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Exclusive: NASA Researchers Claim Evidence of Present Life on Mars

Brian Berger
Space News Staff Writer
Wed Feb 16

WASHINGTON -- A pair of NASA scientists told a group of space officials at a private meeting here Sunday that they have found strong evidence that life may exist today on Mars, hidden away in caves and sustained by pockets of water.

The scientists, Carol Stoker and Larry Lemke of NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, told the group that they have submitted their findings to the journal Nature for publication in May, and their paper currently is being peer reviewed.

What Stoker and Lemke have found, according to several attendees of the private meeting, is not direct proof of life on Mars, but methane signatures and other signs of possible biological activity remarkably similar to those recently discovered in caves here on Earth. [...]

Comment: As the Mars explorations proceeded over the past few years, we repeatedly stated that we were all being slowly "prepped" for the "revelation" that we were not alone in the universe after all. We also predicted that the first signs of life "out there" would be "teeny tiny". Today, Nasa tells us that we were correct. Given the apparent accuracy of our predictive model, readers might want to consider that our predictions for future revelations on this subject involve the "discovery" of much more substantial life forms. The important point to remember, and the one that we wish to make, is that this entire process of "revelation" is a manipulation. Keep that in mind as events unfold, and you will afford yourself some measure of protection against the decidedly negative effects of government-inspired lies and disinformation. The truth is that we never have been alone in the universe, yet despite all logic and evidence to support this fact, humanity remains as myopic and materialistic as ever.

The subject of our status in relation to the rest of the universe is naturally an explosive one. Consider the possible implications for that bane of humanity, organised religion, if it were to become known that we shared the cosmos with much more advanced intelligent life forms, and, yahweh forbid, that they have been regular visitors to our little planet over the course of human evolution. No longer could the Pope claim to be God's spokesman on earth, unless he was prepared to admit that the other end of his hotline might be on a space barge orbiting Barnard's star. The entire ethos underpinning modern civilisation might crumble and we would all have to ponder our true origins and possible future - a scenario that scares the bejesus out of those who have made a nice living from controlling humanity by controlling what it believes.

Given the fact that the controllers of this planet have succeeded chiefly by staying one step ahead of the posse, it is unlikely that they will be caught unawares by any future revelation that could allow humanity to throw off the shackles of monotheism and a limited materialistic understanding of our origins. On the contrary, we expect such people to be actively preparing for such a scenario and ironing out the finer points of their plan.

Food For Reverend Moon

Interestingly, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, under the auspices of his Unification Church (unifying what we wonder?), has been inspiring a rather revolutionary spirit in many Christian churches across the US over the past few years.

In response to Rev. Moon's teachings on the cross, Rev. John Kingara takes down the cross at the Worldwide Greater Mission Church in Worchester, MA on Good Friday, April 18, 2003 as members of his congregation look on.

Moon's "take down the cross" drive of 2003, inspired Christian churches to remove crosses from almost 300 houses of worship across the US and replace them with a crown as part of Moon's goal to unite all regions under Moon's "divine principle" creed. Admittedly, most large Churches refused to participate and Moon had to content himself with the less salubrious neighborhoods.

Now before you poopoo the Reverend Moon as the self-absorbed leader of a fringe, lunatic group that preys on the gullibility of its followers, (which he may well be), consider that last year, as a grand finale to the "tear down the cross" drive, several US Congressmen attended Moon's bizarre "enthronement" ceremony in the Capitol's Dirksen Building - a US government building - in which Moon crowned himself humanity’s "savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent." Among the devotees were anywhere from 12 to 81 U.S. Senators and Members of Congress (depending on the report) including 26 ambassadors to the United States and some 450 "leaders" from various fields, with Rep. Danny K. Davis, D-IL given the honor of crown Moon. In attendance also were representatives from all three major religions with an unnamed Rabbi lauding Moon for his ability to bring Muslims, Jews and Christians together under the banner of peace.

Rev. Syung Myung Moon with Mrs Moon at the crowning ceremony

As part of the ceremony, the speaker announced:

"The power of true love in action, guided by a vision for an ideal world. The dream of surmounting the high walls between religions. Between races. Between nations. And between world views. Is becoming a reality.

The era of the Eternal Peace Kingdom, one global family under God, is upon us."


Since Moon stepped onto the international stage in the 1970s, he has used his fortune to build political alliances and to finance media, academic and political institutions and build a business empire that includes the Washington Times and United Press International. Moon is also a founder of the American Family Coalition. There is also Moon's ties to former President George HW Bush who, back in 1996, called Moon "the man with the vision". However, given the claims of the millions that Moon has paid Bush Sr for various speeches at Moon-sponsored events, "the man with the money" is probably what Bush really meant.

There is much more to the Reverend Moon and his unification movement, here and here, most of it leaving us with the impression that Moon is either a somewhat demented con man with serious ambition and a lot of luck, or the man chosen by the "powers that be" to kick off the process of uniting the world's religiously-inclined under a single "divine (or will it be "cosmic") principle".

Getting back to our original point. Is it really possible that, at some point in the not-too-distant future, we might see the exposure of organised monotheistic religion for the manipulation that it is, only to have it replaced with an flashy space-age version of the same belief-based control mechanism, albeit with space ships and space brothers? Will the possible uncovering of the existence of extra-terrestrial intelligence and the claim that we were all created somewhere "out there" be enough to unify the planet under a one true "god"? Will the fact that, if we have been fooled once before we could be fooled again, be completely lost on the masses?

Considering that billions of people found Bush's lies about WMDs and the "war on terror" extremely palatable, we find it difficult to imagine any bogus scenario that, if presented in the right way and at the right time, could not be passed off on the sleeping masses of humanity.

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US contractor accused of shooting civilians
February 17, 2005

Washington: Four security guards have claimed that their former employer, hired by the US Government, has arbitrarily killed Iraqi civilians.

"These aren't insurgents that we're brutalising," one of the guards, Bill Craun, a retired US Army Ranger captain, told NBC.

"It was local civilians on their way to work. It's wrong."

Mr Craun and three others said their former employer, Custer Battles, allowed heavily armed guards to roam Iraq brutalising civilians while they were supposed to be guarding supply convoys from rebels.

Custer Battles was the subject of a Senate Democratic Party committee hearing this week into allegations of corruption in Iraq.

A lawyer for the four said the firm was paid millions of dollars for work not done because of the owners' connections with the Republican Party.

The four former employees said their convoys fired on pedestrians and crushed children with a truck. The men claimed a Kurdish guard travelling with them fired into a passenger car to move traffic out of the way.

He "sighted down his AK-47 and started firing", said Ernest Colling, a former army corporal.

The bullet "went through the window. As far as I could see, it hit a passenger. And they didn't even know we were there."

Mr Colling said that later that day, an Iraqi teenager walking on the roadside was shot. "The rear gunner in my vehicle shot him," he said. "Unarmed, walking kids."

A Ford utility truck crushed a smaller car with Iraqis inside.

"I could see two children sitting in the back seat of that car with their eyes looking up at the axle as it came down and pulverised the back," Mr Craun said.

Another guard, Will Hough, a retired US marine, said it was unlikely anyone survived. "Probably not. Not from what I saw."

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Man 'blinded at Guantanamo'

This Is London
17 February 2005

A British resident has been blinded in one eye by American military police at Guantanamo Bay, his lawyer claimed today.

Omar Deghayes' family appealed for the British Government to intervene and secure his release, almost 25 years to the day since his father was assassinated by Colonel Gaddafi's regime in Libya.

Mr Deghayes mother Zohra Zewawi, from Brighton, wept as lawyer Clive Stafford Smith described the injuries the detainee has allegedly suffered at the Cuban base.

"In March 2004 the Emergency Reaction Force in Camp Delta came into his cell," he said.

"They brought their pepper spray and held him down.

"They held both of his eyes open and sprayed it into his eyes and later took a towel soaked in pepper spray and rubbed it in his eyes.

"Omar could not see from either eye for two weeks but he gradually got sight back in one eye.

"He's totally blind in the right eye. I can report that his right eye is all white and milky - he can't see out of it because he has been blinded by the US in Guantanamo."

Mr Stafford Smith added that one of the officers also pushed his finger into Mr Deghayes' eye.

It was a combination of the pepper spray and the gouging which led to loss of his sight, the lawyer claimed.

Mr Deghayes, 35, came to the UK with his family from Libya in 1986, six years after his father, Amer, was allegedly killed by the Gaddafi regime - an incident reported by Amnesty International at the time.

The detainees' brother Taher Deghayes, 38, and sister Amani Deghayes, 30, joined their mother in asking Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to step up diplomatic efforts to secure either his fair trial or release.

Amani, who is legally qualified but is currently a full time mother, added: "Omar has always been someone who cares about justice, he is a fair person and he has always been very well meaning.

"I don't ever believe he would do something like a terrorist attack on civilians or anyone else.

"I can't believe you can hold someone for three years in such terrible conditions without coming up with evidence."

She said it was "laughable" that the Libyan government - from which the family fled 25 years ago - is seen to have diplomatic responsibility for her brother and that Britain - which gave them refuge from persecution - has so far refused to intervene. [...]

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Fury at al-Hariri's funeral
By Cilina Nasser in Beirut
Wednesday 16 February 2005, 21:21 Makka Time, 18:21 GMT

Former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri has been laid to rest in central Beirut amid scenes of anger as thousands of mourners poured into the streets chanting anti-Syrian slogans.

Draped in a Lebanese flag, al-Hariri's casket arrived on Wednesday with some difficulty to the unfinished Muhammad al-Amin mosque, which is located in downtown Beirut, the district he helped to rebuild and transform from a forgotten ghost area during the Lebanese civil war into a major tourist attraction.

Tens of thousands of people lined up the streets along the 3.2-km route taken by the funeral procession. Thousands of others thronged the roads, effectively blocking the ambulance that was carrying al-Hariri's body from reaching the burial site, located just outside the mosque.

"Syria get out, Syria get out," yelled the crowds. A woman in black shouted hysterically, "Syria messed up Lebanon. Let them get out of here. I don't want to see a Syrian face."

Others called on the government to resign. "We don't recognise the current government. They are ruling us by force," Radwan Itani, 45, said.

Sense of gratitude

People who are opposed to Syria consider the government headed by Prime Minister Umar Karami a product of the controversial Syrian-inspired amendment of the Lebanese constitution that allowed President Emile Lahud to extend his term for another three years last September.

Many of those crowding Beirut's streets on Wednesday had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude to al-Hariri, who they said changed their lives, and decided to come from distant areas to say farewell to him.

"My brother was among the many students who were granted a scholarship from the Hariri Foundation," Khalid Jarrah, 43, who came from the Bekaa in eastern Lebanon, said. "Since then, my brother has had a decent job and the financial situation of my family has improved."

Most mourners were wearing black, holding al-Hariri's pictures and waving black flags. Others waved Druze leader Walid Jumblatt's Progressive Socialist Party flags.

Shortly after al-Hariri's assassination, Jumblatt reportedly received a call from UN special envoy Terje Roed-Larsen, who advised him to take maximum security precaution to protect himself.

Jumblatt turned strongly against Syrian presence in Lebanon following the extension of Lahud's term.

Already guilty

Official investigations into Monday's blast that killed al-Hariri are still under way. But many Lebanese have already accused Syria for plotting the murder of their former prime minister.

A total of 17 people, including al-Hariri and his bodyguards, were killed and more than 130 wounded in the explosion.

Al-Hariri's family and proteges had made it clear to top Lebanese officials, such as Lahud, Karami and Interior Minister Sulaiman Franjiah, that they were not welcome to attend the funeral.

When one young man was asked what he would do if one of the pro-Syrian officials showed up, he said: "It's better for their safety not to come here."

Al-Hariri's supporters also declared allegiance to his eldest son Bahaa al-Din, calling on him to follow in his father's footsteps and preserve his legacy.

"By our blood and souls, we sacrifice ourselves to you Bahaa," chanted hundreds of mourners.

People who attended al-Hariri's funeral were not all his supporters. "I disagreed with many of his policies," Nizar Dandim, a teacher, said.

"But I can't deny the energy he had put in everything he worked on," he added, citing the ex-premier's reconstruction of Beirut international airport, downtown Beirut and the roads that were badly damaged during the war.

Financial fallout

Lebanese who opposed al-Hariri blamed him for his reconstruction policies that they said plunged the country into massive public debt that reached high at some 185% of the gross domestic product.

Others worried about the impact of the self-made billionaire's death on Lebanon's economy. "He was controlling the financial situation," said a man who preferred to stay anonymous. "Now after his death, we cannot envisage what will happen."

"I'm afraid investors might start pulling their money out of Lebanon," said Ghinwa Rifaat, 25, an employee at a bank in Beirut, who was taking part in the funeral.
Upon arriving two hours late at the large tent erected to accommodate dignitaries outside the mosque, al-Hariri's casket was held up by his supporters. People wept loudly and uncontrollably. Men held their hands upwards chanting repeatedly, "There is no God but Allah."

Laid to rest

Prayers for al-Hariri's soul were delayed for another hour as the crush of mourners hindered the prayers from being properly held. The organiser repeatedly asked people to move back but the crowds insisted on coming as close to the coffin as they could.
Al-Hariri's eldest son, Bahaa al-Din, took the microphone from the organiser and appealed to the people to move away. "We want to pray for his soul. Please move backwards. Don't let his last moments be spent this way," he shouted.

After the prayers were held, al-Hariri's body, which was wrapped with a kafan (a piece of cloth in which the dead are wrapped), was removed from the wooden casket and he was finally laid to rest in his grave.

Comment: In the turbulent emotional aftermath of Hariri's death, it is understandable that his many supporters would want to find some group to blame for this brutal and unprovoked assassination. Unfortunately when passions run high, it is often difficult to separate oneself from the sorrow and look objectively at a situation such as this.

The crowd, fueled by grief and thoughts of revenge, lash out at the one group that has the least motive and therefore is least likely to be responsible for this tragedy. Imagine if this massive amount of righteous anger was channeled towards discovering and bringing to justice the real perpetrators and those who stand to benefit from blaming other innocent parties. Imagine if citizens of Lebanon and the world were to use the energy of their justifiable outrage towards uncovering the facts, and outing the group who really benefits from the attack as being the one who's most likely behind it.

Rather than jumping to conclusions, or automatically believing the lies of state leaders and their media mouthpieces, perhaps then people could make effective use of their emotional energy and act in ways to ensure that justice truly gets done.

But knowing the power of mobs under the spell of emotional turmoil and the rapidity to which most succumb to speculation, gossip, scapegoating and hearsay, it seems that this isn't likely to happen.

And ultimately, that's just what the Mossad and their Zionist masters are counting on.

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Bush Tells Syria to Quit Lebanon
Thu Feb 17, 2005 11:26 AM ET
By Nadim Ladki
(Additional reporting by Lin Noueihed and Lucy Fielder)
BEIRUT (Reuters) - President Bush called on Syria on Thursday to withdraw its forces from Lebanon as Lebanese opposition leaders vowed to topple the country's pro-Syrian leadership.

Pressure has been piling up on Syria and its Lebanese allies since Monday's killing of former premier Rafik al-Hariri, the country's most influential politician, in a suspected car bombing that many Lebanese blame on Damascus.

Bush said Syria should adhere to a U.N. resolution demanding its troops leave Lebanon and should allow an election scheduled for May to be free and fair.

Bush recalled the U.S. ambassador to Syria this week in reaction to the bombing. At a news conference, he said he did not know who was behind the killing.

"I don't know yet, because the investigation is ongoing," he said. Syria has denied involvement.

Voices from across Lebanon's various ethnic and religious communities, encouraged by the tough anti-Syrian stance of the United States and France, are now telling Damascus and its local allies it is time to go.

"The day will come when we will get brooms and sweep away this dirt, the criminal authority, the terrorist authority," Druze leader Walid Jumblatt told reporters at Hariri's house. "This day will come soon and all of the Lebanese people will rise and send them to hell." [...]

No one has produced evidence that Syria was behind Monday's bomb blast, which caught Hariri's motorcade in a plush seafront hotel district in Beirut, killing 15 people and wounding 135. But opposition leaders have bluntly blamed Damascus.

Lebanon has resisted French calls for an international probe into the bombing but the military judiciary said on Wednesday that Swiss explosives and DNA experts had been asked to help.

Comment: Bush is using the bombing to further implement his agenda. Where have we seen this before? Oh, yes. 9/11. We wonder if the same people are responsible?

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US intelligence officials paint Iran as leading threat 2005-02-17 04:09:54
WASHINGTON, Feb. 16 (Xinhuanet) -- US intelligence officials on Wednesday painted Iran as one of the leading threats facing the United States, alleging it pursues ballistic missiles while continuing to support terrorism.

CIA Director Porter Goss noted to lawmakers that Iranian officials had indicated that Iran would not give up its ability to enrich uranium. "Certainly they can use it to produce fuel for power reactors, We are more concerned about the dual-use nature of the nuclear technology that could also be used to achieve a nuclear weapon," Goss said.

"In parallel, Iran continues its pursuit of long-range ballistic missiles," the new intelligence chief told the Senate Select Committee at its annual threat assessment hearing.

Goss charged that Tehran continued to support terrorist groups in the Middle East region with an aim of derailing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. He also accused Iran of "supporting some anti-coalition activities in Iraq and seeking to influence the future character of the Iraqi state."

Goss said Tehran continued to harbor important members of al-Qaeda, "causing further uncertainty about Iran's commitment to bring them to justice."

Vice Adm. Lowell Jacoby, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, echoed Goss' remarks at the hearing, saying Iran's long-term goal is to expel the United States from the Middle East region.

Comment: With the situation in Iraq deteriorating, the US needs to blame someone else. The Iranians make an easy target. Forget the fact that most analystes believe that fighting is being done mostly by Sunni Moslems who support the Bathist party and that the Shi'ites just got a majority in the Parliamentery elections. While it may be true that Iran is "supporting some anti-coalition activities in Iraq and seeking to influence the future character of the Iraqi state", it has been through support of Iraqi Shi'ites and the "democratic process" set up by the US occupation. That the elections were fought over "how quickly can we get rid of the US occupation forces" may not be reported on CNN, but is an accurately assessment of the wishes of the Iraqi people, even those who took part in the elections.

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IAEA chief says no proof Iran is building nuclear weapons
16 February 2005 1712 hrs - AFP

WASHINGTON: There is no evidence to support the claim that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog Mohamed ElBaradei said in an interview published by The Washington Post.

"On Iran, there really hasn't been much development, neither as a result of our inspections or as a result of intelligence," said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general.

ElBaradei called for greater US participation in diplomatic efforts to engage Iran and North Korea in talks about their nuclear programs.

"North Korea and Iran are still the two 800-pound gorillas in the room and not much is happening," ElBaradei told The Washington Post at his IAEA office in Vienna. The daily said the interview was with four US newspapers.

The IAEA chief praised Britain, France and Germany for talking Iran into suspending its nuclear enrichment program for weapons-grade uranium.

"If I look at the big picture," he said, "there is no enrichment in Iran, and this is quite satisfactory, and I hope it keeps this way until we reach an agreement" for a permanent stop.

Iran and the EU embarked in December on negotiations towards a long-term agreement to give Tehran trade, technology and security aid and guarantees in return for it taking steps to reassure the international community that its nuclear program is strictly peaceful.

ElBaradei criticized Washington's refusal to talk with Iran, dismissing the argument that this would legitimize Tehran's Islamic government, which the United States accuses of supporting terrorism.

"I don't see talking to a regime as legitimization," ElBaradei said. "They talk to North Korea, and I don't think that legitimizes the North Korean regime."

He insisted that the only way to end the crisis with Iran was for the United States to join in the talks with its three European allies.

"I don't think the Iranian issue will be resolved without the United States putting fully its weight behind the Europeans," he said.

On North Korea's announcement last week that it had built nuclear weapons and was pulling out of six-nation talks about its atomic programme, ElBaradei said his agency could not verify Pyongyang's claim since its inspectors in the Stalinist nation were expelled two years ago.

However, he considered the North Koreans' announcement a sign that they were feeling ignored: "This is their trump card, and they will try to squeeze every drop of blood out of it."

ElBaradei urged the United States, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia to coax North Korea into accepting IAEA inspections once again, "the sooner, the better."

On Washington's intention to have him step down when his second term as IAEA chief ends in mid-2005, ElBaradei said his relations with the United States have been good: "I would hope we would continue to cooperate no matter what."

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Islamic terrorism tops security risks to US: CIA director
17 February 2005 0439 hrs - AFP

WASHINGTON : Islamic extremists, including the Al-Qaeda network, remain a potent US security threat, the director of the CIA told US a Senate panel, as he outlined potential dangers to US interests around the globe.

In his first public comments since assuming the post of CIA director in September, Porter Goss depicted a world fraught with peril for US citizens and interests, particularly from radical Islamist groups in the Middle East and Asia.

One of the key risks, he said, is posed by al-Qaeda, which already proved with the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington that it is committed to and capable of dealing the United States a devastating blow.

"Al-Qaeda is intent on finding ways to circumvent US security enhancements to strike Americans and the homeland," Goss told the Senate Intelligence Committee at a hearing on threats to US security worldwide.

While the radical Islamist group has succeeded in the past delivering severe blows to the United States via conventional weapons, "it may only be a matter of time before Al-Qaeda or another group attempts to use chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons," Goss said.

Although the terror network is vulnerable following efforts by the United States and its allies to flush out itself leadership and dismantle it, Goss called Al-Qaeda a formidable foe that has been "patient, persistent, imaginative, adaptive and dangerous."

The CIA director also singled out terrorist elements in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Ukzbekistan and Southeast Asia, and noted that radical Islamic groups even pose a significant risk in parts of Europe where "Islamic extremists continue to plan and cause attacks against US and local interests."

Also testifying at Wednesday's hearing were FBI director Robert Mueller and other top intelligence and security officials.

Iraq remains another area of major concern, Goss testified, despite successful elections late last month that analysts generally viewed as having given a shot in the arm to efforts to foster an appetite in the region for democracy.

"Low voter turnout in some Sunni areas and the post-election resumption of insurgent attacks, mostly against Iraqi civilians and security forces, indicate that the insurgency achieved at least some of its election day goals and remains a serious threat to creating a stable representative government in Iraq," he said, telling the panel that the key to success in Iraq was building up strong domestic security forces.

Goss told the committee that Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons remains a major concern, as does Tehran's effort to build long range missiles with which to deliver them.

And even after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, "Iran continues to support terrorist groups in the region such as Hezbollah. It is a state sponsor," Goss charged.

He added that Iran harbors "important members of al-Qaeda, causing further unclarity about Iran's commitment to bring them to justice one way or another."

Goss said that "Iran reportedly is supporting some anti-coalition activities in Iraq in seeking to influence the future character of the Iraqi state."

Meanwhile, North Korea's nuclear weapons program has come to pose not just a problem to its neighbors, but threatens US interests as well, Goss said.

"North Korea could resume flight testing at any time ... including longer range missiles capable of reaching the United States," he testified at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.

"We believe North Korea has active CW (chemical weapons) and BW (biological weapons) programs ... ready for use," said Goss.

Comment: More blatant unsubstantiated fear-mongering from the newly appointed CIA director Porter Goss, which only goes to show that he is more adept at being a puppet mouthpiece for the Neocon administration than his predecessor. The only thing really scary about his comments above is how many hot-blooded American patriots swallow this nonsense word for word.

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CIA issues warning on China's military efforts
By Edward Alden in Washington
Financial Times
February 16 2005 19:32

The director of the US Central Intelligence Agency has warned that China's military modernisation is tilting the balance of power in the Taiwan Strait and increasing the threat to US forces in the region.

Delivering the agency's annual assessment of worldwide threats on Wednesday, Porter Goss, a former Republican congressman who was named in September to head the CIA, dropped any mention of the co-operative elements of the US-China relationship that characterised recent CIA statements. Instead, he said China was making determined military and diplomatic efforts to "counter what it sees as US efforts to contain or encircle China".

Mr Goss's statements on China were a small part of testimony that highlighted the threat Islamic terrorism poses to the US and emphasised concerns over Iran and North Korea. He has also said that he wants to refocus the agency on its traditional mission of assessing threats and avoid statements that could be interpreted as setting US policy.

But the statement on China indicated the CIA is paying growing attention to what it considers potential military threats amid China's growing economic ties with its neighbours and the US. Mr Goss referred to US concerns over the increase in Chinese ballistic missiles deployed across the Taiwan Strait and the improvements in China's nuclear and conventional capabilities.

The change in tone was notable given US concerns over Europe's plan to end its embargo on arms sales to China. Experts on China said that, while warnings about China's military capabilities were not new, the CIA had in the past underscored the co-operation between the US and China.

In testimony last year, George Tenet, former CIA head, praised China for co-operation in the war on terrorism and for its participation in the nuclear talks with North Korea. In 2003, Mr Tenet described US-Taiwan relations as relatively placid and said China was trying to assert its influence through "economic growth and Chinese integration into the global economy". James Lilley, a former US ambassador to China, said that, while it was appropriate for the CIA to focus on longer-term threats, the growing economic ties between China and Taiwan were making conflict less likely.

James Steinberg, deputy national security adviser in the Clinton administration, said: "It is a little surprising that it didn't say anything about the enormous emphasis China places on a stable international environment and constructive relations with the US."

Comment: It seems that China is now being lumped together with "Islamic terrorists". Not surprisingly, Goss apparently failed to mention that the dollar is currently being stabilised primarily by China and Japan. Add to this the recent legislation calling for tariffs on goods imported from China in an effort to repair the massive US trade deficit, and it is clear that the stage is being set for something big in the near future.

The only problem is that war on imaginary Islamic terrorists that hide in caves and move from country to country is one thing; angering a military giant like China by blaming them for a crashed US economy and accusing them of involvement with "terrorists" is an entirely different scenario that could easily escalate into WWIII.

But then, perhaps that's the whole idea...

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Expert: China overtakes US as world's top consumer 2005-02-17 13:31:56
BEIJING, Feb. 17 -- China has replaced the United States as the world's top consumer, eclipsing the world's richest economy in consumption of four of the five basic food, energy and industrial commodities, a global environmental think tank said.

Growing at a rapid rate, China has taken the lion's share in the consumption of grain, meat, coal and steel, and loses out to the United States only in oil among the five basic commodities, according to the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute.

In another key area, fertilizer, China's use is double that of the United States while among television sets, refrigerators and cellular phones the world's most populous nation is way ahead.

Among leading consumer products, China trails the United States only in automobiles, the institute said in a report.

It will only be a matter of time before China, the world's most populous nation, overtakes the United States in the use of personal computers.

The number of PCs in China are doubling every 28 months, the report said.

"China's eclipse of the United States as a consumer nation should be seen as another milestone along the path of its evolution as a world economic leader," Lester Brown, the institute's president, told reporters.

"China is no longer just a developing country," he said. "It is an emerging economic superpower, one that is writing economic history," said Brown, a respected environmental analyst.

Among the big three grains, China leads in the consumption of both wheat and rice, and trails the United States only in corn use.

China's 2004 intake of 64 million tonnes of meat has climbed far above the 38 million tonnes consumed in the United States, where the hamburger-eating habit is a defining element of the country's lifestyle.

China's steel usage -- a barometer of industrial development -- is now more than twice that of the United States: 258 million tonnes to 104 million tonnes in 2003.

Although US oil consumption is triple that of China's -- 20.4 million barrels per day to 6.5 million barrels in 2004, use in China has more than doubled, Brown said.

But Brown hastened to add that there was a downside to China's insatiable appetite for raw materials to fuel its unstoppable economy, saying it was driving up not only commodity prices but ocean shipping rates as well.

The Chinese consuming prowess also would deal yet another blow to the United States, which suffers a massive trade deficit with the Asian giant and is heavily dependent on Chinese capital to underwrite its fast-growing debt.

"If China ever decides to divert this capital surplus elsewhere, either to internal investment or to the development of oil, gas, and mineral resources elsewhere in the world, the US economy will be in trouble," Brown said

He warned that global dependence on the Chinese economy, with 1.3 billion people, for absorption of both raw materials and finished products could backfire if economic growth in China plunged.

"As Chinese incomes rise at a world record pace, use of foodstuffs, energy, raw materials, and sales of consumer goods are continuing to climb," he noted.

China's per capita annual income of 5,300 dollars last year is one seventh the 38,000 dollars in the United States.

Brown, who this month launched his groundbreaking book "Outgrowing the Earth: The Food Security Challenge in an Age of Falling Water Tables and Rising Temperatures," said one of the bigger concerns was that China's rapid growth took a toll on the environment.

For example, he said, China's grain production had stagnated, including due to expansion of deserts and the loss of irrigation water.

Brown said in his book that China was "putting enormous pressure on its own natural resource base.

"In the deteriorating relationship between the global economy and the earth's ecosystem, China is unfortunately on the cutting edge."

Comment: The US knows that China is a future threat. The deployment of US troops throughout Asia in the former Soviet Republics may well have as one of its goals to encircle China.

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North Korea could resume missile tests: CIA chief
17 February 2005 0119 hrs - CNA

WASHINGTON : Nuclear-armed North Korea could resume missile tests anytime and has active biological and chemical weapons programs, CIA Director Porter Goss told Congress.

"North Korea could resume flight testing at any time ... including longer range missiles capable of reaching the United States," he testified at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.

"We believe North Korea has active CW (chemical weapons) and BW (biological weapons) programs ... ready for use," said Goss, who took over as CIA director in September.

Goss spoke a week after North Korea publicly declared for the first time that it possessed nuclear weapons and that it was boycotting six-party talks designed to end its nuclear weapons programmes.

The talks were aimed at denuclearising the Korean peninsula and end a standoff with the United States, which in October 2002 accused the Stalinist state of operating a program based on highly enriched uranium, violating a 1994 arms control agreement.

Goss did not say whether North Korea's nuclear technology would allow it to launch a nuclear-tipped missile.

In 1998, North Korea launched a long-range ballistic test missile over key US ally Japan, becoming one of Tokyo's biggest security worries and prompting Tokyo to begin researching missile defence.

"North Korea continues to market its ballistic missile technology," Goss said Wednesday.

"We believe North Korea continues to pursue a uranium enrichment capability," he said, adding that it had drawn on assistance from Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan illicit nuclear network, which has since reportedly been shut down.

"North Korea continues to develop, produce, deploy and sell ballistic missiles with increasing range of sophistication," Goss added.

On Tuesday, the commander-designate of US troops in the Asia-Pacific area Admiral William Fallon told the Senate the United States would maintain a strong military deterrence on the Korean peninsula.

"North Korea's continuing development and proliferation of WMD (weapons of mass destruction) and ballistic missile capabilities pose a serious threat to the US and our allies," he had said.

On China, Goss said Beijing's military buildup could tilt the strategic balance with Taiwan and also threaten US forces in Asia.

"Improved Chinese capabilities threaten US forces in the region," he added.

Goss said that China is stepping efforts to "develop robust, survivable nuclear armed missiles as well as conventional capability for use in regional conflicts."

He added: "If Beijing decides that Taiwan is taking steps toward permanent separation that excedes Beijing's tolerance, we assess China is prepared to respond with varying levels of force."

China has stepped up warnings to Taiwan in recent months about moves toward what it fears could be a declaration of independence. Nationalists split from China in 1949, after the end of the Chinese civil war, and set up their base in Taiwan.

The Beijing leadership has warned many times that it would use force to stop Taiwan making a formal breakaway.

"China is increasingly confident and active on the international stage," said Goss, "trying to ensure that it has a voice on international issues and secures access to natural resources and to counter what it sees as United States' efforts to contain or encircle it."

Comment: Okay, this is supposed to be news to make us all very very afraid. In addition to the usual dire warnings over nuclear warheads from this evil rogue state, according to Mr. Goss, North Korea has biological and chemical weapons now. Gee, if memory serves, back in the olden days there used to be a crazy thing called "proof" or "evidence" or some kind of verifiable facts on hand before one went around accusing others of such horrendous crimes. But all it takes these days is for some government intelligence director to make any outrageous claim he wants on TV, and apparently it gets picked up by and publicized around the world as if it's already true. Stay tuned, we may soon be seeing Mr. Goss standing up in front of the UN trying to convince ever-skeptical world leaders that he found a packet of anthrax in a Korean noodle bowl.

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Bush Nominates Negroponte As Intel Chief
Associated Press
February 17, 2005

WASHINGTON - President Bush on Thursday named John Negroponte, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and currently the administration's top representative in Iraq, to be America's first national intelligence director.

It's a sudden job change for Negroponte, a career diplomat.

Announcing the move at the White House, Bush said that Negroponte understands global intelligence needs because he's had a long career in the foreign service.

"John will make sure that those whose duty it is to defend America have the information we need to make the right decisions," Bush said. "We're going to stop the terrorists before they strike."

Responding, Negroponte called the new job "the most challenging assignment I have undertaken in more than 40 years of government service." Said Bush: "He understands the power centers in Washington."

Bush named Lt. Gen. Mike Hayden, who has served as director of the National Security Agency since March 1999, as Negroponte's deputy. He is the longest serving director of the secretive codebreaking agency and has pushed for changes, such as asking longtime agency veterans to retire and increasing reliance on technology contractors. [...]

As ambassador to the United Nations, Negroponte helped win unanimous approval of a Security Council resolution that demanded Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein comply with U.N. mandates to disarm. Negroponte worked to expand the role for international security forces in Afghanistan after the overthrow of the Taliban government.

Negroponte's confirmation to the United Nations post was delayed a half-year mostly because of criticism of his record as the U.S. ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985. In Honduras, he played a prominent role in assisting the Contras in Nicaragua in their war with the left-wing Sandinista government.

Human rights groups alleged that Negroponte acquiesced in human rights abuses by Honduran death squads funded and partly trained by the CIA. Negroponte testified during the hearings for the U.N. post that he did not believe death squads were operating in Honduras. [...]

Comment: He can certainly lie with a straight face. Of course, from his twisted, corrupt, and fascist way of thinking, killing women by throwing them out of helicopters doesn't amount to death squads. It's just a normal day's work. Look at the behaviour of US troops in Vietnam and now in Iraqi cities like Falluja.

Check out the Wikipedia entry on Negroponte. While he was US ambassador to Honduras from 1981-85, US military aid to the country increased from $4 million a year to over $77 million! This money went towards the war against the democratically elected government in Nicaragua, and Honduran death squads that got their jollies from torturing women:

Records also show that a special intelligence unit (commonly referred to as a "death squad") of the Honduran armed forces, Battalion 3-16, trained by the CIA and Argentine military, kidnapped, tortured and killed hundreds of people, including US missionaries. Critics charge that Negroponte knew about these human rights violations and yet continued to collaborate with the Honduran military while lying to Congress.

In May 1982, a nun, Sister Laetitia Bordes, who had worked for ten years in El Salvador, went on a fact-finding delegation to Honduras to investigate the whereabouts of thirty Salvadoran nuns and women of faith who fled to Honduras in 1981 after Archbishop Oscar Romero's assassination. Negroponte claimed the embassy knew nothing. But in a 1996 interview with the Baltimore Sun, Negroponte's predecessor, Jack Binns, said that a group of Salvadorans, among whom were the women Bordes had been looking for, were captured on April 22, 1981, and savagely tortured by the DNI, the Honduran Secret Police, and then later thrown out of helicopters alive.

A job well done dealing with "sub-humans" in Latin America, Negroponte went into the "private sector" to make a few bucks before he was made US ambassador to the UN in 2001, just in time to ram through the war on Afghanistan and the destruction of Iraq. After a stint as US ambassador to Iraq, he is now being rewarded with the newly created position of US National Intelligence Director.

But hey, every fascist leader needs a trustworthy, sadistic guy like Negroponte at the head of intelligence operations to torture and kill all enemies of "freedom and democracy", right? And if Negroponte supported the murder of US missionaries in Honduras, he certainly won't have a problem dealing with US citizens deemed to be "enemy combatants"...

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Officials Warn of Future Terror Attacks
Associated Press
February 17, 2005

WASHINGTON - Speaking with one voice, President Bush's top intelligence and military officials said Wednesday that terrorists are regrouping for possible new strikes against the United States.

They said the best defense was for Congress to approve the president's military and anti-terror budget. But some in Congress, including prominent Republicans, were questioning some of that spending.

Offering few specifics on terror threats, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told a House hearing that the government could reasonably predict attacks would come from terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and other means.

Meanwhile, new CIA Director Porter Goss told the Senate Intelligence Committee the Iraq war was giving terrorists experience and contacts for future attacks, and FBI Director Robert Mueller expressed worry that a sleeper operative in the U.S. may have been in place for years, awaiting orders for an attack.

"I remain very concerned about what we are not seeing," Mueller said in remarks he submitted to the senators. [...]

Comment: Think about that statement. The director of the FBI is very concerned about what the agency cannot see. The FBI! So that means that Mueller is also very concerned about the Boogeyman, the monsters under our beds, and the giant apes that live in our closets and only come out at night...

Senior administration officials appearing at a series of congressional hearings Wednesday described a Muslim extremist threat that's become more diffuse, encompassing al-Qaida and like-minded associates.

Goss said al-Qaida remains intent on circumventing U.S. security measures and attacking the United States.

"It may be only a matter of time before al-Qaida or other groups attempt to use chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons," Goss said at the Senate Intelligence Committee's annual hearing on threats.

In his first testimony as CIA chief, Goss said the Iraq conflict has become a cause for extremists.

"Those jihadists who survive will leave Iraq experienced in and focused on acts of urban terrorism. They represent a potential pool of contacts to build transnational terrorist cells, groups and networks," Goss said. [...]

Grim at times, the appraisals on threats to the United States indicated the second Bush term would remain fraught with warnings but often short on specifics shared with the public.

During the presidential campaign last year, the Bush-Cheney team often warned vaguely of terror threats. [...]

Comment: Those vague terror threats always seem to pop up when Bush and the gang need to hoodwink the American people - and time and again, it works like a charm.

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Israeli troops kill two Palestinians
Wednesday 16 February 2005, 1:26 Makka Time, 22:26 GMT

Two Palestinians have been shot and killed by Israeli troops near Nablus in the occupied West Bank.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said the two were killed while they attempted to approach a Jewish settlement late on Tuesday night.

"Israeli soldiers spotted two Palestinians who were approaching the Jewish settlement of Brakha, south of Nablus, opened fire on them, killing one and wounding the second," she said.

The spokeswoman said the injured man later died of his wounds and added that they had been carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles.

Palestinian security sources said there had been an exchange of fire between Israeli occupation troops and Palestinians in the area.

The killings come amid a recent lull in violence in the region following Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas' initiative to re-start peace talks with Israel.

Abbas has deployed Palestinian security forces along the border to prevent Palestinian resistance fighters from firing rockets into Israel. He has also extracted a pledge from the groups to maintain an unofficial truce.

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Sharon's son indicted on illegal financing 2005-02-17 21:40:45

JERUSALEM, Feb. 17 (Xinhuanet) -- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's son Omri Sharon was indicted Thursday in connection with illegal financing of his father's 1999 campaign to lead the ruling Likud party.

Attorney General Menahem Mazuz announced the indictment charging Sharon junior for allegedly setting up a straw company to funnel cash into his father's primary campaign.

The indictment against Omri will be submitted pending a judicial hearing, after the Knesset (Parliament) lifts his immunity as a member of the Knesset.

Omri refused to comment on the case, saying "I have something to say on the matter, but in light of the fact that a hearing will be held, the correct order is that I say these things first to the attorney general, and that's what I will do."

Sources in the Justice Ministry said earlier they believed Omri would be indicted for relatively minor infractions of the law.

Citing insufficient evidence, Mazuz said he would close the case against prime minister's political adviser Dov Weisglass, who is also suspected of involvement in the case.

Last year, Mazuz decided not to indict Ariel Sharon on charges of taking bribes from an Israeli businessman, overturning a recommendation from the state prosecutor's office.

Both the police and the Tel Aviv District Attorney's Office, which investigated the affair, recommended indicting Omri Sharon but no one else.

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Dagestan vice premier survives blast
Wednesday 16 February 2005, 22:21 Makka Time, 19:21 GMT

Three people have been killed and five wounded in a car bomb attack targeting two senior leaders in the government of the southern Russian republic of Dagestan, local officials said.

Dagestan Deputy Prime Minister Amutshi Amutinov and Security Council Secretary Akhmednabi Magdigadyev were unhurt by the blast in the northern city of Kizlyar on Wednesday, according to a spokesperson for Dagestan Interior Minister Dmitri Nikiforov.
The booby-trapped car, parked in front of the Kizlyar administrative district, exploded as a Mercedes carrying the two government ministers passed by.
"Following the explosion, eight people were wounded, three of whom died," Nikiforov said.
Fourth attempt
According to ITAR-TASS news agency, the attack was the fourth assassination attempt on the deputy prime minister.
Dagestan Deputy Interior Minister Magomed Omarov and two of his bodyguards were killed on 2 February when their car was sprayed with bullets in the capital Makhachkala.
Dagestan is an ethnically mixed republic between war-torn Chechnya to the west and the Caspian Sea to the east.
Since 1999 it has been the scene of numerous attacks attributed to separatist groups infiltrating from breakaway Chechnya.

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Senior ILA official admits using non-approved chemicals to spray Bedouin crops
By Yuval Yoaz

The Israel Lands Administration has been spraying fields cultivated by Bedouin farmers in the Negev with chemicals that have not been approved by the Agriculture Ministry and have been banned for use in aerial spraying.

Last week, a senior ILA official submitted an affidavit to that effect to the Supreme Court of Justice, which is currently discussing a petition filed by Bedouin farmers against the ILA's crop-spraying policy in the Negev. The ILA claims that its policy is designed to counter the phenomenon of illegal occupation of state-owned land by Bedouin.

The petition, filed in May 2004 by attorney Marwan Dalal of Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, claims that "the spraying of crops endangers the life and health of human beings and animals, as well as their environment." Along with the petition, Adalah submitted an expert opinion that stated that crop spraying increases the chances of birth defects and statistical likelihood of developing cancer. [...]

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France, Poland to hold first-ever summit 2005-02-17 21:08:18
PARIS, Feb. 17 (Xinhuanet) -- France and Poland will hold their first-ever summit on February 28 in the northern French city of Arras, the office of French President Jacques Chirac said Thursday.

The scheduled summit will be held between French President Jacques Chirac and his Polish counterpart Aleksander Kwasniewski. Chirac's office did not give any further details.

French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier who visited the Polish capital Warsaw last month spoke of a "new beginning" in bilateral relations between the two countries.

Relations between the two countries have been strained since 2003 due to differencies in attitude towards the US-led Iraqi war and deteriorated recently over a reference to Christian values in the draft European Union constitution.

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Weak Dollar, Low Taxes Boost Coke Profit
By Paul Simao
Wed Feb 16, 4:22 PM ET

ATLANTA - Coca-Cola Co., the world's largest soft-drink maker, on Wednesday reported higher fourth-quarter net income as it benefited from the weak U.S. dollar, lower taxes and a late-year surge in demand for its beverages.

The results surprised Wall Street, which had expected a lower profit before one-time gains and other special items. Instead, that figure held steady from a year earlier. [...]

Currency changes, led primarily by the weak U.S. dollar, contributed about 3 cents per share to earnings. A falling dollar improves financial results when overseas earnings are converted into U.S. currency. [...]

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Witness in WorldCom Trial Admits to Lies
By Paul Thomasch
Wed Feb 16, 6:44 PM ET

NEW YORK - Former WorldCom Inc. finance chief Scott Sullivan, who has become the star witness against Bernard Ebbers, admitted on Wednesday to a history of lies, saying he had deceived shareholders, analysts and the board while his staff undertook an $11 billion accounting fraud.

Sullivan's admissions came during the first day of cross examination by the lead attorney for Ebbers, WorldCom's former chief executive accused by prosecutors of orchestrating sweeping accounting fraud at the telecommunications company.

Defense attorney Reid Weingarten sharply questioned Sullivan, seeking to undermine the credibility of the only witness to directly link Ebbers to the accounting scandal.

Sullivan conceded he lied on more than a dozen occasions about the financial health of WorldCom, where accountants were cooking the books to hide deteriorating profits between 2000 and 2002. At one point, Weingarten grilled Sullivan about his misleading statements to the audit committee in 2002.

"If you believe something is in your interest, you are willing and able to lie to accomplish it, isn't that right?" Weingarten asked.

"On that day, yes, I lied," Sullivan said.

Sullivan -- who has pleaded guilty to fraud and is cooperating with prosecutors in hopes of a lighter prison sentence -- also admitted to lying during presentations to shareholders, analysts and the company's board.

He conceded he had lied on a government security clearance questionnaire about use of drugs, including marijuana and cocaine.

"I was not truthful in answering the question," he said. "I didn't want to deal with the embarrassment of the drug usage."

Sullivan appeared calm and confident during his first day of cross examination in U.S. District Court about his testimony last week that Ebbers knew about the accounting tricks. [...]

Federal prosecutors charge that Ebbers fretted over meeting analysts' earnings estimates because he stood to lose much of his personal fortune if the company's share price collapsed.

Not only did Ebbers have most of his wealth tied up in the stock, he had also used shares to back big personal loans for other businesses including a rice farm and a ranch in Canada.

To avoid steep stock losses, prosecutors say, Ebbers orchestrated the accounting fraud by approving Sullivan's "adjustments" to depressed revenue and skyrocketing expenses.

Sullivan said he was often intimidated by Ebbers, and at times believed he would be fired by his boss. [...]

Comment: We have Ebbers who goes out and uses shares to back huge personal loans for a rice farm and a ranch. He allegedly wanted to cook the books to prevent personal financial bankruptcy. Then we have Sullivan, an admitted liar, who we are supposed to believe was worried that he would be fired by Ebbers if he did not comply?! For a very interesting and educational look inside the corporate world, watch the movie The Corporation.

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Scientists find dramatic changes in Southern Ocean, fear climate link
Thursday February 17, 3:08 PM

Scientists have discovered dramatic changes in the temperature and salinity of deep waters in the Southern Ocean that they warn could have a major impact on global climate.

Expedition leader Steve Rintoul of Australia said his multinational team of researchers had found that waters at the bottom of the Southern Ocean were significantly cooler and less salty than they were 10 years ago.

He said the size and speed of the changes surprised scientists, who have long believed deep ocean waters underwent little temperature change, and could indicate a slowdown in the flow of deep water currents.

"Ocean circulation is a big influence on global climate, so it is critical that we understand why this is happening and why it is happening so quickly," Rintoul said after he and his team docked at Hobart on the Australian island state of Tasmania.

"The surprise was just how rapidly the deepest parts of the ocean are changing, at depths of four or five kilometers (13,200-16,500 feet) below the sea surface," Rintoul said.

"Whether its a natural cycle that takes place over many decades, or it's climate change, it's an indication that the deep ocean can respond much more rapidly to changes that are happening near the surface than we believed possible," he said.

The expedition sampled 3,000 kilometers of the Southern Ocean basin during an eight-week expedition aboard the Australian Antarctic Division's research ship Aurora Australis.

Their findings added new urgency to the study of climate change, Rintoul said.

"It's another indication that the climate is capable of changing and is changing now," he said. [...]

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Villagers on alert as volcano belches to life
February 16 2005 at 08:07AM

Jakarta - About 2 000 people living in the shadow of Indonesia's Mount Egon were placed on alert Wednesday as the volcano spewed smoke for a fourth day, a disaster management official said.

The 1 703m volcano on the eastern island of Flores has been emitting a column of thick black smoke up to 1 000 meters high from the tip of the crater since Sunday, Steve Bajo told AFP.

"From the crater, there has been intermittent smoke spewing since Sunday and it is still spewing today. We are now on alert status," he said from Maumere, a town about 25 kilometers west of the volcano.

He said officials had warned the estimated 2 000 residents living within a radius of 2,5 kilometers of the crater to remain cautious and remain in their homes pending a possible evacuation order.

Sunday's eruption was the first since last September.

Indonesia sits on the "Pacific Rim of Fire" noted for its volcanic and seismic activity and has more than 100 active volcanoes.

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Moderate Quake Rattles Anchorage, Alaska
Wed Feb 16, 2005 03:45 PM ET

ANCHORAGE - A moderate earthquake rattled Alaska's largest city on Wednesday morning but caused no serious damage.

The earthquake, measured at magnitude 4.8, was centered 10 miles northeast of Anchorage and struck about 15 miles underground, said Judy Reeves, a spokeswoman at the Alaska Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer.

Some household items were damaged, but no injuries were reported to the center, Reeves said.

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Earthquake destroys 900 homes in Xinjiang 2005-02-16 23:33:31

WUSHI, Xinjiang, Feb. 16 (Xinhuanet) -- The No. 2 division of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps confirmed Wednesday night that Tuesday's earthquake in Wushi County of northwest China's Uygur Autonomous Region destroyed 5,800 rooms of 900 households with the division.

The earthquake also partially damaged the homes of another 6,000 families with the division. Some primary and middle schools have decided to postpone classes for 10 days in order to repair the school rooms damaged in the earthquake.

The location of the division's fourth regiment is one of the worst affected areas. The area was near the epicenter of the earthquake, which measured 6.2 on the Richter scale. Sources said that 2,580 rooms of 430 families and 4,750 meters of shelters for livestock were damaged. [...]

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Earthquake felt in Phuket
Thursday 17 February 2005 08:46:53 AM

BANGKOK, Feb 16 (TNA) - No damage was reported today after tremors from an earthquake in the Indian Ocean were felt on Thailand's Andaman island of Phuket.

A statement from the Meteorological Department said that the earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter Scale was felt on the island this afternoon, despite Phuket being 550 kilometres away from the epicentre near the Nicobar Islands.

Phuket was one of the Andaman provinces to receive extensive damage from the Asian tsunami on 26 December, which caused the loss of over 5,300 lives in Thailand alone.

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Mild earthquake jolts Lahore
app - Thursday, February 17, 2005

LAHORE: An earthquake measuring 4.5 on the Richter Scale jolted Lahore at about 2:50 on Wednesday morning. According to the Met Office, the epicentre of the earthquake, which was felt only for a few seconds in the Punjab capital, was 350 kilometres southeast of Peshawar. Tremors were also reported in Narowal, where several people came out into the streets. Meanwhile, the head of the Meteorological Department urged people not to listen to rumours about impending earthquakes, as there is no accurate quake forecast system in the world. Thousands of people left their homes and spent the night out in the open in Peshawar a few days ago after a few maulvis warned people through loudspeakers that a huge earthquake had hit Kabul and was on its way to the NWFP capital.

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Strong earthquake shakes Indonesia's Sulawesi island
16 February 2005 1114 hrs

JAKARTA : A strong earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale shook the Indonesian province of North Sulawesi overnight, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties, meteorologists said on Wednesday.

The offshore quake occurred at 9:42 pm (1442 GMT) in the Pacific Ocean some 378 kilometres northeast of Talaud island, said Wijayanto of the Meteorology and Geophysics office.

The quake was centred some 22 kilometres under the seabed and was strongly felt on the island, Wijayanto said. The quake was also felt in the provincial capital Manado.

The Hong Kong Observatory said that it estimated the magnitude of the earthquake at 6.4 on the Richter scale.

The latest quake took place after a 5.4 earthquake jolted West Sumatra province on Monday. [...]

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Powerful earthquake rattles tsunami-hit Banda Aceh, Indonesia
February 17, 2005

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP) - A powerful earthquake sent tsunami survivors fleeing from buildings in Indonesia's hard-hit Aceh province on Thursday, while Australia said its helicopters will soon return home as the focus of relief efforts shifts from emergency aid to rebuilding. [...]

A magnitude 6.0 quake sent residents and refugees scurrying out of buildings in Banda Aceh. The temblor, which lasted nearly 30 seconds, was centred about 110 kilometres southwest of the provincial capital, said Banda Aceh geophysics station chief Syahnan Sobri.

Thursday's quake was the latest in a series of aftershocks that have hit the region since the 9.0-magnitude earthquake on Dec. 26 triggered the tsunami. There were no immediate reports of injury or damage.

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Storm toll in Pakistan at least 529
Tuesday, February 15, 2005 Updated at 12:28 PM EST
Associated Press

Peshawar, Pakistan — The death toll from a week of torrential rain and heavy snow in Pakistan rose to at least 529 on Tuesday as 79 more dead were reported in the country's northwest.

Snow and landslides blocked roads to hard-hit areas in the North West Frontier Province and elsewhere in the country, hampering efforts to bring in food, medicine, tents and blankets, officials said.

Relief commissioner Ghulam Farooq told a news conference that the province's death toll jumped Tuesday to 260 from 181.

Storms have destroyed 2,400 houses, damaged 3,700 more and killed hundreds of livestock. The provincial government has released 60 million rupees ($1.7-million Canadian) for district authorities to buy relief supplies.

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Freak storm leaves two dead
February 03 2005 at 08:32AM

Melbourne, Australia - Freak summer storms lashed eastern Australia overnight, dumping record rains on Melbourne, hitting Brisbane with a towering dust storm and leaving at least two people dead, officials said Thursday.

Melbourne received more rain in the 24 hours to Thursday morning than during any day since records began in 1856, leaving the city's rivers and waterways swollen to the bursting point.

Victoria state police were searching for a teenage boy reported to have been swept away in a suburban Melbourne creek while two people were killed by falling trees in neighboring New South Wales state.

The storms, caused by an intense low-pressure system, hit a vast area from Queensland state in the north, through New South Wales and Victoria and on to the island state of Tasmania off mainland Australia's southeastern corner.

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Snow causes traffic chaos in frosty Moscow
February 15 2005 at 03:59PM

Moscow - Muscovites on Tuesday braved the biggest snow storm to hit the Russian capital in half a century as officials reported numerous traffic accidents.

"For the first time in half a century, we recorded blizzards that lasted throughout the day in every weather station in the Moscow region," a Moscow weather official told the ITAR-TASS news agency.

More than 13cm fell across Moscow as night fell on Monday, weather officials said.

And the mood was positively grouchy on Tuesday morning, with traffic at a standstill in the city centre and accidents recorded by the minute.

Monday's reported accidents rate meant that someone got into a jam every 90 seconds, state television reported

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The "un"quiet Sun
16/2/2005 16:35
Gu Jia/Shanghai Daily news

The Shanghai Observatory claimed that they had detected two huge solar flares in an active region on the surface of the sun yesterday, which indicates eruptions of sunspots in the coming days, reported today's Oriental Morning Post.

Though the sun is becoming cooler, more recently than in previous days, solar activity should remain high due to the peppered spots on its surface, according to the National Satellite Meteorological Center.

A tremendous sunspot, newly born and numbered as "720", has been in an extremely active state since the middle of last January.  Its strong magnetic field has influenced short-wave broadcasts in cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hainan, Lanzhou and Urumchi. 

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