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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
| Signs Economic Commentary
January 16, 2005
The US dollar fell slightly last week against the euro, closing
Friday at 1.3106 euros to the dollar, down a little less than
half a percent. Gold closed at 422.50 dollars an ounce, up less
than a tenth of a percent. Gold closed at 322.37 euros, down
from last week’s 323.53. Oil rose 6% last week, closing at $48.38
Friday, up from the $45.43 close the previous Friday, putting
it at 36.91 euros per barrel, up from last week’s 34.81 close.
The Dow Jones closed at 10,558 down from 10,604 last week, or
about four tenths of a percent and the NASDAQ closed at 2088
compared to last week’s close of 2089. The ten-year US Treasury
bond closed at 4.21% compared to last week’s 4.27%. Nothing
too dramatic in these numbers except perhaps the four consecutive
days’ increase in the price of oil.
I thought we might step back a bit and look at some social
and political factors contributing to the decline in the US
economy, specifically, how fascism and religious fundamentalism
can cause serious economic decline. Richard Florida, author
of The Rise of the Creative Class, has shown that at
this point in historical time, economic development is best
incubated by a culture of creativity and tolerance. Technical
infrastructure, by itself, is not enough to attract talented,
creative people. In earlier time, when large, bureaucratic
corporations made location decisions, base infrastructure and
tax breaks were crucial. Now, according to Florida, things
like a community’s openness to gay couples, its level of racial
integration and other factors in his “tolerance index” play
a larger role in encouraging growth . Here is an excerpt from
to the new paperback edition:
I’m not suggesting that gays and bohemians literally cause
regions to grow. Rather, their presence in large numbers is
an indicator of an underlying culture that’s open-minded and
diverse—and thus conducive to creativity. My interviews and
focus groups all over this country have confirmed this. I’ve
had straight people, especially straight single women, tell
me they look for
cities with lots of gay people when they are hunting for a place
to live and work. The presence of gays signals an exciting place,
where people can fit in and be themselves, and in the eyes of
many single woman, it’s also a sign that a city or neighborhood
is relatively safe. (p.xvii) …
Technology—measured by innovation and high-tech industry concentration—figures
into my model as one of the “3 Ts” needed for growth. Talent
is the second T—not “human capital” as usually measured (by
numbers of people holding higher education credentials) but
creative capital, which is talent measured functionally, by
the numbers of people actually in creative occupations. The
third T is tolerance. Places that are open and tolerant have
an edge in attracting different kinds of people and generating
new ideas. Economic growth is a complex process. For most of
human history, wealth came from a place’s endowment of natural
resources, like fertile soil or raw materials. But today, the
key resource, creative people, is highly mobile. The key dimension
of economic competitiveness is the ability to attract, cultivate
and mobilize this resource. My research tries to uncover the
underlying conditions—the ecosystem characteristics—that enable
certain places to attract and mobilize them more than others.
Tolerance and openness—or what I like to call “low entry barriers
for people”—are a critical element. To capture this, I have
worked with Kevin Stolarick to build a broader all-around measure
Our new Tolerance Index is based on four measures: the Gay
Index, the Bohemian Index, the Melting Pot Index (the concentration
of foreign-born people), and a measure of racial integration,
used to capture how integrated rather than separated a community
is throughout its internal geography. Places that score high
on this Tolerance Index (see Table 2)— places where gays, immigrants
and bohemians all feel at home and where racial groups tend
to live mixed together, not in distinct enclaves—are very
likely to have a culture of tolerance.
The research here is ongoing and much more needs to be done.
For now, our measures should be looked at as leading indicators
of creative ecosystems—habitats open to new people and ideas,
where people network easily and offbeat ideas are not stifled
but are turned into new projects, companies and growth. Regions
and nations that have such ecosystems are likely to do the best
job of tapping the diverse creative talents of the most people,
and thus gain competitive advantage. (p.xx)
Clearly, from Florida’s work, we can see that nowadays the
Republican agenda is a recipe for economic failure, even if
they didn’t impoverish the middle class, run up massive deficits
and engage in disastrous wars. Florida addresses this explicitly
in an article
last year in Washington Monthly ):
Last March, I had the opportunity to meet Peter Jackson, director
of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, at his film complex
in lush, green, otherworldly-looking Wellington, New Zealand.
Jackson has done something unlikely in Wellington, an exciting,
cosmopolitan city of 900,000, but not one previously considered
a world cultural capital. He has built a permanent facility
there, perhaps the world's most sophisticated filmmaking complex.
He did it in New Zealand concertedly and by design. Jackson,
a Wellington native, realized what many American cities discovered
during the '90s: Paradigm-busting creative industries could
single-handedly change the ways cities flourish and drive dynamic,
widespread economic change. It took Jackson and his partners
a while to raise the resources, but they purchased an abandoned
paint factory that, in a singular example of adaptive reuse,
emerged as the studio responsible for the most breathtaking
trilogy of films ever made. He realized, he told me, that with
the allure of the Rings trilogy, he could attract a diversely
creative array of talent from all over the world to New Zealand;
the best cinematographers, costume designers, sound technicians,
computer graphic artists, model builders, editors, and animators.
When I visited, I met dozens of Americans from places like
Berkeley and MIT working alongside talented filmmakers from
Europe and Asia, the Americans asserting that they were ready
to relinquish their citizenship. Many had begun the process
of establishing residency in New Zealand.
Think about this. In the industry most symbolic of America's
international economic and cultural might, film, the greatest
single project in recent cinematic history was internationally
funded and crafted by the best filmmakers from around the world,
but not in Hollywood. When Hollywood produces movies of this
magnitude, it creates jobs for directors, actors, and key grips
in California. Because of the astounding level of technical
innovation which a project of this size requires, in such areas
as computer graphics, sound design, and animation, it can also
germinate whole new companies and even new industries nationwide,
just as George Lucas's Star Wars films fed the development
of everything from video games to product tie-in marketing.
But the lion's share of benefits from The Lord of the Rings
is likely to accrue not to the United States but to New Zealand.
Next, with a rather devastating symbolism, Jackson will remake
King Kong in Wellington, with a budget running upwards
of $150 million.
As other nations become more attractive to mobile immigrant
talent, America is becoming less so. A recent study by the National
Science Board found that the U.S. government issued 74,000 visas
for immigrants to work in science and technology in 2002, down
from 166,000 in 2001--an astonishing drop of 55 percent. This
is matched by similar, though smaller-scale, declines in other
categories of talented immigrants, from finance experts to entertainers.
Part of this contraction is derived from what we hope are short-term
security concerns--as federal agencies have restricted visas
from certain countries after September 11. More disturbingly,
we find indications that fewer educated foreigners are choosing
to come to the United States. For instance, most of the decline
in science and technology immigrants in the National Science
Board study was due to a drop in applications.
Why would talented foreigners avoid us? In part, because other
countries are simply doing a better, more aggressive job of
recruiting them. The technology bust also plays a role. There
are fewer jobs for computer engineers, and even top foreign
scientists who might still have their pick of great cutting-edge
research positions are less likely than they were a few years
ago to make millions through tech-industry partnerships.
But having talked to hundreds of talented professionals in
a half dozen countries over the past year, I'm convinced that
the biggest reason has to do with the changed political and
policy landscape in Washington. In the 1990s, the federal government
focused on expanding America's human capital and interconnectedness
to the world--crafting international trade agreements, investing
in cutting edge R&D, subsidizing higher education and public
access to the Internet, and encouraging immigration. But in
the last three years, the government's attention and resources
have shifted to older sectors of the economy, with tariff protection
and subsidies to extractive industries.
Meanwhile, Washington has stunned scientists across the world
with its disregard for consensus scientific views when those
views conflict with the interests of favored sectors (as has
been the case with the issue of global climate change). Most
of all, in the wake of 9/11, Washington has inspired the fury
of the world, especially of its educated classes, with its my-way-or-the-highway
foreign policy. In effect, for the first time in our history,
we're saying to highly mobile and very finicky global talent,
"You don't belong here."
Obviously, this shift has come about with the changing of the
political guard in Washington, from the internationalist Bill
Clinton to the aggressively unilateralist George W. Bush. But
its roots go much deeper, to a tectonic change in the country's
political-economic demographics. As many have noted, America
is becoming more geographically polarized, with the culturally
more traditionalist, rural, small-town, and exurban "red"
parts of the country increasingly voting Republican, and the
culturally more progressive urban and suburban "blue"
areas going ever more Democratic.
Less noted is the degree to which these lines demarcate a growing
economic divide, with "blue" patches representing
the talent-laden, immigrant-rich creative centers that have
largely propelled economic growth, and the "red" parts
representing the economically lagging hinterlands.
The migrations that feed creative-center economies are also
exacerbating the contrasts. As talented individuals, eager for
better career opportunities and more adventurous, diverse lifestyles,
move to the innovative cities, the hinterlands become even more
culturally conservative. Now, the demographic dynamic which
propelled America's creative economy has produced a political
dynamic that could choke that economy off. Though none of the
candidates for president has quite framed it that way, it's
what's really at stake in the 2004 elections.
That was written before last November’s US election. The die
seems to be cast now. One question we might ask ourselves now
is, will economic impoverishment resulting from an increasingly
intolerant culture have time to play itself out? Or will military
defeats work much faster?
As one commentator, Marshall
Just as a haystack soaked in kerosene will
appear relatively benign until somebody strikes a match, so
too it is worth noting that although America’s longstanding
economic problems have not yet engendered financial Armageddon
does not invalidate the threat they ultimately pose. But the
key is finding out which event (or combination of them) represents
the match that could set this “haystack” alight.
Could that event be military setback? A desperate reaction
to a military setback? If, as we have speculated, Russia, China
and perhaps Europe may be using the dollar’s weakness to restrain
the American Empire, what will US policymakers do in response
to a catastrophic collapse of the dollar? To answer that question,
we need to be more specific about what that empire is. Who
better to do that than one of its “hit men?” A book appeared
last year, Confessions of an Economic Hit Men by John
Perkins. According to Perkins in an interview
with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! (), the American Empire
works this way:
Well, really, over the past 30 to 40 years, we economic hit
men have created the largest global empire in the history of
the world. And we do this, typically -- well, there are many
ways to do it, but a typical one is that we identify a third-world
country that has resources, which we covet. And often these
days that's oil, or might be the canal in the case of Panama.
In any case, we go to that third-world country and we arrange
a huge loan from the international lending community; usually
the World Bank leads that process. So, let's say we give this
third-world country a loan of $1 billion.
One of the conditions of that loan is that the majority of
it, roughly 90%, comes back to the United States to one of our
big corporations, the ones we've all heard of recently, the
Bechtels, the Halliburtons. And those corporations build in
this third-world country large power plants, highways, ports,
or industrial parks -- big infrastructure projects that basically
serve the very rich in those countries.
The poor people in those countries and the middle class suffer;
they don't benefit from these loans, they don't benefit from
the projects. In fact, often their social services have to be
severely curtailed in the process of paying off the debt.
Now what also happens is that this third-world country then
is saddled with a huge debt that it can't possibly repay.
For example, today, Ecuador. Ecuador's foreign debt, as a result
of the economic hit man, is equal to roughly 50% of its national
budget. It cannot possibly repay this debt, as is the case with
so many third-world countries. So, now we go back to those countries
and say, look, you borrowed all this money from us, and you
owe us this money, you can't repay your debts, so give our oil
companies your oil at very cheap costs. And in the case of many
of these countries, Ecuador is a good example here, that means
destroying their rain forests and destroying their indigenous
cultures. That's what we're doing today around the world, and
we've been doing it -- it began shortly after the end of World
War II. It has been building up over time until today where
it's really reached mammoth proportions where we control most
of the resources of the world.
I find it interesting that the empire has been using the same
technique of lending more money than can be repaid to its individual
consumers as well. In both cases, dependence is created.
What happens to countries that don’t accept the loans or terms
from the Economic Hit Men?
After our tremendous success in Saudi Arabia, we decided we
should do the same thing in Iraq. And we figured that Saddam
Hussein was corruptible. And, of course, we had been involved
with Saddam Hussein anyway for some time. And so the economic
hit men went in and tried to bring Saddam Hussein around, tried
to get him to agree to a deal like the royal House of Saud had
And he didn't.
So, we sent in the jackals to try to overthrow him or to assassinate
him. They couldn't.
His Republican Guard was too loyal and he had all these doubles.
We couldn't do it. So, when the economic hit men and the jackals
both failed, then the last line of defense that the United States,
the empire, uses these days, is the military. We send in our
young men and women to die and to kill, and we did that in Iraq
in 1990. We thought Saddam Hussein at that point was sufficiently
chastised that now he would come around, so the economic hit
men went back in in the 1990s, failed once again. The jackals
went back in, failed once again, and so once again the military
went in -- the story we all know -- because we couldn't bring
him around any other way.
What will the United States do when Perkins’s option three, sending
in the troops, doesn’t work? Is there an option four? Or is the
game over? As Marshall Auerback wrote in the piece quoted earlier,
the deals negotiated by China with resource suppliers and the
military cooperation between China and Russia as well as the recently
announced agreement of Russia to sell military equipment to Syria
…pretty brazen behavior by all concerned, but is symptomatic
of the growing perception of the US as a declining giant, albeit
one with the capacity to strike out lethally when wounded. American
military and economic dominance may still be the central fact
of world affairs today, but the limits of this primacy (which
dates back to the fall of the Berlin Wall) are becoming increasingly
evident, just as dollar’s fall reflects this in economic terms.
It all makes for a very challenging backdrop in 2005. This
could therefore be the year when longstanding problems for the
US finally do matter. Do not expect Washington to accept the
dispersal of its economic and military power lightly.
DETROIT - David Livingstone
says the idea behind the economic boycott he's organizing is
simple: If people don't show up at work or buy things, companies
lose money. As he sees it, that's money the Bush administration
can't tax, and can't use to run the war in Iraq, protect polluters
or chip away at the Constitution.
David Livingstone, 41, of Hazel Park,Michigan shows the home
page to his Web site on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 8, 2005, in Detroit.
Livingstone is trying to spread the word about an economic boycott
he'll participate in during the presidential inauguration on Thursday,
Jan. 20. (AP Photo/Jerry S. Mendoza)
So the Detroit Democrat and a handful of other anti-Bush groups
across the country are urging others of like mind to withhold
their cash and labor on Inauguration Day — from all businesses.
They don't think they'll inflict a huge economic pain, but they
do want to make a point.
"I view the inauguration of Bush as a black Thursday for
this country," Livingstone says. "We've tried marching
in the streets to stop the war, we tried writing letters, we
tried initiatives on the Web, but Bush doesn't listen. It seems
to us the only thing Bush and the Republicans will listen to
Livingstone, a 41-year-old writer, hopes to be in Washington
for the Jan. 20 festivities, which for him means protests, black
armbands and backs turned to the parade route.
And he's vowing not to buy gas, food or use his credit card
that day: He wants the GOP, big oil, big banking, big box stores
and any other "bigs" to know they can't push him around
or ignore him — at least not on Jan. 20.
The White House is taking all the boycott talk in stride. Bush
"is proud that we live in a society where people are free
to peacefully express their opinions," spokesman Jim Morrell
Other groups nationwide, many loosely connected through the
Internet, have put out calls similar to Livingstone's. Jesse
Gordon, 44, of Cambridge, Mass., spreads the word through his
Web site, Not One Damn Dime!
Gordon doesn't expect to shake the economy, but does want to
see the president recognize dissent.
"I think Bush should acknowledge the boycott. If we're
effective, he'll know about it, and he should acknowledge it,"
In New Orleans, Buddy Spell says his January 20th Committee
eagerly endorses the idea of an economic boycott. He remains
primarily concerned with organizing a jazz funeral procession
through the downtown to mourn a second Bush term and what he
calls the death of democracy. But he says a boycott is worth
pursuing, in part because it can help unite disparate anti-Bush
The groups hope to see several million people eating brown-bag
lunches and dinners on Inauguration Day. If people don't want
to boycott all business, the groups suggest buying from just
those that support Democrats. The protesters say they'll measure
success not in economic terms, but by whether people know about
the boycott and if it sparks future activism.
And if there's by chance a blip in the GDP, that would be a
A bonus indeed, say economists and historians.
"I can't imagine it would have any impact whatsoever,"
says David J. Vogel, professor of business ethics at the University
of California at Berkeley. "Even if everyone didn't buy
on that day, they'd make up for it the next day."
Historian Lawrence Glickman says boycotts rarely accomplish
any substantial economic goal, and if they do, it's usually
because they are tailored to a specific product. Boycotts tend
to have more success applying political pressure, but even that
Still, he said, their record of failure never seems to stop
Americans from launching them.
"There's this appeal about boycotts, anyone can take part
in them and you can use your pocketbook to express your dissatisfaction,"
says Glickman, who studies labor and consumer activism at the
University of South Carolina in Columbia. "It's a way of
feeling like we're participating in something bigger than ourselves."
On the Net:
Black Thursday: http://www.black-thursday.com
Not One Damn Dime!: http://www.notonedamndime.com/boycott
Jazz Funeral for Democracy:
Setting Up Iran
forces 'on the ground' in Iran
Monday January 17, 2005
American special forces have been on the ground inside Iran
scouting for US air strike targets for suspected nuclear weapons
sites, according to the renowned US investigative journalist
In an article in the latest edition of the New Yorker, Hersh,
who was the first to uncover US human rights abuses against
Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison last year, reports that
Pakistan, under a deal with Washington, has been supplying information
on Iranian military sites and on its nuclear programme, enabling
the US to conduct covert ground and air reconnaissance of Iranian
targets, should the escalating
row over Iran's nuclear ambitions come to a head.
Acting on information from Pakistani scientists knowledgeable
about Iran's nuclear programme, Hersh reported, US commandos
have penetrated territory in eastern Iran seeking to pinpoint
underground installations suspected of being nuclear weapons
Hersh told CNN yesterday: "I think they really think there's
a chance to do something in Iran, perhaps by summer, to get
the intelligence on the sites.
"The last thing this government wants
to do is to bomb or strafe, or missile attack, the wrong targets
again. We don't want another WMD flap. We want to be sure we
have the right information."
The New Yorker report said the Americans have been conducting
secret reconnaissance missions over and inside Iran since last
summer with a view to identifying up to 40 possible targets
for strikes should the dispute
over Iran turn violent.
"This is a war against terrorism
and Iraq is just one campaign," Hersh quotes one
former US intelligence official as saying. "The Bush administration
is looking at this as a huge war zone. Next we're going to have
the Iranian campaign."
Another unnamed source described as a consultant close to the
Pentagon said: "The civilians in
the Pentagon want to go into Iran and destroy as much of the
military infrastructure as possible."
That appeared to be a reference to noted "neocons"
in Washington, such as the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld,
his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, and others.
Arguments about Iran's suspected nuclear programme have raged
for 20 months since it was revealed that Tehran had been conducting
secret nuclear activities for 18 years in violation of treaty
The International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna has had inspectors
in the country throughout the period. While finding much that
is suspect, the inspectors have not found
any proof of a clandestine nuclear bomb programme.
The IAEA chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, has
infuriated the Bush administration over his even-handed dealings
with Iran, while the Europeans have been pursuing a parallel
diplomatic track that has won grudging agreement from Tehran
to freeze its uranium enrichment activities.
Hersh reported that the US campaign
against Iran is being assisted by Pakistan under a deal
that sees Islamabad provide information in return for reducing
the pressure on Abdul Qadeer Khan,
the disgraced metallurgist who is the father of Pakistan's nuclear
bomb and who was revealed last year to be the head of the biggest
international nuclear smuggling racket uncovered.
Since confessing his activities and being placed under house
arrest almost a year ago, Mr Khan has been incommunicado.
After months of failure to get permission, IAEA inspectors
last week gained access to the Parchin military facilities outside
Tehran, which the Americans contend has been a centre for Iranian
attempts to refine missile technology for nuclear purposes,
although experts agree that Iran does
not yet have a nuclear capability.
December 23, 2003
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan's
Foreign Ministry has admitted that some of the country's top
nuclear scientists possibly passed information to Iran.
Pakistan has been questioning three scientists for the past
five to six weeks in connection with the possible transfer of
nuclear technology and information to Iran and other countries.
In the wake of news reports that the country may have been
the source of the information, Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood
Khan said Tuesday that Pakistan had never and would never proliferate
"Pakistan takes its responsibility as a nuclear weapons
state seriously," Khan said. "We are a responsible
state and we understand our obligations.
"We had been approached by the IAEA -- the International
Atomic Energy Agency. We had been given some information by
the government of Iran," Khan said.
"The information that was shared with us pointed to certain
Khan said Monday Abdul Qadeer Khan,
the man considered the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, was
questioned in connection with the "debriefing" of
three nuclear scientists about the matter.
allegations made about the Abdul Qadeer Khan ‘network’
By Khalid Hasan
WASHINGTON: New allegations made on Sunday by the New York
Times say that Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan sold $100 million worth
of nuclear gear to Libya and as a “sweetener” included
blueprints for a 10-kiloton nuclear bomb.
The report says intelligence officials
had watched Dr Khan, “for years”, though it fails
to say why they waited, “for years”, before exposing
his alleged network. US experts were unsure who else
had those designs besides Libya. They
were not certain if the designs had also been passed on to Iran,
Syria or the Al Qaeda organisation. Experts from the
US and the IAEA are said to have quarrelled over who should
have control over the blueprints and after, “hours of
tense negotiation, agreement was reached to keep it in a vault
at the Energy Department in Washington, but under IAEA seal.”
According to the newspaper, nearly a year after Dr Khan’s
arrest, “secrets of his nuclear black market continue
to uncoil, revealing a vast global enterprise.”
“The breadth of the operation was particularly surprising
to some American intelligence officials because they had had
Dr Khan under surveillance for nearly three decades, since he
began assembling components for Pakistan’s bomb, but apparently
missed crucial transactions with countries like Iran and North
Korea,” added the report.
The report says that for three decades Dr Khan has been well
known to British and American intelligence officials.
The report alleges that the Dutch company where Dr Khan worked,
as well as Dutch intelligence, were suspicious of Dr Khan and
saw him as “a potential danger.” It repeats the
discredited allegation that when he left Holland for Pakistan,
he took away centrifuge blueprints with him. Dr Khan returned
several times to Holland. “The Dutch
wanted to arrest him,” a diplomat said. “But they
were told by the American CIA, ‘Leave him so we can follow
Intelligence experts believe that Dr Khan traded his centrifuge
technology to the Chinese for their bomb design.
The report says Dr Khan knew he was under
surveillance. He once told British journalist Simon Henderson,
“The British try to recruit members of my team as spies.”
When George Bush came to office, the
CIA began to tutor him
on the danger posed by Dr Khan and disclosing how deeply the
agency believed it had penetrated his life and network.
“We were inside his residence, inside
his facilities, inside his rooms,” the former CIA chief
George Tenet said in a recent speech.
The Pakistanis insisted they had no evidence
of any proliferation at all, a claim American officials said
they found laughable.
So far, said European intelligence officials
familiar with the agency’s inner workings, no hard evidence
of clandestine nuclear arms programs has surfaced."
Downplays CIA Report on Leaks of Nuclear Technology to Iran,
By Paul Alexander Associated
Published: Nov 27, 2004
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - Pakistan
on Saturday downplayed suggestions that a new CIA report indicates
that a renegade scientist provided more help to Iran's nuclear
weapons program than previously disclosed.
Abdul Qadeer Khan, who was considered a national hero for leading
the development of Pakistan's nuclear deterrent against rival
India, admitted in February to passing nuclear technology to
other countries. He was pardoned by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf,
who cited his service to the nation, but he is under virtual
house arrest in Islamabad.
The CIA this week posted on its Web site an
unclassified report to Congress, "Acquisition of Technology
Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional
Munitions." It details reported efforts by Iran,
Iraq, Libya, North Korea and Syria
to obtain chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear
"Iran's nuclear program received
significant assistance in the past from the proliferation network
headed by Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan," the report
said. "The A.Q. Khan network provided Iran with designs
for Pakistan's older centrifuges as well as designs for more
advanced and efficient models and components."
It said Libya had disclosed receiving similar assistance from
Khan, head of Pakistan's nuclear program from the 1970s until
"Even in cases where states took action to stem such transfers,
knowledgeable individuals or non-state purveyors of WMD - and
missile-related materials and technology - could act outside
government constraints," the report said. "The exposure
of the A.Q. Khan network and its role in supplying nuclear technology
to Libya, Iran, and North Korea illustrate one form of this
The New York Times reported that the CIA disclosure
indicates that bomb-making designs provided by Khan's network
to Iran in the 1990s were more significant than Washington has
It focused on the phrase "designs for more advanced and
efficient models, and components," indicating
that "components" refers to weapons components.
The Times pointed out that American
officials have publicly referred only to the Khan network's
role in supplying Iran with designs for older Pakistani centrifuges
used to enrich uranium but that they also have suspected
it provided a warhead design, too.
Citing a tape it obtained of a closed-door speech to a private
group, the paper quoted former CIA director George J. Tenet
as describing Khan as "at least
as dangerous as Osama bin Laden" because of his role in
providing nuclear technology to other countries.
Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Masood Khan criticized the
"The writer of the report has spun a
strange web based on flimsy evidence, hearsay and snippets of
conversations," Khan said Saturday. "The
CIA report does not mention any 'designs for weapons or bomb-making
components.' Weapons and bomb-making are the writer's own creative
| ISLAMABAD, Jan. 17 (Xinhuanet)
-- Pakistan on Monday categorically rejected a US media report that
Islamabad has helped US commandos in their covert operation inside
Iran against the country's nuclear program.
"There is no such collaboration. We do not have much information
of Iran nuclear program," Pakistani Foreign Office Spokesman
Masood Khan said in a weekly news briefing here Monday.
Reports suggested that the American investigative journalist
Seymour Hersh has claimed that US commandos are operating inside
Iran selecting sites for future air strikes.
In the latest edition of the New Yorker, Hersh said intelligence
officials have revealed that Iran is the "next strategic
target" of the United States.
They have been aided by information from the government of Pakistan,
"I categorically reject the report, which has been exaggerated.
I do not think there are any substance in the report," the
"We have close relations with Iran as we have with the
United States of America," the spokesman said, adding that
Pakistan is not providing any information to the United States
or any international agency as to what Iran is doing or not doing.
"Iran's program is limited. There
has been no government-to-government contact regarding energy,"
Should we be worried about
the threat from organised terrorism or is it simply a phantom
menace being used to stop society from falling apart?
In the past our politicians offered us dreams of a better world.
Now they promise to protect us from nightmares.
The most frightening of these is the threat of an international
terror network. But just as the dreams were not true, neither
are these nightmares.
In a new series, the Power of Nightmares explores how the
idea that we are threatened by a hidden and organised terrorist
network is an illusion.
It is a myth that has spread unquestioned through
politics, the security services and the international media.
Both were idealists who were born out of the failure of the liberal
dream to build a better world.
These two groups have changed the world but not in the way either
Together they created today's nightmare vision of an organised
A fantasy that politicians then found restored
their power and authority in a disillusioned age. Those with the
darkest fears became the most powerful.
The rise of the politics of fear begins in 1949 with two men
whose radical ideas would inspire the attack of 9/11 and influence
the neo-conservative movement that dominates Washington.
Both these men believed that modern liberal freedoms were eroding
the bonds that held society together.
The two movements they inspired set out, in their different ways,
to rescue their societies from this decay. But in an age of growing
disillusion with politics, the neo-conservatives
turned to fear in order to pursue their vision.
They would create a hidden network of evil run by the Soviet
Union that only they could see.
The Islamists were faced by the refusal of the masses to follow
their dream and began to turn to terror to force the people to
"see the truth"'.
The Power of Nightmares will be broadcast over three nights
from Tuesday 18 to Thursday, 20 January, 2005 at 2320 GMT on BBC
Two. The final part has been updated in the wake of the Law Lords
ruling in December that detaining foreign terrorist suspects without
trial was illegal.
WASHINGTON : Teams of US commandos have
entered Iran searching for hidden sites that could be working
on developing nuclear weapons.
The government of President George W. Bush has authorized
secret military missions inside Iran at least since mid-2004,
the The New Yorker magazine reports in its Monday edition.
Their goal is to identify target information for up to 26
suspected nuclear, chemical and missile sites, according to
"This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq, is just one campaign,"
a former high-level government intelligence official told the
"The Bush administration is looking at this as a huge war
zone. Next, we're going to have the Iranian
campaign. We've declared war and the bad guys, wherever they
are, are the enemy. This is the last hurrah -- we've
got our years, and we want to come out of this saying we won
the war on terrorism," the official said.
A top government consultant with close
ties with the Pentagon told the magazine that the Pentagon civilians
-- especially Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld, his deputy Paul Wolfowitz and their fellow
neo-conservatives -- "want to
go into Iran and destroy as much of the military infrastructure
Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz believe that Iran's clerical regime
could not withstand a military blow and would collapse, the
After two years, the government has
called off its fruitless hunt for WMD.
This week, the White House announced, with little fanfare,
that the two-year search for weapons of mass destruction in
Iraq had finally ended, and it acknowledged that no such weapons
existed there at the time of the U.S. invasion in 2003.
For many, this may be a story of only passing interest. But
for me and my family, it resonates with profound depth.
My brother was Sgt. Sherwood Baker. He was a member of the
Pennsylvania National Guard deployed a year ago with his unit
out of Wilkes-Barre. He said goodbye to his wife and his 9-year-old
son, boarded a bus and went to Ft. Dix, N.J., to be hastily
retrained. His seven years of Guard training as a forward observer
was practically worthless because he would not face combat.
All he needed to do was learn how to not die.
He received a crash course in convoy security,
including practice in running over cardboard cutouts of children.
We bought him a GPS unit and walkie-talkies because he
wasn't supplied with them. In Iraq, Sherwood was assigned to
the Iraq Survey Group and joined the search for weapons of mass
David Kay, who led the group until January 2004, had already
stated that they did not exist. Former United Nations weapons
inspector Hans Blix had expressed serious doubts about their
presence during prewar inspections. In fact, a cadre of former
U.N. inspectors and U.S. generals had been saying for years
that Iraq posed no threat to our country. On April 26, 2004,
the Iraq Survey Group, at the behest of the stubborn administration
sitting safely in office buildings in Washington, was still
on its fruitless but dangerous search. My brother stood atop
his Humvee, securing the perimeter in front of a suspect building
in Baghdad. But as soldiers entered the building, it exploded;
the official cause is still not known. Sherwood was struck by
debris in the back of his head and neck, and he was killed.
Since that day, my family and I have lived with the grief
of losing a loved one. We have struggled to explain his death
to his son. We have gazed at the shards of life scattered at
our feet, in wonder of its fragility, in perpetual catharsis
I have moved from frustration to disappointment to anger.
And now I have arrived at a place not
of understanding but of hope —
blind hope that this will change.
The Iraq Survey Group's final report, which was filed in October
but revealed only on Wednesday, confirmed what we knew all along.
And as my mother cried in the kitchen, the nation barely blinked.
I am left now with a single word seared into my consciousness:
accountability. The chance to hold our administration's feet
to that flame has passed. But what of our citizenry? We are
the ones who truly failed. We shut down our ability to think
critically, to listen, to converse and to act. We are to blame.
Even with every prewar assumption having been proved false,
today more than 130,000 U.S. soldiers are trying to stay alive
in a foreign desert with no clear mission at hand.
At home, the sidelines are overcrowded with patriots. These
Americans cower from the fight they instigated in Iraq. In a
time of war and record budget deficits, many are loath to even
pay their taxes. In the end, however, it is not their family
members who are at risk, and they do not sit up at night pleading
with fate to spare them.
Change is vital. We must remind ourselves
that the war with Iraq was not a mistake but rather a flagrant
abuse of power by our leaders — and a case of shameful negligence
by the rest of us for letting it happen. The consequence
is more than a quagmire. The consequence is the death of our
national treasure — our soldiers.
We are all accountable. We all share the responsibility of
what has been destroyed in our name. Let us begin to right the
wrongs we have done to our country by accepting that responsibility.
BAGHDAD (AP) - U.S. troops staged a series
of raids in Mosul and elsewhere in northern and central Iraq
on Sunday, arresting dozens, while rebels stepped up their attacks
two weeks ahead of national elections, ambushing a car carrying
a prominent female candidate and killing 17 people in other
U.S. Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz conceded that
American and Iraqi forces cannot stop "extraordinary" intimidation
by rebels before the Jan. 30 vote.
Underscoring the precarious security situation,
Salama al-Khafaji, was ambushed in central Baghdad by
gunmen wearing police uniforms,
but she escaped injury when her bodyguards returned fire,
an aide said. It was the second attempt since May on the life
of al-Khafaji, who is running on the favoured slate endorsed
by the country's main Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
U.S. and Iraqi officials have insisted that the elections
go ahead as scheduled, despite the persistent violence.
Interim President Ghazi al-Yawer said that if the elections
were postponed for six months, there was no guarantee the violence
would wane. The rebels "might lay down for two or three months,
then carry out attacks again," he said.
Most of the violence occurred around Kut, southeast of Baghdad,
and the northern city of Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city.
Near Kut, three Iraqi policemen were killed in one shooting
and three Iraqi National Guard officers were killed by a hand
grenade in another attack. As mourners
gathered for the policemen's funeral, a suicide attacker blew
himself up in the crowd, killing himself and seven others.
Gunmen also shot dead an Iraqi translator for a Filipino company
working on water projects for multinational forces near Kut,
a medical official said.
In Mosul, rebels shot dead a member of a local government
council. They also set off explosives as a U.S. convoy passed,
damaging a Bradley fighting vehicle, but no casualties were
A mortar also damaged a school in Mosul to be used as a polling
place. And four other mortar rounds blasted schools in relatively
quiet Basra, in the south, also slated to serve as polling centres.
Even in heavily Shiite areas of south-central Iraq, which
is far more stable than Mosul or Baghdad, several election workers
have been threatened and resigned in recent days, a senior U.S.
Embassy official said Sunday in Hillah while outlining election
"Most expect a high turnout if things seem quiet enough. There
is some worry if you have a series of car bombs, people will
think twice about coming," the official said.
Elsewhere in central Baghdad, rebels attacked a National Guard
patrol on the east side of the Tigris river, then melted into
the crowd in the open market area, sending shoppers running.
Sounds of heavy machine-gun and automatic-weapons fire reverberated
for nearly an hour along Haifa street on the western side of
Wolfowitz, speaking in Jakarta, Indonesia, acknowledged that
the security threat was worse than in last October's countrywide
balloting in Afghanistan and that it was impossible to guarantee
"absolute security" against the "extraordinary intimidation
that the enemy is undertaking."
"There was intimidation in Afghanistan - the Taliban threatened
all kinds of violence against people who registered or people
who voted," he said. "But I don't believe they ever got around
to shooting election workers in the street or kidnapping the
children of political candidates."
An Associated Press poll of Americans indicated 53 per cent
are not optimistic that a stable government will take hold in
Around Mosul, the U.S. army's Stryker Brigade Combat Team
detained 11 suspected rebels, including an alleged cell leader,
and seized weapons and bomb-making material in several weekend
raids - part of the military's strategy to try to secure the
city short of launching an all-out offensive.
The Mosul area has emerged as a major flashpoint between U.S.
and Iraqi forces and the rebels, raising fears the election
cannot be held in much of the city.
U.S. and Iraqi officials are scrambling to
recruit new police and election workers in Mosul after thousands
of them resigned in the face of rebel intimidation. Similar
mass resignations are believed to have occurred in other Sunni
Muslim areas of northern, central and western Iraq.
With hours-long waits at gas stations across the country,
the Iraqi government denied what it called
"rumours" that the Oil Ministry planned to keep gas supplies
low to deter car bombers. The government has indicated
it plans to restrict much driving around the election.
But the long gas lines clearly were becoming a sore point.
About 300 followers of radical Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada
al-Sadr began a three-day sit-in in front of the Oil Ministry
in Baghdad to protest gasoline shortages. About a dozen entered
the ministry and complained to Minister Thamir Ghadbhan, asking
why U.S. troops have fuel for their vehicles and Iraqis do not.
war on terrorism is a threat to international justice and a challenge
to the rule of law in the 21st century, says one of the world's
most eminent jurists.
"Sept. 11 led to a major overreaction by politicians in
many countries," said Richard Goldstone, the first chief
prosecutor at the war crimes tribunals for former Yugoslavia and
"In dictatorships their actions don't matter,
because we don't expect any respect for human rights. But in a
democracy we are handing victory to terrorists if we change our
way of life and abandon human rights."
Goldstone will be one of 30 leading international law experts
speaking at Osgoode Hall Law School's Raoul Wallenberg Day International
Human Rights Symposium, held today and tomorrow. [...]
Goldstone, who chaired an International Bar Association task
force on terrorism, is a member of South Africa's Constitutional
Court. He will speak on the legacy of the Nuremberg trials that
brought Nazi war criminals to justice after World War II.
"International criminal justice didn't exist before World
War II, but now it's a huge industry," he said. "The
use of national and international courts, and the creation of
the International Criminal Court are tremendous forward steps.
Canada should get much credit for leading the movement to create
But, said Goldstone, since September, 2001, the international
justice system and the rule of law have been weakened by the actions
of governments joining a "war on terror." The U.S. in
particular has declared suspects "unlawful combatants"
and detained them without trial, as well as deporting them to
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Middle Eastern countries where torture
is routinely used.
"Terrorism must be fought for what it is, that is, criminality.
To use the analogy of a real war is to elevate the status of the
terrorists, and hand them the advantage," says Goldstone.
In a time of crisis, he added, "the role
of the judiciary is always weakened, and that is exactly when
you need it. Politicians feel that they must do something, and
that becomes the basis for unnecessary restrictions. In time of
peace, human rights aren't threatened in the same way."
However, he said "we must be realistic about terrorism,
and not naïve. Enforcement officials need to be given tools
that might have been unthinkable not too long ago. Because of
modern technology, when criminals make use of the Internet, electronic
banking and access to travel, law enforcement must be able to
deal with them."
The key to maintaining legality, Goldstone said, is "oversight,
preferably judicial. The main thing is that people who are using
tools like wiretapping know somebody is watching. If not, you
can be absolutely certain there will be abuse."
The most obvious examples, he said, are Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison,
where prisoners have been subjected to humiliation and abuse by
U.S. forces, and Guantanamo Bay, where complaints of human rights
violations surfaced in spite of attempts to close it to outside
The war on Iraq — fought without U.N. authorization —
has also damaged the United Nations system as well as the rule
of law, Goldstone said.
"I don't think anyone wants to go back to
pre-World War II days when the powerful did exactly as they wished.
It's not in the interest of the democracies, including the United
The best way of protecting the rule of law, he said, was strengthening
the U.N. Security Council, which has the power to authorize the
use of force.
"The council must be enlarged to reflect the world community
in 2005. It's very important to add voices. But a mechanism should
also be found for avoiding a situation where one veto can stop
a resolution that is supported by the other nations."
KUWAIT CITY (AP) - A Kuwaiti
heading a group lobbying for the release of his countrymen being
held as suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, urged their
U.S. captors Sunday not to torture the prisoners.
Khaled al-Odah's comments followed the return earlier Sunday
to this Gulf state of the first of 11 Kuwaitis held at the U.S.
navy detention facility in Cuba since their arrest in Afghanistan
during the U.S. operations there.
Nasser al-Mutairi, 27, was briefly reunited with his younger
brother at an undisclosed Kuwaiti airport before officials took
him into custody for questioning about his detention and arrest
in Afghanistan. It was unclear when he would be returned to his
Kuwait is one of the United States' closest Middle Eastern allies,
but al-Odah's group has been lobbying fiercely for the release
of its citizens.
The group's campaign to secure the release of detained Kuwaitis
has been fuelled by claims that prisoners are being mistreated
by U.S. military personnel while in custody.
"Stop torturing our sons," al-Odah said during a press
conference after al-Mutairi's release. "(How can) a country
that considers itself a beacon for human rights, freedoms and
human dignities do this."
Al-Odah, whose son Fawzi is among the remaining 10 Kuwaitis in
U.S. custody, cited recently released FBI documents that include
prisoner abuse allegations at Guantanamo. U.S. officials in Kuwait
were not immediately available for comment.
A lawyer defending foreigners
held without trial under Britain's anti-terror laws has quit in
protest against the government's failure to release the detainees.
Rick Scannell was the second government-appointed defence lawyer
to resign after the House of Lords, sitting as the country's highest
court, said in December the anti-terror laws breached international
human rights rules.
"It is in my view intolerable that the government should
sit on a decision like this," he told BBC radio on Monday.
"To my mind the action that it should take is very, very
simple: It should release them."
Scannell published his resignation letter in several newspapers
He said he had not quit at the same time as fellow special defence
lawyer Ian Macdonald - who resigned just days after the House
of Lords' decision - because he wanted to give the government
time to react to the ruling.
"Unfortunately the initial optimism that I had that the
government might, upon reflection, actually change its mind and
not seek the continued detention of these men ... proved to be
misplaced," Scannell said.
He declined to comment on reports that all the special defence
lawyers had decided to resign in protest.
After the 11 September 2001 attacks in the US,
Britain, like many other countries, gave itself special powers
to detain without trial foreigners suspected of "terrorism".
The government does not have to prove they committed
a crime, only that the authorities have "reasonable grounds"
to suspect that they might pose a threat.
President Bush plans to reactivate
his reelection campaign's network of donors and activists to build
pressure on lawmakers to allow workers to invest part of their
Social Security taxes in the stock market, according to Republican
White House allies are launching a market-research project to
figure out how to sell the plan in the most comprehensible and
appealing way, and Republican marketing and public-relations gurus
are building teams of consultants to promote it, the strategists
The campaign will use Bush's campaign-honed
techniques of mass repetition, never deviating from the script
and using the politics of fear to build support -- contending
that a Social Security financial crisis is imminent when even
Republican figures show it is decades away. [...]
The same architects of Bush's political victories will be masterminding
the new campaign, led by political strategists Karl Rove at the
White House and Ken Mehlman at the Republican National Committee.
GAZA, Jan. 16 (Xinhuanet) -- A Palestinian
mother and her son were killed on Sunday night after Israeli
soldiers fired a tank shell that hit one of the houses in the
Khan Younis refugee camp in southern Gaza Strip, medics said.
They said that Fadda Arram, 50, and her son Abdalla Arram 27,were
killed and a third family member was critically wounded by the
Israeli tanks shells' shrapnel.
Palestinian witnesses said that an Israeli army tank stationed
near the Jewish settlement of Naveh Dekalim fired two tanks
shells,and one of the shells had directly hit Arram's house.
They added that the soldiers then opened
intensive gunfire at the area to prevent ambulances and rescue
teams to get the killed and the wounded outside.
Palestinian security sources said that the Israeli move cameafter
several Palestinian militants fired homemade rockets at the
No injuries or damage were reported in the attack on the settlement.
TOKYO : Japan has mapped out a plan to
defend a chain of its southernmost islands in the East China
Sea against invasion amid rising security concerns about China,
a press report says.
The plan calls for the dispatch of 55,000 troops as well as
warplanes, destroyers and submarines from Japan's main islands
in the event of an attack on Okinawa and other remote islands,
Kyodo news agency reported.
The national defense agency compiled the plan covering the
islands lying in a 1,000-kilometer (625-mile) zone between the
southern tip of Japan's Kyushu Island and Taiwan, Kyodo said,
citing unspecified official documents.
In November Japan made public its new defense
guidelines which explicitly point to China as a potential threat
for the first time along with North Korea.
A Defense Agency official said that Japan's defense forces
"do not have troops stationed on most of the southern remote
islands and they are a vacuum in terms of security," according
"China has been expanding its scope of activities as seen
in the case of an invasion of Japanese territorial waters (by
a Chinese nuclear submarine) last November. We need to monitor
its moves," the official was quoted as saying.
Under the new plan, naval patrol planes and the airborne warning
and control system of the air defense force will collect information
on the remote islands, the report said.
Of the 55,000 troops, 9,000 will be assigned to directly recapture
invaded islands with the rest providing support for them, the
Japan has been increasingly alarmed by the
expanding military capabilities of its communist neighbours
China and North Korea.
The guidelines said: "China, which has a great impact on security
in this region, is pushing ahead with enhancing its nuclear
and missile capabilities in modernizing its navy and air force
while expanding marine activities."
Meanwhile, Japan has been pushing for a missile defense shield
with the United States after North Korea lobbed a suspected
ballistic missile over its territory and into the Pacific in
At least seven people, including the
police chief of the province of Aklan, have been killed and
30 others wounded after an armed person opened fire at a festival
in the Philippines.
The Ati-atihan religious festival in honour of Santo Nino,
one of the most revered Roman Catholic icons in the Philippines,
was stopped on Sunday, turning merrymaking into mourning for
"We are still investigating the motive for the violent shooting,"
said Edgardo Aglipay, the national police chief. "We are checking
reports that this incident was drug-related, but we cannot discount
He said the provincial police chief was walking towards the
municipal building after attending mass when a gunman opened
fire at his group, sending hundreds scampering for safety.
The shooting began during a fireworks display to start the
festival in Kalibo town, a gateway to the Boracay Island resort
in central Philippines.
The festival commemorating the conversion of pagan natives
to Catholicism in the 16th century is known for street dancing
by people smeared with charcoal, wearing grass skirts and carrying
BANGKOK, Jan. 16 (Xinhuanet) -- One people
was killed and 59 others were injured Sunday in a blast in Thailand's
restive southern region, police said.
The bomb exploded at around 1 pm Sunday outside a noodle shop
in Yala province, killing the shop owner and wounding 59 other
people at the spot.
The injured have been taken to hospital, where 51 were treated
and left while the remaining eight were hospitalized with serious
Police believe the bomb, hidden in a bag in front of the restaurant,
was timed to explode by Muslim militants.
Since the beginning of last year, unceasing violence in the
southernmost stretch of Thailand has claimed more than 500 lives.
Police, soldiers, officials, teachers, even villagers have been
fallen victims of the killing.
| PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY, January
17 (RIA Novosti) - The eruption of Eurasia's highest volcano, Klyuchevskoi,
has started again Sunday night in Kamchatka which is called the
Land of Volcanoes and Geysers, experts said Monday.
According to Alexei Ozerov, senior scientific worker of the Institute
of Volcanology and Seismology of the Far Eastern branch of the
Russian Academy of Sciences, after a year of dormancy, seismic
preparations for the eruption of Klyuchevskoi started a month
ago. Small earthquakes and seismic swarms were detected near the
The seismic stations on the peninsula are registering a great
number of surface earthquakes and fluorescence above the crater;
making outbursts of ashes are quite possible.
Mr. Ozerov said that there are one or two upper craters, 700
meters in diameter, from which slag bursts out and small lava
The eruptions of the upper crater, if compared with the past
periods, usually last from one month to several years and are
dangerous for domestic and foreign flights.
The closest inhabited area is the town of Klyuchi, about 30 kilometers
from the volcano. Klyuchevskoi, however, poses no immediate threat
to the town.
The 4,833-meter volcano's measurable shaking has made it difficult
to monitor the seismic activity of its closest neighbor, the Bezymyanny
Volcano, whose last mighty eruption was registered on January
| Ha Noi, Jan. 17 (VNA) –
The death-toll from the earthquake and tsunami that struck Asian
countries last December has reached 168,373.
In Indonesia alone, an additional 5,000 dead bodies were found
on the coast in western Aceh province, bringing the number of
Indonesians killed by the catastrophe to 115,229.
BEIJING - A powerful earthquake measuring
6.2 points on the open-ended Richter scale was registered in
the south-western part of the Pacific on Sunday, the U.S. Geological
According to the source, the epicentre of the earthquake was
located between the New Zealand and Tonga Islands at the depth
of ten kilometres below the seabed.
There was no information about tsunami threat.
BOGOTA, -- An earthquake measuring 4.5
points on the Richter scale happened in Ecuadorian highlands,
250 kilometers south of Quito, on Sunday, the local geo-physical
The quake epicenter was located at the depth of 12 kilometers.
There have been no reports about casualties and damage.
Mainichi, Japan, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Japan's
Meteorological Agency has said an earthquake shook Japan's Kumamoto
Prefecture Saturday, Mainichi Shimbun reported.
Police said there were no immediate reports of casualties or
property damage. A tsunami warning was not issued.
The earthquake that struck at 3:42 p.m. measured 4 on the 7-point
Japanese intensity scale, and a 4.0 on the Richter scale.
KATHMANDU, Jan. 16 (Xinhuanet) -- Experts
have predicted the possibility of occurrence of a huge earthquake
with Gosainthan of Banepa municipality, only 70 km east of Kathmandu,
as the epicenter in the near future.
"The tremor may measure a magnitude of 7.6 on the Richter scale,"
Surya Narayan Shrestha, an engineer at the Nepal National Society
for Earthquake Technology, told reporters on Sunday.
The assumption was made after calculation of radius of recent
tremor patterns, Shrestha said, adding there were 124 small
magnitude earthquakes after 1938 and "the impending one could
be more dangerous."
An earthquake measuring 8.3 on the Richter scale that shook
Nepal in 1934 took the lives of 8,519 people including 4,296
in the Kathmandu Valley alone.
[...] The record-breaking weather in B.C.
saw wind chills up to about -35C on the coast and up to -50C
in other regions of B.C. on Friday and Saturday.
Freezing rain and up to 10 centimetres of snow was expected
to fall overnight Saturday on B.C.'s west coast.
Cold temperature records were broken this weekend in Cranbrook,
Revelstoke, Kamloops, Kelowna, Campbell River, Whistler and
many other areas of B.C.
"It has been bitterly cold, we've set records ranging from
temperatures down around minus 42 in the north to even down
in Vancouver to minus 10," said David Jones, spokesman for Environment
Canada on Friday.
HALIFAX - The Maritime provinces are in
for another blizzard. This one that will likely dump as much
as 40 centimetres of snow across the region before it passes
Environment Canada says the storm will begin hitting eastern
New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island on Sunday
Halifax may get as much as 40 centimetres of snow by Monday.
There will be frequent whiteouts, Environment Canda said.
Air travel is also expected to be delayed right across the
East Coast and in Newfoundland as the storm moves in.
Saint John, N.B., can expect up to 25 centimetres before the
storm tapers to flurries on Monday, while P.E.I. will face up
to 35 centimetres.
Winds may gust to 90 km/h.
The storm is rooted in a low pressure system developing off
the U.S. eastern seaboard and will grow as it moves into Canada.
It's expected to arrive in southwestern Newfoundland on Monday
with winds in excess of 100 km/h.
SEOUL - Snowstorms on Sunday shut down
a third of South Korea's local airports with dozens of domestic
flights cancelled, officials at the Korea Airport Corp said.
Five of the 15 local airports were shut for hours by heavy
snow, strong winds and poor visibility with 86 flights cancelled,
Affected were the airports of Gimhae, Ulsan, Pohang, Yeosu
and Mokpo -- mostly in the eastern and southern provinces where
up to 100 centimetersinches) of snow fell. [...]
Police in Devon are investigating after
seven sheep were found dead arranged in an unusual pattern on
The sheep were found on Sampford Spiney on Dartmoor with their
necks broken and their bodies in a pattern sometimes associated
with the occult.
The pattern was similar to the shape of a star, or heptagram,
a mystical symbol commonly used in occult ceremonies.
Chris Cole, a farmer who owned some of the sheep, said he
first thought they were killed by a lightning strike.
Mr Cole, one of three farmer who owned the animals, said he
thought it was lightning because "that's what happens when you
find groups of animals dead like that".
He said when he realised the animals were left in the seven-pointed
shape: "It's scared some people and worried them, me included,
being this close to home.
"I don't really know what's happened. It's more what we are
imagining happened here now."
Vietnam today reported two
new suspected cases of bird flu in humans as outbreaks among poultry
spread to all parts of the country.
Tests were being conducted to determine whether the two patients
being treated at Hanoi’s Hospital of Tropical Medicine for
Tropical Diseases contracted bird flu, said hospital director
Nguyen Duc Hien.
Tests on a 48-year-old man from the northern province of Thai
Binh who died on Saturday were negative for bird flu, Hien said.
The man was initially suspected of having contracted the disease.
The People’s Army newspaper identified the two suspected
cases as the younger brother of the 48-year-old man and a 62-year-old
man from Hanoi.
Bird flu outbreaks among poultry have been reported in central
Quang Nam and Ninh Thuan provinces, the latest region to have
been hit by the disease, the Department of Animal Health said
on its website today.
Earlier, 16 provinces, mostly in southern Vietnam, had reported
outbreaks since the beginning of this year, killing or forcing
the cull of more than 230,000 birds.
Animal health experts have warned that cooler temperatures and
the increase in movement of poultry ahead of the Lunar New Year
festival in early February will help the spread of the virus.
Over the past three weeks, Vietnam has reported four human deaths
from bird flu – the country’s first string of deaths
since early September.
Two other people who tested positive for the H5N1 strain of the
bird flu remain in critical condition.
Bird flu has killed 24 people in Vietnam and 12 in Thailand over
the past year.
A cheap children's game has been withdrawn
from sale because it features players pretending to be Osama
bin Laden steering a passenger jet into New York's twin towers.
The tasteless £1 liquid crystal game - aimed at children aged
five and over - has been removed from the shelves of a discount
store in Warrington, Cheshire, after protests from religious
leaders. Laden Versus USA also has packaging
which features a photograph of the World Trade Centre on fire
along with a picture of the al-Qaida leader and a grimacing
The game, imported from Asia, had been on sale at a Pound
Store in Warrington. But, after protests, the company has agreed
to remove it from the shelves. A headline in a local paper asked:
"Is this the sickest toy ever?"
Shaukat Rashid of Warrington Islamic Association said: "It's
despicable that an act like that is being used to profiteer.
The Islamic community in Warrington publicly condemned the perpetrators
of September 11 and we would call on people to boycott the game.
It is sick. What will it be next - a game based on the tsunami
The Rev Michael Finlay, of Warrington parish church, said:
"I think it's rather sick that it's Bin Laden versus the USA.
It would not be conducive to building relationships within other
communities in the town."
The store agreed to withdraw the game after learning of the
protests. Imran Sodawala, the director of the company, said:
"It's not the only shop that sells it. I've seen it in other
Pound Stores. But if people are upset, then I will withdraw
it straight away."
Teenager Hannah Birchall, 16, said she had been sickened by
seeing the toy on the shelves. "The images on the box bring
back all the memories of September 11," she said. "I think it
will desensitise children to what happened."
Her friend Kim Walmsley, 17, was appalled. "I think the game
is horrible and people caught up in September 11 will be very
hall of mirrors
The news portrays our species as one that
murders, squabbles, bullies and dies. No wonder people switch
| Madeleine Bunting
Monday January 17, 2005
It finally reached tipping
point last week. Over several months, there'd been the horrors
of Darfur, Beslan, the ongoing nightmare of Aids and then Falluja.
Each time I'd had a sense of angry frustration. Here was ghastly
suffering and what could I, should I, do? Accusingly, the phrase,
"the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for
good men to do nothing", reverberated in my head.
What finally tipped me over last week was the camera lingering
on the faces of bereaved mothers and then on the faces of bewildered
orphans in Sri Lanka. The intrusiveness
of our media's thirst for information and images revolted me.
Surely, these people had suffered more than enough without
us insisting that their grief-stricken faces be beamed into a
billion homes? What does it serve the viewer - the distracted
parent, the lonely elderly, the teenager hopping between channels,
the bewildered child, to witness such pain? It seemed a gesture
of respect to switch off.
Does that sound like turning away, a shocking irresponsibility?
A dereliction of the democratic responsibility to know what is
going on in the world? But you don't need
to know very much about the tsunami to gather the scale of tragedy,
and send off the donation. You certainly don't need to watch hour
after hour of agony every night.
The list of news stories that I can hardly bring myself to watch
gets longer all the time. In part, it's the horror - Beslan resulted
in some of the most shocking images ever seen on television; in
part, it's the fury at the gratuitous emotional manipulation of
television. That combination - the neat packaging of appalling
tragedy for the ultimate objectives of the broadcasters (ratings,
profits etc) - is repulsive.
Pat Barker picks up the issue up in her book Double Vision.
The seasoned war reporter is staggered by his young girlfriend's
refusal to watch the news. "I don't see the point. There's
nothing I can do about it. If it's something like a famine, OK
you can contribute, but with a lot of this there's nothing anybody
can do except gawp and say, 'Ooh, isn't it awful?' when really
they don't give a damn," she says. Drawing a distinction
between newspapers and television, she concludes that while people
can read the papers, "it's the voyeurism of looking at it,
that's what's wrong. Do you know, some people never watch the
news, on principle?"
Barker has a point. There has been a 9% drop in the amount of
news watched by the 16-35-year-old age group over the past decade.
Perhaps an increasing number of people find the news too distressing
to watch - and, I suspect, this trend also hits newspapers with
their declining circulation. A recent study
in stress at Nottingham Trent University found that watching the
news triggered depression, confusion, irritation, anger and anxiety.
News comes at the price of your peace of mind.
It seems as if we have an asymmetrical relationship between the
vast quantities of information now available and our ability to
respond to it. Once you've joined the campaign, set up the standing
order, written the odd letter to an MP, what then? Is that enough?
Human ingenuity and skill have been poured into developing an
extraordinary technological capacity to deliver information with
speed and in volume, but our capacity to act on that information
painfully lags behind. The tsunami showed all too starkly
how we could hear of the plight of villagers long before the aid
could reach them. That lag between information and action is sometimes
only a few days, more often years. A flick of a switch accesses
the former; the latter requires the infinitely complex task of
developing forms of human cooperation between individuals and
nations. Our technological ingenuity has far outstripped our skills
for social organisation.
In the gap between the two, confusion
over our moral responsibility flourishes. If you see the murdered,
the raped, the bereaved on your screen, what is the moral responsibility
engendered by this form of witness? Michael Ignatieff elegantly
articulated a widely held view, that "television has become
the principal mediation between the sufferings of strangers and
the consciences of those in the world's few remaining zones of
safety ... it has become the means ... by which we shoulder each
But by knowing about terrible suffering all over the world, in
what sense can you "shoulder" all those fates? Isn't
it a sort of self-aggrandisement to claim that the viewer sitting
on the sofa at home in the UK "shouldered the fate"
of the tragic mothers of Beslan or Sri Lanka? "My brother's
keeper" is a crucial ideal, but how does we translate it
for an age of global information flows? How do we adapt and develop
ideals of human solidarity conceived in an age of tribes and peasants
to be meaningful now?
That question will become more acute if a fraction
of the predictions of climate-change scientists come true. We
have been warned of an increase in extreme weather - more floods,
more droughts, more famines and more of the conflicts that scarce
natural resources invariably trigger. That exacerbates the growing
danger that our media culture could increasingly undermine the
capacity for human beings to shape their destiny. The scale of
suffering and the frequency of crisis becomes such that it only
induces disengagement. The response becomes: "I don't know
what I am to do with this information so I don't see the point
of knowing it." Or, as Ignatieff puts it: "Television
news bears some responsibility for that generalised misanthropy,
that irritable resignation towards the criminal folly of fanatics
and assassins, which legitimises one of the dangerous cultural
moods of the time - the feeling that the world has become too
crazy to deserve serious reflection."
Today and last Monday, the Media Guardian has carried comments
on the thesis of John Lloyd in his book, What the Media Are
Doing to Our Politics. Later this week, it's the turn of
the thinktank Demos to host a debate on Lloyd's thesis that the
media occupies a parallel universe to the one in which everyone
else tries to do their job and make sense of the world, one far
removed from the pervasive cynicism, blaming, sensationalism and
judgmentalism. He has tapped a vein of deep loathing and frustration
towards the media - both television and newspapers. It goes well
beyond a concern about our politics to a broader issue about how
the media, with their preoccupation with violence, division and
fault, are distorting our understanding of human nature.
What the media portray, like one of those fairground mirrors,
is a grotesque species that murders, squabbles, bullies and dies.
What gets omitted is the extraordinary ordinariness that keeps
people getting up in the morning; the humour, innocence, generosity,
love and friendship - the very human characteristics that might
begin to inspire more confidence in our ability to alleviate,
rather than simply know about, the suffering of others.
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