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Peyruse Massas
©2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte


American Terror
Global Eye
By Chris Floyd
Published: January 21, 2005

More than two years ago, we wrote here of a secret Pentagon plan to foment terrorism by sending covert agents to infiltrate terrorist groups and goad them into action -- in other words, committing acts of murder and destruction. The purpose was two-fold: first, to bring the terrorist groups into the open, where they could be counterattacked; and second, to justify U.S. military attacks on the countries where the terrorists were operating -- attacks which, in the Pentagon's words, would put those nations' "sovereignty at risk." It was a plan that countenanced -- indeed, encouraged -- the deliberate murder of innocent people and the imposition of U.S. military rule anywhere in the world that U.S. leaders desired.

This plan is now being activated.

In fact, it's being expanded, as The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh revealed last week. Not only will U.S.-directed agents infiltrate existing terrorist groups and provoke them into action, but the Pentagon itself will create its own terrorist groups and "death squads." After establishing their terrorist "credentials" through various atrocities and crimes, these American-run groups will then be able to ally with -- and ultimately undermine -- existing terrorist groups.

Top-level officials in the Pentagon, the U.S. intelligence services and the Bush administration confirmed to Hersh that the plan is going forward, under the direction of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld -- just as we noted here in November 2002. Through a series of secret executive orders, George W. Bush has given Rumsfeld the authority to turn the entire world into "a global free-fire zone," a top Pentagon adviser says. These secret operations will be carried out with virtually no oversight; in many cases, even the top military commanders in the affected regions will not be told about them. The American people, of course, will never know what's being done in their name.

The covert units -- including the Pentagon-funded terrorist groups and hit squads -- will be operating outside all constraints of law and morality. "We're going to be riding with the bad boys," one insider told Hersh. Another likened it to the palmy days of the Reagan-Bush years: "Do you remember the right-wing execution squads in El Salvador? We founded them and we financed them. The objective now is to recruit locals in any area we want. And we aren't going to tell Congress about it." Indeed, we reported here last summer that Bush has already budgeted $500 million to fund local paramilitaries and guerrilla groups in the most volatile areas of the world, a measure guaranteed to produce needless bloodshed, destruction and suffering for innocent people already ravaged by conflict.

The activation of the Pentagon terrorist operation is part of Bush's second-term expansion of the "war on terror." Despite some obfuscating rhetoric about "diplomacy," the Bush regime is pressing ahead with a hard-line strategy aimed at opening new military fronts in the "global free-fire zone." Any dissenting voices within the government are being ruthlessly purged. The Pentagon's secret forces are set for operations in at least 10 countries, and Bush insiders "repeatedly" told Hersh that "Iran is the next strategic target."

Iran has long been a focus of the small clique of "global dominationists" -- led by Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney and their acolytes -- who engineered the invasion of Iraq. This group is determined to "whack Iran," as one insider put it, and they're not at all discouraged by the debacle in Iraq; indeed, to them it's a rousing success. Their first objective -- openly stated years ago, before Bush took office -- was the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime and the planting of a U.S. "military footprint" in Iraq. This has now been done. The fact that it has plunged the Iraqi people into a hell of violence, chaos, terror and extremism is of no real concern to the clique. Their lofty rhetoric about "freedom" and "liberation" is meaningless sham, shuck and jive for the rubes. By the admission of the clique's own publications, they seek strategic control over the world's energy resources in order to preserve and expand American geopolitical and economic hegemony in the new century. Everything else -- including the security of the American people, put at increasing risk by the clique's reckless policies -- is of secondary importance.

U.S. forces are already conducting military reconnaissance inside Iran in preparation for strikes on alleged nuclear weapons facilities, Hersh reports. The Pentagon is feverishly updating war plans for a "maximum ground and air invasion of Iran," incorporating the new staging areas now available in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, while employing an Iranian terrorist group, MEK, to launch covert ops and terrorist acts against Tehran. MEK was once given sanctuary by Hussein, who used the group as a brutal enforcer against Kurd and Shiite insurgents. Now Bush, "riding with the bad boys," has embraced the MEK murderers as his own.

In their ignorance and arrogance, the Bushists will almost certainly strike at Iran -- despite the fact that even Iranian dissidents support the effort to make their nation a nuclear power and would join the mullahs in retaliation. The result will be a conflict far surpassing the horror and magnitude of the Iraq disaster.

In our original report on the Pentagon's terror scheme, we wrote: "Bush and his cohorts are plunging the world into an abyss, an endless night of murder and terror -- wholesale, retail, state-sponsored, privatized; of fear and degradation, servility, chaos, and the perversion of all that's best in us." Now the night has come. Now the United States stands openly -- even proudly -- for terrorism, torture and the Hitlerian principle of aggressive war. America has fallen into the pit -- and the hopes of the world go with it.

Comment: It seems the undercover world of American secret intelligence is learning a thing or two from the Israelis, for nothing works better at "outing" your enemy than to infiltrate their resistance groups with your own operatives and then carry out atrocities and terrorist attacks for all the world to see.

As the writer above accurately suggests, it may not even be necessary to infiltrate an enemy group with spies, when you can just create a separate radical group consisting entirely of your own operatives. It is a strategy that works well for the Israelis, as they can depend on Hamas to carry out a suicide bombing whenever they get to close to peace with the Palestinians.

In fact, now that a peaceful breakthrough seems almost possible between the two camps, there will likely be some kind of major attack happening in Israel soon, that should prove to the world once again that the Palestinians are not to be trusted. See our suicide bombing cycle for more on this curious but highly predictable phenomenon.

Getting back to the Americans, they appear to be trying this same tactic in Iran. As New Yorker magazine author Seymour Hersh has recently uncovered, the U.S. has sent teams of undercover operatives into Iranian territory to scout out intelligence on their nuclear installations that will become targets for the next "shock and awe" campaign.

As we've been reporting in the Signs over the last few days, it appears that the hawks in Washington know full well that Iran will prove infinitely harder to take down in comparison to Iraq, due to population, terrain and military might, and that seems precisely the point.

It's possible that the Neocons objective is not even to try to win a war against Iran, but this time to engage Israel directly in the conflict, which could mean the use of real live nuclear weapons, and not just theoretical or potential WMD.

Of course this action would likely coerce other world powers into getting involved, such as China, Russia and possibly some European countries as well, resulting in full blown World War III.

In any case, total war in the Middle East already seems a forgone conclusion, and since Iran is in the spotlight these days, we present the following articles as a prelude of what's surely to come.

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USAF playing cat and mouse game over Iran
By Richard Sale
UPI Intelligence Correspondent
Published January 26, 2005

NEW YORK -- The U.S. Air Force is playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse with Iran's ayatollahs, flying American combat aircraft into Iranian airspace in an attempt to lure Tehran into turning on air defense radars, thus allowing U.S. pilots to grid the system for use in future targeting data, administration officials said.
    
"We have to know which targets to attack and how to attack them," said one, speaking on condition of anonymity.
    
The flights, which have been going on for weeks, are being launched from sites in Afghanistan and Iraq and are part of Bush administration attempts collect badly needed intelligence on Iran's possible nuclear weapons development sites, these sources said, speaking on condition of strict anonymity.
    
"These Iranian air defense positions are not just being observed, they're being 'templated,'" an administration official said, explaining that the flights are part of a U.S. effort to develop "an electronic order of battle for Iran" in case of actual conflict.
    
In the event of an actual clash, Iran's air defense radars would be targeted for destruction by air-fired U.S. anti-radiation or ARM missiles, he said.
    
A serving U.S. intelligence official added: "You need to know what proportion of your initial air strikes are going to have to be devoted to air defense suppression."
    
A CentCom official told United Press International that in the event of a real military strikes, U.S. military forces would be using jamming, deception, and physical attack of Iran's sensors and its Command, Control and Intelligence (C3 systems).
    
He also made clear that that this entails "advance, detailed knowledge of the enemy's electronic order of battle and careful preplanning."
    
Ellen Laipson, president and CEO of the Henry L. Stimson Center and former CIA Middle East expert, said of the flights, "They are not necessarily an act of war in themselves, unless they are perceived as being so by the country that is being overflown."
    
Laipson explained: "It's not unusual for countries to test each other's air defenses from time to time, to do a little probing -- but it can be dangerous if the target country believes that such flights could mean an imminent attack."
    
She said her concern was that Iran "will not only turn on its air defense radars but use them to fire missiles at U.S. aircraft," an act which would "greatly increase tensions" between the two countries.
    
The air reconnaissance is taking place in conjunction with other intelligence collection efforts, U.S. government officials said.
    
To collect badly needed intelligence on the ground about Iran's alleged nuclear program, the United States is depending heavily on Israeli-trained teams of Kurds in northern Iraq and on U.S.-trained teams of former Iranian exiles in the south to gather the intelligence needed for possible strikes against Iran's 13 or more suspected nuclear sites, according to serving and retired U.S. intelligence officials.
    
Both groups are doing cross border incursions into Iran, some in conjunction with U.S. Special Forces, these sources said.
    
They claimed the Kurds operating from Kurdistan, in areas they control. The second group, working from the south, is the Mujahedeen-e Khalq, listed by the State Department as a terrorist group, operating from southern Iraq, these sources said.
    
The use of the MEK for U.S.-intelligence-gathering missions strikes some former U.S. intelligence officials as bizarre. The State Department's annual publication, "Patterns of Global Terrorism," lists them as a terrorist organization.
    
According to the State Department report, the MEK were allies with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in fighting Iran and, in addition, "assisted Saddam in "suppressing opposition within Iraq, and performed internal security for the Iraqi regime."
    
After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, U.S. forces seized and destroyed MEK munitions and weapons, and about 4,000 MEK operatives were "consolidated, detained, disarmed, and screened for any past terrorist acts, the report said.
    
Shortly afterwards, the Bush administration began to use them in its covert operations against Iran, former senior U.S. intelligence officials said.
    
"They've been active in the south for some time," said former CIA counterterrorism chief, Vince Cannistraro.
    
The MEK are said to be currently launching raids from Camp Habib in Basra, but recently Pakistan President Pervez Musharaff granted permission for the MEK to operate from Pakistan's Baluchi area, U.S. officials said.
    
Asked about the Musharaff decision, Laipson said: "Not a smart move. The last thing he (Musharaff) needs is another batch of hotheads on Pakistani soil."
    
A former senior Iranian diplomat told United Press International that the Kurds in the Baluchi areas of Pakistan can operate in freedom because the Baluchis "have no love for the mullahs of Iran."
    
In fact, in the early 1980s, there were massacres of Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the area by Baluchi militants who wish to be independent, he said.
    
Both covert groups are tasked by the Bush administration with planting sensors or "sniffers" close to suspected Iran nuclear weapons development sites that will enable the Bush administration to monitor the progress on the program and develop targeting data, these sources said.
    
"There is an urgent need to obtain this information, at least in the minds of administration hawks," an administration official said.
    
"This looks to be turning into a pretty large-scale covert operation," a former long-time CIA operator in the region told UPI. In addition to the air strikes on allegedly Iranian nuclear weapons sites, the second aim of the operation is to secure the support in Iran of those "who view U.S. policy of hostility towards Iran's clerics with favor," he said.
    
The United States is also attempting to erect a covert infrastructure in Iran able to support U.S. efforts, this source said. It consists of Israelis and other U.S. assets, using third country passports, who have created a network of front companies that they own and staff. "It's a covert infrastructure for material support," a U.S. administration official said.
    
The network would be able to move money, weapons and personnel around inside Iran, he said. The covert infrastructure could also provide safe houses and the like, he said.
    
Cannistraro, who knew of the program, said: "I doubt the quality of these kinds or programs," explaining the United States had set up a similar network just before the hostage-rescue attempt in 1980. "People forget that the Iranians quickly rolled up that entire network after the rescue attempt failed," Cannistraro said.
    
The administration's fear is that by possessing a nuclear weapon, Iran will gain a new stature and status in the region strengthening its determination to remove the U.S presence from the region and making its hostility seem more credible, U.S. officials said.
    
There is also the administration's fear that Iran, with Syria's help, will accelerate Palestinian terrorism as Israel withdraws from the Gaza Strip, these sources said.
    
So the United States, backed by Israel, is deadly earnest about neutralizing Iran's nuclear weapons site. "The administration has determined that there is no diplomatic solution," said John Pike, president of the online think-tank globalsecurity.org.
    
"Like the Israelis, the Bush administration has decided that forces of sweetness and light won't be running Iran any time soon, and that having atomic ayatollahs is simply not acceptable."

Said Cannistraro of the administration's policy: "Its very, very, very dangerous."

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Pakistan denies anti-Iran wargames
2005/01/25

Islamabad, Jan 25 - Pakistan on Tuesday denied in categorical terms that joint US and British commando wargames were held in the southern port city of Karachi.

Talking to IRNA here, Director-General of Inter-Services Public Relations Major General Shaukat Sultan said that certain media reports in this connection were "totally incorrect."

Asia Times Online carried a story on January 19 saying US and British commandos had held military exercises jointly in Karachi against Iran.

"This is not true. The report is totally wrong," the military official stressed.

Some excerpts from the Hong Kong-based web service were on Tuesday carried by a local Urdu newspaper, Khabrain, in which it was claimed that the US-UK commandos held the wargames with a view to attacking Iran from Karachi.

"This was not a joint military exercise, but training of Saudi naval commandos from January 1 to 17," General Sultan added.

"No one from the US or UK was present during the training," the military spokesman clarified.

Last week, a US publication printed a report suggesting Pakistan had "helped" the United States target Iran's nuclear power plants.

Islamabad had outrightly and emphatically denied the report.

"It was aimed at creating a cleavage between Pakistan and Iran, which enjoy very deep-rooted relations," Pakistan's Foreign Office Spokesman Masood Khan said.

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Bush Declares Jihad, the American Way
Hassan Nafaa Al-Hayat 2005/01/26
During his inauguration ceremony, President Bush delivered a speech that was different from all the speeches of his predecessors. The former presidents of the United States at their respective inauguration ceremonies delivered speeches that outlined the internal and external political program that they intend to implement during their four-year tenure. Bush chose to deliver a speech on his behalf and on behalf of the neo-conservatives, and it could be tacitly said that it foreshadowed the declaration of war, or perhaps it could be said that it carried a 'Jihad Manifesto' for the extreme right wing in America.

I have no doubt that Bush's speech was a shock to all those who hoped that Bush had learned from the mistakes that he committed during his first term. There was not a single word that professed an admission of his previous mistakes. He did not mention anything about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he did not set a timetable for the withdrawal of his troops from these respective countries.

I think it would be a mistake to underestimate this speech and maintain that it did not clearly outline any policies or programs. In point of fact, this is not the case at all. This speech is very important and it was vigilantly written by Michael Gerson, Bush's favorite speech writer. This speech is important because it clearly reflects the vision of the neo-cons and their political agenda towards foreign and internal issues, which is why we should take it seriously.

The first issue pertains to the identification of the central issue that the U.S. administration deems to be the main source of threat to national security. Perhaps one is astonished to discover that the majority of the words Bush used were oppression, not terrorism. So therefore oppression has become the first threat to America's national security, and not terrorism, which leads some to believe that this would lead to a shift in the American policies. Bush started to believe that terrorism is a symptom of oppression, and the U.S. should start to concentrate on finding the cure for the sickness before the symptom. He also believes that the terrorism that struck Washington and New York is the result of oppression.

The second issue pertains to the identification of the methods to oppose this threat. The U.S. will definitely not ignore oppression and the U.S. will not excuse the oppressors. The U.S. will support the resistors in order to achieve freedom and democracy. In spite of this, Bush did not rule out the fact that the U.S. will use military power in order to defend itself, its friends, and allies.

Bush linked between democracy, liberty and peace in the U.S. and liberty democracy and peace in the rest of the world, maintaining that if liberty and freedom are essential factors to achieve internal peace, then spreading freedom and democracy outside America is no less significant in order to achieve world peace. In this context, Bush wanted to assure that he will not fall for the same mistakes that the previous U.S. administrations committed.

Therefore we can construe four main conclusions from Bush's speech:

1. The U.S. is determined to pursue a policy of preemption
2. This administration is committed to spreading democracy across the world, which has become an American responsibility, not the international community's.
3. The Arab and Islamic world are the main, and perhaps the only, target for this policy of preemptive intervention. The U.S. will continue with its containment policy against China but it will not reach to the point of direct confrontation.
4. Israel is in situation where it could convince the U.S. to support any of the Israeli policies, regardless of all moral and ethical standards.

If this analysis is correct then this means that the world is heading towards further chaos and instability. Will the governments of the Arab region rise up the challenge before oppression becomes an allegation for any U.S. preemptive policy? In any case, the answer to this question is not optimistic.

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United States will stand alone if it attacks Iran: Malaysia
26 January 2005 1159 hrs
AFP

KUALA LUMPUR : Malaysia, which chairs the world's biggest grouping of Muslim countries, has warned that the United States will stand alone in the world if it attacks Iran.

The world community, including allies of the United States, is opposed to any such action by the superpower, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said on his return from a trip to Paris late Tuesday.

"Europe does not agree, the United States' close ally Britain does not agree, and I believe no one else will agree," said Abdullah, who chairs the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference.

"The Islamic world will definitely not agree to an attack on Iran," he said.

"Talks should instead be held and made a priority, rather than military action."

US President George W. Bush -- who once lumped Iran in an "axis of evil" with Saddam Hussein's Iraq and North Korea -- said last week he could not rule out using force if Tehran failed to rein in its nuclear plans.

Iran, which denies wishing to acquire a nuclear bomb, in November announced the suspension of its nuclear enrichment programme following protracted talks with Britain, France and Germany.

In mid-December, the three countries again took up talks with Tehran to try to conclude a long-term deal whereby the Iranians would definitively give up any ambitions of producing a nuclear weapon.

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THE NUCULAR BUSH

The Iranian Weapons Bush will Expose our Troops to When he Plays Macho With a Nation with Real Military Strength, and allies that include India, China and Russia

Jon Faulkner

Tough guys have a terrible problem.  As their fearsome reputations develop they must constantly maintain their machismo by conquering ever more powerful opponents until inevitably, they meet their match. Real tough guys regard diplomacy as a refuge of the weak and cowardly. Dubya is the worst kind of tough guy. Having been given innumerable opportunities, and having failed at them all, he now finds himself redeemed and in a position that spins abject failure into triumphal success. His unrivaled power, combined with his egocentric psychosis and unbridled arrogance, has loosed the croc that swallowed the clock and now, having flexed his powerful new muscles in Iraq, our super-hero is ready to eradicate the next evil – Iran.  Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko told Interfax news agency, “It’s well known that slapping labels on countries and unilaterally describing certain states as part of the 'axis of evil' has not improved anyone's security."  

Bombing Iran is a far different proposition than destroying an essentially helpless Iraq.  Iran has the will and the means to defend itself. It also has some very powerful business partners. Russia has agreed to build five nuclear power plants in Iran at a cost of $11 billion. China and India have signed contracts for almost $100 billion of Iran’s oil and natural gas. Iran’s trading partners are not going to take it lightly when Junior moves on Iran premising his attack on the lies he used to justify his invasion of Iraq. If he attacks Iran, all the Karl Rove spin will not put Humpty Dumpty back together again. The Republican Congress could only be counted on to encourage Americans to stop eating Shish Kabob, or perhaps they’d only rename them Liberty-for-Bobs. Democrats would familiarize themselves with the exits and the locations of bomb shelters. 

Russia has sold Iran the S-300PMU. It is a highly effective, fast, surface-to-air missile that’s very hard to jam and stop, says Richard Fisher, a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation. Over the Persian Gulf, the S-300 will make future U.S. air operations far more difficult. Fisher says that Pentagon officials quietly assert that America currently does not have the air power to counter the deadly S-300 missile. China has also bought these missiles and deploys dozens of them directly opposite Taiwan.  

Iran also possesses the Shahab-3, a three stage and highly accurate surface-to-surface missile with an 800 mile range. It is capable of delivering a conventional or nuclear warhead and is within range of any target in Israel.  

Perhaps the most worrisome weapon in the Iranian arsenal is the Russian made 3M-82 Moskit, nicknamed Sunburn. Sunburn is a wave skimming, Mach 2.5, ship eating monster that delivers a 750 pound warhead of high explosives. It has a 160 mile range and can be configured to carry a nuclear payload. Iran conceals them in fortified caves along the Iranian coast. Such a weapon enables Iran to control the Straights of Hormoz and deny ship traffic coming or going in the Persian Gulf. Jack Spencer of the Heritage Foundation says, “Whether or not we can defend against this is a good question. Probably under perfect conditions we would defend against one or two. But under war conditions, to defend against many would be difficult.” 

Imagine Iran firing six or eight Sunburn’s against an American battle group in the Persian Gulf in retaliation against Bush ordering a strike against its nuclear power plants. Baker Spring, a defense analyst for the Heritage Foundation says, “The Aegis ABM interceptor is not designed to deal with the supersonic cruise missile threat and the U.S. Navy Aegis warships are reported to be unable to defend themselves against the latest Russian supersonic cruise missiles.” Aegis warships are there to defend the carriers and if they can’t defend themselves a carrier is a fish in a barrel. Imagine two or three Sunburns striking a U.S. carrier and sinking it with its compliment of five or six thousand crewmembers. Bush would retaliate by ordering a strike against Tehran, possibly nuclear.  Iran launches a few Shahab-3 missiles that impact downtown Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem. In the fog of war the Chinese see their chance to reclaim Taiwan and begin destroying the islands coastal defenses prior to invasion. Wars have a way of escalating and getting out of control as events in Iraq clearly demonstrate.  

There is simply no way Junior is emotionally or intellectually capable of dealing with such a situation. Faced with a rapidly escalating conflict, Junior would run to the deepest, safest cave and hide until someone told him it was safe to come out. Do Americans want a president who invites the enemy to “bring ‘em on” when he’s not the one doing the fighting or dying? Do Americans want a shoot first and ask questions later president with an itchy trigger finger? Do Americans desire a president who refers to the leader of North Korea as, “that little pygmy” or the Russian president as “Pootie Toot”?  Do we want someone making decisions about the survival of the planet who, when governor of Texas, made a face and mimicked a condemned prisoner who begged him for her life? Does Bush truly believe he acts through divine inspiration and a nuclear attack signifies the end time is here - that he’s going to ascend to Heaven and sit with God?  

Wrecking the economy and the environment is one thing. It may be possible to fix them. Dealing with a nuclear confrontation is quite another. Who can forget his reaction after being told the second plane had hit the World Trade Center? For seven minutes he continued reading “My Pet Goat” then spent the day incognito, flying around the country to undisclosed locations while of all people, Laura Bush and Ted Kennedy, kept vigil at the White House. While the towers burned here are some critiques of the seven-minute video of Bush reading “My Pet Goat.” 

 The Dallas Observer: “Makes the disturbing case that George W. Bush is a dangerous idiot.” ReelViews: “It’s not the portrait of a man any sane American would want in command.” The Philadelphia Inquirer: “Bush sits there silently, looking worried, confused, lost. Bush looks like a man waiting to be told what to do. And that is a scenario that should be deeply frightening to anyone.” What cruel irony – that junior is more a threat than Iraq or Iran. Condi Rice, when she helped promote the lie of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction said, “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” It is frightening indeed that she was unwittingly referring to Bush as that smoking gun. 

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War on Iran?
Madness in High Places
GARY LEUPP, CounterPunch
January 23, 2005

"Madness in great ones must not unwatch'd go."
Hamlet, Act III, Scene 1

All during the Bush administration's fear-mongering propaganda effort to convince Americans that Saddam and his WMDs were a threat, some of us pointed out that if Iraq's leader actually had such weapons, he'd be crazy to use them against this country.

"But that's just it," we were told, "he's mad."

Nowadays, a former intelligence official tells Seymour Hersh, "Everyone is saying, 'You can't be serious about targeting Iran. Look at Iraq.'" He implies that some people in intelligence, currently in the government, think an attack on yet another nation would be crazy.

But, the above-quoted former spook told Hersh, the war advocates declare: "'We've got some lessons learned-not militarily, but how we did it politically. We're not going to rely on agency pissants.' No loose ends, and that's why the CIA. is out of there." The CIA, you see, like irritating, stinky household insects, posed a political problem for the Iraq campaign. The CIA didn't produce the desired evidence for Saddam-al Qaeda ties or a genuine Iraqi security threat to the U.S., thus obliging the chickenhawks to devise their Office of Special Plans headed by Abram Shulsky, William Luti, and Douglas Feith. (Recall that General Tommy Franks famously labels Feith the "fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth"). The CIA, distrusting Ahmad Chalabi, helped foil plans to coronate the neocon favorite as Iraq's puppet leader immediately following the fall of Baghdad. CIA agents, in consternation at neocon influence, appear to have repeatedly leaked information about warmongering disinformation to the press. That's why some folks vented on the pissants by outing Joseph Wilson's CIA wife.

With the CIA purged and humiliated, "intelligence" grovels defeated before superlative stupidity. Or perhaps Gen. Franks misdiagnosed, and the problem is not in fact stupidity but genuine lunacy. You can tell the victim of delusions, "You can't be serious" about hearing those divine voices, but no, the deluded really do hear them. If the victim gets scared, he or she may get violent. Perhaps some officials, their apparent bravado notwithstanding, feel the men in white coats might be on their way. So it's especially important to get the job done, now, before those who don't understand, and who hate God, thwart his will.

The crazies are confident that the lessons they've learned politically (i.e., how to use Christian fundamentalism to gain "political capital" to promote a program of indefinite war throughout Muslim Southwest Asia) will produce smoother regime-change in Syria and Iran. And even if we don't, they may ask themselves, what's wrong with the worst-case scenario?

Say in 2008 there are 300,000 US troops deployed from Afghanistan and Iran to Syria and Lebanon, holding some key cities, losing 20 KIA every day. That's a small price to pay for US strategic control over the region, which can in fact occur in a climate of what "Dr. Strangelove" Rumsfeld calls "creative chaos." It will take a generation to reform the Arabs and prepare them embrace an American-style political setup ("democracy"). Maybe the world will turn on us completely, and accuse us of Nazi-like aggression. Maybe we'll have to pull out of the UN to display our contempt for those foreign pissants. So what? So think the madmen.

Madness. Recall the fine scene in The Lord of the Rings, in which Gollum's tortured schizoid self debates whether or not to work with the stinky, nasty hobbitses. Ultimately his need for the Precious resolves that internal dispute: he is stark-raving mad when he grasps the Ring of Power, only to fall into the abyss. Earlier the Ring had so tempted Boromir, who thought he could use it "for good," that the man of Gondor strove to seize it by force. Had he succeeded, as his brother Faramir later tells their father, "It would have driven him mad."

In their own wacko scenario, today's "stupidest," remaining entrenched in power, relentlessly pursue the Ring of global domination. It makes no sense, of course, as the more level headed officials being purged from government, to say nothing of those in the antiwar movement, attest. But in the clouded minds of some of those in Washington, who are more confused and deluded than Saddam ever was, a widening of the present war is eminently practical and reasonable.

So we read today that the architects of the Iraq War are in decline, the "realists" reemerging, perhaps led by nominated Rice deputy Robert Zoellick. And tomorrow that plans for war on Syria and Iran proceed apace. We must not assume those who scorn the "reality-based community" are gone where the goblins go. They are still busily struggling to create their imaginary alternative.

"Madness in great ones must not unwatch'd go," wrote Shakespeare. One might add, especially when "there is a method in it" as there surely is in the painstaking war preparations, reflecting what the warmongers have learned about "politically" rationalizing their military agenda. A "document of madness" as nuts as Ophelia's ravings remains the game plan for the great ones' Greater Middle East transformation project. One must monitor these lunatics, examine and expose their methods and documents, countering them politically with the weapons of the sane.

And when they are finally on trial for their crimes, and plead insanity, we should take our cue from the Texas courts and say, "That's no excuse."

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch's merciless chronicle of the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, Imperial Crusades.

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Egypt admits failing to report nuclear research to UN watchdog agency
AFP
Jan 27, 2005
VIENNA - Egypt admitted Thursday to failing to report a "number of research experiments" to the UN atomic energy agency, after diplomats said the agency was investigating an Egyptian lab that could be used to make plutonium, a nuclear weapons material.

But "Egypt is cooperating with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency)" and feels the "research experiments and activities ... most of which took place in the distant past are consistent with the NPT," the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Egyptian embassy said in a statement released in Vienna.

The statement said stronger safeguards measures by the IAEA "since the 1990's have resulted in not reporting to the agency, in an appropriate and timely manner, a number of research experiments and activities."

Egyptian ambassador Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy told AFP it was a case that with "strengthened safeguards, countries sometimes don't know what they are required to report."

He said news reports of Egyptian safeguards failures were "exaggerated" and that Egypt has a strictly peaceful nuclear program.

The statement said "Egypt understands that the agency is aware of the limited scope of the issue" and feels that the "agency values the level of cooperation Egypt is extending."

Egypt has not however signed an additional protocol to the NPT that allows for tough IAEA inspections.

IAEA officials refused to comment on the investigation. [...]

The lab, which apparently has never been used for reprocessing, raises questions about an Egyptian nuclear program which is peaceful but may also be carefully structured to be able to move towards weapons development if Cairo decided to take this step, diplomats said. [...]

Comment: Once again, we have rumors about a country possessing technology that could be used to make weapons - but don't expect an invasion of Egypt in the near future. The Zionists seem to have a firm grip on the country for the moment, and Bush may need to send more detainees to Egypt to be tortured and "disappeared".

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FBI in Talks to Extend Reach
By Richard B. Schmitt and Greg Miller
LA Times
January 28, 2005

WASHINGTON — The FBI is significantly expanding its intelligence-gathering activities in the U.S., including stepped-up efforts to collect and report intelligence on foreign figures and governments, a function that long has been principally the CIA's domain, intelligence and congressional sources said Thursday.

The bureau in December launched discussions with top CIA officials to rewrite the two-decade-old ground rules covering how the agencies conduct their intelligence efforts in the U.S. and abroad. That effort reflects an acceleration of the FBI's foreign-intelligence collection efforts in the U.S. in recent months, as well as the desire of top bureau officials to assert what they view as their legal duty to track CIA activities in the U.S. and coordinate with the agency's operations.

The moves are causing concern among some current and former CIA officials, who see them as another sign of the diminished standing of the beleaguered agency, which also is confronted by recent Pentagon moves to increase its military intelligence collections abroad.

The CIA was singled out for harsh treatment by the independent panel that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks, and is undergoing painful restructuring under new leadership. Some worry that new Director Porter J. Goss is not doing enough to fight off the bureau's push.

"This is the kind of thing that the [director of central intelligence] ought to be standing up on his hind legs and making a fuss [about]," said a former senior CIA official. "This is a battle for survival."

Other agency officials say those concerns are overblown. A CIA spokesman declined to comment.

Officials familiar with the FBI's thinking say they hope that a tentative draft of the procedures — which are classified — will be completed next month; they said the bureau also hoped to obtain new assurances that the CIA would share information about its U.S. activities with the FBI.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and Goss have been actively involved in the discussions. The procedures would have to be approved by the attorney general and whomever is named as national intelligence director, the new post that will oversee all of the nation's intelligence-gathering agencies. [...]

The interest in foreign intelligence resulted partly from what the bureau viewed as successes from a series of interviews about possible terrorist threats it conducted with Iraqi Americans in the U.S. before the war. Officials say they produced intelligence that ended up saving the lives of American soldiers in combat.

It also reflects an aggressive new vision promulgated by the bureau's intelligence czar, Maureen Baginski, a Russian linguist and career intelligence analyst whom Mueller hired away from the National Security Agency two years ago.

The result, one former official said, has been an exponential growth in recent months in the number of intelligence reports the bureau has circulated — including information on terrorist threats, espionage and foreign governments. Officials said the quality of the reports was mixed but improving. [...]

But some people said that coordination, especially between agencies that had a long tradition of viewing each other with suspicion and even disdain, was easier to achieve in theory than in practice. Their failure to work together was sharply criticized by the Sept. 11 commission and other investigators.

Some current and former CIA officials said they were concerned that the larger role for the FBI would inevitably interfere with the agency's well-established contacts abroad and create confusion. One official argued that it made sense for the same agency that is covering Sudan overseas, for example, to be talking to Sudanese in the U.S.

"Our system must provide uniformity in dealing with sources of foreign intelligence," said a U.S. official.

The agency with the most expertise about the affairs of a particular foreign nation should be calling the shots, and that is more likely to be the CIA, another official said. [...]

Comment: With Porter Goss at the head of the CIA, and the agency's long history of covert operations designed to "spread democracy" throughout the world, it seems likely that the FBI is indeed fighting for its survival. The FBI brought in Baginski and began to crank out intelligence reports that officials admit are of "mixed quality". Even Rummy and the Pentagon are conducting their own intelligence operations. The goal does not seem to be the gathering of accurate intelligence, but rather self-promotion and the acquisition of power and influence. One might suspect that as things in the US continue to heat up, every agency will be attempting to please Bush, their increasingly megalomaniacal fuhrer.

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Lockheed Martin tops list of US defense contractors in 2004
AFP
Jan 27, 2005

WASHINGTON - Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin was the top US defense contractor in fiscal 2004, racking up 20.7 billion dollars in contracts, the Pentagon said Thursday.

The Boeing Co. was the second largest with 17.1 billion dollars in contracts, followed by Northrop Grumman Corp. (11.9 billion dollars), General Dynamics Corp (9.6 billion dollars), Raytheon Co. (8.5 billion dollars), according to the annual list compiled by the US government.

Halliburton Co., the Houston-based oil services giant whose Iraq contracts made it a center of controversy last year, was sixth on the list with 8 billion dollars in contracts.

Other companies that the top ten were United Technologies Corp.billion dollars), Science Applications International Corp. (2.5 billion dollars), Computer Sciences Corp. 2.4 billion dollars, and Humana Inc.billion dollars).

The Defense Department awarded 230.7 billion dollars in contracts in fiscal 2004, a 21.7 billion dollar increase over the previous year.

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US soldiers raid Baghdad mosque
By Faleh Al-Khattab
Thursday 27 January 2005, 19:32 Makka Time, 16:32 GMT

US soldiers have attacked a mosque in Baghdad's Sadr City, violating its sanctity and arresting 25 Iraqis, Iraqi sources say.

Shaikh Abd al-Hadi al-Darraji, a top aide of the Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr, told Aljazeera.net that what happened in Masjid al-Rasul (the Prophet mosque) revealed the real intentions of the US occupation forces.
 
He accused a US soldier of urinating on the Quran and another of consuming alcohol within the chambers of the mosque.
 

"[This] is a great sin in Islam," al-Darraji said.
 
"The action of the US forces just days before Sunday's election is a serious provocation and it reveals that the US is serious in insulting the Islamic values and imposing its culture on us.
 
"They claim they are democratic people, but they are targeting us because we boycotted the elections and said it should not be held under occupation."

No comments
 
Another official in al-Sadr's movement, Naim al-Qaabi, also accused US and Iraqi forces of tearing Qurans during the operation and arresting 21 al-Sadr supporters.
 
However, neither claims could be immediately verified and the interim Iraqi government issued a statement saying it was investigating the incident.
 
The US military has not yet commented on the incident.
 
Al-Sadr led a fierce anti-US uprising last year before toeing the pro-election line, then changed his position again later and vowed to boycott the elections as long as foreign troops remained on Iraqi soil.
 
Earlier this month, thousands of al-Sadr supporters demonstrated in several cities to protest against petrol and electricity shortages, accusing the interim government of ignoring the people in favour of Sunday's elections.

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Al-Zarqawi group films 'PM's aide' murder
January 28, 2005 - 6:40AM - AFP

Supporters of Iraq's most wanted man, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, today posted a video on the internet of their murder of a man described as the secretary of Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

The al-Qaeda Group in the Land of Two Rivers announced on a website that it had executed Salem Jaafar al-Kanani, "secretary of the traitor Iyad Allawi", and said a video would be released at a later time.

Kanani had been a candidate from Allawi's party in the Iraq elections.

In the video, Kanani makes a "confession" and calls for Iraqis, especially the young, "not to collaborate with the enemy occupier".

"I ask them to serve their nation and their people ... Personally, I am ready to work in the service of Iraq and the Iraqi people," said Kanani, who was kidnapped by gunmen on a central Baghdad street on January 19.

"I was captured by the mujahideen (Islamic fighters) who have treated me very well," he said, before being gunned down with several bullets.

Allawi's party has had 22 of its members killed in the space of two months, party official Imad Shbib told AFP on January 11, adding that as many as 44 had been murdered since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in April 2003.

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US Copter Downed By Surface-To-Air Missile - Witnesses
January 27, 2005
Daily Dispatch - South Africa

BAGHDAD, (Sapa-AFP) -- At least 31 US Marines were killed in a US transport helicopter crash near the western Iraqi city of Rutbah, according to military and media reports yesterday.

It is the highest number of US fatalities to result from a single incident since the US first occupied Iraq almost two years ago.

Earlier yesterday the US military in Baghdad confirmed the crash saying it happened overnight as the helicopter was transporting soldiers from the 1st Marine Division, headquartered in Fallujah.

Witnesses said the helicopter appeared to have been hit by a surface-to-air missile and exploded on hitting the ground.

A second helicopter also came under fire but was able to reach safety, the witnesses said. [...]

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Poll wreckers up against Scots Guards

Gethin Chamberlain

BRITISH troops are vowing to use overwhelming force to smash any attempts to disrupt Sunday’s elections in Iraq.

Commanders have drawn up plans for a "gloves-off" assault to deal with what they privately call the "Doomsday" scenario of a large-scale outbreak of violence in Basra.

Senior commanders say they will send in tanks, backed by armoured infantry, to retake any part of the city that falls into the hands of insurgents.

And they have warned that they are prepared to call in air strikes on insurgent strongholds that refuse to surrender, rather than risk British lives in a ground assault.

A battle group composed of Scots Guards, equipped with Warrior armoured fighting vehicles and supplemented with a squadron of Challenger tanks, is on standby at the Shaibah base outside the city ready to move against the first signs of serious disorder.

Yesterday, Lieutenant Colonel Harry Nickerson, the commanding officer of the Scots Guards, said he was in no doubt that his 500 soldiers could quickly re-establish control.

"If I found myself up against a large group I would go in big style," he said. "It would be going in with the gloves off. I’m not using delicate force, because we would have gone past that stage by then.

"We have the ability to retake the town. Everyone would be in fighting mode and the coup de grâce would be appearing with our tanks and Warriors.

"There are units training to retake the town. If I need to, I can call in air [strikes]. People are hesitant about that, but a last resort, if you have a building with 200 people in it not letting up, is to drop a bomb on it.

"You have to think very, very carefully about it. I have tanks which are massively destructive and they can cause a lot of collateral damage. Even a Warrior shell can go through a building and out the other side.

"On the other hand, I have guardsmen with bayonets who could be used, but I don’t want to risk their lives, so you have to strike a balance."

There are a number of groups with the potential to pose a serious threat to public order. Foremost is the Mahdi army, supporters of the radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who has already shown in Najaf that he can call on thousands of young gunmen to rally to his side. The British have been keen to stress that they have signed a ceasefire agreement with Sadr - who is not standing for election - and that they will leave him and his supporters alone while he observes the deal.

Comment: From reading the above article, one would think that the brave British troops were conducting some kind of pest control exercise. The truth is that ordinary Iraqi people have chosen to take up arms against what they correctly recognise as an oppressive force of invasion and the attempt to install a proxy US government in their country.

The British Lieutenant Colonel talks of "taking the gloves off", his ability to be "massively destructive" and appears to laud the fact that the weapons at his disposal can "cause a lot of collateral damage". If he finds a building with 200 people in it and he suspects there might be some Iraqi fighters within, he will not hesitate to "drop a bomb on it". This, it seems, is the "pinnacle of evolution" that humanity has arrived at. The freedom to design and build ever more destructive devices to kill ever more efficiently. The inmates are now running the asylum. The vermin have taken over and are now running the pest control business.

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US troops likely to stay in Iraq after election: Bush
www.chinaview.cn 2005-01-28 15:10:39

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 (Xinhuanet) -- US President George W. Bush said US troops would probably stay in Iraq after the landmark Jan.30 election as likely winners of the vote had showed the intentionto retain them.

In an interview published Friday by The New York Times, Bush said he had heard the voices of "the people that presumably will be in positions of responsibility after these elections," and "it seems that most of the leadership there understands that there will be a need for coalition troops at least until the Iraqis are able to fight."

However, Bush said US forces would move out if asked by the newIraqi government.

"Yes, absolutely," he responded to the question whether American troops would withdraw at the request of Iraqis. "This is a sovereign government -- they're on their feet."

Bush said there was "a certain realism among the (Iraqi) leadership, at least the ones I've talked to, that say, 'Look there's more work to do before we are ready to move out on our own'."

Bush admitted that his country was seen by many Iraqis as occupiers.

"To the extent that a coalition presence is viewed as an occupying force, it enables the insurgents, the radicals, to continue to impress people that the government really is not theirgovernment, and that the government is complicit in having their country occupied," he said.

Therefore it was important that "we make sure the Iraqi citizens view US troops as helpers, not as occupiers," Bush said.

The US Army said Monday that at least 120,000 out of the 150,000 US troops now in Iraq would stay for the next two years to train and fight with Iraqi forces against insurgents.

Bush said Iraqi forces needed not only more equipment and training, but a command structure, which was "the spine of any military capacity."

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Guantanamo four are released without charge

KAREN MCVEIGH
Scotsman

THE four Britons who were returned to the UK after being detained without trial at the United States prison camp in Guantanamo Bay for three years were freed last night without charge.

Moazzam Begg, from Birmingham; Feroz Abbasi, from Croydon, south London; Martin Mubanga from Wembley, north-west London; and Richard Belmar, from St John’s Wood, north-west London, were all released from Paddington Green station.

After the men’s refusal to answer police questions, prosecutors agreed there was insufficient evidence to proceed with criminal charges and all four were freed.

Last night, the men were understood to have been escorted to a location of their choice to be reunited with their families.

The Pentagon said British authorities had given assurances that the detainees would "not pose a continuing security threat to the United States or its allies".

After years of campaigning, civil rights groups welcomed the men’s release. Stephen Jakobi, of Fair Trials Abroad, said he was delighted by the news.

"That is a good thing - game over. This is good both for them and their families."

But he added: "This does not let Tony Blair off the hook, much as he would love to be off the hook," he said.

Neil Durkin, a spokesman for Amnesty International UK, said: "We’ve always said that they shouldn’t be held a minute longer than necessary when they land back in the UK.

"They have already been held for three years, and upwards of three years in some cases."

Massoud Shadjareh, of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said: "We are disappointed we’ve had to go through this terrible, pointless, stupid charade.

"I think the psychological impact of this pointless behaviour by the police is going to be felt not only be the detainees but the whole Muslim community."

Earlier, lawyers for the men had said the former detainees were "traumatised" and "had an air of unreality about them" after being tortured in prison.

Abbasi is alleged to have suffered a series of mental breakdowns and to have been repeatedly injected with an unknown substance by his US captors.

Gareth Peirce, who represents Begg, said she was appalled they had been held by anti-terrorist police.

All four flew into Britain on Tuesday night to be immediately arrested under section 41 of the Terrorism Act. Police could have detained them for up to 14 days but they were released after 24 hours.

Louise Christian, the lawyer for Abbasi and Mubanga, said the detainees’ families were "desperate" to be reunited with them, but had turned down the chance to see them earlier yesterday as a police officer would have been present.

She said: "They want to be reunited with their family members in private."

Ms Christian said she had advised her clients to refuse to answer questions because they were still traumatised. "I am very worried about them," she said.

She added that Abbasi was struggling to adjust to life outside the harsh conditions at Guantanamo.

"He told me that when they asked him if he wanted a hot drink he said no, he just wanted a glass of water. He was used to the situation where, in Guantanamo, when he asked for something he would be abused," she said.

Azmat Begg, the father of Moazzam, said he had hoped to see his son but was told by police "he doesn’t want to see me in the police station".

He added: "Possibly he is not in a position, health-wise, or is keeping his dignity."

Asked how Begg was, Ms Peirce said: "Better than you would expect after three years of torture."

Comment: A "terrible, stupid charade". Words that are perfectly suited to the entire "war on terror". These four innocent men were tortured and imprisoned in order to perpetuate the massive and cruel joke that is being played on humanity as a whole. No specific or provable charges were ever brought against them, yet the US government has the gall to imply that they were guilty of some crime by claiming that they were released because assurances that they would "not pose a continuing security threat to the United States or its allies".

The truth of the matter is that they NEVER posed a threat to the US or anyone else. Their only crime was that they were Muslims and therefore suitable to be used by the US and British governments to foment and justify war and the dividing of the world's population along religious lines. By its actions, the US and British governments are guilty of violating the most fundamental human rights and as such should be classed as fascist totalitarian regimes.

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Shimon Peres says Mideast peace "magic" back on the mountain
08:05 AM EST Jan 28
DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) - Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres told a gathering of government and business leaders that the Middle East peace "magic has returned to the mountain" because of a fresh approach by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and newly elected Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

"I feel that we are again approaching a new age," Peres told the World Economic Forum. He noted that he had attended 10 previous annual meetings in the Swiss Alps, many of which were devoted to Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

In 1994, Peres negotiated with the late Palestinian leader Yasser in round-the-clock talks that both sides hailed as inspired by the mountain, a reference to Thomas Mann's novel, "The Magic Mountain," which is set in Davos.

"The magic has returned to the mountain," Peres said in a panel discussion between Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

He said he was encouraged by the election of Abbas in "a convincing democratic way."

But, he said, "what surprised me is the implementation" of changes to foster peace talks.

"In a few days he changed the whole atmosphere in the Middle East," Peres said.

He also praised Sharon, even though he noted the sharp differences in their politics, and that he had never voted for him.

"I'm pleasantly surprised by the actions taken by the two sides," Peres said.

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ABU MAZEN POISED TO ACCEPT SHARON PLAN
MIDDLEEAST.ORG - MER - Washington - 27 January

With no real Palestinian State any longer possible west of the Jordan, the U.S. and Israel have worked long and hard to get to the point where they could force a quisling Palestinian leadership of their choosing into a kind of convoluted submission while pretending it is an agreed settlement brought about by the 'Peace Process'. By assassinating Ahmed Yassin and Yassir Arafat in 2004, and then by manipulating the quick 'election' of Abu Mazen in 2005, Ariel Sharon in tandem with the Americans has set the stage for this further attempted historic deception and geopolitical triumph.

American Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice -- who received more negative confirmation votes in the Senate this week than any Secretary of State in history since 1825 -- is rushing to the region in a few days hoping to consolidate a quick deal before opposition can swell and the realities of the situation become more starkly understood.

Bottom line: Abu Mazen and the key Palestinian in the background, Nabil Shaath (the long-time PA 'Foreign Minister' operative working closely with the Israelis and the CIA), are poised to in effect accept the Sharon Plan for what will be called a 'Temporary State' with 'Provisional Boundaries' in about 25% of historic Palestine. Everywhere the Palestinian 'population centers', i.e. Bantustans and Reservations in reality, will be surrounded by the Israeli army which will continue to control all entry/exit and airspace of what is to be a permanently cripped and controlled 'Palestinian state'.

The plan is then to flood the Palestinian Bantustans with two things to give this new arrangement a chance to work -- monies largely from Europe and the World Bank to make daily life a little better (not hard to do in view of how bad things are) and guns supplied by Israel along with the U.S. and U.K. so P.A. forces will be able to enforce an end to the Palestinian Intifada and in effect become the Israeli police-force in the occupied territories (much harder to do and quite likely to erupt at some point into civil war).

It is an arrangement far worse than that rejected by the Palestinians when Yasser Arafat was alive; but the powers to be hope to get away with it by repeatedly declaring it is just a temporary State with just provisional borders and thus holding out hope for something more 'on good behavior'.

Meanwhile the actual 'on the ground' realities of the situation are quite bleak for the Palestinians as Israeli settlements in the major areas continue to expand, Jerusalem is being further disenfranchied of Arab people and property, the Apartheid Wall is being completed, and Palestinians everywhere have been turned more than ever into a modern-day kind of Indians on Reservations in what was once not that long ago their own country.

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Feith Resigns Under Pressure of Investigations
Juan Cole

Douglas Feith, the number three man at the Pentagon who went there from the pro-Likud Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) and the Project for a New American Century, will leave the Pentagon as of this summer. Feith's office is the subject of an FBI investigation as well as two Congressional investigations, one by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Feith helped set up an Office of Special Plans in the Near East and South Asia desk of the Pentagon to cherry-pick Iraq intelligence and create a case for Iraq having weapons of mass destruction and having operational links with al-Qaeda. At one point, contrary to Federal law, Feith's people actually briefed officials in the Executive on intelligence. Feith sent David Wurmser from the Office of Special Plans, once its work was well under way, over to the staff of Vice President Dick Cheney, so that he could stove pipe OSP analyses into the VP's office and thence directly to the president, doing an end run around the CIA and the State Department Intelligence and Research division.

Having a Likudnik as the number three man in the Pentagon is a nightmare for American national security, since Feith could never be trusted to put US interests over those of Ariel Sharon. In the build-up to the Iraq War, Feith had a phalanx of Israeli generals visiting him in the Pentagon and ignored post-9/11 requirements that they sign in. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was a vocal advocate of a US war against Iraq, who "put pressure" on Washington about it. (If Sharon wanted a war against Iraq, why didn't he fight it himself instead of pushing it off on American boys?)

Feith has been questioned by the FBI in relation to the passing by one of his employees of confidential Pentagon documents to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which in turn passed them to the Israeli embassy. The Senate Intelligence Committee is also investigating Feith. There seems little doubt that he operated in the Pentagon in such a way as to produce false and misleading "intelligence," that he created an entirely false impression of Iraqi weapons capabilities and ties to al-Qaeda, and that he is among the chief facilitators of the US war in Iraq.

Feith is clearly resigning ahead of the possible breaking of major scandals concerning his tenure at the Department of Defense, which is among the more disgraceful cases of the misleading of the American people in American history.

There are several downsides to Feith's departure, as welcome as it is for anyone who cares about US security in particular. The first is that now we probably have to see him forever on cable news channels as one of those dreary neocon talking heads flogged by the American Enterprise Institute, a far rightwing "think tank" funded by cranky rich people to obscure the truth. Another is that his departure now may help keep Bush from being blamed for his shady dealings in intelligence "analysis."

It is important to note that what is objectionable about Feith is a) his playing fast and loose with the truth, producing poor intelligence analysis that has been shown to be completely false and b) his doing so on behalf of not only American nationalist aspirations but also on behalf of a non-American political party, the Likud coalition of Israel, which desired to destroy the Oslo peace process initiated by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (and which was therefore on the same side of this issue as the fanatic who assassinated Rabin). There is no objection to Americans having multiple identities or love for more than one country. Someone of Serbian heritage would make a perfectly good Pentagon administrator. But you wouldn't want a vehement supporter of Slobodon Milosevic as the number three man in the Pentagon. It is ideological dual loyalty that is dangerous. Mere sentiment based on multiple ethnic identities is not dual loyalty, and hyphenated Americans mostly have other countries they wish well (and rightly so).

It is also important to underline that only a small minority of American Jews support the Likud Party or its policies, and that a majority of Jewish Americans opposed the Iraq war. In short, the problematic nature of Feith's tenure at the Department of Defense must not be made an excuse for any kind of bigotry.

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Chemical powder mailed to Arafat's widow
January 27 2005 at 08:12PM

Ramallah, West Bank - Palestinian police launched an investigation on Thursday after an envelope containing chemical powder and addressed to Yasser Arafat's widow Suha was delivered to her mother's home.

A security official said that the envelope was delivered to Raymonda Tawil at her home in the West Bank town of Ramallah earlier this week and had apparently been posted from India.

After suspicions were raised about its contents, tests were carried out on the powder which was revealed to contain chemical particles, the source said but without giving further details.

Suha, who married Arafat in 1990, normally divides her time between bases in Paris and Tunis. She has not set foot in the Palestinian territories since the death of her husband on November 11.

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Afghan soldier opens fire in US base, kills five colleagues
- AFP: 27 January 2005 2045 hrs

KABUL : An Afghan soldier opened fire on his colleagues inside a US military base, killing five soldiers and wounding six others before he was himself shot dead, the US military said.

The soldier involved had just finished a spell of guard duty at the base in the southern Afghan province of Helmand and it unclear what the motive for the shooting was, said a US statement.

The wounded soldiers were evacuated to a US military hospital in the main southern city of Kandahar, said the statement without giving details of their conditions.

The statement said no US soldier was involved in the incident and that so far there was no evidence to suggest it was a deliberate attack on the US-led coalition forces.

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G7 to talk about the yuan
www.chinaview.cn 2005-01-28 08:44:11
BEIJING, Jan. 28 -- China's finance minister and central bank governor will discuss the yuan the Chinese currency with their counterparts at the upcoming Group of Seven (G7) meeting, Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said yesterday.

Minister of Finance Jin Renqing and Governor Zhou Xiaochuan of the People's Bank of China will attend the G7 finance ministers' meeting in London next week.

"They will explain to delegates the current situation of China's economy and the government's ideas and views on this issue (of the yuan)," Kong said.

He was responding to a question about US President George W. Bush's comment on Wednesday that the Chinese currency will be high on the G7 meeting's itinerary.

Kong said China and the United States have been communicating on the exchange rate issue for a long time.

Vice-Premier Huang Ju is leaving for Switzerland today to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos to talk about China's economic and social situation, Kong said.

Also responding to US President Bush's talk on Wednesday that he will "constantly remind" Chinese leaders to make progress on human rights, Kong said such a reminder is uncalled-for but equal dialogue is welcome.

"Anyone observant is able to see China's process of improving democracy and the rule of law," said Kong.

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Nazi threat to EU Justice Commissioner
irishexaminer

EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini has received a threatening letter posted in Britain warning him that new anti-racism and anti-Semitism rules would not stop Nazism in Europe.

"Unfortunately I received a letter threatening me," Frattini said in Brussels today.

"But let me tell you it will not undermine at all my full determination to fight against all kinds, all forms of manifestations of racism, intolerance, and violence."

EU officials said the letter was mailed from Britain and was written in bad Italian.

Italian newspaper La Stampa published a photocopy of the letter today.

"You are banning the swastika?" the letter asks. "Political pygmies like you will never win against national socialism." It did not include an immediate physical threat.

The warning letter to Frattini comes after he suggested the EU look at banning the use of Nazi symbols after Prince Harry wore a swastika armband to a costume party.

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Buster the bunny pops on his backpack, visits lesbian family and starts row

Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
Friday January 28, 2005
The Guardian

To the untrained eye, Buster is just a bunny, an innocuous cartoon character on American educational television. Each week the animated rabbit puts on his red backpack and trainers to visit a slice of real America - dropping in on a native Indian reservation in Wyoming, or maybe a Hispanic family in Los Angeles and sending a video postcard of the event to his friends.

The series, designed to show the diversity of the modern family to primary school children, is produced with $100m (£53m) of federal funding by the public television network PBS. It has a mandate to promote tolerance.

But then, Buster Baxter visited a farm in Vermont to learn about harvesting maple syrup. His hosts on Sugartime! were a lesbian couple and their children. Although the parents remained in the background - as they do during all of Buster's travels - their very appearance on children's TV was too much for the education secretary, Margaret Spelling.

Ms Spelling wrote to the president of PBS this week, saying: "Many parents would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in the episode."

The politician also asked the network to return federal funds used to make the episode, adding: "Congress's and the department's purpose in funding this programming certainly was not to introduce this kind of subject matter to children, particularly through the powerful and intimate medium of television."

PBS withdrew the offending episode, which had been scheduled for distribution to its 350 affiliates. However, the Boston station which produced it said it was going to make the episode available to broadcasters.

Last week, two conservative Christian organisations accused the cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants, an underwater sea sponge with two buckteeth, of conspiring to promote homosexuality to children. In the hugely popular television series, he holds hands with Mermaid Man as well as Barnacle Boy.

However, the yellow sponge managed to avoid the wrath of Christian conservatives until last week when it emerged that he was to star with other animation names, such as Big Bird and Barney, in a DVD remake of the hit We Are Family - a song intended to promote tolerance, which was to have been distributed to primary schools across the country.

Focus on the Family, a rightwing Christian group from Colorado, pronounced on its website: "While words like diversity and unity sound harmless ... enough, the reality is they are often used by gay activists as cover for teaching children that homosexuality is the moral and biological equivalent to heterosexuality."

Comment: Isn't it wonderful that we have fundamentalist (read bigoted) groups like "Focus on the Family" and right wing bigots in government, like education secretary Margaret Spelling, to tell us all what we want, and what is good, for our children. Praise Jesus!

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Vietnam helicopter crash kills 16
Thursday, January 27, 2005 Posted: 0420 GMT (1220 HKT)

HANOI, Vietnam (Reuters) -- A Vietnamese military helicopter has crashed off the coast, killing all 16 people on board, including two senior officers and the three-member crew, the military said.

The two senior officers killed in Wednesday's accident were of the rank of general, Voice of Vietnam radio said.

The helicopter crashed while en route between two islands off Vietnam's central coast, the official Tuoi Tre newspaper said.
Six bodies had been recovered by Wednesday evening, it said. [...]

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Deadly bomb detonated at Bangladesh rally
January 27 2005 at 07:26PM

Dhaka - A bomb killed three people and wounded 50 at an opposition rally in northeastern Bangladesh on Thursday, police and witnesses said.

The blast rocked the Awami League rally at Laskarpur, about 250km from the capital Dhaka.

In protest, Awami League, the country's biggest opposition party, called for a nationwide general strike on Saturday after countrywide protests on Friday.

A spokesperson for the main opposition party said former finance minister Shah Abu Mohammad Shamsul Kibria, who had been sitting on the dais at the rally when the bomb went off, was seriously hurt and being transported to Dhaka for treatment.

"Kibria has been critically injured," the party spokesman said, without giving details.

The dead were two Awami League workers and a nephew of Kibria, local reporters said.

After the blast, protesting Awami workers and supporters went on a rampage, attacking and damaging dozens of vehicles and shops, witnesses said.

Authorities later deployed extra police and paramilitary troops at Laskarpur, which local reporters said looked like a "ghost town" after dark on Thursday.

Police were investigating whether the bomb had been planted before the rally or had been thrown.

Awami League quickly blamed the government.

"It (the blast) came in the wake of an unending conspiracy by the government to eliminate democratic forces, especially its opponents, gradually," said Saber Hossain Chowdhury, political secretary to Awami leader Sheikh Hasina. [...]

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Suspect device posted to US immigration service in Shannon
irishexaminer

Bomb disposal experts are examining a suspicious device that was posted to Shannon Airport in Co Clare this morning.

The device, which was addressed to the US immigration service at the airport, was discovered in the mail shortly before 8.30am.

Airport authorities said the package had been removed from the facility and no passengers or staff were in any danger.

No flights were affected by the discovery.

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Gunman shoots 3 at Ohio Jeep plant, then kills self
01/27/2005

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) -- An employee of a Jeep production plant wounded three workers with a double-barrel shotgun Wednesday before killing himself, police said.

Police said that when the shooter walked into the plant he was yelling and demanding that some of the body shop's supervisors come to the office area. Authorities did not know if any of the victims were supervisors.

The shooting happened in the plant's body shop office about 8:45 p.m, police Chief Mike Navarre said.

One victim was shot in the chest and was in critical condition. Two others were less seriously injured, including one worker who was shot in the arm.

Navarre did not release the victims' names. The unidentified gunman shot himself in the head, he said.

The gunman had been disciplined recently, Navarre said, but he would not elaborate.

His body was found in the office where the others were shot. Police called in a bomb squad because they noticed wires coming out from under the gunman's coat. Navarre said he didn't know what the wires were, "but we're not taking any chances."

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Taser Alert: Dad Accused Of Using Stun Gun To Punish Son
Posted on Thursday, January 27 @ 12:58:37 CST by TAA
The Associated Press

(PALM CITY, Fla. USA NA) -- Authorities said a man was charged with child abuse after he shocked his 14-year-old son with a stun gun.

Martin County sheriff's investigators said 40-year-old Douglas Dycus also was charged with domestic battery following a complaint to the state Department of Children and Families.

Dycus allegedly used the stun gun when he became frustrated with the boy, who was wrestling with his brothers and not paying attention to him.

Two burn marks were found on the 14-year-old.

Investigators reported Dycus has four other complaints against him with DCF, including a 2003 report that he hit the youth with a belt and left welts. Those reports are not public and Dycus has no other arrest history for abuse or domestic violence in Florida.

The stun gun used was not a Taser device.

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Unidentified falling object remains a mystery

By SARA A. CARTER
Staff Writer

CHINO - The ashes of a charred shed hold a mystery.

What happened the night of Jan. 5, when dozens claimed a fiery object fell from the sky and hit the building, setting it ablaze?

Answers -- from fire investigators, astronomers, even professional UFO investigators -- are in short supply about what happened to the structure on Cozzens Street near Roswell. Not Roswell, N.M., but Roswell Street in Chino.

"It could have been caused by an electrical malfunction or flammable liquids that were stored in the garage," said Anthony Landin, spokesman for the Chino Fire Department. "At this point, the cause of the fire is undetermined."

The department was inundated with calls Jan. 5 and 6, Landin said, as people from all over the Inland Valley, and even farther, called to ask if others had seen the falling object.

"One gentleman from Mission Viejo called in," Landin said. "He was really excited. He was laying in bed when he looked out his window and saw the light."

However, fire officials believe the shed fire and whatever was in the sky are linked by only one thing: coincidence.

Others believe it was something more.

"There were numerous reports that came in from all across California from that area," said Brian Vike, founder of the HBCC UFO Research Center in British Columbia, Canada. "From San Francisco to Paramount, I received numerous e-mails and calls.

"We've only gotten to the tip of the iceberg on this. The more details we get, the closer we'll get to an answer."

Jan. 5 was not the only recent incident of an object spotted in the sky. In late December, residents all across Southern California saw what they described as a light show.

David Steuben, an Ontario resident, said he saw an object like the Jan. 5 sighting on Dec. 31. He, his family and friends were mesmerized by a red light high in air that seemed to dance in an S shape across the night sky.

"At first I thought it might be some kind of helicopter, but it started moving around all over the sky," Steuben said. "It was a reddish color, not real bright. Everybody was just staring at it. Then it disappeared. Then it reappeared again in a slightly different area of the sky before it disappeared again. My brother described it as a ball of fire in the sky."

Patrick So, an astronomer at Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, said the answer could be as simple as a fireball meteor.

"If it left a trail, it's usually a meteor," So said. "If it's very bright, it's called a fireball meteor, but they usually burn out 40 miles from earth impact."

The observatory spotted meteors Jan. 3, during what is known as a quadrantid meteor shower, when several meteors light up the night sky. Astronomers spotted about 40 that day, So said.

Whether a meteor hit the shed or lit up the sky Jan. 5 is still unknown, So said. Astronomers did not log any meteor activity that night or on Dec. 31.

"Most meteors that land on the ground don't really cause any fire because they are cold by the time they enter our atmosphere," he said. "We have even seen frost on the outside of some meteors that do make it. But it is very rare that one would hit. Some are only the size of your hand ... others are bigger and they cause more damage."

So for now, the "ball(s) of fire in the sky" remain a mystery. Vike, who has spent the past 30 years studying UFO phenomena, said questions about these mysterious sightings can only be answered if people who witness them speak up.

"The first thing (people) have to remember is to contact authorities and the media so more people may report on the sightings," Vike said. "All the details are important: color, altitude, a rough idea of how long it (took) to get off across the sky. (Are) there any flashing lights?

"It's nice to figure out a mystery, eh?"

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Two more people infected by bird flu in Vietnam
Posted: 27 January 2005 2351 hrs
AFP

HANOI : Two girls have tested positive for bird flu in southern Vietnam and are critically ill in hospital, a doctor said Thursday.

"A little girl from Dong Thap province tested positive this morning," said Phan Anh Tu, chief virologist at the Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City, adding she was aged 13.

Another little girl aged 10 from Long An tested positive on January 25.
The first girl is the daughter of a woman aged 35 who died from bird flu on January 21.

Investigations are under way to establish how the girls became infected.

Both live in areas which have suffered outbreaks of the disease.

The two are under respirators in a Ho Chi Minh City hospital.

The virus has claimed nine victims in Vietnam since December 30 and a total of 29 people since the end of 2003. It has now spread to 27 of Vietnam's 64 cities and provinces. [...]

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French goat infected with mad cow disease
AFP
January 28, 2005

PARIS - A goat slaughtered in France in 2002 has tested positive for "mad cow" disease, French and EU officials said Friday, announcing the first case in the world of an animal other than a bovine coming down with the fatal illness that can be transmitted to humans.

The discovery of the disease - known scientifically as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cows - is a disturbing sign that it can cross over to other species used for human consumption.

The presence of BSE in other animals had been viewed as theoretically possible but has never previously been detected.

BSE has been linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), the human form of mad cow disease, which causes brain-wasting, personality change, loss of body function, and ultimately death.

The French agriculture ministry said the new case was confirmed by a panel of scientists appointed by the European Commission.

It stressed that the Commission was not yet recommending consumers avoid buying products with goat meat but was advising EU states to step up checks for any other goats showing BSE symptoms, such as trembling and lacking coordination.

British health authorities said in October last year that British scientists in a laboratory in Weybridge, England, were testing brain tissue from the goat.

The goat in question was slaughtered in an abbatoir in Ales, in southern France in 2002 but was kept out of the food chain. The 300 other goats in its herd were destroyed as a precaution even though testing revealed no trace of BSE in any of them.

There are 1.2 million goats raised in France, of with 940,000 are used to produce milk for dairy products.

BSE first appeared in cows on a farm in West Sussex, south England in 1986. The disease has an incubation period of around five years.

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Congressional panel warned of U.S. vulnerability to tsunamis
By Matthew Daly
ASSOCIATED PRESS
2:25 p.m. January 26, 2005

WASHINGTON – With up to a one-in-five chance of a cataclysmic earthquake occurring off the West Coast in the next 50 years, the United States should sharply increase spending to detect and prepare for a major tsunami, lawmakers and experts said Wednesday.

Experts told the House Science Committee there is a 10 percent to 20 percent chance of a 9.0 magnitude earthquake off the West Coast that could wreak havoc from northern California to southern Canada.

Such an earthquake, in the so-called Cascadia subduction zone, would be similar to the quake that resulted in the Indian Ocean tsunami that killed at least 160,000 people last month.

An earthquake of that magnitude would send a 45-foot tsunami crashing into the West Coast in as little as 15 minutes, severely damaging roads, bridges and tunnels and "rendering emergency response nearly impossible," said Jay Wilson, earthquake and tsunami programs coordinator for the state of Oregon.

Wilson and other speakers hailed a Bush administration proposal to upgrade and modernize the nation's tsunami warning system, but said the $37.5 million plan may not go far enough.

"Nature is the real weapon of mass destruction," said Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash. "For less than we spend in one day in Iraq, we can have a system to prevent a cataclysmic event" that could kill tens of thousands of people. [...]

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Two More Quakes Hit Indian Ocean
United Press International

Two more earthquakes hit the area of the Indian Ocean basin Wednesday and early Thursday that were hit Dec. 26 by a massive quake, followed by killer tsunamis.

The first, registering a 5.6 magnitude on the Richter scale, hit the Nicobar Islands area, which are the territory of India. The second, a 6.1 magnitude event, hit off the northwest coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

The two quakes bring to 278 the number of events since the magnitude 9.0 quake struck the same area off Sumatra.

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Magnitude 6.1 QUAKE - OFF THE COAST OF ECUADOR
USGS
2005 January 28 15:46:46 UTC

A strong earthquake occurred at 15:46:46 (UTC) on Friday, January 28, 2005. The magnitude 6.1 event has been located OFF THE COAST OF ECUADOR. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)

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VOLCANO ERUPTS AT KAMCHATKA
PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY, January 28 (RIA Novosti's Oksana Guseva).

The highest volcano in Eurasia, Klyuchevskoy (4,833 meters high), is erupting volcanic bombs three to seven meters in diameter up to 300 meters high.

Alexei Ozerov, a senior fellow in the Volcanology and Seismology Institute of the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told RIA Novosti that one bomb consisting of red-hot magma is erupted every 15 seconds. The crater of the volcano is a fountain of magma, he says.

Seismic stations have been continuously detecting series of small earthquakes called volcanic tremor. Eruptions of ash are possible, as lava fills the 700-meter-wide summit crater.

If the power of the eruption that began on January 17 keeps on growing at the same rate, in three to four months, as lava streams downhill, the volcano might become a danger for people living at the peninsula. Melting down snow and ice on the slopes, lava might trigger mudflows. If they reach the Kamchatka River, the eruption could thus translate into a flood, Ozerov said.

Eruptions of summit craters may last from one month to several years and could undermine the safety of domestic and international flights. So far, inhabited areas are out of danger.

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Cyclone Ernest kills three in Madagascar
January 27 2005 at 08:04PM

Antananarivo - At least three people were killed and 83 reported missing after a strong tropical storm, Cyclone Ernest, hit Madagascar over the weekend, Malagasy officials said on Thursday.

Two fishermen off the Indian Ocean island's southern Tsihombe region and a child in the southwest district of Tulear were killed as a result of the storm, they said.

"There were a lot of fishermen at sea whose boats probably capsized," said Doly Rajaonarivelo, chief of the Androy district which includes Tsihombe.

"Villagers have already fished out two bodies and 83 people are reported missing," he said by telephone, adding that the death toll could rise as more details of the cyclone's damage become available. [...]

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Freezing temperatures, snow sock north Africa
TERRA.WIRE - (AFP) Jan 27, 2005

ALGIERS - Heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures hit north Africa Thursday, as a cold snap that has paralyzed large parts of northern Algeria and killed 13 people spread to the highlands of Morocco and Tunisia.

Snow fell in the capital Algiers, a rarity, causing serious traffic jams, and again in several towns and cities along or near the coast, among them Constantine, Tizi Ouzou and Skikda, sending residents scurrying for shelter.

The winter storms closed many roads to traffic, and a number of regions were completely cut off from the outside with snow levels rising to more than one meter (some three and a half feet).

Wind speeds reached up to 70 kilometers per hour (45 miles per hour), making the wind chill effect that much more noticeable on the third day of winter weather.

Horrible driving conditions saw the accident rate jump, with the civil protection service announcing Thursday that 13 people had died and 47 were injured in crashes in a 24-hour period.

An estimated 1,000 travelers were reported stranded by snow in various regions, and had to spend the night in schools and other public buildings.

Some flights out of Algiers' main airport and other cities were delayed, officials said.

"I've never seen so much snow fall for so long in Algiers," a local resident in his 50s said.

In some more mountainous parts of Tunisia, where temperatures also dropped sharply, local farmers said they had not seen so much snow fall in a half a century.

While the sun was shining in Tunis it remained very cold, with some papers labeling the weather "Siberian." Near the Algerian border in the northwest heavy snow fell overnight, as it did in the coastal town of Tabarka.

In Morocco meteorologists forecast heavy snow for Thursday and Friday in the northern plateaus and the Atlas mountain range in the south, warning that temperatures would drop significantly.

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Postal workers in French city refuse to deliver mail because of biting cold
SAINT ETIENNE, France (AFP) Jan 27, 2005
Postal workers in the southeastern French city of Saint Etienne refused to do their rounds Thursday after they were refused extra pay to cope with the biting winter cold, employees and management said.

Around 70 of the workers did not deliver mail to homes and businesses, and only six of the 64 rounds were carried out, the state-run La Poste said, adding that it considered the stoppage "illegal".

The postmen and women had demanded more money and the replacement of scooters with cars so they could carry out their job safely and more comfortably after days of snowfall.

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Boston sets monthly record as more snow falls
Jan. 27, 2005, 2:00PM
Associated Press


BOSTON - More than 5 more inches of snow fell on Boston by this morning, putting a fresh coat on the leavings of last weekend's blizzard and making January the city's snowiest on record.

Schools canceled classes yet again, and Gov. Mitt Romney asked President Bush to declare a federal emergency in the eastern half of the state, which would make the area eligible for extra aid.

The 5.4 inches of new snow recorded at Logan Airport before the storm let up this morning came only days after the blizzard that dumped more than 3 feet of snow.

It brought the airport's January total to 43.1 inches of snow, more than in any month since the National Weather Service began keeping records for the city in 1892. The previous record of 41.6 inches was set in February 2003. [...]

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Coldest day this winter in Switzerland
TERRA.WIRE - (AFP) Jan 27, 2005

GENEVA - Switzerland shivered in the coldest day this winter on Thursday with icy temperatures hitting minus 19 degrees Celsius (66 degrees Fahrenheit) in the western town of Aigle, the weather centre said.

Pushed lower by a vicious wind, the thermometer sank to minus 9.5 degrees Celsius in Zurich, minus 7.5 degrees in Neuchatel and minus 5.8 degrees in Geneva, according to MeteoSuisse.

Temperatures everywhere froze below zero with the exception of the Italian-speaking region of Tessin to the south of the Alps where the mercury clung to plus-seven degrees Celsius.

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Dozens of trucks blocked by snow along Portuguese-Spanish border
TERRA.WIRE - (AFP) Jan 27, 2005

LISBON - Dozens of trucks were blocked Thursday by heavy snow along the Portuguese-Spanish border as a cold snap engulfed much of Europe.

The trucks that were stranded were heading to northern Spain or central Europe, said Antonio Almeida, head of the Portuguese gendarmerie.

He said Portuguese authorities were only allowing through trucks travelling to Salamanca, Madrid or southern Spain.

A weather service official said the freezing temperatures recorded this week only occur once every 10 years.

The southeast Portuguese town of Sagres even set a record on Thursday with temperatures there dipping to 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit).

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Global warming is 'twice as bad as previously thought'
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
27 January 2005
Global warming might be twice as catastrophic as previously thought, flooding settlements on the British coast and turning the interior into an unrecognisable tropical landscape, the world's biggest study of climate change shows.

Researchers from some of Britain's leading universities used computer modelling to predict that under the "worst-case" scenario, London would be under water and winters banished to history as average temperatures in the UK soar up to 20C higher than at present.

Globally, average temperatures could reach 11C greater than today, double the rise predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the international body set up to investigate global warming. Such high temperatures would melt most of the polar icecaps and mountain glaciers, raising sea levels by more than 20ft. A report this week in The Independent predicted a 2C temperature rise would lead to irreversible changes in the climate.

The new study, in the journal Nature, was done using the spare computing time of 95,000 people from 150 countries who downloaded from the internet the global climate model of the Met Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research. The program, run as a screensaver, simulated what would happen if carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere were double those of the 18th century, before the Industrial Revolution, the situation predicted by the middle of this century.

David Stainforth of Oxford University, the chief scientist of the latest study, said processing the results showed the Earth's climate is far more sensitive to increases in man-made greenhouse gases than previously realised. The findings indicate a doubling of carbon dioxide from the pre-industrial level of 280 parts per million would increase global average temperatures by between 2C and 11C.

Mr Stainforth said: "An 11C-warmed world would be a dramatically different world... There would be large areas at higher latitudes that could be up to 20C warmer than today. The UK would be at the high end of these changes. It is possible that even present levels of greenhouse gases maintained for long periods may lead to dangerous climate change... When you start to look at these temperatures, I get very worried indeed."

Attempts to control global warming, based on the Kyoto treaty, concentrated on stabilising the emissions of greenhouse gases at 1990 levels, but the scientists warned that this might not be enough. Mr Stainforth added: "We need to accept that while greenhouse gas levels can increase we need to limit them, level them off then bring them back down again."

Professor Bob Spicer, of the Open University, said average global temperature rises of 11C are unprecedented in the long geological record of the Earth. "If we go back to the Cretaceous, which is 100 million years ago, the best estimates of the global mean temperature was about 6C higher than present," Professor Spicer said. "So 11C is quite substantial and if this is right we would be going into a realm that we really don't have much evidence for even in the rock [geological] record."

Myles Allen, of Oxford University, said: "The danger zone is not something we're going to reach in the middle of the century; we're in it now." Each of the hottest 15 years on record have been since 1980.

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Man is zapped by power line under sidewalk
BY BILL MASON
STAFF WRITER
January 27, 2005

A man was walking along the West Park Avenue sidewalk in Long Beach Tuesday when he was hit with a charge of electricity coming up from the pavement, officials said.

Long Beach Fire Chief Scott Kemins said the man was not injured and left without giving his name after first notifying authorities. Fortunately, Kemins said, "It was only about 50 volts, half of what you plug into your home - just about what powers your electric can-opener."

Kemins said that apparently a line that runs under pavement to a street light near National Boulevard became eroded and released the charge of electricity. A 40-foot area was taped off and restricted for about about two hours while a private electrical contractor corrected the problem, he said. [...]

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