Saturday, March 19, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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"Man like G W got a great empty hole, right through the middle of him.
He can never kill enough, or steal enough, or inflict enough pain to ever fill it."

"We Weren't in Any Hurry to Call the Medics"

Bush's Herds: Ready to Kick Anyone in the Face
March 17, 2005

Reuters, March 7: "Soldiers depicted in the new video would not face criminal charges, the Pentagon said. One section of the video showed a bound and wounded prisoner sprawled on the ground, and showed his bullet entry and exit wounds. At one point, a US soldier kicked the prisoner in the face. Army documents quoted a soldier at the scene as saying he 'thought the dude eventually died. We weren't in any hurry to call the medics'."

This is no surprise, because there are energetic Christians in America who applaud the murder of wounded prisoners. They think it is wonderful to kill them. They are proud that US soldiers kill helpless people. Doubt me? Read on.

Here is an email sent me following my piece in Counterpunch on March 7, from "Yours sincerely, Todd Hale, Senior Church Image Consultant (", who is one sick citizen, and wrote:

"You asked the question 'What was the reaction of most of the American people to the murder of a wounded, unarmed Iraqi lying helpless and barely conscious on the floor of a mosque in his own country?'

I think, based purely on the exit poll results of the recent Presidential election, re-affirming the current administration's stance on the war on terror, including Iraq, that most of the Americans, or at least 65 some odd million of them again based on the election results would be like mine; "Sucks to be him, he should not be fighting for an evil regime like Saddam Husseins, that aids and supports terrorists and has killed thousands of his own people with chemical weapons, and if said man does fight for Saddam, he risks death, even if he's wounded and lying on the floor of his mosque. I only hope that someone shared the good news of the saving grace of Jesus Christ with him before he died. You asked. May God Bless your liberally challenged mind!" [Emphasis in original.]

Let us all take a deep breath after these kindly words from a devout Christian and consider the rest of the Reuters' report: "Army criminal investigators looked into the matter and decided no criminal charges were warranted against the soldiers. Documents showed that the Army deemed the actions shown on the video "inappropriate" rather than criminal. 'It didn't rise to the level of criminal abuse, according to the investigations,' said LtCol Jeremy Martin, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon. 'Clearly, the soldiers probably exercised poor judgment . . . and I'm sure that they were admonished by their command for their actions'."

Sure; the world can be certain that "their command" took disciplinary action. Like issuing a bag of cookies and ten days' leave. It is incredible to be told that a soldier who kicked a wounded prisoner was considered to have "exercised poor judgment". The US military thug--for he cannot be dignified by the name of 'soldier'--kicked a helpless man in the face, but LtCol Jeremy Martin, US Army, then spits in the faces of all of us when he says that the kicking "didn't rise [he meant, presumably, 'descend'] to the level of criminal abuse". LtCol Jeremy Martin should go join Mr Todd Hale, the equally caring Senior Church Image Consultant, because they would have a lot to agree about.

LtCol Jeremy Martin of the Pentagon has no conscience. He is a robot, poor fellow. He is doing his duty as he sees it, of course, in the same fashion as the Army face-kickers and the Guantanamo Bay torturers and the Marine who murdered the unarmed, wounded prisoner lying semi-conscious on the floor of a mosque in Iraq last November, to the approval of millions of Americans.

He is a performing puppet, an unthinking, manipulated, rag-doll-in-uniform who does his best to please his masters, like countless other grey people for whom individual thought is a terrifying concept.

And this is the big problem for America. It is the little people, the Jeremy Martins of the uniformed brothers and the Todd Hales of the church brothers, who lead the populace in endorsing and actively supporting evil. They are just folks like other folks, of course. They live down the street or on the next block and they have 1.7 kids, an SUV and a couple of bicycles, a liking for the local baseball team, clean living and Church cookouts, and a deep and terrible ignorance of humanity, history, and tolerance.

Does anyone read William Shirer's 'Berlin Diary: Journal of a Foreign Correspondent' nowadays? He was a gifted American reporter who described life in Nazi Germany from 1934 through 1941 (and in 1959 wrote his masterpiece, 'The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich') , but the diary itself is a story of personal despair and recounts the series of Germany's national catastrophes that "slipped inexorably towards the abyss of war and self-destruction".

Bush has plunged America into the abyss of everlasting war, and the parallels between what Bush America is becoming and what Hitler's Germany became in the 1930s are as startling as they are repellent.

In Nuremberg in September 1934, Shirer wrote that "when Hitler finally appeared on the balcony for a moment [the faces in the audience] reminded me of the crazed expressions I saw once in the back country of Louisiana on the faces of some Holy Rollers . . . They looked up to him as if he were a Messiah . . ." and went on to record Hitler's shriek that "We are strong and we will get stronger!"

"There, in the floodlit night . . . the little men of Germany who have made Nazism possible achieved the highest state of being . . .: the shedding of their individual souls and minds--with the personal doubts and responsibilities and problems--until under the mystic lights . . . they were merged in the herd."

And in just such a speech on October 30, 2004 at the Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota (it's on the White House website), Bush said exactly the same thing: "We are strong, and we will get stronger." And there was rapturous applause, just as at Hitler's Nuremberg. " . . . you know where I stand and where I intend to lead this country." [Applause.] Audience: "Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!", just as Hitler was greeted with the adoring mass chant of 'Sieg Heil!, Sieg Heil!, Sieg Heil!'

The little people of America were speaking to Bush. In the words of William Shirer describing Hitler's Germany, these were extremist Americans exactly like the Germans who "achieved the highest state of being . . .: the shedding of their individual souls and minds--with the personal doubts and responsibilities and problems--until under the mystic lights . . . they were merged in the herd."

It was the "little men", the ordinary people of the country, who first allowed and then encouraged Hitler to thrive in the moral sewer that he made Germany become in the Thirties. On March 3, 1934, in a speech in Frankfurt, his vicious associate, Herman Goering declared: "Fellow Germans, my measures will not be crippled by any judicial thinking. My measures will not be crippled by any bureaucracy. I won't have to worry about justice, my mission is only to destroy and exterminate."

The modern Goering, John Bolton, nominated by Bush to be ambassador to the United Nations in a calculated insult to the entire world, believes "It is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international law even when it may seem in our short-term interest to do so." Beware, all those who seek justice, because, as Bolton wrote earlier, "Treaties are 'law' only for US domestic purposes" and have no meaning otherwise. [...]

The historian John Toland wrote in his masterly 'Adolf Hitler' (Doubleday, New York, 1976) that in mid-30s Germany "a revolution was going on, but since it was almost bloodless, many Germans did not, or chose not, to realize it. This preliminary stage of the Revolution was given an innocuous name: 'Co-ordination'. It appeared to be an efficient process of unifying the nation and was received with little alarm." And just as the Patriot Act was thrust under the guard of the American people, so the German Nazis unified their country with promises of better things to come, emphasis on ultra-national pride, and utter contempt for foreigners and those within their national borders who did not conform to the standards of what the Leadership dictated. The Nazi's equivalent of the Patriot Act was the decree "For the Protection of the People and the State" of February 28, 1933, which laid down that:

"Paragraphs 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124, and 153 in the German Reich Constitution are provisionally null and void. Accordingly, the restrictions on personal freedom and the right to express opinions freely, including freedoms of the press, association, and assembly; monitoring of letters, cables, and telephone calls, searches of homes, and expropriation of property, and restrictions thereon, are hereby revoked within the limits previously stipulated in the law."

It is bizarre that not a single US legislator actually read the Patriot Act before voting for it (although one honorable and intelligent senator voted against it and was of course then reviled). It was impossible to read it before voting, given the length of the document, the hundreds of cross-references, and the time available. And millions of Americans who haven't read the Act or know anything about it agree with it completely because they have been brainwashed to embrace fanaticism. The Patriot Act is uncannily similar to Hitler's decree that set Germany on the slide to moral destruction, and unlike the Patriot missile system, it actually works. (During the invasion of Iraq, US Patriot missiles downed a US Navy F-18 and a British Tornado, and a Patriot radar was destroyed by a USAF F-16 before it could be vaporized, too.)

I wrote in May last year that "The Patriot Act alters 15 Statutes. The prerogatives, personal authority and dominance of the president of the United States have been extended to include drastic and quasi-imperial powers that threaten the liberties of all Americans." This followed a speech by Bush to the faithful in the Chocolate Ballroom in Hershey, Pennsylvania when he declared to cheers that "The Patriot Act defends our liberty . . . It's essential law . . . It's a law that is making America safer . . . It doesn't make any sense to scale it back". But if an American dares criticize the president in vehement terms, and that fact is recorded by some busybody, then the FBI can place such information on a citizen's file. (This has happened.) The citizen will never know about this, except through revelation by true American patriots, because the FBI's subpoena cannot be challenged in court and the victim of the Patriot Act is kept in ignorance about its ever being served.

Can this be freedom? No: this is Bush freedom. Which includes the freedom for a US citizen in uniform to kick a manacled prisoner in the face and for the world to be told that his cowardly cruelty was only a matter of "poor judgment". It is the freedom for a US citizen in uniform to kill helpless, wounded, unarmed captives, secure in the knowledge that millions of good Christian Americans, including 'Todd Hale, Senior Church Image Consultant', will approve the murder and defend it against all tenets of law and morality.

Charles Mackay, in his "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds", published in 1841, was of the opinion that "In reading the history of nations we find that . . . millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it until their attention is caught by some folly more captivating than the first. We see one nation suddenly seized, from the highest to its lowest members, with a fierce desire for military glory . . . Men, it has been well said, think in herds . . ." [...]

Brian Cloughley writes on military and political affairs. He can be reached through his website

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Bush Is No Gibbering Halfwit, He's Worse ... He's A Moral Imbecile
March 17, 2005
by Mark Crispin Miller

I've long argued that Bush is not an imbecile -- that he boasts a certain species of political intelligence which we overlook at our own peril. (Also, I agree with others who have argued that he's suffering from some kind of physical or mental deterioration, and has got much worse over the last few years. To which we'd have to add that his ostensibly unbounded power has had its utterly predictable effect on him.) The notion that he's just a gibbering halfwit is a rather pleasurable one to many who detest him. I've always argued, and still think, that the situation is in fact much worse than that.

In one sense, though -- and it's exceedingly important -- Bush is a sort of imbecile: a moral imbecile. How much of this relates to, say, his neurological condition, and how much of it relates to the condition of (what we would have to call) his soul, I don't pretend to know. But there is something definitely missing there. For one thing, he's incapable of what child psychologists call reciprocity. He can't see things from any viewpoint other than his own, which he deems always right because it's his; and if you see things differently you're wrong, and bad, because your viewpoint isn't his. (He's often made it clear that he and God see things exactly the same way.) And then there's his amazing incapacity to recognize the difference between truth and lie. Specifically, he seems to be unable to perceive that his own propaganda lies are propaganda, or -- sometimes? often? -- that they're even lies. He also seems unable to perceive that claims of which he disapproves, or with which he disagrees, are not propaganda.

As I note in Cruel and Unusual, he once rejected the idea that big food corporations ought to be required to list all the ingredients in their products: "I sense they want to run a propaganda campaign," he said -- referring to those who wanted all ingredients clearly listed. On the other hand, when he refers to "history," he's usually referring to some propaganda lie that, since everyone (him included?) bought it, must be precisely what occurred.

So here he is today, refusing or unable to perceive that there is something deeply wrong -- illegal, immoral, unethical and ultimately lunatic -- with his regime's vast covert propaganda program. Since "there is a Justice Department opinion that says ... these pieces are within the law" and "factual," there can be nothing wrong with them, he said.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse -- and neither is denial of reality. To say that he should be impeached does not begin to do him justice.

Mark Crispin Miller is a professor of media studies at New York University, where he directs the Project on Media Ownership. He is the author of The Bush Dyslexicon: Observations on a National Disorder, Cruel and Unusual: Bush/Cheney's New World Order and the one-man show, Patriot Act. Miller's new show, Hard Times, is now running at the New York Theater Workshop

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Bush's New War Tactic Shocking And Awing Americans

Jim Moore

It's an axiom we either understand, or else we continue in stupefied bondage.

That axiom is: You can do anything with people if you scare them; and you scare them by announcing a horrifying possibility; then saying there is no credible evidence of it yet, so don't let it scare you.

That's all it takes, and watch the rabbits run.

There is no more effective scare technique in the world than frightening people, then telling them not to be frightened. This convoluted combination, as a mind implant, does the trick every time.

That's the precise technique used by the Department of Homeland Security in its attempt to "focus anti-terrorism spending better nationwide." This scary "doomsday" concomitant called the National Planning Scenario, identifies possible devastating events, such as a nuclear explosion in a major city, release of a "nerve agent" in office buildings, and a truck bombing in a sports arena. Any of which could kill many thousands of people at one whack.

But this, then, is followed by an admittance that nothing of the sort is, as far as they know, being planned at this time. So don't run for the bomb shelter just yet.

Now, it pays to look closely at what is happening here.

Bear in mind, we already are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on security throughout the country. But (l) much of it is "invisible" to the average American; therefore (2) the idea of more attacks on America has lost its impact; which means (3) it must be brought back to a critical level, to (4) bring in more money which is (5) not easy to come by these days, so it's time for (6) shocking and awing American citizens; hence (7) use of the axiom stated above.

This "axiomatic" action is being promoted by Michael Chertoff, the new secretary of homeland security, on Bush's request 15 months ago for priorities that would address the problem of wasted money by "spreading out" rather than focusing on targets of greatest risk. Why no action was taken on this problem for a year and a half, then suddenly Chertoff, makes it the central theme of his tenure, is anybody's guess.

My guess---and I can guess as well as anyone else--- is that the time is NOW to scare the public silly by "revitalizing" the terrorist threat to America, since it was recently replaced in the public's mind by the Oscars, the Martha Stewart saga, the tragic Schiavo fiasco, and the steroid-saturated sports figures. And what better way to drive terrorism deeper into the psyche than to bring FEAR into the equation at just the right psychological moment.

Being unable, or unwilling, to identify specific terrorist groups, the Chertoff cartel took a page out of the Desert Victory playbook and called these hypothetical acts of terror Universal Adversary, which sounds cosmic enough to cover every conceivable contingency, and scare the pants off the citizenry in the process.

The "authors" of the Universal Adversary report have obviously tried to make each possible attack as realistic as they can----but they also make clear (to cover up the put-on, I suspect) that the FBI is unaware of any credible intelligence indicating that any of these attacks are actually being planned.

Bottom line: more of our money is needed to perpetuate Bush's War on the World, and it is easier gotten by scaring the dollars out of us, because it makes us feel like willing contributors to our own safety and security. Which translates as the "mother of scams."

With this new influx of cash, will the government do a better job of protecting us? In your dreams. It will simply be distributed differently. Much differently.

"We can't spend equal amounts of money everywhere," opined Mr. Mayer of the Homeland Security Department. "The goal has to be to get things down to a manageable checklist," observes Gary C. Scott, the Fire Chief in Gillette, Wyoming. "Our country is at risk of spending ourselves to death without knowing the end site of what it takes to be prepared," quoths David Heyman, director of homeland security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Talk, all talk.

Action to be taken? Prioritize spending nationwide, rank population density, inventory critical infrastructures, and give the "highest value targets" more jurisdiction so they will be eligible for more federal money.

That's how they SAY the money will be used. What they DO with it may be quite another thing.

The Bush administration has Universal Aversaries to deal with. That takes an infinite supply of cash. FEAR is the quickest way to get that cash. Genuflect, everyone. Now you're seeing Harvard-educated, war-oriented, neo-conservative minds in action.

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Bush Says Coalition in Iraq Not Crumbling
By TERENCE HUNT, AP White House Correspondent
Wed Mar 16, 6:31 PM ET

WASHINGTON - President Bush acknowledged Wednesday that U.S. allies are anxious to get out of Iraq but firmly denied the coalition was crumbling. He also said patience was needed to find a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear program.

A day after Italy announced it would begin withdrawing soldiers from Iraq by September, Bush refused to discuss the timing of any U.S. pullout. "Our troops will come home when Iraq is capable of defending herself," he said. [...]

Two years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the coalition of countries that provided troops has fallen from 38 nations to 24, and the United States continues to shoulder the bulk of the outside responsibility and suffer most of the non-Iraqi casualties. Bush said allies want to get out as soon as Iraq can defend itself.

"People want their troops home. But they don't want their troops home if it affects the mission," he said, although few countries have hedged their withdrawals. Asked if the coalition was crumbling, Bush said, "No, quite to the contrary. I think the coalition has been buoyed by the courage of the Iraqi people" in defying death threats to vote.

On neighboring Iran, Bush refused to set a deadline for the Iranians to accept a deal to halt their uranium enrichment program in return for economic incentives. Believing that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon, Bush said the United States would ask the U.N. Security Council to seek sanctions against Tehran if it rejected the offer, but he indicated that would not happen soon.

"I mean, it takes awhile for things to happen in the world. ... There's a certain patience required in order to achieve a diplomatic objective," the president said. [...]

Comment: Considering the push to invade Iraq without international approval and without exhausting all diplomatic means, it is rather ironic that Bush is lecturing the world on the patience required to achieve diplomatic objectives.

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U.S. Troop Reduction Called Possible in '06
By Josh White and Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, March 18, 2005; Page A20

The Army could begin drawing down its troop levels in Iraq as soon as next year in what would be the first significant drop in U.S. forces since the beginning of the war, according to one of the Army's top generals.

Gen. Richard A. Cody, Army vice chief of staff, told defense reporters yesterday that he sees the next rotation of troops in Iraq as smaller than the current standing force of about 138,000 troops, though he declined to speculate on how much smaller. He said top combat commanders are discussing the possibility of a smaller U.S. presence in Iraq over the next two years, a decision that could come as soon as April, when Gen. George W. Casey Jr., who commands the troops in Iraq, meets with defense officials in Washington.

"I think for the next force rotation, we'll start seeing that . . . will be smaller than the force that's in there right now," Cody said. [...]

Comment: How many times have we heard this one before? Then again, it seems the news reports from Iraq have been few and far between these past several days...

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House Approves War Funding

$81.4 Billion Exceeds Combat Request, Trims Other Plans
By Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 17, 2005; Page A23

The House yesterday overwhelmingly approved an emergency war spending bill giving President Bush most, but not all, of the aid he is seeking for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and to help tsunami victims in the Indian Ocean region.

The $81.4 billion bill passed 388 to 43, a rare landslide in an otherwise bitterly divided chamber. Bush applauded the House "for its strong bipartisan support for our troops and for our strategy to win the war on terror."

Despite the bill's easy passage, many lawmakers said they were annoyed to find non-urgent items riding on the back of immediate, combat-related spending needs. Reflecting that frustration, the House stripped out $592 million for a new U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad.

The House included nearly $2 billion more for combat-related spending than Bush had requested. The Army and Marine Corps, which do most of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, are the biggest beneficiaries of the bill, which would provide money to armor trucks and for protective body gear, night-vision devices, handheld mine detection systems, improved radios and medical supplies. Other funding would help the Army expedite its reorganization plans, including the creation of additional combat brigades. [...]

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) said he will seek to preserve the embassy funding in the Senate's version of the supplemental spending bill, now scheduled to be considered in April. [...]

A wild card as the supplemental debate unfolds is the fate of an immigration measure that Republicans attached to the House bill, tightening asylum rules and setting federal standards for driver's licenses.

Sen. Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho) is considering his own immigration amendment that specifically addresses agricultural workers. Critics call it an amnesty program -- exactly the opposite direction of the House provision, setting the stage for a potential showdown when the bill goes to a House-Senate conference for the resolution of differences.

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Who's the Terrorist?
by Ward Churchill
March 09, 2005

Once again what I have said has been turned into the opposite of itself.

First, Dan Caplis, Craig Silverman and numerous other right-wing media spinmeisters asserted that I "advocated" terrorist attacks on the United States in my Op-Ed piece of Sept. 12, 2001. Even a casual reading of that piece, as well as the 300-page book On the Justice of Roosting Chickens in which I more fully explicated and documented my argument, reveals that I did not advocate such attacks. Rather, I pointed out that they were and will continue to be the inevitable result of a U.S. foreign policy that disregards the rule of law and results in massive death and destruction abroad.

Next, the dynamic duo and their colleagues attempted to discredit me through an endless stream of personal attacks. These have failed because the facts, even though not reported in the media, do not support their assertions.

Now, in both a paid ad and a prominently featured Op-Ed piece March 5 in the News ("Churchill's active advocacy of violence demands his firing"), Caplis and Silverman have resorted to the outright lie that I have actively sought to incite "violent revolution."
I have done no such thing. To the contrary, what I have consistently advocated over the years is the rule of law.

The great bulk of my scholarly work has been devoted to documenting the United States' disregard for law and the resulting violence it has perpetrated both domestically and internationally. I believe that such practices inevitably breed violence in response, and that the most effective way to ensure the security of all peoples is adherence to the Constitution and international law, particularly the laws of war and fundamental human rights law.

As citizens, it is our collective responsibility to ensure such compliance with law. This is the actual meaning of the quote on Arabs misrepresented by Caplis and Silverman in both their ad and their Op-Ed. My point was that it is our job to halt the criminal conduct of the U.S. government, rather than leaving the task to those from other countries who suffer the consequences of its illegalities.

Following the position articulated by Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson at Nuremberg in 1945, I believe that we have not only the right but the legal obligation to compel lawful behavior from the government that is acting in our name.

I document the systemic violence perpetrated by the U.S. government in the hope that Americans will take this responsibility to heart and use political means to change government policy. I would vastly prefer that this happen through nonviolent means. However, I cannot say that nonviolence is the only legitimate response to systemic violence.

The principle of self-defense is not mysterious: When one is subjected to aggression, it is the perpetrator, not the victim, who dictates the terms of engagement.

Although I am plainly no pacifist, I have never advocated terrorist attacks on Wall Street, downtown Seattle, or anywhere else. To make it appear otherwise, Caplis and Silverman have taken material out of context and turned it on its head. My comments in this regard, made to a small group of young anarchists gathered in a Seattle bookstore, went to the idea that they would not accomplish anything useful by marginalizing themselves and engaging in random acts of sabotage along the social periphery.

Drawing upon German theorist Rudi Dutschke's concept of "a long march through the institutions," I therefore proposed the alternative that they attempt to work from within the institutional setting, as I myself have done. The "weapons" I referred to were young people's own consciousness and capacity to transmit it. Along the way, I also pointed out that as relatively privileged Euro-Americans, they were ideally situated to undertake such a project.

Caplis and Silverman are seeking for their own reasons to con the public into believing that I am an active proponent of terrorism. This is not only false, it is extraordinarily dangerous. By framing my statements as they have, and then repeatedly broadcasting their spin to a broad audience, there is an obvious possibility that they might actually precipitate an act of terror by some unbalanced individual. Should this turn out to be the case, the responsibility will be theirs, not mine.

Ward Churchill is a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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Quotes From Ward Churchill
By The Associated Press
Fri Mar 18, 4:37 AM ET

Excerpts from an interview with University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill: [...]

On the intensity of the controversy:

"I don't think anybody expected this. I can't say I was running around planning it. I'd like to say that's how effective my method is. Look, man, I riveted the entire nation on - what did I rivet the entire nation's attention on? It's just boilerplate now ... there's no analysis of the content of what I said."


On his students' reaction:

"I think they've gotten kind of bored with it, in a way. Not with the issue but with the nonsense about me personally."


On the frequency of threats:

"The threats have abated greatly, but they still come through. ... Every couple days I get something that could be construed as a death threat."


On why he argued Sept. 11 was the consequence of U.S. policies:

"That's a specific strategy. It was almost a biblical strategy. How does it feel to be treated the way you treat others, you know? Those kids, those people (killed by U.S. actions overseas) died just as ugly a death as anybody in the World Trade Center. 'Collateral damage'? How sterile and dehumanizing is that?"

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Malibu gas station already charging more than $3 a gallon
March 18, 2005

MALIBU, Calif. Are Californians ready to pay three dollars a gallon for gas? Some already are.

The 76 Union station on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu is doing brisk business despite self-serve pumps selling regular unleaded at three dollars, five cents a gallon and supreme unleaded at three dollars, 15 cents.

For Malibu residents who don't want to step out of their luxury cars or SUVs, full serve pumps are selling fuel at three dollars, 33 cents for regular and three dollars, 38 cents for supreme.

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Israel's Broken Record: Attack Iran
Kurt Nimmo
March 13, 2005

It's like a broken record: Israel will attack Iran, Israel will attack Iran. Iran is working on nukes, Iran is working on nukes, even though the International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran is not working on nukes. Now we are told the Israelis have created a mock version of Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment plant in order to practice assaults on the facility. Ha'aretz reports "Israel would use F-15 fighter planes and its air force's elite Shaldag [Kingfisher] unit in the attack."

For months now, Israel has sent the same message over and over: Iran is close to finishing construction on a nuke (call it the George Bush effect; there is no evidence Iran is building a nuke; uranium enrichment is not the same thing as building a nuke, thus Israel is exaggerating and lying as a pretext to attack). Another part of the message is that Iran cannot be trusted, it is a nation of crazed Muslims who want to kill all Israelis. In fact, if Israel has said anything consistently, it is that every single Arab and Muslim wants to kill Jews and push them into the sea.

Last year it was figured the IAEA would be used as a cudgel to beat Iran into submission and impose Iraq-like sanctions on the country. But over the last few months the US and Israel have consistently beat the war drums. Every few weeks Israel comes out with another Iran nuke story. "Heading off Iran's attempt to attain nuclear capability is one of the Mossad's main missions, and the foreign media is one of the most important instruments utilized in this effort," Aluf Benn wrote in Haaretz in 2003. "Mossad agents supply foreign journalists with information about Iran's nuclear efforts; such foreign reports, the Mossad expects, support the international campaign to thwart Iran's nuclear weapons program." Lately, however, Iran has been telling the US and Israel to go suck an egg - it will not stop uranium enrichment, it feels uranium enrichment is in its national interest and Israel and the United States should butt out.

Now we have Mossad agents pulling fire alarms, telling the world they are actually practicing bombing Iran. Mossad, the Likudite faction in Israel, and the Strausscons in the United States want you to know they plan to bomb Iran very soon. If they do this all hell will break loose. Natanz is not Ain Saheb. Iran is not Syria. The Likudites and the Strausscons realize that any attack on Iran would solidify the position of the fundie mullahs. "Tehran, experts expected, could move Iraqi Shiite groups to launch attacks against US occupation forces, already facing a hellish situation amid a bubbling cauldron of chaos and anarchy in the war-scarred country. They can also provide these groups with human and logistic support," Islam Online reported last year. "The Islamic Republic could also use Southern Lebanon, controlled by the Lebanese resistance movement Hizbullah which can not stand neutral regarding an Israeli attack on Iran." As the experts cited by Islam Online see it, this "could spill over to a Syrian-Israeli confrontation."

Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah - three targets at the top of the Likudite-Strausscon mafia hit list. Israel wants to start a war - the Strausscons call it World War IV - and get the United States to fight it. [...]

For the Strausscons and Israelis, bombing Iran is a way to up the ante and set in motion a series of events that will result in total war. In order to for the American people to find the "stomach" (as the Strausscon godfather, Norman Podhoretz, deems it) for total war, a few terrorist events closer to home may be required. Mossad has plenty of experience pulling off such events.

Israel, however, did not learn its lesson in southern Lebanon. "The increasingly effective operational capabilities of the resistance prove once more that it takes a small group of determined fighters armed with light arms and 'weighty' faith to expose zionist pretentious claims to invincibility and omnipotence as nothing short of a hollow myth," Khalil Osman wrote in 1998, before Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon.

It will be a "hollow myth" that drives the Likudite-Strausscon war against the Arab and Muslim Middle East. It is no longer 1920 and the Arabs are not so easily divided and ruled. If Israel attacks Iran, a Hezbollah-styled resistance will spread across the Middle East and may even join together with the Sunni resistance in Iraq, even though the corporate media loves to tell us the Shia want nothing more than to put down the Sunni rebellion. Regardless of what the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times says, at the end of the day the common enemy is the US-Israel alliance.

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Thursday, March 17, 2005
RIA Novosti

MOSCOW, March 17 -Yesterday, Chief of the Russian General Staff Yury Baluyevsky left for China to settle a scandal over the first Russian-Chinese military exercise, Commonwealth-2005, which is due to be held this fall off the Yellow Sea coast, writes Kommersant.

The initial plans were to practice operational teamwork in combating terrorism during the exercise. However, Beijing, skillfully changing the format of the exercise, has tried to re-orient the two countries' armies to practicing an invasion of Taiwan.

The choice of where the exercise will take place became a stumbling block. The Russian military selected the Xinjiang-Uigur autonomous region, basing their choice on the area's problematic nature due to Uigur separatists and its proximity to Central Asia, which has become an arena in the fight against international terrorism. However, Beijing flatly rejected the proposal. Instead, it suggested the Zhejiang province near Taiwan.

A joint exercise in this area would look too provocative and trigger a strong reaction not only from Taiwan but also America and Japan, which recently included the island in the zone of their common strategic interests.

Beijing is trying to use Russia as an additional lever of pressure on the disobedient island to show it that its policy is also causing dissatisfaction in Russia, from which the Taiwanese are expecting assistance in their dialogue with Beijing and bid to join the WTO and the UN.

On the Russian military's insistence, the exercise was shifted north to the Shangdong peninsula. However, the Chinese are trying to change the format of the exercise with proposals to enlarge the contingents with Marines and Pacific Fleet warships. Marine landings to seize the area will be practiced during the "antiterrorist" exercise.

Russia's agreement to hold the exercise will inevitably cause a furor in America, Japan and Taiwan. But a refusal will spoil relations with China, which three months ago courteously agreed to Russia's proposal to hold an exercise.

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Leonid Shebarshin: “The Next Target of the US will be Iran”
Bakhtiar Akhmedkhanov,
journalist with RIA Novosti
For three and a half years, Russia has been using US rhetoric about the “war on international terrorism” for its own ends and has refrained from any commentary on the attacks of 11 September 2001. Breaking with this position, the former number 2 of the KGB, Leonid Shebarshin, affirms that “international terrorism” is not real and that Osama bin Laden is still today a CIA agent. In an exclusive interview with RIA Novosti, distributed outside of Russia by the Voltaire Network, he analyses the oil-based motives of the bellicosity of Washington and shows that the Pentagon’s strategy leads inexorably to war in Afghanistan yesterday, in Iraq today, and in Iran tomorrow.

Two years ago, when the entire world wondered whether or not there would be war in Iraq, the former chief of the First department of the KGB of the USSR, Leonid Shebarshin, said in private: “The war is inevitable, but Iraq won’t be the last. The next will be against Iran.” His estimates and predictions have shown themselves to be extremely accurate in the past. It was not in the upholstered offices of Moscow that this general studied the Middle East. For many years, he learned on the ground as a resident of many countries, notably Iran at the beginning of the Islamic revolution, one of the most complex periods in the history of that country. [...]

Is there a link between the situation around Iraq and the war waged against international terrorism?

Leonid Shebarshin: There is none. Even the term “international terrorism” is nothing more than a subtle invention of US propaganda. And I must say that it would be difficult to do better than that. “International terrorism” has declared war upon us, says the US, and because of this, we can attack everywhere we find its adherents. From now on, under the banner of the world war against bin Laden, we can attack sovereign States, overthrow undesirable governments and replace them by quislings. How convenient.

Comment: The Russians have said little about 9/11, preferring to exploit the war on terror for their own ends. Is this silence about to end? With their own network of intelligence agencies and sources, not to mention eavesdropping and spy techology from satellites to bugs and wiretaps, the Russians must know a lot about the real events of 9/11.

Then again, what might the Bush Reich have on Putin that prevents him from speaking out?

It's a filthy game, international politics. No matter how hard one might wish for the arrival of the Knight in White Armour to arrive on the scene, we have only one Darth Vader after another.

If we do not become the White Knight ourselves, who else will do it?

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Russia, EU leaders discuss Syria, Iran 2005-03-19 11:38:05
PARIS, March 18 (Xinhuanet) -- Leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Spain here on Friday called for Syria's complete and rapid withdrawal from Lebanon, and voiced their joint stance that Iran must not produce and possess nuclear arms.

"We confirm our commitment to the full implementation of (UN) Security Council resolution 1559 for a sovereign, independent and democratic Lebanon," French President Jacques Chirac, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said in a joint statement issued after their summit.

"This implementation involves the complete withdrawal of Syrian armed forces and security services which must leave Lebanese territory rapidly," said the statement.

The four leaders also expressed their joint position on Iran's nuclear issue at a joint conference after their talks in this French capital.

"We are working very closely on the Iran question," Schroeder said, noting they were trying to "convince the Iranians they must not produce or possess nuclear arms."

Chirac, for his part, said there was "no contradiction between the Russian position and the position that Britain, Germany and France together are negotiating" that both try to ensure Iran is not building nuclear weapons.

Russia, which is aiding the construction of Iran's first nuclear power station, has signed an agreement with the Iranian government for the return of spent fuel, Putin said.

"Iran must prove that it refuses totally the acquisition of nuclear weapons," Putin said. "We will meet the agreement signed (with Iran) but we will attentively monitor Iran's level of cooperation with international organizations to control nuclear technologies."

Putin's view was echoed by Schroeder. "Russia ships fuel and takes it back," he said. "The fuel is not processed, nor is it enriched and cannot be enriched in Iran."

Comment: We wonder what these four leaders discussed that wasn't mentioned publically? Is it a coincidence that they have this summit on the heels of the appointment of John Bolten to the UN and the nomination of Paul Wolfowtiz to the World Bank?

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Beirut car bomb injures 9
Last Updated Sat, 19 Mar 2005 08:15:57 EST
CBC News
BEIRUT - A car bomb went off in northern Beirut early Saturday, wounding at least nine people and destroying part of a building.

Police said they don't yet know the target of the attack, which hit the predominantly Christian neighbourhood of New Jdeideh.

It came amid political unrest following the Feb. 14 assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri.

Syria has denied Lebanese and international accusations that it was behind the explosion that destroyed Hariri's motorcade, but has withdrawn its roughly 14,000 troops in Lebanon to eastern parts of the country.

Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese have taken to the streets in demonstrations – both for and against Syria – since Hariri was killed.

Many Maronite Christians have been among those protesting against Damascus's interference in Lebanon.

Saturday's explosion raised fears that people who support Syria might resort to violence to convince others that Damascus should keep its troops in the country to ensure stability.

"This has been the message to the Lebanese people for a while, to sow fear and terror among Lebanese citizens," Christian opposition member Pierre Gemayel told Al-Jazeera satellite television.

He said the message is "if there is a Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, look what Lebanon will face."

Witnesses to the bombing said they saw a driver try to stop a car in front of a bingo hall. After security guards insisted it be moved, it was parked further down the road and exploded minutes later.

The blast ripped off the front wall off a building, showering people, cars and shops with debris.

It hit after two days of attacks on Syrian workers in Lebanon.

Bombings have been rare since Lebanon's civil war ended in 1990.

Comment: There has been no evidence offered in the month since the killing of Hariri that it was in fact Syria that was responsible. The results of the bombing, that is, the lessening of Syrian presence in Lebanon, points away from Syria as the culprit. It is much more likely that those who are profiting from the anti-Syrian demonstrations were behind the killing of Hariri as well as today's bombing. In fact, since the initial demonstrations of the Lebanese intifada, rechristened the "Cedar Revolution" for export to the US, it appears that the momentum has shifted towards the pro-Syrian groups. What better way to stir things up and take back the momentum than a car-bombing aimed at a Christian neighborhood. Mossad certainly has no love for Christians, and given they are willing to kill a few Jews to achieve their ends, they would be unlikely to refrain from killing Christians in Lebanon.

Mossad undoubtedly has agents in Lebanon, and these most likely include a few compromised Syrians. What better way to set up their enemies the Syrians than to implicate these compromised elements in a series of bombings.

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US defense strategy stresses uncertainty, preemption 2005-03-19 08:14:39

WASHINGTON, March 18 (Xinhuanet) -- The Pentagon on Friday released its annual National Defense Strategy that emphasizes agility to deal with strategic uncertainty and preventative actions, including pre-emptive strikes, to deal with potential crises.

Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith said at a news conference that three of the main ideas concerning the defense strategy are: the need to deal with strategic uncertainty; the value of early measures to prevent problems from becoming crises, or crises from becoming wars; and the importance of building partnership capacity.

The unclassified National Defense Strategy is the guidance for the Pentagon to implement the National Security Strategy issued in Sept. 2002. It also serves as the foundation for the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) process, expected to be completedby early next year.

Feith said the new defense strategy reaffirmed the key concepts that were the framework for the QDR of 2001, and also "incorporate lessons learned over the last four years."

"The world has changed very substantially since the end of the Cold War," he said." The kinds of structures that existed during the Cold War don't now exist. That's part of the reason that we're emphasizing strategic uncertainty."

Comment: Yup, the US has done its best to emasculate the UN, the only forum where all countries have a voice. Not that the US has ever listened to any voice that wasn't telling it what it wanted to hear. Remember George getting his marching orders directly from God?

Feith said "early measures," or preventive measures, were a critical component of active, layered defense. "These are all actions that are taken to prevent problems from becoming crises, as I said, and crises from becoming wars," he said.

Feith said the term "preventive" is not the same thing as preemption, but he defended the pre-emptive policy adopted by the Bush administration. "Under the most dangerous and compelling circumstances, prevention might require the use of force," he said.

Comment: So "preventitive" is not the same thing as "preemptive", except in the cases where it is.

The new defense strategy defines four strategic objectives, Feith said. The first is securing the United States from direct attack. The second is securing strategic access and retaining freedom of action for key regions and lines of communication and the global commons.

Comment: So the US can put a military base in a country such as Kirghizistan, on the Chinese border, and then justify an internvention on the basis that it needs to maintain its "lines of communication". When it speaks of the global commons", it means nothing more than those areas where US business needs to operate freely in order to assure the supply to the mother ship, er, mother country. In other words, the US has the right to intervene when and when it desires to protect, not the US people, but US capital.

The third objective, he said, is strengthening alliances and partnerships. And the fourth is establishing security conditions conducive to a favorable international order.

Comment: Based upont the US's vision, and only the US's vision, of what "international order" might be. Do we have any remaining illusions as to what that might mean?

At the news conference, Rear Admiral William Sullivan, vice director of the Pentagon's Strategy, Plans and Policy Office, alsounveiled the parallel National Military Strategy. The military strategy makes operational guidance for implementing the National Defense Strategy.

"It talks about protecting the homeland, about preventing conflicts and surprise attacks, and about prevailing, in the event that we actually need to get into conflict," Sullivan said.

"The principles that are espoused stress agility, the ability to react quickly," he said. "And it really stresses jointness and integration, and as I mentioned, not just integration among the services, but integration with our friends and allies."

Comment: Ah, yes. "Prevailing". Like in Iraq.

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Fate of US$4b Iran-Pak-India gas pipeline hangs in doubt 2005-03-19 20:37:44
By Rong Shoujun
ISLAMABAD, March 19 (Xinhuanet) -- The fate of the 4 billion US dollars trans-Pakistan gas pipeline, to energize India's power hungry industrial sector with Iranian gas, seems to hang in balance after increasing US pressure on the participating countries to abandon the project.

US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice in her talks with the Pakistani and Indian leaders during her visit early this week to the Asian countries did not mince words about the US concerns over the gas pipeline project.

"We've voiced our concerns to the Indian Government about the gas pipeline with Iran. It's not only with India. We've similarly talked to Japan about a gas project that they would have because the United States has sanctions on Iran for good reasons," Rice said.

Under a US law or the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996, George Bush can penalize any foreign firm that invests more than 20 million dollars in the energy sectors of either country.

The Untied States has been exerting increasing pressure on Iran to abandon its nuclear program, which it says was intended to build weapons rather for peaceful uses.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz who had been touting the project as a peace-pipeline put the issue on the top of his agenda during a recent visit to Iran.

After his talks with the Iranian leadership, it was announced that petroleum ministers of Pakistan, Iran and India would meet in Islamabad in the third week of March to discuss "feasibility and technical" details, but the proposed meeting has now been postponed.

While there has been no cogent reason for the postponement of the meeting, both Pakistan and India deny any pressure to give up the project.

"We have traditional good relations with Iran. We expect Iran will fulfill all of its obligations with regard to the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty)," Indian External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh said after meeting Rice in New Delhi.

Pakistani Prime Minister Aziz also denied any pressure on Islamabad to dump the deal. "We have no pressure," he said recently when asked about any such demands from the United States. He rather hoped the final decision would be made by the end of the year.

But political analysts believed Washington would continue to mount pressure on Pakistan and India against the project.

"I think the Americans are tightening the noose and trying to make sure that Iran is not helped by India or Pakistan in any way,because they know the Iranians are desperate to get projects like the gas pipeline through," Pakistani political commentator and newspaper editor Najam Sethi said.

Iran contains an estimated 286.6 trillion cubic meter in provennatural gas reserves -- the world's second largest and surpassed only by those found in Russia.

Indian Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar was the first to disclose the increasing US pressure on India after a meeting with the US envoy in New Delhi, David Mulford, ahead of Rice's visit.

"All of us have noted what the US concerns are but I think theytoo are aware of our energy security requirements," Aiyar said.

The Iranians, already weary of Washington's negative approach towards it, have reacted angrily to the US intervention in the deal.

"If they (the Americans) can not help in increase of regional cooperation and stability, they should at least avoid creating difficulties. India, Iran and Pakistan are independent countries and take their own decisions," said a statement issued after the Singh-Mulford meeting.

The 2,775 km pipeline proposed in 1996 never took off mainly owing to shaky relations between the two rivals India and Pakistan.

India initially showed reluctance over the passage of gas line through Pakistan, citing security reasons and tying the project with the string of conditions that include the Most Favored Nationstatus from Pakistan.

But it finally indicated its willingness to join unconditionally after Pakistan vowed to go ahead alone. The pipeline if constructed could be operational by 2009.

Pakistan is eager for the project because it would have access to the gas and earn an estimated 600 million dollars a year in transit fees.

However apart from the US pressure, the project faces other security risks.

The recent spate of attacks on Pakistan's natural gas installations and pipelines in southwestern Balochistan province by insurgents remains a serious threat.

But the Pakistani leadership has time and again reiterated to take all measures to safeguard its national assets. "We have assured India a secure energy corridor. This is a win-win proposition for Iran, India and Pakistan," Prime Minister Aziz said.

Comment: Of course the US will do anything it can to scuttle the deal. They want the gas in Iran to be under US control after there has been "regime change" in Teheran.

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Putin reiterates support for China's stance on Taiwan issue 2005-03-19 10:28:07
PARIS, March 18 (Xinhuanet) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin said here Friday that China has the right to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity and to realize national reunification.

"Both the former Soviet Union and Russia have all along supported China's efforts to maintain territorial integrity," Putin told reporters after his summit meeting with the leaders of France, Germany and Spain.

"We understand the endeavor of the Chinese leadership in this regard. Our position remains unchanged," Putin said, commenting the Taiwan question and an anti-secession law adopted recently by China's parliament, the National People's Congress.

As for the arms embargo of the European Union on China, Putin said Russia and the European countries should work together on exchanges with China on arms and other areas as it will facilitate high-tech cooperation among the countries.

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A New Screen Test for Imax: It's the Bible vs. the Volcano
Published: March 19, 2005
The fight over evolution has reached the big, big screen.

Several Imax theaters, including some in science museums, are refusing to show movies that mention the subject - or the Big Bang or the geology of the earth - fearing protests from people who object to films that contradict biblical descriptions of the origin of Earth and its creatures.

The number of theaters rejecting such films is small, people in the industry say - perhaps a dozen or fewer, most in the South. But because only a few dozen Imax theaters routinely show science documentaries, the decisions of a few can have a big impact on a film's bottom line - or a producer's decision to make a documentary in the first place.

People who follow trends at commercial and institutional Imax theaters say that in recent years, religious controversy has adversely affected the distribution of a number of films, including "Cosmic Voyage," which depicts the universe in dimensions running from the scale of subatomic particles to clusters of galaxies; "Galápagos," about the islands where Darwin theorized about evolution; and "Volcanoes of the Deep Sea," an underwater epic about the bizarre creatures that flourish in the hot, sulfurous emanations from vents in the ocean floor.

"Volcanoes," released in 2003 and sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and Rutgers University, has been turned down at about a dozen science centers, mostly in the South, said Dr. Richard Lutz, the Rutgers oceanographer who was chief scientist for the film. He said theater officials rejected the film because of its brief references to evolution, in particular to the possibility that life on Earth originated at the undersea vents.

Carol Murray, director of marketing for the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, said the museum decided not to offer the movie after showing it to a sample audience, a practice often followed by managers of Imax theaters. Ms. Murray said 137 people participated in the survey, and while some thought it was well done, "some people said it was blasphemous."

In their written comments, she explained, they made statements like "I really hate it when the theory of evolution is presented as fact," or "I don't agree with their presentation of human existence."

On other criteria, like narration and music, the film did not score as well as other films, Ms. Murray said, and over all, it did not receive high marks, so she recommended that the museum pass.

"If it's not going to draw a crowd and it is going to create controversy," she said, "from a marketing standpoint I cannot make a recommendation" to show it."

In interviews, officials at other Imax theaters said they had similarly decided against the film for fear of offending some audiences.

"We have definitely a lot more creation public than evolution public," said Lisa Buzzelli, who directs the Charleston Imax Theater in South Carolina, a commercial theater next to the Charleston Aquarium. Her theater had not ruled out ever showing "Volcanoes," Ms. Buzzelli said, "but being in the Bible Belt, the movie does have a lot to do with evolution, and we weigh that carefully."

Pietro Serapiglia, who handles distribution for the producer Stephen Low of Montreal, whose company made the film, said officials at other theaters told him they could not book the movie "for religious reasons," because it had "evolutionary overtones" or "would not go well with the Christian community" or because "the evolution stuff is a problem."

Hyman Field, who as a science foundation official had a role in the financing of "Volcanoes," said he understood that theaters must be responsive to their audiences. But Dr. Field he said he was "furious" that a science museum would decide not to show a scientifically accurate documentary like "Volcanoes" because it mentioned evolution.

"It's very alarming," he said, "all of this pressure being put on a lot of the public institutions by the fundamentalists."

Comment: Entropy ends up as a black hole, where light cannot escape. We see the process occuring in the United States these days. Light arises when ideas and points of view meet and clash, permitting the spark of discovery, the spark of something new to arise when limited ways of seeing the world are forced to expand their purview and accomodate new data.

Bible-thumping true believers, like any true believer, have no arena for growth because new ideas are banned. Imagine a writer who only wrote new works by cutting and pasting selections from past works, rearranging the ideas in a different order, placing the same characters in the same situations, over and over again. Kind of like Hollywood blockbusters, the same formula repeated ad nauseum. Obviously there is a large market for such products, but they lack any touch of creativity.

Or imagine a world lived according to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, or even the entire world of the Middle Earth created by J.R.R. Tolkein. What was good or bad, right or wrong, permitted or prohibited would be decided by a close reading of Tolkein's books. While moral principals might be found in the books, principals that might be good words to live by, what would happen if the readers began taking the word of Tolkein literally? The history of our world would be based upon the history of the Middle Earth, not as allegory but as fact. Data that disproved the stories of the Rings would be ignored; worse yet, those who promoted such data might be marginalised or put away so they didn't pervert the beliefs of the good, Tolkein-fearing faithful. Some people might decide to live only with the technologies available to the Hobbits, eschewing computers, the Internet, etc.

How would we consider such people? We might think they were mad.

Why do Bible believers get off so easily?

Such is the state of the union in many parts of the United States today. It doesn't help that mainstream science is as much of a Church as Christianity with its Popes and Cardinals and its list of forbidden books. Fundamentalist religion and mainstream science in the English-speaking world (because it is not so pronounced yet in other regions) face off in a phoney confrontation where each ignore the data from the other side that conflicts with their established beliefs. If Christianity and other religions as we know them today are a blind, they are a blind concealing a profound truth. If science ignores data that doesn't fit to its established theories, it will never produced theories that can explain the anomalous. By circumsribing their field of activity, they comndemn themselves to failure -- if in fact their goal is understanding of our workd, ourselves, and our place in the universe. If their goals are other than that, then they are succeeding brilliantly.

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Tom DeLay volcano threatens the GOP
Posted on Sat, Mar. 19, 2005
Los Angeles Times editorial

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, accuses his critics of using “fiction and innuendo” to accuse him of a string of ethical breaches. If it’s that simple, why would House Republicans, led by Speaker Dennis Hastert, have bothered to purge the ethics committee of its leader, Rep. Joel Hefley, R-Colo., two other GOP legislators and several staffers?

Matters have since gotten worse, with the revelation that an Indian tribe and a gambling services firm picked up most of the cost of a lavish trip to Britain that DeLay took in 2000 with his wife and several aides. And, it turns out, a foreign agent picked up the tab for DeLay, his wife and two other GOP legislators on a 2001 trip to South Korea. DeLay says he wants to appear before the ethics committee to explain his actions. He’s perfectly safe in offering. There is no functioning committee because Democrats have refused to sign on to watered-down ethics rules passed by the GOP in January.

There has been little enthusiasm in either party for vigorous ethics enforcement since 1997 when legislators reprimanded and fined former House Speaker Newt Gingrich an unprecedented $300,000 for fund-raising violations. The DeLay case is forcing the issue. By demolishing the ethics committee rather than getting out in front of criminal investigations, House leaders weaken the politically vulnerable among their own rank and file.

Comment: The myth of a two-party system in the United States should have taken a beating during the last campaign. The Democrats ran the election in such a way as to assure their defeat, from the candidate chosen to the strategy employed. Rigged voting machines in numerous states didn't hurt either. That the Democrats didn't raise a stink about the results is a good indicator of complicity.

The lies of the Bush Reich, the ethical scandals from WorldCom to Enron to the illegal invasion of Iraq and homosexual prostitution in the White House, the false flag operation of 9/11 and the official cover-up have all gone unchallenged by the official opposition in the US. They are all in it together. Official culture has produced a psychopathic government that is completely divorced from the needs of the people it claims to represent.

Then, again, when the Bible brigade is able to sow such fear that Imax films on science are not shown in science museums, one may also speculate that indeed the American people have the government they deserve and that it does represent them. We say this well aware that many Americans are in strong disagreement with the Bush Reich, they cringe at his smirk and his strut when he takes the stage. They are embarrassed that Bush is the new icon for their country. Unfortunately, by refusing to recognise and admit the dire straits into which the country has been led by Bush's government, and here the question of 9/11 is vital, they become part of the problem. They are blinded by their own goodness, by their inability to conceive of ruthlessness on the level of those who would orchestrate attacks on their own country to further their agenda. They project their own motivations onto the cipher they have as president and those around him.

Until Americans are able to see reality, to see past the lies and the goofy illusion that bathes Bush in a light that precludes the possibility that he is truly evil, the country will continue on its path towards its destruction. When the economy crashes, their life savings will be wiped out. They will lose their homes. Perhaps then, and only then, will they receive a shock with enough force to knock the blinders from their eyes.

The scream unleashed that day as they stand naked in front of the horror of their own blindness and credulity will be heard round the world.

But perhaps then, and only then, will things be able to change.

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RCMP plan to seize shopping carts from homeless
Last Updated Fri, 18 Mar 2005 21:24:29 EST
CBC News
KELOWNA, B.C. - Street people in the B.C. Interior city of Kelowna have been told by the RCMP they have until April 1 to surrender their shopping carts – or have them seized.

The police said the carts, worth up to $350 each, are stolen property. They said they're simply enforcing the law after complaints by the city and the business community.

But homeless people, who can often be seen trundling around Kelowna's downtown core with everything they own on the carts, said they're crucial for the survival.

"These are really these people's homes. They carry their homes in their shopping carts," said Bob, who is homeless.

"Then they get it taken away. Their sleeping bag is gone. Their clothes are gone. And they call us bums, right, because they took our stuff."

Anti-poverty advocates accused the police of targeting the poor. [...]

Comment: It is easy to target the homeless. Popular culture portrays them as useless, most probably former patients in mental wards let loose on the streets, living without contributing to society. They are bums. They are also disenfranchised. There is no homeless lobby on Parliament Hill in Ottawa or in Washington. But their presence on the streets makes the good, hard-working folks uneasy. In other words, they are an easy target. Cracking down on the homeless lets the good people think that the authorities are doing their job, protecting them and their children.

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Former Connecticut governor jailed for graft
Last Updated Fri, 18 Mar 2005 23:47:21 EST
CBC News
NEW HAVEN, CONN. - A former governor of Connecticut was sentenced to a year in prison and four months' house arrest Friday after confessing to selling his office for more than $100,000 in gifts.

John Rowland, who was one of the fastest-rising stars of the Republican Party before being felled by the corruption scandal, told the judge he let pride and "a sense of entitlement" distort his moral judgment. [...]

Rowland quickly rose through Connecticut politics, becoming a congressman at 27 and the youngest governor in the state's history at 37.

More than a dozen former governors have done prison time, including in recent years Edward DiPrete of Rhode Island and Edwin Edwards of Louisiana.

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US denial of visa to Gujarat official regretful: Singh 2005-03-19 18:17:25
NEW DELHI, March 19 (Xinhuanet) -- Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday expressed "deep concern" and "regret" over the US decision not to grant a visa to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Indo-Asian News Service reported.

"Our government has clearly pointed out our very deep concern and regret over the US decision to deny a visa to a constitutionally elected chief minister of a state of our union," Manmohan Singh said in the upper house of parliament.

"I share the concern that has been expressed in this matter on all sides of the House.

"When I came to know of the denial of visa to Modi yesterday, Iimmediately instructed our external affairs ministry to call on the US ambassador and explain to them that we are greatly concerned and we greatly regret the decision that has been taken by the United States government."

Modi was denied a visa Friday on grounds of "serious violation of religious freedom," a reference to the alleged complicity of his government in the communal violence in Gujarat in 2002 in which hundreds of Muslims were killed.

"We have also called for the urgent reconsideration of this decision by the US government," Singh said.

Comment: If religious persecution were the real reason, wouldn't the US refuse to allow Ariel Sharon into the country?

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Kuwait denies "secret contacts" with Israel 2005-03-18 21:00:02
KUWAIT CITY, March 18 (Xinhuanet) -- Kuwait on Friday brushed aside Israeli claims that "secret contacts" were held between Tel Avivand some Arab and Islamic countries including Kuwait.

Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Sabah made the denial in a statement to Al-Rai Al-Aam daily on Friday.

"We are used to these claims from the Israeli side, which plants false news that are near to wishful thinking than reality," the minister was quoted as saying.

"Our position is clear, no normalization, no contacts nor dealings with the Israeli side but until comprehensive and just peace prevails," underlined Al-Sabah.

"This is a firm Kuwaiti position from which we will not deviate," he said.

Israeli Foreign Ministry director general had claimed that the ministry was contacting Kuwait, Dubai, Oman, Bahrain, Chad,Morocco, Tunisia, Pakistan and Indonesia.

The ministry's spokesman had also claimed that the Jewish state was undergoing official "secret" contacts with these countries.

He also confirmed Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom's previous announcement that Tel Aviv was negotiating with 10 Arab countries, some of which are Gulf states.

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Girl, 5, Cuffed, Arrested, Thrown in Police Car

Friday, March 18, 2005

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A 5-year-old girl was arrested, cuffed and put in back of a police cruiser after an outburst at school where she threw books and boxes, kicked a teacher in the shins, smashed a candy dish, hit an assistant principal in the stomach and drew on the walls.

The students were counting jelly beans as part of a math exercise at Fairmount Park Elementary School when the little girl began acting silly. That's when her teacher took away her jelly beans, outraging the child.

Minutes later, the 40-pound girl was in the back of a police cruiser, under arrest for battery. Her hands were bound with plastic ties, her ankles in handcuffs.

"I don't want to go to jail," she said moments after her arrest Monday.

No charges were filed and the girl went home with her mother. [...]

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Web to have 'terror watch' team

Friday, 18 March, 2005
BBC News

Five European governments are setting up a hi-tech team to monitor how terrorists and criminals use the net.

The group will make recommendations on shutting down websites that break terrorism laws.

The plans for the initiative came out of a meeting of the G5 interior ministers in Spain that discussed ways to tackle these threats.

The five countries also agreed to make it easier to swap data about terror suspects and thefts of explosives.

The interior ministers of Spain, Britain, France, Germany and Italy - the G5 - met in Granada this week for an anti-terrorism summit.

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Tsunami Reveals Sunken Indian Treasure
Associated Press
Thursday, March 17, 2005

Mahabalipuram, India - For a few minutes, after the water had receded far from the shore and before it came raging back as a tsunami, the fishermen stood along the beach and stared at the reality of generations of legends.

Or so they say. Spread across a kilometre, the site was encrusted with barnacles and covered in mud. But the fishermen insist they saw the remains of ancient temples and hundreds of refrigerator-sized blocks, all briefly exposed before the sea swallowed them up again.

"You could see the destroyed walls covered in coral, and the broken-down temple in the middle," said Durai, a sinewy fisherman who, like many south Indians, uses only one name. "My grandfathers said there was a port here once and a temple, but suddenly we could see it was real, we could see that something was out there."

Whatever they saw is back under water and out of sight. But a few hundred yards away, something else came to the surface. The tsunami scrubbed away two metres of sand from a section of beach, uncovering a small cluster of long-buried boulders carved with animals, gods and servant girls. [...]

And there's something else the tsunami gave back - tourists, drawn by heated headlines in the Indian media about a rediscovered Atlantis.

"People are coming to see what the tsunami dug up," said Timothy, who sells sea shells and plastic palm trees at a beachside souvenir stand. "Only because of these new things are people coming." [...]

On sunny weekend days hundreds of people now come to take a look at the carvings and splash their feet in the ocean.

"Business is good these days," Timothy said, smiling.

But what did those fisherman see? Archaeologists laugh at the tales of Atlantis and say it may take years of undersea exploration to uncover the truth. [...]

Archaeologists say excavations on shore and at sea were already under way before the tsunami struck, and that divers made promising finds of barnacle-encrusted blocks that appear man-made.

So officially, researchers express little surprise at what was exposed.

"The tsunami didn't do very much at all," said Alok Tripathi, who runs the excavations for the Archaeological Survey of India. He dismisses the talk of 20 temples offshore, saying the fisherman believe "every stone is a temple."

But anonymously, fearing they'd be seen as callous, some researchers quietly acknowledge the tsunami revealed more than expected.

"From an archaeological perspective, maybe the tsunami was good. We found some new things," said one, pointing to the exposed boulders. [...]

Comment: On the one hand, we are told that fishermen - like everyone else who isn't an archaeologist - think that "every stone is a temple". On the other hand, the same "scientists" note that barnacle-encrusted blocks that appeared to be man-made were discovered by divers. The carved boulders revealed by the tsunami are also certainly not just the imagination of the locals.

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Scientists unravel X factor
Thursday, March 17, 2005

Scientists have cracked the genetic code of the female X chromosome, which is linked to more than 300 human diseases and may help to explain why women are so different from men.

The chromosome contains 1,100 genes or about 5 per cent of the human genome.

It also holds information that may help to improve the diagnosis of illnesses ranging from haemophilia, blindness and autism to obesity and leukaemia.

The discovery, which has been made by an international consortium of scientists, shows that females are far more variable than previously thought.

When it comes to genes, they are more complex than men.

"The X chromosome is definitely the most extraordinary in the human genome in terms of its inheritance pattern, its unique biology ... and in terms of its association with human disease," Dr Mark Ross, of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Britain, said. [...]

Women have two X chromosomes while men have an X and a Y, which gives them their male features.

The research, which is reported in the science journal Nature, shows the Y is an eroded version of the X chromosome with only a few genes.

The X chromosome is also bigger than the Y and because females have two copies, one X chromosome is largely switched off or inactivated.

Laura Carrel, of Penn State College of Medicine in Pennsylvania, says not all of the genes on the silenced chromosome are inactivated, which could explain some of the differences between men and women.

The X inactivation also varies widely among women.

"The effects of these genes from the inactive X chromosome could explain some of the differences between men and women that aren't attributable to sex hormones," she said.

Genetic mutations and diseases such as colour blindness, autism and haemophilia that are linked to the X chromosome tend to affect males because they do not have another X to compensate for the faults.

The X chromosome is also home to many genes linked to mental retardation and to the largest gene, called DMD, in the human genome.

Mutations in DMD cause Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a disabling and fatal disease in men.

"There are a disproportionate number of known diseases mapped to the X chromosome," Dr David Bentley, of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said.

"In seeing what goes wrong, we can begin to understand the biological processes of the normal body much better."

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13 things that do not make sense
19 March 2005

1: The placebo effect

DON'T try this at home. Several times a day, for several days, you induce pain in someone. You control the pain with morphine until the final day of the experiment, when you replace the morphine with saline solution. Guess what? The saline takes the pain away.

This is the placebo effect: somehow, sometimes, a whole lot of nothing can be very powerful. Except it's not quite nothing. When Fabrizio Benedetti of the University of Turin in Italy carried out the above experiment, he added a final twist by adding naloxone, a drug that blocks the effects of morphine, to the saline. The shocking result? The pain-relieving power of saline solution disappeared. [...]

We have a lot to learn about what is happening here, Benedetti says, but one thing is clear: the mind can affect the body's biochemistry. "The relationship between expectation and therapeutic outcome is a wonderful model to understand mind-body interaction," he says. Researchers now need to identify when and where placebo works. There may be diseases in which it has no effect. There may be a common mechanism in different illnesses. As yet, we just don't know.

2: The horizon problem

OUR universe appears to be unfathomably uniform. Look across space from one edge of the visible universe to the other, and you'll see that the microwave background radiation filling the cosmos is at the same temperature everywhere. That may not seem surprising until you consider that the two edges are nearly 28 billion light years apart and our universe is only 14 billion years old. [...]

3: Ultra-energetic cosmic rays

FOR more than a decade, physicists in Japan have been seeing cosmic rays that should not exist. Cosmic rays are particles - mostly protons but sometimes heavy atomic nuclei - that travel through the universe at close to the speed of light. Some cosmic rays detected on Earth are produced in violent events such as supernovae, but we still don't know the origins of the highest-energy particles, which are the most energetic particles ever seen in nature. But that's not the real mystery.

As cosmic-ray particles travel through space, they lose energy in collisions with the low-energy photons that pervade the universe, such as those of the cosmic microwave background radiation. Einstein's special theory of relativity dictates that any cosmic rays reaching Earth from a source outside our galaxy will have suffered so many energy-shedding collisions that their maximum possible energy is 5 × 1019 electronvolts. This is known as the Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuzmin limit.

Over the past decade, however, the University of Tokyo's Akeno Giant Air Shower Array - 111 particle detectors spread out over 100 square kilometres - has detected several cosmic rays above the GZK limit. In theory, they can only have come from within our galaxy, avoiding an energy-sapping journey across the cosmos. However, astronomers can find no source for these cosmic rays in our galaxy. So what is going on? [...]

"One possibility is that there is something wrong with the Akeno results. Another is that Einstein was wrong."

4: Belfast homeopathy results

MADELEINE Ennis, a pharmacologist at Queen's University, Belfast, was the scourge of homeopathy. She railed against its claims that a chemical remedy could be diluted to the point where a sample was unlikely to contain a single molecule of anything but water, and yet still have a healing effect. Until, that is, she set out to prove once and for all that homeopathy was bunkum.

In her most recent paper, Ennis describes how her team looked at the effects of ultra-dilute solutions of histamine on human white blood cells involved in inflammation. These "basophils" release histamine when the cells are under attack. Once released, the histamine stops them releasing any more. The study, replicated in four different labs, found that homeopathic solutions - so dilute that they probably didn't contain a single histamine molecule - worked just like histamine. Ennis might not be happy with the homeopaths' claims, but she admits that an effect cannot be ruled out. [...]

You can understand why Ennis remains sceptical. And it remains true that no homeopathic remedy has ever been shown to work in a large randomised placebo-controlled clinical trial. But the Belfast study (Inflammation Research, vol 53, p 181) suggests that something is going on. "We are," Ennis says in her paper, "unable to explain our findings and are reporting them to encourage others to investigate this phenomenon." If the results turn out to be real, she says, the implications are profound: we may have to rewrite physics and chemistry.

5: Dark matter

TAKE our best understanding of gravity, apply it to the way galaxies spin, and you'll quickly see the problem: the galaxies should be falling apart. Galactic matter orbits around a central point because its mutual gravitational attraction creates centripetal forces. But there is not enough mass in the galaxies to produce the observed spin.

Vera Rubin, an astronomer working at the Carnegie Institution's department of terrestrial magnetism in Washington DC, spotted this anomaly in the late 1970s. The best response from physicists was to suggest there is more stuff out there than we can see. The trouble was, nobody could explain what this "dark matter" was.

And they still can't. Although researchers have made many suggestions about what kind of particles might make up dark matter, there is no consensus. It's an embarrassing hole in our understanding. Astronomical observations suggest that dark matter must make up about 90 per cent of the mass in the universe, yet we are astonishingly ignorant what that 90 per cent is.

Maybe we can't work out what dark matter is because it doesn't actually exist. That's certainly the way Rubin would like it to turn out. "If I could have my pick, I would like to learn that Newton's laws must be modified in order to correctly describe gravitational interactions at large distances," she says. "That's more appealing than a universe filled with a new kind of sub-nuclear particle."

"If the results turn out to be real, the implications are profound. We may have to rewrite physics and chemistry"

6: Viking's methane

JULY 20, 1976. Gilbert Levin is on the edge of his seat. Millions of kilometres away on Mars, the Viking landers have scooped up some soil and mixed it with carbon-14-labelled nutrients. The mission's scientists have all agreed that if Levin's instruments on board the landers detect emissions of carbon-14-containing methane from the soil, then there must be life on Mars.

Viking reports a positive result. Something is ingesting the nutrients, metabolising them, and then belching out gas laced with carbon-14. So why no party?

Because another instrument, designed to identify organic molecules considered essential signs of life, found nothing. Almost all the mission scientists erred on the side of caution and declared Viking's discovery a false positive. But was it? [...]

"Something on Mars is ingesting nutrients, metabolising them and then belching out radioactive methane"

7: Tetraneutrons

FOUR years ago, a particle accelerator in France detected six particles that should not exist. They are called tetraneutrons: four neutrons that are bound together in a way that defies the laws of physics.

Francisco Miguel Marquès and colleagues at the Ganil accelerator in Caen are now gearing up to do it again. If they succeed, these clusters may oblige us to rethink the forces that hold atomic nuclei together.

The team fired beryllium nuclei at a small carbon target and analysed the debris that shot into surrounding particle detectors. They expected to see evidence for four separate neutrons hitting their detectors. Instead the Ganil team found just one flash of light in one detector. And the energy of this flash suggested that four neutrons were arriving together at the detector. Of course, their finding could have been an accident: four neutrons might just have arrived in the same place at the same time by coincidence. But that's ridiculously improbable. [...]

8: The Pioneer anomaly

THIS is a tale of two spacecraft. Pioneer 10 was launched in 1972; Pioneer 11 a year later. By now both craft should be drifting off into deep space with no one watching. However, their trajectories have proved far too fascinating to ignore.

That's because something has been pulling - or pushing - on them, causing them to speed up. The resulting acceleration is tiny, less than a nanometre per second per second. That's equivalent to just one ten-billionth of the gravity at Earth's surface, but it is enough to have shifted Pioneer 10 some 400,000 kilometres off track. NASA lost touch with Pioneer 11 in 1995, but up to that point it was experiencing exactly the same deviation as its sister probe. So what is causing it?

Nobody knows. [...]

"An explanation will be found eventually," Nieto says. "Of course I hope it is due to new physics - how stupendous that would be. But once a physicist starts working on the basis of hope he is heading for a fall." Disappointing as it may seem, Nieto thinks the explanation for the Pioneer anomaly will eventually be found in some mundane effect, such as an unnoticed source of heat on board the craft.

9: Dark energy

IT IS one of the most famous, and most embarrassing, problems in physics. In 1998, astronomers discovered that the universe is expanding at ever faster speeds. It's an effect still searching for a cause - until then, everyone thought the universe's expansion was slowing down after the big bang. "Theorists are still floundering around, looking for a sensible explanation," says cosmologist Katherine Freese of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. "We're all hoping that upcoming observations of supernovae, of clusters of galaxies and so on will give us more clues."

One suggestion is that some property of empty space is responsible - cosmologists call it dark energy. But all attempts to pin it down have fallen woefully short. It's also possible that Einstein's theory of general relativity may need to be tweaked when applied to the very largest scales of the universe. "The field is still wide open," Freese says.

10: The Kuiper cliff

IF YOU travel out to the far edge of the solar system, into the frigid wastes beyond Pluto, you'll see something strange. Suddenly, after passing through the Kuiper belt, a region of space teeming with icy rocks, there's nothing.

Astronomers call this boundary the Kuiper cliff, because the density of space rocks drops off so steeply. What caused it? The only answer seems to be a 10th planet. We're not talking about Quaoar or Sedna: this is a massive object, as big as Earth or Mars, that has swept the area clean of debris.

The evidence for the existence of "Planet X" is compelling, says Alan Stern, an astronomer at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. But although calculations show that such a body could account for the Kuiper cliff (Icarus, vol 160, p 32), no one has ever seen this fabled 10th planet.

There's a good reason for that. The Kuiper belt is just too far away for us to get a decent view. We need to get out there and have a look before we can say anything about the region. And that won't be possible for another decade, at least. NASA's New Horizons probe, which will head out to Pluto and the Kuiper belt, is scheduled for launch in January 2006. It won't reach Pluto until 2015, so if you are looking for an explanation of the vast, empty gulf of the Kuiper cliff, watch this space.

11: The Wow signal

IT WAS 37 seconds long and came from outer space. On 15 August 1977 it caused astronomer Jerry Ehman, then of Ohio State University in Columbus, to scrawl "Wow!" on the printout from Big Ear, Ohio State's radio telescope in Delaware. And 28 years later no one knows what created the signal. "I am still waiting for a definitive explanation that makes sense," Ehman says.

Coming from the direction of Sagittarius, the pulse of radiation was confined to a narrow range of radio frequencies around 1420 megahertz. This frequency is in a part of the radio spectrum in which all transmissions are prohibited by international agreement. Natural sources of radiation, such as the thermal emissions from planets, usually cover a much broader sweep of frequencies. So what caused it?

The nearest star in that direction is 220 light years away. If that is where is came from, it would have had to be a pretty powerful astronomical event - or an advanced alien civilisation using an astonishingly large and powerful transmitter. [...]

12: Not-so-constant constants

IN 1997 astronomer John Webb and his team at the University of New South Wales in Sydney analysed the light reaching Earth from distant quasars. On its 12-billion-year journey, the light had passed through interstellar clouds of metals such as iron, nickel and chromium, and the researchers found these atoms had absorbed some of the photons of quasar light - but not the ones they were expecting.

If the observations are correct, the only vaguely reasonable explanation is that a constant of physics called the fine structure constant, or alpha, had a different value at the time the light passed through the clouds.

But that's heresy. Alpha is an extremely important constant that determines how light interacts with matter - and it shouldn't be able to change. Its value depends on, among other things, the charge on the electron, the speed of light and Planck's constant. Could one of these really have changed?

No one in physics wanted to believe the measurements. Webb and his team have been trying for years to find an error in their results. But so far they have failed.

Webb's are not the only results that suggest something is missing from our understanding of alpha. A recent analysis of the only known natural nuclear reactor, which was active nearly 2 billion years ago at what is now Oklo in Gabon, also suggests something about light's interaction with matter has changed.

The ratio of certain radioactive isotopes produced within such a reactor depends on alpha, and so looking at the fission products left behind in the ground at Oklo provides a way to work out the value of the constant at the time of their formation. Using this method, Steve Lamoreaux and his colleagues at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico suggest that alpha may have decreased by more than 4 per cent since Oklo started up (Physical Review D, vol 69, p 121701). [...]

13: Cold fusion

AFTER 16 years, it's back. In fact, cold fusion never really went away. Over a 10-year period from 1989, US navy labs ran more than 200 experiments to investigate whether nuclear reactions generating more energy than they consume - supposedly only possible inside stars - can occur at room temperature. Numerous researchers have since pronounced themselves believers.

With controllable cold fusion, many of the world's energy problems would melt away: no wonder the US Department of Energy is interested. In December, after a lengthy review of the evidence, it said it was open to receiving proposals for new cold fusion experiments. [...]

The basic claim of cold fusion is that dunking palladium electrodes into heavy water - in which oxygen is combined with the hydrogen isotope deuterium - can release a large amount of energy. Placing a voltage across the electrodes supposedly allows deuterium nuclei to move into palladium's molecular lattice, enabling them to overcome their natural repulsion and fuse together, releasing a blast of energy. The snag is that fusion at room temperature is deemed impossible by every accepted scientific theory.

That doesn't matter, according to David Nagel, an engineer at George Washington University in Washington DC. Superconductors took 40 years to explain, he points out, so there's no reason to dismiss cold fusion. "The experimental case is bulletproof," he says. "You can't make it go away."

From issue 2491 of New Scientist magazine, 19 March 2005, page 30

Comment: These "minor problems" are something to think about the next time you read an "expert opinion" from a mainstream scientist who is supporting or debunking any theory. The truth is that humankind understands very little about science and the universe, and closing our minds to any possibility is a sure way to remain intellectually and culturally stagnant. How convenient for the powers that be...

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Lab fireball 'may be black hole'

Thursday, 17 March, 2005
BBC News

A fireball created in a US particle accelerator has the characteristics of a black hole, a physicist has said.

It was generated at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) in New York, US, which smashes beams of gold nuclei together at near light speeds.

Horatiu Nastase says his calculations show that the core of the fireball has a striking similarity to a black hole.

His work has been published on the pre-print website and is reported in New Scientist magazine.

When the gold nuclei smash into each other they are broken down into particles called quarks and gluons.

These form a ball of plasma about 300 times hotter than the surface of the Sun. This fireball, which lasts just 10 million, billion, billionths of a second, can be detected because it absorbs jets of particles produced by the beam collisions.

But Nastase, of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, says there is something unusual about it.

Ten times as many jets were being absorbed by the fireball as were predicted by calculations.

The Brown researcher thinks the particles are disappearing into the fireball's core and reappearing as thermal radiation, just as matter is thought to fall into a black hole and come out as "Hawking" radiation.

However, even if the ball of plasma is a black hole, it is not thought to pose a threat. At these energies and distances, gravity is not the dominant force in a black hole.

The RHIC is sited at the Brookhaven National Laboratory.

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UK's 'comet' crater investigated
Saturday March 19 2005 15:06 GMT
Scientists have discovered more about what is thought to be the UK's only crater caused by an asteroid or comet.

The crater - known as the Silverpit - is located hundreds of metres under the floor of the North Sea, about 80 miles off the coast of Yorkshire.

Scientists Simon Stewart and Phil Allen have made a 3D map of the crater.

It shows rings sweeping out from a 1.8m hole. Phil said he was "99% certain" that the crater was caused by an impact, but other scientists disagree.

Location of Silverpit

"If you saw that on Mars or any of the other planetary bodies, you wouldn't question it," said Phil.

It's been suggested that the crater was caused by a 7m-tonne, 120-mile wide object about 60 to 65m years ago.

The scientists say the rings of the crater are a good match with those of impact craters on Jupiter's icy moons.

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USDA May Approve Rice with Human Genes

Organic Consumers Association

The USDA/APHIS is requesting comments on field tests of humanized rice in Missouri. Ventria Bioscience, a biopharmaceutical company based in Sacramento, Calif., has two permit requests pending with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Biotechnology Regulatory Services to grow about 200 acres of pharmaceutical rice in southern Missouri this year. This rice contains humanized genes. [...]

Comment: Hey, it's only natural. Last week we had human-animal hybrids, this week it's cannibalism for the average citizen.

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Mysterious haemorrhagic fever kills 87 in Angola
19 March 2005 0118 hrs

LUANDA : An outbreak of an unidentified haemorrhagic fever has claimed the lives of 87 people in northern Angola over the past four months.

The Angolan health ministry is awaiting the results of samples sent to Senegal and the United States to identify the strain of the fever, health ministry spokesman Carlos Alberto said on Friday.

"Seventy-six people died between November last year and February and 11 others died between then and March 15 ... from a strain of haemorrhagic fever that we have not yet identified," Alberto told AFP.

All the deaths occurred at the main provincial hospital of Uige town in northern Angola.

The spokesman however denied that the fatalities were due to Ebola fever.

"Ebola is highly contagious. But with this haemorrhagic fever there have been cases where children have died but their mothers have survived without displaying the slightest signs of the disease," said Alberto.

Ebola kills by inducing massive internal haemorrhages.

He underlined that the outbreak was confined to the town of Uige and surrounding areas.

Most of those affected by the disease are children aged under five, the UN World Health Organisation (WHO) said from Geneva, which gave a figure of 39 dead since the start of this year.

WHO expressed concern over the fact that children were the main victims, saying in general haemorrhagic fevers like the one caused by the Ebola virus hit all age groups without distinction, according to WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib.

"We're perplexed. We don't know if it's Ebola fever or something else," she said. [...]

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Measles kills hundreds of Nigerian children
Friday, March 18, 2005 · Last updated 6:35 p.m. PT

LAGOS, Nigeria -- Hundreds of children have died from an upsurge in measles cases in Nigeria, despite a series of local vaccination campaigns aimed at combating the disease, health authorities said Friday.

At least 589 have died from measles so far this year, mostly children under five in northern states, according to figures from the World Health Organization and the Nigerian Red Cross. The most seriously affected state of Kano, in the north, saw 155 deaths.

Measles epidemics typically peak in Nigeria in March, said WHO spokeswoman Melissa Corkum from the capital Abuja, meaning the death toll could become still heavier. [...]

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89 children, parents hospitalised by food poisoning in Philippines
17 March 2005 1328 hrs

MANILA : At least 89 children and parents were struck down after eating contaminated spaghetti, health officials said, the second mass food poisoning to hit the Philippines in just over a week.

Fifty-eight patients are under observation after being put on intravenous drips overnight Wednesday at the provincial hospital in Tarlac city, hospital official Aurora Canlas told AFP by telephone Thursday.

"The good thing about it is, nobody died," she added, stressing none of the patients were in a life-threatening condition. [...]

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Magnitude 2.5 earthquake shakes Tenn.
Friday, March 18, 2005 · Last updated 3:20 a.m. PT

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- A minor earthquake shook parts of eastern Tennessee, but there were no reports of damage or injuries, officials said.

The quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 2.5, happened at 8:02 p.m. Thursday, according to the U.S. Geologic Survey's National Earthquake Information Center.

The quake was 17 miles southwest of Knoxville, according to the earthquake center's Web site.

Blount County Sheriff's Office dispatchers said callers reported hearing a loud boom followed by shaking and trembling. Some people called 911 to report pictures had fallen off their walls, they said.

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Mild earthquake strikes Dacula area
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 03/18/05

Gwinnett literally has been moving and shaking lately.

A mild quake rumbled through the Harbins community near Dacula earlier this week, and the earth may yet be moving under our feet. Horses and hounds could be the only ones detecting the subsequent jitters, though.

Georgia Tech seismologist Tim Long said this week's earthquake registered less than 2 on the Richter scale. That's about like someone blasting at a rock quarry.

"I thought somebody was dynamiting - it's what it sounded like," said Frankie Greeson, who noticed the quake about 7:15 a.m. Tuesday. "We didn't have any damage, but it sure did rattle our cage." [...]

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Typhoon 'Auring' leaves RP; 15 dead
Saturday, March 19, 2005
By Ronnie E. Calumpita, Reporter 

(Phillipines) - Tropical storm "Auring" (international code name Roke) left at least 15 people dead and 16 others missing after cutting through Central Visayas, the civil defense office said Friday.

A fishing boat went down off the municipality of Ta-rangan on the eastern island of Samar, killing eight crew-members and leaving 15 others missing.

Four people drowned and one was missing after a boat capsized in strong waves off the central city of Ormoc as Auring lashed the country on Thursday, the civil defense office said.

Three other people were crushed to death by falling trees also in Ormoc.

The storm has since weakened into a tropical depression as it moved out towards the South China Sea early Friday. [...]

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Mom Uses eBay To Sell Monster Under Child's Bed

Bidders Asked To Remove Monster From Girl's Room
March 16, 2005

PHILADELPHIA -- One of the duties of a parent is to make sure the monster under their child's bed is held at bay -- even when the monster exists solely in that child's imagination.

One local parent had a high-tech solution to the problem -- she has put the monster up for auction on eBay.

Kathleen Tait had her daughter draw the monster under her bed and is selling the image on the online auction site, WCAU-TV in Philadelphia reported. Tait's daughter said the monster would make her room a mess. Kathleen Tait said the whole thing began months ago, when her daughter would wake up, afraid that the monster would get her and her toys.

"To this day, I sleep with her," Tait said. "I lay down with her until she falls asleep."

Tait tried several ways to bait the monster, including peanut butter and jelly. Then, she hit upon eBay.

Those who bid on the monster are asked to take it out of Tait's daughter's room. It is hoped that by selling the monster, it will be gone for good. There are five days left on the auction, and the bidding early Tuesday evening was $2.25.

"People can sell pretzels, so why not a monster?" Tait said.

Comment: In that case, do you suppose we could sell George W. Bush on eBay?

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