Tuesday, February 15, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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The Evil Empire Approaches

Saturn's Moon "Mimas"
The Death Star
Psychological Warfare
Paul Linebarger
This is from Paul Linebarger's Psychological Warfare, 1954 edition, pages 128-131, which is the "primer" for PSYOPS operations. Linebarger's fear was that this would be used in peace time. It appears that this is very much the case, particularly when examining the activities of the US and Israel...

"Over and above the direct contribution to straight news or intelligence, enemy propaganda in times of war or crisis affords a clue to enemy strategy. If the co-ordination is not present the propaganda may do the enemy himself harm. But the moment co-ordination is present, and one end of the co-ordinate is handed over to us, we can start figuring what the co-ordination is for. Sometimes propaganda is sacrificed for weightier considerations of security; German propaganda gave little advance warning of a war with the USSR, and Soviet propaganda gave none. In other instances, the co-ordination does give the show away.

Comment: The Manhattan project is one instance of this.

"In 1941-42 the Japanese radio began to show an unwholesome interest in Christmas Island in its broadcasts to Japanese at home and abroad. Christmas Island, below Sumatra, was pointed out as a really important place, and tremendously important to Naval strategy. Subsequently the Japanese armed forces went to and took Christmas Island. The home public was delighted that this vital spot had been secured. Of course Christmas Island was not as important as Japanese radio said it was, but the significant thing was that radio talked about it AHEAD OF TIME. For what little it was worth the Japanese had given us warning......"

Comment: This section one paragraph later applies to Israel in particular but also applies to Iran.

"A nation getting ready to strike à la Pearl Harbour may prepare by alleging American aggresion. A nation preparing to break the peace frequently gets out peace propaganda of the most blatant sort, trying to make sure that its own audience (as well as the world) will believe the real responsibility to lie in the victim he attacks. Hitler protested his love of Norwegian neutrality; then he hit, claiming that he was protecting it from the British. No hard and fast rules can be made up for all wars or all beligerents. The Germans behaved according to one pattern; the Japanese another."

"For example, the German High Command sought to avoid bragging about anything they could not accomplish. They often struck blows without warning but they never said they would strike a blow when they knew or believed they could not do it. The British and Americans made a timetable of this, and were able to guess how fast the Germans thought they were going to advance in Russia. Knowing this, the British and Americans planned their propaganda to counter the German boasts; they tried to pin the Germans down to objectives they knew the Germans would not take, in order to demonstrate to the peoples of Europe that Nazi Germany had finally bitten off more than it could chew."

"Later the Allies remembered this German habit when the Nazis on the radio began talking about their own secret weapons. When the British bombed the V-1 ramps on the French coast, the German radio stopped that talk. The British had additional grounds for supposing that the ramps thay had bombed were part of the secret weapons that the Germans bragged about. The British further knew that the Germans would try to counter the psychologigal effect of the annouoncement of Allied D Day with some pretty vivid news of their own. When the German radio began mentioning secret weapons again, the British suspected the Germans had got around damage done to the ramps. D-Day came; the Germans, in one single broadcast designed to impress the Japanese and Chinese, announced the secret German weapon was about to be turned loose, and that more such weapons would follow. One day later the first V-1 hit London."

Comment: And the final chapter ends thus:

"For peacetime purposes, it is to be rermembered that tough enemies may hide their scientists, their launching ramps, or their rockets, they cannot hide their occasion for war, nor their own readiness measures. No government can afford to seem the plain unqualified aggressor. Propanal [Propaganda Analysis] may prove to be one of the soundest war-forecasting systems available to usin a period of ultra destructive weapons. Psychological mobilization may be disguised; it cannot be concealed."

Comment: Since the re-appointment of GW, the US has been talking "peace" and "diplomacy", while at the same time portraying Iran and Syria as "terrorist states". A close reading of the above tells us what is in store....

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Mossad Murders Former Lebanese PM in Carbon Copy of 1979 Assassination


Rafik al-Hariri with his wife Nazek

As we noted yesterday:

Three Mossad agents who could pass for Arabs crossed into Lebanon and entered the city. One rented a car. The second wired a series of bombs into its chasis, roof, and door panels. The third agent parked the car along the route the "Red Prince" traveled to his office every morning. Using precise timing Rafi Eitan had provided, the car was set to explode as PLO chief Salameh passed. It did, blowing him to pieces.

Let's face it, all of the hallmarks of a Mossad operation are there. As an article in today's Economist states:

Some detect the work of an intelligence service—if not Syria’s, some other foreign power’s—in the method of the attack. Certainly, the size and sophistication of the bomb suggest it was the work of a well-organised and experienced group, or a government. The blast was big enough to leave a huge crater and shatter windows hundreds of metres away. Moreover, it was sophisticated enough to defeat jamming mechanisms, which the billionaire Mr Hariri’s convoy always used while travelling, to forestall such remotely triggered attacks. Mr Hariri, who made his fortune in construction in Saudi Arabia, knew he had many enemies and took what countermeasures he could.

By all accounts, Hariri was one of the few "men of peace" left in the Middle East. In his two terms as Lebanese PM since 1990 he had brought Lebanon out of the carnage wrought by 15 years of civil war and set it well on the way to becoming once more the "Paris of the Middle East." As in the case of Iraq, Israel is determined to do whatever necessary to ensure that it remains all-powerful in the region and prevent any of its Arab neigbours from emerging as solid, unified Muslim democracies that it could not demonise as "terrorist states". By murdering Hariri and having the blame pinned on Syria, the Mossad have removed a stablising influence on recovering Lebanese society and the Middle East in general, and given the US government an excuse to further ratchet up the war rhetoric towards Damascus.

In this sense, Israel shares a common goal with the US and it is for this reason that Israel has always enjoyed the overwhelming support of successive US administrations. While the US and Israel both make much of their bogus "war on terrorism", both countries have long since realised that it is by fomenting "terrorism" and "terrorist" groups that their control of the Middle East can be assured. Yet, while both countries share a common goal, the reasons that each desires to achieve that goal are slightly different.

By controlling the extensive oil resources in the Middle East (and the countries that sit upon them), the US can ensure that it continues to top the heap of world superpowers. Israel too wishes to remain as a powerful world player, and its leaders realise that acting as a hired thug for the US in the region is the best way to do so. Yet it is more than mere power lust that is driving Israel's leaders to deliberately antagonise and provoke the entire Arab world. Israel's very presence in the Middle East is predicated on the Judaic notion of a "chosen people" and their very own homeland granted to them thousands of years ago by their mythical god, yahweh.

While it may be possible (if unlikely) to make a convincing geopolitical argument for the US government's Middle East policies over the years, to understand the thinking of people like Sharon and all those that act on his orders, one would have to first embrace as legitimate the idea that a group of human beings can constitute a "chosen people", one of their lives being worth more than 1,000 of the lives of the "lesser" people of the world. One would also have to accept that the "chosen people" are divinely entitled to a piece of land in the Middle East and that they are permitted therefore to act in any way necessary to achieve their goals of lebensraum. While the Israeli government is careful to distance itself from extreme Judaic beliefs, it is clear that it is just such beliefs that underpin its policies.

Religious and political incentives aside, one of the strongest indications of an Israeli involvement in the murder of Hariri is the fact that not ONE mainstream news source is even mentioning the possibility of Israeli involvement, when it is painfully clear that Israel has the most to gain from his death. But then again, we have become accustomed to the severe lack of intestinal fortitude or any real journalistic integrity on the part of the mainstream media. And also to the fact that much of the Western press is dominated by Israeli sympathisers and/or "Zionists".

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Army on alert after Beirut bomb


Lebanon's army has been put on high alert after former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was killed in an apparent assassination on Monday.

Shops, schools and public institutions haves shut down across the country for three days of official mourning.

The UN Security Council is to meet later to discuss the killing, which has raised fears of renewed violence.

Lebanese opposition figures have blamed the government and Syria over Mr Hariri's death in a bomb explosion.

The opposition also renewed its call for Syrian troops to withdraw from the country - a demand backed by the Bush administration in Washington.

Syria has denied involvement in what it called a "horrible, criminal action".

Violent protests

As Lebanon reeled from the highest-profile killing since the end of the 15-year civil war in 1990, the army was placed on full alert and checkpoints set up around Beirut.

In Mr Hariri's hometown of Sidon, protesters burned tyres and blocked roads.

The BBC's Kim Ghattas in Beirut says everybody is participating in mourning the former prime minister, who played such a big role in bringing the war-torn country back to life.

Syria accused

Lebanon's former colonial power France, whose leader President Jacques Chirac had close ties with Mr Hariri, has called for an international inquiry into the blast, which went off in central Beirut as Mr Hariri's convoy travelled through the area.

A little-known group calling itself Victory and Jihad in Greater Syria issued a statement claiming responsibility and saying the blast was caused by a suicide bomb, but the claim cannot be verified.

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Late Hariri's consultant: Hariri's assassination by Mossad aimed
at creating tension in Lebanon


Tehran, Feb 15, IRNA -- Late Lebanese politician Rafiq Hariri`s
consultant Mustafa al-Naser told IRNA Monday evening, "Assassination
Hariri is the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad`s job, aimed at
creating political tension in Lebanon."

Al-Naser added, "Beyond doubt, the peace, stability, and high
level security prevailing in Lebanon in recent years, in creation of
which all Lebanese groups play a harmonious role, is in direct
contrast with Israel`s political intentions for the region, and above
that with the illegitimate nature of that usurper regime."

He added, "Israel seeks the continuation of its existence in
creation of constant tension in the region, and that was the reason
why Tel Aviv imposed many years on civil war, and over a decade of
occupation and instability against our nation."

Lebanon`s five-time prime minister and billionaire tycoon Rafiq
Hariri was assassinated in a huge bomb blast in Beirut Monday that
stoked fears of fresh sectarian strife 15 years after the end of the
civil war.

About 100 people were also wounded in the blast that left a
trail of carnage and devastation in a busy seafront area in scenes
reminiscent of the 1975-1990 war.
Media reports said the blast was caused by a car bomb and a
hitherto unknown Zionist group claimed responsibility for what it
said was a suicide attack to avenge Hariri`s close ties with the
Islamic world.

The dead included one of the bodyguards of the 60-year-old
Sunni billionaire who resigned as prime minister four months ago.
The attack plunged Lebanon into grief and raised worries about the
stability of the country, which is treading a delicate path between
its Sunni, Shi`a and Christian communities.

Lebanon has announced three days of national mourning, and Hariri`s
family has announced they want to bury him privately, forbidding
he presence of any government official in his burial ceremony.
Hariri had launched a comprehensive construction campaign in
Lebanon and owed much of his popularity in his country to his lofty
contribution to effective reconstruction of his war torn country.

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Hariri’s killing shatters Lebanon’s calm

Feb 15th 2005
From The Economist Global Agenda

A car-bombing in Beirut has murdered Rafik Hariri, who had quit as Lebanon’s prime minister last October, calling on Syria to take its troops out of his country. Was it Syrian revenge, internal Lebanese score-settling or an effort to destabilise the wider region?

LONG-SUFFERING Beirutis had got used to the calm. The country, torn by civil war from 1975 to 1990, has since become one of the Middle East’s quieter spots. The calm was shattered on Monday February 14th, however, as an enormous car bomb killed Rafik Hariri, the country’s prime minister until recently, as his motorcade passed through the capital’s luxury-hotel district. At least 14 others were killed in the blast, and around 135 injured. The assassination of Mr Hariri, one of the architects of Lebanon’s post-war reconstruction, and the scenes of carnage, with corpses and burning cars strewn across the streets, brought back horrific memories of the civil war—and fears of foreign military intervention that could make Lebanon a battleground once more.

Who killed Mr Hariri and why? And will the bombing mean the end of Lebanon’s calm? The answer to the first question is opaque, but whoever murdered Mr Hariri it does not appear—yet—that the attack will mean wider instability in the country. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, most speculation has centred around Syria. It keeps around 14,000 troops in Lebanon and pulls the strings in its smaller neighbour’s politics. Syria helped put an end to Lebanon’s seemingly endless war. But a growing chorus of voices—including Mr Hariri’s as of recently—have been calling on the Syrians to leave. Having served as prime minister for 10 of the past 14 years, Mr Hariri resigned last October, after falling out with Lebanon’s pro-Syrian president, Emile Lahoud, and joined the opposition.

Some detect the work of an intelligence service—if not Syria’s, some other foreign power’s—in the method of the attack. Certainly, the size and sophistication of the bomb suggest it was the work of a well-organised and experienced group, or a government. The blast was big enough to leave a huge crater and shatter windows hundreds of metres away. Moreover, it was sophisticated enough to defeat jamming mechanisms, which the billionaire Mr Hariri’s convoy always used while travelling, to forestall such remotely triggered attacks. Mr Hariri, who made his fortune in construction in Saudi Arabia, knew he had many enemies and took what countermeasures he could.

Syria’s president, Bashar Assad, was quick to join the chorus of international condemnation, calling the assassination “a terrible criminal act”. Innocent or not, Syria did have a possible motive for wanting Mr Hariri off the political scene. The former prime minister was set to make a comeback in Lebanon’s elections, due in May. Had he done so, this would have been a political defeat for Syria and its allies in Lebanon, encouraging the opposition and possibly threatening Syria’s control of Lebanon itself.

Shock and anger

But would the Syrians be rash enough to risk the international condemnation—or worse—that would follow if they were found to be behind the assassination? Already, the United Nations Security Council has passed Resolution 1559, demanding that Syria take its troops out of Lebanon. The Council planned to meet on Tuesday to discuss how to react to Mr Hariri’s murder and how to achieve the goal of Resolution 1559. President George Bush, said a White House spokesman, was “shocked and angered”, and repeated his demand for the occupation of Lebanon to end.

So far, Mr Bush has stopped short of directly accusing Syria. Nevertheless, America is likely to turn up the pressure on what it considers a destabilising rogue state in the Middle East. Some believe that increased regional tension, rather than internal Lebanese score-settling of whatever kind, was the goal of the attack. Silvan Shalom, Israel’s foreign minister, said the bombing “proves that there are organisations and countries, such as Syria and Lebanon, striving to undermine the stability in the region and prevent democratisation in the Arab world.”

Though it seems unlikely as yet, there are reasons to fear that Israel might be drawn into any renewed conflict in Lebanon: it still suffers, and retaliates against, sporadic attacks by Syrian-backed Hizbullah militants based in southern Lebanon; and only last year, Israel’s warplanes bombed what it said was a Palestinian militants’ training camp, just a few miles south of Beirut. Lebanon hosts a chunk of the Palestinian refugee population, and for nearly 20 years its southern reaches were occupied by the Israelis, who invaded in 1982 to clean out the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, which had used it to stage attacks.

Could the attack merely have been the work of a new and deadly militant group? A previously unheard-of organisation, calling itself Victory and Jihad in Syria and Lebanon, sent a videotape to al-Jazeera, a Qatar-based broadcaster, saying that it had killed Mr Hariri because of his ties with Saudi Arabia. But this claim may well turn out to be false, and the group may not even exist.

Lacking further hard evidence of the bombing itself, experts and the police can only speculate who might be responsible. Lebanon’s politics are complex, factional and too-often violent, despite the country’s relative calm until now. The population is divided between Sunni and Shia Muslims, Maronite Christians and Druze (followers of a heterodox offshoot of Islam). These groups are further divided into clans and, in some cases, crime families.

Since 1990, the country has stayed relatively peaceful under a power-sharing formula—not too dissimilar to that which it is hoped will develop in Iraq—in which the president would be a Christian, the prime minister a Sunni and the speaker of parliament a Shia. But the peace is fragile, and has become much more so with Mr Hariri’s death. Lebanon, as well as the wider Middle East, is sure to be a tenser place as the culprits are sought.

Comment: It is highly unlikely that Syria was responsible for the murder of Hariri given Hariri's recent resignation over Syrian influence in the Lebanese government and his call for the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon. Let's get real here. Syria is well aware of the drums of war that the US and Israel have been sounding in it's direction. The very last thing they would want to do is gift the US and Israel with a reason to bang those drums even louder. As we said, ALL logic and reason points to Israel and/or the US as being behind this murder. After all, "shattering calm" is what the Mossad and CIA excel at.

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Angry Lebanese mourners attack Syrian workers

15/02/2005 - 14:32:14

As a stunned Lebanon grieved, dozens of angry mourners attacked Syrian workers in the home town of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who was assassinated in a huge bomb blast, while others marched in streets draped with black banners.

Police said the toll from yesterday’s bombing on Beirut’s seafront was 14 dead and about 120 injured.

Responsibility claims by previously unknown Islamic militants were not considered credible, with Justice Minister Adnan Addoum warning they could be an attempt "to mislead the investigation".

Security officials have not confirmed initial reports that said the blast was caused by a car bomb.

Syria, which has 15,000 troops in Lebanon and has for years decided policy in the country, has denied any involvement in the assassination. But Hariri’s political allies openly accuse it and its Lebanese government allies.

Billionaire Hariri’s family today also hinted at their possible role.

Asked the reason for the assassination, Hariri’s son, Saadeddine, replied: “It’s obvious. Isn’t it?”

He did not elaborate but last night he had sat next to a group of opposition politicians who held a symbolic meeting at Hariri’s Beirut mansion, then came out with a statement blaming Syria and the Lebanese government for the assassination.

Saadeddine said today he hoped justice will be served. “My father served Lebanon all his life, and we will keep serving Lebanon also, like him.”

Syria is the main power broker in Lebanon and Hariri, who served as Lebanon’s prime minister for 10 of the last 14 years, began moving in recent months closer to the opposition, which has waged an unprecedented political campaign to pressure Damascus into withdrawing its army from Lebanon.

“Go away, leave us alone. We don’t want anything from you. Enough blood,” Druse leader Walid Jumblatt, once a Syrian ally but now one of the most vocal opponents of Syria’s grip over Lebanon, said in clear reference to the Syrians.

Some of the anger was vented on the streets.

In Hariri’s home town of Sidon on southern Lebanon’s Mediterranean coast, dozens of angry demonstrators attacked Syrian workers today, slightly wounding five before police intervened.

Hundreds others marched in the streets. Black banners and pictures of the murdered leader covered the streets. Other mourners converged on the family’s southern residence to offer condolences.

Last night, a mob attacked the offices of the Lebanese branch of Syria’s ruling Baath party in Beirut with stones.

The streets of the capital were virtually empty today as Lebanon started three days of mourning.

Comment: Israel and the US must be jumping for joy. How often have we been told that "previously unknown" groups were responsible for bizzare attacks on Iraqi civilians in Iraq?

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Flashback: Lebanon considers suing Israel

Tuesday, 26 June, 2001

The Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafiq Hariri, says his country is considering suing Israel for compensation over its 22-year occupation of a zone in southern Lebanon.

Mr Hariri - who is visiting Egypt - said his government was consulting experts in international law to assess Lebanon's chances of winning such an action.

He said it was important to make a fully informed decision, as to lose the case would mean that Israel had been absolved of responsibility.

Lebanese government estimates put the damage from the Israeli occupation at about $1bn.

Israeli forces finally withdrew from south Lebanon just over a year ago.

Comment: While it is perhaps a minor detail, the above report provides but one more reason for looking seriously at Israel as the guilty party in Hariri's murder

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Exclusive: Lebanon's PM On Conflict

BEIRUT, April 15, 2002

(CBS) In an exclusive interview, CBS News Anchor Dan Rather speaks with Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri about the concern that the Mideast conflict could expand northward into Lebanon, if border attacks by Hezbollah guerrillas provoke an Israeli invasion.

Rather: Mr. Prime Minister, do you personally expect Ariel Sharon to send an Israeli ground operation into southern Lebanon?

Hariri: He might do that. I wish he will not. I know very well that Israel has the strongest army in the region and I know that he can destroy our country. He can stand against all the Arab countries in the region, against all the Arabs together we know that.

Rather: If Ariel Sharon and the Israelis should open even aerial attacks, much less a ground attack, what will happen?

Hariri: Oh it will be a war. It will be a war this is a big mistake for all of us. And then what?

Rather: That's my question and then what?

Hariri: Exactly. We can argue whose mistake it is. But then what? Do we want to live in war? Do we hate each other until to the extent that we want to destroy each other? The point is how we end this? We can argue me and you until tomorrow, who is making mistakes but this does not change the reality on the ground.

Rather: Can you exert control over Hezbollah, in the southern half of your country?

Hariri: In what situation, if there is a peace?

Rather: For Israel's security.

Hariri: If there is a peace all the countries in the region will co-operate together to assure the security of each other.

Rather: The belief is widespread in the United States that Yassir Arafat had 95% of what he had asked for on the table and he walked away from it.

Hariri: Why 95 percent, why not 100 percent? All the territory that has been occupied in 1967 against peace and normal relations with Israel it means 100 percent. It doesn't mean 99 percent. I think if you want peace you have to give me what is mine. Sheba Farm, I know so many people who say, what is Sheba Farm, it is just a small piece of land. Yes but it is our land.

Rather: And if the Israelis agree to do that what do they get?

Hariri: They get to be part of the solution. They want to live in peace, they want to live in peace, I cannot imagine that the Israeli people, who are a people of history they want to live in war with their neighbors forever. They want to carry guns all their lives? How can they imagine this.

Rather: Mr. Prime Minster, if President Bush were to say to you, how do we stop suicide bombings, sending young Muslim people to their own certain death and doing evil deeds, how do we stop that?

Hariri: Surely 100 percent we cannot stop them by what Sharon is doing. It won't stop and by the contrary it might exceed it. Secondarily the answer is the same, peace peace and peace.

Rather: And to those Israelis who say listen the only thing they understand is the fist?

Hariri: You think it works, it will not work, it will never work. You cannot take 2 million people and jail them. What has to happen today, they have to stop and they have to withdraw. United States has to play its role as the greatest country in the world, because you have all kinds of arms? Not because of that...because we believe you are a democratic society, you believe in human rights. You believe in the law. We need your help to achieve peace in the region without you we cannot make it ok? We cannot do it.

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Pentagon covers up failure to train and recruit local security forces
By Andrew Buncombe in Washington,
Kim Sengupta in Basra,
and Raymond Whitaker in London
13 February 2005

Police and army numbers falling far short of projections as post-election violence surges and wait for results drags on

Training of Iraq's security forces, crucial to any exit strategy for Britain and the US, is going so badly that the Pentagon has stopped giving figures for the number of combat-ready indigenous troops, The Independent on Sunday has learned.

Instead, only figures for troops "on hand" are issued. The small number of soldiers, national guardsmen and police capable of operating against the country's bloody insurgency is concealed in an overall total of Iraqis in uniform, which includes raw recruits and police who have gone on duty after as little as three weeks' training. In some cases they have no weapons, body armour or even documents to show they are in the police.

The resulting confusion over numbers has allowed the US administration to claim that it is half-way to meeting the target of training almost 270,000 Iraqi forces, including around 52,000 troops and 135,000 Iraqi policemen. The reality, according to experts, is that there may be as few as 5,000 troops who could be considered combat ready.

The gap between troops "on hand" and the overall target for fully trained and equipped security forces has actually widened in recent months, according to John Pike of GlobalSecurity.org, a Washington- based think-tank. Between October and November last year, just before the Pentagon quietly stopped giving figures for fully trained troops, the shortfall more than doubled, from 69,400 to 159,000. At current levels, the targets would not be met until next year.

The sleight of hand over troop numbers provoked a sharp clash during Condoleezza Rice's Senate confirmation hearings to become Secretary of State. After she quoted Pentagon figures claiming 122,000 Iraqis had been trained, she was told by Democratic Senator Joseph Biden: "Time and again this administration has tried to leave the American people with the impression that Iraq has well over 100,000 fully trained, fully competent military police and personnel. And that is simply not true. We're months, probably years, away from reaching our target goal."

David Isenberg, an analyst at the British and American Security Council, said "disaster is too polite a word" for efforts to train Iraqi forces. "We are not being honest about the numbers," he added. "We have no consensus about who has been trained, about who we are talking about."

The insurgency, which has claimed the lives of 60 police, soldiers and would-be recruits since the election, has disrupted both sides of the equation. Not only has it forced the occupation authorities to drastically increase their estimate of the required number of Iraqi security forces , but training and recruitment have been disrupted by constant attacks, desertions, political suspicion and a catalogue of errors by the invaders, starting with disbanding the Iraqi army immediately after the war.

The Iraqi police force is considered the biggest failure, being poorly equipped and trained. US officials also say that tens of thousands of Iraqis are claiming police salaries but are not working, and nearly half of the force has been sent for further training.

A police colonel told the IoS: "I keep on hearing that we have been trained and we have been given the arms necessary by the Americans. But I seem to have missed all that. We have had people sent here who I would not trust at all. I have discovered that the Americans have made no checks on these men. Do you wonder why police stations and army barracks get blown up?"

Meanwhile, recommendations to attach more US advisers to the fledgling Iraqi units stoke fears that this Vietnam-era policy will further delay any exit from Iraq.

Comment: The United States has no real exit strategy planned for Iraq, and as this article shows, any talk of training enough security forces to take over from the American soldiers is just that... talk.

The administration inflates the numbers of combat-ready Iraqi police forces to placate the folks back home who wishfully believe that their sons and daughters will be returning sometime soon.

Even Democratic senators and other government officials know darn well that the military is nowhere close to being able to hand over security to Iraqi domestic forces.

In the meantime the U.S. military will recruit just about anybody to give the illusion of greater numbers but not even bother to train or equip these new security forces with proper weapons or protective gear.

That way the poor Iraqi's, who being desperate for any kind of work to feed their families and having no other choice but to side with their American occupiers, will be used as cannon fodder while regular U.S. soldiers can get back to the real work of guarding oil wells and other corporate interests.

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How dare some say, 'Support our troops'?
Monday, February 14, 2005
MAINE VOICES: J. Kamilewicz

Someone recently informed me that they didn't know that my son was being deployed to Iraq and asked why I hadn't told them. I really didn't have an answer.

That is when I began to be annoyed by those ever-present, good-intentioned but mindless ribbons stuck on the back of cars and SUVs exhorting, "Support Our Troops."

I find those magnetic messages to be offensive when I think of parents and friends of National Guard soldiers who purchased expensive Kevlar armor for their soldiers while Donald Rumsfeld said they didn't have any in stock.

Those marketing messages seem so empty when soldiers are told to "up-armor" their Humvees because the Department of Defense had not asked the manufacturers if more could be done.

I am saddened when veterans wait over a year for appointments at veterans' hospitals and soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and places like Walter Reed Hospital are required to pay for phone calls and emails home. I bet Rumsfeld doesn't have to pay for calls and e-mails back home, and I find it unbelievable and unacceptable that Rumsfeld has not been fired while the troops have been treated so poorly. Support our troops?

I accept that there are justifications for going to war. However, I cannot find anyone who can give me a solid reason to justify our going to and continuing the war in Iraq.


There seems to be no question in America more avoided, particularly by elected officials, than a discussion of the war in Iraq. I asked Maine's members of Congress those questions.

U.S. Rep. Tom Allen said the war was not justified, but to abandon Iraq and its people now would be a mistake. Sen. Susan Collins said that going to war in Iraq was a problem of faulty intelligence, but the chaos in Iraq required us to stay.

Sen. Olympia Snowe blamed Saddam Hussein as the revised apparent rationale for invading Iraq, and she focused on the need for global support for the U.S efforts in Iraq. U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud agreed with Snowe.

Those answers translate that we got there by mistake, and we are staying there by mistake. There is no plan, there is no discussion and there is no leadership. Didn't we go into Iraq to protect ourselves from weapons of mass destruction and because of Iraq's connections with the terrorists, reasons that have been found to be utterly in error? Support our troops?

The pointless death and maiming of this war is pure insanity and probably even criminal. In this war, many times those who died in the World Trade Center have been wounded or killed. Over 1,400 American soldiers are dead, over 10,000 soldiers are physically wounded while uncounted others are psychologically wounded, and, by some estimates, over 100,000 Iraqis have been killed and maimed.

How can the killing be justified? Are we going to destroy a nation and kill its people to save it? We tried that once before. Support our troops?

I am afraid for my son. I certainly worry about his being killed, but I am also worried about his being placed in the position of killing, too. Most of all, I am angry that we are sending our soldiers to a war that nobody can justify.

Most Americans, especially members of Congress, do not have to worry about a loved one in the middle of this war, and they duck the tough questions.

Why do we permit a defacto back-door draft of the National Guard and recycle them, too? We were lied to once before, and we must avoid being lied to again. Will President Bush be this generation's Robert McNamara? I hope not. Will the Congress have the courage to ask the relevant questions? I hope so. Support our troops?


Now you know why I didn't go out of my way to tell people that my son is being deployed to Iraq, and please don't ask about him if you really don't want to know.

Instead, please know that you will be in my shoes or his shoes unless you ask questions and demand answers of those in power. In the meantime, please excuse me if I have a painful lump in my throat or tears brimming in my eyes and that I am so angry with this damned war and the people who declared it.

Support our troops. Ask tough questions. Bring them home now.

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Sharon mourns slain son
February 15, 2005

In a rare display of personal grief, Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told the nation he still feels the pain of his eldest son's death in an accidental shooting four decades ago.

"Nothing can relieve such pain," Mr Sharon, 76, told Channel 2 television, describing how his 11-year-old son Gur died in his arms after being shot outside the family home in central Israel in 1967.

"When it happened I had the feeling it would be impossible to overcome," said the usually tough-talking former general, his head bowed.

The memory of his son shot accidentally by another youth remains fresh in his mind, he said.

"Suddenly I heard a gunshot. I was in the house. I went outside and saw him lying there with a head wound," he said. "I gathered him in my arms, he was dying in my arms."

Mr Sharon said his public duties as a general and later politician had helped take the edge off his grief, and he did not know how a parent would cope with loss without being kept busy. But the pain persisted beneath the surface.

"It's not that it doesn't hurt, you can see that it hurts," he told the interviewer, who hastened to change the subject.

Mr Sharon has two surviving sons, Omri, an MP in Mr Sharon's rightist Likud party, and Gilad, a businessman.

Comment: Sure, Ariel "the butcher" Sharon can still remember the grief he felt when his 11 year old son was accidently shot and killed almost 40 years ago. But why doesn't he feel the same grief when a 14 year old Palestinian boy was murdered by Israeli forces just yesterday. Or when an IDF soldier emptied his machine gun into the lifeless body of a 13 year old Palestinian girl after she was gunned down by an Israeli outpost sniper. Or the scores of other children who have sacrificed their lives at the hands of Sharon and his Zionist ilk.

Perhaps these quotes by the infamous General himself will help shed some light onto why his grief is selectively reserved for a chosen few, while anyone not included in this special group are considered less than human and therefore entirely expendable...

"I vow that if I was just an Israeli civilian and I met a Palestinian I would burn him and I would make him suffer before killing him. With one hit I've killed 750 Palestinians (in Rafah in 1956). I wanted to encourage my soldiers by raping Arabic girls as the Palestinian women is a slave for Jews, and we do whatever we want to her and nobody tells us what we shall do but we tell others what they shall do."
Ariel Sharon, In an interview with General Ouze Merham, 1956.

"I don't know something called International Principles. I vow that I'll burn every Palestinian child (that) will be born in this area. The Palestinian woman and child is more dangerous than the man, because the Palestinian childs existence infers that generations will go on, but the man causes limited danger."
Ariel Sharon, In an interview with General Ouze Merham, 1956.

I don't mind if after the job is done you put me in front of a Nuremberg Trial and then jail me for life. Hang me if you want, as a war criminal. What you don't understand is that the dirty work of Zionism is not finished yet, far from it.
Ariel Sharon to Amos Oz, editor of Davar, Dec. 17, 1982

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Chavez: US is a terrorist state
Sunday 13 February 2005, 14:37 Makka Time, 11:37 GMT  

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has branded the United States a terrorist state while rejecting Washington's criticism of Caracas for its arms purchase from Russia.

Chavez, a fierce critic of US President George Bush and the US-led war in Iraq, on Saturday brushed aside US opposition to the agreement to buy 100,000 automatic rifles and about 40 military helicopters from Moscow.

"One has to ask whether there was transparency in the invasion of Iraq. The world knows President Bush lied openly about Iraq having chemical weapons," Chavez said.

"They keep on bombing cities, killing children, they have become a terrorist state," he said.

Tense ties

Venezuela, the world's fifth largest oil exporter, is a key crude supplier to the US. But relations soured after Chavez came to power in 1999, vowing to fight poverty with a self-proclaimed revolution.

US officials have accused Chavez of allowing Marxist rebels from neighbouring Colombia to shelter in Venezuela and criticise his increasingly close relations with Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Chavez, however, rejects the charges and has moved to strengthen Venezuela's political and economic ties beyond Washington with states such as China, Russia and Iran.

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Review finds effective post-9/11 tactics
Posted on Mon, Feb. 14, 2005

Anxiety has been on the rise in South Florida immigrant communities over the past few months about what many immigrants and their advocates perceive as more aggressive government tactics against those in the U.S. illegally.

According to some, law enforcement officers have started stopping people at random and arresting them if they have no immigration papers -- on buses, trains and roads. But immigration officials insist they are not doing anything significantly different than they have been doing since the 9/11 terrorism attacks, when scrutiny of foreigners increased.

A Herald review shows no significant new enforcement in the past few months. But tactics that went into effect after the attacks -- between late 2001 and throughout 2002 and 2003 -- have become systematic and more effective, making them more evident:

• U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are more systematically tracking down foreign nationals who allegedly have gone into hiding after immigration judges order their deportation.

• Border Patrol officers have arrested more undocumented migrants in periodic operations on interstate buses and trains and airport terminals -- though overall fewer migrants have been arrested by Border Patrol agents in the Miami sector in recent years.

• Local police officers are more frequently summoning immigration agents when a driver's name pops up on a computer list of foreign nationals wanted by immigration for evading deportation orders -- the so-called absconders.

Merline Michel said her husband, Rony Francois, was on his way to church this past Christmas Eve in Miami when he was taken into immigration custody after police stopped him for allegedly driving with illegal tinted windows.

''He was deported to Haiti on Thursday with no warning,'' said Michel, who finally heard from Francois on Saturday when he called asking her to send him clothes and money. ``I think anybody can be stopped, whether you are walking or standing at a bus stop. I understand people come here illegally to have a better life but the way they are doing things is wrong.''

Michel, who is a legal U.S. resident, said she doesn't know if her husband, who drove interstate buses, had a final deportation order against him.

Far from being new, the use of routine traffic stops to detect deportable migrants who allegedly have gone underground after being advised of an expulsion order is the oldest post-9/11 tactic being employed.

There are no figures to quantify whether immigration-related police arrests during traffic stops are higher now than before, but immigration officials say there has been a 200 percent increase from 2003 to 2004 in the number of alleged foreign absconders located since absconder names were added to the computerized wanted list.

The list is part of the National Crime Information Center, a database police officers often check when they verify a driver's name and background in a traffic stop.

In all, officials plan to add more than 400,000 names of absconders. So far, 159,480 names have been added since the initiative began in late 2001, according to Manny Van Pelt, an ICE spokesman in Washington.

Absconders are a prime target of federal agents under a National Fugitive Operations Program, an initiative launched by ICE on Feb. 25, 2002.

The search for absconders is fueling perceptions by some Haitian Americans and activists that the community is being targeted, as local Creole-language radio hosts field calls from worried listeners.

Jeanine Jolicoeur, a naturalized U.S. citizen, said she was awaiting a Miami-Dade bus at 8 a.m. one December morning on Northwest 47th Avenue and 183rd Street in northwest Miami-Dade County when she was approached by three immigration agents in regular clothing, demanding to see her immigration papers.

''They asked me if I am Haitian. I said `Yes I am Haitian,'' said Jolicoeur, who noted she was asked to show her immigration papers. ``They said if I didn't show my ID, they would arrest me and put me in Krome.

She eventually showed them her voter registration card and her driver's license, she said.

'They made a call on the telepone and then they said, `You are free to go,' '' said Jolicoeur, who believes she was singled out because she is Haitian. ``That is discrimination. They don't want to see Haitians.''

But drawing even more attention than the fugitive initiative or the traffic stops is the Border Patrol's boardings of long distance buses and trains to check papers of traveling foreign nationals.

The so-called ''transportation hub'' operations are perhaps the most visible activity.

In these operations, Border Patrol officers board Greyhound buses and Amtrak trains and ask foreign travelers to produce papers.

A video of one of the bus operations shows uniformed Border Patrol officers leafing through the passports of passengers.

Victor Colón, assistant chief patrol agent for the U.S. Border Patrol Miami Sector, would not release specific figures on arrests in bus and train operations. But he said ''transportation checks'' arrests have increased between between fiscal years 2003 and 2004.

However, Colón pointed out that overall the total number of arrests of undocumented migrants by the Border Patrol in the Miami sector had decreased between the same fiscal years -- dropping about 25 percent to about 4,000. One chief reason, Colón said, is improved coordination among Homeland Security agencies, which has deterred more migrants from attempting illegal trips.

Beyond these operations, there is no evidence of widespread targeting of illegal migrants.

Police officials from Homestead to Palm Beach county said it is their policy not to bother migrant workers unless they commit a crime. [...]

Comment: The parallels between this story above and visions of Nazi SS officers demanding people's papers during WWII are striking and most disturbing.

In the U.S. today it's a clampdown on illegal immigrants, tomorrow it will be anyone with darker coloured skin who even remotely resembles an immigrant. After that it may be regular people with anti-war bumper stickers on their car or Democratic election signs on their lawn.

As the noose of creeping fascism is slowly tightened around the necks of average American citizens, more and more people will soon find themselves targeted and singled out as "potential terrorists" as Bush's infamous Patriot act is due to be renewed once again.

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Bush urges renewal of Patriot Act
Posted 2/14/2005 11:07 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush on Monday urged Congress to reauthorize the USA Patriot Act, the Justice Department's widely criticized anti-terrorism law.

"We must not allow the passage of time or the illusion of safety to weaken our resolve in this new war" on terrorism, Bush said at a swearing-in ceremony for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales at the Justice Department.

The president also argued that the Senate must give his nominees for the federal bench up-or-down votes without delay to fill vacancies in the courts.

The Patriot Act, passed in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, bolstered FBI surveillance and law-enforcement powers in terror cases, increased use of material witness warrants to hold suspects incommunicado for months, and allowed secret proceedings in immigration cases.

Civil liberties groups and privacy advocates lambasted the law because they said it undermines freedom. But Bush said the act "has been vital to our success in tracking terrorists and disrupting their plans." He noted that many key elements of the law are set to expire at the end of the year and said Congress must act quickly to renew it.

The Patriot Act was pushed by Gonzales' predecessor, John Ashcroft, who was in the audience as Gonzales took his oath from Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Bush lauded Ashcroft's tireless efforts to make America safer as he oversaw a drop in violent crime besides his counterterrorism work.

Gonzales, who served as White House counsel during the last four years, said he would be a part of Bush's team but his first allegiance will be to the Constitution.

"I am confident that in the days and years ahead we in the department will work together tirelessly to address terrorism and other threats to our nation and to confront injustice with integrity and devotion to our highest ideals," Gonzales said.

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Bush requests US$82B for Iraq, Afghan wars
www.chinaview.cn 2005-02-15 14:05:57
WASHINGTON, Feb. 14 (Xinhuanet) -- US President George W. Bush asked Congress on Monday for 82 billion dollars of emergency fund to support the US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, pushing the total price tag to past 100 billion dollars for fiscal year 2005 alone.

"The majority of this request will ensure that our troops continue to get what they need to protect themselves and complete their mission," Bush said in a statement accompanying the bill.

The request included 74.9 billion dollars for the Defense Department, among which 5.7 billion dollars were for the training and equipping of Iraqi security forces and 2 billion dollars for reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.

The package also provided 400 million dollars in aid to nations that have sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan. It included 200 million in aid for the Palestinians in order to help the United States "build peace and democracy in the Middle East."

There were also other funding such as aid for Pakistan and Ukraine, and assistance for tsunami-damaged Asian countries.

The package will push the total cost for conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq so far to nearly 300 billion dollars. The Congress had approved 25 billion dollars in supplement spending inDecember for 2005.

The 82-billion-dollar request was not included in the 2.57-trillion-dollar budget plan for fiscal year of 2006 the White House sent to Congress one week ago. That budget includes 419.3 billion dollars for the Defense Department for fiscal 2006, representing a 4.8 percent increase over fiscal 2005.

Comment: So, if Americans want to know why Bush is closing down Social Security, look no further than his military plundering of the Middle East. He is stealing your futures to pay for his imperialist project. More money for the Carlyle Group, less money for seniors. More money for Haliburton, less for the average American.

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The Republican Dictionary
By Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation.
Posted February 12, 2005.

While Republicans are busy remaking the nation, they're also remaking the English language.

In Bush's State of the Union address, he mentioned personal accounts seven times but private accounts zero times, which is interesting because only a few months ago he was using both terms interchangeably. But fear not, this was no mistake. The Republicans tested the phrase private accounts and found public support was much lower than when the same, exact, identical concept was called personal accounts. (Personally, I like caring accounts, but they didn't ask me.)

So the White House and its paid spin doctors, many of whom play journalists on TV, have taken to the airwaves to push the phrase personal accounts and chastise anyone in the media who employs the banished words to characterize ther Administration's Social Security agenda. Proof, if more was needed, that language is power and debates are won or lost based on definitions.

But here is the really funny thing about the personal/private accounts debate. Not only are they not personal accounts, they're not private accounts either. They are in fact US government loans. (Bear with me now, because this will only hurt for a moment.) You see, your payroll taxes will still be used to cover the benefits of current retirees, but under Bush's scheme the government will place a certain "diverted" amount into an account in your name. It sounds like a personal retirement account, but it's not. It's a loan. Because if your account does really well (above 3 percent), when you retire the government will deduct the money it lent you (plus 3 percent interest) from your monthly Social Security check leaving you with almost the same amount you would have received under the current system. If your account does really poorly (below 3 percent), you are out of luck. According to Congressional Budget Office, the expected average return will be 3.3 percent, so the net gain will be zero.

But wait, it gets better. These personal accounts aren't exactly US government loans either, because our government under the fiscal stewardship of George W. Bush no longer is running a surplus and therefore does not have the $4 trillion or so needed to cover the transition costs, and Bush refuses to raise taxes on his base (BUSH'S BASE, n. the wealthy).

So our government will have to borrow that cash. And if the last three years are any guide, our largest single loan officer will likely be the Central Bank of China. And who runs China's Central Bank, China, and the Chinese people with an iron fist? Why, it's our old friends, the democracy-loving, freedom-marching Chinese Communist Party. So Bush's personal retirement accounts=private retirement accounts=US government loans=US government borrowing=Chinese government lending=Chinese Communist Party loans.

Or as we like to say in Republican Dictionary land:

PERSONAL RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS, n. Chinese Communist Party loans.


ACCOUNTABILITY, n. Buck? What buck? (Martin Richard, Belgrade, MT)

BIPARTISANSHIP, adj. When Democrats compromise. (Justin Rezzonico, Keene, NH)

CHECKS & BALANCES, pl. n. An antiquated concept of the Founding Fathers that impedes autocratic efficiency; see also REFORM. (Robert B. Fuld, Unionville, CT)

FOX NEWS, n. Faux news. (Justin Rezzonico, Keena, NH)

GOD, n. Senior presidential advisor. (Martin Richard, Belgrade, MT)

NONPARTISAN JUDICIAL NOMINEE, n. An active member of the Federalist Society. (Mark Hatch-Miller, Brooklyn, NY)

OWNERSHIP SOCIETY, n. 1) A society where you're on your own. (John Read, Ownings Mills, MD); 2) A society where one-half of society owns the other half. (Anne Galvan Klousia, Corvallis, OR); 3) The euphemism used by robber barons and their political lackeys to promote or justify the extreme concentration of wealth into the hands of a powerful few. Synonyms: PLUTOCRACY, CORPORATE FEUDALISM. (Ken Stump, Seattle, WA)

SOCIAL SECURITY, n. Broker security. (Bruce Clendenin, Dallas, TX)

SPREADING PEACE, v. Preemptive war. (Bruce Hawkins, Silver Springs, MD)

STAY THE COURSE, v. To relentlessly pursue a disastrous policy regardless of how far conditions deteriorate. Antonym: "To cut and run." (Aja Starke, New York, NY)

TORTURER, n. 1) White House Counsel. 2) Attorney General. (Martin Richard, Belgrade, MT)

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Workers told 'no smoking,' even at home

February 8, 2005

OKEMOS, Mich. -- A Michigan company's decision to dismiss workers who smoke, even if it's on their own time, has privacy and workers' rights advocates alarmed and is raising concerns about whether pizza boxes and six packs are the next to go.

Weyco Inc., an Okemos-based medical benefits administrator, said its offer of smoking cessation classes and support groups helped 18 to 20 of the company's nearly 200 workers quit smoking over the past 15 months.

But four others who couldn't - or wouldn't - no longer had jobs on Jan. 1.

"We had told them they had a choice," said Weyco Chief Financial Officer Gary Climes. "We're not saying you can't smoke in your home. We just say you can't smoke and work here."

Such policies basically say employers can tell workers how to live their lives even in the privacy of their own homes, something they have no business doing, said Lewis Maltby, president of The National Workrights Institute in Princeton, N.J., a part of the American Civil Liberties Union until 2000.

"If a company said, `We're going to cut down on our health care costs by forbidding anyone from eating at McDonald's,' they could do it," he said. "There are a thousand things about people's private lives that employers don't like for a thousand different reasons."

Former Weyco receptionist Cara Stiffler of Williamston, one of those who found herself without a job Jan. 1, called Weyco's policy intrusive.

"I don't believe any employer should be able to come in and tell you what you can do in your home," she said.

Some companies, while not going as far as Weyco, are trying to lower their health care costs by refusing to hire any more smokers.

Union Pacific Corp., headquartered in Omaha, Neb., began rejecting smokers' applications in Texas, Idaho, Tennessee, Arkansas, Washington state, Arizona and parts of Kansas and Nebraska last year and hopes to add more states.

Public affairs director John Bromley said the company estimates it will save $922 annually for each position it fills with a nonsmoker over one who smokes. It hired 5,500 new workers last year and plans to hire 700 this year. About a quarter of the company's 48,000 employees now smoke, and Bromley said it's clear they cost the company more money.

"Looking at our safety records, (we know that) people who smoke seem to have higher accident rates than nonsmokers," he said. "It's no secret that people who smoke have more health issues than nonsmokers."

On Jan. 1, Kalamazoo Valley Community College stopped hiring smokers for full-time positions at both its campuses. Part-time staffers who smoke won't be hired for full-time jobs, and the 20 to 25 openings that occur each year among the college's 365 full-time staff positions will go only to nonsmokers.

"Our No. 1 goal is to reduce our health claims," said Sandy Bohnet, vice president for human resources. "So many diseases can be headed off if people simply pay attention to their health care."

Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia protect workers who smoke, saying they can't be discriminated against for that reason.

Michigan doesn't have such a law, but state Sen. Virg Bernaro has taken up the cause of the former Weyco workers. He plans to introduce a bill banning Michigan employers from firing or refusing to hire workers for legal activities they enjoy on their own time that don't impinge on their work.

Weyco President Howard Weyers thinks Bernero is on the wrong side, especially since companies are wrestling with ever-higher health care costs.

"We're doing everything we can ... to get our staff healthier," Weyers said, noting that his company reimburses workers for a portion of health club costs, pays them bonuses for meeting fitness goals and offers fitness classes and a walking trail at its Okemos office.

"Employers need help in this area. And I just don't think employers' hands should be tied" on how to accomplish that, he said.

Chris Boyd, an 18-year Weyco employee, said she considered the no-smoking policy drastic when Weyers first announced it. But she signed up for a smoking cessation group a few months later.

"I wasn't about to put smoking ahead of my job," said Boyd, 37, of Haslett. She had tried once before to break her 10-year, half-pack-a-day habit and said she probably wouldn't have been able to quit if not for the new policy.

The Society for Human Resource Management in Arlington, Va., found only one human resource manager among 270 surveyed nationally in December that had a formal policy against hiring smokers. About 4 percent said they preferred not to hire smokers, and nearly 5 percent said they charge smokers higher health care premiums, a policy Weyco put in place a year ago.

Although few companies are copying Weyco's example, "a lot of people are paying attention to this case because it's potentially the edge of a very slippery slope," said Jen Jorgensen, a spokeswoman for the society. "It has raised a lot of eyebrows."

Maltby said he doesn't have a problem with companies raising health insurance premiums for employees who have unhealthy habits. But he worries about what's next on employers' lists.

"If employers are going to make the smokers pay a surcharge, they might as well make the deep-sea divers and the motorcycle riders and the Big Mac eaters and the skiers pay a surcharge," he said. "Smoking, drinking, junk food, lack of exercise, unsafe hobbies, unsafe sex - the list of things many people do is endless."

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2nd U.S. missile defence test failure
Last Updated Mon, 14 Feb 2005 13:56:43 EST
CBC News

WASHINGTON - Another test of the U.S. missile defence system failed Monday when an interceptor missile did not launch from its island base in the Pacific Ocean.

It was the second failure in months for U.S. President George W. Bush's controversial multibillion military program. Under American pressure to join, the Canadian government has not yet said whether it will.

A spokesperson for the Missile Defence Agency said early indications were that there was a malfunction with the ground support equipment at the test range on Kwajalein Island, not with the interceptor missile itself.

If that were the case, it would be a relief for program officials because it would mean no new problems had been discovered with the missile.

Previous failures of these high-profile, $85 million US test launches have been regarded as significant setbacks by critics of the program.

In Monday's test, the interceptor was to target a mock missile fired from Kodiak Island, Alaska. The target missile launched at 1:22 a.m. ET without any problems, but the interceptor did not launch.

The previous test, on Dec. 15, failed under almost identical circumstances.

Military officials blamed that failure on fault-tolerance software that was oversensitive to small errors in the flow of data between the missile and a flight computer.

The officials said they would decrease the sensitivity in future launches to avoid the software shutting down the launch again.

Before the Dec. 15 launch, it had been two years since a test.

The program had succeeded five out of eight times in previous attempts to intercept a target.

No date for the next test has been announced.

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Border talks called `disturbing'
Feb. 14, 2005. 06:50 AM

OTTAWA—An influential tri-national panel has considered a raft of bold proposals for an integrated North America, including a continental customs union, single passport and contiguous security perimeter.

According to a confidential internal summary from the first of three meetings of the Task Force on the Future of North America, discussions also broached the possibility of lifting trade exemptions on cultural goods and Canadian water exports.

Those last two suggestions were dismissed in subsequent deliberations, say members of the task force, an advisory group of academics, trade experts, former politicians and diplomats from Canada, the United States and Mexico sponsored by the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations.

Members said the task force's final report this spring will focus on "achievable" rather than simply academic questions like that of a single North American currency.

Nevertheless, the initial debates prompted a sharp reaction from trade skeptics and nationalist groups like the Council of Canadians, who fear business leaders and the politically connected are concocting plans to cede important areas of sovereignty at the behest of American business interests.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow said the summary, a copy of which was obtained by the Toronto Star, was "disturbing" and "shocking."

"What they envisage is a new North American reality with one passport, one immigration and refugee policy, one security regime, one foreign policy, one common set of environmental, health and safety standards ... a brand name that will be sold to school kids, all based on the interests and the needs of the U.S.," she said.

She said the discussions have added weight because the panel includes such political heavyweights as former federal finance minister John Manley.

Thomas d'Aquino, head of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and one of the task force's vice-chairs, said the summary reflected only preliminary discussions and scoffed at Barlow's concerns, saying insinuations of a secret agenda are "totally wrong."

"There is an acute awareness that we have three independent countries who have no intention of compromising their sovereignty," he said, adding the discussions on water and culture particularly "had no legs whatsoever."

Federal officials stressed the panel is independent of government policy, and that while efforts will continue to work with the United States to address common security and trade concerns, there are no discussions regarding more formal continental integration.

D'Aquino brushed aside the concerns stemming from the summary document, saying "every member of the task force is an independent, the first meeting was basically a scattering of ideas ... a great deal of ground has been covered since then."

And where Barlow and others see a sinister plot to serve the interests of corporate America, d'Aquino sees an effort to co-operate in the face of emerging economic powerhouses in Asia.

The document talks about the need to develop a North American brand, and muses about the possibility of common immigration and customs policies, closer consultation on monetary policy and integrated security policies. Points of discussion included:

  • "Trilateralizing customs and immigration at airports, ports and land borders."

  • "Applying the principle of inspection, one test, one certification throughout North America" for agriculture.

  • "Treating all North American citizens as domestic investors in each country."

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Kissinger Brings Warm Wishes From Bush on Russia Visit

Created: 14.02.2005 10:42 MSK (GMT 3), Updated: 10:42 MSK

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger brought the Kremlin best wishes from the White House on Saturday, a week after current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Russia on “the basics of democracy”, Reuters reports.

“I’m here for the purpose of strengthening the ties between our leaders and our countries,” Kissinger, an architect of the Cold War policy of detente towards the Soviet Union, told President Vladimir Putin during a visit to Moscow.

“I’m a good friend of President (George W.) Bush and a strong supporter of his foreign policy. I know what a good opinion he has of you,” said Kissinger, 81, adding that he was visiting in a personal capacity.

“We have friends in common,” Putin replied.

Putin forged a strong personal bond with Bush after throwing his weight quickly behind the war on terror, but said in December that at their next meeting he would challenge the U.S. president on whether Washington was trying to isolate Russia.

Rice, a former Soviet specialist making her first trip to Europe as secretary of state, denied there was a policy of isolation but said Russia needed to show more commitment to the rule of law, an independent judiciary and a free press. She did not include Russia on her itinerary.

Kissinger, the U.S. foreign policy chief under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, did not elaborate on the purpose of his two-day visit to Russia, a country which he said was “very important for the future of the world”.

U.S. officials were not immediately available for comment.

Putin has also been criticised for Russia’s treatment of Yukos, a Russian oil company which is being broken up and sold off to recover back-tax bills totalling $27.5 billion.

Yukos’ owners have filed a suit against Russia in a court in Houston, Texas, and are demanding damages of $28.3 billion from Russia under the Energy Charter, an international energy treaty, Reuters reported.

Comment: The US is attempting to isolate Russia. Russia, for its part, is seeking closer ties with China and with France, attempting to build an alliance that can offset the power of the United States. Such an alliance is to be expected in a world where the US holds itself above international law and international organisations such as the UN and the World Court. The leaders of these countries are trying to protect themselves and their own strategic needs.

And in our world, they have every right to do so.

We are caught in a chain of cause and effect, a mechanial reaction of self-interested parties protecting their own interests. It can not be otherwise.

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China mine explosion 'kills 203'
Tuesday, 15 February, 2005, 01:58 GMT

At least 203 miners have been killed in a gas blast at a coal mine in China, the state news agency Xinhua says.

The explosion in Fuxin City, in China's north-eastern Liaoning province, has also left 22 injured and 13 trapped.

Rescue operations began immediately after Monday's blast 242m (794 feet) underground at the Sujiawan mine, Xinhua reported.

An investigation is under way into the cause. Accidents are frequent in China, which has a dismal mine safety record.

According to official figures, more than 5,000 people died in explosions, floods and fires in China's mines in 2004.

Monday's blast was the deadliest since 166 miners were killed in a gas explosion at the Chenjiashan mine in Shaanxi province in November.

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59 killed, more than 200 wounded in Iran mosque fire
15 February 2005 0316 hrs - AFP

TEHRAN : Nearly 60 people perished and more than 200 others suffered burns on Monday when a fire swept through a Tehran mosque crammed with worshippers, police said.

The blaze broke out as the faithful packed into the Ark mosque near the main bazaar in the capital for prayers just a few days before the major Shiite Muslim religious festival of Ashura, local media reported.

"Fifty-nine people were killed and 210 others injured," Mortezza Talaie, police chief in greater Tehran, was quoted as saying by public television.

Media reports said the fire was probably caused by a heater brought into the mosque to protect worshippers from the bitter cold and which set a tent ablaze and spread flames like wildfire through the mosque's courtyard.

"The fire began on the women's side, then spread to the men's," said the police commander. "It was absolute panic, which explains the high number of injured, at around 200. A lot of people were hurt in rushing towards the exits."

Victims had little time to escape. Many suffocated to death as smoke enveloped corridors and the seating area reserved for women.

"My two children were inside. My daughter got out, but I can't find my son," sobbed a woman who gave her name only as Alemeh, outside the mosque.

Witnesses said they saw women jumping out of windows five metres up as worshippers struggled to escape the blazing inferno.

The fire was brought under control by 8:00 pm (1630 GMT), when the dead could be recovered and the wounded ferried to the local hospital away from the devastated courtyard, where shoes and garments littered the ground.

Tehran and much of the north of Iran have been gripped by blizzard conditions and days of record snowfall.

Ashura is the annual Shiite ritual commemorating the death of Hussein - the Prophet Mohammed's grandson who was killed with his followers in 680 AD as Sunnis and Shiites disputed Mohammed's succession.

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School attack in Japan

TOKYO (AP) - A 17-year-old boy armed with a sashimi knife stabbed a teacher to death and wounded two other adults Monday at his former elementary school, then stood in the faculty lounge and smoked a cigarette with the bloody blade still in his hand.

No students were injured in the midafternoon attack, the latest in a series of rampages in Japan involving knives and children.

Police said the teen, who refused to talk after his arrest, used a 20-centimetre knife of the kind usually reserved for cutting raw fish. Such blades are extremely sharp and are normally only accessible to trained chefs.

Terrified teachers watched the boy from the edges of the faculty room where he was found, as he held the knife in one hand and a cigarette in the other, said a police spokesman, Isoo Noda.

The attack panicked the 600 students and 30 teachers at the public school in Neyagawa City just outside Osaka in western Japan. TV video showed small children, guided by adults, running from school buildings.

"I couldn't believe it," principal Hirokazu Sakane said at a news conference. "It is unforgivable. It is especially mortifying that a staff member lost his life."

Police did not release the boy's name because he is a minor, but Hirokazu Kashiyama, an official with the local board of education, said he was a graduate of the school.

Mitsuaki Kamozaki, 52, a teacher, was fatally stabbed in the back. A 57-year-old female instructor had deep knife wounds in her stomach and a 45-year-old school nutritionist was also treated for serious injuries.

Television station TBS reported that the boy, when younger, had written that his dream was to become a video game creator or game magazine editor when he grew up. [...]

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Teen arrested in bomb threats
Associated Press
February 14, 2005

SANTA FE (AP) - A 16-year-old has been arrested in connection with a number of recent bomb threats at Santa Fe Community College, authorities said.

The teen is charged with five counts of unlawful making of a bomb scare, a fourth degree felony. Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg Solano would not release the boy's name.

Between Dec. 13 and Feb. 2, there were five reported bomb threats at the community college, Solano said. All of the calls were traced to pay phones in Santa Fe.

An employee at the college told investigators that an 18-year-old fellow-employee had been overheard bragging about his involvement in the threats.

Investigators determined that the 18-year-old male would call the 16-year-old and have him call in the threats, which would prompt the release of students and staff for the day.

The teens are cousins, Solano said.

Charges against the 18-year-old are being forwarded to the Santa Fe district attorney's office.

"People making these bomb threats have no idea of the time and effort law enforcement puts out to ensure buildings where threats are made are safe for occupation," Solano said.

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Man Dies After Being Shot With Taser
POSTED: 7:35 am PST February 14, 2005

SAN DIEGO -- The medical examiner's office will perform an autopsy Monday to determine why a San Diego man died after police shot him with a Taser gun while trying to arrest him.

Robert Camba, 45, was declared dead at Scripps Mercy Hospital at 4:03 p.m. Saturday, according to police. Officers arrested Camba Thursday evening when they found him thrashing around on the floor of an apartment in the 1000 block of Fourth Avenue. They had been sent to the apartment to investigate a report of a fight.

Camba threw things at the officers and kicked them, according to San Diego police Lt. Mike Hurley. An officer shot Camba with a Taser gun, but he continued to struggle after police handcuffed him. Officers called paramedics, and as they arrived, Camba became unresponsive, Hurley said.

The medics gave Camba CPR and took him to the hospital, where he died two days later, Hurley said.

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Earthquake shakes north Wales, no reports of damage, injury
15 February 2005 0918 hrs - AFP

LONDON : A rare earthquake shook north Wales on Monday but there were no immediate reports of damage or injury, the British Geological Survey (BSG) said.

The tremor - which measured 3.1 on the Richter Scale - was small by international standards but "quite significant" for Britain, said a spokesman for the BSG, the country's top earth science information centre.

"A lot of people have phoned to say that they felt it," Davie Galloway said, adding that about three quakes of a similar magnitude shake Britain annually.

The latest tremor rocked the south east of Colwyn Bay in north Wales at 6.44 pm (1844 GMT). It was felt 64 kilometres inland and along a 16 kilometre stretch of coastline.

"It affected areas both on the coast and inland," said Inspector Jason Higgins, from the north Wales Police.

"People heard a loud bang and some movement and shaking of buildings," he told Britain's domestic Press Association.

"We have no reports of any damage, nor any injuries."

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Earthquake jolts NW China autonomous region
www.chinaview.cn 2005-02-15 09:40:51

URUMQI, Feb. 15 (Xinhuanet) -- An earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale hit Wushi County in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region at 7:38 a.m. (Beijing Time) Tuesday, according to the State Seismological Bureau of China.

The tremor took place at 41.6 degrees north latitude and 79.3 degrees east longitude. The epicenter of the earthquake is about 40 kilometers northwest of the county proper of the Aksu Prefecture.

No casualties have been reported yet.

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Volcano erupts in eastern Indonesia
www.chinaview.cn 2005-02-15 15:50:32
JAKARTA, Feb. 15 (Xinhuanet) -- The Mount Egon in the Indonesian eastern province of East Nusa Tenggara erupted Tuesday and spewed lava and thick haze from its crater to the air, prompting local authorities to raise the alert status.

Local residents and mount climbers are ordered to stay away from the mountain, which has shown volcanic activities since Feb. 7, reported Detikcom online news service.

The eruption was accompanied by thundering voice and the up-and-down flames around its crater which were visible from a distance, it said.

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Earthquake jolts Indonesia's Sumatra island
15 February 2005 1006 hrs

JAKARTA : An earthquake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale rocked the Indonesian province of West Sumatra on Tuesday, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties, meteorologists said.

The offshore quake occurred at 6:49 am (2349 GMT Monday), and was centred in the Indian Ocean some 214 kilometres west of the West Sumatra capital of Padang, the Meteorology and Geophysics office said in a statement.

The quake was centred some 65 kilometres under the ocean floor and was moderately felt in Padang, the office said.

The Hong Kong Observatory said it estimated the magnitude of the earthquake at 6.0 on the Richter scale.

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Earthquake jolts Indonesia's Kepulauan Talaud
www.chinaview.cn 2005-02-16 02:11:12
HONG KONG, Feb. 15 (Xinhuanet) -- An earthquake measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale hit Kepulauan Talaud, Indonesia, at 10:47 p.m. Hong Kong time Tuesday.

According to Hong Kong Observatory, the epicenter was initially determined to be 4.8 degrees north latitude and 126.3 degrees east longitude, about 390 kilometers northeast of Manado.

In a related development, an earthquake measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale hit the sea waters west of Sumatra, Indonesia, at 1:13 a.m. Hong Kong time Tuesday.

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A Brutal Winter in Kabul
By Wahidullah Amani
February 14, 2005 (ENS)

KABUL, Afghanistan, - Kabul is digging out from its biggest snowstorms in over a decade. While residents hope the snowfall may help ease the crippling seven-year drought, the severe winter weather has been responsible for scores of deaths and injuries in the capital and blamed for the crash of a passenger aircraft travelling from Herat to Kabul on February 3, killing all 104 people on board.

Over a foot of snow fell on the city during the first week of February, overwhelming municipal services.

It is the most severe winter weather in Afghanistan in over 15 years, according to Abdul Qadir Qadir, head of meteorology at the Ministry of Aviation and Tourism. Temperatures plunged to minus 17 Celsius (one degree Fahrenheit), resulting in at least five recorded deaths from hypothermia in Kabul's under-equipped refugee camps.

Another 18 people were reported dead in Zabul when their vehicles were trapped in the heavy snow on the Kabul-Kandahar highway.

The cold and icy weather is also responsible for a sharp rise in disease and injury, according to city medical workers. [...]

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Disease looms as up to 450 die in Pakistan floods and snow
14 February 2005 2014 hrs

QUETTA, Pakistan : Disease threatened flood survivors in Pakistan's southwest as officials said the death toll from freak rains and snow across the country was as high as 450.

Troops and authorities were trying for a fourth day to get medicine, shelter, food and drinking water to desperate people in Baluchistan province, where some 250 alone have died -- including 80 killed by a burst dam.

Another 150 to 200 people were now known to have perished in avalanches and heavy snow at the other end of the country in northern Pakistan, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz told reporters in Islamabad.

"The entire machinery of the government has mobilised," he said after overflying part of snowbound North West Frontier Province to survey the devastation.

Around 2,000 people are missing and tens of thousands have been left homeless throughout Pakistan. Some 40,000 lost their dwellings in Baluchistan alone, according to officials.

"We are worried about the spread of disease in the area and officials are considering taking immediate measures to stop any possible outbreak," Raziq Bugti, media consultant to the chief minister of Baluchistan, told AFP.

The World Health Organisation has also warned of possible dangers from infectious and waterborne diseases.

"Over the next few days we may see the emergence of serious health problems among the population in the affected areas," its country director for Pakistan Khalif Bile said Sunday.

President Pervez Musharraf, who flew over Baluchistan on Saturday and announced compensation for all bereaved families, insisted that the damage in that province had been exaggerated.

"I would like to give a correct picture of what has happened. There was no... flood there except the water kept collecting and people started shifting to higher grounds," Musharraf told state television late Sunday.

But there were continuing problems getting to aid to affected people, particularly near the southwestern coastal town of Pasni, where the Shadi Kor irrigation dam collapsed late Thursday and washed entire villages into the sea.

Another three small dams collapsed over the weekend. [...]

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2 storms threaten South Pacific islands
Posted 2/14/2005 10:57 AM 

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Two tropical cyclones were brewing in the South Pacific Monday, threatening several island nations as forecasters warned of gale force winds and rough seas.

Cyclones Nancy and Olaf were threatening a wide area of the South Pacific, the Australian-Pacific Centre for Emergency and Disaster Information (APCEDI) says.

About 9 a.m. U.S. ET, the Fiji Meteorological Service's hurricane center estimated, based on satellite photos, that the strongest winds in both storms were around 115 mph.

Olaf was expected to affect Samoa within the next 24 to 48 hours, bringing heavy rain, rough seas and damaging swells, it said. Samoa consists of the independent nation of Samoa and American Samoa.

Nancy was intensifying northeast of Pago Pago in American Samoa and was projected to head towards the Cook Islands which narrowly escaped severe damage when struck a glancing blow by Cyclone Meena last week. [...]

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Earthquake rocks Almaty, no casualties reported
ALMATY, February 15 (Itar-Tass)
15.02.2005, 07.56

Earth tremors with a force of four-five points on the Richter scale were registered in a major megalopolis of Kazakhstan Almaty with a population of 1.3 million on Tuesday, the central seismic station of the city told Itar-Tass.

The earthquake was registered at 02:40, Moscow time. Its epicentre was located 255 kilometres southeast of the city.

According to a duty officer of the city emergencies department, there have been no reports about damage or casualties.

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Earthquake occurs north of Dominica
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CDERA): Another earthquake shook Dominica and surrounding islands on Valentines Day. According to the Seismic Research Unit (SRU) at the St Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies, the tremor measuring 5.2 on the Richter Scale occurred at 2:05 pm just north of Dominica.

There are no reports of injury or damage at this time.

Preliminary information from the SRU is that the event occurred at longitude 15.89° north and latitude 61.52° west. The event was reportedly felt in Dominica, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint Lucia, and St. Vincent.

In a release this evening, the SRU said that this event was part of the earthquake sequence which began northeast of Dominica on November 21st, 2004.

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That's no moon, it's a space station

David Adam, science correspondent
Tuesday February 15, 2005
The Guardian

That's no moon, it's a space station. Actually it's Saturn's satellite Mimas, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the Death Star - the planet-destroying space station in the film Star Wars.

Scientists at Nasa's jet propulsion laboratory in California have released a new image of Mimas, which was snapped by the Cassini spacecraft in orbit around the ringed planet.

Mimas is one of the innermost moons of Saturn. Its most prominent feature is a giant crater some 6 miles deep and 80 miles across, covering almost a third of the moon's diameter, probably caused by an enormous asteroid impact.

Traces of fracture marks can be seen on the opposite side. If the asteroid had been bigger or faster, the moon would probably have been split in two.

At the centre of the crater is a central mountain almost as high as Mount Everest. It was also formed by the asteroid impact when pulverised and molten material rebounded upwards like a splashing water droplet.

The moon's surface is icy and heavily cratered. Far from the warmth of the sun, it has a temperature about -200C and scientists think its low density means it consists mostly of ice.

Most of the craters on Mimas are named after characters in Camelot, but the biggest was christened Herschel after Sir William Herschel, the astronomer who discovered Mimas in 1789, Uranus in 1781 and invented the word asteroid. Mimas was a Titan slain by Hercules in Greek mythology.

Mimas's similarity to the Death Star was first noticed when the twin Voyager spacecraft flew past Saturn in 1980 and 1981.

The new picture was taken on 16 January when Cassini was about 132,000 miles away.

Comment: A mere coincidence or an ominous Sign of the Times?

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