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©2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte
Year Five: All the Great Lies
By Jim Kirwan
February 22, 2005

We are beginning the fifth year of unfinished business, under an infantile and dangerous leadership that in all this time has finished nothing they proposed. Policies defined and promises broken; budgets outlined and costs exceeded; Rhetoric by the square mile that has morphed into nothing but useless and distracting trash. Bush, our Neroesque leader never tires of "moving on" without ever looking back at the absolute carnage in his wake.

Now he's doing Europe one more time and crowing about victories and democracy, freedom and peace, back inside those bloody footprints that were once Afghanistan and Iraq. As projects, neither of these war-torn places is even close to completion, yet Bush presents these open graves as accomplishments that are now in the past. Hundreds of thousands dead, three hundred billion dollars worth of munitions and blood, cultures destroyed, treaties and international cooperation ruined, millions of peoples lives forever changed – and in the plus column – Bush has a just a couple of rigged elections, one here and one there to show for all that wasted treasure. Oh, and he's just approved an attack upon Iran set for June of 2005!  

Is our fearless leader fazed? No, he's still doing his impersonation of the Terminator for the entire world. Part of his problem is that he basically blew the attack on Iraq, by demonstrating his determination to remain unilateral. Now he's discovered that we can't pay for that arrogant stunt, without European help. The charade he's using this time to encourage the EU to join him, is that since Afghanistan and Iraq are behind us now the next challenge we all face is Peace in the Middle East! To do this he is proposing that Europe side with Israel and the US to shut down the nuclear threat that he perceives as present and impending in Iran (hence the need for this new aggression).

However, Bush still has to address the lack of US troops that he'll need for those pending attacks upon Iran and others, so he's currently trying to jawbone the Japanese into defending themselves so that we can reassign those 50,000 troops to whatever war they might be needed in – come June.

Whether or not he can obtain help with his new Empirical aggression in Iran, he still has to convince the world of our sudden interest in ending the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. This "idea" still lacks the necessary credibility, since for the previous four years he has shown nothing but contempt for Palestine and its people.

If Bush and Sharon are serious about having peace in that region, then the answer is simple. Bush needs to take a page from his mentor Ronald Reagan (the great communicator). Bush must go to Jerusalem, and meet Sharon there, at the wall. Then before the cameras of the assembled members of the press, he must proclaim: "Mr. Sharon, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!"

The destruction of that wall would lead directly to the beginnings of the international peace he says he wants to achieve – nothing less will do – yet because these two are who they have been, neither the likelihood of this event nor even the possibility seems real. But if Bush is one-fiftieth the man he thinks he is then he would do this!

The number five is the number of change. And, as this is Year Five of All the Great Lies, isn't it time that the public finally begin to demand some results from our Neroesque leader, BEFORE he finishes his destructions not of Rome, but of the planet?

His record at home is beyond compare as he has set a new world's record for the national debt that we now owe. His policies on energy, health, education, and the environment are abysmal and falling ever deeper, at light speed. His attempted murder of Social Security is now being challenged; but the far larger crime of what he is allowing Medicare to do to the future of millions of people has yet to even be challenged. And through it all he has striven to cover up the truth about the losses we've already suffered in his first two wars.  

The good news is that the traditional media (the press) is beginning to awaken to just how far behind they have been, in covering the critical particulars of this continuing collapse.  

"Change" Bush says; "is something most people resist." But this should be the year of the kinds of changes that most people would cheer! The end of the problem between Israel and Palestine, the end of the Dreams of Empire that a bunch of low-life thugs tried to foist upon the world – all of it could be accomplished with just a little more spine by a lot more people who are willing to educate themselves and their friends, about nine-eleven and what's really happening now in this troubled world, because of the dark madness that happened, on that beautiful September morning in 2001.

Beyond that there is a collective debt to pay, beyond the money that we owe. That debt is to those who shall come after us. They'll need a world to live in that has not been poisoned or destroyed, a planet that is able to naturally sustain itself and the life that lives upon it. Future generations should also have a world that can once again place their belief in individuals and in personal reputations, in a world where there are laws and consequences for the actions of everyone. That would be a place where no man or woman can be above or beyond the international laws by which all of us must live. Will this happen? It can, if we are determined!

Comment: George W. Bush lives in a fantasy world, a world of his own creation, where he truly believes that God has adorned him king and uncontested ruler of the free world, basking in the adoration of the grateful multitudes.

With his confident swagger and down home Texas charm, he rides into old Europe town, like a heroic sheriff of the wild west, on a mission to save them poor backwards folks, frightened and beleaguered by a gang of no good evil terrorists who he believes have been plaguing their little town.

But, unlike this fantasy created in the good sheriff's mind, the townsfolk know all about the ways of this renegade hero, whose nefarious deeds and reputation follow him from place to place as a result of the carnage and destruction he leaves behind.

In reality, the good sheriff is a crazed psychopath, who feeds off the fear and intimidation he instills in others. Not wanting to burst the sheriff's bubble of illusion, and likely incur his vengeful wrath, the esteemed representatives of old Europe town pretend to humour him in his delusions of grandeur.

All the while the common folk gather and rally in the streets, for they know what kind of man our anti-hero really is, and do not wish to suffer the same fate of those poor people in towns yonder.

Such is the stark contrast between the fantasy of Bush's narcissistic image of himself, and the reality of how the rest of the world views him.

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The Fantasy...

Bush goes on 'charm offensive'
Feb. 22, 2005. 06:19 AM

LONDON-U.S. President George W. Bush's call for a "new era of transatlantic unity" came coated in the conciliatory words Europeans wanted to hear.

But on a range of foreign policy challenges - from reining in Iran's nuclear program to lifting an arms embargo on China - the potential for recurring transatlantic clashes remains strong.

In his first speech in Europe since his re-election, Bush focused on mending transatlantic relations strained to an all-time low by the Iraq war.

He emphasized his support for a "strong Europe" - read as possible backing for a 25-member European Union with international clout - stressed "co-operation" on foreign issues, and proclaimed that "no power on Earth" will ever divide the United States and Europe.

Berlin-based analyst Henning Riecke described the president's Brussels speech yesterday as a "charm offensive."

"The whole idea is to send out the message that the United States understands how important allies are," said Riecke, transatlantic affairs expert with the German Council on Foreign Relations.

"For the moment it's just rhetoric, but it's important because the mistrust ran so deep," he added in a telephone interview.

Bush even went out of his way to compliment French President Jacques Chirac, who led European opposition to the Iraq war.

"Every time I meet Jacques he gives me good advice," Bush told reporters before he and Chirac had a private dinner in Brussels.

Bush had earlier been asked whether relations were now good enough to invite Chirac to his ranch in Texas, an honour usually reserved for close allies.

"I'm looking for a good cowboy," Bush responded.

Bush officials later stressed that the meeting was friendly, and that Chirac would be invited to visit the White House or the president's ranch.

Still, winning over Europeans - many of whom consider Bush a warmonger - will take more than friendly words and Texan hospitality.

"It's always the same story," said Jacques Myard, a national assembly member with Chirac's party. "I don't know if Mr. Bush really knows what an alliance is because he still speaks as though he's convinced he's right and everyone else should follow him."

No one believes that Bush has done an about-face on his administration's policy of "preventive war" carried out by "coalitions of the willing" - policies at the heart of U.S. differences with key European allies. [...]

On Iran, Bush seemed to try to ease fears that the U.S. was poised to launch military strikes. The U.S. is convinced Iran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies. But Bush backed British, German and French efforts to negotiate a peaceful solution to the crisis.

He made clear that military action remains an option, but pointedly said Iran is "different from Iraq" because diplomacy was still "in the early stages."

In exchange for giving up nuclear research, Iran wants economic concessions from Western countries, including membership in the World Trade Organization. That could be achieved only if the United States agreed to join the European talks with Iran - something Bush refuses to do.

"There's a potential for a clash over Iran," said Guillaume Parmentier, director of U.S. studies at the Paris-based French Institute of International Relations. "Bush's mission to re-establish a relationship between the U.S. and Europe was a necessary step. But there's still a long way to go."

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The Reality...

Europeans wary of Bush's charm offensive
By Joji Sakurai, Associated Press Writer  |  February 23, 2005

ROME -- The words may have been more conciliatory, but many Europeans sensed the swagger was still there. President Bush's outreach efforts to European leaders this week appear to have gone a way toward establishing an official thaw, but citizens around the continent remain deeply resistant to giving in to any charm offensive from a man they view as dangerous and irresponsible.

Above all, Europeans balk at what they see as the underlying message coming through all the sweet talk from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the president: America intends to be the world's policeman and expects Europe's help in toppling tyranny around the globe.

"We Don't Need No Cowboy," read one sign at a protest in Mainz, Germany, where Bush warmly shook hands Wednesday with one of the fiercest critics of the Iraq war, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

A tete-a-tete in Brussels earlier in the week appeared to have convinced French President Jacques Chirac -- the man who came to symbolize world opposition to the war -- that Bush is now ready for "a true partnership."

But while leaders have pragmatic interests -- ranging from trade to security issues -- that may make friendly ties a wise idea, many civilians said they were cynical about Washington's intentions.

"At the moment, the United States needs Europe to resolve the conflicts in the Middle East, notably in Iraq. Europe is an ally to Bush, which he is simply using," said Emmanuel Rozo, 29, a communications worker in Paris.

At the heart of the trans-Atlantic divide are deep philosophical differences born of history.

Many Europeans vividly remember the devastation of the two world wars. They are enjoying peace and prosperity after centuries of almost nonstop conflict. Many associate military adventures abroad with a sense of guilt, pain and loss.

It is in this context that Europeans read Bush's enjoinder to help spread democracy around the world. Some do not share the view of democracy as a cure-all. Others don't think it should be "exported." Still others -- noting U.S. alliances with shady regimes -- see the whole thing as a mask for other agendas.

Even among those who believe Bush, many suspect he is naive and suffers from the same type of hubris that led to disaster in European empires from ancient Rome to that of Napoleon Bonaparte.

"Europe has had disillusionments too great to permit a return to that purist belief in the transforming power of democratic institutions," columnist Janet Daley wrote in Britain's Daily Telegraph. "What was left standing in the ruins of the Bonapartist experiment was effectively demolished by the two world wars."

Wherever the president has traveled this week, the jocular backslapping between Bush and continental leaders has contrasted sharply with the popular welcome he has received.

In Brussels, raucous demonstrations forced police to fire water cannons to disperse crowds gathered outside European Union headquarters. In Mainz, protesters dragged a float portraying a prisoner being beaten at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison through the city.

In Slovakia, where Bush arrived Wednesday for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, people say they just want to see the return of the 100 soldiers their government sent to Iraq as part of the U.S.-led coalition.

"I see the presence of troops in Iraq negatively. There is no reason to be there," said Jan Galusek, a 63-year-old retiree.

Many Europeans still bridle at what they see as Bush's bullying tone.

"He expects people to follow orders," said Serena Montanaro, a media studies student in Rome. "He blows the whistle and others follow."

On top of that, few people in Europe -- where oratory and nuance are the hallmark of public life, and philosophers are still part of the celebrity circuit -- seem to connect with Bush's plainspoken bluntness.

Still, some commentators did express delight that Washington appeared finally to be acknowledging Europe's presence.

"Bush has learned how to spell EU at the start of his second term," said the Tages Anzeiger, a newspaper in Zurich, Switzerland.

But others expressed admiration for Bush's muscular approach to foreign policy, and hoped he'd return to his brash, old self to whip "weak" Europeans into action.

"One wishes in all friendliness that George W. Bush, following his charm offensive, soon returns to rawer tones toward his trans-Atlantic partners," said the Vienna newspaper Der Standard.

Britain's Guardian newspaper cautioned in an editorial that Bush's "flattering tone could not conceal key areas of U.S.-European disagreement."

Among them:

-- Europe is eager to use diplomacy to win an Iranian pledge not to pursue nuclear weapons; Bush, even while trying to allay fears of an attack on Iran, added in his very next sentence Tuesday that "all options are on the table."

-- The United States opposes Europe's intention to lift an arms embargo on China.

-- European leaders remained largely silent as Bush bluntly demanded that Syrian troops "and secret services" quit Lebanon.

All these disagreements contain the possible seed of future discord.

"At times he stretched credibility," the Guardian opined. "To say that 'no power on earth will ever divide us,' has the sort of mock biblical resonance that often appears in his speeches but sounds hollow considering substantial differences."

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The Fantasy...

Bush mends fences with French fries
By Adam Entous and Alec Russell
February 23, 2005

President George Bush called the French leader by his first name, ate "French fries" and joked about inviting Jacques Chirac to his Texas ranch during a dinner to mend relations after the two men's dispute over Iraq.

A senior Bush Administration official described the meeting in Brussels on Monday as the best ever - "warm under any measure" - saying it proved relations had come a long way from the tense days before the Iraq invasion, when the US Congress renamed French fries "freedom fries" and Mr Bush's plane, Air Force One, served "freedom toast" rather than "French toast".

"This is my first dinner, since I've been re-elected, on European soil, and it's with Jacques Chirac - and that ought to say something," Mr Bush said, with the French President at his side.

Even the food was conciliatory. They ate French fries, which Mr Bush was keen to point out, and before their working dinner both leaders emphasised that all was now well.

"I've really been looking forward to this moment. Every time I meet with Jacques he's got good advice. And I'm looking forward to listening to you," Mr Bush told the French President.

"We've got a lot of issues to talk about - Middle Eastern peace, Lebanon, Iran, helping to feed the hungry."

Mr Bush was asked by a French reporter if relations were now good enough for him to invite Mr Chirac to his ranch at Crawford, Texas, an honour bestowed only on Mr Bush's closest allies.

"I'm looking for a good cowboy," Mr Bush responded.

Mr Chirac also welcomed the dinner. "Of course, that doesn't mean that because we share common values we necessarily agree on everything all the time," he said.

The meeting with Mr Chirac followed a speech in Brussels by Mr Bush in which he touched on several themes and had tough words for the Israelis. "Israel must freeze settlement activity and ensure that a new Palestinian state is truly viable with contiguous territory on the West Bank," he said.

Mr Bush also offered an olive branch over the environment, by mentioning the challenge faced by climate change - an issue denied by many US Conservatives.

The audience listened in silence to his remarks. One European Union diplomat later suggested it was either through stunned disbelief or because it was clear his shift was in tone rather than policy.

A senior Administration official had a rather different perspective, suggesting that it was just a matter of local culture.

Mr Bush did his best to suggest that the remaining disputes between Washington and Europe were no more significant than differences over audience style.

On Iran, he said the US could not rule out military action to prevent the ayatollahs acquiring nuclear weapons - but only as a last resort. "In safeguarding the security of free nations, no option can be taken permanently off the table," he said. "Iran, however, is different from Iraq."

On Iraq, Mr Bush said: "Some European nations joined the fight to liberate Iraq, while others did not. Yet all of us recognise courage when we see it and we saw it in the Iraqi people."

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The Reality...

Thousands protest against Bush visit to Germany
24 February 2005 0336 hrs - AFP

MAINZ, Germany : At least 4,000 demonstrators vented their anger at the visit of US President George W. Bush to Germany but were kept well away from the security ring around him.

The centre of the picturesque western city was almost totally deserted after being shut to traffic and pedestrians during Bush's visit, with only a few police vehicles and armoured cars visible in the streets.

The protesters brandished placards reading "Terrorist Nr 1" and "Bush Swim Home" while police helicopters circled overhead.

The organizers of the rallies, an alliance of pacifist groups under the motto "Not Welcome, Mr Bush", said they were expecting 10,000 people to attend, but police put the numbers at about 4,000.

"Everything is very peaceful," said the organisers' spokesman Reiner Braun.

The stretch of the Rhine river that flows through Mainz was shut to shipping, but police confirmed that a boat with an anti-Bush protester on board had managed to sail towards a bridge shortly before the president's motorcade crossed it.

Three police launches intercepted the boat before it reached the bridge.

Police sealed manhole covers, removed mailboxes, insisted garage doors remain open and even temporarily closed the airspace to protect the US leader.

German airline Lufthansa complained that the security measures for Bush's visit had forced the cancellation of 71 of its flights from Frankfurt airport.

Frankfurt, Germany's biggest airport, was closed for 25 minutes on Wednesday morning to allow Bush's jet to land at the nearby US airbase Rhein-Main.

But Lufthansa said none of its flights were able to take off in the 45 minutes which followed Bush's arrival.

"We had to cancel 71 flights because of the temporary closure of Frankfurt airport and because of the reduced frequency on the takeoff and landing runways," said Lufthansa spokesman Thomas Jachnow.

The extent of the security measures for Bush's visit "were hard to understand in our opinion", he added.

Jachnow said a total of 4,675 passengers on Lufthansa and other flights were affected by the disruption.

A spokesman for Frankfurt airport confirmed that 104 flights were cancelled because of the US president's arrival but said that bad weather conditions were to blame.

There was a 57-kilometre-wide (35.4-mile-wide) air exclusion zone in operation over Mainz.

Security was also tight in the neighbouring city of Wiesbaden where Bush visited US troops later on Wednesday.

Bush made a one-day visit to Germany during which he and Schroeder discussed the Iranian nuclear crisis, the Middle East Peace process, the role of Syria in Lebanon and efforts to stabilize Iraq.

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German Protesters Call Bush 'No. 1 Terrorist'
By Alexandra Hudson
Wed Feb 23, 2005 12:54 PM ET

MAINZ, Germany - About 12,000 protesters, many carrying banners reading "Bush go home," "No. 1 Terrorist" and "Warmonger," marched through the German city of Mainz on Wednesday, but were mostly kept away from the visiting U.S. president.

The official rally, which was twice as big as expected, never got within earshot of President Bush, but a small group of protestors rushed toward his car as he left to visit a U.S. base in nearby Wiesbaden. Police wrestled several demonstrators to the ground and led them away in handcuffs, a Reuters witness said.

Bush was visiting Germany for the first time since the 2003 Iraq war, which Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and most Germans opposed.

"I'm disgusted by the war in Iraq Bush started that has cost thousands of civilian lives," said Thomas Odenweller, 49, a computer technician. "Now he's trying to normalize relations with Europe. It must be stopped."

Ignoring snow and freezing temperatures, the demonstrators held banners chastising Bush in English with slogans such as: "You can bomb the world to pieces but not into peace." Many had pre-printed posters reading: "Bush, No. 1 Terrorist."

Before the march, which Mainz police said was one of the largest ever in the city of about 300,000, one speaker told the crowd: "Mr. Bush, please leave our country. You started an illegal war against Iraq."

German police confiscated one poster that read: "We had our Hitler, now you have yours." [...]

Several protesters wearing fake U.S. army uniforms pulled a trailer with dummies of blood-covered Iraq prisoners impaled on iron bars under a banner: "We don't want your type of freedom." [...]

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The transatlantic gap remains as wide as ever
Adrian Hamilton
The UK Independent
24 February 2005

Time has taken some of the edge off the feelings over the war in Iraq, but not the distrust

Poor old Gerhard Schröder. The German Chancellor dares to say what many feel but few dare speak aloud - that the transatlantic alliance as structured in Nato needs to be recast - and everyone, including his own staff, rushes in to pretend that it was all an awful mistake. [...]

But the German Chancellor is right, however embarrassing his comments in the week before Bush arrived on his European trip may have been. If Bush's visit is to mark a new phase in transatlantic relations, political leaders must look at the form as well as the style of that partnership. The world may have moved on since the Iraq invasion, but you can't simply pick up the pieces and go on as if the ruptures it caused never happened. [...]

That, of course, was precisely what the Bush trip was meant to do, a visit in which everyone could shake hands, let bygones be bygones and act as if the world was exactly how it had been before Iraq. It isn't, and it's wrong to pretend otherwise. [...]

At the diplomatic level, you can smooth things over with fine words and a concentration on areas where there is agreement. But the trouble in this case is that there aren't that many areas of real agreement. Time has taken the edge off the feelings over the war, but not the distrust. Most European leaders take a quite different view of the world, and the rights and wrongs of intervening in it, than Washington. And even if, as in the case of Britain and Spain, their leaders do support Bush, their publics do not. [...]

The disagreements about dealing with Iran and selling arms to China, about reforming the UN and signing up to Kyoto, are not just divisions about specific policies. They arise from quite different approaches to world problems and the efficacy of forcing change from outside. [...]

Nato is at the core of this disparity of approach and of power. Logically the organisation has lost all raison d'être since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia is no longer a threat. Eastern Europe, including now the Ukraine, has moved from threat to eager supplicant. So what is Nato for? [...]

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Blair limits damage after terror rebellion
Matthew Tempest,
The Guardian political correspondent
Thursday February 24, 2005

The prime minister moved quickly today to defend his home arrests bill following last night's rebellion by more than 30 Labour MPs, saying he "rejected completely" that it was a fundamental attack on long-standing civil liberties.

Writing in today's Daily Telegraph, which joins the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and smaller parties in opposing the new prevention of terrorism bill - Mr Blair says there is "no greater civil liberty than to live free from terrorist attack". [...]

The bill introduces "control orders" which will enable the home secretary to stop terror suspects travelling or using phones or the internet, without need for a trial. [...]

In his defence, Mr Blair says that the nature of terrorism has changed. "Their war is not with governments or armed forces," he writes, "but with our way of life." The only reason there has not been a terrorist attack on the UK since September 11 is due to the security services, "not by accident or want of trying" on the part of would be terrorists, he says.

Comment: The only reason there hasn't been a terrorist attack since Sept 11, 2001 is because neither Bush nor Blair have needed one. Now, with growing popular opposition to their attempts to impose Fascism on the planet, you can bet that there will be another "devastating attack" designed to get all those nasty "Leftists" and "Liberals" to toe the totalitarian line.

Certainly, we don't expect the mainstream media to deal with the fact that the real terrorists are Bush and Blair and proclaim the people's right to be free from their lies and attacks on freedom.

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FLASHBACK: Charles 'amazed' by Lady Di's yes
John Ezard and Alan Rusbridger
Wednesday February 25, 1981
The Guardian

Lady Diana Spencer, a 19-year-old girl of charm, media-hardened tact and high aristocratic background, is in line to be Britain's 48th queen. She is the first English girl to become engaged to an heir to the throne for 300 years.

"I feel positively delighted and frankly amazed that Di is prepared take me on," Prince Charles said yesterday. He was talking - with typical self-mocking Goonish diffidence - shortly after the Queen had announced the long-expected news "with greatest pleasure," from Buckingham Palace.

The wedding, expected by Debrett to be the last great state event of the 20th century, is likely to be in late July. [...]

Comment: WHEN lovely woman stoops to folly,
And finds too late that men betray,
What charm can soothe her melancholy?
What art can wash her tears away?

The only art her guilt to cover,
To hide her shame from ev'ry eye,
To give repentance to her lover,
And wring his bosom is—to die.

Oliver Goldsmith, The Oxford Book of English Verse

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Human Rights Act to the rescue of wedding
Sandra Laville and Clare Dyer
Thursday February 24, 2005
The Guardian

The lord chancellor resorted to the Human Rights Act yesterday to argue that the forthcoming marriage of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles would be legal.

As controversy continued over the legality of the civil union and the absence of the Queen from the ceremony, Lord Falconer issued an emergency statement explaining why the government believed the marriage would not breach the law. The 1836 Marriage Act prevents any senior royal from marrying in a civil ceremony and legal opinion has been divided over whether the 1949 Marriage Act repeals this part of the legislation. [...]

Comment: Like we really care?! It is sad that in this age of murder and torture unchecked by the international community, a Human Rights Act is used to defend something as unimportant as a "royal marriage".

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Interpol chief warns on bio-terror
From correspondents in London
February 23, 2005

THE threat of a biological terrorist strike by al-Qaeda is very real but the world is still not prepared, the head of Interpol warns.

Ronald Noble said governments, police and security services were more organised than ever before but it would be wrong to assume the threat from Osama bin Laden's group, blamed for the September 11 attacks on the United States, had eased.

Comment: Notice how he uses the word "blamed" instead of "responsible for".

"The terrorist threat is as real today as in 2001 when September 11 occurred," Mr Noble said in an interview with the BBC late yesterday.

"The number of terrorist attacks that have occurred around the world and the evidence that has been seized revealing the kind of planning that al-Qaeda has done in the area of biological weapons or chemical weapons ... is enough evidence for me to be concerned about it."

Comment: Evidence? What evidence???

Interpol is due to hold its biggest ever conference next month in Lyons, France, which 400 senior police and health officials from around the globe will attend.

Sharing information to combat the threat of a potential biological attack will be a central theme.

"Anyone who is honest about this has to admit that if al-Qaeda launches a spectacular biological attack which could cause contagious disease to be spread, no entity in the world is prepared for it," Mr Noble said.

Comment: There is a large amount of evidence to suggest that the organization known as al-Qaeda was a creation of the CIA with help from the Mossad. If it even exists in its present form, as claimed by the American government, it is probably still funded and organized by those very same entities. Therefore the responsibility for any major biological attack in their name, in all likelihood, would lie with U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies.

"Not the US, not Europe, not Asia, not Africa."

His warning comes a week after US intelligence chiefs cautioned that al-Qaeda or other militants were seeking chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.

New CIA head Porter Goss has said "it may only be a matter of time" before they used such arms.

Comment: Well, he would know.

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The Next 9/11 Could Happen at Sea
Published: February 22, 2005

London - AN unsuspected bit of good news related to the Indian Ocean tsunami was revealed this month when the International Maritime Bureau released its annual report on pirate attacks against international shipping. The new figures showed a 27 percent decline in 2004, to 325 incidents from 445 in 2003, and noted that there had not been single attack in the pirate-infested waters off Sumatra since the earthquake.

Now, while these figures show an improvement, the positive trend should not distract us from the huge threat that piracy, and its connection to terrorism, pose to the global economy. [...]

It is the Strait of Malacca, the shortest sea route connecting the Indian and Pacific Oceans, that has maritime and intelligence authorities most worried. The passage, 600 miles long but just over a mile wide at one point, is the conduit for 50,000 ships a year, carrying a third of the world's commerce and half of its crude oil.

Despite the global decline in the number of reported attacks (many experts feel that there are hundreds more each year that go unreported), the number of attacks in the Malacca Strait increased last year to 37 from 28 in 2003. And, while many raids are likely carried out by crime syndicates, there is evidence that many have been the work of the Free Aceh Movement of northern Sumatra, an Islamist separatist organization that has been fighting to gain independence from Indonesia since 1976. While the United States does not officially call the group a terrorist organization, the Indonesian government does. And many terrorism experts cite its links to Jemaah Islamiyah, the Islamist group suspected in the Bali nightclub bombings of 2003, and to Al Qaeda.

In 2002, the Free Aceh Movement announced that vessels moving through the strait were to seek its "permission for safe passage," a classic protection scam. It has also admitted to attacking Exxon-Mobil natural-gas plants in Aceh. In March 2003, the chemical tanker Dewi Madrim was attacked by heavily armed pirates in speedboats in the Malacca Strait. According to the crew, the pirates, speaking Indonesian, seemed less interested in robbery than in taking turns steering the ship down the congested waterway. They took two officers hostage and a satchel full of technical documents. Singapore's defense minister, Tony Tan, said that he was concerned that this incident and others like it were practice runs for a terrorist attack.

Just as terrorists learned to be pilots for 9/11, terrorists may now be learning to be pirates. Purposely grounding a crude carrier hauling two million barrels of oil at a place like Batu Berhanti, where the strait is little more than a mile wide, would close the waterway indefinitely. The delay in oil supplies to China, Japan and South Korea could devastate their economies, setting off a global economic crisis. [...]

It is also possible that the large American military presence as part of the tsunami relief efforts in Aceh has given the pirates pause. In fact, American officials have been calling for a show of force in the Malacca Strait for some time. Adm. Thomas Fargo, head of the Pacific Command, told the House Armed Services Committee last year that the United States should team up with the Malaysian and Indonesian Navies to deploy special forces on high-speed boats to counter pirates. Unfortunately, the defense ministers of those countries rejected the plan, saying that the American military patrolling the strait would violate their sovereignty. (Another concern was that aligning their nations with American policy could add to the tensions both are experiencing with Islamic fundamentalists.)

Now, one hopes, these countries will take note of what an increased military presence can accomplish, because the pause in piracy will not last forever, nor will the cease-fire the Free Aceh Movement made with the Indonesian government in the aftermath of the tsunami. Unless Indonesia and Malaysia accept American help in fighting them, the pirates will be back. And we'll be lucky if plundering loot is all they have in mind.

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Indonesian journalists say abductors were attentive, did not harm them
23 February 2005 0911 hrs - AFP

AMMAN : Two Indonesian journalists freed after a week of captivity in Iraq told reporters in Jordan they had been held in a cave and had not been harmed by their kidnappers.

Reporter Meutya Hafid and cameraman Budiyanto of Indonesia's Metro TV news channel looked relaxed as they addressed the press at the Indonesian ambassador's residence in Amman, a day after their release in Baghdad.

"We were well treated. We had breakfast, lunch and dinner every day and they did not take a cent from us. They were very attentive to our needs," Hafid said.

"We were taken by three masked men at a petrol station about one hour away from Baghdad, somewhere between Ramadi and Fallujah," she said, adding that they were driven blindfolded to a place two hours away.

"We were kept in a place that looked like a cave," she added.

Hafid and Budiyanto said that the kidnappers described themselves as "mujahedeen" (freedom fighters) and that they promised not to harm them, particularly because they were Muslims like them.

"Somehow I trusted them," Hafid said.

Budiyanto added: "I had a strong belief they would keep their promise and I felt safe because they were Muslims like us."

The abductors told the pair they kidnapped them to send a message to the world, Hafid said.

The abductors said "journalists should not enter Iraq because it is not a safe place and because they are dissatisfied with some reports made by some journalists that discredited them," she added.

The kidnappers released the pair after Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono released a statement on Saturday the two had no political agenda. [...]

Comment: Now compare this story to the much publicized report of another group of "foreign fighters" who regularly kidnap Iraqi citizen's and subject them to endless hours of of the most brutal and sadistic torture imaginable, and then ask yourself: Who are the real terrorists?

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Company's Work in Iraq Profited Bush's Uncle
Wed Feb 23, 7:55 AM ET
By Walter F. Roche Jr. Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON - The Iraq war helped bring record earnings to St. Louis-based defense contractor Engineered Support Systems Inc., and new financial data show that the firm's war-related profits have trickled down to a familiar family name - Bush.

William H.T. "Bucky" Bush, uncle of the president and youngest brother of former President George H.W. Bush, cashed in ESSI stock options last month with a net value of nearly half a million dollars.

"Uncle Bucky," as he is known to the president, is on the board of the company, which supplies armor and other materials to U.S. troops. The company's stock prices have soared to record heights since before the invasion, benefiting in part from contracts to rapidly refit fleets of military vehicles with extra armor.

William Bush exercised options on 8,438 shares of company stock Jan. 18, according to reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He acknowledged in an interview that the transaction was worth about $450,000.

In an earnings report issued Tuesday, the firm disclosed that net earnings for the first quarter ending Jan. 31 reached a record $20.6 million, while quarterly revenue hit $233.5 million, up 20% from a year ago. As a result, the company boosted its projected annual revenue to between $990 million and $1 billion.

William Bush, 66, a onetime St. Louis bank executive and head of an investment firm, joined the board in 2000, eight months before his nephew won the White House.

The president's uncle said in an interview that he never used his family connections to help the company win contracts. [...]

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Fake soldier's cruel hoax on Iraq 'widow'
February 23, 2005 - 10:55AM

Military police are investigating a cruel hoax in which a man wearing a US Army dress uniform falsely told the wife of a soldier her husband had been killed in Iraq.

Investigators in Savannah, Georgia, are trying to determine why the man delivered the false death notice and whether he was a soldier or a civilian wearing a military uniform. [...]

Fort Stewart officials would not identify the Army wife who reported to military police that a man posing as a casualty assistance officer came to her door February 10.

"Right off the bat, she noticed some things were not right," Whetstone said.

"The individual's uniform wasn't correct - there were no markings or name tags. Plus, the person was alone, and she knew one person does not make (death) notifications."

Whetstone said no similar hoaxes have been reported.

When the 3rd Infantry first deployed to Iraq for the 2003 invasion, some Fort Stewart families reported receiving phone calls from pranksters saying their soldiers had been killed.

This time around, troops and their spouses got pre-deployment briefings that included detailed explanations of how death notices work.

Two soldiers, including a chaplain, in dress uniform always arrive to tell the family in person. The Army never makes notifications over the telephone.

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US warns about scams targeting families of soldiers killed in Iraq 2005-02-23 09:34:49

WASHINGTON (Xinhuanet) -- The US Department of Homeland Security warned Tuesday that two new Iraq-related Internet scams were targeting Americans, including one directed at the relatives of US soldiers killed in Iraq.

"These new Internet fraud schemes are among the worst we have ever encountered. Most troubling is the fact that some are targeting the relatives of US soldiers killed in Iraq," said Michael J. Garcia, assistant secretary of homeland security for immigration and customs enforcement.

He said the department was concerned that "these criminals are impersonating (Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE) agents and referring to ICE's official Web site in an effort to steal money from Americans who have lost loved ones."

The first scheme involved e-mails sent to relatives of US soldiers killed in Iraq, and the second scheme involved a blanket e-mail which claimed to be from an ICE official in Iraq who was responsible for tracking down funds looted from the Iraqi Central Bank by Saddam Hussein's son.

ICE agents assigned to the US Central Command did conduct investigative operations in Iraq for many months after the US invasion in March 2003, and their financial investigations resulted in the seizure of 32 million dollars in US currency in Iraq, Garcia said. [...]

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Mysterious Death Of Another Soldier:
All Had Flu-Like Symptoms
February 18, 2005 Internet Broadcasting Systems, Inc. RALEIGH, N.C.

The mysterious death of a third soldier with North Carolina ties is raising questions. All three died from flu-like symptoms after returning from overseas deployments, according to a report by affiliate station WRAL.
Sgt. Clay Garton was a flight medic at Fort Bragg. He spent 16 months in Iraq and returned home in July. Then, he got sick.
His family said he had symptoms like the flu. He fought it for three weeks, but his fever soared to 106 degrees. The day after Christmas, he died.
"They came out in five minutes and said, 'He's gone,'" said Duane Garton, Clay's father.
According to a preliminary autopsy report, Garton's liver and spleen were swollen. His wife said doctors told her he died from infection.
It is the third recent example of soldiers dying after exhibiting flu-like symptoms. Capt. Gilbert Munoz was a special forces soldier at Fort Bragg who was deployed to the Middle East. After he got back, he died from a bacterial infection.
Sgt. Christopher Rogers was a reservist from Raleigh. He went to Afghanistan. After he came home, his temperature hit 109 degrees. His widow, Windy Rogers, wonders whether he had what Munoz had.
"Chris was admitted with flu-like symptoms. Whatever it was, it shut all of his organs down -- shut them all down -- and I want to know what happened," she said.
Garton's family has questions, too. His wife said while Garton was in Iraq, he treated someone exposed to depleted uranium. Garton's father wonders if that had something to do with his death. [...]
At this point, it does not appear that anyone is investigating the deaths or trying to determine if there is a common cause.

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19 yr old that Wanted Out of the Marines, Drowns at Boot Camp
By Jim Miklaszewski, Correspondent,
NBC News
Feb. 17, 2005

An autopsy revealed 19-year-old Jason Tharp drowned last week during water survival training at the Marine Corps boot camp at Parris Island, S.C.

Video shot on Feb. 7, the day before Tharp's death, by NBC affiliate WIS-TV in Columbia, S.C., shows Tharp, visibly shaken and almost terrified, taking a forearm shot from a Marine drill instructor.

In the Marines only five weeks, Tharp had written seven letters home telling his family he wanted out. His father, John Tharp, claims Jason had been singled out by drill instructors because he couldnt keep up with the rigorous basic training.

"I don't know how they could treat my son the way we saw on that video," says Tharp. "He never hurt nobody. He'd do anything anybody asked him."

During last weeks training, Tharp, seen on the WIS-TV video, at first refused to get into the water.

"He's just afraid because he is not able to do the swim correctly right now, and he just wants to leave and go home," said Staff Sgt. Anthony Davis on the Feb. 7 videotape.

After 20 minutes of trying to coax Tharp into the pool, the drill instructor turned physical in apparent violation of Marine Corps regulations - striking Tharp across the chest.

"That right there, where this Marine grabs the recruit, this is not how you treat recruits," said Eugene Fidell, the president of the National Institute of Military Justice, when NBC News showed him the video. "I mean, this is a wrongful touching. Basically, it's an assault."

Marine Corps officials say Tharp voluntarily entered the pool the next day, where he drowned during a 25-meter swim. Officials also say there's no early evidence of any misconduct by Marine instructors at the time Jason drowned, but the conduct caught on camera the day before raises questions about exactly what happened in that pool.

Jason's father is considering a wrongful-death lawsuit against the Marines. [...]

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The GOP's many Talons

Did White House S&M ring order special videos from Abu Ghraib?
By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer
February 23, 2005

There are interesting connections between the White House credentialed Talon News Service, owned by Houston-based GOP activist Bobby Eberle, Jr., and two other "Talon" entities. One is investment and management company Talon LLC of Detroit, co-founded by Michael T. Timmis, a major contributor to conservative Republican causes. Talon Equity Partners LLC is an adjunct of Talon LLC. The other GOP-connected "Talon" firm is Talon LLC of Houston, a "special purpose entity" established by the now defunct GOP bankroller, Enron.

In April 2000, Enron and LJM2, a co-investment entity headed by Enron Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow, set up Talon LLC. Fastow was later indicted and found guilty of multiple counts of fraud. His boss at Enron, CEO Ken Lay, a close friend of and contributor to George W. Bush, was also indicted and is awaiting trial. [...]

Timmis is a major contributor to The Fellowship Foundation, a powerful "Christian" fundamentalist operation headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. The Fellowship has interlocking relationships with the Leadership Institute, also of Arlington, Virginia, where Talon White House correspondent "Jeff Gannon," a.k.a. James Dale Guckert, took a two-day course at the institute's Broadcast School of Journalism. The Leadership Institute, headed by Virginia Republican official Morton Blackwell, counts such right-wing members of Congress as Tom DeLay, Frank Wolf, Sam Brownback, John Ensign, Todd Tiahrt, Charles Grassley, James Inhofe, Zach Wamp, and Joseph Pitts as members of its "bi-partisan" congressional Board of Advisors. The above Republican members of Congress are also core members of The Fellowship. Gannon has been linked to Fellowship members who are active in two northern Virginia churches heavily influenced by the Fellowship: Little Falls Presbyterian Church in Arlington and McLean Bible Church in nearby McLean. Gannon is also linked to Rev. Rob Schenk, the founder of Washington's National Community Church, a Pentecostal congregation that counts John and Janet Ashcroft as members. It currently meets in a movie theater at Union Station in Washington, DC.

The Fellowship is financially backed by companies with lucrative defense contracts with the Pentagon, many of which are based in northern Virginia. Some of these companies are involved with prisoner detention contracts in Iraq, Cuba, and Afghanistan. The discovery of Gannon's involvement with military-oriented gay pornographic sites having sado-masochistic overtones, including urination, has a number of observers looking for a connection with the documented cases of prisoner sexual abuse by U.S. military members and contractors. That abuse included male-on-male rape, male-on-female rape, the sodomizing by U.S. and allied military personnel of young male and teen prisoners with such implements as glow sticks and broom handles, forcing naked male prisoners to form human pyramids, guards urinating on prisoners, forcing prisoners to smear themselves with feces, and subjecting prisoners to forced masturbation.

The presence of cameras in prison facilities had many Washington insiders wondering if the gay S&M prostitution ring centered in the White House had access to pornographic videos from torture centers such as Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.

A classified Defense Department's report on the prisoner abuse contained several references to sexual and S&M-oriented behavior by U.S. guards:[...]

One of the Defense Department contractors cited in the Abu Ghraib scandal was Titan of San Diego. It has subsequently been discovered that, the parent company of Talon News Service, had Steven Findlay on its board of directors. Findlay was the founder of a Marshall, Texas-based defense contractor called Titan Dynamics. [...]

Another firm tied to contract fraud was Affiliated Computer Systems (ACS) of Dallas, Texas, a company with close ties to Bush and the GOP. [...]

Another firm tied to contract fraud was Affiliated Computer Systems (ACS) of Dallas, Texas, a company with close ties to Bush and the GOP. [...]

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Report: Ukraine's army said two anti-aircraft missiles missing
Associated Press
February 22, 2005

KIEV, Ukraine - Two anti-aircraft missiles are missing from a southern military depot in Ukraine, the Unian news agency reported Tuesday, citing the Ukrainian military.

Two packages containing the missiles systems known as SA-7 Grail, which is also called the Strela-3M, or Arrow, are unaccounted for in a military depot in Ukraine's southern Crimean peninsula, Unian reported.

Defense officials could not be reached to comment.

The Unian report stopped short of saying how the military discovered the missing weapons. It said only that a local commander notified police and demanded an investigation.

The heat-seeking Strela missiles are produced in Russia, Eastern Europe, China, Egypt, former Yugoslav republics and elsewhere and are the anti-aircraft weapon of choice for guerillas, rebel forces and terrorists worldwide. [...]

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1500 evacuated after gas leak in western Sydney
February 24, 2005

About 1500 people, including 1100 school students, were evacuated yesterday after a gas leak in western Sydney.

Fire crews were called to Emu Plains after the leak was reported about 3pm (AEDT), a NSW Fire Brigade spokesman said.

Emu Plains Primary School and Our Lady of the Way Catholic School were evacuated as a precaution but there were no reports of injuries to any children or staff.

As well as the students, about 400 residents were ordered to leave their homes.

The spokesman said a gas pipe had been ruptured in Forbes Street near the schools and eight residential blocks.

It is unclear at this stage how this happened.

The students and residents were forced to wait at a nearby oval until the schools and apartment blocks were reopened soon after.

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Fires leave 6,000 homeless in Uganda's camps for the displaced 2005-02-23 02:42:33

KAMPALA, Feb. 22 (Xinhuanet) -- At least 6,000 people were left homeless after fires broke out in several camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Uganda, Radio Uganda reported on Tuesday.

The radio said that the fires, which started at weekend, were still burning on Monday afternoon.

"About 800 huts were burnt over the weekend at Parabongo camp and more were still burning on Monday afternoon," an official from a United Nations agency was quoted as saying in northern Uganda.

"Other fires ripped through Cope camp where over 400 huts were destroyed," the report said. [...]

In January, three people were killed and 30,000 left homeless following another wave of fires that struck a number of IDP camps in the region. The most devastating fire hit Acet IDP camp, 44 km east of Gulu. An estimated 4,050 grass-thatched huts were burnt down, destroying all property and food stored in them.

The camps are home of people displaced by the 18-year-old conflict between the Ugandan government and the rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). More than 1.6 million people have been displaced by insecurity in northern Uganda.

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Hidden epidemic of hepatitis C threatens to overwhelm NHS with 500,000 liver patients
By Maxine Frith, Social Affairs Correspondent
23 February 2005

Britain is facing an epidemic of hepatitis C, with the number of cases likely to be double that of official estimates, The Independent has learnt.

More than 500,000 people in the UK may be infected with the virus, a study by doctors at Southampton University has found. Experts said that the government figure of 250,000 cases was a "gross underestimate", and warned that the NHS was facing a time-bomb of potentially fatal liver disease as a result of ministerial failures to tackle the problem.

Professor William Rosenberg, a liver disease expert at Southampton University, said: "We are seeing twice the number of cases that we would expect if the official estimates were right.

"The tragedy is that if nothing is done, in the next 10 or 20 years we are going to end up with tens of thousands of people needing liver transplants, with hospital wards overflowing with patients with end-stage, untreatable disease and liver cancer. The cost to the NHS and public health could be absolutely disastrous."

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that causes inflammation and damage to the liver. [...]

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Slab of rock falls off whaleback in Helens' crater
By Brian Barker
and KATU Web Staff
February 22, 2005

Vancouver, Wash. - A huge slab of rock fell off the new formation inside Mount St. Helens' crater this week, exposing the glowing hot rock beneath and shaking the mountain like an earthquake.

A big crack has been forming in the fin-shaped rock, called the 'whaleback,' over the past few weeks.

Despite losing part of its mass, the whaleback continues to grow.

The formation is now approximately 1,500 feet long and almost constantly on the verge of collapse.

Around 3:00 a.m. on Monday, a camera captured the volcano spewing sparks and then a massive chunk slid away to reveal molten rock inside the whaleback's core.

Geologists say the show is not anything to worry about, although someday the entire whaleback could collapse at once, causing a massive eruption.

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European capitals snowbound

Madrid – a city rarely associated with snow – woke up under a white blanket today, as up to four inches of snow fell.

The snowfall, a rarity in Spain's capital, caused traffic jams and held up commuter trains.

Snow also covered much of northern Spain and cut off road access to a hundred of remote mountain villages, police said.

The French capital was also snowbound, giving Paris a rare dose of wintry conditions that challenged motorists stuck in huge traffic jams and delayed flights at both airports.

The National Centre for Road Information said there were 137 miles of traffic jams around the capital at rush hour.

Snow fell at a steady rate through the morning in Paris and other parts of France but relented on the Cote d'Azur, where enough snow had fallen yesterday for children to make snowmen on the Mediterranean beaches.

Many parts of the UK are also under snow.

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Coldest winter in years kills hundreds across India, Pakistan, Afghanistan
February 22, 2005 

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Freezing temperatures, avalanches and food shortages brought on by the coldest winter in years have killed hundreds of people in the mountainous regions of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Canada's ambassador to Afghanistan, Christopher Alexander, said several thousand Afghans may have died, highlighting the continued poverty of the country and its government's weakness three years after the fall of the Taliban.

India reported 186 deaths in just the last week in its portion of Kashmir, while Pakistan said 346 have died in mountainous regions so far this season. [...]

Forecasters said the worst of the weather was over as skies cleared but snowfall may continue for a few days, while officials warned warmer temperatures will bring more danger of avalanches.

"Sunshine will make the snow unstable, increasing the frequency of avalanches," Maj.-Gen. Raj Mehta, the top Indian military commander in the Kashmir valley, said Tuesday. He asked people living in high-altitude areas to "immediately relocate." [...]

In Pakistan, more casualties were expected as workers cleared debris from avalanches and collapsed buildings. [...]

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The Da Vinci Code put 'on trial'
Wednesday, 23 February, 2005

Museum director Alessandro Vezzosi gave an opening statement
Art experts and historians are staging what has been described as a mock trial to examine the claims made in hit novel The Da Vinci Code.

The "trial" is being held in Vinci, Italy, and an opening statement was made by Alessandro Vezzosi, director of a Leonardo Da Vinci museum, on Friday.

"Leonardo is misrepresented and belittled," he said beforehand.

No-one will represent the book but many fans are expected to attend the event in Leonardo Da Vinci's hometown. [...]

Comment: For a much more interesting and informative look at the Da Vinci code, see Laura Knight-Jadczyk's new article The True Identity of Fulcanelli and The Da Vinci Code.

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The thunder dragon exhales its last puff as Bhutan bans smoking
Justin Huggler,
Asia Correspondent
24 February 2005

The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has issued a ban on smoking in all public places. Coming just two months after a ban on the sale of tobacco products, the new law means that Bhutan now has the toughest anti-smoking laws in the world. The irony is that, even as smoking bans are becoming fashionable in the liberal West, it is an absolute monarchy with a reputation for human rights abuses that is leading the way.

The new law bans smoking in "all places where people gather". It specifically mentions parks, nightclubs, football grounds, shops, bars, restaurants, government offices and even vegetable markets. There will be no areas exempt from the ban after the law by the governing Council of Ministers comes into effect. [...]

Bhutanese smokers have been protesting against the ban, which they say is a gross infringement of their personal rights. They are particularly incensed that proposals to allow strictly controlled smoking areas were rejected in favour of a blanket ban. Now the only legal way to smoke in Bhutan is to travel outside the country and bring your own cigarettes in, and then smoke them inside your own home. [...]

Comment: Once again, governments fail to understand that the very things they make illegal become the thing of greatest value. Didn't we learn anything from Prohibition?

"There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. When there aren't enough criminals, one MAKES them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. ... Create a nation of law-breakers, and then you cash in on the guilt." -- Ayn Rand "Atlas Shrugged"

But there may be more to this anti-smoking issue than meets the eye. See next story...

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UFO sightings soar, researchers puzzled
February 21, 2005

Either aliens are visiting Manitoban airspace more frequently, or the smoking ban has forced people to spend more time staring at the sky. Whatever the reason, a report released yesterday by Ufology Research of Manitoba states that there were 112 UFO sightings in Manitoba last year, which more than doubles the previous record for sightings and is more than four times as many as in 2003.

In fact, the 882 sightings across the country last year also constituted a record, but UFO researchers are baffled as to why.

"It is puzzling. We know things are up all over Canada. In fact several provinces saw all-time records last year," said Chris Rutkowski, the research co-ordinator for Ufology Research of Manitoba, a group of about a dozen people who compile UFO sighting statistics for all of Canada.

"We're way past X-Files now and there aren't a lot of UFO-type movies out there so we can't blame media," said Rutkowski. "It could be something as simple or obvious as there are more objects in the sky to be seen."

Comment: Certainly the author of the above article did NOT intentionally associate the anti-smoking laws with aliens, but it just may be that there IS an association!

Consider first of all the fact that the "anti-smoking" campaign began in the United States, the same United States that thinks it is okay to lie about Weapons of Mass destruction in order to justify killing hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis, the same United States that will not support the Kyoto Protocol to halt Global Warming that may kill billions of people. Has anyone ever wondered if the illnesses that are blamed on smoking might very well be caused by the pollution and toxins in our air, water, and food, and are blamed on smoking so as to maintain the commercial viability of the real causes, while at the same time, creating a nation of law-breakers so that the government can cash in on the guilt as Ayn Rand suggested?

But still, we think that there is MORE to the relationship between anti-smoking campaigns and alleged "aliens" - something sinister. The reader may wish to read our page on Diet and Health Related Questions as well as the Wave series by Laura Knight-Jadczyk from which the following has been extracted:

Now, nicotine is a most interesting drug. Nicotine mimics one of the body's most significant neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. This is the neurotransmitter most often associated with cognition in the cerebral cortex. Acetylcholine is the primary carrier of thought and memory in the brain. It is essential to have appropriate levels of acetylcholine to have new memories or recall old memories.

I cruised the net for sources on acetylcholine and the results were positively amazing as you will see from the following excerpts:

Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC) is the acetyl ester of carnitine, the carrier of fatty acids across Mitochondrial membranes. Like carnitine, ALC is naturally produced in the body and found in small amounts in some foods. ...Research in recent years has hoisted ALC from its somewhat mundane role in energy production to nutritional cognitive enhancer and neuroprotective agent extraordinaire. Indeed, taken in its entirety, ALC has become one of the premiere “anti-aging” compounds under scientific investigation, especially in relation to brain and nervous system deterioration.

ALC is found in various concentrations in the brain, and its levels are significantly reduced with aging.(1) In numerous studies in animal models, ALC administration has been shown to have the remarkable ability of improving not only cognitive changes, but also morphological (structural) and neurochemical changes. ...ALC has varied effects on cholinergic activity, including promoting the release(2) and synthesis(3) of acetylcholine. Additionally, ALC promotes high affinity uptake of choline, which declines significantly with age.(4) While these cholinergic effects were first described almost a quarter of a century ago,(5) it now appears that this is only the tip of the ALC iceberg. [Gissen, VRP's Nutritional News, March, 1995]

It turns out that Alzheimer's, a veritable epidemic in our country, is directly related to low levels of acetylcholine. In Alzheimer's disease, the neurons that make acetylcholine degenerate, resulting in memory deficits. In some Alzheimer's patients it can be a 90 per cent reduction! But, does anyone suggest smoking and exercising the brain as a possible cure?

Nope. [...]

Work in the Laboratory of Neurochemistry at the Barrow Neurological Institute principally concerns molecules critically involved in such signaling called nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR). nAChR act throughout the brain and body as "molecular switches" to connect nerve cell circuits involved in essential functions ranging from vision and memory to the control of heart rate and muscle movement.

Defects in nAChR or their loss cause diseases such as myasthenia gravis and epilepsy and can contribute to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and schizophrenia.

nAChR also happen to be the principal targets of tobacco nicotine. ...nicotine-like medicines show promise in the treatment of diseases such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Tourette’s syndrome and in alleviation of anxiety, pain, and depression, suggesting involvement of nAChR in those disorders.

...We have shown that numbers and function of diverse nAChR subtypes can be influenced by many biologically active substances, ranging from steroids to local anesthetics, and by agents acting on the extracellular matrix, the cytoskeleton, on second messenger signaling, and at the nucleus. We also have shown that chronic nicotine exposure induces numerical upregulation of many diverse nAChR subtypes via a post-transcriptional process that is dominated by effects on intracellular pools of receptors or their precursors.

Some current studies are testing our hypothesis that chronic nicotine exposure, as occurs with habitual use of tobacco products, disables nAChR and the nerve cell circuits they subserve, thereby contributing to long-lasting changes in brain and body function. [Lukas, 1999]

Now, notice in the above account how tricky they were when they said that nicotine ..." That is jargon for "it increases the number of receptors" as well as the amount of acetylcholine. But, of course, the AMA wouldn't let them get away with any of their work if they weren't adding that they have a hypothesis that "habitual use of tobacco products... disables acetylcholine." Never mind that in the beginning they are proposing it as a therapeutic drug for some of the very problems that have risen to almost epidemic numbers in the present time.

Let's say it again: Research shows, however, that daily infusions of nicotine actually INCREASE the number of acetylcholine receptors by up to 40 %. Some researchers, such as the above, brush this finding off by saying "regardless, their function diminishes." But that is not empirically observed. Most people who smoke find a "set point," and once they have reached it, it does not take more and more and more to satisfy it.

How does nicotine act?

There are two major types (or classes) of acetylcholine receptors in the body, and they are commonly named by the other drugs which bind to them: nicotine and muscarine. Muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (mAChRs) can bind muscarine as well as ACh, and they function to change the metabolism...

Acetylcholine acts on nicotine acetylcholine receptors to open a channel in the cell's membrane. Opening such a channel allows certain types of ions (charged atoms) to flow into or out of the cell. ...When ions flow, there is an electrical current, and the same is true in the nervous system. The flowing of ions, or the passing of current, can cause other things to happen, usually those "things" involve the opening of other types of channels and the passing of information from one neuron to another.

Nicotinic AChRs are found throughout the body, but they are most concentrated in the nervous system (the brain, the spinal cord, and the rest of the nerve cells in the body) and on the muscles of the body (in vertebrates).

We say that nicotine acts like ACh at the receptors to activate them, and both substances are called agonists. The opposite type of drug, something that binds to the receptors and does not allow them to be activated is called an antagonist.

...When a substance comes into the body that can interfere with ACh binding to muscle nAChRs, that chemical can cause death in a relatively short time (because you use muscles to do things like breathe). A class of chemicals in snake and other poisonous venoms, neurotoxins, do exactly that. If you are bitten by a krait or a cobra, for example, and enough venom gets into the blood, there will be enough of their neurotoxin in your body to shut down the diaphragm muscle expands your lungs. Without that muscle functioning, the person ceases to breathe and dies of asphyxiation.

One of the reasons we know so much about these receptors is precisely that--plants and people have used substances [acetylcholine antagonists] which cause paralysis and asphyxiation for a long time. Plants use them to prevent being eaten by herbivores. Animals use similar substances to paralyze their prey. At least one human neuromuscular disease is related to nAChRs, and that is myasthenia gravis...

So, as you can see, nAChRs are important to life. ...All known nicotinic receptors do share some common features. They are composed of 5 protein subunits which assemble like barrel staves around a central pore. ...When the ligand (ACh or nicotine) binds to the receptor, it causes the receptor complex to twist and open the pore in the center. [Pugh]

Now, ... did you notice that it says that "animals use similar substances [acetylcholine antagonists or ANTI-nicotine] to paralyze their prey? We have to wonder about the oft reported conditions of paralysis associated with "alien interactions" and the almost rabid attack on smoking in our society. [...]

Alcohol is a great pretender and can fool at least four types of receptors. It blocks the acetylcholine receptors... However, unlike nicotine which also binds to the acetylcholine receptors, alcohol doesn't do anything useful while there. It simply sits there and blocks the ability to think. It also acts like cocaine in that it blocks the dopamine reuptake, flooding the brain with "feeling good." Alcohol stimulates the release of endorphins, thus resembling morphine and heroin to a greatly lessened extent, and it modifies and increases the efficiency of the seretonin receptors.

All that in one brew! Gee, it almost makes you want to go and have a few beers! [...]

It seems that the key to this is the fact that learning, hard thinking and pondering, requires that certain brain chemicals - usually acetylcholine - be squirted out at just the right place and in the right quantities. It is becoming clear that the molecules of memory are blind to the kind of memory - whether it is conscious or unconscious - that is occurring. What determines the quality of different kinds of memories is not the molecules that do the storing but the systems in which those molecules act. If they act in the hippocampus, the memories that get recorded are factual and accessible to our consciousness. If the chemicals are acting in the amygdala, they are emotional and mostly inaccessible to conscious awareness.

Working memory, or awareness, involves the frontal lobes of the brain just above and behind the eyebrows. This is what we use when we want to remember a new phone number just long enough to dial it, or to remember what we went to the kitchen for long enough to get it! It is also the place where many different kinds of information is held simultaneously while we are comparing one thing to another. We can have all kinds of things going on there at once. We can look at something, hold this image in working memory along with the memory of something that we have pulled out of long term memory which we wish to compare it to; sounds, smells, and even the ongoing physiological input from our system as we are considering this: does it make us feel peaceful, happy, sad, afraid? ...

As it happens, the cortical connections to the amygdala are actually far greater in primates than in other animals. It seems that more balanced cortical pathways are the evolutionary trend. It is my opinion that we will develop them or perish. A more harmonious integration of emotion and thinking would allow us to both know our TRUE feelings, and why we have them, and to be able to use them more effectively.

It seems that this "working memory," or "awareness," is - if not consciousness itself - at least a window to it. ... [Laura Knight-Jadczyk, You Take the High Road and I'll Take the Low Road, from The WAVE]

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Ecstasy trials for combat stress
David Adam, science correspondent
The Guardian
Thursday February 17, 2005

American soldiers traumatised by fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are to be offered the drug ecstasy to help free them of flashbacks and recurring nightmares.

The US food and drug administration has given the go-ahead for the soldiers to be included in an experiment to see if MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy, can treat post-traumatic stress disorder. [...]

Comment: They ban smoking and then give illegal drugs?! What is UP with that?

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Cannabis may help prevent Alzheimer's memory loss
Ben Sills in Madrid and Ian Sample
Thursday February 24, 2005
The Guardian

Scientists at one of Spain's leading research centres claimed yesterday to have found evidence that cannabis helps prevent the memory loss experienced by people suffering from Alzheimer's.

The potential breakthrough in understanding a disease that affects nearly half a million people in Britain, and around nine million worldwide, was made by a team led by María de Ceballos at the Cajal Institute in Madrid.

Their study seems to show that THC, the main active ingredient in cannabis, inhibits the activity of cells that cause damage to neurons in the brain. Although the study is preliminary, it was welcomed by patient groups. [...]

Comment: Another one of those "illegal" substances that has never caused the harm that is associated with it, but which was made illegal so as to create a whole new class of criminals - and to make a lucrative drug trade that the National Security State could cash in on to support its war of terror against humanity.

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UFO sleuth with an eye to the sky
By Claire Konkes
February 24, 2005

REPORTS of an unidentified flying object in Tasmania's Midlands on Regatta Day are still coming in to a Hobart UFO investigator.

Since the first sighting was reported in The Mercury last week, six people have come forward to say they saw a large bright light, says Keith Roberts, who has collected data at the Tasmanian UFO Investigation Centre since 1969.

Mr Roberts said the first report shortly after midnight on Regatta Day came from three women who said they saw a large craft flying beside them in a paddock.

Since then, six people have told him of a bright light around Mangalore late in the evening on Regatta Day.

"It's not the same event obviously, but they are all within 24 hours," he said.

The Mangalore sighting is the first multiple-reported sighting in nearly 10 years. [...]

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Another sighting in UFO mystery
Feb 22, 2005

Mystery surrounds the origin of a bright light seen streaking through the Shropshire skies at the weekend after two late night cinema-goers claim to have spotted the phenomena 10 hours earlier.

Several county residents reported the light at about 10am on Sunday, with many believing they had seen a meteorite.

But Rachael Jones, of Harlescott, and Bryony Morgan, of Castlefields, cast further intrigue into the sighting after they saw the object as they left Cineworld, in Old Potts Way, at 12.30am on Sunday.

Miss Jones said: "It was a sort of yellowy-white colour and then tailed off to nowhere, it went across the sky and then disappeared. We didn't know what it was, but it was weird."

But motorist Richard Gorton today stuck with original reports, saying he had seen the blazing trail from Craven Arms at 10.15am on Sunday.

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Panelists decry Bush science policies
Associated Press
Sun, Feb. 20, 2005

WASHINGTON - The voice of science is being stifled in the Bush administration, with fewer scientists heard in policy discussions and money for research and advanced training being cut, according to panelists at a national science meeting. [...]

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Cosmic blast brings talk of galactic perils
By Dick Stanley
Tuesday, February 22, 2005

A monster cosmic explosion two days after Christmas -- but only recently announced -- that flung invisible radiation into Earth's atmosphere from halfway across the Milky Way showed we are in more potential peril from the real cosmos than from hypothetical aliens.

The burst from a neutron star wreaked no havoc only because the star was too far away. But the wake-up call to the dangers of our galactic back yard was another confirmation for University of Texas astrophysicist Robert Duncan and North Carolina astrophysicist Christopher Thompson, who first proposed in 1992 the existence of these highly magnetic, menacing stars called magnetars. [...]

Magnetars release energy in the same fashion as a solar flare but on a much larger scale because of their ultra-strong magnetic fields.

Radiation from the Dec. 27 blast from a magnetar 50,000 light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius was 100 times stronger. The electrical energy rattled the detectors on 15 satellites and robot probes between Earth and Saturn, knocking their instruments off-scale. Then it bounced off the moon and lit up Earth's ionosphere for five minutes, probing farther down than even the biggest solar flares and disrupting some radio communications, according to UT's McDonald Observatory.

"Had this happened within 10 light-years of us," said Bryan Gaensler of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, "it would have severely damaged our atmosphere and possibly triggered a mass extinction" by depleting the ozone layer, the atmosphere's shield against deadly radiation from the sun. [...]

"We only know of about 10 magnetars in the Milky Way," NASA scientist Peter Woods said. "If the antics of (this one) are typical, turning on and off but never getting exceptionally bright, then there very well could be hundreds more out there."

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Seeing the invisible – first dark galaxy discovered?
February 23, 2005

A British-led team of astronomers have discovered an object that appears to be an invisible galaxy made almost entirely of dark matter – the first ever detected. [...]

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Mysteries of the mind

Your unconscious is making your everyday decisions
By Marianne Szegedy-Maszak,

The snap judgment. The song that constantly runs through your head whenever you close your office door. The desire to drink Coke rather than Pepsi or to drive a Mustang rather than a Prius. The expression on your spouse's face that inexplicably makes you feel either amorous or enraged. Or how about the now incomprehensible reasons you married your spouse in the first place?

Welcome to evidence of your robust unconscious at work. [...]

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TV Channel Prepares to Broadcast Man's Exorcism
By Sherna Noah, PA Showbusiness Correspondent
The Scotsman
Thu 24 Feb 2005

Channel 4 wades into controversy tonight by filming the exorcism of a man who claims he is possessed by spirits. [...]

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Man beheads 8-year-old niece during exorcism

MULTAN: Police said on Tuesday they had arrested a man for allegedly beheading his eight-year old niece with a hatchet during an exorcism. [...]

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Heavy metal 'Beasts of Satan' are jailed for three ritual murders
The Scotsman

TWO members of an Italian heavy metal band called Beasts of Satan were jailed yesterday after they confessed to taking part in three ritual slayings. [...]

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Alpine iceman reveals Stone Age secrets
Wednesday, February 23, 2005

[...] Science has also been unable to explain a series of sinister accidents since the iceman was discovered.

Forensic medic Rainer Henn, one of the first to touch the mummy, died in a car crash on his way to a lecture about Oetzi. A mountain guide who helped with the find plunged to his death, and a journalist who filmed the excavation died from cancer.

Last October, Helmut Simon fell to his death in the Alps after a sudden onset of bad weather near the spot where he had discovered Oetzi.

Walter Leitner was close to the scene the night Simon died.

At the time, he was explaining his iceman theory to a team of U.S. American journalists when they too were suddenly engulfed by the storm and had to be rescued by helicopter. [...]

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And Finally...

Warning: artistic aliens at work
By Bonnie Malkin
February 24, 2005

It appeared overnight, but no one knows where it came from. It's 60 metres long and 30 metres wide, but no one knows what it means.

The image of a man, a dollar note, a wave and a tombstone appeared on Reg Bartley Oval in Rushcutters Bay about four weeks ago, residents say. And it has been puzzling them since. "It must have been done in the middle of the night because I noticed it first thing in the morning," said a resident, James Potts.

"It's actually a bit annoying. I don't mind it for a day, but a month is too long."

Exactly how the image was created remains a mystery.

A resident and regular dog walker, Alison Pearce, said weedkiller might be responsible. But residents have even less an idea of what the image means.

"Somebody reckons it's something to do with surfing, maybe a surfing logo," said Mr Potts. Ms Pearce said it could have something to do with the tsunami. A fellow resident, Howard Hillman, said perhaps a lawnmower was to blame.

Sydney City Council said it did not know about the image, but it was able later to shed a little more light on the mystery.

"The graffiti on the grass was originally done with some sort of red paint," a spokesman for the council said. "As there is no method to safely remove paint without permanently damaging the grass, the City decided to wait to see what effect the paint would have and whether the grass would naturally grow over the paint before taking action." [...]

Rose Bay police had received no report of vandalism.

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