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Mass extinction comes every 62 million years, UC physicists discover
David Perlman, Chronicle Science Editor
Thursday, March 10, 2005

With surprising and mysterious regularity, life on Earth has flourished and vanished in cycles of mass extinction every 62 million years, say two UC Berkeley scientists who discovered the pattern after a painstaking computer study of fossil records going back for more than 500 million years.

Their findings are certain to generate a renewed burst of speculation among scientists who study the history and evolution of life. Each period of abundant life and each mass extinction has itself covered at least a few million years -- and the trend of biodiversity has been rising steadily ever since the last mass extinction, when dinosaurs and millions of other life forms went extinct about 65 million years ago.

Comment: Hmm. 65 million years less 62 million years. 5 minus 2 leaves 3, 6 minus 6 leaves 0, uh, that leaves 3 million years. We're not rocket scientists or anything, but it looks to us like we're 3 million years overdue for another mass extinction. Even allowing for the extinction period itself of "a few million years"... Does someone want to check our math?

Of course, on time scales of millions of years, that could still leave us tens of thousands of years, or even hundreds of thousands of years, before we need to build a tunnel and live underground with our stockpiles of lentils and rice. Then again, all the rich and powerful already have access to government bunkers...think they know something we don't?

The graph above is curious in that it ignores that last 50 million years and sets the beginning and ends of the cycles at the peaks rather than the troughs, that is, the point of catastrophe. The end of the last cycle was, according to the graph, about 88 million years ago. Except that the dinosaurs died, according to mainstream science, 65 million years ago. Does it look to you like someone is trying to fudge the numbers? And does the data end 48 million years ago, the impression given by the graph?

The Berkeley researchers are physicists, not biologists or geologists or paleontologists, but they have analyzed the most exhaustive compendium of fossil records that exists -- data that cover the first and last known appearances of no fewer than 36,380 separate marine genera, including millions of species that once thrived in the world's seas, later virtually disappeared, and in many cases returned.

Richard Muller and his graduate student, Robert Rohde, are publishing a report on their exhaustive study in the journal Nature today, and in interviews this week, the two men said they have been working on the surprising evidence for about four years.

"We've tried everything we can think of to find an explanation for these weird cycles of biodiversity and extinction," Muller said, "and so far, we've failed."

But the cycles are so clear that the evidence "simply jumps out of the data," said James Kirchner, a professor of earth and planetary sciences on the Berkeley campus who was not involved in the research but who has written a commentary on the report that is also appearing in Nature today.

"Their discovery is exciting, it's unexpected and it's unexplained," Kirchner said. And it is certain, he added, to send other scientists in many disciplines seeking explanations for the strange cycles. "Everyone and his brother will be proposing an explanation -- and eventually, at least one or two will turn out to be right while all the others will be wrong."

Comment: Wow! Such insight!

Muller and Rohde conceded that they have puzzled through every conceivable phenomenon in nature in search of an explanation: "We've had to think about solar system dynamics, about the causes of comet showers, about how the galaxy works, and how volcanoes work, but nothing explains what we've discovered," Muller said.

The evidence of strange extinction cycles that first drew Rohde's attention emerged from an elaborate computer database he developed from the largest compendium of fossil data ever created. It was a 560-page list of marine organisms developed 14 years ago by the late J. John Sepkoski Jr., a famed paleobiologist at the University of Chicago who died at the age of 50 nearly five years ago.

Sepkoski himself had suggested that marine life appeared to have its ups and downs in cycles every 26 million years, but to Rohde and Muller, the longer cycle is strikingly more evident, although they have also seen the suggestion of even longer cycles that seem to recur every 140 million years.

Sepkoski's fossil record of marine life extends back for 540 million years to the time of the great "Cambrian Explosion," when almost all the ancestral forms of multicellular life emerged, and Muller and Rohde built on it for their computer version.

Muller has long been known as an unconventional and imaginative physicist on the Berkeley campus and at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. It was he, for example, who suggested more than 20 years ago that an undiscovered faraway dwarf star -- which he named "Nemesis" -- was orbiting the sun and might have steered a huge asteroid into the collision with Earth that drove the dinosaurs to extinction.

"I've given up on Nemesis," Muller said this week, "but then I thought there might be two stars somewhere out there, but I've given them both up now."

He and Rohde have considered many other possible causes for the 62- million-year cycles, they said.

Perhaps, they suggested, there's an unknown "Planet X" somewhere far out beyond the solar system that's disturbing the comets in the distant region called the Oort Cloud -- where they exist by the millions -- to the point that they shower the Earth and cause extinctions in regular cycles. Daniel Whitmire and John Matese of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette proposed that idea as a cause of major comet showers in 1985, but no one except UFO believers has ever discovered a sign of it.

Or perhaps there's some kind of "natural timetable" deep inside the Earth that triggers cycles of massive volcanism, Rohde has thought. There's even a bit of evidence: A huge slab of volcanic basalt known as the Deccan Traps in India has been dated to 65 million years ago -- just when the dinosaurs died, he noted. And the similar basaltic Siberian Traps were formed by volcanism about 250 million years ago, at the end of the Permian period, when the greatest of all mass extinctions drove more than 70 percent of all the world's marine life to death, Rohde said.

The two scientists proposed more far-out ideas in their report in Nature, but only to indicate the possibilities they considered.

Muller's favorite explanation, he said informally, is that the solar system passes through an exceptionally massive arm of our own spiral Milky Way galaxy every 62 million years, and that that increase in galactic gravity might set off a hugely destructive comet shower that would drive cycles of mass extinction on Earth.

Rohde, however, prefers periodic surges of volcanism on Earth as the least implausible explanation for the cycles, he said -- although it's only a tentative one, he conceded.

Said Muller: "We're getting frustrated and we need help. All I can say is that we're confident the cycles exist, and I cannot come up with any possible explanation that won't turn out to be fascinating. There's something going on in the fossil record, and we just don't know what it is."

Comment: The answer is staring Muller in the face but he doesn't recognise it: his abandoned "Nemesis" hypothesis. The article doesn't mention why Muller abandoned his work on the dark star. Was he diverted into other areas?

Along with the Nemesis hypothesis, one must factor in the problems with radiometric dating. As Laura Knight-Jadczyk discusses in her book The Secret History of the World and How to Get Out Alive, it is possible to "reset" the isotopes used in such dating:

A Few Words About Radiometric Dating

If we are going to investigate time, we will be confronted with the issue of dates, those markers of time, and of how these dates are established.

The most widely used method for determining the age of fossils is to date them by the "known age" of the rock strata in which they are found. At the same time, the most widely used method for determining the age of the rock strata is to date them by the "known age" of the fossils they contain. In this "circular dating" method, all ages are based on uniformitarian assumptions about the date and order in which fossilized plants and animals are believed to have evolved. Most people are surprised to learn that there is, in fact, no way to directly determine the age of any fossil or rock. The so called "absolute" methods of dating (radiometric methods) actually only measure the present ratios of radioactive isotopes and their decay products in suitable specimens - not their age. These measured ratios are then extrapolated to an "age" determination.

The problem with all radiometric "clocks" is that their accuracy critically depends on several starting assumptions, which are largely unknowable. To date a specimen by radiometric means, one must first know the starting amount of the parent isotope at the beginning of the specimen's existence. Second, one must be certain that there were no daughter isotopes in the beginning. Third, one must be certain that neither parent nor daughter isotopes have ever been added or removed from the specimen. Fourth, one must be certain that the decay rate of parent isotope to daughter isotope has always been the same. That one or more of these assumptions are often invalid is obvious from the published radiometric "dates" (to say nothing of "rejected" dates) found in the literature.

One of the most obvious problems is that several samples from the same location often give widely divergent ages. Apollo moon samples, for example, were dated by both uranium-thorium-lead and potassium-argon methods, giving results, which varied from 2 million to 28 billion years. Lava flows from volcanoes on the north rim of the Grand Canyon (which erupted after its formation) show potassium-argon dates a billion years "older" than the most ancient basement rocks at the bottom of the canyon. Lava from underwater volcanoes near Hawaii (that are known to have erupted in 1801 AD) has been "dated" by the potassium-argon method with results varying from 160 million to nearly 3 billion years. It's really no wonder that all of the laboratories that "date" rocks insist on knowing in advance the "evolutionary age" of the strata from which the samples were taken -- this way, they know which dates to accept as "reasonable" and which to ignore.

More precisely, it is based on the assumption that nothing "really exceptional" happened in the meantime. What I mean by "really exceptional" is this: an event theoretically possible, but whose mechanism is not yet understood in terms of the established paradigms. To give an example: a crossing of two different universes. This is theoretically possible, taking into account modern physical theories, but it is too speculative to discuss its "probability" and possible consequences.

Could such an event change radioactive decay data? Could it change the values of some fundamental physical constants? Yes, it could.

Is it possible that similar events have happened in the past? Yes, it is possible. How possible it is? We do not know. We do not know, in fact, what would be an exact meaning of "crossing of two different universes."

In addition to considering the idea of cataclysms that could have destroyed ancient civilizations more than once, there is another matter to consider in special relationship to radioactive decay: that ancient civilizations may have destroyed themselves with nuclear war.

Radiocarbon dates for Pleistocene remains in northeastern North America, according to scientists Richard Firestone of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and William Topping, are younger as much as 10,000 years younger than for those in the western part of the country. Dating by other methods like thermo-luminescence (TL), geoarchaeology, and sedimentation suggests that many radiocarbon dates are grossly in error. For example, materials from the Gainey Paleoindian site in Michigan, radiocarbon dated at 2880 yr BC, are given an age by TL dating of 12,400 BC. It seems that there are so many anomalies reported in the upper US and in Canada of this type, that they cannot be explained by ancient aberrations in the atmosphere or other radiocarbon reservoirs, or by contamination of data samples (a common source of error in radiocarbon dating). Assuming correct methods of radiocarbon dating are used, organic remains associated with an artifact will give a radiocarbon age younger than they actually are only if they contain an artificially high radiocarbon keel.

Our research indicates that the entire Great Lakes region (and beyond) was subjected to particle bombardment and a catastrophic nuclear irradiation that produced secondary thermal neutrons from cosmic ray interactions. The neutrons produced unusually large quantities of Pu239 and substantially altered the natural uranium abundance ratios in artifacts and in other exposed materials including cherts, sediments, and the entire landscape. These neutrons necessarily transmuted residual nitrogen in the dated charcoals to radiocarbon, thus explaining anomalous dates. […]

The C14 level in the fossil record would reset to a higher value. The excess global radiocarbon would then decay with a half-life of 5730 years, which should be seen in the radiocarbon analysis of varied systems. […]

Sharp increases in C14 are apparent in the marine data at 4,000, 32,000-34,000, and 12,500 BC. These increases are coincident with geomagnetic excursions. […]

The enormous energy released by the catastrophe at 12,500 BC could have heated the atmosphere to over 1000 C over Michigan, and the neutron flux at more northern locations would have melted considerable glacial ice. Radiation effects on plants and animals exposed to the cosmic rays would have been lethal, comparable to being irradiated in a 5 megawatt reactor more than 100 seconds.
The overall pattern of the catastrophe matches the pattern of mass extinction before Holocene times. The Western Hemisphere was more affected than the Eastern, North America more than South America, and eastern North America more than western North America. Extinction in the Great lakes area was more rapid and pronounced than elsewhere. Larger animals were more affected than smaller ones, a pattern that conforms to the expectation that radiation exposure affects large bodies more than smaller ones.

The evidence that Firestone and Topping discovered is puzzling for a lot of reasons. But, the fact is, there are reports of similar evidence from such widely spread regions as India, Ireland, Scotland, France, and Turkey; ancient cities whose brick and stone walls have literally been vitrified, that is, fused together like glass. There is also evidence of vitrification of stone forts and cities. It seems that the only explanation for such anomalies is either an atomic blast or something that could produce similar effects, which we will get to soon enough. [pp. 135-37]

Firestone and Topping open the door to a re-evaluation of the accuracy of radiometric dating. When scientists agree that the extinction of the dinosaurs occurred 65 million years ago, they may well be incorrect. If those dates are wrong, the numbers of the entire cycle of 62 million year cycles may also be wrong. If we can't trust the dates from radiometric dating, where do we get another measure which could suffice?

Muller discusses the Nemesis theory, the idea of a companion star that returns at regular cycles. Laura's research into the dark star twin of our sun has found evidence that the cycle of visits by our companion is 27 million years. As Laura writes in Secret History:

If it is a companion star, present day science pretty clearly demonstrates that it must have a very long period; otherwise, we would notice it quite plainly in orbital perturbations of a certain type. In actual fact, the computer model that best fits the various dynamics is that of a 27 million year orbit. And this, of course, leads us to a considerable difficulty: the period of return of the Dark Star, as opposed to the period of disasters. [Computer model from Matese, J.J., Whitman, P.G., Whitmore, D.P., "Cometary evidence of a massive body in the outer Oort cloud", Icarus 141: 354-366. 1999.] [...]

Thus, we understand that it is not this Twin sun that makes its "appearance" at every period of catastrophe. Nevertheless, the analyses of the periodic comets suggests that it does, at very long periods, again and again, crash through the Oort cloud like a bowling ball through rows of pins, sending a new collection of them spinning into a periodical orbit, and because they follow the the laws of celestial mechanics, they establish an orbit of 3,600 years. [pp. 218-19]

Here we see there may be two cycles, the 27 million year return of the dark star and a 3600 cycle of the material cast out from the Oort cloud by the dark twin that settles into a regular orbit bringing it regularly into the earth's path. We propose a hypothesis where the dark star is the cause of the periodic extinctions with a period of 27 million years with a subcycle of comet impacts on the earth that, while not causing the mass extinctions of the primary cycle, are large enough to cause the downfall of local civilisations on various parts of the planet. There also appear to be other subcycles, such as the one that caused the dark ages after the cometary impact of circa 540 AD. These subcycles may be remnants of 3600 year cycles from earlier main cycles.

The article mentions the work of J. John Sepkoski Jr who discovered a 26 million year cycle for marine life. Without knowing more about his work and what methods he used to come to his dating, we note in passing that it is very close to the 27 million year dark star cycle.

Evidence we have gathered suggests that the most recent of the 3600 year cycles occurred about 1628 BC at the time of the eruption of the volcano Thera on the island of Santorini in the Mediterranean. In other words, at 3635 years ago, we are due for a return in the near future.

We also consider that the Maunder Minimum, a 75 year period of little or no solar activity from 1645 until 1710, may be the period when the sun's dark twin was here on its last approach. The quieting of the sun would have been due to the gravitational effect of the twin. If this is the case, then the next cycle of comets from the Oort cloud has been heading our way for over 300 years. The discoveries in the last ten years of numerous "new" moons of both Saturn and Jupiter is suggestive. Perhaps bodies traveling our way from the Oort cloud have been trapped by the gravity two giant planets and brought into orbit as they passed by. Mainstream news and science reports offer this as a possibility. They do not, however, reflect upon the origin of the rocks captured as new moons.

A reading of our Meteor supplement illustrates the increasing number of fireballs being reported from the four corners of the globe, another suggestive bit of data gleaned from newspapers the world over, not that the mainstream media does the correlating of the evidence that would tie the many sightings together. The reports of fireball sightings remains local, only rarely making it to the national or international news.

For more on these ideas, see Laura Knight-Jadczyk's article Independence Day as well as her book The Secret History of the World and How to Get Out Alive.

If a cloud of comets is heading our way, marking the next 27 million year cycle, or even if we are "only" facing the lesser subcycle that ended the Bronze Age, we think the danger facing the world is far greater than that proposed by the proponents of "peak oil". In fact, we think it is highly probable that people in positions of power, that is, those behind the scenes who are pulling the strings of the public figures on the world stage, are aware of this imminent threat, and that this threat is the real reason behind the locking down of the planet spearheaded by the Bush Reich.

Of course, such a possibility is never mentioned. It is occulted, hidden from view while our attention is focused daily on battles in Iraq and Palestine, and on the "rising tide of democracy" in the Middle East, the possibility of the end of the era of oil and other such prattle. Those who believe the Michael Jackson case is the window dressing may be at least one level of subterfuge and manipulation behind. A bombardment of the earth by comets or meteors, and a subsequent nuclear winter of several years and a great dying, would mean that safety might need to be sought underground. We, in fact, see that the leaders of every country have underground bunkers, built, we were told, as protection against nuclear war. While they may well serve for protection in wartime, they could also do double duty were the earth to be hit by a 20 kilometre wide comet.

We admit, however, that we do not have all of the proof necessary for an open and shut Ruppertian case in the courts. For that, we will just have to wait and see.

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U.S. Quits Pact Used in Capital Cases
Foes of Death Penalty Cite Access to Envoys
By Charles Lane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 10, 2005; Page A01

The Bush administration has decided to pull out of an international agreement that opponents of the death penalty have used to fight the sentences of foreigners on death row in the United States, officials said yesterday.

In a two-paragraph letter dated March 7, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice informed U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan that the United States "hereby withdraws" from the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. The United States proposed the protocol in 1963 and ratified it -- along with the rest of the Vienna Convention -- in 1969.

The protocol requires signatories to let the International Court of Justice (ICJ) make the final decision when their citizens say they have been illegally denied the right to see a home-country diplomat when jailed abroad.

The United States initially backed the measure as a means to protect its citizens abroad. It was also the first country to invoke the protocol before the ICJ, also known as the World Court, successfully suing Iran for the taking of 52 U.S. hostages in Tehran in 1979. [...]

The administration's decision does not affect the rest of the Vienna Convention, which requires its 166 signatories to inform foreigners of their right to see a home-country diplomat when detained overseas. But it shows that Washington's desire to counteract international pressure on the death penalty now weighs against a long-standing policy of ensuring the United States a forum in which to enforce its citizens' allegations of abuse. [...]

Comment: Another step to setting up the US as a power unto itself. The ability of the US to intervene in other countries in favour of its citizens is of less importance than preventing other countries in having a say in the US justice system.

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Anti-terrorism law row rumbles on
Ten terror suspects have been subjected to interim control orders as the war of words over the battle to introduce the new anti-terrorism powers continues.

Leader of the Commons Peter Hain said Michael Howard's stance on the measures had put the security of the UK at risk.

But Tory co-party chairman Liam Fox said Tony Blair had shown he was "arrogant and out of touch".

The home secretary signed the orders after a marathon debate on the powers which peers finally approved on Friday.

The political stalemate over the Prevention of Terrorism Act only ended when the prime minister promised to let MPs review the law in one year.

Under the new law, the interim orders, which are thought to be similar to the bail conditions already imposed on the suspects, will have to be referred to a judge for confirmation within seven days. [...]

BBC Home Affairs correspondent Margaret Gilmore said the orders would include a ban on buying communications equipment and using the internet and mobile phones.

There would also be "strong" restrictions on who the 10 men can meet.

She said one of the 10, Abu Qatada, was also banned from preaching because, it is alleged, his sermons have been used by people training suicide bombers.

'Individual liberty'

Mr Hain told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "This bill is now in a position which balances individual liberty with the necessity to control very dangerous terrorists." [...]

Comment: We thought that someone was innocent until proven guilty. The people put under house arrest in this bill will not have passed through the court system, this they are yet to be convicted of any crime. However, they are already labeled "terrorists".

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They Shoot Reporters, Don't They?
Tariq A. Al-Maeena,
The killing of Italian intelligence officer Nicola Calipari by US troops in Iraq is another twist in the diabolical tactics employed by members of the occupation forces in manipulating the veracity of their adventurism in this immoral crusade.

In a series of truth-twisting means that began when their commander in chief assured the world of the presence of weapons of mass destruction prior to the invasion of Iraq, to the calculated shootings and murder of journalists who contradicted Pentagon press releases, the charade continues today and is fed daily to the folks "back home" that all is well.

Sadly, a few brave journalists who saw otherwise were quickly put away, in incidents quickly explained as "friendly fire". In the latest incident, the US forces' version was that the car carrying Mr. Calipari and two others including the just released journalist Ms. Giuliana Sgrena was speeding toward a checkpoint and failed to heed a warning to slow down.

The surviving passengers of that vehicle offer a different version: The driver of the vehicle slowed down and stopped 10 meters away from the checkpoint as he was instructed to do. At that point, the car was peppered with shots, instantly killing Mr. Calipari who had shielded Ms. Sgrena's body with his own and wounding others.

The Italian leftist newspaper Il Manifesto, a staunch opponent of the war on Iraq, employed Ms. Sgrena, for those who are unaware. She had been reportedly interviewing refugees of the Fallujah onslaught and was preparing a report of war crimes committed by US forces in their assault on the city when she mysteriously disappeared.

The prime minister of Italy, Berlusconi, a staunch ally of the US remarked in an address to the Italian Senate that the US version conflicted with the statements provided by another agent in the vehicle and does not "coincide totally with what has been communicated so far by the US authorities."

This should come as no surprise to those of us who have previously witnessed the brutal killing of Tareq Ayoub, an Al-Jazeerah journalist who was gunned down by "friendly fire" in Baghdad. Or the arrest of Abdel Kader Al-Saadi, an Al-Arabiya journalist who was picked up by US forces in Fallujah on Nov. 11, and arrested for the duration of their assault on that city. Both TV networks had unembedded reporters and their networks beamed enough footage of mutilated bodies of women and children as a result of US armed forces activity.

Added to the mass tortures and detentions of civilians some of which was graphically displayed across newspapers and televisions the world over, one wonders to what level would those interested in guarding the "truth" stoop to.

The demands for the investigation into this latest killing are clamoring. In a strong rebuttal to the acting US ambassador in London David T. Johnson, Naomi Klein of the UK Guardian provided factual evidence of selective "elimination" by US forces and their surrogates. She cites several instances of such crime against journalists, doctors, and clerics. And not surprisingly, the victims were all outspoken against the horrific actions carried out against civilians all in the name of democracy.

Far from being the heroes to be wreathed in garlands of flowers, this invading force has done just about everything to earn itself the contempt of its few allies and the very people it claimed to have come to free. And now it has reduced itself to eliminating the messengers of truth.

For now, Americans back home may be content to read and hear that all is well. The embedded reporters will report back what the Pentagon deems is suitable fare. But for those who chose to report otherwise, their fate was quickly sealed and with a hail of "friendly" bullets.

Comment: Back in Yankee Doodle Dandy Land, the pundits are saying the Sgrena can't be believed because she's a commie. Just do a search on "Sgrena" and "commie" and see what the wits of witchhunting have to say.

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The Rendering
By Chris Floyd
Moscow Times

In the heady months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the chickenhawks of the Bush Regime were eager to flash their tough-guy cojones to the world. Led by the former prep-school cheerleader in the Oval Office, swaggering Bushists openly bragged of "kicking ass" with macho tactics like torture and "extraordinary rendition."

"We don't kick the [expletive] out of them," one top Bush official told The Washington Post on Dec. 26, 2002. "We send them to other countries so they can kick the [expletive] out of them." In that same article, other Bush honchos boasted about withholding medical treatment from wounded prisoners; knowingly sending prisoners to be tortured in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan ("I do it with my eyes open," said one top agent); and breaking international law as a routine part of interrogations by U.S. operatives. "If you're not violating someone's human rights," said an interrogation supervisor, "you're probably not doing your job." These freely admitted violations included beatings, hooding, exposure, sexual humiliation and the medieval barbarism of strappado: chaining a prisoner with his arms twisted behind his back and suspending him from the ceiling, where the weight of his own body tears at his sockets and sinews.

The invasion of Iraq, itself a war crime of staggering dimensions, simply extended this long-established and officially sanctioned system of brutality to a new arena. And to thousands of new victims, the overwhelming majority of whom were innocent of any crime, as the Red Cross reported. While the investigative work of Seymour Hersh and others in exposing the horrors of Abu Ghraib is indeed laudable, it should not have come as any surprise. The atrocities detailed in the revelations were identical to those the Bush Regime had openly acknowledged as standard practice just months before.

The only difference, of course, was the fact that pictures of the Abu Ghraib atrocities were also published and broadcast. Public sensibilities -- untroubled by previous verbal admissions buried deep in slabs of newsprint -- were suddenly shocked by the lurid visuals. A Republican-led Senate investigation declared that it had uncovered "even worse" pictures of torture: stomach-curdling photos and videos of bloody abuse that could stain America's name for generations. The Bush Regime braced for an election-year firestorm of scandal. Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld offered the president his resignation.

Then -- nothing happened. The outraged Republican senators never released their damning pictures. Rumsfeld kept his job. A "few bad apples" in the lower ranks were put on trial; the top figures involved in the torture system were promoted. And even though Pentagon and CIA investigators continue to document hundreds -- hundreds -- of cases of torture, abuse and outright murder in Bush's gulag, the storm has passed. Indeed, Bushists like John Yoo, one of the primary authors of the "torture memos" undergirding the gulag, see the 2004 election as a public affirmation of blood and brutality. The vote is "proof that the debate is over," Yoo told The New Yorker. "The issue is dying out."

Yet the Regime was shaken a bit by the brief tempest. Instead of macho swagger about "kicking ass" and "taking off the gloves," there are now prim assurances of legality. PR fig leaves are being artfully draped over once-bulging displays of butchness. This week, The New York Times was chosen for a high-profile leak, "revealing" that while Bush himself gave the order to "render" U.S. captives to nations that practice torture -- supposedly as a cost-saving measure -- the CIA is scrupulously ensuring that no prisoners are ever actually tortured by foreign torturers in the torture chambers where Bush has consigned them. Such prissy hand-wringing is a far cry from the old braggadocio ("I did it with my eyes open") and cynical shoulder-shrugging of December 2002, when one rendition op dismissed the very notion of CIA supervision of its foreign torture partners: "If we're not there in the room with them," he smirked, "who is to say" what goes on in the outsourced interrogations?

But Bush is facing something far more dangerous than the occasional hiccup of bad PR or toothless probes by his Senate bagmen. There are now several lawsuits afoot filed by innocent survivors of the "rendition" system set up at Bush's direct order. These cases could not only expose the ugly guts of his gulag, but also produce direct evidence of criminal culpability on the part of Bush and his minions under U.S. and international law.

The Regime has responded with draconian ruthlessness to this genuine threat. In the main rendition case -- and in an unrelated lawsuit concerning officially confirmed evidence of terrorist infiltration at the FBI before 9/11 -- Bush is invoking the rarely-used, extra-constitutional "state secrets privilege." This nebulous maneuver, unanchored in law or legislation, allows the government to suppress any evidence against it merely by asserting, without proof, that disclosure of the truth might "harm national security." Evidence "protected" in this way cannot even be heard by a judge in secret -- a well-established practice used successfully in numerous other national security cases over the years. It is simply buried forever, and the case collapses.

It is almost certain that Bush's invocation of this "night-and-fog" measure will be upheld. So let us be clear about the consequences. It will mean that any crime committed by a government official -- torture, rendition, murder, state terrorism, even treason -- can be sealed in permanent darkness. The justice system itself will be "rendered" into a black hole. The victims of state crime -- American citizens as well as foreign captives -- will be left without rights, without redress, without a voice. Bush's kingdom of strappado will reign supreme.

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2 Died After '02 Beatings by U.S. Soldiers
By Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 12, 2005; Page A14

Two detainees held at the U.S. detention facility in Bagram, Afghanistan, died within a week of each other in December 2002 after military police guards and military intelligence interrogators brutally beat them and left them chained to the ceiling in standing positions, according to Army documents obtained by a human rights group.

The documents, which detail the investigations into the deaths of two Afghan detainees named Mullah Habibullah and Dilawar, describe the repeated harsh treatment of the two prisoners and identify more than a dozen soldiers believed to be responsible for the abuse.

Comment: Just another dozen bad apples, right?

The documents also blame military interrogators for using harsh and unapproved tactics against detainees, including kicks to the groin and legs, shoving or slamming detainees into walls and tables, forcing detainees to maintain painful contorted body positions during interviews, and forcing water in their mouths until they could not breathe.

Army regulations prohibit using force during interrogations.

Comment: It seems that every mainstream media outlet always includes this line in their articles about US forces torturing prisoners. The only problem is that the US in recent years has demonstrated quite well that it has absolutely no regard for international law, the Geneva Convention, or any other rule or regulation that the nation's leaders feel like ignoring. So, why should we expect that the US military would follow its own rules? Furthermore, does anyone actually expect that the US army would issue a press release indicating official support for torture in interrogations?

One of the investigative documents obtained by Human Rights Watch and released yesterday also found that military intelligence interrogators inappropriately directed military police personnel "to execute the course of sleep deprivation (through standing restraint)."

Most notable about the documents is that they detail severe physical abuse that allegedly occurred at the hands of U.S. soldiers about a year before abuse was documented at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Parts of the same unit responsible for gathering intelligence at Bagram at the time, the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, were sent to Abu Ghraib to set up the intelligence-gathering effort there, and Army investigators believe that some of the same tactics migrated with them.

The MPs at Abu Ghraib, seven of whom were charged with maltreating detainees, said they were being instructed by MI interrogators to keep detainees awake as part of ordered sleep-deprivation programs preceding interrogations.

The documents detail abuse at Bagram that was far more severe than that seen at Abu Ghraib, however. Soldiers are accused of placing Dilawar in a "standing restraint" position as punishment, something that the documents reveal was part of the Bagram Control Point's standard operating procedure. They are accused of using their knees to deliver dozens of blows to Dilawar's lower body, what the soldiers apparently called "compliance blows" to get him to cooperate. An autopsy showed that Dilawar's legs were so damaged that amputation would have been necessary.

Habibullah suffered almost identical leg injuries and died from a blood clot near the heart.

Pentagon investigations have concluded that there was no systemic abuse in the U.S. military but that there was confusion about interrogation policy and procedures. The most recent report, by Navy Vice Adm. Albert T. Church III, concluded that abuse was scattered and unrelated.

Comment: After the lies about 9-11 and Iraq, what are the chances that the military would actually indict and prosecute itself for torture? The Pentagon is better off using the "few bad apples" routine to uphold the illusion of justice.

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Prisoners at Abu Ghraib Said Included Kids
The Associated Press
Friday, March 11, 2005

WASHINGTON - A boy no older than 11 was among the children held by the Army at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, the former U.S. commander of the facility told a general investigating abuses at the prison.

Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski did not say what happened to the boy or why he was imprisoned, according to a transcript of her interview with Maj. Gen. George Fay that was released by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The transcript of the May 2004 interview was among hundreds of pages of documents about Iraq prisoner abuses the group made public Thursday after getting them under the Freedom of Information Act.

Karpinski, who was in charge of Abu Ghraib from July to November 2003, said she often visited the prison's youngest inmates. One boy "looked like he was 8-years-old," Karpinski said.

"He told me he was almost 12," Karpinski said. "He told me his brother was there with him, but he really wanted to see his mother, could he please call his mother. He was crying."

Military officials have acknowledged that some juvenile prisoners had been held at Abu Ghraib, a massive prison built by Saddam Hussein's government outside Baghdad. But the transcript is the first documented evidence of a child no older than 11 being held prisoner.

Military officials have said that no juvenile prisoners were subject to the abuses captured in photographs from Abu Ghraib. But some of the men shown being stripped naked and humiliated had been accused of raping a 14-year-old prisoner.

The new documents offer rare details about the children whom the U.S. military has held in Iraq. Karpinski said the Army began holding women and children in a high-security cellblock at Abu Ghraib in the summer of 2003 because the facility was better than lockups in Baghdad where the youths had been held.

The documents include statements from six witnesses who said three interrogators and a civilian interpreter at Abu Ghraib got drunk one night and took a 17-year-old female prisoner from her cell. The four men forced the girl to expose her breasts and kissed her, the reports said. The witnesses - whose names were blacked out of the documents given to the ACLU - said those responsible were not punished.

Another soldier said in January 2004 that troops poured water and smeared mud on the detained 17-year-old son of an Iraqi general and "broke" the general by letting him watch his son shiver in the cold.

On another subject, Karpinski said she had seen written orders to hold a prisoner that the CIA had captured without keeping records. The documents released by the ACLU quote an unnamed Army officer at Abu Ghraib as saying military intelligence officers and the CIA worked out a written agreement on how to handle unreported detainees. An Army report issued last September said investigators could not find any copies of any such written agreement.

The Pentagon has acknowledged holding up to 100 "ghost detainees," keeping the prisoners off the books and away from humanitarian investigators of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he authorized it because the prisoners were "enemy combatants" not entitled to prisoner of war protections.

The ACLU has sued Rumsfeld on behalf of four Iraqis and four Afghans who say they were tortured at U.S. military facilities. Rumsfeld and his spokesmen have repeatedly said that the defense secretary and his aides never authorized or condoned any abuses.

Six enlisted soldiers have pleaded guilty to military charges for their roles in abuses at Abu Ghraib, and Pvt. Charles Graner Jr. was convicted at a court-martial this year and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Karpinski, one of the few generals to be criticized in Army detainee reports for poor leadership, quoted several senior generals in Iraq as making callous statements about prisoners.

Karpinski said Maj. Gen. Walter Wodjakowski, then the No. 2 Army general in Iraq, told her in the summer of 2003 not to release more prisoners, even if they were innocent.

"I don't care if we're holding 15,000 innocent civilians. We're winning the war," Karpinski said Wodjakowski told her. She said she replied: "Not inside the wire, you're not, sir."

Comment: What is not mentioned in the above is the comments of Seymour Hersh at a University of Chicago speech where he allegedly stated:

And this was one of the most stunning parts. He had just returned from Europe, and he said high officials, even foreign ministers, who used to only talk to him off the record or give him backchannel messages, were speaking on the record that the next time the U.S. comes to them with intelligence, they'll simply have no reason to believe it.... He lamented of his journalistic colleagues, "I don't know whey they don't just tell it like it is."...

He said the people most horrified by the way the war was planned were the military commanders responsible for protecting their troops.... He talked about the horror of the 1000 civilian deaths in Fallujah (but was careful to note the Marines were doing their job, placing the blame with their superiors)....

He talked about how hard it is to get the truth out in Republican Washington: "If you agree with the neocons you're a genius. If you disagree you're a traitor." Bush, he said, was closing ranks, purging anyone who wasn't 100% with him. Said Tenet has a child in bad health, has heart problems, and seemed to find him generally a decent guy under unimaginable pressure, and that people told him that Tenet feared a heart attack if he had to take one more grilling from Cheney. "When these guys memoirs come out, it will shock all of us."...

He said that after he broke Abu Ghraib people are coming out of the woodwork to tell him this stuff. He said he had seen all the Abu Ghraib pictures. He said, "You haven't begun to see evil..." then trailed off. He said, "horrible things done to children of women prisoners, as the cameras run."

He looked frightened.

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Flashback: What happened to the women held at Abu Ghraib?
Tara McKelvey
Issue Date: 02.01.05

[...] When Selwa talks about Abu Ghraib and the detention facilities, her voice is soft.

“Whenever I remember, it’s like a fire goes out,” she says. “Once I saw the guards hit a woman, probably 30 years old. They put her in an open area and said, ‘Come out so you can see her.’ They pulled her by the hair and poured ice water on her. She was screaming and shouting and crying as they poured water into her mouth. They left her there all night. There was another girl; the soldiers said she wasn’t honest with them. They said she gave them wrong information. When I saw her, she had electric burns all over her body.”

Selwa says she and a group of women lived in a wing of the prison that was separate from the male unit. Like the other women, she had a small room with a toilet and access to a sink. “There were a lot of maggots,” she says. She explains how she would wash her slip and her robe and then put the damp clothes on and let them dry as she was wearing them.

I ask her if she was sexually assaulted.

“No,” she says. “They respected me.” She pushes her chair away from the table.

Asked if she was ever forced to take her clothes off, she leans back and pulls her jacket over her chest and covers part of her face with her hand. She looks downward and bites her thumb. Her eyes are half-closed, and her shoulders are slumped.

“I don’t remember,” she says. She folds her arms across her chest and her eyes fill with tears. She stares at the ground. A few minutes later, she excuses herself and leaves the room.

* * *

Another woman held in Abu Ghraib was Mithal, a 55-year-old supervisor at an electrical company. Arrested on February 26, 2004, she was taken to Al-Sijood Palace, in Baghdad’s “Green Zone,” and asked about her neighbor, a retired government worker. “I think they were confusing him with some big, important person,” she says.

“When they didn’t get the answer they wanted, they would put the hood on my head and yank it and make me run across a yard,” she says. “I was barefoot, and the yard was filled with sharp stones. The American soldier said if I didn’t cooperate, they’d put me in prison for 30 years. He said if I were his mother, he would kill me. This lasted for eight hours. Then they put me in a wooden room and sat me on a chair. They said bad words -- hurtful words. They covered me in blankets, one after another until I couldn’t breathe. Eight blankets. I pounded my feet against the floor because I was suffocating.

“After that, they took me to [a detention center near Baghdad International Airport]. There, I heard a young woman crying out from her cell, telling an American soldier to leave her alone. She said, ‘I am a Muslim woman.’ Her voice was high-pitched and shaky. Her husband, who was in a cell down the hall, called out, ‘She is my wife. She has nothing to do with this.’ He hit the bars of his cell with his ?sts until he fainted. The Americans poured water over his face and made him wake up. When her screams became louder, the soldiers played music over the speakers. Finally, they took her to another room. I couldn’t hear anything more.”

Afterward, Mithal says, she was taken to Abu Ghraib. “They stripped me and searched me,” she remembers. “Then they gave me blankets and put me in solitary confinement in a room 2 meters by 1 and a half meters. There was no light in the room. I was there for three months.”

* * *

The third woman I interviewed is Khadeja Yassen, a 51-year-old former school principal. She is the sister of former Vice President Taha Yasin Ramadan al-Jizrawi. A high-ranking official of the Hussein government, he was the “Ten of Diamonds” in the Pentagon’s “most-wanted” playing cards. She was arrested at home on August 11, 2003, and interrogated about her brother’s whereabouts. She was held at various detention facilities, including Abu Ghraib, for ?ve months, until she was released on January 11, 2004.

“After I got there,” she told me, “they took me to a room with a dog. It was a huge black dog, and it barked so loudly. It was on a leash, and it was standing two meters from me. I was terrified -- I felt as if I would go mad. My legs buckled, and I collapsed. An American soldier -- a woman -- was standing behind me, and she held me up. I was kept in the room for two or three minutes, and then I was taken to another place for the interrogation. They asked me about my brother. I said, ‘I don’t know where he is.’ They said, ‘You have seen the dog. Now tell us the truth.’”

I ask her if they touched her during the interrogation.

“I won’t answer this question,” she says. “I promised them I would not say anything about this.”

* * *

Were Iraqi women raped or sexually assaulted by Americans at Abu Ghraib and other detention facilities? None of the women I interviewed would talk about it. “You’re asking this question in a culture that kills you for being raped,” explains Khoshaba, referring to so-called honor killings, in which women are slain for behaving “dishonorably,” which can mean they’ve had the bad luck to be sexually assaulted.

There are no reliable statistics on honor killings in Iraq. But Yanar Mohamed, 43, president of the Baghdad-based group Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, has opened shelters in Baghdad and Tikrit for women who are afraid of family members. About 10 women, including a 24-year-old former soldier, Liqwa, who claims an American soldier raped her, have stayed in the shelters.

Under such circumstances, rape is dif?cult to prove. Yet reports of sexual abuse and exploitation have crept into government documents. On October 7, 2003, American soldiers held a female detainee’s hands behind her back, forced her to her knees, “kissed [her] on the mouth,” and removed her blouse, according to a Commander’s Report of Disciplinary or Administrative Action. Major General Antonio Taguba reported on the “videotaping and photographing [of] naked male and female detainees” in his May 2004 report on detainee abuse. In their August 25, 2004, report examining the role of military intelligence, Major General George R. Fay and Lieutenant General Anthony R. Jones describe “Incident No. 38,” in which “a criminal detainee housed in the Hard Site was shown lifting her shirt with both her breasts exposed. There is no evidence to con?rm if [this was] consensual or coerced; however in either case sexual exploitation of a person in U.S. custody constitutes abuse.”

And an image shown to members of Congress on May 12, 2004, seems to depict a female detainee exposing her breasts, apparently against her will, according to a high-level Senate staffer. “She just looked like she’d died inside,” the staffer says.

Rape has become a potent symbol in Iraq, and propaganda about sexual assault has been used to foment anti-American sentiment and recruit new members for the resistance. But for some, rape has more than a symbolic meaning. A 35-year-old woman named Sundus (she asked that I use only her first name) was hired by Burke’s legal team last summer to meet with former detainees and ?nd out about their experiences. A graduate of Iraq’s Al-Mamoun University College, where she studied English poetry and Shakespeare, she works to promote civil society in Iraq and is involved in election monitoring. “She’s among the new generation who’s trying to build Iraq through [nongovernmental organizations] and civil society,” says Salah Aziz, president of the Tallahassee, Florida-based organization American Society for Kurds, who met Sundus in Iraq last summer when she attended his National Endowment for Democracy–funded workshop on NGOs. “She’s a strong lady.” Between August and December 2004, Sundus says, she interviewed 54 former detainees.

“I think many women who were held at Abu Ghraib were raped by Americans,” says Sundus. She wears a lilac hajib, which she ?ddles with during interviews. She has received death threats because she works with Americans, and she says one Iraqi man told her that if she spoke negatively about the resistance, “‘We will put you in the back seat of the car like Margaret Hassan.’”

Sundus explains how Selwa and Selwa’s sister came to her of?ce last August. Selwa said she wanted to speak about her detention privately. Her sister left the room. Then Selwa sat down with Sundus. “They did everything bad to me, and may God take them all to hell,” Selwa told her. “She began to weep bitterly,” recalls Sundus. “She didn’t tell the truth to her family.”

Male detainees, too, have described the abuse of women. A 42-year-old car broker, Saleh, who was held at Abu Ghraib from October to December of 2003, spoke with Huntington Woods, Michigan-based attorney Shereef Akeel, a member of Burke’s legal team, in March 2004. “He said he saw a woman being raped: ‘She was on all fours in a hallway outside my cell, and a soldier was raping her. She was looking at me, and I couldn’t do anything to help her. Her eyes looked dead,’” says Akeel.

Mahal, a 70-year-old tribal sheik who wears a charcoal tunic and has a gray-speckled mustache, told me he met a female detainee on May 4, 2004, the day they were both released from Abu Ghraib, on a bus ride home. “She sat two rows away from me,” he says. “She was wearing a hajib, and her face was completely dried up. It looked as though she hadn’t seen the sun in a very long time. ‘I’ve seen terrible things,’ she said. ‘We went through hell.’ She was crying and saying women had been tortured and raped.”

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Flashback: Iraqi Woman Recalls Abu Ghraib Rape Ordeal
by Ira Chernus

CAIRO, July 21 ( – The rape ordeal she suffered at the hands of US soldiers, both males and females, in the notorious Abu Gharib prison will continue to haunt Nadia for the rest of her life.

Though freed now, she is "imprisoned" in painful memories that left her psychologically and physically scarred, paying the price of the brutality and sadism of her American jailers.

Nadia, the name given by a freed Iraqi female prisoner to Al-Wasat, a weekly supplement of the respectable London-based Al-Hayat newspaper, felt it incumbent upon herself to speak out and expose the less-talked-about abuse of female prisoners in US-run detention camps across Iraq.

Her visit to a relative ended up in her detention by American troops, who stormed the home under the preferable excuse of "searching for weapons".

"I tried in vain to convince the impeded interpreter I was a guest, but I lost consciousness to find myself later in a dingy dark cell all by myself," Nadia recalled.

With tears rolling down her cheeks, she told the paper how she was stripped by her "liberators" of the most precious thing an Arab and Muslim women can have: Her virginity.

"A thrill of fear ran through me when I saw US soldiers laughing hysterically with a female solider telling me mockingly in an Arabic accent ‘I never heard about female arms dealer in Iraq’," Nadia said.

"As I tried hard to explain to her that I was wrongly rounded up, the female soldier started accosting and kicking me with my cries and pleas falling on dead ears."

She went on: "She gave me a cup of water and no sooner had I started sipping it than I went into a deep trance to find myself later naked and raped."

‘Like Animals’

Only then Nadia realized that hard times and an uncertain fate were lying ahead.

And days proved her right. The other day, five soldiers fondled and raped her one after another in a distasteful sex orgy on the tunes of culturally offensive heavy metal music.

"One month later, a soldier showed up and told me in broken Arabic to take a shower. And before finishing my bath, he kicked the door open. I slapped him but he raped me like animals and called two of his colleagues, who forced me to have sex with them," added Nadia.

"Four months later, the female soldier came along with four male soldiers with a digital camera. She stripped me naked and started fondling me as if she was a man while her male colleagues broke into laughter and started taking photos.

"Reluctant as I was, she fired four shots close to my head and threatened to kill me if I resist. Then, four soldiers raped me sadistically and I lost conscience. Later, she forced me to watch a clip of my raping, saying bluntly: ‘Your were born to give us pleasure’."

Naida was set free from the US hell in Abu Gharib after spending up to six months there.

The American soldiers dumped her along the highway of Abu Gharib and gave her a meager of 10,000 dinars to "start a new life".

Too ashamed to return home, she now works as a housemaid for an Iraqi family.

Britain’s mass-circulation The Guardian revealed on May 12 that US soldiers in Iraq have sexually humiliated and abused several Iraqi female detainees in Abu Gharib.

In its May 10-17 issue, the Newsweek said that yet-unreleased Abu Gharib abuse photos "include an American soldier having sex with a female Iraqi detainee and American soldiers watching Iraqis have sex with juveniles."

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Vigilance must be heightened against US abuse of int'l law 2005-03-12 19:36:03

PYONGYANG, March 12 (Xinhuanet) -- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said on Saturday that the international community should heighten vigilance against US abuses of international law.

"The US is getting more outspoken in its interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states and its schemes of military intervention against them under the cloak of 'anti-terrorism', 'non-proliferation of mass-destructive weapons', 'freedom and democracy' and 'protection of human rights'," said the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in a commentary.

The commentary condemned that the United States abuses the lever of international law for its political purposes and military interventions. "For example, it misuses the existing international humanitarian law and human rights convention to justify its intrigues to launch military intervention and topple the systems of anti-US independent states," it said.

"It is the height of sarcasm that the US, a rude violator of international law, is going to bring heads of state of the countries under its military occupation to court, branding them as 'criminals of racial purge and massacre' and issuing an 'annual report on human rights' every year to accuse countries falling out of its favor of breaching the international humanitarian law and human rights convention," added the commentary.

"The US resorts to extraterritorial acts, disregarding the UN Charter and other international laws which regard respect for state sovereignty as their fundamental principle," the commentary said.

"It (the United States) is throwing its weight about outside the framework of international law, denying the function of the International Criminal Court and refusing to join major international treaties such as the universal nuclear test ban treaty, the UN convention on maritime law, the convention on ban on anti-personnel land mines and the Kyoto Protocol on preventing global warming, and unilaterally breaching the anti-ballistic missile treaty concluded with Russia," the commentary condemned.

The commentary said the US abuses of international law today under the pretext of "anti-terrorism," "spread of democracy" and "protection of human rights" are "plainly designed to attain its strategic aim of world supremacy."

Comment: You'd probably agree with us that in choices of places to go on your holiday or move to in search of a change of pace, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea would not be at the top of your list. Furthermore the works of Kim il Sung aren't up there at the top of anyone's must read list, even if he does talk a lot about self-reliance, which might be inspirational if one had to start from scratch somewhere in the South Pacific. It for these reasons that we found it surprising to read the remarkable analysis above.

You know the world is in bad shape when the crazies at the head of the DPRK come out with an attack such as this, and it's all true.

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Global sheriff is slowly gaining on the US and its cavalier way with the law
By Simon Tisdall
The Guardian

In the opinion of many legal experts, the US government broke international law when it waged war on Iraq without explicit UN backing. Unrepentant, it has reserved the right to take similar action again, unilaterally if need be.

But another key pillar of global jurisprudence - laws concerning individual liberty, dignity and human rights - is proving harder for Washington to ignore: like a sheriff with a posse of deputies, international law is slowly catching up with the Bush administration.

Despite its hostility to the international criminal court, the US may soon be forced by a UN security council majority to refer war crimes prosecutions in Sudan to the ICC. Diplomats say that would represent a big boost for supranational criminal justice.

Last week's US supreme court decision to abolish the death penalty for offenders under the age of 18 was partly a response to global opposition to capital punishment which the Bush administration has refused to heed. But from an international legal standpoint, the ruling in effect dragged the US into line with a key provision of the 1990 UN convention on the rights of the child.

In another test case, concerning Mexican citizens held on death row in Texas, the White House bowed this month to a ruling by the world court in The Hague, whose authority it has rejected in the past. The court said that the denial of consular assistance to the defendants, in breach of the 1969 Vienna convention, could have prejudiced their trials.

Despite its distaste for any international legal body or instrument that presumes to overrule the US constitution, the Bush administration has now belatedly ordered a judicial review.

Areas in which the US government or its agents have traditionally assumed legal immunity when acting in the national interest are also coming under challenge.

The American Civil Liberties Union, representing eight Afghan and Iraqi former detainees, is suing the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and three army commanders for allegedly ordering "the abandonment of our nation's inviolable and deep-rooted prohibition against torture or other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment".

Like the Guantánamo Bay controversy, the lawsuit is based on the contention that abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and Bagram jail in Afghanistan, not only breached the US constitution but also the Geneva and other UN conventions.

A legal precedent for holding top decision-makers, such as Mr Rumsfeld, responsible already exists in a supreme court ruling that says that the most senior Japanese military officials were ultimately to blame for abuses of allied prisoners of war during the second world war.

A multibillion-dollar class action now before a Brooklyn court has potentially even broader implications for US adherence to international law. The civil suit, brought on behalf of several million Vietnamese people, alleges that US chemical companies, including Monsanto and Dow Chemical, committed war crimes by supplying the government with Agent Orange in the Vietnam war. The toxic herbicide was extensively used by US forces, and is widely blamed for continuing birth defects, cancer and other serious health problems in Vietnam.

The companies have argued, in effect, that they were only following orders. But Judge Jack Weinstein suggested a parallel with Zyklon B, the gas used in Nazi death camps. Two Zyklon B manufacturers were convicted of war crimes and executed by the US and its allies after 1945.

The US justice department decried the Agent Orange lawsuit as "dangerous" and "astounding". A government court submission said: "The implications of the plaintiffs' claims ... would, if accepted, open the doors of the American legal system for former enemy nationals and soldiers claiming to have been harmed by US armed forces."

Yet it is precisely to avoid such chaotic scenarios that post-Iraq UN reformers want an agreed system of international rules governing war and peace.

At the Royal Institute of International Affairs this week, Philippe Sands QC suggested that the nomination of the hardline unilateralist John Bolton as US ambassador to the UN might further encourage Washington's disregard for international law.

Professor Sands warned that many in Washington remained committed "to remaking the international order to suit American interests and American values".

But as human rights law continues to develop beyond the reach of executive power, the future waging of unjust or illegal wars could become an increasingly problematic and costly forensic business.

Comment: The "Global Sheriff" needs to move a lot faster if it hopes to ever catch the Bush administration. It is highly likely that the intelligence agencies and governments of many nations are aware of the Bush administration's lies and illegal actions. So, why aren't they doing anything? Do the leaders of other nations have a chip in the big game? Are they being blackmailed? The "Global Sheriff" isn't really chasing Bush and the gang; he is stumbling along in the dirt, watching the tumbleweeds roll by, and searching his pockets to see if he again forgot to bring some bullets for his empty six-shooters...

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Al-Qaeda tells Madrid: 'We will defeat all the infidels'
11 March 2005

DUBAI- Al-Qaeda's frontman in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, vowed to defeat "infidels and apostates" in response to a Madrid conference on terrorism.

"We tell the infidels and apostates, the enemies of God: whatever you do, you will be defeated. God promised us victory," read the statement from the Organization of Al-Qaeda of Jihad in the Land of Two Rivers, in a statement published on the Internet.

The authenticity of the statement could not be verified.

"How many times will the infidels and apostates meet to fight against Islam and combat the Jihad... They have other worries than to fight the Muslims and mistreat them," it said.

The Madrid conference, grouping former presidents and heads of state of democratic countries, on Friday presented the "Madrid Agenda", a series of recommendations aimed at combating terrorism.

After three days of conferences, working groups and seminars attended by 200 experts and academics from more than 50 countries, the Madrid group issued a call to action "for governments, institutions, civil society, the media and individuals".

It said "a global democratic response" was needed "to counter to the global threat of terrorism".

Zarqawi's group has claimed responsibility for scores of deadly attacks in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

In December, Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden named the Jordanian-born Zarqawi "emir" of the terror network in Iraq.

The United States has placed USD 25 million bounties on both men.

Comment: The mainstream press have no qualms about promoting such unverifiable "war on terror" propaganda by some anonymous "terrorist", yet when real live people publish damning facts about the TRUE nature of the "war on terror", using facts which CAN be verified, the mainstream press does not see fit to report it. Coincidence? We think not.

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Eavesdropping Agency Warned Bush of Need to Monitor Networks Used by Americans
By Katherine Shrader Associated Press Writer
Published: Mar 12, 2005

WASHINGTON (AP) - The nation's electronic intelligence agency warned President Bush in 2001 that monitoring U.S. adversaries would require a "permanent presence" on networks that also carry Americans' messages that are protected from government eavesdropping.

The warning was contained in a National Security Agency report entitled "Transition 2001," sent to Bush shortly after he took office and reflects the agency's major concerns at the time.

The report was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the National Security Archive, a private security watchdog group at George Washington University that made the document public Friday

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Personal information taken in Nevada DMV office break-in
March 11, 2005

NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Personal information from more than 8,900 people was stolen when thieves broke into a Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles office, officials said Friday.

A computer taken during the break-in contained names, ages, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, photographs and signatures of southern Nevada residents who obtained driver's licenses between Nov. 25 and March 4 at the North Las Vegas office, state DMV chief Ginny Lewis said. [...]

The DMV had previously maintained that the information on the computer stolen in Monday's break-in was encrypted, making it virtually useless to thieves.

But Lewis said Friday that Digimarc Corp., the Beaverton, Ore.,-based company that provides digital driver's licenses in Nevada, told her Thursday the information was not encrypted, and was readily accessible. [...]

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The New Hows and Whys of Global Eavesdropping
New York Times

Remember chatter? After 9/11, it was all over the news. For months, snatches of cellphone conversations in Karachi or Tora Bora routinely made the front page. Television newscasters could chill the blood instantly by reporting on "increased levels of chatter" somewhere in the ether. But what exactly was it? Who was picking it up, and how were they making sense of it?

Patrick Radden Keefe does his best to answer these questions and demystify a very mysterious subject in "Chatter," a beginner's guide to the world of electronic espionage and the work of the National Security Agency, responsible for communications security and signals intelligence, or "sigint." In a series of semiautonomous chapters, he describes Echelon, the vast electronic intelligence-gathering system operated by the United States and its English-speaking allies; surveys the current technology of global eavesdropping; and tries to sort out the vexed issue of privacy rights versus security demands in a world at war with terrorism.

Mr. Keefe writes, crisply and entertainingly, as an interested private citizen rather than an expert. A third-year student at Yale Law School, he follows in the footsteps of freelance investigators like James Bamford, who, through sheer persistence, managed to penetrate at least some of the multiple layers of secrecy surrounding the National Security Agency in his book "The Puzzle Palace."

"Chatter" is a much breezier affair, filled with anecdotes, colorful quotes and arresting statistics. The United States has fewer than 5,000 spies operating around the world, for example, but 30,000 eavesdroppers. The National Security Agency employs more mathematicians than any other organization in the world, and every three hours its spy satellites gather enough information to fill the Library of Congress. Menwith Hill, the American listening station in North Yorkshire, England, has a staff as large as MI5, Britain's domestic intelligence service.

Menwith Hill is just one in a network of American-run bases and overhead satellites that, Mr. Keefe writes, "have wrapped the earth in a spectral web of electronic surveillance." In some respects, their task is not that tough. "The air around us and the sky above us are a riot of signals," Mr. Keefe writes. "To intercept those signals is as easy as putting a cup out in the rain." As fiber-optic cables become the main channel for data transmission, surveillance will become more difficult, but at the moment the ability to collect electronic signals is far outstripping the ability to analyze it.

Some messages are chatter. Others are chit-chat. In February 2003, the New York City police went on high alert, sending special teams into the subways and posting extra police at the tunnels leading in and out of Manhattan, all because the word "underground" had been picked up in an intercepted conversation between terrorists. Nothing happened.

Was the word or the context misinterpreted? Or did the police presence thwart an attack? It's impossible to know. The National Security Agency has invested heavily in technology while cutting back on human analysts and foreign-language interpreters with the skill to detect shades of nuance in casual conversations. Should it now reinvest in training people fluent in Baluchi, the dialect spoken by Mohamed Atta, the lead hijacker in the 9/11 attacks? By the time their training is completed, voice-recognition technology may have turned out to be the smart bet. Sigint is a murky business.

"Chatter" is often quite amusing. Mr. Keefe has great fun with Total Information Awareness, the ill-fated antiterrorist program announced by the Pentagon in the late summer of 2003. By linking private and government databases, Total Awareness would pick up on every electronic click, ping or chirp created by private citizens in the course of their daily lives.

The very name, Mr. Keefe, points out, was ominous, Orwellian. So was the symbol for the Information Awareness Office, a pyramid with an eye on top surveying planet Earth. "In case anyone had any doubt about the program's intentions, the Web site bore the motto scientia est potentia, 'knowledge is power,' " Mr. Keefe writes. Hastily, the name was changed to Terrorism Information Awareness, but a suspicious Congress strangled the program in its cradle.

That sounds like cause for celebration. But, as Mr. Keefe points out, that program might have noticed when $10,000 was wired to a Florida SunTrust bank account in the name of Mohamed Atta on July 19, 2000, or set off alarm bells when a dozen men, some of them on terrorist watch lists and others with lapsed visas, bought one-way tickets on flights departing at about the same time on Sept. 11, 2001.

Comment: Indeed, but that program was not necessary to tell us also that the purported 9-11 ringleader - Mohammed Atta - according to ABC news, was financed by "unnamed sources in Pakistan."

According to Agence France Presse and the Times of India, an official Indian intelligence report informs us that the 9-11 attacks were funded by money wired to Mohammed Atta from Pakistan, by Ahmad Umar Sheikh, under orders from Pakistani intelligence chief General Mahmoud Ahmad. The report said: "The evidence we have supplied to the U.S. is of a much wider range and depth than just one piece of paper linking a rogue general to some misplaced act of terrorism."

Guess what? General Mahmoud Ahmad was in the U.S. on September 11. Where was General Mahmoud on the morning of September 11, while Dubya was in Florida reading upside down books? Why, the good general just happened to be having breakfast with Florida's senator, Bob Graham - our esteemed chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Also present at breakfast was Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S. Maleeha Lodhi. There were other members of the Senate and House Intelligence committees present.

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Congress Mulls Cutting Food Aid to Poor
By LIBBY QUAID, Associated Press Writer
March 12, 2005

WASHINGTON - Cuts in food programs for the poor are getting support in Congress as an alternative to President Bush's idea of slicing billions of dollars from the payments that go to large farm operations.

Senior Republicans in both the House and Senate are open to small reductions in farm subsidies, but they adamantly oppose the deep cuts sought by Bush to hold down future federal deficits.

The president wants to lower the maximum subsidies that can be collected each year by any one farm operation from $360,000 to $250,000. He also asked Congress to cut by 5 percent all farm payments, and he wants to close loopholes that enable some growers to annually collect millions of dollars in subsidies.

Instead, Republican committee chairmen are looking to carve savings from nutrition and land conservation programs that are also run by the Agriculture Department. The government is projected to spend $52 billion this year on nutrition programs like food stamps, school lunches and special aid to low-income pregnant women and children. Farm subsidies will total less than half that, $24 billion.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said the $36 billion food stamp program is a good place to look for savings.

"There's not the waste, fraud and abuse in food stamps that we used to see. ... That number is down to a little over 6 percent now," he said. "But there is a way, just by utilizing the president's numbers, that we can come up with a significant number there."

Bush is proposing to withdraw food stamps for certain families already receiving other government assistance. The administration estimates that plan would remove more than 300,000 people from the rolls and save $113 million annually. [...]

Anti-hunger and environmental groups are worried.

"Particularly in the House, the members are talking about taking all or most of it from nutrition," said Jim Weill, president of the Washington-based Food Research and Action Center. "There isn't a way to do it that doesn't hurt, because the program's very lean and doesn't give people enough anyhow. The benefits are less than people need. The program's not reaching even three-fifths of the people who are eligible. And the abuse rate is very low and is going down further."

Eric Bost, the Agriculture Department's undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer programs, told a House appropriations panel this week the programs are so efficient now it would be difficult to save money by targeting waste and fraud. [...]

"This amendment just makes sense," said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who sponsored the measure with Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D. "Any reduction in farm spending should be achieved by better targeting farm program payments to small- and medium-sized farmers."

According to Agriculture Department estimates, 78 percent of subsidies go to 8 percent of producers. [...]

Comment: So far this year, we have seen steps taken towards the butchering of social security and the restructuring of medical plans that moves the burden from corporations onto the employee. The US economy is also in bad shape. Recently, it became more difficult for Americans to benefit from declaring bankruptcy. Now Bush wants to cut food stamps.

But don't worry - there will be plenty of money for the military and plenty of military jobs for any and all Americans who aren't millionaires.

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Bush to Name Adviser Hughes to State Post
By ANNE GEARAN, AP Diplomatic Writer
March 12, 2005

WASHINGTON - President Bush will nominate one of his closest longtime advisers to a key State Department post in an effort to help repair the United States' image abroad, especially in the Arab world, a senior administration official said Saturday.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the announcement that Bush has selected Karen Hughes to be undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs will be made early next week, possibly as early as Monday. The position requires Senate confirmation.

The official said that Hughes, 48, will spearhead the administration's campaign to promote democracy in the Middle East.

Hughes, who for years has had a major voice in crafting Bush's domestic message, is a former counselor to the president who left the White House in 2002 to move her family back to Texas.

She has little experience in foreign affairs but enjoys the confidence of the president and is close to the new secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice.

Since leaving Washington, Hughes, a former Texas television reporter, has continued to advise the president from her home in Austin.

As undersecretary, Hughes' main responsibility will be to repair the image of the United States which was badly tarnished abroad by anger over the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq and overthrow its government.

She will be responsible for improving U.S. diplomats' face-to-face contact overseas and will oversee an array of programs, such as radio broadcasts that place American ideas and news before foreign audiences.

The post has been vacant since last summer.

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Prof accused of plagiarism

Nova Scotia school sends CU a report on Churchill essay
By Laura Frank
Rocky Mountain News
March 12, 2005

University of Colorado officials investigating embattled professor Ward Churchill received documents this week purporting to show that he plagiarized another professor's work.Officials at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia sent CU an internal 1997 report detailing allegations about an article Churchill wrote.

"The article... is, in the opinion of our legal counsel, plagiarism," Dalhousie spokesman Charles Crosby said in summarizing the report's findings.

Churchill did not return calls to his home or office Thursday seeking comment.

Dalhousie began an investigation after professor Fay G. Cohen complained that Churchill used her research and writing in an essay without her permission and without giving her credit. Although the investigation substantiated her allegations, Cohen didn't pursue the matter because she felt threatened by Churchill, Crosby said.

Crosby said Cohen told Dalhousie officials in 1997 that Churchill had called her in the middle of the night and said, "I'll get you for this."

Cohen still declines to talk publicly about her experience with Churchill, but she agreed the Dalhousie report could be shared with CU officials, Crosby said, because "whatever concerns she may have about her safety are outweighed by the importance she attaches to this information getting out there."

Crosby declined a request for a copy of the report but said it does not contain information about the alleged threat from Churchill.

It is not clear if CU officials are aware of the alleged threat. A CU spokeswoman said officials there would not comment on any matter related to an ongoing review of Churchill's work.

A three-person panel is reviewing that to determine if he meets the standards of professional integrity set by CU. [...]

In 1991, Churchill edited a book of essays published in Copenhagen, Denmark, which included a piece by Cohen on Indian treaty fishing rights in the Northwest and Wisconsin. When publishers wanted to reprint the essay in the United States, Cohen declined to allow her essay to appear, Crosby said.

So, Churchill penned an essay on the same topic under the name of the Institute for Natural Progress, a research organization he founded with Winona LaDuke. In the contributors section of the book, Churchill said he took the lead role in preparing the essay.

Comment: Firing Churchill for plagiarism would be a very convenient way to get him away from CU and also to make it difficult for him to find another job.

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Ky. Smokers Brace for Cigarette Tax Hike
By BRUCE SCHREINER, Associated Press Writer
Sat Mar 12, 5:03 AM ET

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Kentucky smokers, long accustomed to a barely noticeable cigarette tax, just learned that tobacco isn't as big here as it used to be.

The state's 3-cent-per-pack cigarette tax - the lowest in the nation - is rising by 27 cents June 1, as part of a tax overhaul passed by the General Assembly this week in hopes of solving the state's fiscal woes.

Other major tobacco-producing states including Virginia and North Carolina recently approved or are considering cigarette tax increases, but that hasn't kept Kentucky smokers from feeling singled out. [...]

Gov. Ernie Fletcher, a physician who originally proposed a 31-cent increase, called it a "historic" day for Kentucky, the nation's leading producer of burley tobacco, to increase its cigarette tax.

"This sends a very strong health message to Kentuckians about tobacco and its use," he said. [...]

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Nazi fugitive who ran secret German colony is arrested
By Phil Davison
The Independent
12 March 2005

A former Nazi medic has been arrested in Argentina, after 40 years on the run from multiple child abuse charges in Germany and Chile.

Paul Schaefer, 83, known as "the doctor" for his service as a nurse in the Waffen SS, who is also suspected of aiding in the torture of leftists under the Pinochet regime, was finally captured near Buenos Aires on Thursday.

He is expected to be extradited to neighbouring Chile, where he was convicted in absentia last November of sexually abusing 26 children. His capture is a major coup for Argentinian and Chilean police and secret services, who worked together to track him.

Schaefer was also head of a secretive German "colony'', the Colonia Dignidad, from 1961 until his disappearance nine years ago. Run as his personal fiefdom, the 70 square miles of agricultural land was worked by Germans who lived behind barbed wire, doing 100-hour weeks and apparently afraid to flee.

The few workers who did escape have described him as a mixture of Jim Jones, the leader of the People's Temple cult in Jonestown, Guyana, where 913 people died in a mass suicide in 1978; and David Koresh, who died along with 73 other Branch Davidians in the fire and massacre at Waco, Texas, in 1993.

Schaefer remained in Germany after the Second World War, became a Protestant preacher and, in 1961, was charged with sexually abusing children at a Lutheran orphanage he was running near Bonn. While on bail, he fled to Chile with some of the orphans, Lutheran supporters and Nazi sympathisers, bought the land more than 200 miles south of Santiago and began developing the colony, casting himself as "supreme leader".

At its height, during the military regime of his friend General Augusto Pinochet, it was a state within a state. Pinochet waived taxes and the 300 German workers produced wheat and corn, and exported timber, bratwurst, German pastries and other items via two private airstrips. They built internal railways and tunnels to shift timber. The land and business were said to be worth several billion dollars.

Allowing local farmers and their children to use the compound's 65-bed hospital and its school free, and offering favourable trading terms, gave Schaefer a strong buffer of local support and protection against detractors, curious media visitors and even the Chilean police.

When persistent journalists did reach the remote colony they were routinely intimidated by Chilean farmers and kept at a distance by Schaefer's German guards, who patrolled the perimeter fence with dogs and walkie-talkies.

The secrets of the miniature empire began to emerge after Pinochet fell. Some of Schaefer's victims and former agents spoke out and a few of the workers escaped. They said all babies had been taken from parents at the age of two and handed to Schaefer and his staff. Children had to call him "Our Eternal Uncle". Adults had to work 14 hours a day, seven days a week, without pay.

Then came the sex abuse allegations. "I was just 12 years old but I had to stay all night in his [Schaefer's] bed," said Wolfgang Müller, one of the first to escape. Other similar statements led to last November's conviction in absentia for the sexual abuse of 26 minors.

The allegations did not stop there. After the fall of Pinochet, victims of the regime said they had been imprisoned and tortured at the colony. Some spoke of "the German" or "the doctor who spoke German", who drugged them during interrogation. Pinochet agents confessed they had served in the colony and had seen torture in underground chambers while interrogators played loud music by Wagner or Mozart.

Relatives of the tens of thousands of the disappeared said they believed the colony may have been used to dump bodies during the Pinochet era. Some said their loved ones were last seen in the area near Parral, the town closest to the colony.

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Earthquake shakes southeastern Turkey
Saturday, March 12, 2005 · Last updated 1:49 a.m. PT

ANKARA, Turkey -- An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.7 shook southeastern Turkey on Saturday, causing at least one injury and some structural damage, authorities said.

Gov. Vehbi Avuc of Bingol province said the quake caused some damage in at least four villages. One person was treated for injuries.

"There is no loss of life," Avuc told private NTV television. [...]

Earthquakes are frequent in Turkey, which lies atop active fault lines. Two massive quakes killed some 18,000 people in 1999.

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Earthquake causes panic on Indonesia's Sulawesi island
Posted 01:32pm (Mla time) Mar 12, 2005
Agence France-Presse

Residents fled their homes when the tremor struck, fearing a repeat of the December tsunami that devastated western Indonesia's Sumatra, police in the town told Agence France-Presse.

The undersea earthquake occurred at 12:01 am (1701 GMT Friday) with its epicenter in the Sulawesi Ocean some 140 kilometers (87 miles) east of Manado, the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said.

The center was some 33 kilometers (20 miles) under the ocean floor, the agency said. Saturday's quake follows a tremor measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale that shook the resort island of Bali on Friday.

More than 220,000 people are believed to have died in Indonesia's Aceh province when a magnitude-9.0 earthquake unleashed a tsunami that devastated the coastline in December.

Indonesia is regularly jolted by earthquakes, caused by massive friction between tectonic plates shifting deep below the archipelago.

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Volcano of Fire erupts in Mexico
12.02PM, Sat Mar 12 2005
Lava and ash have been spewing out of Mexico's Volcano of Fire, covering the nearby city of Colima with a light coating of ash.

According to scientists, it is one of Mexico's most active volcanoes.

The eruption showered volcanic ash over the city, but authorities said there was no danger to the residents.

"Yes, ash fell - you could see it on the vehicles and in different parts of the city. And more than anything, you could feel the eruption," said one police officer.

The volcano sent fiery orange lava down its sides on September 29 last year.

The last major eruption happened in 1999, and its first was recorded in 1560.

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Earthquakes and Tsunamis are triggered by Star-quakes – the invisible interconnection between different parts of the Universe
Staff Reporter
Mar. 7, 2005

Computer models are showing an interesting relationship between star-quakes and earthquakes. Supernova, star-quakes and similar burst of energy in the Universe triggers earthquakes and tsunamis.

According to researchers, most of the large earthquakes and Tsunamis happened when there was a burst of energy somewhere in the cosmos.

According to BBC, Astronomers say they have been stunned by the amount of energy released in a star explosion on the far side of our galaxy, 50,000 light-years away.

The flash of radiation on 27 December was so powerful that it bounced off the Moon and lit up the Earth's atmosphere.

The blast occurred on the surface of an exotic kind of star - a super-magnetic neutron star called SGR 1806-20.

One calculation has the giant flare on SGR 1806-20 unleashing about 10,000 trillion trillion watts.

Now computer models are showing that the burst of energy reached the earth slightly before the major earthquake happened which triggered the Tsunami.

Looking at the past, the computer models are finding a clear correlation between earthquakes, major volcanoes, and landslides, Tsunamis with major burst of energies reaching the earth due to earthquakes.

The models are also showing that the galactic cosmos level energy busts dictate intra-planetary tectonic movements.

It seems that the Universe is connected through these cosmos level energy bursts. If this theory is proven true then it can conjecture that major tectonic movements are caused by major events in the Universe. In other words, different parts the Universe is virtually interconnected.

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Return of Duck Muck?

Woman Thinks Plane Dropped Human Waste On Home
Airport Director Doubts Substance Was Sewage From Aircraft
POSTED: 12:08 pm EST March 11, 2005

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- There was no stink, but a woman is convinced that a passing plane dumped human excrement on her home, showering it with a dark goop.

Jennifer Bomgardner returned home from work Tuesday to find a mysterious substance splattered on two sides of her home, her driveway, sidewalk and a neighbor's house.

She and her father, Ivan Richardson, are convinced that the material is human waste dumped from a plane, possibly one visiting nearby Monroe County Airport.

Bomgardner said Thursday that planes approaching the airport to land often fly over her home and one could have dumped waste on her southwest Bloomington neighborhood.

Monroe County health administrator Bob Schmitt visited the home and said the substance resembled tobacco spit.

"I don't know what it is," said Schmitt, who advised Bomgardner to wash away the stuff with soap, water and a brush.

Linda Lawyer, the airport's administrative assistant, said she had also had "no clue whatsoever" what the substance was. "I told her it's the first time in 20 years I've ever heard of such a thing," Lawyer said.

Airport director Rex Hinkle said it was possible, but unlikely, that someone could have dumped sewage from inside a plane.

But he said Tuesday was so cold that any waste dumped from a plane flying at a significant altitude would have frozen solid as it fell to the ground.

Comment: Is this the return of Duck Muck? Read our Signs Muck Supplement and decide for yourself!

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