for homes
was $14.3 billion, up 18 percent.
Foreclosures are a lagging economic indicator,
often coming several months after homeowners have lost jobs and
exhausted means to hold on to their homes, said Mary Schaefer, public
trustee for Jefferson County. She predicts foreclosures will
hold steady this year, or perhaps rise slightly.
"There aren't a lot of new jobs, and
it's not a home seller's market, so people who need to sell their
homes quickly can't always get enough money out of them to avoid
the process," she said. "I
know we're supposed to be in a recovery, but I don't see an end
to this right now."
Public trustees in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Denver, Douglas and
Jefferson counties on Monday reported 12,132 foreclosures for 2004,
up from 9,333 in 2003. Foreclosures in the six counties for the
fourth quarter alone are up 14 percent over the fourth quarter of
Figures for Broomfield County were not available.
Arapahoe County posted the biggest jump for the year - a rise of
39 percent over 2003. Foreclosures there have risen steadily since
1995, public trustee Mary Wenke said. At the
close of business Monday, Wenke said her office had received 125
foreclosure filings to start off the new year.
Wenke said a cursory review of last year's foreclosures suggest
that a "substantial number" of lenders and borrowers have
acted irresponsibly. She said dozens of foreclosures processed by
the end of 2004 were for properties purchased early last year. Wenke
also noted that "an alarmingly high number" of owners
"slipped in and out of foreclosure at least twice on the same
property" last year.
Figuring prominently in many foreclosures
are adjustable-rate mortgages and second lines of credit, she said.
OHIO - About 3,000 Summit County homeowners
got notices of foreclosure from their lenders last year, and
most quietly hid their financial problems from friends and neighbors.
But Kimberly Beauford did not.
The single mother of five is fighting to save the home on Stadelman
Avenue in Akron that she has spent thousands of dollars renovating
since she bought it in March 1999.
In many ways, Beauford typifies the problem of foreclosures in
She's African-American, female and lives in an older home in an
older neighborhood. She's also the apparent victim of predatory
lending practices, according to a national group that helps consumers.
Great Neck, NY -- GovernmentAuctions.org,
a division of Cyweb Holdings Inc, announces that it has finalized
plans to include an additional 20,000 high-quality real estate foreclosure
listings in its current foreclosure database.
The additional listings, which are set to be incorporated in the
coming months, will come from a variety of sources and will feature
both REO (Real Estate Owned by the Lender) properties and foreclosure
sales. GovernmentAuctions.org members will be able to access the
expanded information at no additional charge. Foreclosure information
will continue to be updated weekly.
“Our existing customers are eager for the opportunity to
view additional affordably priced real estate. By adding 20,000
more high-quality listings, we will have significantly increased
our already substantial database of foreclosures, and will have
taken a important step forward in our effort to provide the most
comprehensive and relevant residential foreclosure property information
in the United States,” said Cyweb Holdings VP Michael Pesochinsky.
“We have worked hard to make our GovernmentAuctions.org division
an excellent resource for bargain hunters of all types, and we intend
to continue enhancing our offerings to meet needs of our current
and future customers.” [...]
TEXAS - Residential foreclosures surged 15
percent, with 863 Tarrant County houses scheduled
for auction in February, figures released Thursday show.
The Addison-based Foreclosure Listing Service reported that foreclosure
postings rose in much of the Metroplex as more homeowners found
themselves unable to keep up with mortgage payments.
George Roddy, president of the listing service, said job losses
in recent years have strained some families' budgets beyond recovery.
Other homeowners have crumpled under the weight of mortgages for
homes they could never quite afford.
He expects foreclosures to remain at "unhealthy
levels" until at least the third quarter. [...]
Dallas and Denton counties posted foreclosure
increases of 16 percent and 14 percent, respectively, over February
2004. Collin County foreclosures remained unchanged.
In Tarrant County, where monthly foreclosures topped
1,000 postings several times last year, Roddy said lenders now appear
to be foreclosing on 800 to 1,000 homes a month.
"They plateaued, and we're waiting for a decline," he
LONDON - The dollar surged on Friday after
a senior Federal Reserve official hinted the United States could
accelerate the pace of raising interest rates and Washington pledged
for a tighter budget and strong dollar policy.
St. Louis Federal Reserve President William Poole told Reuters
that the central bank would not hesitate to depart from its pace
of measured interest rate increases if necessary.
"The latest surge in the dollar came after comments from Poole,
who suggested the Fed could raise rates more and faster than expected,"
said Carsten Fritsch, currency strategist at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.
President Bush said in an interview on Thursday that the budget
he proposes next month will freeze spending for some programs and
deny funding to others to meet his deficit reduction goals.
"There's a perception in the market that something tangible
may be coming out (from the Bush administration) to tackle the budget
and current account deficits," said Kamal Sharma, foreign exchange
strategist at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein.
Bush repeated the administration's strong
dollar policy and said he was confident foreign investors would
find the U.S. a good place to invest. [...]
| WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 (Xinhuanet)
-- US President George W. Bush begins his second term with a lower
approval rating than other US presidents after their reelection in
the past five decades, according to the results of a poll released
Only 50 percent of Americans approve Bush's job performance, the
lowest for a re-elected president since 1957, when Dwight Eisenhower
began his second term with a approval rating at 73 percent, according
to the poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.
Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson and
Dwight Eisenhower all enjoyed higher approval ratings when they
took office for a second term, showed the survey, which was conducted
Jan. 5-9 among 1,503 Americans.
The poll found that 43 percent of the respondents disapprove of
Bush's job performance, higher than those for Clinton, Reagan, Nixon,
Johnson and Eisenhower as they began their second term.
Author and educator George
Grant was Executive Director of Coral
Ridge Ministries for many years. He explains in The Changing
of the Guard, Biblical Principles for Political Action:
Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy
responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ -- to have
dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of
life and godliness.
But it is dominion we are after. Notjust a voice.
It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.
It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time.
It is dominion we are after.
World conquest. That's what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish.
We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must
never settle for anything less... Thus, Christian politics has
as its primary intent the conquest of the land -- of men, families,
institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom
of Christ. (pp. 50-51)
| The Heritage Foundation and the
Wall Street Journal have released their 11th "Index
of Economic Freedom." The media hook is that the United States
"for the first time ever no longer ranks among the top 10 'free' nations
of the world." Topping the list is Hong Kong, China's "free port,"
whose citizens do not even enjoy the measure of freedom they had under
British colonial rule. ("Red China" is red now only in the sense that
Mississippi is a "red" state.)
The index "measures 161 countries against a list of 50 independent
variables divided into 10 broad factors of economic freedom." The
degree of freedom a country enjoys is determined by the "level of
government interference in the economy."
In other words, the freedom under discussion bears little relation
to freedom - even economic freedom - as understood by most
of the peoples of the world, because it has nothing to do with
people. It's corporate freedom, and the freedom of capital,
that is at issue. This is the kind of bizarro-world reasoning that
sees nothing amiss with American corporations having the right of
personhood under the law.
The study offers no consideration that unfettered capital may be a
bad thing. Nor that governments - even representative governments,
as conventionally understood - ought to act as a counterweight to
corporate power. In other words, Heaven for the Heritage Foundation
would be Grover Norquist's lucid dream of a government so small it
can be drowned in the bathtub.
Again, Venezuela is judged "repressed" under President Hugo Chavez,
who "tightened his grip" on the country by victory in a referendum
the dafters of the report can't bring themselves to admit was fair.
Bolivarian land reform persecutes the idle foreign barons
such as "Lord
Spam," while the fact that unemployment is the lowest
it's been in nearly a decade does not deserve a mention. Yet Chavez
does get spanked for "appropriating" billions of dollars in oil revenue
to "fund social programs."
Cuba, of course, is an even worse offender. While the report allows
that "private entrepreneurship exists," it remains, heaven forfend,
"heavily regulated." That Cuba now has a lower
infant mortality rate than the United States - fewer than four
deaths per thousand, compared to seven - is not a factor, because
lives are not a factor in the consideration of the health of capital.
"Economic freedom" for much of the world means freedom from poverty;
freedom to work and to earn a living wage; freedom from the burden
of crushing medical expenses. To the Heritage Foundation and the Wall
Street Journal, we may as well be talking about the freedom to
float in mid-air, it makes as much sense to them.
The other day I posted a Dahr
Jamail piece entitled, Iraq:
The Devastation, but another word has recently come to mind
that, I suspect, might apply no less aptly to Iraq and other areas
where the Bush administration is exerting its muscle. That word
Let's forget for a minute the recent Newsweek
report that the Pentagon is considering funding 1980s El Salvador-style
"death squads" in Iraq, an article which caused enough of a stir
to be addressed both by the
Secretary of Defense ("somebody has been reading too many spy
novels and went off in flights of fancy, which I hope have been
put to rest") and by
the White House press spokesman; or the urge among administration
hardliners to extend a failing war and occupation across a border
in the next few weeks with strikes
into Syria; or the fact, just revealed in a front-page New
York Times piece that the "we don't torture" administration
sent Condoleezza Rice on a special mission to Capitol Hill to oppose
the imposition of Congressional restrictions on, and oversight of,
what the two Times reporters politely call CIA "extreme interrogation
measures." Instead, what stays in my mind is a single incident reported
recently that caught for me the desolation the Bush administration
is spreading in its wake: a desolation of place, of our military,
of our values, of our language.
On January 7, an American plane dropped a 500-pound bomb on a house
in a village near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The house, the
military announced afterwards, was "not
the intended target" in what was called "a cordon and search
operation to capture an anti-Iraqi force cell leader." An argument
promptly began as to whether, as the military claimed, 5 people
had been killed or, as people on the ground claimed, 14 people,
including 7 children. (This sort of argument has been a commonplace
of such incidents in both Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001.) The
military also issued an expression of regret -- and it was a phrase
in that statement which still hangs desolately in my memory.
The military announced that it "deeply regretted the loss of possibly
innocent lives." Think of that. A 500-pound bomb hits what they
themselves then believed not to be "the intended target" and what
they regretted was the loss of "possibly innocent" lives. Was it
simply assumed by now that so many Iraqis support the insurgency
in areas like Mosul that even in the "wrong" house the odds of "innocence"
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Departing
from fiery Islamic slogans, Iraqi guerrillas have launched a propaganda
campaign with an English-language video urging U.S. troops to lay
down their weapons and seek refuge in mosques and homes.
The video, narrated in fluent English by what sounded like an Iraqi
educated in the United States or Britain, also mocked the U.S. president's
challenge to rebels in the early days of the insurgency to 'bring
"George W. Bush; you have asked us to 'bring it on'. And so
help me, (we will) like you never expected. Do you have another
challenge?," asked the narrator before the video showed explosions
around a U.S. military Humvee vehicle.
Threats intended to demoralise and frighten in the tense build
up to elections at the end of the month were tempered with invitations
to desert and escape retribution.
A masked guerrilla from an unknown group called the Islamic Jihad
Army, eschewing past impassioned Arabic-language threats of holy
war, told U.S. soldiers: "This is not your war, nor are you
fighting for a true cause in Iraq."
"To the American soldiers we say you can also choose to fight
tyranny with us. Lay down your weapons and seek refuge in our mosques,
churches and homes. We will protect you," he said.
There was no way of verifying the authenticity of the video obtained
Previous insurgent videos have been dominated by grisly beheadings
of foreign hostages who kneel beside radical Islamic banners before
The Islamic Jihad Army video featured familiar scenes of guerrillas
blowing up U.S. convoys but also highlighted some of the key issues
of the Iraq war, from weapons of mass destruction to the September
11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
"We have not crossed the oceans and seas to occupy Britain
or the U.S. nor are we responsible for 9/11. These are only a few
of these lies that these criminals present to cover their true plans,"
said the narrator, apparently referring to the Bush administration's
assertion of a link between Saddam Hussein and those attacks.
A masked speaker with a machine gun beside him delivered his message
to triumphant music with the ring of U.S. military propaganda films
during World War Two.
He said the enemy was on the run as the video showed guerrillas
firing on U.S. convoys, standing beside the corpse of an American
soldier, or loading a large shell for an attack.
The U.S. military has said it would stay in Iraq until the country
is by its definition secure.
The rebels focused on political issues that divided the United
States and its European allies over the war in Iraq while reminding
troops of casualties with images of burning trucks.
"We also thank France, Germany and other states for their
positions, which we need to say are considered wise and valid until
now," said the narrator, who also urged economic warfare against
"Stop using the U.S. dollar. Use the Euro or a basket of currencies,"
he said on the video dated December 10, 2004.
At least 1,067 U.S. troops have died in combat since the start
of the war that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.
NEW YORK--A new documentary, "Hitler's
Hit Parade," runs 76 minutes without narration. Comprised entirely
of archival footage, the film prompts its reviewers to remark upon
Hannah Arendt's famous observation about the banality of evil. German
troops subjugated Europe and shoved millions of people into ovens;
German civilians went to the movies, attended concerts, and gossiped
about their neighbors. People lived mundane, normal lives while
their government carried out unspeakable monstrosities.
As Congress prepared to rubberstamp the nomination of torture aficionado
Alberto Gonzales as the nation's chief prosecutor, the Washington
Post broke news that would have torn a saner nation apart. The Bush
Administration, the paper reported January 2, is no longer planning
to keep hundreds of Muslim prisoners currently rotting away in U.S.
concentration camps at Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram
merely "indefinitely." The Defense Department and CIA
are now planning "a more permanent approach for potentially
lifetime detentions" for these innocents.
We're locking them up forever. Without due process.
Before gangsters like Alberto Gonzales seduced us into abandoning
our values, a person was considered innocent before being proven
guilty. Now we're locking people away because
"the government does not have enough evidence to charge [them]
in courts." And everyone, including Democrats, is OK with this.
Untold thousands of people are being held without charges, tortured
and occasionally murdered in the system of gulags hastily strung
together by the CIA, FBI, INS and Pentagon. According to the government
itself, only a few dozen are former Al Qaeda officials. Most of
these postmodern misérables were farmers, truck drivers,
grunt militiamen and political enemies sold into bondage by Afghan
warlords and similarly trustworthy souls for cash bounties on a
no questions asked basis. We know they have
no ties to terrorism, but they've already spent years getting beaten
up. Releasing them would serve as a tacit admission that we were
wrong to describe them as--in Dick Cheney's words--"the worst
of the worst." They would sue our government, and eventually
win. Worst of all, they have unpleasant tales to tell about systemic
sodomy and countless other forms of horrific taxpayer-funded abuse.
We can never let them out.
Bush plans to divide U.S. concentration camp victims into two groups.
One set of "lifers" will end up in U.S.-run stalags like
Gitmo's new Camp 6, built to hold 200 "detainees who are unlikely
to ever go through a military tribunal for lack of evidence, according
to defense officials." But not to worry: Camp 6 would "allow
socializing among inmates."
Others captured in the "war on terrorism" will be outsourced
"to third countries willing to hold them indefinitely and without
proceedings" in foreign-run gulags that pledge to make victims
available for torture by American interrogators. This practice,
some claim, is "an effective method of disrupting terrorist
cells and persuading detainees to reveal information."
"The threat of sending someone to one of these countries [where
they are likely to be tortured] is very important," said Rohan
Gunaratna, author of "Inside Al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror."
But the so-called "ticking time bomb" rationale for torture
is patently fallacious. We've heard the scenario repeatedly: wouldn't
it be worth torturing someone who knew the location of a nuclear
bomb that was about to destroy Manhattan? The short answer, to a
moral person, is obviously no. Moreover, its logic is ludicrous.
Suppose we had captured Osama bin Laden on 9/10
and immediately gone to work on him with our Alberto Gonzales-approved
psychotropic drugs and our Alberto Gonzales-approved "waterboard"
dunking technique. It wouldn't take long for Osama's pals to notice
that he'd failed to show up at the Terrorcave. They'd assume that
we had him and were torturing him. They'd assume that he'd tell
us everything he knew. So they'd delay 9/11 to 10/11 or 11/12 or
9/11/02. Or go to Plan B. Or develop a Plan C. No one in an underground
organization, not even its top leader, is indispensable. Arrests
are inconvenient, not debilitating.
The information a person possesses at the moment of his capture
ages like a ripe cheese in hot sun. Even if what he told you at
the beginning was true, anything you'd get out of him days and weeks
and months and years later would be completely worthless.
Wait a minute.
Look at what we're talking about. Consider the
breezy way we Americans--Americans!--are debating the pros and cons
of torture. Marvel at our moral bankruptcy. The liberal argument
against torture used to be that it was wrong. Now it's that it doesn't
Read any good books lately?
WASHINGTON — International travelers
will soon be able to zip through JFK Airport with the blink of an
The airport will be home to a new pilot program that uses high-tech
eye scans to speed pre-registered passengers through security and
"Our vision is to enhance our security and facilitate the
legitimate flow of trade and travel to and from the U.S.,"
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announced yesterday in the
Netherlands — a country that has used a similar eye-scan program
"Some say you can't achieve both at the same time, but we
are beginning to prove the skeptics wrong," added Ridge in
one of his final official acts as the nation's security chief. "We
can and must achieve both these goals."
Travelers who voluntarily enroll in the eye-scan program must undergo
an extensive background check, including criminal history reviews,
fingerprinting and a face-to-face interview with a homeland security
Once approved, they'll receive a special "smart card"
that holds their passport and iris details.
When they arrive at JFK, the pre-approved passengers can skip the
long lines at customs and head straight to special kiosks, plug
in their smart card and have their eyes scanned.
Provided their eyes match the records held in the smart card, the
travelers can grab their bags and enter the country "without
routine Customs and Border Protection."
Ridge said there are "no plans" to charge travelers who
take part in the eye-scan program. The Dutch counterpart program
forces travelers to cough up about $130 a year for the privilege
of skipping passport checkpoints.
The eye-scan program will be open to U.S. citizens and legal permanent
residents, as well as foreigners who frequently travel to America.
It aims to cut down on the waiting time for the many of the 6 million
travelers who pass through JFK each year.
Ridge said a fingerprinting program already in
place to speed frequent travelers and truckers through checkpoints
along the Mexican and Canadian borders — including the crossings
at Lake Champlain and Buffalo — "has given us the confidence"
to move forward with the JFK iris scans.
With the success of the fingerprinting program at the borders —
known as US-VISIT — and now the launch of the iris scanning,
Ridge is urging the United States to rely more heavily on biometrics
rather than paper documents to assure a person's identity.
He's also calling to include a citizen's fingerprints on his or
her American passport — a move Ridge
hopes would force many foreign countries to do the same.
At least five Israelis and three Palestinians
have been killed in an explosion set off by Palestinian resistance
fighters at a vital Gaza crossing, the Israeli military says.
Thursday's attack on the Karni crossing was the biggest since
Mahmud Abbas won Sunday's election to succeed Yasir Arafat as
head of the Palestinian Authority.
The attack took place just before 11pm (2100 GMT) at the
crossing where farm produce and other goods enter and leave
the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian fighters entered the crossing in a bomb-laden
truck minutes before it was to close, the Israeli military said.
As the explosives detonated, at least two fighters stormed the
Palestinian officials were not immediately available for comment.
Abbas has been trying to persuade resistance groups such as
Hamas and Islamic Jihad to agree to a ceasefire, but so far with
Shortly afterwards, an Israeli helicopter fired two missiles
at a target in a Gaza refugee camp.
Witnesses said the missiles
struck a medical centre in Deir el Balah refugee camp run
by an Islamic charity with links to Hamas.
There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Israeli occupation forces have killed two
Palestinians, including a man who was driving
his pregnant wife to hospital in the north of the Gaza
Strip, Palestinian hospital and security sources said.
Alaa Hassuna, 23, was shot in the Bait Lahya area on Thursday
shortly after leaving the family home in a nearby Beduin village
His wife and another passenger in the vehicle were wounded,
the sources said.
Hassuna died instantly, a Palestinian security official
However, the Israeli army said troops
fired near the man's vehicle because he was speeding towards them
and they feared an attack was imminent.
As a result of the gunfire - which
the army said did not hit the vehicle - it veered
off course, and it is possible the man died as a result of the
crash, the Israeli army said.
Shot in the eye
The military's version was contested by Mahmud al-Asali,
director of the Bait Lahya hospital, said Hassuna died of fatal
"He was shot in the right eye and the
bullet exited from the back of the brain. There were no scratches
to show that he had been in an accident," he said.
Hassuna's wife sustained a bullet wound in the hand while
the second passenger was slightly injured by a bullet wound
to the leg, al-Asali added. The Israeli army added that its
arrest operation in Bait Lahya was "successful" and a "fugitive"
had been taken into custody.
Also on Thursday, a Palestinian was
shot dead by Israeli troops during an army incursion into
a refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical
Said Abd al-Salaam, 22, was hit in the chest when troops swarmed
into the Buraij refugee camp, which lies between Gaza City and
Dair al-Balah, they said, adding that several
others were wounded during the raid.
An army spokeswoman said there had been an overnight arrest
operation just east of the camp, during which an armed Palestinian
approached the troops and opened fire.
"They returned fire and identified a hit," she said.
In another incident, an Israeli helicopter
fired missiles at a Palestinian car in the Gaza Strip and
witnesses said they saw smoke rising from the vehicle.
"We attacked a suspicious car in an open area south of (the
Jewish settlement of) Kfar Darom and identified a hit," an
Israeli military source said.
The car was standing in an empty field when the helicopter
launched the attack, the source said. Palestinian medics said
it appeared no one was hurt.
Israel Radio said the missile strike was not an assassination
attempt against Palestinian fighters but an attack on a suspected
|GAZA CITY : Five Israelis were killed in a suicide
attack coordinated by three Palestinian militant groups, dealing
a massive blow to hopes that Mahmud Abbas' election as Palestinian
leader would revive the Middle East peace process.
The attack was led by three Palestinian militants who moved
into the Israeli side of the crossing at the entrance to the southern
Gaza Strip through a hole in a concrete wall punctured by a lorry
bomb, the army said.
The militants sprayed gunfire and hurled grenades before being
shot dead by Israeli security forces after a firefight. It was
not clear under what circumstances the Israeli victims had died,
but their deaths were confirmed by the army.
Four Israelis were also wounded in the attack at the Karni crossing
point between Israel and Gaza, two of whom were in a critical
The attack was claimed in a joint phone call by three groups,
including the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which is linked to Abbas's
own mainstream Fatah movement. The caller later said that three
Palestinians had been killed in a suicide mission.
The other groups claiming the attack on the Karni crossing between
Israel and the southern Gaza Strip were the Ezzedine Al-Qassam
Brigades of the Hamas Islamist group and the armed wing of the
Popular Resistance Committees.
The deaths brought to 4,694 the number of people killed since
the start of the Intifada in September 2000, including 3,641 Palestinians
and 978 Israelis.
It was the first such suicide attack since the election of Abbas
as Palestinian leader, which raised hopes of a breakthrough in
the moribund Middle East peace process.
The timing and the coordinated nature
of the attack appeared to be a clear message to Abbas that he
still has little control over the militant movements despite
his protestations that Palestinian statehood would not be won
Until the attack there had been widespread hopes of a revival
of the peace process, following Abbas' election as president of
the Palestinian Authority. [...]
In other violence, a 23-year-old Palestinian man, Alaa Hassuna,
was shot dead by Israeli soldiers while driving his pregnant wife
to hospital in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli military sources initially said that
only warning shots had been fired but later confirmed that troops
had opened fire at the vehicle as it drove towards them at speed
and was regarded as "an immediate danger".
A 22-year-old Palestinian was also shot dead by troops during
an army incursion into Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza while
several miles further south, the Israeli air force fired a missile
at a Palestinian car but without causing any injuries.
Two foreigners have been seized in separate
incidents in Iraq and armed men have stolen millions from a Ramadi
bank in a day of widespread violence.
At 6.30am (0330 GMT) on Thursday, armed men opened fire
on a minibus that had gone to pick up a Turkish businessman from
the Bakhan Hotel in central Baghdad.
All six on board were killed, police Lieutenant Bassam al-Abid
The businessman, identified as Abdulkadir Tanrikulu, was captured
by at least 10 men.
Five of the dead were local Iraqi employees working for the
businessman, who runs a construction company, al-Abid said. The
other victim was the driver of the minibus.
The assailants carried the bodies off the bus and drove off in
the vehicle and two other cars, al-Abid said.
A Turkish news channel said the construction company was working
in Iraq with the US.
An employee of the hotel, who gave only his first name, Alaa,
said the businessman has been in Iraq for about a year.
Elsewhere, an Egyptian was seized around the northern Iraqi
city of Kirkuk, local police and party officials said on Thursday.
"Egyptian Abd al-Khalik Ahmad, 43, who
worked at a service station, was kidnapped on Thursday in front
of his workplace by armed men who arrived in two cars, some
of whom wore uniforms of the New Iraqi Army," Lieutenant-Colonel
Ali Ahmad said.
In a separate development on Thursday, armed men stole millions
of dollars worth of Iraqi dinars after breaking into a bank in
Ramadi, the troubled capital of western Anbar province.
The men broke into Al-Rashid Bank and stole $13.5 million worth
of Iraqi dinars.
"At 11am (0800 GMT), a group broke into the Al-Rashid Bank and
locked all the employees in a room and took all the money from
the bank before escaping," a police captain said.
Against this backdrop of continued unrest, it was revealed on
Thursday that armed men have killed two aides to Shia cleric
Grand Ayat Allah Ali al-Sistani, a senior official working with
Cleric Mahmud al-Madahaini was killed on Wednesday in Salman
Pak, an ancient town two kilometres south of Baghdad,
along with his son and four guards. Halim al-Afghani, another
aide working in Sistani's office in Najaf, was also found dead.
Iraqi officials have not confirmed the reports.
Elsewhere too, there has been no let-up in violence.
In the city of Hyit west of Ramadi, two US military vehicles were
destroyed in a rocket attack on Thursday, Aljazeera reported.
US helicopters were seen evacuating wounded US soldiers.
And in the Haqlaniya area, west of Ramadi, an explosive device went
off near a US military patrol, destroying two military vehicles.
Aljazeera also reported that US forces have detained Shaikh Ahmad
al-Jiburi, a member of the Association of Muslim Scholars and
imam of Al-Khashab Mosque in al-Huriya neighbourhood, northwest
The raid damaged his house and the mosque.
Furthermore, in the Buhriz neighbourhood, south of Baquba, Imad
Majid, a member of the Iraqi Communist Party, was shot dead by
While in al-Aziziya, south of Baghdad, four Iraqi police officers were
wounded in an attack targeting their patrol.
TORONTO, - Although Canada conspicuously
stayed out of the war in Iraq two years ago, Ottawa's decision
to help monitor the controversial Jan. 30 elections in the violence-torn
country has some critics wondering about the choices being made
by a national government that styles itself as a promoter of democracy
"The Iraq situation is insane," said Duff Conacher, coordinator
of Democracy Watch, a non-partisan advocate of increased citizen
participation and less dominance by wealthy interests in Canada.
"There should not be an election. It
is not possible to hold a free and fair election when there is
a very plausible threat that people will be killed if they go
to the ballot box," he said.
Conacher is concerned that Canada is furthering
the political agenda of U.S. President George W. Bush,
who is pushing hard for the voting to go ahead as scheduled, even
as violent resistance to the occupation continues to grow and
the biggest Sunni political party has pulled out of the polls
Canada does have something to offer other countries in terms
of its experience with independent and fair elections and the
rule of law, says Tony Clarke, director of the Polaris Institute,
which opposes corporate-led globalisation.
At the same time, Clarke told IPS that Canada
is in danger of "being led by the nose in terms of U.S. empire
Canada's chief electoral official, Jean-Pierre Kingsley, defends
the credibility of the international team of experts that his
country is heading up to assess the fairness of the Iraqi election.
January 12, 2004, PST 0800 (FTW)
-- On December 16, 2004, another new Osama bin Laden video hit the
air waves. Like previous productions, the tape was conveniently
timed to reinforce and invigorate Washington's expanding war agenda,
keep the populations of Western nations fearfully compliant and
supportive of the Bush administration's "war on terrorism,"
further provoke anti-Western sentiment in the Middle East, and distract
from exploding political and economic fault lines all over the world,
from Ukraine and Kuwait, to the financial markets and tension within
the Bush administration itself ("wag the dog").
Although the (never to be trusted) CIA has expressed "high
confidence" that the voice is that of Bin Laden, the tape was
not dated and, according to the Reuters report, "its authenticity
could not be verified."
Analysis of previous alleged Osama bin Laden videos, and other
loudly-promoted "terror tapes," "arrests," and
"trials" have been exposed as propaganda, likely produced
by operatives of the Bush administration. We can logically conclude
that this work is more of the same.
If the case can be made that the tapes are, in fact, manufactured
by US intelligence agencies, it stands to reason that the words
out of the mouth of the Osama image have also been conceived, written
and planted by these same agencies. It is therefore foolish to "read"
the tapes without this likely framework in mind.
What is telling about the new tape, and the previous (October 29,
pre-presidential election) Osama product, is the specific content,
planted amidst other intentionally deceptive gibberish, that seems
to confirm and forecast US/Bush administration policy and geostrategy.
Before getting into these details, it is useful to remind oneself
of the perfect Orwellian dynamics that expert propaganda ministries
seek to create: Lies become truth. Truths become lies.
One need only look at present conditions to see that this dynamic
is in full flower. Western political leaders, and every member of
the Bush administration and their agencies, tell lies on a daily
basis, in front of cameras and microphones. Americans are conditioned
to embrace these repeated lies as truth. At the same time, these
same agencies, and the US corporate media, portray (real and manufactured)
opponents of US war policy as liars, regardless of what they say
(or are made to say).
An "image of evil" is the central element. For propaganda
purposes, the US has typically hung out despotic former US allies
and intelligence assets who have outlived their usefulness (Noriega,
Saddam Hussein) and/or long-time US intelligence assets who, for
war purposes, must remain at large (Osama bin Laden, Zarqawi, etc.
With the Osama image, propaganda manufacturers have created a demonic
and lurid icon designed to divide and provoke. With repetition,
the Osama image has become a universal icon of "evil"
in American culture. Indoctrinated, brainwashed and ill-informed
individuals in the US, viewing the image, have had their thinking
shaped to think: "Whatever this image is saying is evil and
untrue. Therefore, I support whatever is the opposite."
So what happens when propaganda ministers broadcast "evil
images" that speak factual truths? Targeted populations who
"hate" the image, believing that the words are lies, oppose
truth and deny facts.
Against this model ("anything that 'Osama' wants, we're against;
anything that 'Osama' doesn't want, we're for"), consider what
the evil "Osama" image was made to speak, and the response
that US propaganda ministers likely want:
1. The Osama image issues a specific comment about oil: "Stop
the Americans from getting hold of the oil. Concentrate your operations
on the oil, in particular in Iraq and the Gulf."
It is a fact, that the current world war (and the "war on
terrorism") has been waged for the purpose of seizing, occupying
and controlling key energy and resource regions in preparation for
the worldwide depletion crisis known as Peak Oil (see the extensive
analysis of Peak Oil at From The Wilderness).
The effect of the Osama image's statement, then, is to make US/Western
populations support "American efforts to get the oil in Iraq
and the Gulf" as a way to "fight bin Laden and 'terrorists.'"
Gradual manipulation of public opinion that spoon-feeds the idea
of Peak Oil has already begun over the past year (evidenced by increasing
media acknowledgement of energy depletion in mainstream publications
and networks, after years of denial or silence).
This will certainly be followed by the planting of the idea that
it is acceptable for the US and the West to control remaining world
energy supplies "at any cost" - therefore, making the
current Iraq war - and probable future wars in Iran, Saudi Arabia
Latin America and elsewhere " acceptable." What better
anti-messenger than "Osama"?
2. The Osama image accuses the Saudi regime of forging an alliance
with the "infidel" world led by US President George W.
Bush, while calling the rulers of the world's largest oil exporter
"corrupt and oppressive US agents."
Both statements are true. But because "Osama says so,"
American and Western populations will be disposed to dismiss the
idea of a corrupt alliance between Saudi Arabia and the US, and
to rally around "the good guys." This was the case during
the first Gulf War (with Saddam Hussein playing the "bad guy,"
Israel and Saudi Arabia as "good guys"), and it is also
3. The Osama image warns that Saudi rulers should be toppled like
the Shah of Iran.
It is a fact, that the Saudi regime (like that of the Shah of Iran)
is an outpost of the American empire, one that simmers on the brink
of implosion and civil war - ripe for intervention. It is also a
fact that (1) Saudi Arabia holds the world's largest oil reserves;
(2) US efforts to get oil from everywhere else, including Iraq,
Central Asia, etc. have so far been unsuccessful, resisted or botched;
(3) the world economy is teetering on the brink of collapse because
cheap oil is no longer flowing, and (4) the Bush administration
knows that they need, and must have, Saudi Arabia and its oil. It
is not a question of if, but when.
Propaganda ministers are setting up Western public opinion with
the idea that the House of Saud will indeed fall - but it must not
be allowed to get into the hands of "Osama" and Islamist
fanatics (such as those perceived to have toppled the Shah of Iran).
This plants the idea in American minds that a US military intervention,
an "anti-terror" occupation, will "save" the
4. The Osama image says: "Muslims are determined to recover
their rights, whatever the price. Either you give them back what
they entrusted you with (power), by allowing them to choose their
rulers, or you refuse to give power back to them."
It is true that these sentiments reflect the dominant opinion of
Muslims throughout the Middle East and around the world. Certainly,
it is the majority opinion within war-ravaged Iraq, where sham elections
are about to be forced upon a nation that the Bush administration
continues to try to beat and bomb into submission.
But because "Osama" is saying it, the Western public
will reflexively dismiss the words as "radical fundamentalist
hatred," and then rally around the opposite: Bush, continuing
war and genocide against Muslims, and the absolute denial of power
and rights to Muslims in occupied regions.
The lasting effect of Bush administration propaganda has been to
fool mass populations around US/Bush administration policies that
are based on criminal falsehoods, cover-up, and the absolute denial
of political realities. At the very least, they seek to plant the
notion that the alternative is even worse.
Going back to a telling piece of the previous propaganda tape of
October 29, the Osama image spoke about how George W. Bush sat in
a Florida schoolroom on 9/11, and read from a storybook about a
pet goat, while the 9/11 atrocity happened.
But the Osama image said it. Therefore, it is "patriotic"
to say "it didn't happen"- and fully embrace the lies
of 9/11 cover-up operations such as the 9/11 Commission.
In the minds of indoctrinated masses in the United States and the
West, whatever the Osama image says is a lie. It is a neat trick.
In Crossing the Rubicon, Mike Ruppert writes:
"I believe that bin Laden was, and remains, a CIA/US government/Wall
Street asset. This would explain why he has never been caught. There
are still wars to fight. He can't be caught for a variety of reasons,
including his family's enormous and diverse financial connections
to the same elites that control the United States financial system,
and his close interrelationship with a Saudi ruling class that could
pull the plug on the US economy even before Peak Oil does. Osama
bin Laden also knows way too much, and without him, the Bush administration
would have had no excuse for any of what it has done over the last
four years. From a strategic point of view, Osama is Dick Cheney's
And Osama videos are the CIA's best weapons.
It is not a stretch to expect future bin Laden tapes to issue more
specific planted facts about a variety of issues that the Bush administration
wants American citizens to oppose.
The aircraft carrier leading the US military's
tsunami relief effort has left Indonesian waters after
Indonesia declined to let the ship's fighter pilots use its airspace
for training missions.
USS Abraham Lincoln's diversion, which will not affect aid flights,
came as the White House asked the Indonesian Government to explain
why it appeared to be demanding the US military and other foreign
troops providing disaster relief leave the country by the end
"We'll seek further clarification from Indonesia about what
this means," said Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary.
"We hope that the Government of Indonesia and the military in
Indonesia will continue the strong support they have provided
to the international relief efforts so far."
Under US Navy rules, pilots of carrier-based warplanes cannot
go longer than 14 days without flying, or they have to undergo
The Indonesian Government said on Wednesday that foreign troops
would be out of the country by March 31.
Subsequently US marines have scaled back plans
to send hundreds of troops into Indonesia to build roads and clear
After long discussions with the Indonesian Government, the US
military called off plans to base the marines on land. Instead,
smaller numbers are going ashore by day to help with relief and
returning to their vessels in the evening. The marines' primary
task is now ferrying humanitarian workers and food from the amphibious
assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard.
The Financial Times reported on Monday that a
US plan to use navy landing craft to deploy about 1000 marines
in Aceh had been delayed because of Indonesian concern that it
might resemble an invasion. [...]
WASHINGTON - Outgoing Homeland Security Secretary
Tom Ridge said Wednesday the United States should put the fingerprints
of citizens traveling abroad on their passports.
"If we're going to ask the rest of the
world to put fingerprints on their passports, we ought to put
our fingerprints on our passports," Ridge told a room full
of homeland security experts at a morning speech at the Center
for Strategic and International Studies.
Asked what advice he would give to newly nominated Homeland
Security secretary Michael Chertoff, Ridge added: "Be
aggressive. ... It's a lot easier to negotiate with your allies
if you've already done what you're asking them to do."
Ridge made the assertion just before he was to take off on a
trip to build security ties with the European Union.
The United States recently began fingerprinting and photographing
citizens of 27 countries _ including nations that are staunch
allies _ when they arrive for short visits. The idea was to close
a perceived national security gap.
Critics fear that fingerprinting could violate personal privacy
FBI says accused had poison ricin and
MIAMI, Florida -- An Ocala, Florida, man was arrested by the FBI
after they found the biotoxin ricin in his possession in the home
he shares with his mother.
Steven Michael Ekberg, 22, had at least 83 castor beans and
other byproducts consistent with the manufacture of ricin in his
possession, the FBI said.
Ricin is a poison that can be made from the waste from processing
castor beans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and
The former waiter also had several weapons, including an AK-47
and an Uzi, the FBI said.
Ekberg was taken into custody Wednesday night and was scheduled
to appear Thursday afternoon before a federal magistrate in Ocala.
He is being charged with possession of a biological weapon.
"We are still investigating and are trying to determine what
his intentions were, but we have no information that he released
it to anyone," said FBI spokesman Jeff Westcott.
"We believe that he acquired the materials over the Internet,
but we are still investigating," he said.
In their affidavit, FBI officials said they found a number of
seeds in packaging that describes the material as "very poisonous."
They said they also found, in a cardboard box in Ekberg's room,
glass vials containing white granules suspected of being husk-less,
chopped castor beans, a byproduct of the manufacture of ricin.
The FBI said Ekberg has no known ties to terrorists or extremists.
CHICAGO, Illinois -- An apparent natural
gas explosion ripped a 150-foot-long trench
through the parking lot of a shopping mall on Chicago's
Southside Wednesday night, injuring nine people who were transported
to area hospitals, according to the city's fire department.
All the injuries were moderate to minor, many of them caused
by flying debris, fire commissioner Cortez Trotter said. Others
were taken to the hospital as a precaution because they inhaled
The blast which happened outside a restaurant at the Ford City
Mall around 8 p.m. (9 p.m. ET) sent pieces
of a gas main flying through the air, shattered windows and overturned
about a dozen cars. No vehicles appeared to have fallen
into the wide trench, Trotter said.
The few shoppers left in the mall were evacuated, and Trotter
said those were the only evacuations.
The investigation into what caused the blast is still underway.
"The police department's on the scene, also investigating to
ensure that this wasn't some malicious act but at this point they've
determined that it was not, that it was merely a gas main explosion,"
It is still unclear what could have caused the gas main to rupture;
there was no construction or digging in the area, police and gas
company officials said.
"Sometimes right after the winter, because of freezes and expansions
and contractions of pipes, something can happen," Peoples Gas
spokesman Rod Sierra said. "There may have been small crack for
a long period of time that just built up. We don't know any of
that until we get in that hole and take a close look."
The 20-inch medium pressure gas main, about six feet underground,
was shut off after the blast, Sierra said. No residents were affected
by the shutdown, he said.
Trench rescue workers and investigators waited late Wednesday
for the gas to clear the lines so they can enter the hole and
determine if anyone is trapped and begin investigating what caused
"We don't see this very often," Sierra said. "Usually when a
gas main leaks or blows it's because someone hits it."
One witness, who lives near the mall, said
the loud blast "felt like a small earthquake."
A device that tests the strength of concrete
caused a bomb scare at Santa Fe High School on Wednesday that
evacuated the school, a school district spokeswoman said.
A security guard at the school of about 1,800 students discovered
what he thought was a suspicious-looking package on the sidewalk
along the access road near Siringo Road, said Ruthanne Greeley,
Santa Fe School District spokeswoman.
The guard reported the package to the principal, who called
police, she said. Police officers arrived, looked at thew item
and called the bomb squad, Greeley said.
Students at the school were taken to the gym just before noon
and then allowed to go home between 1 and 1:30 p.m., she said.
Faculty were also evacuated.
However, police soon determined the suspicious item was a test
cylinder for concrete, Greeley said. A contractor is doing some
concrete work at the school and set up the test cylinder to determine
how much pressure the concrete can stand, she said.
The cylinder featured a tube and gauges, and "to a lay person
it might look suspicious," Greeley said. [...]
AUBURN, Calif. -- Five incendiary devices
were found Wednesday inside a Placer County office building that
is under construction.
The devices were found inside the building at an office park in
Auburn on Auburn-Folsom Road.
Investigators said the devices could have destroyed
the entire complex.
"They are devices that operate off a red dye diesel fuel propellant
that would be used to create a large fire and a lot of destruction,"
said FBI spokesman Keith Slotter.
The FBI said the devices are linked to
other devices found last month at a housing development under
construction in Lincoln. Investigators say the it appears
that the devices at both locations were made by the same person
"A lot of times, there are organizations or groups that do this
that love to claim credit for it. That, so far, has not really
been the case," Slotter said.
Although investigators admit they have few leads and no suspects;
they believe they are dealing with two cases
of ecoterrorism -- a person or group against growth and
The FBI also said that they believe whoever placed the devices
could do it again.
WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. Jan 13, 2005 — Arkansas'
naked jogger has been zapped.
For months, officers have been getting reports about a man making
late-night runs in the buff. On Monday, police said they think
they got their mystery jogger.
Fate Patterson, 39, of West Memphis, was arrested after he ran
past a police car and failed to stop when he was ordered to do
so by officers. Police chased him and were able to rein him in
by using a Taser.
Patterson was charged with indecent exposure, fleeing and resisting
The Miami-Dade Police Department has proposed
revisions to its policy on the use of electronically charged Tasers,
which has been under scrutiny following reports the stun gun had
been used on young children.
The department's revised policy calls on officers to consider
such factors as age and size, but does not ban the use of the
electrically charged stun guns on minors.
Commissioner Barbara Carey-Shuler proposed such a ban following
reports last year that Tasers had been used on children as young
as 6 and 12 years old. A committee of county commissioners was
scheduled to review the department's new set of rules Wednesday,
but the item was deferred at Carey-Shuler's request.
Although Carey-Shuler met with department brass earlier this
week and said she believes the new rules ''looked good,'' she
asked that police officials meet with other commissioners before
bringing the revised rule up for public discussion.
While the revised policy does not specifically
ban the use of Tasers on minors, it is ''much more detailed
than it was before,'' said Detective Nelda Fonticiella, a police
The policy requires officers to gauge factors such as age, size,
weight and the subject's ``ability to physically challenge the
officer or or do harm to himself or others.''
Under the revised policy, officers cannot use Tasers as a ``tool
of coercion, to intimidate an individual into compliance with
simple requests or directives by an officer.''
The policy now also specifies the body language and ''physically
evasive movements'' that can warrant Taser use, including assuming
a ''boxer's stance,'' circling an officer and bracing or tensing
Tasers can also be deployed if an officer is faced with ``overt,
hostile, attacking movements with or without a weapon.''
The rules note that ``misuse or abuse of Tasers may result in
disciplinary action.'' [...]
MADRID (Reuters) - An Argentine
former navy captain, haggard and weak after a month on hunger strike,
has gone on trial accused of pushing drugged political prisoners
out of planes in the "dirty war" of Argentina's military
Adolfo Scilingo had his eyes closed and was held up by two police
officers as he was brought into a Madrid court at the start of Spain's
first genocide trial. Wrapped in a blanket, he slumped over his
chair in the courtroom.
Asked by chief Judge Fernando Garcia if he understood he was on
trial, Scilingo only answered weakly: "My head aches."
The judge ordered a suspension of the trial on Friday after just
15 minutes so Scilingo could undergo a medical examination, but
it resumed after two doctors testified he could continue.
After the resumption, Scilingo covered his eyes and did not answer
Scilingo went to Spain voluntarily in 1997 to testify about his
involvement in the "death flights" in the 1970s and faces
charges of torture, murder, terrorism and genocide. The Madrid court
has powers to try suspects for genocide committed anywhere, if there
might have been Spanish victims.
Antonio Segura, a lawyer for an Argentine human rights group, accused
Scilingo of faking illness.
Scilingo, 58, has been refusing solid food since December 12, protesting
that he is the only one to face charges from Argentina's "dirty
war" in the 1970s.
He has lost 13 kg (29 lb), according to court sources.
The charges against Scilingo, who has not been brought to trial
in Argentina, focus on accusations that he pushed drugged political
prisoners from planes into the sea.
Scilingo previously told High Court Judge Baltasar Garzon that
he participated in the notorious flights in the 1970s during military
government repression against suspected leftist insurgents, although
he later withdrew his testimony.
Defence lawyers said he was pressured to lie under oath to help
build a case against other dirty war figures.
Scilingo, who recently fired his private defence lawyer and is
now represented by a public defender, came to Spain voluntarily
in 1997 to testify about his involvement in the "death flights",
telling Reuters in an interview the following year he was repentant.
Garzon, an investigating magistrate, succeeded in bringing Scilingo
to trial even though he failed to do the same with former Chilean
dictator Augusto Pinochet, arrested in Britain in 1998 on Garzon's
orders but never handed over to Spain for medical reasons.
Argentine human rights groups estimate 30,000 suspected leftists
were killed from 1976 to 1983, when military governments cracked
down on leftists.
The US government has released
the first batch of documents relating to the violence unleashed
between 1973-1990 by General Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship in
Chile. Reading some of the memos, cables and intelligence reports,
I was stunned by the shock of recognition.
The documents shockingly show what many people already knew. US
officials helped Chile's secret police, DINA, or covered up their
atrocities. Try to imagine a US official writing: "Severe repression
is planned. The military is rounding up large numbers of people,
including students and leftists of all descriptions, and interning
them. 300 students were killed in the technical university…"
An October 26, 1973 CIA cable reports on Pinochet's plan "to
destroy any and all resistance within two months." And, the
cable continues, "This will require more killing by the military…"
A February 5, 1974 cable refers to DINA using techniques "taken
directly from the Spanish Inquisition, which often left the person
interrogated with visible bodily damage."
Washington covered up Pinochet's excesses so that Congress -- the
public -- wouldn't know.
Listen to a September 27 1973 report from US Ambassador Nathaniel
Davis. He offers a job description for "an advisor …qualified
in establishing a detention center for the detainees who will be
held for a relatively long period of time."
The "advisor must have knowledge in the establishment and
operation of a detention center." Davis suggests that the State
Department send tents, blankets, etc…which need not be publicly
and specifically earmarked for prisoners" -- so as not to admit
we're outfitting Chilean concentration camps.
In June 1976, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger visited Pinochet
in Chile. Indeed, Kissinger had helped Pinochet organize six South
American secret police forces to form OPERATION CONDOR. The CIA
had even donated to DINA a sophisticated computer that allowed agents
to conduct surveillance on exiled dissidents and then murder them
- as DINA did in 1974 to former Chilean Chief of Staff Carlos Prats
in Buenos Aires.
In June 1976 Kissinger visited Pinochet in Chile and blessed his
regime Three months later, in September 1976, three months after
Kissinger approved Pinochet's methods, CONDOR agents assassinated
former Chilean Chancellor Orlando Letelier in Washington, DC. Ronni
Moffitt, Letelier's American colleague at the Institute for Policy
Studies, also died in the car bombing.
US officials traced the assassination to Pinochet's office but
stopped short of charging him. They all knew Pinochet was guilty.
They knew his thugs had beaten and administered electric shocks
to the genitals of some 200,000 Chileans, that they had murdered
3200 people in Chile. By applying pressure, Washington could have
stopped the horror. Chile's military depended on the US for legitimacy
How now to use the documents that show US officials countenanced
torture and murder? First, support the current Spanish case charging
Pinochet with crimes against humanity. Second, extradite Pinochet
for assassinating Orlando Letelier. Finally, consider charges against
Henry Kissinger and George Bush, who, documents show, willingly
abetted mass murder and torture.
Baroness Thatcher has visited
General Pinochet at the home where he is staying under house arrest
near London - and talked of the "debt" she believes the
UK owes him.
General Pinochet is staying in the rented mansion during his legal
battle to avoid extradition to Spain.
Lady Thatcher thanked her old friend for being an ally during
the 1982 Falklands War - and for "bringing democracy to Chile".
"I know how much we owed to you for your help," she said.
"The information you gave us, communications, and also the
refuge you gave to any of our armed forces who were able, if they
were shipwrecked, to make their way to Chile."
She added: "I'm also very much aware that it is you who brought
democracy to Chile, you set up a constitution suitable for democracy,
you put it into effect, elections were held, and then, in accordance
with the result, you stepped down."
General Pinochet said it was an honour to have Lady Thatcher there
at the "simple house" on the estate, and thanked her for
Seated in a chair and clutching a cane, he told her in Spanish,
"This is a small house, but it is full of gratitude to you.
It is only a small way to thank you for all your kindness."
She said she was glad he was "comfortable".
No absolute immunity
The televised interview marks the first time the 83-year-old has
been seen in public since his arrest on 16 October.
On Wednesday, the House of Lords ruled that Pinochet had no absolute
immunity from arrest as a former head of state.
But the Lords also threw out almost all the charges levelled against
him, since they pre-dated Britain's adoption of an international
law allowing any nation to try anyone accused of torture.
That left the Spanish case against him consisting of only one count
each of torture, conspiracy to torture and murder conspiracy.
However, Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon on Friday added 30 more
cases of torture and murder to the extradition charge sheet against
Immediately after Wednesday's ruling, Pinochet's lawyers filed
an appeal of Home Secretary Jack Straw's December decision to allow
Spain's extradition request to go forward.
The High Court will consider that appeal on Monday.
Pinochet was an annual visitor to her home in London after he stepped
down from power in 1990, always sending flowers and chocolates on
his arrival in England.
Days before his arrest he was invited for tea at the former premier's
TEHRAN, Iran, -- A malfunctioning heater
in an Iranian school ignited a barrel of kerosene, touching off
a blaze that killing 13 children Thursday, state television reported.
Eighteen other students were injured, some seriously, by the
fire in Safilan village, some 435 miles south of Tehran, in the
mountains of Chaharmahal va Bakhtiari province, the state TV reported.
A teacher who tried to save the children was admitted to hospital
with serious burns, state television reported.
District Governor Ali Khani told state television the dead included
seven girls and six boys. He didn't provide ages.
Khani said that owing to technical failure, flames shot out
of the heater and ignited a barrel of kerosene that had been left
nearby. He gave no other details.
Later Thursday villagers buried the dead in the local cemetery,
the television reports said.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - UN troops fired
tear gas into a crowd at a food-distribution site in northern
Haiti on Thursday after people started throwing rocks at troops,
a UN official said.
At least 30 people received treatment for tear-gas inhalation
and skin irritation at a Red Cross medical centre in the flood-ravaged
city Gonaives, said Dan Moskaluk, a spokesman for UN police in
Haiti. It was unclear why the crowd started throwing rocks at
the Argentine troops, who were providing security at a CARE distribution
site in a Gonaives slum.
Skirmishes are not uncommon during relief efforts in Gonaives,
where floods killed at least 1,900 people and left another 1,000
missing and presumed dead when tropical storm Jeanne struck in
The disaster destroyed agriculture and left hundreds homeless,
straining UN forces struggling to restore stability after the
bloody rebellion in February that ousted President Jean-Bertrand
Armed men have attacked relief vehicles, while UN troops have
been forced to disperse desperate crowds seeking food.
Pakistani authorities have shut a natural
gas plant and security forces have taken control of it after
eight people died following a rocket attack, according to government
The fatalities occured in clashes triggered by renegade
tribesmen whose rocket attack blew up a gas pipeline in Sui,
350km southeast of Quetta city.
Soldiers were dispatched to control the situation on Tuesday
after the armed tribesmen stormed the gas plant and "started damaging
it", senior government official Abdul Samad Lasi said.
Eight people, three of them security personnel, were killed
and another 33 people, mostly civilians, were wounded in five
days of shootouts between assailants and government forces, he
"The civilians suffered casualties when rockets fired by attackers
hit their homes," Lasi said, adding that soldiers were patrolling
Sui and efforts were under way to arrest the assailants. [...]
Britain closed its embassy in Jakarta today
following a bomb threat, the foreign ministry announced.
Indonesian police mobilised bomb squads and anti-terror personnel
after reported threats of a possible attack near the British and
Thai embassies in Jakarta.
"The British Embassy and the Consulate General have suspended
services with immediate effect in response to the specific bomb
threat to the embassy," the British Foreign Office said in a statement.
"We continue to receive reports that terrorists in Indonesia
are planning further attacks on Westerners and Western interests".
A spokesman for the city's police said telephone calls warning
of an attack on the missions, both located in the central business
district close to several major upmarket hotels and media organisations,
were being taken seriously.
"Earlier, two telephone calls were placed to the British embassy
and the Thai embassy in central Jakarta warning them of a bomb
attack," Jakarta police spokesman Chief Commissioner Ciptono told
"Two police bomb squads and two additional teams including an
anti-terror unit are now scouring the area where both embassies
are located. We are not taking this threat lightly," he said.
Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-populated country, has
been hit by a series of terrorist attacks in recent years, all
blamed on the Jemaah Islamiah extremist group said to be the Southeast
Asian arm of al-Qaeda. [...]
MADRID : Seven workers died and five more
were seriously injured when an accidental blast tore through an
underground warehouse in northern Spain, officials said.
The explosion in the city of Burgos occurred in an area of the
building storing machinery belonging to a construction company
which makes bicycle paths, a local official told a private radio,
The explosion killed six Spaniards and one Moroccan instantly.
Earlier reports had said eight workers had died and four were
The local police department revised the toll Thursday afternoon,
saying a worker originally thought dead had suffered several heart
attacks but remained alive.
One of the other four injured was in a critical condition, officials
Burgos mayor Juan Carlos Aparicio told public radio RNE the
blast probably occurred when workers were handling a jerry can
The relatively new building in downtown Burgos -- some 200 kilometers
(125 miles) north of the capital Madrid -- was not damaged in
the blast and there was "no risk of collapse," Tricio said.
In a separate accidental gas explosion late Wednesday in Getafe,
south of Madrid, two women were killed and 11 people injured including
an 11 month-old baby, described as being in critical condition.
BEIJING3 : Ten miners have been killed and
17 more injured, three seriously, in a coal mine accident in China's
central Henan province, the government says.
Poisonous fumes from burning gas were emitted at the Qiaoyan
coal mine in Chengguan township on Wednesday morning while 27
miners were working underground, the State Administration of Work
Safety said on its website.
Authorities were still investigating the cause of the accident,
the report said. [...]
|BOGOTA : Twenty soldiers died when their Black
Hawk helicopter, working with the drug eradication and counterinsurgency
programme Plan Colombia, crashed near the border with Ecuador, army
chief General Reinaldo Castellanos said in a statement.
The general said the helicopter crashed after encountering bad
RAWLINS, Wyo. – An air ambulance crashed,
killing three people, and the sole survivor was rescued after
calling authorities on his cell phone and guiding them to the
wreckage by describing the sirens and other sounds he could hear.
Timothy Baldwin, 35, a medic, spent about 90 minutes on his
cell phone directing rescuers to the site. He then waited 21?2
hours more after his battery died.
The plane went down in snow and fog Tuesday night while on its
way to pick up a victim of an automobile accident. The pilot and
two medics were killed. [...]
KUALA LUMPUR: A power blackout hit the Malaysia
capital of Kuala Lumpur and several southern states on Thursday,
sending several cities into semi-darkness.
The country's most widespread power failure since August 1996,
when peninsular Malaysia was blacked out for 14 hours, turned
out the lights in Kuala Lumpur at lunch time.
Also affected were Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Johor and the Klang
A spokesman for power utility Tenaga Nasional said the blackout
was caused by a faulty switch in the Kapar power station in Selangor
state, to the west of the capital. [...]
Dense fog reported near crashes in Michigan,
ALAIEDON TOWNSHIP, Michigan (AP) -- At least two people died
and 37 others were injured when about 200 vehicles crashed Wednesday
in thick fog on a Michigan highway, police said.
One person also was killed in Indiana when at least 20 vehicles
piled up amid heavy fog on a highway east of South Bend. Numerous
others were injured.
The National Weather Service had issued a dense fog advisory
for the area, saying visibility could be less than a quarter mile.
In Michigan, a 14-year-old boy was killed when the sport utility
vehicle he was riding in and about 10 other vehicles -- including
a tractor-trailer -- crashed on Interstate 96 outside Lansing
on Wednesday afternoon. The boy's mother and grandmother were
in critical condition, Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth
The other fatal crash occurred about 30 minutes later when a
man hit a semitrailer from behind, Wriggelsworth said. The victim
was not immediately identified.
In all, 114 vehicles were involved in pileups in the eastbound
lanes, while between 80 and 100 vehicles crashed in the westbound
lanes, the sheriff's department said. [...]
EUGENE, Ore. - A small earthquake rattled
the Mohawk Valley northeast of Springfield late last night.
According to the The Pacific Northwest Seismograph Network based
at the University of Washington, the preliminary magnitude 2.4
quake was centered near the unincorporated town of Mohawk.
Mohawk Valley resident Betty Halverson said her blinds and windows
were swaying back and forth and so was the television.
ANKARA, Turkey -- A moderate earthquake shook
western Turkey on Thursday, but no damage or injuries were immediately
The quake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.1 was centered in
the town of Kirkagac in Manisa province, the Istanbul-based Kandilli
Observatory said. It struck the area at 1 p.m.
Manisa is some 340 miles west of the capital, Ankara.
Quakes are frequent in Turkey, much of which lies atop the active
North Anatolian fault.
Two devastating earthquakes killed about 18,000 people in northwestern
Turkey in 1999.
|A tornado swept through Arkansas and Louisiana
overnight. Two people are dead and 20 injured after an apparent
tornado hit on the Arkansas-Louisiana border near Union Country,
Arkansas. Powerful winds ripped through the area toppling trees
and power lines. Along with several homes, a fire station was also
damaged. The same storm hit Southern Louisiana leaving a path of
destruction and injuring four people.
(Louisiana) - A tornado touched down in Claiborne
Parish late Wednesday night, demolishing at least one mobile home
and injuring an undetermined number of people, Claiborne Sheriff
Ken Bailey said.
"One has touched down here. We don't know how many houses."
The tornado hit Harris Road just south of Homer and along Airport
Loop and Bream Island Road near Lake Claiborne southeast of Homer,
Nearby in Webster Parish, law enforcement officials reported
to the National Weather Service office in Shreveport at 10:35
p.m. that hail measuring 0.88 of an inch was falling six miles
northeast of Minden.
|BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Strong storms with heavy
rain and stiff winds swept across Alabama early Thursday, damaging
buildings and trees but not causing any reported injuries.
The storms briefly knocked out power in areas including Winston
County, where the wind peeled part of the roof off a building
in Haleyville and sent a trampoline flying across a street.
"Garbage cans were going everywhere, and they were those really
big, green ones with wheels," said Debra Hood, city clerk in Haleyville.
"There was a lot of rain all of a sudden that lasted for about
20 minutes. It was really blowing hard." [...]
Big waves and strong winds produced by Cyclone
Kerry in the Coral Sea are expected to batter the far northern
NSW and south-east Queensland coasts on Friday.
The Category 1 cyclone is moving closer to the southern coast
of Queensland and a gale warning has been issued for coastal waters
between Sandy Cape on Fraser Island and Wooli in NSW.
Queensland's Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre meteorologist Peter
Otto said the winds were expected to freshen on Friday and reach
gale force in the afternoon.
"Associated with the strong winds on the southern Queensland
coast and the northern NSW coast we could see swells of up to
four to five metres," he said.
"It could be really quite dangerous out on the water."
Some saltwater inundation is also expected on the morning's
Wind gusts near the centre of the cyclone were estimated to be
up to 120kph. [...]
14 (RIA Novosti's Oksana Guseva) - A second magnitude 4.5 Richter
quake has hit Kamchatka within hours of the first one, RIA was told
at the Kamchatka test methods seismological group.
The scientists report that an earthquake with the epicenter 30km
east of the mouth of River Khodutka 40km under the seabed was registered
at 8:08 p.m. local time (11:08 a.m. Moscow time). The quake had
2-3 magnitude in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, located 180km north of
The first quake of the same magnitude was registered at 3:49 p.m.
local time (6:49 a.m. Moscow time) in the Avacha Bay 80km southeast
of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, with the epicenter 20km under the seabed.
| JAKARTA, Jan. 14 (Xinhuanet) - The
most prevalent diseases among Acehnese refugees in three camps at
Pulole, Fatiha and Simpang Kuah in Banda Aceh are cholera, measles
and malaria, the Antara News Agency of Indonesia qu oted a medical
group as saying.
The conclusion was made by a team of Medical Emergency Rescue
Committee (MERC) in Aceh, Antara quoted MERC chief Jose Rizal as
Jose said that the diseases had infected refugees because the
water sources they use have been polluted.
The lack of enough public sanitary facilities like toilets is
one of the major reasons for the pollution of water, as many refugees
are not patient enough to wait for two hours queuing at public toilets,
LAGOS, Jan. 14 (Xinhuanet) --
A Nigerian woman has given birth to a baby with many abnormalities
in the form of two male organs, no anus and four legs and the family
appeals for financial assistance for an orthopedic operation, state
media reported Friday. [...]
Abdulraman Bukar, a medical director, was quoted as saying thatlack
of prenatal and antenatal care on the part of the mother might have
led to the baby having deformities.
Bukar added some drugs taken by the mother during pregnancy might
have contributed to the deformities.
The headmaster of a San Francisco
school may not invite a popular speaker back to an annual career
day after he advised girls they could earn a good living as strippers.
Management consultant William Fried told 13-year-olds at Jane Lathrop
Stanford Middle School that stripping and exotic dancing can pay
€178,000 or more per year, depending on their bust size.
“It’s sick, but it’s true,” Fried said
later. “The truth of the matter is you can earn a tremendous
amount of money as an exotic dancer, if that’s your desire.”
Fried has given a popular 55-minute presentation, The Secret of
a Happy Life, at the school’s career day the past three years.
He counsels students to experiment with a variety of interests until
they discover something they love and excel in.
But school principal Joseph Di Salvo said Fried may not be back
He said Fried’s comments to the class came after some of
them asked him to expand on why he included “exotic dancing”
on his list of 140 potential careers.
Fried spent about a minute answering questions, defining strippers
and exotic dancers synonymously. According to Jason Garcia, 14,
he told students: “For every two inches up there, you should
get another €35,600 on your salary.”
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