Monday, February 28, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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A nightmarish set from The Lord of the Rings?
No, just your typical Israeli checkpoint where Palestinians are humiliated daily as they go about their lives. Coming soon to a neighborhood near you.

Signs Economic Commentary

Donald Hunt
February 27, 2005

The euro closed at 1.3243 dollars on Friday, up 1.2% against the dollar. The dollar closed at 0.7551 euros. Oil closed at 51.49 dollars a barrel (38.88 euros), up sharply at 6.5% for the week in dollars compared to last week's close of $48.35 (36.99). In euros, oil rose 5.1% for the week. In the US stock market, the Dow closed at 10,841.75, up 0.4% from last week's close of 10,796.01. The NASDAQ closed at 2065.40, up 0.3% from last week's close of 2058.62. Gold closed at 436.30 dollars an ounce (329.45 euros), up 2.2% from last week's close of 427.10 (324.60 euros). Gold rose 1.5% in euros during the past week. Comparing gold to oil, an ounce of gold would buy 8.47 barrels of oil, down 4.3% from last week and 5.7% over the last two weeks. Gold is climbing steadily, but oil is jumping more rapidly lately.

I've noticed that often there is some bad news mid-week that gets overshadowed with some timely bit of good news by Friday, giving the martini and cigar crowd a bounce in their step going into the weekend (and giving those of us who write weekly summaries less of a clear story). After a rough week, with oil price increases, fears of a dollar crash, it was announced on Friday that U.S. growth in the last quarter of 2004 was revised upward. Here is what Reuters had to say on Friday:

GDP Revised Up on Stronger Exports

By Glenn Somerville

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. economic momentum at the end of 2004 was significantly stronger than previously thought, according to a government report on Friday revising up fourth-quarter output to reflect stronger exports and investment.

The Commerce Department said gross domestic product, the gauge of total goods and services production within U.S. borders, grew at a revised 3.8 percent annual rate in the final three months of last year instead of 3.1 percent reported a month ago.

That was slightly stronger than the 3.7 percent rate that Wall Street economists had forecast and only a small decline from the third quarter's 4 percent pace.

Nearly half the revision stemmed from a stronger trade performance, reflecting more robust exports than previously thought. Statistics Canada corrected a $1.4 billion error in underestimating U.S. exports to Canada during November, and later data also showed the U.S. trade deficit for December narrowed more than had been anticipated.

BEST YEAR SINCE 1999

Despite the fourth-quarter revision, there was no change in the government's calculation that GDP grew 4.4 percent in 2004, ahead of a 3 percent increase in 2003 and the strongest for any year since 1999, when it expanded 4.5 percent.

…Merrill Lynch economists Sheryl King and David Rosenberg said in a commentary afterward they expected a strong first quarter but some gradual slowing in GDP growth as stiffer credit costs begin to bite later in the year.

In spite of that last minute bit of good news on Friday, the signs are getting even more ominous this week. The fact that there was healthy GDP growth in the United States is good news only if you forget that that growth was achieved by borrowing way too much money. The spike in oil prices seems to indicate a trend, as does the increase in gold prices. The sharp drop in the dollar on Tuesday caused by statements of the South Korean central bank that they might shift their reserve holdings away from the dollar frightened a lot of people. The problem was covered up by the end of the day by reassuring statements by the central banks of Japan and South Korea, but the implications are clear. According to Patrick Martin,

The fragility of the international currency and financial markets has been underscored by the turbulence which followed reports that the Bank of Korea might be looking to lessen its holdings of dollar-based financial assets.

Stockmarkets dropped on Tuesday and the US dollar fell sharply -- losing 1.3 percent against both the euro and the yen -- following a parliamentary report by the Bank of Korea that it would increase investments in high-yielding non-government debt and diversify its holdings into a variety of currencies.

In the wake of the market plunge, Asian central banks mounted a rescue operation. The Bank of Korea issued a statement declaring that, while it was planning to shift more of its reserves into higher-yielding non-government bonds, it was not planning to sell existing dollar holdings.

[...] While the immediate crisis has passed, the underlying imbalances which produced it continue to worsen. As the Financial Times (FT) commented in an editorial on Wednesday: "If the mighty dollar can be rocked by a single paragraph in a report to the Korean parliament then something is sorely amiss. That something is the dependence of the dollar on a handful of Asian central banks, which between them control $2,400 billion reserves."

These reserves are getting larger by the day and as they grow so does the incentive to shift out of the dollar to guard against any capital loss caused by its depreciation. Of course, if all the Asian dollar holders move out, they will set off a plunge in the dollar's value and suffer major losses (in some cases up to 10 percent of gross domestic product). But individual central banks may be able to shift out of the dollar at a good price. The problem, however, is that others will be tempted to follow, setting off a collapse.

Moreover, as the FT editorial pointed out, even if central banks do not withdraw funds, the US currency is still far from safe. This is because, with private capital inflow having fallen off markedly since the end of the 1990s, the US depends on increased purchases of its financial assets by foreign central banks to fund its growing balance of payments deficit.

[...] American imperialism may hold military sway over the world at present, but from an economic standpoint, it is an unstable and declining power, forced to borrow over $600 billion a year (more than the entire Pentagon budget) simply to balance its books. This acute contradiction between superficial military strength and underlying economic weakness is what lends such an explosive, even deranged character to American foreign policy. In that sense Bush, with his semi-literate banality and messianic bluster, is not an accidental figure. He personifies the crisis and historical blind alley of American imperialism.

The situation is so alarming to the establishment, that they are now issuing public warnings in outlets like The New York Times. An editorial there stated,

When a seemingly innocuous remark from the central bank of South Korea makes the dollar tank, as happened on Tuesday, all is not well with the United States' position in the world economy.

The dollar has been on a downward trajectory for three years, thanks in part to the Bush administration's decision to try to use a cheap dollar to shrink the nation's enormous trade deficit. (A weak dollar makes exports cheaper and imports costlier, a combination that theoretically should narrow the trade gap.) To be truly effective, however, a weak dollar must be combined with a lower federal budget deficit - or even a budget surplus, something the administration clearly hasn't delivered. So predictably, the weak-dollar ploy hasn't worked. The United States' trade deficit has mushroomed to record levels, as has the United States' need to borrow from abroad - some $2 billion a day - just to balance its books.

Enter South Korea. On Monday, its central bank reported that it intended to diversify into other currencies and away from dollar-based assets. And why not? It holds about $69 billion in United States Treasury securities, or 4 percent of the total foreign Treasury holdings. Such dollar-based investments lose value as the dollar weakens, leading to losses that any cautious banker would want to avoid. But as the Korean comment ping-ponged around the world, all hell broke loose, with currency traders selling dollars for fear that the central banks of Japan and China, which hold immense dollar reserves - a combined $900 billion, or 46 percent of foreign Treasury holdings - might follow suit.

That would be the United States' worst economic nightmare. If it appeared that the flow of investment from abroad was not enough to cover the nation's gargantuan deficits, interest rates would rise sharply, the dollar would plunge further, and the economy would stall. A fiscal crisis would result.

Tuesday's sell-off of dollars did not precipitate a meltdown. But it sure gave a taste of one. The dollar suffered its worst single-day decline in two months against the yen and the euro. Stock markets in New York, London, Paris and Frankfurt dropped, and gold and oil prices, which tend to go up when the dollar goes down, spiked.

Even the normally idiotic Thomas Friedman, the Times' great cheerleader of globalism and the American Empire, is getting scared:

The dollar is falling! The dollar is falling! But the Bush team has basically told the world that unless the markets make the falling dollar into a full-blown New York Stock Exchange crisis and trade war, it is not going to raise taxes, cut spending or reduce oil consumption in ways that could really shrink our budget and trade deficits and reverse the dollar's slide.

This administration is content to let the dollar fall and bet that the global markets will glide the greenback lower in an "orderly" manner.

Right. Ever talk to someone who trades currencies? "Orderly" is not always in the playbook. I make no predictions, but this could start to get very "disorderly." As a former Clinton Commerce Department official, David Rothkopf, notes, despite all the talk about Social Security, many Americans are not really depending on it alone for their retirement. What many Americans are counting on is having their homes retain and increase their value. And what's been fueling the home-building boom and bubble has been low interest rates for a long time. If you see a continuing slide of the dollar - some analysts believe it needs to fall another 20 percent before it stabilizes - you could see a substantial, and painful, rise in interest rates.

"Given the number of people who have refinanced their homes with floating-rate mortgages, the falling dollar is a kind of sword of Damocles, getting closer and closer to their heads," Mr. Rothkopf said. "And with any kind of sudden market disruption - caused by anything from a terror attack to signs that a big country has gotten queasy about buying dollars - the bubble could burst in a very unpleasant way."

Why is that sword getting closer? Because global markets are realizing that we have two major vulnerabilities that this administration doesn't want to address: We are importing too much oil, so the dollar's strength is being sapped as oil prices continue to rise. And we are importing too much capital, because we are saving too little and spending too much, as both a society and a government.

"When people ask what we are doing about these twin vulnerabilities, they have a hard time coming up with an answer," noted Robert Hormats, the vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International. "There is no energy policy and no real effort to reduce our voracious demand of foreign capital. The U.S. pulled in 80 percent of total world savings last year [largely to finance our consumption]." That's a big reason why some "43 percent of all U.S. Treasury bills, notes and bonds are now held by foreigners," Mr. Hormats said.

And the foreign holders of all those bonds are listening to our debate. They are listening to a country that is refusing to raise taxes, and an administration talking about borrowing an additional $2 trillion so Americans can invest some of their Social Security money in stocks. If that happened, it would almost certainly weaken the dollar, further depreciating the U.S. Treasury bonds held by all those foreigners.

On Monday, the Bank of Korea said it planned to diversify more of its reserves into nondollar assets, after years of holding too many low-yielding and depreciating U.S. government securities. The fear that this could become a trend sparked a major sell-off in U.S. equity markets on Tuesday. To calm the markets, the Koreans said the next day that they had no intention of selling their dollars.

Oh, good. Now I'm relieved.

"These countries don't have to dump dollars - they just have to reduce their purchases of them for the dollar to be severely affected," Mr. Hormats noted. "Korea is the fourth-largest holder of dollar reserves. ... You don't want others to see them diversifying and say, 'We'd better do that, too, so that we're not the last ones out.' Remember, the October 1987 stock market crash began with a currency crisis."

When a country lives on borrowed time, borrowed money and borrowed energy, it is just begging the markets to discipline it in their own way at their own time. As I said, usually the markets do it in an orderly way - except when they don't.

Here we are seeing an odd convergence, one where Anglo-American neo-liberal establishment figures like the New York Times and Thomas Friedman are writing pieces that sound more and more like those published in the World Socialist Web Site (www.wsws.org) or Doug Henwood of the Left Business Observer. Even the New Republic, that bastion of neo-liberalism, supporters of the Iraq War, published an analysis of the failure of American liberalism that was little different from Marxist ones. Both lay the blame for the sharp shift to the right in US politics to long-term structural economic factors like the falling rate of profits of corporations. Speaking of the failure of even Democratic administrations to pass new liberal legislation since the Nixon years, John Judis writes in The New Republic:

It is convenient to blame these failures on incompetence, but the truth is that structural factors were more important. Liberalism's success from the '30s through the 1960s was based primarily upon certain special economic and political conditions: popular pressure from below, business' acquiescence in reform, and the conviction of the nation's opinion-makers that reform was good for America. Since then, dramatic changes in the international economy have turned business against reform and weakened the other forces supporting reform.

[...] Most of the liberal reforms that Congress adopted during Roosevelt's presidency had been circulating since the turn of the century, but they had been blocked by legislators who took their cue from business and classical economics. Enacting those reforms took more than Roosevelt's political genius. As David Plotke spelled out in Building a Democratic Political Order, it took an earthquake in American opinion and class relations. 

During the Great Depression, conservative business leaders lost their self-confidence and their public support, while a revived labor movement and a populist upsurge put pressure for reform on Congress and the White House. At the same time, many opinion-makers--including corporate lawyers, economists, ministers, political leaders, writers, and a sprinkling of maverick CEOs--backed Roosevelt's liberalism as an alternative to revolutionary socialism or populism and as a means of lifting the country out of the Depression. 

[...] During this time, business enjoyed considerable clout in Washington, but many top business leaders, led by the pro-Keynesian Committee on Economic Development, accepted the liberal argument for Social Security and the minimum wage, and even for collective bargaining.

[...] Underlying this center-left consensus--which prevailed regardless of the party in the White House--was the widespread conviction that the New Deal and regulatory reforms were good for, or at least did no harm to, U.S. business. General Motors executives could agree with the United Auto Works to exchange labor peace for five years of rising wages because they expected that growing demand and superior productivity would protect their profit margins. Many corporate executives welcomed regulation as a way of demonstrating that their companies were good citizens. As late as 1970, a survey of Fortune 500 CEOs found 57 percent believing the federal government should "step up regulatory activities." 

New Deal liberalism had been nurtured by the political economy of the Great Depression and sustained by postwar prosperity, but sometime in the mid-'60s, the U.S. and world economy entered a new phase that was not as congenial to reform. Western European and Japanese companies, having fully recovered from World War II, began to compete effectively with U.S. firms. As East Asia industrialized, the world economy began to suffer from overcapacity in steel, autos, textiles, and other key postwar industries, putting additional pressure on profits, especially in manufacturing. According to economic historian Robert Brenner, author of The Boom and the Bubble, average net profit margins in U.S. manufacturing fell from 24.6 percent from 1959 to 1969, to 15.5 percent from 1969 to 1979, to 13 percent from 1979 to 1990. 

With their profit rates in jeopardy, businesses no longer acquiesced in unionization and new federal regulatory reforms. Businesses increasingly resorted to tactics that violated the Wagner Act. In 1957, for instance, the nlrb ordered 922 organizers reinstated for being illegally fired; in 1970, 3,779; and, in 1980, over 10,000. At the same time, corporations set up shop in Washington to lobby for deregulation and tax cuts. In 1971, only 175 businesses had registered lobbyists in Washington. By 1982, 2,445 had. Business revived old organizations, including the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), and established new ones like the Business Roundtable. 

Business also joined the battle for ideas, funding new public policy groups and think tanks that issued reports, written by paid experts, arguing that government regulation and high taxes and spending were responsible for the country's economic slowdown. These ideas found a receptive audience among the country's opinion-makers. Just as the Great Depression lent credence to a Keynesian focus on effective demand, the stagflation and international competition of the '70s seemed to support classical economics and its focus on profit margins. These attitudes permeated public opinion, particularly in the late '70s. The public remained generally supportive of Social Security and Medicare, but became skeptical about taxes and regulations and any new program that appeared to be based on government expansion. 

I'm not sure what to make of this convergence between alarmist, left critics and the mainstream media moderates, except that, with the crisis rapidly approaching, things are coming to a head and are therefore coming more and more out in the open. It appears that the establishment middle-of-the-roaders are peeling off of the fantasy politics of the Bush right wing. It must be alarming to those types in the establishment media that the Bush people do not care what they think. They have been used to having their opinions taken seriously by the political elite (if not by the people). Now no one takes them seriously, which might explain some of the anxiety of the media elite about blogging and the internet.

Speaking of convergences, more and more conservatives (true conservatives, that is, not the neo-conservatives or the imperial fascists of the Bush administration) have joined with the left in their contempt for Bush and his policies. The southern conservative, Charley Reese , for example, has this to say about Bush's Social Security reform proposal:

While you are contemplating the president's scheme to gut Social Security, you should remember that Wall Street and Las Vegas have a lot in common. They are both in the gambling business.

When most people buy stocks, they are gambling that the price of those stocks will rise. What most don't think about is that the price will have to rise a heck of a lot to avoid the law of zero return. That means to determine your real return on an investment, you have to subtract the commissions (both buy and sell), inflation and taxes.

And, as in Las Vegas, if you want to win big, you have to bet big. The limits the president has in mind practically guarantee that the low-wage worker will end up with nothing plus reduced Social Security benefits. You would be better off going to Las Vegas. The casinos at least are honest. They will tell you the odds against you on every game in their buildings. If the president has been honest with the American people on any subject, I must have missed it.

There are already plenty of programs that will allow working men and women to save for retirement, and, of course, Congress can create more. What they need most is a living wage. There is no logical reason whatsoever for the president's scheme other than to fatally injure Social Security and provide a bonus for his Wall Street buddies.

Social Security is not going bankrupt. The estimated shortfall in the year 2052 won't even exist if the economy grows at the rate the president talks about when he's touting his private-investment scheme. This is a clear example of his dishonesty. When he touts private investment, he bases his numbers on a high rate of growth; when he predicts bankruptcy for Social Security, he bases his numbers on a low rate of growth. Well, you can't have it both ways. If the growth rate is high, Social Security will prosper; if it's low, private investments will tank.

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Clarke acts to head off terror revolt
Tania Branigan, political correspondent
Monday February 28, 2005
The Guardian

Charles Clarke will this morning rush out a "clarification" document on his new anti-terrorism proposals in a last-ditch attempt to head off an embarrassing rebellion in a Commons vote tonight.

But the home secretary's decision only to put out a briefing note implies that the government has drawn back from offering concessions on the controversial bill, as Tony Blair had hinted it might.

The document will cover the role of judges, standards of proof, safeguards in the number of control orders proposed and whether measures short of house arrest would still constitute deprivation of liberty.

It is intended to reassure normally loyal Labour backbenchers who have warned that they will reject the measures unless judges initiate control orders instead of merely reviewing them.

Mr Clarke is well aware that the bill will struggle in the Lords even after it has cleared the Commons, with the Tories and Liberal Democrats yesterday underlining their opposition to it.

He is unlikely to give away unnecessary concessions now if he believes he may need them when the legislation reaches the upper house.

"This [note] is to assist people and clarify the measures. People only got sight of the bill last Tuesday, when it was first introduced, and we are trying to clarify what it means [in terms of] technical issues," said a Home Office spokeswoman.

She added: "No amendments have been tabled. The situation remains that the home secretary understands all the concerns around judicial involvement at the earliest opportunity. He will consider those and will go back to the house tomorrow."

Caroline Flint, a Home Office minister, told Radio 4's The World this Weekend: "The secretary of state will make an initial decision because he thinks it right; where there are national security issues, he should make that decision. But that will be subject to judicial involvement which can turn round and say 'no'."

Yesterday Lord Strathclyde, leader of the Tories in the Lords, stated bluntly: "The bill will not pass through parliament the way it's been introduced into the Commons."

He told GMTV: "There have got to be substantial changes ... It is fundamentally flawed."

Mark Oaten, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: "Clearly, there is some movement on the issue. I am encouraged by the noises I'm getting."

The bill has outraged many Labour backbenchers who rarely vote against the government.

Yesterday Barbara Follett, MP for Stevenage, made a passionate intervention, warning that she would vote against the bill today despite having abstained last week.

"I can't sit there and let this happen. It would dishonour everything I have ever stood for," said Ms Follett, whose first husband was killed while under house arrest in South Africa during the apartheid era.

Speaking to The World this Weekend, she added: "Britain was a beacon of hope to me in those days. It was what I comforted my children with after their father was killed. I would not be able to answer for them if I voted for this."

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Iraq Car Bombing Kills More Than 100 People
POSTED: 2:37 am PST February 28, 2005
UPDATED: 3:07 am PST February 28, 2005

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A suicide car bomber blew himself up Monday in a crowd of police and Iraqi national guard recruits south of Baghdad, killing at least 106 and wounding 133, police and witnesses said. It was one of the deadliest insurgent attacks since President Bush declared the war over in May 2003.

Associated Press Television News footage showed large pools of blood outside the medical clinic, located on a dusty sreet. Scorch marks infused with blood covered the clinic walls and dozens of people gathered at the scene helped put body parts into blankets. Soles of shoes and tattered clothes were piled up in a corner.

Babil province police released a statement saying that 106 people were killed and 133 others were wounded in the blast in Hilla, about 60 miles south of Baghdad.

"A suicide car bomb hit a gathering of people who were applying for work in the security services. The incident led to the death of 106 people and injury of 133 citizens," the statement said.

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Potemkin World… or the President in the Zone
Tom Dispatch

"The great motorcade," wrote Canadian correspondent Don Murray, "swept through the streets of the city… The crowds … but there were no crowds. George W. Bush's imperial procession through Europe took place in a hermetically sealed environment. In Brussels it was, at times, eerie. The procession containing the great, armour-plated limousine (flown in from Washington) rolled through streets denuded of human beings except for riot police. Whole areas of the Belgian capital were sealed off before the American president passed."

Murray doesn't mention the 19 American escort vehicles in that procession with the President's car (known to insiders as "the beast"), or the 200 secret service agents, or the 15 sniffer dogs, or the Blackhawk helicopter, or the 5 cooks, or the 50 White House aides, all of which added up to only part of the President's vast traveling entourage. Nor does he mention the huge press contingent tailing along inside the president's security "bubble," many of them evidently with their passports not in their own possession but in the hands of White House officials, or the more than 10,000 policemen and the various frogmen the Germans mustered for the President's brief visit to the depopulated German town of Mainz to shake hands with Prime Minister Gerhard Schroeder.

This image of cities emptied of normal life (like those atomically depopulated ones of 1950s sci-fi films) is not exactly something Americans would have carried away from last week's enthusiastic TV news reports about the bonhomie between European and American leaders, as our President went on his four-day "charm offensive" to repair first-term damage to the transatlantic alliance. But two letters came into the Tomdispatch e-mailbox -- one from a young chemist in Germany, the other from a middle-aged engineer in Baghdad -- that reminded me of how differently many in the rest of the world view the offshore bubbles we continually set up, whether in Belgium, Germany, or the Green Zone in Baghdad. (Both letters are reproduced at the end of this dispatch.)

Here's one of the strangest things about our President: He travels often enough, but in some sense he never goes anywhere. As I wrote back in November 2003, as George and party were preparing to descend on London (central areas of which were being closed down for the "visit"):

"American presidential trips abroad increasingly remind me of the vast, completely ritualized dynastic processionals by which ancient emperors and potentates once crossed their domains and those of their satraps. Our President's processionals are enormous moving bubbles (even when he visits alien places closer to home like the Big Apple) that shut cities, close down institutions, turn off life itself. Essentially, when the President moves abroad, like some vast turtle, he carries his shell with him."

Back then, I was less aware that, for Bush & Co., all life is lived inside a bubble carefully wiped clean of any traces of recalcitrant, unpredictable, roiling humanity, of anything that might throw their dream world into question. On the electoral campaign trail in 2004, George probably never attended an event in which his audience wasn't carefully vetted for, and often quite literally pledged to, eternal friendliness, not to say utter adoration. (Anyone who somehow managed to slip by with, say, a Kerry T-shirt on, was summarily ejected or even arrested.)

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Washington in U-turn over Iran's nuclear programme
By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
The Independent
27 February 2005

The US is embarking on a major rethink of its policy towards Iran, which could see it dropping the strategy of confrontation and threat, instead offering Tehran incentives for abandoning its suspected nuclear ambitions. The striking change of policy emerged during President Bush's fence-mending trip to Europe last week, when for the first time he indicated that Washington endorsed the tripartite effort by France, Britain and Germany to reach a deal with Iran, offering technology in return for an end to its uranium enrichment programme.

It comes on the eve of a key meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna tomorrow, at which the UN nuclear watchdog agency is due to take stock of Iran's nuclear activities, and decide on a new four-year term for its director, Mohammed ElBaradei.

In the past, the US has tried to oust Dr ElBaradei, who irritated Washington in the run-up to the Iraq war by publicly casting doubt on the supposed WMD threat posed by Saddam Hussein. More recently, the US has accused him of being too soft on Tehran.

But that campaign may now have been quietly dropped, amid the new-found spirit of unity with Europe. Mr Bush declared that the two sides of the Atlantic were now "on the same page" over Iran - the nearest Washington has come to endorsing the three-nation EU initiative over which just weeks ago it was sceptical to the point of open scorn.

Further quieting European concerns, Mr Bush said talk of a military attack on Iran was "ludicrous". Top US policy-makers will now examine whether incentives, such as helping Iran join the World Trade Organisation, could be more productive. [...]

The seeming rapprochement between the US and Europe over Iran contrasts sharply with the visible strains between the US and Moscow, evident during Mr Bush's meeting with President Putin in Bratislava on Thursday.

Russia, like the US and Europe, says it opposes Iran becoming a nuclear power. But it has infuriated Washington by promising to continue its long-standing support for the country's nuclear energy programme.

Comment: It seems that while the international community was busy deciding how to keep the US from invading Iran, Mossad slipped through the back door and killed Hariri, placing the blame on Syria. Now the Zionists also blame Syria for the recent nightclub suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. Guess which country is next on Bush's hit list?

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Abbas Does Israel's Job and Blames Hezbollah for Suicide Bombing
Kurt Nimmo
February 26, 2005

How convenient. A suicide bomb kills four Israelis at a Tel Aviv nightclub and the warden of the Palestinian open-air concentration camp, Mahmoud Abbas, blames Hezbollah, even though a renegade "cell of the militant Islamic Jihad group in the West Bank" claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Reuters.

Of course, the involvement of Hezbollah in the attack makes absolutely no sense, unless the plan is to further demonize the Lebanese political party with an irksome history of successfully resisting the Israeli invasion and occupation of southern Lebanon, eventually ejecting the invaders. It is said Hezbollah wants to push every last Israeli into the sea but this is hardly an original sentiment in the Middle East. It is also completely unrealistic and not likely to happen anytime soon, not with the United States bankrolling the Zionist state and fulfilling its every military hardware dream. Even so, nearly every day we are told the Arabs want to do this and genocide of Jews is precisely why Iran is working on a bomb, even though they are not working on a bomb, according to IAEA.

Israel killed Rafik al-Hariri and now a UN-appointed commission will affix blame on Syria and Syria will be obliged to move its troops out of the Bekaa Valley thus allowing Israel to invade and re-occupy southern Lebanon where Hezbollah has paramilitaries and there also happens to be a good deal of water Israel thirsts to steal. If Israel and the United States are lucky, the Syrian government will topple from increasing pressure and there will be an "Orange" or "Chestnut Revolution" in Lebanon like there was recently in Ukraine, albeit "funded and organized by the US government, deploying US consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, the two big American parties and US non-government organizations," as the Transatlantic Democracy Network reports. It appears there is a "postmodern coup d'etat," as Jonathan Steele of the Guardian termed the so-called revolution in Ukraine, underway in Lebanon.

Exactly a week after the assassination of al-Hariri, "some 50,000 or so protestors met near the [assassination] site, observed a minute of silence, and marched toward Hariri's grave," writes Michael Young. "As riot police brought up the rear, or stood by the roadside, protestors demanded a return to Lebanese sovereignty, shouted abuse against Syria and the pro-Syrian Lebanese government, and insisted that there be an impartial inquiry into Hariri's death."

Earlier this week Lebanon's Foreign Minister, Mahmoud Hammoud, told the European Union to butt out of its affairs by calling for an international inquiry into al-Hariri's assassination and insisted Lebanon's judicial authorities are capable of leading an investigation. In order to understand Hammoud's irritation, imagine an assassin killing Clinton or Bush Senior and then Jacques Chirac insisting the United Nations lead the investigation. It would suddenly become illegal to buy French water and wine in the United States and a constitutional amendment would be passed mandating stiff penalties for the use of the phrase "French fries." [...]

Comment: On the other hand, maybe having an impartial investigation into major crimes in any given country conducted by other countries isn't such a bad idea. Maybe if France and Russia investigated 9-11, the conclusion wouldn't have led to bombing Afghanistan and Iraq.

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Rebels blow up oil pipeline in northern Iraq
Associated Press
Saturday, February 26, 2005 Updated at 8:37 PM EST

Baghdad - A major oil fire raged Saturday after insurgents blew up a pipeline in the north of the country. The family of an anchorwoman for a U.S.-funded state television station - a mother of four who was repeatedly shot in the head - found her body dumped on a street in the northern city of Mosul.

Insurgents, meanwhile, killed two civilians in a roadside bombing west of Baghdad, a suicide car bomber killed an Iraqi national guardsman and injured seven people southwest of the capital and the U.S. military announced the death Friday an American soldier killed in a massive security sweep in the Sunni Triangle.

As part of the offensive, residents in Ramadi, the Sunni-dominated city 112 kilometres west of Baghdad, reported clashes between insurgents and U.S. forces, but the military provided no details. [...]

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The truth is out there
Sachin Rao
expressindia.com

Mumbai, February 26: EVERYBODY loves a good conspiracy theory—just ask Dan Brown. For the most part, it's for a quick you-gotta-hear-this laugh, before heading off to gawp at some easy masala like Independence Day (where America saves the world) or Armageddon (where America saves the world) or Black Hawk Down (where America saves, uh, nothing).

The rest of us, though, know that conspiracy theories are, more often than not, the real thing; that life as we see it is simply the mask cloaking the agenda. The Matrix, anyone?

Consider the 21st century's Number One conspiracy: Who 'did' 9/11? Cold evidence - the twin towers' demolition-like collapse, the absence of Jews from their WTC offices that day, the strangely intact Saudi passport in the rubble, the delay in scrambling fighter jets from an emergency-response airbase a minute away, the immediate occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan as a response, the current noises against Iran and Syria—seems to point to, not a bunch of jihadis with boxcutters, but US neocons and their Project for a New American Century (PNAC).

It's not empty conjuncture - consider the historical precedent of the CIA's 1962 Operation Northwoods. Declassification of this top-secret Cold War document reveals an American military plan to sink a US warship, engineer terror attacks in Florida, or blow up a planeful of collegians—to falsely implicate Fidel Castro and invade Cuba.

See, now 'weapons of mass destruction' sounds almost pretty, doesn't it? [...]

Power breeds cover-ups— which is why, as the world's sole military hyperpower and premier base of that ravenous entity called Big Business, America generates a disproportionate number of CTs: be it the assassination of JFK or faked moon landings.

No doubt some of these spring from more loamy imaginations - like the one that the December tsunami was caused by the US testing a secret eco-weapon. But many more are certainly plausible, if not entirely provable. And I find it amazing that they evoke no mass outrage, no more hysteria than chit-chat over hors d'ouvres.

For CT fans, the Internet is the piecing-it-together platform of choice. With a few billion webpages and an idea a page, it's not surprising that there's a conspiracy theory for everyone. From Shoaib Akhtar's exclusion from the team to the Sudan-I chilli powder hoo-ha.

The hardcore CT fan, however, thinks big: Geopolitical manipulation is good, a hush-hush in the outer solar system is even better. I figure that's why so many theorists are liberal left-wingers; the average right-of-centre conservative would rather worry about his grocery bill, than vast curtained moves to inscrutably twist the larger picture.

Sure, I'd love it if the world was all happy and skippy, green lawns and sunshine, but 'fraid it ain't so, Joe. Keep the tin-foil hats handy, and watch your back.

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The role of bloggers
St. Petersburg Times Editorial
February 26, 2005

The proliferation of Internet Web logs - so-called "blogs" - has unsettled mainstream news organizations that have become a prime target for bloggers. On the whole, it's probably a healthy development. The news media have a credibility problem and bloggers, for all their excesses, have shown they have a role to play in holding mainstream journalists accountable.

For the first time, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz recently wrote, "millions of people with access to a wide audience (at least among the wired) are looking over the shoulders of journalists, or practicing journalism themselves . . . Many bloggers are careful and thought-provoking, others partisan or mean-spirited. But they are here to stay, and by and large they provide a healthy check on those who once monopolized the news agenda."

Meanwhile, the casualty list in the war of the "bloggers" keeps growing. [...]

Guckert resigned from Talon amid questions about why the Bush administration had repeatedly provided press access to someone with no journalism credentials and a questionable past. [...]

Another recent victim of the blogosphere was CNN news chief Eason Jordan. He ended a 23-year career by resigning as criticism grew over his suggestion that U.S. troops deliberately targeted journalists in Iraq. Delivered during an off-the-record forum in Switzerland, Jordan's comments drew immediate condemnation after they were revealed by a blogger who attended the meeting. [...]

Mainstream journalists have nothing to fear from bloggers if they remain true to fundamental standards of accuracy and fairness.

Comment: What the author fails to mention is that mainstream journalists have standards of accuracy and fairness that are abysmally low. Why was it bloggers who broke the Guckert and Jordan stories instead of the "fair and accurate" mainstream press? Apparently, what the author really means by the above statement is that if the major news outlets all keep passing along the same lies, no one will notice.

They must remain cautious before passing along information from blogs or reacting to their charges, while continuing to learn from a form of mass media that is evolving before our eyes. Blogging, if practiced responsibly, could boost old media's credibility by making it more accountable to the public.

Comment: In other words, bloggers have the potential to do what the mainstream press cannot: tell the truth. We're not sure how that would boost the media's credibility, however...

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Cadre grows to rein in message
TOM BRUNE
Newsday WASHINGTON BUREAU

WASHINGTON -- The ranks of federal public affairs officials swelled during the Bush administration's first term, but that hasn't meant that government information is easier to get.

The staffs that handle public relations for government agencies grew even faster than the federal work force, personnel records show, yet at the same time the White House tightened its control over messages to the news media and restricted access to public information.

"The role of public affairs officers is not to make information available to the public, as one would naively assume," said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy for the nonpartisan Federation of American Scientists. "Rather," he said, "it is to regulate public access to information, which is something quite different." [...]

Martha Joynt Kumar, a Towson University professor who talked to top Bush aides about administration-news media relations, said the White House may not dictate staff size, but it has exerted control by selecting each agency's communications director and by holding daily telephone conferences with them.

"With the interest the administration has shown in the departments and in coordinating what they say, it is not surprising to see such a growth in public affairs officers," Kumar said. "They operate as an echo to what the president has said."

But the control over information goes beyond its dealings with the news media. [...]

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Don't Be Spun by the Spin
Charley Reese
Feb 26, 2005

President Bush will hail his trip to Europe as a resounding success. He hails everything he does as a resounding success regardless of the evidence to the contrary. All politicians do that.

Lest you be spun by the spin, note that he comes home with only one tangible result – an agreement by NATO to assist in training Iraqi forces, and a tepid assist it will be. Two of the NATO countries have agreed to supply one man each. Nearly all of the training will take place in Europe.

Well, such as it is, it's a good thing, as our own efforts to train Iraqis don't seem to be going so well.

Nevertheless, Bush cannot resist acting as if God appointed him schoolmaster of the world. He lectured everybody in sight. You, Europeans, should not lift the arms embargo against China (they are anyway), and you should stop being so soft on Iran. You should forget all my past insults and get on the Iraqi bandwagon.

They won't forget, and they won't get on a bandwagon that is stuck in the mire.

Hey, you Russians, listen up. You should be more democratic, and you should stop taking up for Iran. You, Iranians, you stop your nuclear-power program. You, Syrians, get out of Lebanon.

Mr. Bush has gotten Teddy Roosevelt's dictum exactly upside down. He shouts loudly and carries a small stick.

Let me put into perspective just how small a stick he carries. The European Union, in all but military power, is itself a superpower. It has more people than we do, and it has a larger gross domestic product. Its currency, the Euro, is very strong, and our currency, the dollar, is very weak.

Russia remains a military superpower, and its economy is growing faster than ours. It has recently undertaken an effort to modernize its nuclear strategic forces and even today has more than enough to blow us away. Furthermore, it recently signed a strategic defense agreement with China.

As to that part of the world, China and India, both with more than a billion people each, have rapidly growing economies. China, in particular, has undertaken a military buildup, and, of course, all three – Russia, India and China – are nuclear powers. If Bush ever looked past his immediate political goals, he might foresee a future tripartite alliance that would mean big trouble for America.

In short, we are not the world's only remaining superpower, as the Washington cliché says, and if Bush could see past his ego, he would recognize that. Our economy is shaky. Federal, corporate and private debt is in the trillions, and Japan and China could wreck our economy just by dumping the debt paper they hold on the market.

One should remember what Osama bin Laden said. He did not say he would conquer us and convert us all to Islam. He said he would bankrupt us. If Bush gets us further mired in the Middle East by attacking Iran and Syria, as he seems likely to do, bin Laden might very well succeed. War is always a drain on the economy. War always produces death, destruction, debt and taxes. [...]

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Books the government doesn't want you to read
Your Country At War
by Charles A. Lindberg, Sr.

On a spring day in 1918 several government agents entered a printshop at Washington, D. C., where the original edition of this book was being printed.

"Destroy all the Lindbergh plates in your plant," they told the head of the institution. He was forced to comply. The hysteria of war-time brooked no delays. Not only were the plates of this book "Why Is Your Country at War?" destroyed, but also the plates of Congressman Lindbergh's book "Banking and Currency," written in 1913 and attacking the big bankers and Federal Reserve Law.

So was the pat painstaking effort of months wiped out. Only a few hundred copies of this book had been printed, and they were sent to Minnesota for use in Congressman Lindbergh's campaign for the governorship of that state.

In 1923 Dorrance & Company issued Congressman Lindbergh's "The Economic Pinch," long out of print, as are his other writings, so that the present volume is the only one of Lindbergh's books available to the American reading public today. [...]

As the years have passed the book has become more and more amazing. In the light of things now happening it is a most uncanny prediction of economic trends, twenty years ahead of its time. The Pecora investigations of "big bankers" and "high finance" are revealing things in 1933 and 1934 that were foretold by Lindbergh, in 1917, with real accuracy. The book even predicts the use of a plan almost identical with the NRA and Lindbergh's discussion of the results of such a plan is interesting. [...]

Generally the Home Guards were drawn up in military array, when Lindbergh attempted to speak in a town or village, so most of the gatherings were on a friend farm. The day I met the Congressman he was scheduled to address a crowd of some ten thousand people in a grove. The meeting had just started when the sheriff, accompanied by thirty townsmen sworn in as special deputies marched to the platform and announced that no League meet was going to be held in his county and under no circumstances could Lindbergh or anybody else speak that day. The crowd started milling and booing, and bloodshed was imminent when the crowd started toward the stage to manhandle the deputies who stood with drawn guns. Then Lindbergh stood up and raised his hands. The best description I can give of him is that he closely resembled his son, Colonel Lindbergh. The father also stood about six feet two inches in height, slender, with narrow, athletic face, keen blue eyes and light wavy hair.

"Friends," he began, "we are a peace loving people. We are governed by laws and certain men are chosen to enforce laws, and among those so selected is the sheriff here. While I think these officers are wrong in their action of willfully suppressing free speech, a discussion of the serious economic issues confronting us, nevertheless it would do our cause more harm than good to have riot and possible bloodshed here. I suggest that we adjourn a few miles south into the State of Iowa which still seems to be part of these United States." A farmer announced that his place was available and in ninety minutes the thousands of automobiles and occupants had been transported to the neighboring state and the meeting held without further trouble.

This was one of many similar incidents in Lindbergh's campaign for governor. In some towns electric light wires would be cut; Home Guards broke up dozens of meetings and in one county a warrant was issued for Lindbergh, charging him with conspiring to obstruct the war. This case was never prosecuted, however. [...]

During my association with him I never heard Lindbergh speak an unkind word of any person. He rarely passed a child without expressing a friendly greeting. During his last illness he was worrying more about the comfort of others than his own.

One of my last recollections at the office was to see him standing in the bitter cold air after a heavy snow, window open, feeding the pigeons.

"They can't forage today," he said. He procured a large sack of feed and soon the place was swarming with the hungry birds.

In the light of events since this book was written he must stand as one of the nation's leading economists. Whether you agree with his conclusions or not, you will realize when you have read this book that "Here was a Man."

Comment: America needs a real man today. Unfortunately, anybody who got even close to filling that role has been "done away with" by one means or another. And now, America is ruled by a pusillanimous schoolyard bully who got his adolescent jollies by blowing up innocent frogs.

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Krauthammer falsely claimed an "absence of angry demonstrations" during Bush European tour
MediaMatters for America

On the February 24 edition of FOX News' Special Report with Brit Hume, syndicated Washington Post columnist and FOX News contributor Charles Krauthammer asserted that there was an "absence of angry demonstrations against our president" during President Bush's recent diplomatic tour of Europe. In fact, many protesters greeted Bush at every stop on his European tour -- Brussels; Mainz, Germany; and Bratislava, Slovakia -- including a three-day demonstration in Brussels and an estimated 6,000-strong protest in Germany.

The Associated Press reported on February 20 that in Brussels, "[h]undreds of demonstrators protested George W. Bush's visit Sunday, hours before the U.S. president was to arrive in Belgium at the start of a conciliatory swing through Europe." According to a February 23 Boston Globe article, the demonstrations in Brussels continued for the duration of Bush's time there, reporting that "hundreds of demonstrators protested Bush's visit for a third day."

Bush's visit to Mainz, Germany, drew protesters by the thousands. The Los Angeles Times reported on February 24: "Police estimated that 6,000 protesters stood in the snow in Mainz, chanting slogans and waving signs that read, 'Bush: Number 1 Terrorist' and 'You can bomb the world into pieces but not into peace.'"

Bush ended the European tour in Bratislava, Slovakia, where he was again met by demonstrators, albeit on a smaller scale. "Several thousand people, some waving small Slovak and American flags, braved low temperatures, light snow and tight security to listen to Bush's speech. Many seemed more curious than inspired, and some said they had mixed feelings about the U.S. invasion of Iraq. A small group of protesters tried unsuccessfully to drown out Bush's talk by chanting slogans and waving banners protesting his Iraq and environmental policies," The Washington Post reported on February 25.

From the February 24 Special Report with Brit Hume:

KRAUTHAMMER: The biggest event in Europe was the absence of angry demonstrations against our president. Which showed a cooling of the hostility and sort of an evening of the temperature. And that's about it.

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Professor faces jail in bio-terror scare
Robin McKie, science editor
The Observer
Sunday February 27, 2005

On 10 May last year, Steven Kurtz woke to find that his wife, Hope, had suffered a heart attack in the night and was lying lifeless next to him.

The experience was traumatic, but events that followed have turned the professor's ordeal into macabre persecution. Today he faces a 20-year jail sentence on terrorism-related charges. 'I am facing a long stretch in jail for my beliefs and my art,' Kurtz, 47, an art professor at Buffalo University, New York, told The Observer. [...]

The ordeal of Kurtz, who is to appear in court on Tuesday on charges of mail and wire fraud, began after he called medical emergency services. Paramedics arrived to try, unsuccessfully, to revive his wife and noticed the biological equipment in his flat. Kurtz is a member of the Critical Art Ensemble, a group that aims, according to its website, to explore the connections between art, technology and radical politics. He uses the biological equipment to work on presentations such as Flesh Machine and GenTerra, in which audiences participate in DNA experiments.

'I had a laboratory centrifuge for isolating DNA from cells, and other equipment. The police were called and decided I could be using it for terrorism.'

Kurtz was taken away, his wife's body still in their flat, and for the next two days was interrogated by FBI agents convinced that he had been creating biological weapons. 'They even decided I could be planning to use my cat to disperse bacteria or viruses - so they locked it up as well.'

His apartment block was sealed off while agents wearing bio-hazard suits searched his flat. 'All they got were my files, books and computer.'

Kurtz was eventually released but was still subject to a seven-week grand jury investigation which concluded that although he could not be accused of terrorism, he could be charged with fraudulent use of the US mail and wire services.

These charges concern his use of harmless bacteria Serratia marcescens and Bacillus atrophaeus , which he obtained by post from his friend Robert Ferrell, a geneticist at Pittsburgh University. Ferrell, in turn, obtained the samples from a standard academic culture bank.

Prosecutors claim that by passing on samples that are supposed to be for only single named users, Ferrell acted fraudulently and by asking for bacteria, Kurtz also committed fraud. Ferrell, who has cancer, is unlikely to appear in court this year.

Most scientists considered the accusations nonsense. It is common practice to exchange material on a casual basis. Vials and test-tubes are carried in pockets and briefcases and swapped at conferences or in pubs.

Kurtz believes he is a victim of a political persecution. 'I have been vocal about the way the state is using research in germ warfare. That is why they want to get me.' [...]

Comment: And so the persecution of scientists continues in the Land of the Free...

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Under The Skin
WUSA 9 News
February 25 2005

[...] Just like the barcode on a can of tomatoes, reduced to a number in a fraction of a second and linked to a computer database, people are voluntarily being bar-coded.

The number is stored within a tiny glass chip that's the size of a grain of rice and surgically implanted just under the skin.

"A lot of people think this is a tracking device, a GPS. That's not what it's about", says Dr. Albert Lee, an Internist in Bethesda.

What it is, is a VeriChip, a radio-frequency i.d tag by a company called Applied Digital. The chip is loaded with whatever personal information you choose.

That can include your Social Security number, insurance, health information or even name and address.

Exclusive nightclubs in Europe allow patrons to run a bar tab with their credit card number accessed through that chip imbedded in the back of their arm.

A special reader has to be within a few inches to access your 16 digit number. To access your computer file, a password is needed.

Its original intent was for medical emergencies. In fact the company is about to give chip readers to 200 Emergency Rooms in America for free. [...]

Humans can be tracked just like your dog or cat. The first id chips were put in pets. Today 70,000 shelters and veterinarians in American can scan a lost or injured animal and find the owner, in seconds.

In fact, Verichip has yet to land its first domestic account.

These telecommunications marketers in Virginia hope to be the first if they can convince the Department of Defense to get on board. [...]

So like the 'now-familiar' product barcode, hearings on the hill suggest human barcodes are the future. [...]

Comment: Well, if patrons of exclusive European nightclubs allow themselves to be tagged like cattle, we want one, too!

In all sincerity, RFID tags are not GPS tracking devices. And yes, it is possible now to track someone by the radio emissions of their cell phone. Credit and bank card transactions can also be used to track a person's movements.

Nevertheless, imagine a society where RFID implants are not a choice, but required by law instead of ID cards. Imagine chip readers embedded in every door frame and connected to huge databases that literally record your every move. In this age of "terrorism", Big Brother is very real, and he wants to make sure he knows what you are doing 24 hours a day, every day. As a result, we will not be given any choice in the matter: either we get chipped, or we don't eat.

To watch the full news clip, click here.

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New strain of flu spreading across Canada
www.chinaview.cn 2005-02-28 01:41:15
OTTAWA, Feb. 27 (Xinhuanet) -- Canadian health authorities are detecting a new strain of the flu making its way across Canada, itis reported here Sunday.

In recent weeks, experts have identified a new influenza straindubbed A/California, so-called because it was found in California's Santa Clara County.

Similar to the harsh A/Fujian strain that has been blamed for particularly severe flu outbreaks in recent years, A/California has been making a growing number of Canadians sick.

"We have identified it in six difference provinces," Health Canada's Dr. Theresa Tam told reporters, referring to the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland. "It appears to be moving across the country," hesaid.

Right now, Canada is a little more than half way through flu season, which typically runs from November to April.

In its most recent FluWatch report, Health Canada says that from Feb. 11-17, there was widespread reporting of cases in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario.

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India Call Centers Suffer Storm of 4-Letter Words

Executives Blame American Anger Over Outsourcing
By Rama Lakshmi
The Washington Post
Sunday, February 27, 2005; Page A22

NEW DELHI -- Rohail Manzoor thought he had what it took to work in a telephone call center. All he had to do was pick up the phone and answer queries from American customers about their long-distance bills. He was armed with lessons on how to speak English like the Americans -- adjust the r's, say "zee" instead of "zed," "mail" instead of "post."

He even called himself "Jim," and figured he would pretend to be an American customer service agent.

But nothing prepared him for the shower of curses that came his way when he picked up the phone one night on the job.

"'You Indians suck!' an American screamed on the phone," recalled a soft-spoken Manzoor, 25. "He was using a lot of four-letter words, too. He called me names left, right and center."

Call center executives and industry experts say abusive hate calls are commonplace, as resentment swells over the loss of American jobs to India. According to a survey in November 2004 by an Indian information technology magazine called Dataquest, about 25 percent of call center agents identified such calls as the main reason for workplace stress. The survey said the calls often were "psychologically disturbing" for workers. [...]

The outsourcing industry earns $5.1 billion a year and employs more than 350,000 people, according to the National Association of Software and Services Companies, and is projected to grow 40 percent in the coming year. The vast pool of low-cost, English-speaking and tech-savvy Indian workers has attracted back-office service operations of companies such as American Express, Sprint, Citibank, General Electric, Ford, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and firms that process U.S. tax returns and welfare benefits. [...]

"Many callers refuse to speak to Indians and ask for an American right away," Jaiswal said in a telephone interview. "So I tell them, 'I am an Indian but I live in America.' They ask, 'Where in America?' I tell them I cannot disclose my location. But they are still suspicious and start asking about the weather."

Industry watchers say some call centers have giant TV screens showing the weather in different U.S. cities, the scores from latest New York Knicks game or news about the latest play on Broadway. The agents use the information on the screen to make small talk with the caller and mask their location in India.

The training given to the call center aspirants not only involves diction, but also a crash course in American culture. Maneesh Ahooja, a voice and accent trainer for call center employees in Bombay, often makes them watch popular TV shows such as "Friends" and "Dharma and Greg." [...]

Comment: American executives of American companies decided to outsource so many jobs to countries like India. The timing of this accelerating shift of jobs from the US couldn't possibly be better. The anger many American callers are expressing towards "those people" can be readily steered by Bush and his handlers. It seems that the reality of American life is being crafted in such a way that the "us vs. them" attitude is greatly amplified.

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Governors Work to Improve H.S. Education
Associated Press
Sunday February 27, 8:26 AM

The nation's governors offered an alarming account of the American high school Saturday, saying only drastic change will keep millions of students from falling short.

"We can't keep explaining to our nation's parents or business leaders or college faculties why these kids can't do the work," said Virginia Democratic Gov. Mark Warner, as the state leaders convened for the first National Education Summit aimed at rallying governors around high school reform. [...]

Most of the summit's first day amounted to an enormous distress call, with speakers using unflattering numbers to define the problem. Among them: Of every 100 ninth-graders, only 68 graduate high school on time and only 18 make it through college on time, according to the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

Once in college, one in four students at four-year universities must take at least one remedial course to master what they should have learned in high school, government figures show. [...]

Among the more high-profile governors who did not attend Saturday were two Republicans: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and Jeb Bush of Florida, the president's brother.

Comment: Arnie and Jeb already have a plan to deal with America's undereducated youth: the draft.

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Gates calls for reforming US high schools
www.chinaview.cn 2005-02-28 00:15:23
[...] Three out of 10 students who enter high school in the United States do not graduate, four out of 10 who do graduate lack the skills and knowledge to go on to college or to succeed in the workforce, according to Virginia Governor Mark Warner, chairman of theassociation. "The economic ramifications of that could be devastating to our country," he said.

The United States ranks 16th among 20 developed countries in the percentage of students who complete high schools and 14th among the top 20 20 in college graduation rates, and has slipped from first to fifth internationally in the percentage of young people who hold a college degree, according to Gates and other speakers at the meeting.

Comment: So in what areas exactly is it that the US is number 1?

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Israeli Terrorism and the Framing of Muslims
Mishaal Al-Kadhi,
Special to Arab News

The actions of Mossad, in misdirecting and suborning information, led to it pulling the wool over its allies eyes globally. It also enabled the Jewish state to put suspicion on Arab states with coordinated covert operations that led to some of the Arab and Muslim states being targeted by the United States.

The Israeli and Jewish lobbies, with their control over world media, managed to convince the world that the Muslims and the Arabs were responsible for the crimes that were committed by the Jews. The incidents below, obtained exclusively from Jewish authors, former Mossad agents, US congressmen, senators and military personnel give us an insight into some of the Jewish crimes for which Arabs got blamed.

Name of operation: Operation Trojan.

What happened?: Israel purposely manufactured false evidence of Arab terrorism tricking the US to go to war against an innocent nation, as related by a former Mossad agent in his book.

Details: Israel had steadily learned valuable lessons from its previous aborted and failed attempts to frame the Arabs and prod the US to bomb and destroy them. This time they managed to hatch a truly devious scheme that actually succeeded in causing the US to wrongly go to war and militarily attack another nation.

The Israeli secret spy agency (Mossad) planted a transmitter in Tripoli, Libya, and then broadcast terrorist messages in Libyan code making Libya responsible for the killing of two Americans in the bombing of the La Belle discothèque in Germany.

It was later proven that Libya had nothing to do with the bombing.

By use of this fraud, Israel induced the American bombing of Libya, resulting in the death of countless civilians including the adopted infant daughter of it's president, Moammar Al-Qaddafi.

The manner in which Mossad tricked the US into attacking Libya was described in detail by former Mossad case worker Victor Ostrovsky in "The Other Side of Deception," the second of two revealing books he wrote after he left Israel's foreign intelligence service. [...]

Ostrovsky wrote: "Operation Trojan was one of the Mossad's greatest successes. It brought about the airstrike on Libya that President Reagan had promised — a strike that had three important consequences. First, it derailed a deal for the release of the American hostages in Lebanon, thus preserving the Hezbollah as the No. 1 enemy in the eyes of the West. Second, it sent a message to the entire Arab world, telling them exactly where the United States stood regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict. Third, it boosted the Mossad's image, since it was they who, by ingenious sleight of hand, had prodded the United States to [bomb Libya]" [...]

In a news report published on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 1998 by BBC News we read: "A UK MP has said that four members of the United Nations weapons inspection team in Iraq are Israeli spies. Labour's George Galloway, who has campaigned against airstrikes on Iraq, named four people he alleged were agents of Mossad, the Israeli secret service, working under false names and papers with the UNSCOM team.

...The clash came in Commons exchanges after the foreign secretary made a statement on the deepening crisis over Iraq's withdrawal of cooperation with the UN weapons inspectors. ...UNSCOM's former chief of inspectors, Scott Ritter, has alleged the organization received substantial aid from Mossad. ... The Glasgow Kelvin MP went on: "In the last few hours it has been revealed that four inspectors working in Iraq under pseudonyms and carrying false passports were in fact Col. Khadouri, Lt. Shamani, Col. Rabscon and Jador Dalal Shamoni — all operatives of the Mossad Israeli intelligence.'" [...]

Paul Findley is a former US Congressman who served for 22 years, with 16 of those years spent on the Committee on Foreign Affairs. In his book "They Dare to Speak Out" he says: "...[Israel] is able to stifle free speech, control our Congress, and even dictate our foreign policy."

Similarly, Sen. J. William Fulbright is quoted in the same book as saying in 1973: "Israel controls the Senate...around 80 percent are completely in support of Israel; anything Israel wants it gets. Jewish influence in the House of Representatives is even greater." [...]

On 29-May-2000, Insight magazine published an explosive expose titled "FBI Probes Espionage at Clinton White House" by J. Michael Waller and Paul M. Rodriguez. In that most devastating article, we are shown how dozens of FBI counterintelligence agents managed to uncover a massive wire-tapping and electronic eavesdropping scheme by which Israel was able to break into some of the most secure telephone lines in the USA, including the highest levels of the White House, State Department, Justice Department, Pentagon and National Security Council (NSC). It is feared that by way of this spying Israel has managed to not only obtain some of the most sensitive secrets of the US government in it's highest levels, but may very well have managed to gain control over leading government figures through blackmail. [...]

The espionage operation may have serious ramifications because the FBI has identified Israel as the culprit. ... More than two dozen US intelligence, counterintelligence, law-enforcement and other officials have told Insight that the FBI believes Israel has intercepted telephone and modem communications on some of the most sensitive lines of the US government on an ongoing basis. The worst penetrations are believed to be in the State Department. But others say the supposedly secure telephone systems in the White House, Defense Department and Justice Department may have been compromised as well. [...]

Of special concern is how to confirm and deal with the potentially sweeping espionage penetration of key US government telecommunications systems allowing foreign eavesdropping on calls to and from the White House, the National Security Council, or NSC, the Pentagon and the State Department. ... no government official would speak for the record. ... "It's a huge security nightmare," says a senior US official familiar with the super-secret counterintelligence operation. "The implications are severe," confirms a second with direct knowledge. "We're not even sure we know the extent of it," says a third high-ranking intelligence official.

A senior government official who would go no further than to admit awareness of the FBI probe, says: "It is a politically sensitive matter. I can't comment on it beyond telling you that anything involving Israel on this particular matter is off-limits. It's that hot." [...]

For nearly a year, FBI agents had been tracking an Israeli businessman working for a local phone company. The man's wife is alleged to be a Mossad officer under diplomatic cover at the Israeli Embassy in Washington....When federal agents made a search of his work area they found a list of the FBI's most sensitive telephone numbers, including the Bureau's "black" lines used for wiretapping. Some of the listed numbers were lines that FBI counterintelligence used to keep track of the suspected Israeli spy operation. The hunted were tracking the hunters. [...]

"[The FBI] uncovered what appears to be a sophisticated means to listen in on conversations from remote telephone sites with ... real-time audio feeds directly to Tel Aviv," says a US official familiar with the FBI investigation. [...]

... fears were rampant of the damage that could ensue if the American public found out that even the remotest possibility existed that the president's phone conversations could be monitored and the president subject to foreign blackmail. [...]

The FBI has become increasingly frustrated by both the pace of its investigation and its failure to gain Justice Department cooperation to seek an indictment ... National security is being invoked to cover an espionage outrage ... Moreover, says a senior US policy official with knowledge of the case: "This is a hugely political issue, not just a law-enforcement matter."

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9/11 a CIA- MOSSAD False Flag Operation
Ralph Schoenman
www.globalresearch.ca

9/11 is an Expression of a Deep and Abiding Crisis in the Capitalist World Order. Video.

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An American Jew Laments Decline in Jewish Influence
ALEXANDER COCKBURN

Across the world the Jewish lobby in America is accorded extraordinary power, almost to the mythic levels of guileful effectiveness once attributed to the British Secret Service. And in truth, MI6, as the Secret Service was also known, never approached the Jewish lobby in overall clout. But these days, if you read analyses by American Jews of where their power is headed, the tone is often dour and the forecast grim. They say, in the words of the American anti-Arab fanatic Daniel Pipes, "the golden age of the Jews" in America has passed its zenith.

This may seem strange when there is universal recognition that George Bush may well be the most pro-Israel president in the nation's history, when the role of the so-called "neocons", usually short-hand for the more fanatical supporters of Israel in American public life, is identified as crucial in pushing for the war on Iraq and now on Iran, when pro Israel votes in the US Congress sweep through by margins of over 90 per cent.

But listen to a man like Illinois-based political analyst Richard Baehr, writing in American Thinker. Baehr could fairly be described as a Zionist ultra. He can also read numbers objectively. Recently he outlined in a speech and then in his publication the reasons he sees for concern. [...]

Meanwhile, from a peak of 6 million American Jews, or 4% of the US population in 1950, Jews are now just about 5.2 million in number, according to the latest Jewish population surveys, or a bit less than 2% of the US population, and the trend points down to maybe three million in the next but one generation.

Baehr laments that "With an intermarriage rate around 50%, and a fertility rate of 1.6 children per Jewish woman, Jews are committing population suicide." He takes a swipe at liberal American Jews, most of them supporters of legal abortion: "American Jews marry late and often never marry, and have fewer children as a result. The commitment to abortion rights as a pre-eminent political issue strikes me a particularly odd, with Jewish numbers declining at an accelerating rate. Rather than being aggressive advocates of abortion rights, Jews might more rationally be advocates of carrying unwanted pregnancies to term, and then giving up the babies for adoption. This is especially the case since many Jewish women marry late and have difficulty conceiving." [...]

Back to Baehr's nightmare of Muslim breeders. As Jews decline in number, he points with a quivering finger at the Arab and Muslim population in America heading in the other direction. Baehr cites two academic studies putting the US Muslim population at between 1.8 and 2.9 million, with the total Arab/Muslim community "probably about 3.5 million, two thirds the size of the Jewish community." [...]

Baehr goes on to portray, somewhat fancifully, the Democratic Party as increasingly falling into the clutches of what he sees as the ultra, Israel-hating left, headed by Michael Moore, the movie director. I seem to remember Moore taking enormous pains last year to absolve Israel from any unpleasing role in Fahrenheit 911, by the simple tactic of not mentioning that troublesome nation. By "Israel hating" Baehr appears to mean anyone who speaks up in any way for justice for Palestinians or criticizes Ariel Sharon. Seeing the Democratic Party as a lost cause for Israel over the long term, and on the decline as a political force in America, he extols the alliance between Christian Evangelicals and Orthodox Jews and the Republican Party.

To anyone used to lamenting the overwhelming tilt towards Israel in intellectual circles and the media it is bizarre to find Baehr writing that he sees a "Distancing of media, academic and intellectual elites from Israel" and to hear him citing Frank Luntz, a pollster, as saying "there is great danger ahead, because American elite opinion is not sympathetic to Israel, and it is getting worse. Elites view Israel as aggressive and warlike and Palestinians as victims. Academia is the community that is the least sympathetic to Israel, since lefty radicals from the 60s run the faculty at most schools."

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EXAMPLES OF HATE SPEECH
whatreallyhappened.com

" [The Palestinians are] beasts walking on two legs." Menahim Begin, speech to the Knesset, quoted in Amnon Kapeliouk, "Begin and the Beasts". New Statesman, 25 June 1982.

"When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle." Raphael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defence Forces, New York Times, 14 April 1983.

"The thesis that the danger of genocide was hanging over us in June 1967 and that Israel was fighting for its physical existence is only bluff, which was born and developed after the war." Israeli General Matityahu Peled, Ha'aretz, 19 March 1972.

David Ben Gurion (the first Israeli Prime Minister): "If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has been Anti - Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault ? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?" Quoted by Nahum Goldmann in Le Paraddoxe Juif (The Jewish Paradox), pp121.

"We have to kill all the Palestinians unless they are resigned to live here as slaves." Chairman Heilbrun of the Committee for the Re-election of General Shlomo Lahat, the mayor of Tel Aviv, October 1983.

"Every time we do something you tell me America will do this and will do that . . . I want to tell you something very clear: Don't worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it." - Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, October 3, 2001, to Shimon Peres, as reported on Kol Yisrael radio. (Certainly the FBI's cover-up of the Israeli spy ring/phone tap scandal suggests that Mr. Sharon may not have been joking.) [...]

Comment: Click here to read the rest.

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Italian Students Try To Silence Israel Envoy
IsraelNN.com
22:47 Feb 23, '05

Students at Italy's University of Florence Wednesday interrupted a speech by Israel's ambassador and chanted anti-Israel slogans. Police dispersed the 20 students from the hall in the law faculty, where Ambassador Ehud Gol was speaking. The protestors also unfurled a banner that called for "life, land and liberty for the Palestinian people."

Gol had started to speak on the topic "Peace Prospects in the Middle East" when the students demanded he leave. Gol later told a local newspaper the students expressed "ignorant hatred" towards Israel and that they are a tiny minority of extreme leftists.

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Air Jesus

With The Evangelical Air Force

by Max Blumenthal
for Mediatransparency.org
POSTED FEBRUARY 27, 2005 --

As Christian broadcasting's leading lights gathered at the National Religious Broadcasters' convention in Anaheim, California, only power-mongering and profiteering could keep their contradictions from bubbling to the surface

"How many of you out there think ministering the Word is unpopular?" the Rev. James McDonald asked a rapt crowd of hundreds at the opening ceremony of the National Religious Broadcasters' (NRB - website) convention. A beefy, bald-headed evangelist Air Jesus: With the Evangelical Air Forcewith a folksy style and an uncanny resemblance to Jesse Ventura, McDonald spent his 30 minute sermon harping on a theme that would dominate the convention: Christian persecution.

For five days inside the Anaheim Convention Center, from February 11-16, the NRB's attendees conducted business as if they were huddled in the catacombs of Rome rather than welcomed guests at a self-contained suburban city of paisley-carpeted hotels, all-you-can-eat buffets and climate-controlled conference halls directly across the street from Disneyland. Indeed, when McDonald asked attendees for a show of hands in affirmation of his question, nearly every hand in the room shot up.

It might seem ironic for McDonald to invoke the spectre of persecution at the convention of a group that represents the interests of 1700 broadcasters and which enjoys unfettered access to congressional Republicans and the White House. The NRB's influence was best summarized by its new CEO, Frank Wright, who, in describing a recent lobbying excursion to Capitol Hill, said, "We got into rooms we've never been in before. We got down on the floor of the Senate and prayed over Hillary Clinton's desk." Wright went on to rally support for the NRB's handpicked candidate for FCC commissioner, whom he refused to name, and rail against federal hate crime legislation because, "Calls for tolerance are often a subterfuge when everything will be tolerated except Christian truth."

Given the NRB's political muscle, the persecution mentality that undergirded its convention seemed more like a justification for its members' aggressive profiteering and politicking than a cry for social justice. But at a gathering where women who had had multiple abortions organized to prevent other women from doing the same, where Israeli Jews heaped effusive affection upon evangelicals who cheerfully predicted their doom at the dawn of the apocalypse, and where evangelical leaders who warned of Islam's imperial ambitions hatched plans to "take over cities for Christ," the theme of victimization was only one of many contradictions looming just beneath the surface.

Such contradictions are inherent in the Christian Right, and might have translated into internecine conflict long ago, balkanizing the movement and curtailing its influence, had its leaders not so assiduously cultivated Jesus as a unifying symbol of the their will to power.

As NRB chairman Rev. Glenn Plummer reminded the opening ceremony's audience, "We are joined together because we're exalting one name above all others...That is our calling and that is our job."

[...]

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Global tobacco treaty takes force
By Ania Lichtarowicz
BBC News health reporter
Sunday, 27 February, 2005, 10:54 GMT

The world's first global health treaty - the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control - has come into force.

The anti-smoking pact has been signed by 168 countries, and ratified by 57 of them, which will now have to tighten their anti-tobacco laws.

The treaty demands health warnings on cigarette packets and bans on tobacco advertising within five years. [...]

How effective the treaty will be remains to be seen.

Although countries including the UK, India, Canada and Australia have all signed and ratified, some major players such as the US have not yet fully committed to it.

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British smoking ban 'inadequate'
By Nick Triggle
BBC News health reporter
Saturday, 26 February, 2005, 23:58 GMT

A partial smoking ban is due to be introduced in England in 2008
A total ban on smoking in public places should be enforced in England, a World Health Organization official says.

Plans set for 2008 would ban smoking in cafes, restaurants and most pubs, but not those which do not serve food.

Dr Vera Luiza Da Costa e Silva, the WHO official behind a global anti-smoking treaty which kicks in on Sunday, said she had expected more of the UK.

The Department of Health welcomed the introduction of the treaty, but ruled out the possibility of an outright ban.

Welsh Secretary Peter Hain has signalled that similar measures to those proposed for England will be adopted in Wales. [...]

Countries which do not adhere to the treaty can be expelled as members. [...]

Comment: See our new article Aliens Don't Like to Eat People That Smoke! for more information on the war against smoking.

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Cubans told to shun foreigners
By Stephen Gibbs
BBC News, Havana
Saturday, 26 February, 2005, 22:30 GMT

More than 100,000 workers in Cuba's tourism industry have been ordered to restrict their contact with foreigners to an absolute minimum.

New regulations from the communist state's tourism ministry apply to Cubans on the island and overseas.

They form part of a series of moves by the Cuban government to tighten state control across the country.

Workers are also told to watch their foreign employers and report actions that might threaten Cuba's revolution.

The new regulations make stark reading. Everyone who works in Cuba's expanding tourism industry - from bar staff to taxi drivers - is warned to keep a safe distance from foreigners.

Workers are advised that they can attend events at the homes of non-Cubans only with advanced written permission.

Gifts received from foreigners have to be declared. Electronic goods such as video players are expected to be handed over to the ministry for common use. [...]

In the last few months, the US dollar has been removed from circulation. Private enterprise has been curbed and managers of Cuban state enterprises have been stripped of much of their autonomy.

President Fidel Castro has said that recentralisation is enabling the Cuban state to rise again, like a phoenix.

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European scientists believe in life on Mars
ABC News Online
Saturday, February 26, 2005. 3:23pm (AEDT)

European Space Agency scientists think that there was and could even still be life on Mars and want a new European mission to the red planet to take samples, a conference has heard.

"Mars is the most Earth-like planet in our solar system," said Agustin Chicarro, ESA Mars Express Project Scientist at the end of a one-week conference during which scientists from around the world discussed ESA's Mars mission findings so far.

They found a large ice sea near Mars' equator that was formed less than 5 million years ago and believe volcanic activity is still continuing on the North Pole. [...]

"Hints of life on Mars are getting stronger," said Vittorio Formisano whose team found methane and formaldehyde on Mars. [...]

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Hobbits or orang pendek?
ROBIN DUNBAR
The Scotsman
Sat 26 Feb 2005

WE WILL never know her name - indeed, we will never know whether she even had a name - but when her remains were unearthed last year in a cave on the Indonesian island of Flores, she caused the kind of stir that we normally associate with Hollywood film stars.

She died in complete obscurity around 18,000 years ago, only to be catapulted into glittering fame by a chance discovery.

Soon nicknamed "The Hobbit", below, she excited the world of evolutionary science and sent media into something of a spin amid claims that the story of human evolution would have to be rewritten.

In fact the truth was a little more prosaic, but just as remarkable for all that. She was certainly distinctive enough to be given a new species name, Homo floriensis, after her home island. But what made the Hobbit so newsworthy was not that she was one of our direct ancestors - in fact, we probably last shared a common ancestor with her about a million and a half years ago - but the fact that her kind had survived at all for so long. [...]

When modern humans reached the Far East, it seems likely that they came into contact with the remnants of the east Asian erectus population who had survived in the backwaters of China long after their African equivalents had died out or evolved into the modern human form. But so far as we knew, none of these Asian erectus populations had survived past 60,000 years ago.

The little lady of Flores island changed all that. Here she was, hale and hearty as recently as 13,000 years ago, a mere handshake’s distance in geological time. What makes her all the more remarkable was her small brain size. We are familiar enough today with diminutive humans - the pygmies of the south Asian forests and Africa are not much bigger than she was. Whereas all these modern human pygmies have brains that are the same size as everyone else’s, the Hobbit and her kind had brains that were no bigger than those of our mutual apeman ancestors.

To cap it all, along with their bones were found stone tools of a modestly sophisticated kind, and evidence for fire and the hunting of large animals, including the now-extinct stegadon - a primitive elephant. For someone the size of a three-year-old human child, killing a one tonne stegadon would be no mean feat; which at best suggests some degree of co-ordinated planning and cooperation. [...]

Comment: In other words, modern theories of evolution are completely full of holes. In fact, if some scientists can't find evidence to prove their theory, they make it up:

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Flashback: History of modern man unravels as German scholar is exposed as fraud

Flamboyant anthropologist falsified dating of key discoveries
Luke Harding in Berlin
The Guardian
Saturday February 19, 2005

It appeared to be one of archaeology's most sensational finds. The skull fragment discovered in a peat bog near Hamburg was more than 36,000 years old - and was the vital missing link between modern humans and Neanderthals.

This, at least, is what Professor Reiner Protsch von Zieten - a distinguished, cigar-smoking German anthropologist - told his scientific colleagues, to global acclaim, after being invited to date the extremely rare skull.

However, the professor's 30-year-old academic career has now ended in disgrace after the revelation that he systematically falsified the dates on this and numerous other "stone age" relics.

Yesterday his university in Frankfurt announced the professor had been forced to retire because of numerous "falsehoods and manipulations". According to experts, his deceptions may mean an entire tranche of the history of man's development will have to be rewritten. [...]

Missing links and planted stone age finds

Piltdown Man
The most infamous of all scientific frauds was unearthed in 1912 in a Sussex gravel pit. With its huge human-like braincase and ape-like jaw, the Piltdown Man "fossil" was named Eoanthropus dawsoni after Charles Dawson, the solicitor and amateur archaeologist who discovered it. For 40 years Piltdown Man was heralded as the missing link between humans and their primate ancestors. But in 1953 scientists concluded it was a forgery. Radiocarbon dating showed the human skull was just 600 years old, while the jawbone was that of an orang-utan. The entire package of fossil fragments found at Piltdown - which included a prehistoric cricket bat - had been planted.

The devil's archaeologist
Japanese archaeologist Shinichi Fujimura was so prolific at uncovering prehistoric artefacts he earned the nickname "God's hands". At site after site, Fujimura discovered stoneware and relics that pushed back the limits of Japan's known history. The researcher and his stone age finds drew international attention and rewrote text books. In November 2000 the spell was broken when a newspaper printed pictures of Fujimura digging holes and burying objects that he later dug up and announced as major finds. "I was tempted by the devil. I don't know how I can apologise for what I did," he said.

Piltdown Turkey
The supposed fossil of Archaeoraptor, which was to become known as the "Piltdown turkey", came to light in 1999 when National Geographic magazine published an account of its discovery. It seemed to show another missing link - this time between birds and dinosaurs. Archaeoraptor appeared to be the remains of a large feathered bird with the tail of a dinosaur. The fossil was smuggled out of China and sold to a private collector in the US for £51,000. Experts were suspicious and closer examination showed the specimen to be a "composite" - two fossils stuck together with strong glue.

Comment: Aw, no more missing link between humans and neanderthals! We imagine this news will cause many mainstream scientists to have more than a few heart palpitations after they have worked so hard to push a sanitized, "scientific" version of humankind's history.

For a far more informative look at humanity's past, present, and future, read Ancient Science.

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Mystery light in the sky
Lewes Today
25 February 2005

A BODLE Street Green resident saw what he believes was a meteorite as he drove from his home on Sunday morning towards Ringmer.

Philip Hale had just passed the gates to the old Laughton Lodge Hospital at Laughton at 9.55am when the object flew in down in fields to his right.

'It was a white object with a blue tail flame travelling very fast on a trajectory of about 45 degrees down to the Earth,' he said.
'The object must have crashed in a field.
[...]

'I didn't stop. Perhaps I should have,' he added. 'I'd never seen anything like it before in my life. There should be some evidence in the field of its impact.'

A spokesman for Sussex Police said nothing had been reported to them.

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ABC's UFO Special: An Autopsy
RANDALL FITZGERALD
Phenomena Senior Editor

By devoting two hours of primetime to the subject of UFOs, alien abductions, and prospects for the existence of other intelligent life in the universe, the ABC television network took a courageous yet calculated gamble.

It was courageous because, despite the predictable nature of the content, no other network in recent memory has attempted such a bold brushstroke treatment of such a broad and controversial subject area. That it did so for two riveting hours merits appreciation from those of us who consider ourselves open-minded, but not so open that we allow our brains to fall out.

Yet it may have also been a safe and calculated ratings gamble in the sense that few people, except the most dogmatic cynics or believers, will find much to take offense with in ABC's attempt at balance. Both believers and debunkers were given their point and counterpoint opportunities. The UFO extraterrestial visitation hypothesis was contrasted with the usual 'there is no credible evidence' perspective of mainstream science. No other theories for the phenomenon were entertained. In the guise of 'objective' reporting, this program tried to be all things to all people. [...]

Peter Jennings rarely ventured what could be interpreted as his own opinions during the program, except in one instance. Speaking of Roswell and the alleged discovery of alien bodies in a crashed spaceship, Jennings declared: "There is not a shred of evidence of alien bodies or a crash...believers cling to a myth." [...]

As many of you might expect, ABC devoted the last 15 minute segment to scientists debating whether it is even theoretically possible for extraterrestrials to be visiting us. The distances are too vast, argued one. But wormholes could be gateways for travel, countered another, and besides, how can we even begin to predict what sort of technology a civilization millions of years more advanced than us might possess?

Prior to the airing of this program Jennings was quoted as saying, "I began this project with a healthy dose of skepticism and as open a mind as possible." At its conclusion I could not help but think that Jennings had opened his mind even more than I had thought possible. There is hope for us humans yet!

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Stone carving says Pope will live
Sophie Hardach in Rome
February 26, 2005

A STONE carving in one of Rome's biggest cathedrals may know what millions of Catholics around the world have been fretting about for the past two days: Will Pope John Paul II survive his latest health crisis?

The carved marble monument to Pope Sylvester II, who ruled the Catholic church 1000 years ago, is said to moisten when the death of a pontiff is imminent.

Today, a priest touched the carving in Rome's Basilica of Saint John Lateran and confirmed it was dry - good news for the Pope, who underwent throat surgery yesterday after being rushed to hospital with breathing problems.

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Another county meteor sighting
Feb 28, 2005
North Shropshire people were astounded when they saw a meteor streaking across the night sky.

The orange ball with a long, green tail was spotted by residents of Wem and Lyneal at 7.30pm on Saturday and took seconds to travel across the county towards Wales.

The sightings were the latest in a series across Shropshire after a mystery object was spotted in the skies above Shrewsbury last week.

Eric Brown, of Lyneal, said he was coming back from work on Saturday when he spotted the meteor at Welshampton.

He said: "It was very, very bright in the sky and was orange with a long, green tail.

"It was really fast and just kept going and going."

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