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Hollywood Vandals Brand Bush a Nazi
Feb 18, 2005

We previously reported the conservative group, Citizens United, planned to erect two pro-Bush billboards in Hollywood "thanking" Hollywood for Bush's reelection. As planned, the signs were created, coinciding with the buildup to Oscar night. However, one of those tongue-in-cheek billboards was seriously vandalized Wednesday night, when a Swastika was painted on President Bush's forehead.

Few Angeleans saw the disfigured sign though, since Citizens United anticipated the vandalism, and had previously arranged with the sign company that their billboards would be immediately repaired if, in fact, they were damaged.

True to their word, the overnight damage was repaired within hours.

Comment: Hollywood has helped Bush immensely. If it isn't the new movies and television shows that glorify the war on terror, it's "truthful" productions about 9/11 that direct Americans' attention away from the real terrorists and towards other groups like the Saudis.

Nevertheless, some feel there may be a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel...

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The Second Wave

New books, new groups fuel smoldering resurgence of 9/11 skeptics movement
By John Kaminski
February 19, 2005

It came as a big - and pleasant - surprise to me. In a chance conversation with a complete stranger at the car wash, I screwed up my courage and dared to say it.

"You know ... our own government was behind 9/11!" I held my breath. My eyebrows scrunched up in anticipation of some mindwashed backlash of preprogrammed patriotic outrage.

The guy turned slowly and looked me squarely in the eye. "I know," he said, his furrowed brow mirroring all the painful pathos that has hogtied all the hearts in America these past three years. I breathed a big sigh of relief. And then I pushed the envelope.

"And you know ... all those people dead in Iraq - thousands of Americans and a hundred thousand Iraqis - all because of lies." The old guy tugged on his frayed plaid cap and wheezed. "I know," he repeated, shuffling his feet, his body involuntarily twitching from the realization of his long-suppressed acknowledgement.

As he left I handed him a copy of my booklet, "The Day America Died," and said, "Here's a basic overview of that terrible day." He took it, nodded stiffly, furtively glanced around to see who might be watching, clambered into into his clean car, and went on his way.

Over the past few weeks, the same thing has happened at the supermarket, in my yard, in the parking lot at the local Wal-mart. I dare to ask the question. And I am shocked to discover - totally contradicting what people hear on television - that people know. People already know!

Our government engineered 9/11 for its own perverse political purposes. In their hearts, many people already know it.

I see it in my e-mails, of course, have for a long time, with 2,000 of my closest friends. They are the ones who are always asking, "Now that we know, what we can do?"

I have failed them miserably in my answers to that question. I always respond rhetorically, philosophically. "Stand securely in your own truth and be an example to others," is about the best I can come up with. "Try to spread the word." Or, "revolution evolves one person at a time." Pretty lame, nonspecific stuff.

But then I noticed my book orders were spiking. Ten booklets here, 20 there, an occasional hundred for a meeting that someone had scheduled. Then it began to dawn on me. People were handing them out, trying to convince others. A whole new group of people was turning on to the real 9/11 story.

Finally, after years of brainwashed obedience to the clumsy media lies, the tragedy-forced patriotism, the false statements of our leaders were finally being perceived. People finally were finally waking up. New converts to the 9/11 skeptics movement were beginning the long, painful journey to that horrific realization - our leaders killed their own people merely for profit, and now were killing thousands more, every day, all over the planet, for the same evil purpose.

And people began calling me, telling me about their meetings. I didn't dare believe it was a second wave. But the calls kept coming.

The first thought I had was that the second wave shouldn't make the same mistakes the first wave did. The first wave failed. The perps, so far, have gotten away with their evil deeds. In fact, one of the so-called leaders of the first wave, Mike Ruppert, has declared the 9/11 issue dead. Good. He's retired. We don't need him. He was the prime saboteur of the first wave, ruining the first big 9/11 forum in San Francisco with his oil company propaganda.

Comment: See our new article Co-opting the 9/11 Truth Movement for more information on the likes of Ruppert and Hopsicker.

The second wave should know that peak oil has nothing to do with 9/11. It's a disinformational distraction. Peak oil is a trend that may or may not be true. Most honest people think it's just another oil company ruse to jack up prices. But even if it is a serious social problem, it has nothing to do with 9/11, the crime of the century, about which most of the public has been told nothing but lies.

Our leaders lied about what happened. They refused to hold an investigation. They destroyed the evidence. They hid the videotapes. They blamed Muslims but didn't to this day produce a shred of evidence against them. They deceived our own air defenses with bogus drills designed to confuse everyone. They invented fantastic cellphone calls. They met with terrorists and let important witnesses slip out of the country. The list of their deceptive maneuvers is nearly endless.

But there is one thing they couldn't hide, and that is the issue that the second wave, IMHO, should focus on. Don't be distracted by bells and whistles, by airplanes shooting missiles or faux Islamicists in strip clubs, don't get bogged down by what did or didn't hit the Pentagon or trapped in endless arguments about slow flying interceptors, gaps in the NORAD coverage, or whether Flight 93 was shot down.

There is one issue, and one issue only. It is the issue that will hang them.

The time the towers took to fall.

Jetliners striking building hundreds of feet in the air could not possibly have dropped those towers in ten seconds. Think about it. 47 robust steel columns anchored in bedrock hundreds of feet below had to be demolished simultaneously at the instant of collapse in order for 9/11 to happen as it did. And that is exactly what happened.

I continue to sell plenty of my booklets because of its simple narrative that takes people from accepting the government's version to realizing the official version is a lie.

But now, newcomers to the 9/11 mystery have two even better teaching tools to help them convince those who still believe their government loves them, and would never do anything to hurt them. And that it's patently clear that the WTC towers were brought down by controlled demolition.

The first is an ingenious and thorough narrative sculpted together by WING-TV guru Victor Thorn (and his trusty sidekick Lisa Guliani) titled “9/11 on Trial: The World Trade Center Collapse - Guilty.”

It's written in the form of a trial transcript and takes the reader through the strange, anomalous process of the WTC collapse step-by-step, cleverly and authoritatively weaving witness testimony culled from the works of some of the finest investigators in the 9/11 skeptics movement, including Jim Hoffman, Eric Hufschmid, Jerry Russell & Richard Stanley, Christopher Bollyn, Ralph Omholt, Peter Meyer, Jeff King, Dave MacGowan, Jim Marrs, and David Ray Griffin, among other diligent soldiers in the battle to expose the government's lies.

I and many other 9/11 observers have been harping for a long time that each of the Twin Towers collapsed in roughly ten seconds, a physically impossible feat for a structure knocked down by pressure from near the top. The simple resistance of thousands of tons of steel and concrete would make such a collapse a long, slow, and incomplete were it possible at all to happen in the way the government said it did, which it was not.

But the Thorn/Guliani book raises even more interesting points, and even more impossible contradictions.

For instance, just prior to the first collapse, the top of the South Tower tipped to 23 degrees, but then it suddenly stopped its angular rotation, changed direction, and fell straight down, just about the time many people reported explosions at the bottom of the tower. The only way the momentum of the falling top could have been changed in mid-collapse was to blast away a portion of EACH of the 47 core columns, causing the building to fall uniformly into its own footprint.

How the Towers fell is impossible according to the official story because the gravitational potential energy of a skyscraper is nowhere near sufficient to destroy its own frame.

“Given that the lower columns were radically thicker steel, and obviously stronger, some of the columns should have still been standing - in some significant number.” - Witness 8 (Omholt)

“For the WTC buildings to react the way the did, literally thousands of super heavy-duty joints and weld would have to ‘snap' at precisely the same instant.” - Witness 8 (George Humphrey)

“In order for the floor to fall, hundreds of joints has to break almost simultaneously on 236 exterior columns and 47 core columns. FEMA does not bother to explain how this could occur.” - Witness 10 (Hufschmid)

If all the joints weren't heated at the same rate, the building would not fall uniformly.

Thorn's patient narrative unveils all manner of revealing information to use in further discussions. One is the maximum temperature unprotected steel supports in these fires being 680 degrees; the first critical threshold in structural steel is 1,022 degrees.

These tests ultimately tell us that ...

“Fire did not weaken the WTC structure sufficiently to cause the collapse of the towers.” - Witness 11 (J. McMichael)

I won't give away too much more of the narrative, but just let me say THIS BOOK is a wonderful syllabus for anyone trying to comprehend the complex ramifications of the 9/11 tower collapses, perhaps the most accessible roundup to date of the single piece of evidence that should leave the American people demanding trials for treason and mass murder for hundreds of its most powerful leaders.

Why were those odd and powerful seismographic spikes recorded moments BEFORE the towers fell? Why were pools of molten steel still bubbling at the bases of the three fallen towers ONE WEEK after 9/11? Is there any doubt that all three buildings were brought down by controlled demolitions? No.

This book, being a deftly woven digest of the best 9/11 research out there, delivers the goods. It is indispensable to anyone trying to get to the bottom of the greatest crime in American history.

Simply Google WING-TV (I'll write more about that later) for more information and how to get it. It's only seven bucks. Hand them out to your friends.

Why is the second wave occuring? Because people are realizing that 9/11 is the key to regaining our freedom, to taking our country back from the cynical psychopaths running the U.S. government who are implementing diverse and subversive programs of mass murder all over the world.

9/11 is the key. The American government is willing to kill anyone so the bankers get their way. This book demonstrates - very clearly - that our leaders are guilty of treason and mass murder. That's what motivates the second wave. Now that the sadness has waned, and the faux patriotic invective has begun to ring hollow in the wake of dead and sick soldiers being brought home from Iraq, more people are beginning to question the nightmare America has become.

Another crucially important tool for the second wave, among many, is another small, inexpensive book, titled “Waking Up From Our Nightmare: The 9/11/01 Crimes in New York City,” by Don Paul and Jim Hoffman. While the Thorn/Guliani book is a relatively simple read for laymen, the Paul/Hoffman book is for those who can digest intricate technical information, and understand the 9/11 hoax in all its gory detail. Used as one of Thorn's sources, it has a much wider focus, revealing photographs, meticulous footnotes and sells for only $10.

Most importantly, it reserves its primary focus for the most critical piece of 9/11 evidence: the time the towers took to fall. And it delves into the evidence in a thorough and forthright way. It contains no wild theories, only scientific fact, which of course proves our own leaders murdered 3,000 of our own citizens, not to mention all those other hundreds of thousands of innocent victims around the world.

One of the many great nuggets of knowledge in this book is how New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani explained to a reporter that he was warned the first tower was going to collapse although even the firefighters in the building didn't know that. Giuliani never mentioned who told him.

Order it at [...]

So, second wavers, I think the two books and 27 links in this piece will get you off to a good start. Thank you for your sudden awakening. Your efforts are sorely needed.

Just like that guy at the car wash, tell people you know what the real story about 9/11 actually is. And get them to tell others.

I don't think I have to tell you at this point that this is the battle for our future, the battle for everything, and the entire strength of the U.S. government and all the prostituted, mind-controlling mass media is arrayed against us.

And that being said, we have no choice but to win. For our children. And their children. Hell, do it for yourself, because you and I and everybody else are definitely at risk to lose everything we love. Carry on.

Comment: Kaminski's story highlights one of the main reasons that the light at the end of the tunnel may not be so bright after all. The author tells the story of talking to a man at a carwash - but he only states his views after being approached by Kaminski about 9/11 and Iraq.

As America stands today, it is Bush and the neocons who have all the resources, all the military might, and all the tricks up their sleeve to keep dissenting Americans in line. While we realize there are most likely many in the US who know quite a bit about Bush's antics, they are still too afraid to speak out. If all of these people spoke up at once, who knows what could happen? But the question that then must be asked is if that scenario is likely to occur?

At the moment, most Americans are relatively comfortable. Maybe they don't like Bush, but do they really want to rock the boat? What if no one else stands up with them? It is far easier to enjoy what material benefits one has and at least to pretend to go along with the current regime. Older Americans tell themselves that things will change, Bush will be voted out of office eventually, and all will be right again.

Many Germans felt exactly the same way. In fact, a great many Germans only decided to take action when they discovered that regime's deceptions the hard way. From Laura Knight-Jadczyk's article The Global Game of Survivor: America's Next Four Years, we note the following:

As the war progressed, the Nazis needed more and more resources and they turned to the masses to obtain them. The removal of authority over one's own property was met with silent anger. When the Nazis began intruding into people's houses, a significant line had been crossed. With reports being received from relatives in the army about how badly the Germans were actually doing, contrary to State propaganda, most of the average people in Germany finally began to get the idea that the Nazis were not telling the truth and never had been.

But it was only after long and slow manipulation and gradual stealing of everything that most Germans had worked to obtain that the Germans began to openly defy the Nazis.

We have to wonder just how far most people in the US will allow Bush and gang to go before they decide to stand against him. If history is any indication, we aren't at the "significant line" yet...

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Sword Play
Global Eye
By Chris Floyd
Published: February 18, 2005

"You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game. The reason was quite simple: to force ... the public to turn to the state to ask for greater security."

This was the essence of Operation Gladio, a decades-long covert campaign of terrorism and deceit directed by the intelligence services of the West -- against their own populations. Hundreds of innocent people were killed or maimed in terrorist attacks -- on train stations, supermarkets, cafes and offices -- which were then blamed on "leftist subversives" or other political opponents. The purpose, as stated above in sworn testimony by Gladio agent Vincenzo Vinciguerra, was to demonize designated enemies and frighten the public into supporting ever-increasing powers for government leaders -- and their elitist cronies.

First revealed by Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti in 1991, Gladio (from the Latin for "sword") is still protected to this day by its founding patrons, the CIA and MI6. Yet parliamentary investigations in Italy, Switzerland and Belgium have shaken out a few fragments of the truth over the years. These have been gathered in a new book, "NATO's Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe," by Daniele Ganser, as Lila Rajiva reports on

Originally set up as a network of clandestine cells to be activated behind the lines in the event of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe, Gladio quickly expanded into a tool for political repression and manipulation, directed by NATO and Washington. Using right-wing militias, underworld figures, government provocateurs and secret military units, Gladio not only carried out widespread terrorism, assassinations and electoral subversion in democratic states such as Italy, France and West Germany, but also bolstered fascist tyrannies in Spain and Portugal, abetted the military coup in Greece and aided Turkey's repression of the Kurds.

Among the "smoking guns" unearthed by Ganser is a Pentagon document, Field Manual FM 30-31B, which details the methodology for launching terrorist attacks in nations that "do not react with sufficient effectiveness" against "communist subversion." Ironically, the manual states that the most dangerous moment comes when leftist groups "renounce the use of force" and embrace the democratic process. It is then that "U.S. army intelligence must have the means of launching special operations which will convince Host Country Governments and public opinion of the reality of the insurgent danger." Naturally, these peace-throttling "special operations must remain strictly secret," the document warns.
Indeed, it would not do for the families of the 85 people ripped apart by the Aug. 2, 1980 bombing of the Bologna train station to know that their loved ones had been murdered by "men inside Italian state institutions and ... men linked to the structures of United States intelligence," as the Italian Senate concluded after its investigation in 2000.

The Bologna atrocity is an example of what Gladio's masters called "the strategy of tension" -- fomenting fear to keep populations in thrall to "strong leaders" who will protect the nation from the ever-present terrorist threat. And as Rajiva notes, this strategy wasn't limited to Western Europe. It was applied, with gruesome effectiveness, in Central America by the Reagan and Bush administrations. During the 1980s, right-wing death squads, guerrilla armies and state security forces -- armed, trained and supplied by the United States -- murdered tens of thousands of people throughout the region, often acting with particular savagery at those times when peaceful solutions to the conflicts seemed about to take hold.

Last month, it was widely reported that the Pentagon is considering a similar program in Iraq. What was not reported, however -- except in the Iraqi press -- is that at least one pro-occupation death squad is already in operation. Just days after the Pentagon plans were revealed, a new militant group, "Saraya Iraqna," began offering big wads of American cash for insurgent scalps -- up to $50,000, the Iraqi paper Al Ittihad reports. "Our activity will not be selective," the group promised. In other words, anyone they consider an enemy of the state will be fair game.

Strangely enough, just as it appears that the Pentagon is establishing Gladio-style operations in Iraq, there has been a sudden rash of terrorist attacks on outrageously provocative civilian targets, such as hospitals and schools, the Guardian reports. Coming just after national elections in which the majority faction supported slates calling for a speedy end to the American occupation, the shift toward high-profile civilian slaughter has underscored the "urgent need" for U.S. forces to remain on the scene indefinitely, to provide security against the ever-present terrorist threat. Meanwhile, the Bushists continue constructing their long-sought permanent bases in Iraq: citadels to protect the oil that incoming Iraqi officials are promising to sell off to American corporations -- and launching pads for new forays in geopolitical domination.

Perhaps it's just a coincidence. But the U.S. elite's history of directing and fomenting terrorist attacks against friendly populations is so extensive -- indeed, so ingrained and accepted -- that it calls into question the origin of every terrorist act that roils the world. With each fresh atrocity, we're forced to ask: Was it the work of "genuine" terrorists or a "black op" by intelligence agencies -- or both?

While not infallible, the ancient Latin question is still the best guide to penetrating the bloody murk of modern terrorism: Cui bono? Who benefits? Whose powers and policies are enhanced by the attack? For it is indisputable that the "strategy of tension" means power and profit for those who claim to possess the key to "security." And from the halls of the Kremlin to the banks of the Potomac, this cynical strategy is the ruling ideology of our times.

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Anti-Shiite attacks kill 34
By Charles Onians in Baghdad
February 19, 2005

A DAY of attacks on Shiite targets in and around Baghdad has left at least 34 people dead.

The violence came just a day after the majority community was confirmed as the new political power in Iraq for the first time in history.

A series of explosions, which wounded more than 50 others, occurred as worshippers marked the first of two days of mourning in the Shiite ceremony of Ashura.

The deadliest blast occurred at a Shiite mosque in southern Baghdad, killing 17 people, police and medics said.

"The attack was carried out by a suicide bomber wearing an explosives belt at the Kazimain mosque in Abu Dishr near Dura," a police officer said.

"I had just begun Friday prayers when an enormous explosion rocked the building," said the mosque's imam, Sheikh Malek Kinani.

Elsewhere, a suicide bomber rammed his car into the Al-Hadi mosque in Iskandariyah, 60km south of Bagdhad, killing eight people and wounding 13 others, medical and security sources said.

Earlier, three other Iraqis, including a child, were killed and five wounded, when a mortar shell ripped through a cafe in the Baghdad Shiite neighbourhood of Shula, medical sources said.

Half an hour earlier, twin suicide bombers killed at least three people at another Shiite mosque in western Baghdad, a source at Yarmuk hospital said.

Two Iraqi soldiers were killed and four civilians wounded in a suicide attack targetting Shiite pilgrims waiting at an army checkpoint between Mahmudiyah and Latifiyah, south of Baghdad, police said.

And a Shiite Turkoman was killed in an explosion at a mosque near the northern city of Kirkuk, police there said.

Shiites were marking Tasua, the first day of mourning for the revered Imam Hussein.

Iman Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed and the third Imam in Shiite Islam, was killed in 680 AD during the Battle of Karbala.

During Ashura ceremonies last year, bombings in the Shiite holy city of Karbala and in Baghdad killed more than 170 people. Those attacks remain the deadliest since Saddam Hussein was toppled by US-led forces in April 2003.

There was no immediate claim for the latest attacks, but the Sunni-dominated insurgency had vowed to target the Shiites, who won Iraq's first democratic election in decades on January 30. That victory was officially confirmed this week.

Security sources said 15 Iraqis and one US soldier have died in other insurgent violence since Thursday evening. [...]

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Palestinian gives birth at checkpoint
Friday 18 February 2005, 3:13 Makka Time, 0:13 GMT

A Palestinian woman has been forced to deliver her baby at an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank.

Aljazeera correspondent Jivara al-Bidairi said the 25-year-old woman was forced to give birth to her baby at the Qalandia military checkpoint on Thursday after Israeli soldiers blocked her passage.
The permanent roadblock separates Jerusalem from Ram Allah. It is estimated that there are more than 700 Israeli checkpoints across the occupied Palestinian territories, some permanent, others constructed and removed without notice.
They hinder Palestinians seeking medical attention and those going about their ordinary lives. Queues and closures at checkpoints can turn a 20-minute journey into an hours-long ordeal.
It was the first time Aljazeera was on hand to record a woman in labour being prevented from proceeding to the maternity ward to deliver her child.
Going into labour
The woman, a resident of Jerusalem, who gave only her first name, Nivin, found herself in labour at the checkpoint on her way to al-Quds hospital. Her pleas to Israeli occupation soldiers to allow her through were to no avail. 
She waved down a passing car for help and almost immediately gave birth to a baby boy.
"I had only a few minutes before the baby came out while I was in the car," said Nivin.
"No offer of assistance came from the occupation soldiers, such as calling an ambulance" she said.
Coincidental ambulance
"It was a mere coincidence that an ambulance carrying another patient with a critical case passed by, saw me and called another ambulance that came moments later and picked me up," she said.
The baby's Palestinian father said he was anxious about the baby. "Who can restore dignity to us as human beings in this country?"
A nurse at the hospital where Nivin was taken said: "The baby was brought [to us] in a miserable condition, shivering from cold with sputum coming from its mouth, but we made the necessary arrangements."
The boy was named Abd Allah.

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Bush threatens Syria, Iran
By Deirdre Griswold
Published Feb 17, 2005 8:02 PM

Could the adventurist neo-con regime in Washington be poised for yet another aggressive military move in the oil-rich Middle East? Even though the current conflict--the drawnout and bloody struggle with an elusive but effective Iraqi resistance movement that refuses to accept the U.S. invasion and occupation of their country--has earned them worldwide condemnation and hatred, many signs point in the direction of more aggressions to come.

If so, it will not be the first time that U.S. imperialist strategists have tried to rescue a failing colonial adventure by widening the conflict--as they did in 1970 when, faced with fierce resistance from the Vietnamese, they launched a calamitous invasion of Cambodia.

The latest targets of administration hawks are the governments of Iran and Syria. On Feb. 16, after a hasty meeting of high govern ment officials, the two countries announced a common front against outside threats--clearly a reference to the Bush administration.

The trigger for this crisis appears to have been the assassination of Rafik Hariri, a former prime minister of Lebanon, in an extremely powerful explosion. Speculation on exactly what happened and who was behind the blast is rife, but the U.S. immediately withdrew its ambassador to Syria in a move obviously meant to cast suspicion on that country. Syria's ambassador to Washington had already denied and denounced the killing of Hariri, calling it "a catastrophe for Syria."

However, like the kangaroo court in "Alice in Wonderland," the U.S. attitude was "sentence first, verdict afterwards." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, while admitting that the U.S. has no evidence to accuse Syria formally, called the country a "big problem" in testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Feb. 16.

Washington has for some time been trying to pressure Syria into allowing U.S. and Iraqi puppet troops to cross its border in "hot pursuit" of the Iraqi resistance. Syria has turned them down.

At the same time, Iran has charged that U.S. drone spy planes have been spotted many times reconnoitering in areas where Iran is constructing nuclear power plants, and said it will shoot down any unidentified planes that enter its territory. The U.S. is accusing Iran of developing nuclear weapons--a charge that the International Atomic Energy Agency refuses to support and that Iran denies.

The emergency meeting between the Syrian and Iranian leaders is a sure sign that they are trying to ward off an attack. Iran has been bracing for such an eventuality ever since President George W. Bush in 2002 announced it was part of an "axis of evil." In this year's State of the Union speech, in language reminiscent of the false reasons he gave for invading Iraq, Bush singled out both Syria and Iran, accusing them of "promoting terrorism" and seeking "weapons of mass destruction."

Since Jan. 1, over 100,000 new U.S. troops have been sent to the Middle East. They are part of a "rotation" that by the end of March will have seen some 230,000 U.S. soldiers, marines and reservists moved to the area, many of them on a forced second tour of duty.

The administration is desperate to subdue the growing resistance in Iraq. It has a tricky political situation on its hands, since the bloc which got the largest vote in the U.S.-organized elections is that of the Shias, who have always been close to Iran. And the Shia masses expect that a new Iraqi government will tell the U.S. troops to leave.

Whatever happens in the days and weeks to come, the need to get into the streets against this war will only grow stronger.

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Putin: Iran will not seek nuclear arms
Friday 18 February 2005, 16:54 Makka Time, 13:54 GMT

Russia is convinced that Iran has no intention of developing atomic weapons and will continue to cooperate with Tehran in the civilian nuclear sector, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said.

"The latest steps on Iran's behalf persuade us that Iran has no intention of building an atomic weapon. Consequently, we will continue to cooperate with Iran in all fields, including in nuclear energy," Putin said as he greeted Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rowhani, at the Kremlin on Friday.
Russia, however, was "deeply convinced that the proliferation of nuclear arms on the planet does not contribute to security either for the region or the world," Putin said.
"We hope that Iran will strictly respect all commitments it has made bilaterally with Russia and internationally," Putin said.

Rowhani said Russia had a role of "great importance" to play in resolving the dispute over Iran's nuclear programme.  

Rowhani, addressing Putin, said Moscow could play a significant role in Iran's talks with Britain, France and Germany - the EU states taking the lead in the search for a diplomatic solution.
"We think that Russia's role can be useful in this process," he said.
"Under current international circumstances ... development of ties with Russia is in the interests of both our countries and will be a factor of stability in the region," he said.

Putin said he had been invited by the Iranian leadership to visit Tehran and was "preparing for this visit," Interfax news agency reported.
Dates for Putin's trip to Iran would be set later, he said.
Putin's meeting with Rowhani came a day after both countries announced that a crucial agreement obliging Iran to return all spent nuclear fuel to Russia would be signed on 26 February.
The United States has criticised Moscow for pressing ahead with construction of a 1000-megawatt reactor at Bushehr in southern Iran.

Iran has denied it seeks nuclear weapons and says it wants atomic technology solely to generate electricity. 

Comment: The complex game of international politics is one of superficial niceties and backroom subterfuge. Where as leaders of powerful nations couch their subtle positions in diplomatic language, what really goes on behind the scenes is more of a cutthroat competition where the ability to form alliances in the face of hidden aggression is often necessary for survival. The ability to read between the lines and beneath the surface of various statements made by such leaders in the press seems crucial to understanding the greater geopolitical machinations of the powerful elite.

The ongoing polarization of the world's military superpowers into opposing camps does not bode well for the future of our planet.

Take for example the recent deal for arms made between Russia and Syria, and compare this to the story above where Russia also seems to be aligning itself with Iran on the whole "nuclear" issue. In both instances, the great Soviet Bear is taking a position that is directly opposite to that of the United States, and even though they they talk of peace and diplomacy, in reality the divisions couldn't be more clear.

At the behest of an Israeli-friendly Neocon cabinet, America continues to push the envelope and "go it alone" in terms of it's hegemonic foreign policy in the Middle East, while even long time European allies like Britain and Poland are now publicly expressing their reservations. The U.S. seems to be deliberately isolating itself from the entire world as it threatens to continue it's war on terror in Iran, Syria and elsewhere. As more and more reports like the above surface, it seems the rest of the world is no longer willing to sit idly by while Dubya and company plunder all the Middle Eastern oil and riches for themselves.

These moves by global powers upon the world stage are no mere accident. And Russia's recent friendly public relations with Iran and Syria could be the beginnings of alliances formed on purpose to directly counter American isolationist and aggressive strategy that may eventually lead the entire planet into a third world war.

Another worrisome development and potential ally to the Russian eastern bloc is that of China. Not only do the Chinese and Russians share a common border and and other geographical interests, the Chinese also control a large part of the American debt, and appear to be being set up by the Americans as the scapegoat to blame once the U.S. economy takes it's inevitable nose dive.

So it's not surprising to see how the next story illustrates further antagonism against the Chinese by American lawmakers who are publicly calling for diplomatic ties and recognition of Taiwan as an independent nation.

Like a big game of global chess, the pieces are slowly being put in place for the ultimate showdown of all the world's powers as their alliances in the Middle east draw them all into a major conflagration, the likes of which the modern world has never seen. And though they may take sides in the beginning, nations by definition are self-serving entities, and when the chips are down it's every man for himself.

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Bill introduced in US Congress to restore diplomatic ties with Taiwan
17 February 2005 1204 hrs - AFP

WASHINGTON : A bipartisan resolution has been introduced in the House of Representatives demanding resumption of diplomatic ties with Taiwan in a move certain to upset China and embarrass the Bush administration.

In presenting the bill, Tom Tancredo, the Republican Representative from Littleton, said the United States should scrap its "one China" policy in which Washington recognises Beijing's position that Taiwan is part of China.

Washington switched recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979 during the administration of President Jimmy Carter but under US law, it is obliged to offer the island a means of self-defense if its security is threatened.

Carter took the action "without consulting or seeking the approval of Congress," said Tancredo, with whom four legislators have joined in sponsoring the controversial resolution.

They include the influential Florida Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is chairman of the House international relations subcommittee.

"Our current 'One China' policy is a fiction," Tancredo said. "Taiwan is a free, sovereign and independent country that elects its own leaders. It is not, nor has it ever been a local government of communist China -- and everyone knows that."

He said the time had come "to scrap this intellectually dishonest and antiquated policy in favor of a little consistency and honesty."

"There is absolutely no good reason that the United States cannot maintain the same kind of normal relationship with the democratically elected government in Taiwan that it maintains with the autocratic regime in Beijing," Tancredo said.

About four months after Washington cut off ties with Taiwan in 1979, the US Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act, which established the United States as a key ally of Taiwan.

It laid the groundwork for Washington to sell an arsenal of defensive weaponry to Taiwan -- even as the mainland has built up its own military forces on its southeastern seaboard along the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan and China have been separately governed since splitting in 1949 after a civil war but Beijing insists the island is part of its territory awaiting reunification.

Of late, China has been increasingly worried that Taiwan, under the leadership of independence-leaning President Chen Shui-bian, is inching towards a formal breakaway.

John Tkacik, a China expert at the Heritage Foundation, told AFP he did not expect the resolution to get very far but added that it could stimulate "an important debate that the Bush administration desperately hope to avoid and is certain to upset China."

He said the resolution could be a reaction to Beijing's proposed anti-secession law, a controversial legislation that analysts say could make it illegal for Taiwan to declare independence and might create the legal basis for China to take the island by force or pressure it to accept reunification.

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Children dead in Philippines bus fire

A bus packed with passengers caught fire today in the southwestern Philippines, killing five people, including three children, police said.

Regional police chief Alejandro Lapinid ruled out terrorism, saying engine trouble apparently triggered the fire off southwestern Palawan province’s Narra town.

Lapinid said before fire engulfed the bus, witnesses saw smoke coming from its engine.

The southern Philippines is a stronghold of the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militant group, which claimed responsibility for bombings on Monday that killed seven people and injured at least 123 in Manila and two southern cities.

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More than 750 Catholic clergy accused of sexual abuse in 2004
19 February 2005 0732 hrs - AFP

WASHINGTON : More than 750 Catholic priests and deacons in the United States were accused last year of sexually abusing children, a report released by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops said.

While most of the 1,092 complaints against priests deemed "credible" by the conference in 2004 related to incidents which occured between 1965 and 1974, 22 were recent cases, the report said.

The report showed that the church remains troubled by a legacy of abuse which has cost it more than 700 million dollars for settlements, therapy for victims and offenders and attorney fees.

The report was the result of a survey of 195 Catholic dioceses and 158 religious institutes in the US undertaken by Georgetown University's Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.

It was commissioned by the bishops to assess the corrective steps taken by the church following the scandal which erupted in 2002 over the church's coverup of decades of sexual abuse of minors by priests.

Since the scandal erupted, the church has reported that more than 10,600 boys and girls were victims of sexual abuse by nearly 4,400 clergymen between 1950 and 2002.

Most of the 756 priests and deacons accused in 2004 had earlier been accused of similar behavior. An estimated 80 percent are either dead, missing or have been forced out of the church, the report said.

But 283 priests and deacons are currently suspended from ministry while undergoing investigation.

The church also reported spending almost USD140 million dollars in 2004 on the abuse cases, including legal fees, victim settlements and therapy payments.

"Members of the Catholic church are only beginning to understand the depth of the crisis that has occurred," the report said.

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On Maneuvers With the Army's Game Squad
Published: February 17, 2005

CAMP GUERNSEY, Wyo. - THE seven-vehicle United States Army convoy set out from grid coordinate EG223785 just after 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 8, bound for an improvised landing zone a few miles southwest. Intelligence reports indicated that enemy forces equipped with small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars were active in the area.

The convoy's hulking five-ton trucks bore nervous civilians in need of evacuation. As the convoy bounced along snow-dusted trails and high plains, Clayton Montgomery, a wiry 24-year-old known to his colleagues as Monkey, swiveled from side to side. "Anyone spot any Opfor?" he said, using shorthand for opposition forces as he scanned the looming ridges.

"I have the feeling they'll see us first," said another passenger, Randy Brown.

He was right. At 2:25 p.m., as the convoy pushed slowly through a wooded ravine, the air erupted with automatic-weapons fire. Green smoke wafted through the truck's open sides. Through the haze, the camouflaged ambush team could be seen behind boulders and brush as the convoy's machine-gunners returned fire.

The fight was over in a minute, and the convoy rushed toward the landing area. Soon two Black Hawk helicopters were swooping through canyons, carrying the evacuees to safety.

There were no casualties. That was probably because the ambushers and the convoy guards were shooting blanks. But the guns were real. The helicopters and the trucks were real. The subzero wind chill was real.

Rather than evacuating a crew of aid workers, the Army detachment was shepherding a few dozen programmers, designers and marketers who have been working on one of the Army's latest recruiting tools: a computer game called, simply enough, America's Army. Rather than the mountain passes of Afghanistan, the convoy was traversing the equally rugged terrain at this remote Army base 100 miles north of Cheyenne, which is sometimes used to train Special Forces units.

America's Army lets users play soldier online, band together with other Internet warriors and battle enemies in detailed 10-minute scenarios that the Army says are more realistic than any other game. It is available free for downloading at (A retail version for console systems will be released in the summer.)

Since its introduction on July 4, 2002, America's Army has registered about 4.7 million users, and on a typical day more than 30,000 people log on to the game's official servers, in addition to the thousands who play in unofficial leagues. That makes it one of cyberspace's more popular combat games. Since the game's release, the Army's civilian developers have released updates on the Web every few months. Now, the Army is beginning to use the game's technology to help train its own people.

The Army regularly sends soldiers to advise the project's civilian designers, who are Pentagon contractors. But when it comes to making the game realistic, nothing compares to sending programmers to the Army. So twice a year the Army sends the designers to play war games for a few days in what it calls Green Up events.

"The whole idea is for the designers to get a feel of what it's like to be with soldiers, what they do for a living, what it sounds like, what it feels like, even what it smells like," said Col. Casey Wardynski, who dreamed up America's Army as the director of the Army's Office of Economic and Manpower Analysis, at West Point. "You can't put a lot of that into the game, but the experience helps make the game more realistic."

The Army has no detailed figures on the game's success in encouraging young men and women to enlist, but a 2003 survey indicated that the game, which costs the Pentagon about $6 million a year, is more effective at delivering the Army's messages to young people than the hundreds of millions of dollars a year the Army spends on advertising, Colonel Wardynski said.

Just about every Army recruiting station stocks copies of the game, and some recruiters are organizing America's Army tournaments. The game's latest update, to be released online shortly, is called Firefight. The focus of the update is adding administrative tools to streamline online tournament play.

The way the Army sees it, the game's appeal is rooted in its realism. [...]

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Plague Kills Scores in Congo Outbreak
Associated Press
February 19, 2005, 12:46 AM EST

KINSHASA, Congo -- A rare form of plague has killed at least 61 people at a diamond mine in the remote wilds of northeast Congo, and authorities fear hundreds more who fled into the forests to escape the contagion are infected and dying, the World Health Organization said Friday.

Eric Bertherat, a doctor for the U.N. health agency, said the outbreak has been building since December around a mine near Zobia, 170 miles north of Kisangani, the capital of the vast Oriental province.

Nearly all the 7,000 miners have abandoned the infected area and sought refuge in the world's second-largest tropical rain forest, all but cut off from the outside world.

Security fears -- mainly from bandits and militia left over from Congo's five-year war -- also have slowed international response, Bertherat said.

Plague is spread mainly by fleas and causes an infection in the lungs that slowly suffocates its victims. If caught in time, it can be treated with antibiotics.

Bubonic plague is the most common form of plague and is transmitted to people through the bite of an infected flea. It usually is spread by rodents. It does not spread person to person.

Pneumonic plague -- the kind in the current outbreak -- is rarer but also more easily transmitted from person to person through coughing or close contact.

Bertherat, speaking to reporters by telephone from Geneva, said plague commonly is found in this region of northern Congo, but an outbreak this large was unusual.

Unlike the deadly Ebola virus, which also is found in the dark forests of Congo, Bertherat said this outbreak of plague was unlikely to spread too quickly, given the remote and isolated terrain.

"It's still a large concern," Bertherat said, "because these are cases moving elsewhere."

Bertherat and a 10-member team of WHO doctors will arrive in Kisangani on Monday to prepare for a journey into the forests. He said doctors from the aid organization Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders, already were there, treating miners they could locate.

The forests have long been both a refuge and a death trap for Congolese running from war, disaster and disease.

More than 1 million people still live rough in the forests after fleeing Congo's devastating 1998-2002 war. Aid groups say nearly 1,000 people still die every day from war-induced starvation and disease.

According to the WHO, the incubation time for plague is two to six days. Victims develop a fever and cough. Breathing becomes difficult as lungs fill with fluid. Unless antibiotics are given within the first 24 hours, death can come as quickly as within 48 hours.

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Earthquake jolts Sulawesi
From correspondents in Jakarta
February 19, 2005

AN earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale rocked Indonesia's Sulawesi island on Saturday, causing the tide to rise and sparking fears of another tsunami.

The undersea quake occurred at 8:04 am (1104 AEDT) with the epicentre 224km south of Kendari, the capital of Southeast Sulawesi province, Sutiono of the National Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said.

"There was a report of the quake causing the tide to rise between three and four metres but we haven't received information if there was any damage or casualties," Sutiono said.

"People feared a tsunami."

Elshinta radio said the walls of a government building were cracked by the quake.

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Small Earthquake Rattles Columbia Suburb
POSTED: 3:37 pm EST February 18, 2005

IRMO, S.C. -- Residents in the Columbia suburb of Irmo may have felt a little rumble Friday morning when a small earthquake struck.

No damage or injuries have been reported from the quake, which happened about 8:20 a.m.

The University of Memphis said the quake measured 3.1 on the Richter scale. Moderate earthquakes begin at 5.0.

University of South Carolina geologist Pradeep Talwani said he reviewed information from his equipment Friday, but could not find what contributed to the quake.

He said it was shallow and he is trying to find a nearby fault line.

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Harsh winter hits Afghans hard
Friday 18 February 2005, 19:34 Makka Time, 16:34 GMT

Aid workers and officials have sounded alarm bells over a looming humanitarian crisis in western Afghanistan saying they feared up to 1000 children may have died during severe winter weather.

Cold, disease and malnutrition were the biggest killers and relief groups said they could not reach areas cut off by snow to help after the poverty-stricken province of Ghor was hit by the harshest winter in a decade.
"Several hundred to a thousand would be a low estimate of the number of children that could have died," Paul Hicks, programme director western region Afghanistan for Catholic Relief Services said in Kabul on Friday.
Afghan and UN officials have said that the cold snap had claimed at least 267 lives in Afghanistan in the past month, many of them children. Thousands more people are thought to be stranded in remote areas. [...]

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Severe drought causes damage in central, southern VN
Friday, February 18, 2105 22:51:57 Vietnam (GMT 07)

Severe drought in the central and southern provinces of Vietnam has wreaked havoc on farmers and could possibly cause food shortages in several provinces, reported Thanh Nien.

With nearly two months left before the peak of the dry season, Mekong Delta provinces have already witnessed lack of water for household and farming use.

Most major reservoirs in the Mekong Delta and central regions have dried out, reported Thanh Nien. [...]

Hunger alarmed

Some 30,000 households in Khanh Hoa province will likely face food shortage if the drought continues as poor harvest yields are expected from summer-spring paddy crops, said Vo Lam Phi, chairman of the Khanh Hoa People’s Committee.

In central Ninh Thuan province, farmers are reportedly unable to cultivate 50 per cent of their paddy fields as water supply from the major irrigation system Da Nhim is shrinking.

Farmers have gathered at large dried-out lakes and started digging wells in the middle of the lakes to look for water, reported Thanh Nien.

Meanwhile, Binh Thuan province in the central region could possibly lose 200,000 cattle suffering from thirst and hunger.

The provincial authority has already provided food aid to 17,000 households, mainly ethnic minority people, in drought-hit areas. [...]

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Plague Kills Scores in Congo Outbreak
By BRYAN MEALER, Associated Press Writer
6:24 PM PST, February 18, 2005

KINSHASA, Congo — A rare form of plague has killed at least 61 people at a diamond mine in the remote wilds of northeast Congo, and authorities fear hundreds more who fled into the forests to escape the contagion are infected and dying, the World Health Organization said Friday.

Eric Bertherat, a doctor for the U.N. health agency, said the outbreak has been building since December around a mine near Zobia, 170 miles north of Kisangani, the capital of the vast Oriental province.

Nearly all the 7,000 miners have abandoned the infected area and sought refuge in the world's second-largest tropical rain forest, all but cut off from the outside world.

Security fears -- mainly from bandits and militia left over from Congo's five-year war -- also have slowed international response, Bertherat said.

Plague is spread mainly by fleas and causes an infection in the lungs that slowly suffocates its victims. If caught in time, it can be treated with antibiotics.

Bubonic plague is the most common form of plague and is transmitted to people through the bite of an infected flea. It usually is spread by rodents. It does not spread person to person.

Pneumonic plague -- the kind in the current outbreak -- is rarer but also more easily transmitted from person to person through coughing or close contact. [...]

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Bird flu recurrence reported in six provinces
Saturday, February 19, 2105 00:18:43 Vietnam (GMT 07)

Health animal authorities on Friday reported bird flu outbreaks in 19 sites of six provinces, including five in the Mekong Delta region, with more than 7,500 fowls culled.

Hai Duong northern province suffered the heaviest loss with 1,100 ducks and 500 chickens culled in its two districts of Kim Thanh and Gia Loc.

In Long An province, which has been hit the hardest by the outbreak in the country, bird flu recurred in three districts of Ben Luc, Thu Thua and Can Giuoc, killing almost 1,500 poultry.

Avian flu outbreaks were also reported in other Mekong Delta provinces of Ben Tre, Bac Lieu, Tra Vinh and An Giang, said the veterinary department under the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry. [...]

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Mexico floats butterfly blame
Feb. 18, 2005. 01:00 AM

MEXICO CITY—The population of monarch butterflies has suffered a drastic decline, but Mexico, where deforestation has long devastated monarch wintering grounds, is now blaming the United States and Canada.

Mexico's environment department said on Wednesday that 75 per cent fewer monarch butterflies have appeared in 2004 compared to previous years. It blamed cold weather and intensive farming — including genetically modified crops — in areas of the United States and Canada where the butterflies spend the summer and reproduce.

In past years, Mexico acknowledged the butterflies were affected by illegal logging of the central Mexico fir forests that provide winter nesting grounds.

Activists and researchers suggested Mexico may be trying to offload some of the blame, after its own highly publicized efforts to stop illegal logging ran up against often violent resistance from logging gangs.

"This is an incomplete and tendentious report, that seeks to put all the blame on other countries which do share responsibility," said Homero Aridjis, whose Group of 100 environmental organization has long opposed illegal logging.

The Mexican government said the decline was because of a number of factors, including an unusually cold summer in the United States and a high mortality rate for the butterflies in Mexico in 2003 because of cold, wet conditions. "It is clear that the migratory phenomenon of the monarch butterfly ... is not at risk," the environment department said. "This is a species with a great capacity for recovering from die-offs.''

However, the announcement focused almost exclusively on events in the United States and Canada, including "industrial agriculture that displaced breeding and feeding grounds,'' "the use of herbicides and loss of habitat," and the planting of genetically modified crops not used in Mexico.

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NASA Statement on False Claim of Evidence of Life on Mars
RELEASE: 05-052

News reports on February 16, 2005, that NASA scientists from Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., have found strong evidence that life may exist on Mars are incorrect.

NASA does not have any observational data from any current Mars missions that supports this claim. The work by the scientists mentioned in the reports cannot be used to directly infer anything about life on Mars, but may help formulate the strategy for how to search for martian life. Their research concerns extreme environments on Earth as analogs of possible environments on Mars. No research paper has been submitted by them to any scientific journal asserting martian life.

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit: For more information about NASA's Mars programs on the Web, visit:

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Brightest Galactic Flash Ever Detected Hits Earth
By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer
18 February, 2005

A huge explosion halfway across the galaxy packed so much power it briefly altered Earth's upper atmosphere in December, astronomers said Friday.

No known eruption beyond our solar system has ever appeared as bright upon arrival.

But you could not have seen it, unless you can top the X-ray vision of Superman: In gamma rays, the event equaled the brightness of the full Moon's reflected visible light.

The blast originated about 50,000 light-years away and was detected Dec. 27. A light-year is the distance light travels in a year, about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers).

The commotion was caused by a special variety of neutron star known as a magnetar. These fast-spinning, compact stellar corpses -- no larger than a big city -- create intense magnetic fields that trigger explosions. The blast was 100 times more powerful than any other similar eruption witnessed, said David Palmer of Los Alamos National Laboratory, one of several researchers around the world who monitored the event with various telescopes.

Tsunami Connection?

Several readers wondered if the magnetar blast could be related to the December tsunami. Scientists have made no such connection. The blast affected Earth's ionosphere, which is routinely affected to a greater extent by changes in solar activity.

"Had this happened within 10 light-years of us, it would have severely damaged our atmosphere and possibly have triggered a mass extinction," said Bryan Gaensler of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).

There are no magnetars close enough to worry about, however, Gaensler and two other astronomers told But the strength of the tempest has them marveling over the dying star's capabilities while also wondering if major species die-offs in the past might have been triggered by stellar explosions. [...]

Cause a mystery

Researchers don't know exactly why the burst was so incredible. The star, named SGR 1806-20, spins once on its axis every 7.5 seconds, and it is surrounded by a magnetic field more powerful than any other object in the universe. [...]

Explosive details

A neutron star is the remnant of a star that was once several times more massive than the Sun. When their nuclear fuel is depleted, they explode as a supernova. The remaining dense core is slightly more massive than the Sun but has a diameter typically no more than 12 miles (20 kilometers).

Millions of neutron stars fill the Milky Way galaxy. A dozen or so are ultra-magnetic neutron stars -- magnetars. The magnetic field around one is about 1,000 trillion gauss, strong enough to strip information from a credit card at a distance halfway to the Moon, scientists say.

Of the known magnetars, four are called soft gamma repeaters, or SGRs, because they flare up randomly and release gamma rays. The flare on SGR 1806-20 unleashed about 10,000 trillion trillion trillion watts of power.

"The next biggest flare ever seen from any soft gamma repeater was peanuts compared to this incredible Dec. 27 event," said Gaensler of the CfA.

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Don't panic, it might never happen
Phillip Ball

Statistically speaking, it seems that things can only get worse. A study of the statistics of global terrorism concludes that attacks will become more severe in the future, and that an attack that kills as many people as the destruction of the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001 is likely within the next seven years.[...]

Computer scientists Aaron Clauset and Maxwell Young of the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, have analysed the data on terrorist attacks compiled by the National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism in Oklahoma City. They say the numbers follow a 'power-law' relationship.

This might sound like no more than a formal way of presenting the statistics, but the power-law relationship has startling implications. For example, Clauset and Young say that the statistics suggest a strong probability of an attack as devastating as that on the World Trade Center within seven years.

And the power-law relationship implies that the biggest terrorist attacks are not 'outliers': one-off events somehow different from the all-too-familiar suicide bombings that kill or maim just a few people. Instead, it suggests that they are somehow driven by the same underlying mechanism.

Similar power-law relationships between size and frequency apply to other phenomena, such as earthquakes and fluctuations in economic markets. This indicates that even the biggest, most infrequent earthquakes are created by the same processes that produce hordes of tiny ones, and that occasional market crashes are generated by the same internal dynamics of the marketplace that produce daily wobbles in stock prices. Analogously, Clauset and Young's study implies some kind of 'global dynamics' of terrorism.

Moreover, a power-law suggests something about that mechanism. If every terrorist attack were instigated independently of every other, their size-frequency relationship should obey the 'gaussian' statistics seen in coin-tossing experiments. In gaussian statistics, very big fluctuations are extremely rare - you will hardly ever observe ten heads and ninety tails when you toss a coin 100 times. Processes governed by power-law statistics, in contrast, seem to be interdependent. This makes them far more prone to big events, which is why giant tsunamis and market crashes do happen within a typical lifetime. Does this mean that terrorist attacks are interdependent in the same way?

This touches on a deep, difficult and long-standing question that has divided historians for centuries: are there universal laws governing human history? [...]

British physicist Lewis Fry Richardson made a similar study between the 1920s to the 1950s. He collected data on "deadly quarrels": fatal conflicts ranging from small local skirmishes to world wars. He found that their size-frequency distribution also followed a power law. [...]

It is sadly possible, of course, that Clauset and Young's predictions will come to pass. But it is worth bearing in mind that several apparent power-law statistics in social phenomena have turned out, on closer inspection, to have natural cut-off points that preclude very large events2. And whatever the case, we should be wary of predictions based purely on statistics. History teaches us that it is possible, sometimes, to change the rules that generate them.

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Priests Sign Up for Exorcism 101
Tracy Wilkinson,
Los Angeles Times

Faced with a shortage of skilled clerics, Vatican is offering a course on demonic possession.

ROME — The Roman Catholic Church is facing a shortage you may not have heard about: qualified exorcists.

And so, on Thursday about 100 priests stood, prayed for protection, then sat down to begin an eight-week study of how to distinguish and fight demonic possession. [...]

In Italy, the number of official exorcists has soared during the last 20 years to between 300 and 400, church officials say. But they aren't enough to handle the avalanche of requests for help from hundreds of tormented people who believe they are possessed. In the United States, the shortage is even more acute.

Only a small percentage of those in distress are judged to be in need of an exorcism, and learning how to tell the difference between demonic possession and other psychological or physical traumas is the main goal of the priestly students taking the course at the Regina Apostolorum.

"When you're dealing with a reality like the devil," said 39-year-old Father Clement Machado of Canada, "you can't just learn the theoretical. You need the pragmatic experience…. It's such uncharted territory." [...]

"Satanism is very much in fashion now," said Father Paulo Scarafoni, rector of the Regina Apostolorum, which is run by the conservative Legionaries of Christ. [...]

Nowhere is the shortage of exorcists considered more serious than in the U.S., where skepticism about the practice abounds. There are fewer than a dozen official exorcists at U.S. dioceses, and it is a topic most American priests seem to avoid.

Comment: The reader may enjoy reading the St. Pete Times article about Laura Knight-Jadczyk's work as an Exorcist written by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Thomas French.

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Can people be possessed by evil spirits?
Ian Sample
The Guardian

Channel 4 seems to think so, and next week plans to broadcast "as live" the exorcism of a young man who says he is possessed by evil. Scientists intend to monitor the man's brain with electrodes to see whether the procedure has any measurable effect.

Even within the Church of England, the idea of possession raises eyebrows. "The number of metaphysical assumptions it makes is quite incredible. It means there are such things as non-human evil spirits that can take possession of a human being and require to be told to go somewhere else by a greater power," says Canon Michael Perry, who holds a doctorate in deliverance and edits the Christian Parapsychologist.

"Some Christians believe it happens frequently - they see demons under every rug and will perform exorcisms at the drop of a hat. My view is possession is very rare." [...]

Whether Channel 4's exorcism will reveal the scientific basis for hurling evil spirits back to where they came from remains to be seen, but French concedes that there are still mysteries surrounding supposed possession.

"It would be arrogant to say we fully understand the whole phenomenon," he says. "That said, I'm fairly confident that whatever the true explanation, it's not very likely that we're dealing with possession by evil spirits."

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Divine intervention - or sheer chance and probability?
Ever Bumped Into An Old Chum In A Far-Flung Place? It Could Be More Than A Coincidence, As Laura Kendall Finds Out.

ONCE, while waiting in a hospital A&E department after banging his head, journalist and author Martin Plimmer discovered a two-year-old magazine open to an article he had written - about headaches. Coincidence? Or something beyond the realms of chance? Plimmer wasn't sure. But he was so intrigued by the concept of coincidence that he set about finding out.

The Streatham-based writer, together with friend and fellow journalist Brian King, of Crystal Palace, penned the best-selling Beyond Coincidence, which is peppered with examples of coincidence and examines why we are so fascinated by the phenomenon.

The second, updated edition of the book, which has now been translated into five languages, was recently released. [...]

Plimmer's personal favourite is the story of 10-year-old Laura Buxton who wrote her name and address on a luggage label attached to a helium balloon and released it from her Staffordshire garden. The balloon drifted 140 miles before landing in the Wiltshire garden of Laura Buxton, also aged 10. [...]

* In Finland in March 2002, twin brothers, aged 71, were killed in identical bicycle accidents along the same road two hours apart.

* In 1975, while riding a moped in Bermuda, a man was accidentally struck and killed by a taxi. One year later, this man's brother was killed in the very same way. In fact, he was riding the very same moped. And to stretch the odds even further, he was struck by the very same taxi driven by the same driver - and even carrying the very same passenger.

* In the 1920s, three Englishman were travelling separately by train through Peru. At the time of their introduction, they were the only three men in the railroad car. Their introductions were more surprising than they could have imagined. One man's last name was Bingham, and the second man's last name was Powell. The third man announced that his last name was Bingham-Powell. None were related in any way.

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How our brains help warn us off dangers
Scripps Howard News Service

That odd feeling that things around us just aren't right, that something bad is about to happen, apparently has roots not in the paranormal but in a structure right in the top of our brains, a new study has found.

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis report Friday in the journal Science that they have identified a brain region that acts as an early warning system, working even at the subconscious level to help recognize and avoid high-risk situations. "Our brains are better at picking up subtle warning signs than we previously thought," said Joshua Brown, a research associate in psychology and co-author of the study with associate professor Todd Braver.

Experiments that coupled computerized modeling to predict brain function with neuroimaging studies done while volunteers responded to cues on a computer screen demonstrated that the anterior cingulated cortex (ACC) not only helps us sort through difficult decisions, but actually learns to predict bad consequences.

"In the past, we found activity in the ACC when people had to make a difficult decision among mutually exclusive options, or after they made a mistake," Brown said. Some scientists describe it as the "oops center" because the area near the top of the frontal lobes of the brain is literally the center of that irritated, sinking feeling we get when we realize we've made the wrong turn or clicked the wrong button on a control panel.

"But now we find that this brain region can actually learn to recognize when you might make a mistake, even before a difficult decision has to be made," Brown said. "It learns to warn us in advance when our behavior might lead to a negative outcome, so that we can be more careful and avoid making a mistake." [...]

Abnormalities in the brain region are associated with a number of serious mental disorders, including schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and the study offers new insights into those conditions as well as possible new approaches to treatment.

"Our results suggest how impairment of the ACC mechanisms in schizophrenia can lead to breakdowns in the early warning system, so that the brain fails to pre-empt or control inappropriate behavior," Brown said.

"On the other hand, in individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder, the ACC might warn of an impending problem even when no problem is imminent," he added.

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Alaska, Land of the Lost
Tomas Alex Tizon
Los Angeles Times

STERLING, Alaska — She does it without even thinking, as soon as she steps out of the truck: a sweep of her eyes across the sky for a sign of bald eagles. They're as common here as ravens, as hawks, but they're bigger and easier to see from a distance. Maybe a single circling eagle will spiral down to the spot where lies her son — or his body, whatever is left of it.

Dolly Hills has come to think along those lines. She is 53, one moment sprightly, the next sorrowful. Her grown son Richard, the younger of her two children, has been missing since last February. She believes he is dead, and his remains somewhere in the woods or waters near this Kenai Peninsula town. Around here, scavengers are the quickest to locate a corpse, whether of a shot grizzly, a moose or a 37-year-old man on a simple errand who vanished into the subzero cold.

Richard Hills was one of 3,323 people reported missing in the state last year, not a record but far higher, relative to population, than anywhere else in the country. On average, 5 of every 1,000 people go missing every year, roughly double the national rate. Since Alaska began tracking the numbers in 1988, police have received at least 60,700 reports of missing people.

As everywhere else, most cases involve runaways who eventually return home or are found. But Alaska has the highest percentage of people who stay missing. [...]

"We live in a place," Dolly Hills says, "where people disappear."

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For Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens, Was It De-Lovely?
New York Times

The scientists did not get around to the nitty-gritty question until the fourth hour of a two-and-a-half-day symposium on Neanderthals, held recently at New York University.

A strong consensus was emerging, they agreed, that the now-extinct Neanderthals were a distinct evolutionary entity from modern humans, presumably a different species. They were archaic members of the human family, robust with heavy brow ridges and forward-projecting faces, who lived in Europe and western Asia from at least 250,000 years ago until they vanished from the fossil record about 28,000 years ago.

Neanderthals may have seen their first modern Homo sapiens some 100,000 years ago in what is now Israel. The two people almost certainly came in contact in Europe in the last centuries before the dwindling Neanderthal population was replaced forever by the intruding modern humans.

Taking his turn at the symposium lectern, Dr. James C. M. Ahern, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Wyoming, acknowledged: "Neanderthals are different. The degree of difference is relatively vast, but that is not the most interesting question out there."

The question was, he continued, "Did Neanderthals and modern humans do it?" [...]

More than species differences may have kept Neanderthals and humans sexually apart, if indeed that was the case. Their opportunities may have been limited. [...]

"It was not bad genes but bad luck for the Neanderthals," Dr. Stringer said. "Modern humans may have had no direct effect on Neanderthal extinction. They actually walked into empty spaces where Neanderthals had already disappeared." [...]

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Ancient art of invention
The Scotsman

YOU'VE just ordered a pint. You're sitting gazing out at the concrete building opposite. The footie is on the television above the bar. A vending machinewinks beside the door to the toilets. You might think that the things around you are quintessentially modern. But you'd be wrong. All of the components in this picture (well, ok, apart from the telly) were invented by ancient peoples who lived more than 1,000 years ago.

The makers of What The Ancients Did For Us, which starts on BBC2 this week, believe we have the peoples of Mesopotamia, Central America, China, India, Arabia, Greece and Rome to thank for many life-changing discoveries, from rubber bands to central heating.

"We have a tendency to think of ancient peoples as being stupid because they didn't have television or mobile phones," says series presenter Adam Hart-Davis. "But of course they were just as intelligent as we are, and they didn't waste their time watching television or texting each other. So they used their intelligence and invented some wonderful things." [...]

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What's on Peter Jennings' radar? The truth about UFOs

[...] Having spent more than two decades as the face the country's second-highest-rated evening news broadcast, the Ontario-born Jennings has become synonymous with descriptors such as urbane, aristocratic and sophisticated. And although these adjectives are not always used in a positive sense -- some viewers equate them to haughtiness -- they're undeniably apt. It probably will come as a surprise, then, to hear that urbane, sophisticated Jennings' next documentary chases down the truth about UFOs. As in, flying saucers and little green men. [...]

"UFOs -- Seeing Is Believing," airing Feb. 24 from 8 to 10 p.m. on KOMO/4, is the latest entry in the "Peter Jennings Reporting" series. His goal is to take a serious look at a subject most scientists, the government and the media tend to brush off as lunacy. When some 80 million Americans claim to have seen a UFO, he explained, it's worth an investigation.

"I grant you that there may be a lot of people out there in the country who think they've had these experiences, and some of them may even be unhinged," he said, "but I think even those people deserve a serious hearing from a serious reporter." [...]

"When we got to the end, I realized two things. First of all, that many of the people who had these experiences were the very people -- police officers, pilots, military personnel and ordinary citizens -- who we regard as being trustworthy and, not only that, very valuable to our society because they protect us.

"Secondly," he continued, "we came to conclude, as with the Kennedy program, that the government, by not taking something particularly seriously at various moments in time, has contributed to undermining people's trust and probably contributing to some theories that don't hold water." [...]

Comment: For a deeper look at the phenomenon, read The High Strangeness of Dimensions and the Process of Alien Abduction.

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Just in case you were wondering whether or not the Pentagon was really serious about knocking other countries' satellites out of orbit, comes this item from C4ISR Journal. The Defense Department, it seems, has "launched a series of exercises designed to sharpen its understanding and management of counter-satellite operations."

The three-year Joint Space Control Operations-Negation (JSCO-N) program will help the Pentagon figure out which satellite-killers to buy, and determine which procedures to follow when knocking the orbiters out. [...]

Not surprisingly, the Pentagon refused to give details on the exercises.

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Bracelets Reveal Secret Society Of Eating Disorders

Inconspicuous bracelets that are growing popular among teens are actually a secret signal for people with eating disorders and other destructive behaviors, reported WDIV-TV in Detriot. They look like any bracelet you might buy at the mall. You probably wouldn't even notice if your child started wearing one, but these are not just any bracelet.

They are a sign of membership in a world of underground Web sites that connect people who share a dangerous passion, the television station reported. Red bracelets represent anorexia, purple is for bulimia, and black and blue is for self injury, such as cutting and self-mutilation. The Web sites don't discourage eating disorders. They encourage the behavior of people who want to keep starving themselves.

"They are encouraging people to be ill, and it's like a secret cult, a secret society. Word spreads around and people have a lingo now," said Lynne Grege, of the National Eating Disorders Association. [...]

Parents said they thought the bracelets were just a teenage fad, but finding out what the fad was shocked them. They realized the teenagers were engaged in a practice that could be a matter of life and death.

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Samara Martin-Ewing
WUSA9 News

The Justice Department estimates there could be hundreds of thousands of victims. "I don't know if virtual rape is any less worse than real rape," says Christine. "People think they can get online and do anything and not be traced and not be held responsible for it."

Christine's tormentor was everywhere. "He would put up blog pages and describe me in the most unflattering ways." Christine describes one assault after another, "You're like 400 pounds...You're ugly and nobody wants you...You're a child abuser. And then there were a whole lot of sexual things about myself and my mother."

Things escalated for Christine when her stalker posted her social security number and address on some websites. [...]

"The way I think about the internet it's kind of like the Wild West. It's just this great big frontier that's not governed and while I don't want to see it over-governed, when it comes to making someone else live in fear or misery that should not be tolerated."

There are five states that do not have cyber-stalking laws, including DC. While some law enforcement agencies are responding aggressively, others are still not fully aware of the problem.

"We've had some cases with multiple harassers where they gang up on a person," says Jane Hitchcock, a victim's advocate who was instrumental in passing Maryland's cyber-stalking law. "The reason it should be taken more seriously is that you don't want it to escalate to an offline situation where someone might end up getting physically hurt or killed. [...]

As for Christine's stalker, he did get some jail time.

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Portuguese mourn Fatima witness

Worshippers have flocked to the Coimbra cathedral in Portugal to pay their last respects to Sister Lucia, who claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary in 1917.

She died on Sunday, aged 97 - the last of three shepherd children who turned the town of Fatima into a pilgrimage site after telling of their visions. [...]

The Virgin Mary is said to have revealed prophecies of key 20th-Century events, including the end of World War I, the start of World War II and the rise and fall of Soviet communism. [...]

Sister Lucia was the only one of the three children who claimed to have heard clearly what the Virgin Mary said.

The cousins were tending sheep when they saw the visions. Sister Lucia went on to write down what she had been told.

The first two parts of the prophecy were known for decades and interpreted as predicting the world wars. But the third prophecy was kept secret and sparked much speculation about its content. When the Vatican revealed its interpretation of the vision, the Pope credited the Madonna of Fatima with his survival following the 1981 attempt on his life by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca in St Peter's Square.

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The Grail, Jesus's children and Stone Age lasers: Scotland's madder myths
The Scotsman

SCOTLAND is a wonderful and unique place. Its majestic mountains and dramatic seascapes thrill the heart and capture the imagination. However, the imaginations of some have attributed unique wonders to this land that those in the mainstream would shy away from. For instance, did you know that Jesus Christ was Scottish? And Pontius Pilate? And King Arthur? And, no, I am not referring to Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, which has its denouement in Scotland. [...]

So let's take a look at some of the more fantastic suggestions. You have two choices: Take everything you read with a pinch of salt (on second thought, make it a barrel) or suspend disbelief and go with it. (All these theories have been graded with a probability factor between one and ten. This is purely an invention of, and we welcome any comments from people who disagree with our rating.) [...]

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And Finally...

Wild Turkeys Preying On Ohio State Troopers?
Internet Broadcasting Systems, Inc.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Is it a case of turkeys gone wild? Some Ohio troopers have had their feathers ruffled by the pesky birds.

Some Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers have had run-ins recently with wild turkeys. The birds haven't been shy, and some have even climbed on top of troopers' cruisers in Hancock County. One turkey even forced a trooper back inside his vehicle.

Comment: In a Signs exclusive, we have learned from unverified sources that the turkeys are likely launching limited reconnaissance missions against US law enforcement personnel in preparation for a terrorist turkey attack. The Signs editors received a grainy video this morning of what is allegedly the leader of the Thanksgiving Jihad Brigade, which it was claimed is associated with al-Qaeda. The leader, calling himself 'Mr. T', spoke in broken English in the video and warned that his ancestors would be avenged:

"You [dirty] Americans - turkeys want to [spill your blood because you are infidels. You have killed our ancestors, and now we will avenge them. We will never] be your friends.

(Note: Bracketed portions of the transcript seemed to be spoken with a different accent than the rest of the speech.)

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