Wednesday, April 06, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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Storm in Condom
©2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Fireproofing blamed for 911 WTC collapse 2005-04-06 14:01:33
EIJING, April 6 (Xinhuanet) -- The fireproofing defect contributes to the collapse of New York World Trade Centre buildings in the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, according to a report issued Tuesday.

The hijacked airplanes that struck the World Trade Center hit with such force that the resulting explosions blew the fireproofing off the steel columns, accelerating heat buildup and weakening the structural core -- contributing to the towers' eventual collapse.

The process was hastened by fires outside that consumed the buildings' face and caused the exterior columns to bow in, according to the report.

Still, the study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) concluded that no amount of fireproofing could have saved the buildings.

NIST also said that the average survivor took more than double the estimated time to descend emergency stairwells, and that better communication between emergency services could have saved more lives.

Shyam Sunder, who led NIST's fire and safety investigation, said yesterday there were now better ways to ensure that fireproofing adhered to steel.

"Even with the airplane impact and jet-fuel-ignited multi-floor fires, which are not normal building fires, the buildings would likely not have collapsed had it not been for the fireproofing that had been dislodged," he said.

The official World Trade Centre death toll of 911 stands at 2,749, including those killed on the two jets that hijackers crashed into the buildings.

New York was, in fact, fortunate that the attacks took place in the morning, when most people had not yet reached their offices. If the building had been fully occupied, the report found, a full evacuation would have taken four hours and cost 14,000 lives.

Comment: Uh, gosh, why didn't we think of that?

At first we thought this was an April Fool joke. As it is, it came out a few days late. But, then again, a good laugh is always appreciated.

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US, Israel respond to UN Arab report
Wednesday 06 April 2005, 3:52 Makka Time, 0:52 GMT

A UN agency has warned that Arab governments could face unrest and even revolution if they fail to move rapidly towards democracy, pinning partial blame on the US and Israel.

The UN Development Programme in a report - the third in a series of assessments of the Arab world - said on Tuesday that partial reform was no longer viable.

"If the repressive situation in Arab countries continues, intensified societal conflict is likely to follow," said the Arab Human Development Report 2004.

The report was drawn up by a group of independent Arab scholars who include the Palestinian human rights lawyer Jonathan Kuttab.

Presenting the report in the Jordanian capital, regional UNDP director Rima Khalaf dismissed the often-heard view that democracy is foreign to Arab culture.

Positive steps

"Some Arab governments have begun to open themselves cautiously and selectively to opposition forces," the report observed. The press release referred to this year's presidential election in the Palestinian territories and the municipal elections in Saudi Arabia.

It also acknowledged Egypt's decision in February to allow multi-candidate elections for president.

The release said that while there have been some "real and promising" moves towards greater freedom this year, "overall the pace of progress has been disappointingly limited".

The report also blamed the creation of Israel and the US support for its policies for the lack of reform in the Arab world.

The report cited the creation of Israel as one of the roots of authoritarianism in the Middle East, along with the discovery of oil and the support for dictators by the superpowers during the Cold War.


One of the major causes cited in the report was the occupation of Iraq by the United States and its allies as violations of freedom and obstacles to development.

Khalaf said in the launch address that over a 10th of Arabs now lived under foreign occupation.

"Occupation is a confiscation of rights by violence," she said, adding that last year's Abu Ghraib scandal, when US interrogators tortured Iraqi prisoners, meant detainees' basic rights were no longer protected by international jurisdiction.

The report said occupation of Arab land had given governments an excuse to postpone democratisation, forced Arab reformers to divert energy away from reform and strengthened groups that advocate violence.

It also accused Washington of undermining the international system by repeatedly using or threatening to use its UN Security Council veto, enabling Israel to build new Jewish settlements and extend its barrier in the West Bank.

Israeli, US denial

Israel rebuffed the claims. "For too long too many people in the Arab world have used Israel as an excuse to justify behaviour that cannot be justified," said Mark Regev, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry.

"You can't have democratic elections because of Israel and you can't give equal rights to women in Saudi Arabia because of Israel. This is, of course, a cop out."

A spokesman for the US Near East Affairs Department also spoke out in Israel's defence.

Greg Sullivan rejected the claims, saying: "We think it's misguided to blame Israel for the problems and the challenges that the Arab world faces."

Sullivan also rejected claims that the occupation of Iraq both created excuses for Arab governments to postpone democratisation and strengthened extremist groups which advocate violence.

The 248-page report, published by the United Nations Development Programme, was ready months ago, prior to the Palestinian and Iraqi elections, but its release was delayed because of objections by the US and Egypt.

It was finally released with the UN logo in the preface.

Comment: No, by golly. We can't have any criticism of Israel or the United States. After all, Israel is the beacon of democracy in the Middle East and the US the beacon of liberty for the whole world.

Note also that the report states that it was the creation of Israel 57 years ago, and its extremely belligerant attitude towards its Arab neighbours, that has lead to the rise of authoritarian Arab governments in the greater Middle East.

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Israeli Official Acknowledges U.S. Rift
U.S., Israel Disagree Over Israeli Expansion of Settlement Bloc Perimeters, Says Justice Minister
The Associated Press

Apr. 6, 2005 - Israel has the right to strengthen Jewish settlements in the West Bank, an Israeli Cabinet minister said Wednesday, a day after President Bush affirmed support for a peace plan that calls for a construction freeze in settlements.

Justice Minister Tsipi Livni acknowledged there are serious differences between Israel and the United States over Jewish settlement expansion.

The issue of expansion was raised after Israeli officials last month confirmed plans to build 3,650 homes in the largest West Bank settlement, Maaleh Adumim.

In the West Bank, four Palestinians were wounded by fire from private Israeli security guards protecting a crew building Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank. Palestinian witnesses said the four were farmers on their way to their fields. The Defense Ministry said the four had attacked the crew, and that the guards' lives were in danger.

Comment: How many more times will we have to listen to patent Israeli lies about their murdering of Palestinians. That it was target practice for fun is probably closer to the truth.

Livni told Army Radio there is agreement between Israel and the United States on continued construction within the built-up areas of the settlements.

"It seems that the debate is more over whether Israel can expand the perimeters of these communities, and certainly from an American viewpoint, as well, Israel can build within them," she said. "There apparently will be disputes with the Americans over this."

Livni said that despite such differences, Israel should still be able to "strengthen" settlements.

The planned Maaleh Adumim expansion is especially contentious because it would link the settlement to east Jerusalem, separating Arab neighborhoods of the city from the rest of the West Bank. The Palestinians hope to make east Jerusalem the capital of their future state.

A year ago, after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon unveiled a plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, Bush issued a letter to Israel stating his support for its retention of major Israeli population centers in the West Bank under a final peace deal with the Palestinians.

But Washington has steadily opposed expansion of settlements.

"Our position is very clear that the 'road map' is important and the 'road map' calls for no expansion of the settlements," Bush said ahead of Sharon's visit at his Texas ranch next week.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat welcomed Bush's statement.

"I urge President Bush to exert every possible effort to stop the settlement activities and the wall in order to maintain and sustain his vision of a two-state solution," Erekat said. The "wall" refers to the separation barrier Israel is building along and inside the West Bank, incorporating Maaleh Adumim on the Israeli side.

Last month, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Israel's plan to expand Maaleh Adumim was "at odds with American policy" and could threaten peace with the Palestinians.

An Israeli defense official recently acknowledged that the expansion plan was liable to be bogged down for years by legal challenges.

Livni said she does not expect sparks at the Bush-Sharon meeting over Maaleh Adumim because the U.S. president understands the significance of the Gaza pullout.[...]

Comment: Yeah, yeah. An important rift. Media spin to convince the Palestinians that Bush is sincere and not playing Israel as the favourite. We don't believe it for a minute.

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Israel receives three U.S.-made choppers

The Israeli army has enhanced its military arsenal with three new sophisticated American-made choppers.

According to Israeli military sources, the Israeli army has received three "Apache Longbow", 27 million dollars each, on Sunday night.

"The three gunships were transported aboard a transport plane and landed at an air force base in the Negev. They are part of a new attack squadron of 20 choppers," the sources added.

The three "Apache Longbow", considered unique of their kind, are provided with the most advanced fighting capabilities and up-to-date technology.

The best attack helicopters are part of a $650 million military aid package Israel to receive from the United States.

The first three of the eighteen AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters that will be known as "Sarafs" arrived in Israel in American C-5 Galaxy transport planes, the biggest transport planes in the world.

According to Boeing, the helicopter's manufacturer, among other countries that bought the Longbow are Egypt, Greece, Japan, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Singapore and UK.

The Longbow, capable of automatically identifying and locking on missile targets within seconds, saw its first combat deployment with the U.S. in the so-called Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Meanwhile, the army weekly "Bamahane" revealed that a new system will be deployed along the post-withdrawal Gaza fence through which Israeli women soldiers will operate remote-control machine guns in conjunction with cameras and censors.

Remote-controlled observation posts are already used around Gaza. Watching their section of the front on computer screens, the system operators can direct soldiers to a point of an attempted infiltration, the paper said.

A new feature added to the system enables the soldiers in the command post to fire an array of machine guns at suspected infiltrators, the weekly said.

The remote-control guns are capable of doing the soldiers' job; chasing down the infiltrators.

Comment: Note that these weapons of mass destruction were not purchased by Israel but GIVEN to Israel by the Bush administration. Such acts make a mockery of Bush's claim to support the creation of a Palestinian state and an end to violence in the Middle East. Over the past 20 years, US taxpayers have gifted somewhere in the region of USD 80 billion to Israel, most of it in the form of non-repayable grants that Israel has used to brutally oppress the Palestinian people.

Our "civilisation" has evolved to such an advanced stage, that, now, the average Israeli woman soldier can sit at a computer and "fire an array of machine guns" at human figures on the screen, not knowing, and not caring, whose life they have just obliterated.

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Lecturers may boycott Israeli academics
Polly Curtis and Will Woodward
Tuesday April 5, 2005
The Guardian

State's policy in occupied territories fuels union debate

Israeli academics who refuse to condemn their government's actions in the occupied territories risk a boycott by the UK's leading lecturers' union.

The Association of University Teachers' annual council, which begins on April 20 in Eastbourne, will also debate whether to boycott three of Israel's eight universities - Haifa University, Bar Ilan University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem - over their alleged complicity with the government's policies on the Palestinian territories.

The union voted against an academic boycott policy two years ago, but campaigners believe the motions are more likely to be passed this year.

The new boycott motion contains a clause to exclude "conscientious Israeli academics and intellectuals opposed to their state's colonial and racist policies".

Palestinian academics have also issued a call for an international boycott of Israel.

Sue Blackwell, a lecturer at Birmingham University and one of the authors of the motion, said: "We are now better organised. One of the reasons we didn't win last time was that there was no clear public call from Palestinians for the boycott. Now we have that, in writing."

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel called for a boycott last year. It was signed by 60 academic trade unions, non-governmental organisations and associations in the West Bank and Gaza. A separate poll of staff at al-Quds University, seen by Education Guardian, reveals that 75% support the boycott.

Gargi Bhattacharyya, executive member and president-elect of the AUT, said: "I will be supporting the call for the boycott. Things aren't getting better there for our [Palestinian] academic colleagues, they are saying the internationally emotional pressure is an important and a peaceful way for us to support them.

"I think within the sector there is a lot of concern about what's happening in Palestine and a huge concern that the Palestinian education structure has been destroyed. Potentially there's a lot of support."

The union's executive has yet to decide how to respond to the motions. But it has tabled its own motion which "recognises that the peaceful resolution of the problems facing the Middle East will not be brought about by the erection of barriers, but by open dialogue".

Today, Education Guardian also reveals new evidence that British academics are turning down offers to work with big research organisations in Israel, citing their objection to the Israeli government's policies.

In the past year, the Israeli Science Foundation (ISF), Israel's biggest science research funding body, has received a dozen refusals from British academics to review grant applications.

One, received last month from an unnamed British academic, said: "I support the academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions, as a means of registering my protest against Israelis' lack of respect for human rights and continuing illegal occupation of Palestinian land." [...]

Comment: Yesterday, we asked the question: "Are there no decent people left in the world? Is there no political leader willing to stand up and state that which is patently obvious?" Today, the answer remains the same, there are no political leaders with the decency to oppose the unconscionable Israeli treatment of an essentially defenseless people, so the task is left to the "little people", ordinary citizens who are unwilling to stand silent while their "leaders" sanction the wholesale slaughter of Palestinians.

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U.S. will demand passports from Canadians
Last Updated Tue, 05 Apr 2005 23:03:43 EDT
CBC News

WASHINGTON - In response to a new rule requiring most Canadians to carry passports for entry into the U.S., Public Security Minister Anne McLellan said Americans may also have to carry the document to enter Canada.

"Our system has really always worked on the basis of reciprocity," McLellan said outside the House of Commons.

"And therefore we will review our requirements for American citizens and we're going to do that in collaboration with the United States.

"There's no point in either of us going off in a direction without working together to determine how best we can facilitate the flow – a free flow – and movement of low-risk individuals."

McLellan's comments come as the U.S. State Department announced that by 2007, most Canadians will need a passport to enter the United States.

And by 2008, most Americans who visit Canada won't be able to re-enter their country without a passport.

Comment: What an easy way to emigrate to Canada! Gee, officer, they won't let me back in!

The changes are part of border-security measures the United States will phase in over the next three years that are likely to have a major impact on U.S. tourism and even on the number of Americans who make short trips to Canada.

Canadians without a passport will be barred from entering the United States after Dec. 31, 2006, unless they have a special U.S. "laser visa" border crossing card that includes a fingerprint or other "biometric identifier" such as a retinal scan. Those cards are issued mostly to Mexicans who want to enter the U.S.

Currently, Canadians and Americans are able to enter the United States with little more identification than a driver's licence or a birth certificate, though a passport has sometimes made it simpler to satisfy immigration officers at the border.

The new rules will still allow Canadians to enter the United States without being fingerprinted. The U.S. demands a fingerprint from all other foreign visitors now.

Comment: Ah, fortress America, the siege mentality. Build the wall high enough and thick enough and we'll be safe. It is reminiscent of Albania after it had broken with both the USSR and China. The lone bastion of Marxist-Leninist truth, isolated from the world. Or even North Korea. History plays some funny games when you watch it over a long period.

Of course none of this is actually going to make Americans any safer because the threat doesn't come from foreign "terrorists" but from its own government, the people responsible for 911. What a brilliant maneuver that was! Afghanistan, Iraq, and now the US itself falling like tenpins as the neocon ball of fascism comes rolling down the ally. Not much chance of it falling into the gutter while so many Americans remain asleep. Just like tenpins, sitting there waiting to be struck down.

Canada has angered the Bush administration recently: first by refusing to join the coalition of the willing; and more recently by saying it isn't joining the missile defence system. The unproven, untested missile defence system. What is proclaimed as the longest undefended border in the world fades into the past as America implements its hi-tech solutions to security. Someone is making big bucks off of this, and others are compiling enormous databases of the most private information that we have: that of our fingerprints, eye scans, biometric data. Can we imagine a day when it will become necessary to give a DNA sample?

What might the Powers That Be need with such information? Given the "international terrorist threat" is bogus, there must be another reason. Could it be tied in to certain forms of mind control? The signals sent out by HAARP? Or is it to be better able to track people down when the database of our spending habits, our reading, our connections with others through the Internet, our posts to newsgroups or even private forums, our credit record, our work history, the records of our moving and places of habitation is finished and can spit out a list of everyone who doesn't conform, nicely worded under the catch phrase "this individual poses a security threat".

If DNA testing becomes mandatory, will this information be used for the fabrication of ethnic specific weapons targeting individuals? More, if the soul marries to a certain genetic imprint, will they be able to formulate weapons directed at those with souls?

Does the idea of DNA analysis while you're waiting for your plane sound absurd? Well look at the next article and see the latest advance in DNA testing.

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New Miniaturised Chip Dramatically Reduces Time Taken For DNA Analysis
Barcelona (SPX) Apr 04, 2005

A team of researchers at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona has developed new miniature sensors for analysing DNA.

The sensors have the same size and thickness as a fingernail and reduce the time needed to identify DNA chains to several minutes or a few hours, depending on each chain.

These sensors can be applied to many different tasks, ranging from paternity tests and identifying people to detecting genetically modified food, identifying bacterial strains in foodborne illnesses and testing genetic toxicity in new drugs.

Once mass production of the sensors begins, their cost and availability will be similar to that of pregnancy test kits found in pharmacies.

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US to block IMF gold sale
Wednesday 06 April 2005

The movement to sell a portion of IMF gold reserves to finance debt relief for poor nations has hit a roadblock after a key US lawmaker said Congress and the Bush administration will block any such move.

Jim Saxton, chairman of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, said on Tuesday the potential profits on IMF gold sales "rightfully belong to the original donor countries and their taxpayers".

"Thus, these IMF gold sales would amount to a hidden appropriation from the donor countries that were the original source of the gold."

Saxton, who said he supported other means for debt relief, said congressional approval would be required for any IMF gold sale.

The movement to sell some part of IMF gold reserves, long backed by activists for debt relief, has gathered momentum recently.

Debt relief

In London in February, finance ministers of the Group of Seven industrialised nations asked the IMF to draft a proposal on gold sales for debt relief to be presented at the spring meetings of the Fund and the World Bank in mid-April in Washington.

Global finance officials have been searching for a way to cut the estimated $80 billion owed by the poorest nations to multilateral institutions such as the IMF and World Bank.

Critics of the group say poor countries are unable to escape crushing debt burdens and are unable to invest in education, health and other programmes to curb poverty.

Selling IMF gold reserves to finance debt relief is strongly favoured by Britain, the G7's current chairman, but the United States has previously expressed reservations about the approach.

Saxton said the US Congress "has an obligation to protect the taxpayers and reject any proposed IMF gold sales".

Comment: A little background is needed here. First and foremost, to describe any country as "poor" is somewhat of a misnomer because it gives the impression that the country is poor due to some natural law of selection. This is simply not the case. As a general rule, the "world's poorest countries" find themselves in that position because they have been made that way. It is equally true to say that the world's richest countries are rich as a result of the creation of the world's poorest countries.

Through a process that usually involves the overthrowing of Democratically elected governments and the placing into power of tin pot dictators, US and Western multinational companies, in league with their governments, are given unfettered access to the market resources of these countries. This access allows them to generate huge profits which they then export back to the US and Europe, some of it kicked back (over and above the taxes paid) to the government that presented them with the opportunity. The result is that the pillaged countries are transformed into "the world's poorest nations". Of course, it is not "the country" or the government that experiences the effects of poverty but rather the ignorant and naive masses. It is as a direct result of this process that the US and Western nations have become the world's richest nations.

In order to ensure that these countries remain in their poverty-stricken state, the world's richest countries offer loans to the "poor" countries. Due to the aforementioned multinational invasion, and the fact that these loans are offered at such a high rate of interest, the "poor" country is unable to ever repay the loan.

We now learn that recently, the world's richest countries got together and decided that selling gold reserves was a good way to finance debt relief for the world's poorest countries and their people. The US government blocked the move, justifying its stance with the claim that the gold belongs to the donor countries i.e. the world's richest countries "and their taxpayers" who enjoy their relatively affluent lifestyles as a direct result of the poverty of the "taxpayers" of the poor country.

It is by such subtle and covert means that the US government can get away with literally hundreds of thousands of murders each day, while at the same time retaining its claim to be the greatest democracy on earth. Does that make the US the "evil empire" or what?

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UN warns three billion may be living in world's slums by mid-century
NAIROBI (AFP) Apr 04, 2005
The United Nations warned Monday that growing poverty and urbanization may result in a tripling in the population of the world's slums to three billion people by the middle of the century.

Urging global action to fight poverty, if not the seemingly unstoppable migration of people from rural areas to cities, the UN housing agency, Habitat, said the growth of slums was a key risk to public health and development.

"The core problem facing the international community is our continuing failure to come to grips with the world's slums," Habitat Chief Anna Tibaijuka said as she opened a week-long meeting of the agency's governing board here.

"Slums, in short, are a toxic mixture of very one of the problems identified in the Millenium Development Goals," she said, adding that "without intervention, the collective slum population will grow to ... three billion people by 2050."

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Superspike report raises questions
By Adam Porter in Perpignan, France
Saturday 02 April 2005, 15:31 Makka Time, 12:31 GMT

A widely reported briefing by US investment house Goldman Sachs alerted markets to the possibility of an oil price superspike - a spike as high as $105 per barrel.

Yet the full report, obtained by, paints a more complex and volatile picture.

Notably it pits gas-guzzling American consumers against the geopolitical turmoil of oil-exporting nations.

One the one hand it notes that "geopolitical turmoil in key oil exporting countries coupled with populist rhetoric ... keep foreign oil companies from developing host country resources in a timely manner ... that could otherwise meet oil demand growth at lower prices."

These countries, notably Russia, the Middle Eastern producer nations and Venezuela, all come in for criticism. Goldman Sachs believes these nations in particular have not invested in enough capacity to create a supply cushion.

Comment: But who is the consumer here? Goldman Sachs is upset because these countries are not developing their fields for America consumers. And where do we see the US playing games with the stability of countries? Why, what a coincidence. It is in Russia, the Middle East and Venezuela!

It sees that lack of investment as part of a 30-year cycle. Producer nations became reluctant to invest in new production facilities after the recessions and price collapses of the 1970s and 1980s.

On the other hand, its condemnation of US consumers is equally unrestrained.

"Perhaps the ultimate answer to how high oil prices need to go before demand destruction occurs is derived from knowing when American consumers will stop buying gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and instead seek fuel efficient alternatives. We estimate that US gasoline prices may need to exceed $4 per gallon."

Comment: The SUV. The symbol of the American dream. Notice the term "demand destruction". Read on to see what it means.

Demand destruction

For ordinary consumers around the world the phrase "demand destruction" is one repeated often throughout the report. As has pointed out before, in oil and energy terms this is shorthand for a major recession.

Goldman Sachs sees the lack of investment, coupled with increasing demand, as a factor that has caught out producers. But now producers, pleased with the high prices of oil, may also be unwilling to let such amazing cash bonanzas slip from their grasp.

It is particularly bleak over the prospect of Middle Eastern nations adding to the supply chain.

"It is important to remember that the Middle East has been one of the few areas in the past 30 years to experience massive population growth - 2% to 3% per annum.

"The combination of rising populations, a lack of a diversified economic base, and the existence of governments that are not representative of, or responsive to, underlying populations all point to ongoing geopolitical turmoil and an inability to meaningfully add to oil supply."

Even more straightforwardly it says that, "persistent high prices are improving the financial position of key oil-exporting countries and could serve to keep potential revolution at bay. If future political crises are to be averted, we believe it is critical that oil-exporting countries reinvest cash inflows [to] allow the majority of their growing populations to have economic hope."

Peak oil

On the now popular subject of peak oil, Goldman Sachs takes the conventional view that global production is not reaching any kind of plateau. However it does give the subject some consideration.

"We are not subscribers to the theory that global oil supply has hit some magical inflection point that will result in permanent supply declines ... in the near future ... it appears to us that there exists a large known quantity of both conventional and unconventional oil resources to develop."

The company instead again blames the lack of investment from Russia, the Middle East and Venezuela. At the same time, in other areas of the report, it gives passing credence to the theory. Rather than calling it any kind of peak, it uses the phrase "geologic maturity".

With increased geologic maturity come increased extraction costs. Rising labour costs and the increased cost of commodities used in the extraction of oil, especially steel, are also helping to drive the price higher.

Rising costs

"Rising ... cost structures due to increased geologic maturity in many of the traditional areas of oil supply as well as service and materials cost inflation have driven an increase in ... prices," it says.

In other words, old fields, unable to produce what they used to produce at the same cost, are driving up prices. Paradoxically, these rising costs eventually translate into increased profits for oil majors and exploration companies, as well as producer countries.

Both Opec whose "space capacity [is] essentially gone" and global refinery capacity "now running full out" are also cited as reasons for the conclusion of the report, a potential "superspike" in pricing as high as $105pb. On the other hand "speculation" and the "terror premium", as has already noted in previous articles, are irrelevant in the current market.

Positive negative

Goldman Sachs sees two sides to the superspike coin. The positive side is in oil stocks and equities which they believe could "see as much as 80% total return ... and believe investors should add to positions in the sector on dips, at current levels, or even after a rally."

The negative side is about the global economy. They reject the notion that current investment can create a supply cushion, a significant gap between demand and supply.

Instead they see recession as the way the market will deal with the problem.

"Until new investments are made, we believe demand destruction will be needed to recreate a spare capacity cushion in order to return to a period of lower energy prices."

One question remains, however. Will producer nations and oil multinationals be willing to carry on investing in a collapsing market? Would they still be interested in spending heavily on exploration and development to create the reports' desire, a supply cushion? One that would inevitably end up earning the same producers less profit? That is not a question this report could answer, or ask.

Comment: So, good news for investors in the oil companies, bad news for everyone else. News like that should be surprising to anyone. When was it ever different?

While we do not buy into the peak oil argument, we do believe scenarios based upon the peak oil world view are very possible if the peak oil pundits are able to convince the population that it is the real cause of their problems, of the high price of gas, of the collapse of the US economy sometime in the next year. Whether a theory is true or not does not matter if the majority believe it to be true. Look at the official explanation for 911. It isn't true, but it has justified the American remodeling of the world.

If the Bush Reich can spin an economic collapse on peak oil, and then identify the Russians, the Arabs, and the Venezuelans as the culprit, a new round of wars can begin fueled by the lives of the young and not so young who, having lost everything in the recession, have no choice but to join the military to eat and have a "career".

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US warns of backlash if EU lifts ban on arms to China

THE United States gave the European Union a blunt warning yesterday against lifting a ban on selling arms to China, saying it could expect a reaction from Washington if it went ahead.

The US deputy secretary of state, Robert Zoellick, said Europe sent the "wrong messages" to Beijing even by giving consideration to such a move.

"We certainly don’t want people to be surprised if there’s a counter-reaction," Mr Zoellick said.

"If there ever were a point where there were some conflict or danger, and European equipment helped kill American men and women in conflict, that would not be good for the relationship. It’s better to identify that now."

Europe imposed the embargo in response to the forceful suppression of democracy protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989; but several countries, led by France and Germany, want it lifted to help stimulate overall trade with China.

Washington has vigorously opposed lifting the embargo, citing a potential threat to Taiwan if Beijing acquires hi-tech European weaponry.

Mr Zoellick said some members of Congress would be sure to demand unspecified measures against the EU, especially since Beijing has adopted an anti-secession law granting itself the right to use force to head off any Taiwanese independence bid.

"As Europe becomes a larger player on a global stage, we urge it to consider some of the messages that it sends," Mr Zoellick said.

Comment: The EU has already bowed. albeit reluctantly, to US pressure to keep the ban on arms sales to China. We have to wonder why the US government is giving this further warning to the EU not to lift the ban. Perhaps there is some backroom dealing going on?

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Patrick Briley
April 4, 2005

Bush’s new nominee for national intelligence director has a background in human rights and Geneva Convention violations with respect to torture and renditions just like the new attorney general Alberto Gonzales and the new Homeland Security director Michael Chertoff:

“John Negroponte was ambassador to Honduras from 1981-1985. As such he supported and carried out a US-sponsored policy of violations to human rights and international law. Among other things he supervised the creation of the El Aguacate air base, where the US trained Nicaraguan Contras during the 1980's. The base was used as a secret detention and torture center, in August 2001 excavations at the base discovered the first of the corpses of the 185 people, including two Americans, who are thought to have been killed and buried at this base.”

“During his ambassadorship, human rights violations in Honduras became systematic. The infamous Battalion 316, trained by the CIA and Argentine military, kidnaped, tortured and killed hundreds of people. Negroponte knew about these human rights violations and yet continued to collaborate with them, while lying to Congress." [...]

“Even today, Negroponte is unrepentant, arguing that, given the political realities, his hands were tied. As he told CNN, "Some of these regimes, to the outside observer, may not have been as savory as Americans would have liked; they may have been dictators, or likely to [become] dictators, when you would have been wanting to support democracy in the area. But with the turmoil that [was there], it was perhaps not possible to do that."

The quote in the paragraph above by Negroponte reveals that Negroponte was likely chosen because he has the exact mentality and philosophy of Presidents HW and GW Bush. As pointed out in my article FBI and DOJ Connivance Interconnect Terror Attacks dated 8/15/02, President GHW Bush publicly advocated suspension of the US Constitution and violation of laws by CIA and FBI agents inside the US to allow domestic spying on Americans. This is what President GW Bush and his appointees to the Attorney General (Gonzales), CIA (Goss), Homeland Security (Chertoff) and now Intelligence Czar, Mr. Negroponte have in mind when they take actions to take American freedoms and privacy for a false promise of security. Like GW Bush, their past track records on torture and arms and drug trafficking and money laundering with known AlQaeda terror backers are proof enough.

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Miller's UN Reporting
The Nation
[from the April 18, 2005 issue]

The editorial page of the New York Times recently led with a justifiably outraged condemnation of George W. Bush's choice for United Nations ambassador--John Bolton, a famously outspoken anti-UN and antimultilateral ideologue. How ironic, then, that the Times's news editors had previously dispatched to the UN a reporter tight with the same Boltonite unilateralist clique--a reporter who has written about alleged wrongdoing at the UN in such an exaggerated way as to cast the organization and its leadership as almost beyond redemption.

When she began her work at the UN, Judith Miller was still under a cloud for her starring role in the Iraq Invasion Follies, in which she hyped Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction and Al Qaeda ties--claims that greatly buttressed the White House case for war but that ultimately proved unfounded [see Baker, "'Scoops' and Truth at the Times," June 23, 2003]. The Times, which has since published a series of mea culpas, placed Miller in a quasi quarantine, according to insiders at the paper. Yet she re-emerged, amazingly, still writing about Iraq--now from an oblique angle: the UN's alleged mismanagement of the Iraqi Oil for Food program.

In January 2004 the Iraqi daily Al-Mada listed 270 people suspected of profiting while enabling Saddam's government to evade oil sales restrictions. By April an independent UN inquiry was under way, headed by former Federal Reserve chair Paul Volcker. In May Miller was put on the story. Several Times sources say they believe Miller requested the assignment. Miller did not respond to interview requests, and Times executive editor Bill Keller declined to comment.

To be sure, the UN is an institution needing reform, and the Oil for Food program, troubled. Volcker found that the Oil for Food chief, Benon Sevan, acted in a way that "presented a grave and continuing conflict of interest" and was "ethically improper"--and can't explain cash he received. The report did not, however, suggest that Sevan's actions indicated widespread or higher-level graft. But an examination of Miller's work shows that she used contrivances of tone and framing and selective citation of biased sources to create a headline-generating super-scandal--one that Volcker's newest (March 29) report confirms to be thus far without serious foundation.

Since October 22 she has produced no fewer than twenty-one articles on the matter, nine of them centered on criticism by Capitol Hill figures with no love for the UN. She reported the scandal, GOP senators and House members investigated and she reported the investigations themselves as evidence that corruption was far more widespread than the facts indicated. And through many of her articles echoed the mantra of Republican senator and key source Norm Coleman's Wall Street Journal op-ed, "Kofi Annan Must Go."

In January, when Volcker released internal UN audits, Miller's framing was subtly but significantly different from that of other journalists. The LA Times lead characterized the audits as showing "lax oversight," while Miller attempted to tie the shortcomings directly to Annan, reporting that the audits "criticize an office, led by a former top aide to...Annan." Only in Miller's thirteenth paragraph do we read that "Mr. Volcker said that the internal audits 'don't prove anything,' but do show how the United Nations was urged to tighten up its supervision of the program. 'There's no flaming red flags in the stuff,' he said."

When Volcker's February interim report similarly failed to sweepingly condemn the institution, Miller's tone turned disdainful. Casting the document as "eagerly and skeptically awaited by United Nations critics" and "months overdue," she pointedly reported that "conservatives and other critics have accused [Volcker] of being insufficiently impartial and independent." Miller left it to others--including the Financial Times's Claudio Gatti--to suggest that violations of the Oil for Food rules had been tacitly tolerated by US authorities. Miller's articles also conspicuously dismiss the program's role in keeping Iraq WMD-free, a point that would remind readers of her transgressions in the pre-war period.

Miller's bias has been most apparent in her spotlighting of consulting work Kofi Annan's son did for a Swiss-based company, Cotecna Inspection Services, which won a UN contract for monitoring Oil for Food deliveries into Iraq. Granted, nepotism makes for poor governance and great newspaper copy--and Kojo Annan's behavior raises serious questions, but Miller's Times articles have relentlessly sought to tie UN problems directly to the elder Annan, long a target of America's unilateralist right.

In one piece, Miller practically dragged Ambassador John Danforth, well-known for his moderate views and comparative affection for the UN, to the witness table. "Pressed by reporters on Monday...Danforth...specifically declined to say he had confidence in Mr. Annan's leadership," wrote Miller on December 1 In comparison, the Washington Post's UN correspondent, Colum Lynch, also quoted Danforth but left out the "declines to support" formulation, even though Lynch was presumably one of the "reporters" who, Miller claimed, were pressing Danforth.

Similar slant was evident in advance coverage of the latest Volcker report, chiding Kofi Annan for inadequate vigilance over his son's dealings with Cotecna. The Associated Press leads with "investigators...will not accuse [Annan] of corruption," and the Wall Street Journal notes, "The panel has concluded that there is no evidence Mr. Annan rigged...procurement...exerted undue influence...or ever sought or received improper financial benefits." [emphasis added.] But Miller's piece (bylined with UN bureau chief Warren Hoge) says that the report "will come as a setback for the beleaguered secretary general," and waits till paragraph seven to offer a more reluctant vindication of Annan: "the commission has not uncovered any evidence [of corruption]."

Another co-bylined Miller piece, in the March 29 Times, focuses on Volcker revelations that Annan's former chief of staff had assistants toss Oil for Food files. Only lower in the article, under the subhead "Oil Report to Say Aide to Annan Culled Files," do we read that the files were his personal copies of originals stored elsewhere, and that he insists it was a routine culling to clear out space. The Times story the next day on the report itself, written by Hoge alone, somewhat grudgingly acknowledged the panel's conclusion that Annan "had not influenced the awarding of" the contract to his son's former company. Miller, too, was in that issue--with another itty-bitty alleged malfeasance. "United Nations diplomats" (not American, by any chance?) released an internal UN report about a UN office with a thirteen-person staff and a budget of $2 million criticizing such practices as sexual innuendo and using staff for personal errands--hardly unique in corners of vast enterprises. The report, dated February 16, was conveniently provided to journalists as the new Volcker report appeared.

Given the consequences of Miller's shilling for Bush Administration unilateralists during the run-up to the UN-opposed Iraq invasion, it seems remarkable that her editors would grant her a similar role in covering the complex Oil for Food scandal--especially given the Times's unique role in setting the global news agenda and establishing perceptions. As one diplomat from a Western country put it to me, "I think there is a more balanced and nuanced picture of the Oil for Food program to be presented." In a brief conversation, Hoge told me that Miller had been brought into this story specifically to do investigative reporting. But her work bears little resemblance to classic journalistic gumshoeing.

So what's her real contribution? I asked another Times colleague who has worked with Miller. He replied, "They feel that, through her work, people in positions of power speak on the pages of the New York Times. Whether it is true or not is another issue."

Comment: We have discussed the work of Judith Miller before on these pages. She is an active member of the neocon clique and their shill in the mainstream media. In Iraq, she was basing her stories and information on the notoriously unreliable word of Dr. Ahmad Chalabi who was using the neocons to further his personal career.

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Iraq abuse: US general's role revealed
By Christian Henderson
Sunday 03 April 2005, 20:19 Makka Time, 17:19 GMT
A leading US civil liberties group has obtained a document showing that the former US commander in Iraq sanctioned the abuse that took place in Abu Ghraib prison.

The document, which is published on the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) website, reveals that Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez authorised interrogation techniques using dogs, stress positions, sleep and isolation.

The techniques are against the Geneva Conventions and are forbidden by US army regulations.

Sanchez authorised 29 interrogation techniques in the 2003 memo which was released by the Pentagon under the Freedom of Information Act.

"Presence of Military Working Dogs. Exploits Arab fear of dogs," is one technique listed.

"Yelling, Loud Music, and Light Control. Used to create fear, disorient detainee and prolong capture shock," is another.

Perjury alleged

In addition to Sanchez's memo, the Pentagon also released 1200 pages of documents which included reports of abuse and sworn statements by troops saying they were ordered to beat prisoners.

"General Sanchez authorised interrogation techniques that were in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions and the army's own standards," ACLU attorney Amrit Singh said.

"He and other high-ranking officials who bear responsibility for the widespread abuse of detainees must be held accountable."

ACLU is accusing General Sanchez of perjury after he denied that he had permitted such techniques during a Senate Armed Services Committee in May 2004.

"I never approved any of those measures to be used ... at any time in the last year," he said under oath.

"Lieutenant-General Sanchez's testimony, given under oath before the Senate Armed Services committee, is utterly inconsistent with the written record, and deserves serious investigation," Anthony D Romero, ACLU executive director, said in a letter to attorney-general Alberto Gonzales, asking him to open an investigation into possible perjury.


Romero added: "This clear breach of the public's trust is also further proof that the American people deserve the appointment of an independent special counsel by the attorney-general."

The document contradicts US army and Defence Department claims the Abu Ghraib abuse was carried out by individuals acting without orders.

Those accused of abusing prisoners say they were scapegoats for high-ranking officers and politicians who ordered that detainees be tortured so intelligence gathering in Iraq could be improved.

"The government is asking a corporal to take the hit for them," the lawyer of Charles Graner said after his client was given a 10-year prison sentence in January for being a ring-leader in the abuse scandal.

"The chain of command says, 'We didn't know anything about this stuff'. You know that is a lie," the lawyer said.

No surprise

Reacting to the development, Alaa Shalabi, a senior researcher with the Arab Organisation for Human Rights in Egypt, said the revelations were not a surprise.

"We have proof that these kinds of techniques were practised, especially in Abu Ghraib," he said. "Such actions raise suspicions about the whole chain of command all the way to [US President George] Bush. These practices have been justified by the Pentagon."

Shalabi said he thought abuses were common in all of the detention camps run by the US military.

The US Defence Department said they will respond to the issue in due course of time.

Comment: It has been clear from the start that the abuse at Abu Ghraib and other US detention centres was ordered at the White House. For more on the details of the various memos sent from the Department of Justice to the White House in 2002, look here at the summary given at Citizen's Rant.

The lack of a smoking gun memo signed by Bush is the wiggle room needed by these terrorists in office to squirm their way out of responsibility. Far better to put the blame on the enlisted men and women from poor families who were only following orders, even if they appeared to be taking a certain pleasure in doing so.

But now that another bit of the truth is out, how will Americans act? Many of them consider the Arabs to be less than human and likely have no qualms about torturing them, especially if, having bought the Bush lie about 911, they think it will make them safe. That such logic is completely bogus, as injustices such as this will only fuel Arab fury at the US, is not surprising because the followers of George Bush are incapable of real thought. They parrot the talking points they hear repeated ad nauseam on Fox and CNN.

But what of the other Americans who are appalled? What will they do?

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Abu Ghraib Probe Suggests CIA Role in Iraqi Deaths
Mon Apr 4, 2005
By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - CIA interrogations may have played a role in the deaths of several detainees in Iraq, as Bush administration lawyers were advocating an aggressive interrogation policy that critics say led to torture, military documents and officials say.

U.S. officials have formally disclosed the death of only one person interrogated by the CIA in Iraq -- Manadel al-Jamadi, an unregistered "ghost" prisoner at Abu Ghraib who died Nov. 4, 2003, while handcuffed in a prison shower room.

But sworn statements provided to Army investigators by military intelligence and police at Abu Ghraib contain at least four references to CIA detainees dying during interrogations that do not correspond with the al-Jamadi case.

The documents, obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, were collected for an Army investigation that first disclosed the presence of unregistered CIA detainees at Abu Ghraib last September.

The documents were posted on the ACLU's Web site at last month. The Army used the acronym "OGA" for "other government agency" to refer almost exclusively to the CIA.

One document refers to an "OGA" detainee dying under interrogation in September 2003, two months before al-Jamadi.

Another suggests a death occurred in October, while a third said a detainee died while chained in the prison shower. A fourth document refers to a detainee dying from heart problems during interrogation.

The allegations are based on what soldiers say they heard and offer no substantiation. They provide few details and have been redacted to delete the names of the witnesses, their colleagues and superiors.

Intelligence officials dismissed the statements as unsubstantiated hearsay or garbled references to al-Jamadi, who the government says died from wounds received during capture by a Navy SEAL unit.

But they acknowledged that the CIA may have played a role in the case of an Iraqi military official who died during military interrogation in western Iraq in November 2003.

Maj. Gen. George Fay, who helped lead the Army investigation at Abu Ghraib, told Reuters that al-Jamadi was the only interrogation-related death confirmed at the prison

But his team turned up reports of at least three other deaths elsewhere in Iraq that may have involved the CIA. [...]

Comment: But weren't we told that this was a "few bad apples", over-zealous recruits acting on their own initiative? If the CIA, a government agency, was involved, then the only conclusion is that the torture and killing of Iraqi prisoners was sanctioned at the highest levels of government.

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Huhn? The Real Iraq
Juan Cole

The unfortunate tendency in the United States to evaluate all statements about Iraq with regard to whether they are "optimistic" (i.e. pro-Bush) or "pessimistic" (i.e. anti-Bush) makes it difficult for those who just want to understand what is going on. I get slammed by the Jeff Jarvis's for reporting bad news (shouldn't it be reported?) or I get cited by rightwing bloggers when I say things like that the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement cannot win.

If you spend any time reading Arabic newspapers, the main conclusion you draw about Iraq is that it just isn't like the typical American imagination of it. I've extracted a few paras. (from a long set of summaries) from the BBC World Monitoring for April 3 and 4 from the Iraqi press below. Each of the entries has a "what in the world?" factor as I read them, just because you don't see this sort of thing in the US media.

April 4:

Al-Furat publishes on page 3 a 1,200-word report citing a number of people expressing their opinion on the "occupation" of Iraq at its 2nd anniversary. Most people interviewed believe that the "occupation" forces plan to remain in Iraq as long as possible and that disputes among Iraqis prolong their presence in the country.
When and if the divisions lessen, I expect to see a popular movement to get US troops out of Iraq.

Al-Ufuq reveals that there was a serious assassination attempt on Jalal Talabani (the new president) on March 9.

April 3:
'Al-Da'wah publishes on the front page a 300-word report on the statement issued by the Al-Da'wah Party, Iraq Organization, on the 40th anniversary of the Imam Al-Husayn martyrdom saying that our people are being subjected to a large scale conspiracy by the US allies and agents in the region . . .'
The new prime minister, Ibrahim Jaafari, is the leader of the Dawa Party. He is well spoken in English, and says mollifying things to the US and the UK, but the Dawa Party which he leads is an old-time revolutionary Shiite Party, and here is the statement of the Party organization itself, on the front page of the party newspaper. I don't think they like us very much. If you read between the lines, they are clearly afraid that the Kurds have a tacit alliance with the Israelis.
'Al-Ufuq publishes on the front page a 250-word follow-up report citing the Association of Muslim Scholars denying that it has issued a fatwa permitting recruitment in the Iraqi Army and police . . .'
Well, we saw the original announcement in the US press, prominently displayed alongside talking head comments about tipping points. But somehow we missed the subsequent disavowal (no doubt by a different section of AMS).
Al-Ittijah al-Akhar on 2 April publishes on page 4 a 700-word report citing Habib Jabir Habib, an Iranian researcher, as saying, in a seminar organized by the Strategic and Political Researches Gulf Centre in Dubai, that his country still regards Iraq as a possible enemy, adding that it has been working to prevent the US from controlling Iraq . . . '
'Al-Ittijah al-Akhar on 2 April publishes on page 7 a 750-word letter by an Islamic group to National Assembly Sunni member Misha'n al-Juburi accusing him of liberalism and secularism and urging him to adopt Islam teachings . . . '
Ex-Baathists are caught between the hatred for them of religious Shiites and of Kurds, and the hatred of them by Sunni fundamentalists within their own ethnic group.

Al-Manarah publishes on the front page a 750-word editorial by Khalaf al-Munshidi in which he criticizes the British forces in Basra for launching raids on the Tamim Tribe in Basra.

If it can't be found at, did it happen?

' Al-Bayan carries on page 4 a 1,200-word report citing a number of university professors who returned home after the downfall of the former regime to contribute to the construction of Iraq, complaining that they are unable to find jobs.

Al-Ufuq publishes on page 4 a 150-word report citing an official source at the Health Ministry informing the newspaper that according to the latest survey conducted by his ministry in cooperation with an international organization there are over one million handicapped in Iraq.

Al-Ufuq devotes all of page 6 to a report discussing the poor emergency health care services in Iraq.

Al-Ittijah al-Akhar on 2 April publishes on page 9 a 150-word letter by an Iraqi citizen criticizing the US forces for torturing Iraqi detainees in Mosul. The letter includes pictures of tortured Iraqi prisoners . . .

Al-Bayan publishes on page 4 a 400-word column by Zaynab al-Khafaji commenting on the Pentagon's recent announcement that it plans to reevaluate the US military presence in Iraq next summer. The writer urges the Iraqi Government to boost the capabilities, training and performance of the Iraqi security forces, which have proved their efficiency in confronting terrorism, in order to provide the appropriate grounds for the departure of foreign forces from Iraq.

Al-Ittijah al-Akhar on 2 April publishes on page 6 a 750-word article by Abd-al-Sattar Ramadan criticizing the US for not punishing the US soldiers responsible for abusing Iraqi detainees in a US-run prison in Mosul . . .

Al-Mashriq runs on page 2 a 1000-word article saying that the "lukewarm" relations between Gulf Cooperation Council member countries and Iraq are due to the fact that these countries have fears from the Shi'i identity of the new Iraqi political system and the prominent role being played by the religious authority in the political life of Iraq.

Al-Mashriq runs on page 2 a 200-word commentary saying that the military experts' emphasis on the current situation in Iraq has created tension in the relations between Iraq and Saudi Arabia and as the latter fears that Al-Qa'idah may make of Iraq a new bases, thus countering Saudi Arabia's efforts to destroy Al-Qa'idah . . .

Al-Furat carries on page 5 a 700-word article by Ahmad al-Murshid in which he comments on the US question that has recently been raised: "Why do they hate us in the Arab and Islamic world?" The writer says that not only people in the Middle East hate the United States, but people all over the world.

Al-Zaman publishes on page 13 a 400-word article by Mundir al-A'sam warning against adopting federalism and dividing Iraq into small states. The writer says that this is an "imperialistic and Israeli scheme". '

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304 U.S. soldiers ordered killed by Pentagon in Iraq
Apr 6 2005
Tehran Times

TEHRAN (MNA) – About 304 recalcitrant U.S. soldiers have been killed by the Pentagon’s special team, intelligence sources in Iraq have revealed.

The sources quoted high-ranking U.S. officers as saying that since the U.S. occupation of Iraq in March 2003 more than 304 U.S. military forces have been executed in spurious clashes at the behest of army commanders and with the knowledge of the Pentagon.

The bodies of these soldiers have been sent to their families and announced as forces who have been killed in the fight against terrorists, the Mehr News Agency correspondent in southern Iran has learnt.

The soldiers ordered killed were mainly among those who suffered mental disorders and protested against the massacre of Iraqi civilians and asked “Who were they fighting for”.

Reports say the number of soldiers who have injured or maimed themselves to flee from the scene of war in Iraq are on the rise, and new revelations show that this number has exceeded to 2,100 over the past two years.

The U.S. Army medical dispensary announced four months ago that more than 6,000 soldiers serving in Iraq suffer from severe mental problems. The reports have also revealed that some of these soldiers tend to kill innocent Iraqi civilians without any particular reason in order to reduce their mental pains.

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Spain Frees 9 Madrid Bombing Suspects
April 6, 2005

MADRID - A Spanish judge released nine suspects in the Madrid train bombing investigation from detention on Wednesday, ruling there was insufficient evidence to remand them, a court official said.

The judge, however, said they were suspected of collaboration with an armed group and ordered them all to report to court weekly.

The nine men were part of a group of 13 arrested on Friday on suspicion of ties to prime suspects in the March 11, 2004 attacks that killed 191 people and wounded 2,000.

The other four have already been released from detention.

All 13 -- six Moroccans, four Syrians, an Egyptian, a Palestinian and an Algerian -- are still accused of collaborating with Islamist militants who carried out Europe's most devastating al Qaeda-linked attack.

The nine freed on Wednesday, and one of the men freed earlier this week, must report to the court weekly.

Police have arrested 89 suspects over the bombings. Of those, 55 remain in jail or under court supervision.

Comment: There is insufficient evidence to prosecute yet another alleged "terrorist". Do we see a pattern emerging here...?

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Dutch court acquits man of terror charges due to insufficient evidence
Wed Apr 6,10:08 AM ET

ROTTERDAM, The Netherlands - A Dutch court acquitted a Dutch national of Moroccan origin of planning terror attacks on government buildings, only sentencing him to three months in prison for illegal firearms possession.

Samir Azzouz, 18, stood accused of planning attacks against the Dutch parliament, Schiphol airport and a nuclear plant.

But the Rotterdam court acquitted him, ruling there was "no direct evidence he was preparing an actual crime", presiding judge Sonja de Pauw Gerlings said.

During the sentencing, Azzouz, dressed in a white sweater and matching pants and a Muslim skullcap, flashed a big smile to his supporters in the public gallery.

As he has been in police custody for almost a year it was expected that Azzouz would be released immediately as he had effectively served his sentence.

Prosecutors, who had asked that Azzouz be sentenced to seven years in prison, said they would appeal the verdict.

Azzouz was arrested in June 2004 after he allegedly held up a supermarket in Rotterdam. The authorities said the haul from the robbery was meant to finance terrorist activities.

The court on Wednesday also aqcuitted him of being an accomplice in the robbery.

A search of his house following the arrest yielded maps of the Borssele nuclear plant, the Dutch parliament, Schiphol airport near Amsterdam and other government buildings along with a silencer and an ammunition clip, according to police.

The authorities said they also found radical Islamic pamphlets, some with information on how to carry out attacks.

The court ruled Wednesday that the "maps, drawings, notes, ammunition clip, silencer and night vision goggles" found in Azzouz's house "were evidently intended for committing some crime" but ruled that they could not be linked to an actual crime or plans for committing an actual crime.

"The pamphlets, videos and computer disks (found at Azzouz's house) are questionable but regarding that the court cannot come to a more far reaching conclusion than that the suspect had an above average interest in religious extremist violence," de Pauw Gerlings said.

In 2003 Azzouz was arrested for the first time after allegedly attempting to travel to Chechnya to join Muslim guerrillas fighting Russian troops there, but was released because there was not enough evidence to support the charges.

The prosecution could also try to have Azzouz arrested again because his name came up in the case of the so-called Hofstad group, a suspected terrorist network. A dozen other suspects connected to the group are currently awaiting trial on charges of belonging to a terrorist organisation.

Azzouz is not yet charged with being a member of the group because the investigation is still ongoing.

According to the prosecution Azzouz was in contact with Mohammed Bouyeri, the suspected killer of outspoken Dutch filmmaker and columnist Theo van Gogh last November.

Comment: Germany, Spain, and now the Netherlands have all released suspects accused of terrorism due to a lack of evidence. At some point, one might think that everyone would take a step back and re-examine the entire war on terror, including the US practice of permanent detention and torture of terrorist suspects who have never even been charged with a crime. There are terrorists and terrorist groups, but when it comes to "al-Qaeda", every country would do well to thoroughly and honestly investigate the US and Israel to determine just who they are.

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US mulls building new nuclear warhead: report 2005-04-06 01:22:33

WASHINGTON, April 5 (Xinhuanet) -- The US agency overseeing the country's nuclear weapons programs has asked Congress to approve funds to study the feasibility of building a new, more reliable nuclear warhead that could be deployed in less than 10 years without nuclear testing, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Linton F. Brooks, administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, was quoted as telling the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces on Monday that the current Cold War stockpile of nuclear warheads is inadequate technically and militarily. [...]

The yields of most nuclear warheads in the current stockpiles "are probably too high" and as their casings are not designed to penetrate earth, "we have no capability against hardened, deeply buried targets," he said.

The new warheads would be designed to be less sensitive to ageing and would be easier to certify as safe and reliable, Brooks said. [...]

Comment: Safe for who?

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40 nuclear generation units to be built in 15 years 2005-04-06 19:40:04

SHANGHAI, April 6 (Xinhuanet) -- China will build 40 nuclear power generation units with a combined maximum capacity of 40 million kilowatts in coming 15 years, according to the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (CSTIND).

"Nuclear power will play increasing important role in the development of China's power industry," said Zhang Fubao, deputy director of the system engineering department under the CSTIND, at a symposium on nuclear power market and technology in China, opened Wednesday in Shanghai, China's leading industrial center.

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Dead Vietnamese girl confirmed bird flu victim 2005-04-06 20:57:37

HANOI, April 6 (Xinhuanet) -- A 10-year-old girl from Vietnam's capital Hanoi who died on March 27 has been confirmed to contract bird flu virus strain H5N1.

"According to recent virus tests, specimens from a patient named Nguyen Thi Hai Yen were tested positive to H5N1," a local virologist, who declined to be named, said Wednesday.

Yen died of lung failure hours after being admitted to the Hanoi-based Saint Paul Hospital, another local health worker said, adding that she lived in the urban district of Long Bien which houses a big poultry market.

Vietnam has reported 35 human cases of bird flu infection since December 2004, of whom 16 died.

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The framing of Hanoi Jane

In the second extract from her gripping new autobiography, Jane Fonda reveals how a fact-finding trip to North Vietnam became a mission to expose US atrocities.

Wednesday April 6, 2005

[...] A month after Tom Hayden and I became lovers, in spring 1972, reports began to come in from European scientists and diplomats that the dykes of the Red river delta in North Vietnam were being targeted by US planes. The delta is below sea level but, over centuries, the Vietnamese people had constructed - by hand! - an intricate network of earthen dykes and dams to hold back the sea, a network 2,500 miles long. The stability of these dykes became especially critical as monsoon season approached. The Red river would begin to rise in July and August. Should there be flooding, the rice harvest would be ruined, and the mining of the Haiphong harbour would prevent food from being imported. People would starve.

The Nixon administration and its US ambassador to the UN, George HW Bush, would vehemently deny what was happening, but the following are excerpts from transcripts of conversations between President Nixon and top administration officials:

April 25, 1972

President Nixon: "We've got to be thinking in terms of an all-out bombing attack [of North Vietnam] ... Now, by all-out bombing attack, I am thinking about things that go far beyond ... I'm thinking of the dykes, I'm thinking of the railroad, I'm thinking, of course, the docks ..."

Kissinger: "... I agree with you."

Nixon: "... And I still think we ought to take the dykes out now. Will that drown people?"

Kissinger: "About 200,000 people."

Nixon: "No, no, no ... I'd rather use the nuclear bomb. Have you got that, Henry?"

Kissinger: "That, I think, would just be too much."

Nixon: "The nuclear bomb, does that bother you? ... I just want to think big, Henry, for chrissakes. [...]

Comment: Yup. When it comes to slaughtering geeks and gooks and ragheads, US presidents have always thought big.


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Jeb Bush praises Scientologists
By Jeannette Walls
Updated: 2:38 a.m. ET April 5, 2005

While the religion of Tom Cruise and John Travolta has been getting some tough press in recent days, it’s also been lauded by President Bush’s brother.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush raised eyebrows among the critics of the sometimes controversial religion recently when he honored Scientology volunteers who helped victims of hurricanes in his state.

Members of the group — which was put in the spotlight this week by the New York Daily News for its alleged anti-homosexual philosophy — were given a “Points of Light Award” as Hurricane Heroes. Scientology volunteers have been high profile at disaster scenes recently, distributing food and water, as well as delivering controversial “touch assist” healings that supposedly help victims through the laying on of hands.

“The Bush brothers have both been good to some groups that have been called cults,” says Rick Ross of “Governor Bush has recognized Scientology while his brother in the White House has actually appointed a follower of Reverend Moon [David Caprara] to dole out tax payer money through the so-called faith-based initiative. Seems to me like the fox guarding the henhouse.”

Comment: Scientology has an important presence in Florida.

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15 dead as Saudi tightens noose on Al-Qaeda
April 6, 2005

RIYADH - Saudi authorities hailed the killing of a wanted Al-Qaeda militant hot on the heels of the deaths of 14 gunmen in a three-day firefight who the opposition said included top commanders of the Islamist network.

Security forces killed Abdul Rahman al-Yazji, a suspect on the kingdom's most-wanted list, after tracking him down to a southern industrial neighbourhood of the capital, the interior ministry said.

Yazji, a Saudi national, opened fire after being surrounded by security personnel and was slain in the ensuing shootout, state television quoted the ministry as saying.

A wounded comrade was captured.

The raid in the capital came just a day after security forces wrapped up a three-day assault on militants holed up in the Al-Qassim region, an Islamist stronghold 320 kilometers (200 miles) north of Riyadh.

The interior ministry said that at least 14 militants had been killed, including a number on the most-wanted list, although a security force put the death toll at up to 18.

Five wounded militants were captured while a sixth surrendered. Fourteen security personnel were wounded.

The ministry declined to release any names but Saudi-owned media said the dead included Al-Qaeda's commander for the Arabian peninsula, Saleh al-Oufi, and hunted operatives Saud al-Otaibi of Saudi Arabia and Abdel Karim al-Mejati of Morocco. [...]

If the deaths of Oufi, Otaibi and Mejati are confirmed, only two of Saudi Arabia's 26 most-wanted Islamist militants remain on the run. The others have all been killed or captured.

Ironically Oufi had been reported killed in a security force raid last year but resurfaced in voice recordings attributed to him by an Islamist website calling for attacks on "crusader" targets in the region. [...]

Including the latest deaths, the violence which erupted in May 2003 has cost the lives of 90 civilians, 39 security personnel and 107 militants, according to official figures. [...]

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Was the Schiavo memo a fake?
By Brian DeBoseand Stephen Dinan
April 6, 2005

All 55 Republican senators say they have never seen the Terri Schiavo political talking-points memo that Democrats say was circulated among Republicans during the floor debate over whether the federal government should intervene to prolong her life.

Comment: For those unfamiliar with the memo, an article on The Tufts Daily includes the following comments:

The Washington Post reported that a memo distributed to Republican senators by party leaders called the Schiavo case a "great political issue" and a "tough issue for Democrats." Acting on the suggestions of their advisors, Republicans called an emergency session of Congress and passed a bill that forced the matter to appear before federal courts. For the first time in his four-plus years as President, Bush interrupted a vacation on his Texas ranch and returned to Washington at 1:00 a.m. to sign Congress' bill.

The rest of the legal story unfolded much like it did in the past; the case was dismissed by successive Federal Judges, all the way up to the Supreme Court (again). In the meantime, Republicans used the public forum of Congress to expound their views on the Schiavo matter.

A survey by The Washington Times found that every Republican said the memo was not crafted or distributed by him or her. Every one of them said he or she had not seen it until the memo was the subject of speculation in major news organs, particularly ABC News and The Washington Post.

Democrats said Republicans distributed the memo, and one Democratic official told The Post that a Republican senator gave it to a Democratic senator.

The Times surveyed all 44 Democrats and the chamber's one independent, and only one of them, Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, said through a spokeswoman that he saw it circulated on the Senate floor.

"He said that the memo was being circulated by Republican members on Thursday before we went out of session, and that is when he saw it," said his spokeswoman, Allison Dobson.

Two Democratic offices refused to respond - Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat - the latter even as he continued to accuse Republicans of being behind it.

"We will not participate in the survey. News outlets have investigated and authenticated the memo was real and came from Republican sources. We have no further comment," said spokeswoman Tessa Hafen. "If you want more information on the memo, you should work on finding the Republican who wrote it."
She did not respond to a request to name the newspaper or network that had "authenticated" the memorandum.

ABC News first reported on March 18 that talking points were circulated among Republican senators, and The Washington Post two days later called the document "an unsigned one-page memo, distributed to Republican senators."

Neither report cited its sources, but a later article in The Post quoted a Democratic Senate official saying, "The fact is, these talking points were given to a Democratic member by a Republican senator." That article and another in the New York Times said the memo was then given to reporters by Democratic aides.

Sen. Robert F. Bennett, Utah Republican, said the issue "stinks" of a news fabrication similar to the one that engulfed CBS anchorman Dan Rather during the 2004 presidential campaign, after he reported that President Bush did not fulfill his duties while in the National Guard, citing documents that CBS later admitted could not be authenticated.

"I've never seen it, and nobody ever gave it to me," Mr. Bennett said of the purported Schiavo memo, adding: "As far as I'm concerned, it is an invention of the press."

Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, New Jersey Democrat, has called for the Senate Rules and Administration Committee to investigate.

"Those who would attempt to influence debate in the United States Senate should not hide behind anonymous pieces of paper," he said in his March 23 letter asking for the inquiry.

Mr. Lautenberg said yesterday that he never saw the document on the floor. Staffers in his office said they got a copy of it from a Web site and passed on copies to the rules committee.

Sen. Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican and chairman of the rules committee, said yesterday that he would look into who, how and when the document was produced, although he is skeptical of the Democratic charges.

"We have not been able to find the source and I was on the floor the whole time until 10 o'clock that night and I never saw it," Mr. Lott said.

The Post, in a dispatch last week, cited a "Democratic Senate official" who said, "It's ridiculous to suggest that these are some talking points concocted by a Democratic staffer. The fact is, these talking points were given to a Democratic member by a Republican senator."

The memo has been cited repeatedly by columnists as evidence that Republicans were trying to exploit the dispute over Mrs. Schiavo, who died last week - 13 days after her feeding tube was removed. Some press reports also said the memo was distributed by Republican leaders - a notion the leadership offices strongly denied. [...]

Comment: All the lawmakers are denying any knowledge of the identity of the memo's author. Sen. Bennett declared that the memo was simply an invention of the press. From the following article, it seems that the memo was likely the invention of someone a bit higher up in the chain of command. The target of the little operation was not US representatives - their turn will come soon enough...

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Flashback: America's religious right lashes out at judges over Schiavo
By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
The Independent
02 April 2005

Terri Schiavo is dead but the political storm unleashed by her passing shows no sign of abating - with the polarising and embattled figure of Tom DeLay, one of the most powerful Republicans on Capitol Hill, squarely in its eye. [...]

But whatever the forensic findings, the political shockwaves of the story will continue to reverberate, pitting conservative Republicans and social groups, desperate to save Ms Schiavo, against a judicial system that refused to intervene to keep her alive.

Comment: As we have previously remarked, nothing seems to stand in the way of Bush and the Neocons when they want something. They had no problem lying to the US and world to justify invading and occupying Afghanistan and Iraq. They had no problem passing laws to drastically restrict civil liberties. They had no problem detaining without charge and torturing "suspects" in the war on terrorism. So, doesn't it seem that if they had wanted Schiavo to live, they could have made it happen?

For a conservative Christian right that regards what has happened as legalised murder, the culprits are America's unelected federal judges. As the movement's leaders point out, the federal judiciary was specifically invited to step in by emergency congressional legislation, signed by President George Bush. But they complain bitterly, it signally failed to do so. The judicial system is now "totally out of control," said James Dobson, the head of the Focus on the Family ministry and pressure group, and considered one of the most influential evangelical Christians in the country.

Comment: Perhaps we begin to see the real intention behind the Bush administration's move in the Schiavo case. Was the federal judiciary set up?

Even more remarkable however was the outburst of Mr DeLay, Republican majority leader in the House of Representatives and closely linked to the religious right, who led the campaign to have Congress interfere in an affair that most Americans, polls say, should be resolved by the judiciary.

The courts "had thumbed their nose at Congress and the President," the Texan said. More astounding still, he appeared to threaten vengeance against those who had defied his wishes. "The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behaviour," he thundered, implying that impeachment of the errant judges was not out of the question. [...]

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Eclipse on pope's funeral
06/04/2005 07:53 - (SA)

Paris - Those who say eclipses herald history-shaping events will find support for their superstition when, on Friday, the sun will be briefly plunged into darkness on the day of Pope John Paul II's funeral.

Astronomers, though, say the eclipse, while of a rare and intriguing type, was calculated long ago and is simply part of a ballet in celestial physics between the sun, earth and moon.

It will be visible on Friday along an arc ranging from the southwestern Pacific to South America, at a time it will already be night in Rome. [...]

Total eclipses were often seen as the harbingers of great events, from droughts and floods to failed harvests and the downfall of kings.

In ancient China, the belief was that an eclipse was caused when the gods dispatched a dragon to eat the sun. The monster then had to be chased away with dances, incantations, the clashing of cymbals and the unleashing of arrows and fireworks.

Even the word "eclipse" comes from a Greek word, "ekleipsis", which means to fail or be abandoned.

"The sun has perished out of heaven and an evil mist hovers over all," was Homer's horrified account of an eclipse in The Odyssey.

Two eclipses occurred near Palestine in AD29 and AD33 - events that, for some Christians, give astronomical proof to the biblical account that the sky darkened at Jesus' death on the cross.

Comment: Given the reports that the pope actually died on April 1, and that his death announcement was delayed, we wonder if this might have something to do with the eclipse. Is the Church stacking the cards?

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Bush Quarantine Order Could Set Precedent For Medical Martial Law
Prison Planet | April 5 2005

REUTERS SNIP: President Bush issued a directive on Friday allowing authorities to detain or isolate any passenger suspected of having avian flu when arriving in the United States aboard an international flight.

The Bush order added pandemic influenza to the list of diseases for which quarantine is authorized. Pandemic flu is considered a novel or re-emergent strain to which there is little or no population immunity.

Under the directive, the Health and Human Services Department is given legal authority to detain or isolate any passenger suspected of having the avian flu to prevent the person from infecting others.

Does anyone remember how SARS was supposed to kill us all back in 2003 and how it was coming back to get us in the winter of 2004?

Even the World Health Organization admits there is no solid evidence to suggest that bird flu can even spread amongst humans.

This is a slow process of conditioning the public to accept mandatory vaccinations and restrictions on mobility under a rule of martial law.

The ball started rolling back in 2001 when the Model States Emergency Health Powers Act was passed, which allows for total government takeoever of every industry, vehicle, building, location, distribution process, you name it.

And when this flu pandemic happens who will we blame? Surely not US scientists playing around with the deadly 1918 Spanish flu virus at "less than the maximum level of containment" according to the New Scientist magazine

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Anger at MSPs' priority for life-saving flu drug
By Paul Hutcheon, Scottish Political Editor

SCOTTISH ministers and their civil servants are set to be issued with the antiviral drug that will be used to combat the impending flu pandemic – ahead of children, pregnant women and the elderly.

The Sunday Herald can reveal that Jack McConnell’s colleagues in the Executive will be among the first workers providing "essential" services to be protected from a health threat that could kill up to 50,000 Scots.

News of the special treatment has angered opposition MSPs who believe that politicians should not be jumping the queue for vital treatments.

UK government officials believe a new hybrid of the bird flu virus that has killed 46 people in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia will reach Britain "at any time". [...]

Top of the list will be NHS staff such as doctors and nurses, who are said to have a vital role in treating those affected by flu, as well as helping prevent the strain from spreading.

Next up are “other workers” who are thought to undertake “essential services”. While this category is likely to include police officers, the Sunday Herald understands that Executive ministers and key civil service staff will also be deemed priority cases.

It is thought that the First Minister’s team, as well as senior mandarins, are indispensable because of their role in co-ordinating the Executive’s response to any crisis.

According to the document, senior politicians are believed to be more of a priority than the people in “high-risk groups” who make up the third category. This tier is likely to include young children, the over 65s, expectant mothers and those who suffer from long-term illnesses such as Aids. [...]

SNP health spokeswoman Shona Robison said that while ministers were correct to prioritise groups for the drugs, a balance should be struck.

“It’s fair enough for health workers to be treated first, but I am not convinced that ministers and their civil servants should be seen before vulnerable groups,” she said.

Comment: We should not doubt that the elite will look after themselves in the event of an outbreak of a deadly virus. After all, they have built their positions on the exploitation of the "little people", which includes the old, mothers and children - all expendable in the eyes of our leaders. What a wonderful we live in.

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Voters batter Berlusconi
Philip Willan in Rome
Wednesday April 6, 2005
The Guardian

Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, rebuffed calls for his resignation yesterday after a stinging defeat in regional elections, a sign that voters may be preparing to get rid of him in the general election next year.

The centre-left coalition won 11 of the 13 regions at stake, and Mr Berlusconi's House of Liberties alliance kept two, its northern strongholds Lombardy and Veneto.

Francesco Storace, defeated president of the politically important Lazio region, described the result as a "slaughter" for the centre-right.

Late last night Mr Berlusconi made an impromptu appearance on a state television talk show and held his first TV debate with the opposition.

He said he would not resign, though he acknowledged that the election results were "heavy" and said his decision not to campaign in the regional elections and "remain the premier of all Italians" had been an error.

Earlier in the day he had blamed the defeat on the difficult economic times and the price increases which followed the introduction of the euro.

"I am serene. I know I have governed in the best way possible," he said in an interview with the Italian weekly Panorama, which will be published later this week.

His rival Romano Prodi worked tenaciously to woo the far-left Communist Refoundation party, and Mr Berlusconi failed to seal an electoral pact with his former allies in the Radical party and the breakaway rightwing group founded by Alessandra Mussolini, granddaughter of the wartime dictator.

The moderate Turin daily La Stampa said the centre-right had "approached the elections divided, quarrelsome, torn by rivalries and personal frustrations, just as its opponents had done at the last regional election in 2000. The result was the same: defeat."

The left-leaning La Repubblica went further: "It's more than a defeat, it's a collapse."

Corriere della Serra, Italy's biggest paper, also said it was a defeat, one "so burning that it cannot be played down".

Mr Prodi, a former president of the European commission, welcomed the result as a clear invitation to his coalition "to prepare to govern, to take the country forward".

Comment: The vast majority of Italians (as well as Spanish, British, Irish, Portuguese, French etc) were against the US invasion of Iraq, yet Berlusconi saw fit to ignore the will of the people he is tasked with representing. Now, at least, they have made their disgust with the mafia don's obsequiousness towards the Bush administration clear. Just don't expect Berlusconi to admit that he is loathed by a majority of Italian voters - it's all about the Euro and economics don't ya know.

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High School Prank Gets Student Arrested Under Patriot Act
Capital News 9 web staff

Colonie police have made an arrest stemming from Monday's lockdown at Colonie Central High School.

John Pompeii, 16, of Colonie has been arrested for the crime. Police said he put two smoke bombs inside a tin box, about the size of a shoe box. An incense fuse, called a punk, was attached to the smoke bombs through a puncture in the tin box.

Police said the device was lit and left in a bathroom stall. A teacher discovered the device and immediately notified the principal.

Students were confined to their classrooms for over two hours as bomb-sniffing dogs patrolled the hallways.

Colonie Police Chief Steve Heider said, "This is a very serious thing. You have to understand, with school safety and the school setting, this actually falls under the Patriot Act. We'll be looking at federal charges, in addition to state and local charges. So, do we want to call it a prank? No. This is a very serious, unforgiving act by someone who was hell bent, obviously, on obstructing the school process."

Pompeii faces a felony charge of placing a false bomb in the first degree, and two misdemeanor charges.

Comment: Over the top? Just the beginning, according to New Attorney General Gonzalez.

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Attorney General to Press for Patriot Act Renewal
The Associated Press
Tuesday 05 April 2005

Coalition of critics wants Congress to revise controversial law.

Washington - Critics of the USA Patriot Act want the kind of real debate they were denied when the sweeping anti-terrorism law was passed 45 days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says he's willing to accommodate them, but he wants all the law's expiring provisions to be renewed.

Gonzales was headed to Capitol Hill on Tuesday no less determined than his predecessor to defend the Patriot Act against arguments that it intrudes into people's lives. But Gonzales is employing a softer tone than John Ashcroft while making the point that the law has helped prevent another terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

"The attorney general has said before that if there are suggestions that can add to the government's ability to root out terrorists and aid us in the war on terror, he will certainly work with Congress to do that," Gonzales spokesman Kevin Madden said. "He looks forward to a healthy discussion about those provisions."

Gonzales was invited to testify Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee and before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. FBI Director Robert Mueller, who also wants full reauthorization of the Patriot Act, was to join Gonzales for his Senate appearance.

Bipartisan Calls to Curb Law

The Patriot Act is the post-Sept. 11 law that expanded the government's surveillance and prosecutorial powers against suspected terrorists, their associates and financiers. Most of the law is permanent, but 15 provisions will expire in December unless renewed by Congress.

On the same day Gonzales was to speak to the Senate committee, Sens. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., planned to reintroduce legislation designed to curb major parts of the Patriot Act that they say went too far.

"Cooler heads can now see that the Patriot Act went too far, too fast and that it must be brought back in line with the Constitution," said Gregory Nojeim, associate director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington legislative office.

The ACLU is part of an unusual coalition of liberal and conservative groups, including the American Conservative Union, that have come together in a joint effort to lobby Congress to repeal key provisions of the Patriot Act.

Widespread concern over 'library provision'
Among the controversial provisions is a section permitting secret warrants for "books, records, papers, documents and other items" from businesses, hospitals and other organizations.

That section is known as the "library provision" by its critics. While it does not specifically mention bookstores or libraries, critics say the government could use it to subpoena library and bookstore records and snoop into the reading habits of innocent Americans.

The Bush administration has acknowledged using it only once.

But the criticism has led five states and 375 communities in 43 states to pass anti-Patriot Act resolutions, the ACLU says.

Even some Republicans are concerned. Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., has suggested it should be tougher for federal officials to use that provision.

Gonzales Offers Tweaks

Gonzales already has agreed to two minor changes to the provision, and was expected to address those Tuesday, a Justice Department official said on condition of anonymity so as not to pre-empt Gonzales' testimony.

He will support giving someone who receives a secret warrant under the provision the right to consult a lawyer and challenge the warrant in court, and will back slightly tightening the standard for issuing subpoenas, the official said.

Neither change addresses the central concern of opponents, which is that it allows the government to seize records of people who are not suspected terrorists or spies.

Critics say the law allows the government to target certain groups, but the Justice Department counters that no Patriot Act-related civil rights abuses have been proven.

Just in case, Craig and Durbin want Congress to curb both expiring and nonexpiring parts of the Patriot Act, including the expiring "library" provision and "sneak and peek" or delayed notification warrants. Those warrants - which will not expire in December - allow federal officials to search suspects' homes without telling them until later.

The Justice Department said federal prosecutors have asked for 155 such warrants since 2001.

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The Grassroots Resistance to the Patriot Act
April 5, 2005

Philadelphia, Penn. -- As Congress begins the critical discussion about renewing the horrendous USA PATRIOT Act, that dangerous assault on the Bill of Rights drawn up by former Attorney General John Ashcroft and now Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, it's a good time to point out how this wretched law is viewed out there in mainstream America.

According to records maintained by an organization called the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, as of April of this year, 372 towns, cities and counties, and five of the 50 states, have passed laws in one way or another declaring themselves to be "Patriot Act free zones."

These states and communities, which collectively include 57 million people, or nearly a quarter of the U.S. population, are as diverse politically as they could possibly be. The states, for example, include Alaska, Montana and Maine, all staunchly or moderately conservative and Republican, and Vermont and Hawaii, both liberal and Democratic. Communities which have passed such ordinances are similarly diverse, ranging from ultra-liberal San Francisco and Cambridge to ultra-conservative Dallas and Savannah.

Most of the laws and ordinances that have been passed are quite similar, and instruct local and state law enforcement authorities not to cooperate with federal agents and orders which they consider to be unconstitutional-for example warrantless searches of library borrowing records, or the turning over of undocumented aliens to the INS - a remarkable affront and challenge to federal authority. Some, like Alaska's resolution, go further and instruct the state's congressional delegation to work actively to repeal those sections of the PATRIOT Act which are deemed threats to liberty and the Bill of Rights.

The message is clear. Despite all the efforts by the Bush Administration and its Congressional cheerleaders and PATRIOT Act supporters like Republican Representative Tom Delay and Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman to scare Americans into surrendering their liberties in the name of the so-called War on Terror, the broad public is not convinced, and is more concerned about government threats to liberty than about some terrorist armed with mythical weapons of mass destruction.

The Bill of Rights Defense Committee, as well as organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Friends Committee on National Legislation, have done a good job of spreading the word about resistance to the USA PATRIOT Act. The BRDC in particular has helped by making a model ordinance or resolution available and by offering organizing tips and instructions, based upon experience, for those who wish to have their communities added to this movement of resistance.

Opponents of the PATRIOT Act should also be contacting their congressional representatives, as the issue is now before Congress, to demand an end to the law. The Act (drawn up with no hearings, reportedly by Chertoff, who at the time was Ashcroft's right hand man in charge of terrorist prosecutions), and passed almost without opposition and no discussion by both houses of congress, came with a time limit, which expires this year. If it is not renewed, its provisions automatically expire. But the administration is pushing hard for renewal of the measure, and even has plans to come back with measures which would go even further in chipping away traditional civil liberties and legal protections.

The grassroots campaign to oppose the USA PATRIOT Act is a remarkable effort, particularly given the way it has been virtually ignored by the mainstream corporate media. Its primary focus on local organizing, rather than directly on Congress, is also a model for political struggle in an era when there is no effective opposition party in Washington, as is its ability to unite people of diverse and antagonistic political perspectives.

Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can't be Happening!" to be published this fall by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at

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Reservist says deputy had no reason to use stun gun
The Associated Press
Posted April 5, 2005

TALLAHASSEE -- A deputy sheriff shocked a Marine reservist with a Taser stun gun in a case of mistaken identity just days after the reservist had returned from an overseas assignment.

Leon County deputies responding to reports of a domestic disturbance wrongly went to Demar Jackson's apartment instead of the correct one next door.

Jackson tried to tell Deputy John Daly he was at the wrong apartment, but Daly told him three times to turn around. When Jackson did not turn, Daly shot him with his Taser, sending 50,000 volts of electricity into Jackson's bare chest and abdomen as his wife and 3-year-old son watched. [...]

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Report Cites 103 Taser-Related Deaths

There were 103 Taser stun gun-related deaths in the United States and Canada between June 2001 and March 2005, according to an Amnesty International report released Friday.

In the first three months of this year, there were 13 Taser-related deaths — compared with six during the same period last year, the report said.

The stun guns have been touted as less lethal than other ways of subduing combative people in high-risk situations, but Tasers have come under increasing scrutiny as a number of deaths have been blamed, at least partially, on the devices.

"No confrontation is risk free. The Taser is the safest way to end violent confrontations for law enforcement," Taser International Inc. President Tom Smith said Thursday.

The report challenged Taser‘s claims that the stun guns have saved more than 6,000 lives.

"Taser International wildly exaggerates the number of incidents in which the use of a Taser resulted in a life saved," the report says.

Smith contended that the company‘s statistics are conservative and based on fact.

"This is just a further example of how out of touch this organization

Stun guns produced by Scottsdale-based Taser are used by more than 6,000 law enforcement agencies worldwide.

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Family furious at death in police raid (Australia)
Shelley Hodgson, Anthony Dowsley and Mark Buttler
A relative of the dead man is restrained by police.
POLICE claim a man lunged at them with a sword before they shot him dead in a dawn raid yesterday.

The shooting sparked wild scenes and threats of revenge from members of the dead man's family - forcing police to erect a screen around the Brooklyn property.

Special operations group police burst into the house in Geelong Rd just after 6am.

Mohamed Chaouk, 29, is believed to have been shot in the neck in the confrontation and died at the scene. One SOG member was injured and treated on the spot.

Police at first said Mr Chaouk was a suspect in an attempted murder, but later said he was wanted over other serious matters.

Mr Chaouk's family said he did not deserve to die, and alleged police had used excessive force.

His mother Fatima Chaouk, who was at home during the drama, claimed her son did not have a weapon.

Distraught relatives clashed violently with police at the scene.

The dead man's uncle, also Mohamed Chaouk, charged at uniform members and was wrestled to the ground and handcuffed. He was released soon after.

"You take one of us, I'm going to take 10 of you," he yelled at police.

As well as putting a screen around the house, police donned bullet-proof vests to guard nearby Altona North police station.

The Geelong Rd home was one of several raided yesterday. Five people -- three men and two women, including the dead man's mother and pregnant sister-in-law -- were arrested.

Three more people were arrested at another house in Geelong Rd, where Mr Chaouk's brother Ali, 24, is believed to live.

The Metropolitan Ambulance Service treated one of the arrested people, who was in shock.

Mr Chaouk's 13-year-old brother Omar said the police broke down his door and pointed a rifle at his head.

He said police told him: "If you look up I'll kill you."

The family alleges Omar was thrown to the floor and hit.

Fatima Chaouk was flanked by relatives as she wailed for her son.

Speaking through an interpreter, Mrs Chaouk said her son did not have a weapon in the house.

A cousin, who did not want to be named, said that Mr Chaouk was murdered by police.

"They (the police) could have used capsicum spray, they could have used taser guns or some other form of self-defence," she said.

"They are saying he had a sword.

"His mother is saying she would have known if he had a weapon.

"It's plain murder by the police."

Commander Terry Purton, of the Victoria Police crime department, said the raids were conducted as part of Operation Vapour, an organised crime squad investigation into drugs and attempted murder.

Mr Purton said there was a confrontation upstairs and a police member discharged a firearm, fatally wounding Mr Chaouk.

The homicide squad is conducting the investigation, which is being overseen by the ethical standards department.

Mr Purton would not comment on whether Mr Chaouk had produced a weapon.

Cannabis, furniture and a four-wheel drive were seized after detectives spent the day searching the property.

Neighbours said the family had lived in the house about 15 years.

"They never bothered us, they kept to themselves," one woman said.

The dead man's father and brothers appeared at an out-of-sessions court hearing last night.

Father Macchour Chaouk, 48, and brother Ali, 24, were both charged with multiple offences including attempted murder and trafficking drugs.

Brother Matwali Chaouk, 21, was also charged with multiple offences including trafficking drugs and resisting police.

A fourth man, Anthony Gerard Philpot, 47, from Bentleigh, faces five charges including obtaining property by deception.

All four were remanded in custody to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court today.

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San Francisco May Regulate Blogging
By Michael Bassik, 03/31/2005 - 3:15pm

Just when you thought the Federal Election Commission had it out for the blogosphere, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors took it up a notch and announced yesterday that it will soon vote on a city ordinance that would require local bloggers to register with the city Ethics Commission and report all blog-related costs that exceed $1,000 in the aggregate.

Blogs that mention candidates for local office that receive more than 500 hits will be forced to pay a registration fee and will be subject to website traffic audits, according to Chad Jacobs, a San Francisco City Attorney.

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Britain gets new intelligence regiment
April 6, 2005

London, England -- The British army launched a new covert regiment Wednesday to provide surveillance for Special Forces in anti-terror operations.

Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon said the Special Reconnaissance Regiment was formed to meet a worldwide demand for "special reconnaissance capability," The Telegraph reported. He said the regiment will free a large portion of elite fighting troopers in the SAS and Special Boat Service to carry out the "hard end" of missions.

Many of the soldiers in the fledgling unit are experienced undercover soldiers who have conducted successful operations in Northern Ireland.

The unit has a target membership of about 300 soldiers, who will be dispatched to both domestic and international missions.

The new unit is the first to be formed in Britain since the Ulster Defense Regiment in 1970.

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How we're all gonna die department: Episode 333

Global Warming: Shutdown Of Atlantic Current Would Ravage Food Stocks

Paris (AFP) Mar 31, 2005

If the North Atlantic Ocean's circulation system is shut down - an apocalyptic global-warming scenario - the impact on the world's food supplies would be disastrous, a study said last Thursday.

The shutdown would cause global stocks of plankton, a vital early link in the food chain, to decline by a fifth while plankton stocks in the North Atlantic itself would shrink by more than half, it said.

"A massive decline of plankton stocks could have catastrophic effects on fisheries and human food supply in the affected regions," warned the research, authored by Andreas Schmittner of Oregon State University.

The circulation system is like a conveyor belt, taking warm water from the Caribbean in the tropical western Atlantic to the cold latitudes of the northeastern Atlantic.

There, the warm surface water cools and sinks, gradually getting hauled around back to the southwest, where it warms again and rises to the surface.

This movement is vital for northwestern Europe, for the warm water brings the region balmy, wet weather. Without it, Ireland, Britain, parts of France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany would be plunged into prolonged, bitter winters.

The circulation is also essential for plankton, providing an upwelling of deep-water nutrients on which these tiny creatures feed. In turn, the plankton feed fish and other marine animals, which in turn are harvested by humans.

Schmittner, writing in the British weekly science journal Nature, said his computer model of plankton loss was based on a disruption of the circulation system over 500 years, during which the conveyor belt lost more than 80 percent of its power.

Temporary slowdowns in the Atlantic's circulation system have occurred in the past, most notably after the end of the last Ice Age, about 10,000 years ago, said Schmittner.

Isotope traces from Greenland icecores suggest there were bursts of rapid warmings of 10 C (18 F), which melted huge amounts of Arctic ice.

This influx, because it comprised cold freshwater, sank to the bottom of the ocean floor, essentially acting like a giant sandbag thrown on the conveyor belt, braking its movement.

Today, Earth is considered to be in an "inter-glacial" period - a balmy period between ice ages.

But scientists say there is a possibility of another big temperature rise induced by man-made global warming, caused by the spewing of fossil-fuel greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

One scenario, considered outlandish only a few years ago but now increasingly taken seriously, is that a fast melt of part of the Greenland icesheet could slow or stop the warm-water circulation in the North Atlantic, with catastrophic, long-term results.

All rights reserved. © 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the i

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Climatologists Discover Deep-Sea Secret
Cardiff, UK (SPX) Apr 04, 2005

Climate changes in the northern and southern hemispheres are linked by a phenomenon by which the oceans react to changes on either side of the planet.

A research team from the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona and the Cardiff University has shown for the first time that ocean circulation in the southern hemisphere has, in the past, adapted to sudden changes in the north.

The research published today in Science will enable more accurate forecasts to be made on how the oceans will react to climate change.

The scientists have observed that at several periods in history when the temperature has increased in the northern hemisphere, the southern hemisphere has entered a cooling period, which creates a decrease in the amount of deep water transported to the Atlantic Ocean from the south.

The opposite effect also took place: when the climate cooled in the North Atlantic, the southern hemisphere entered a warmer period, causing water to be transported northwards.

These mechanisms linking the two hemispheres had already been observed in computer climate simulations, but this is the first time they have been confirmed with detailed data obtained from scientific experiments using weather records from the past.

This is the first evidence showing that waters in the southern hemisphere play an active role in sudden climate changes.

Today's climate in Europe and North America is greatly influenced by the gulf stream. This ocean current carries warm water from the Gulf of Mexico northwards along the Florida coast, eastwards across the Atlantic and southwards along the west coast of Europe, bringing a mild climate.

The strength of the current is dependent on the salinity of the water travelling from the south.

If the salinity decreases, the current weakens. Scientists predict that global warming could cause part of the Greenland ice sheet to melt, giving rise to increased levels of freshwater in the Atlantic Ocean.

This could reduce the strength of the gulf stream, creating a cooler, dryer climate in Europe and North America.

However, according to the authors of this latest study, the Atlantic Ocean could already be adapting to the changes brought about by global warming in the same way as it adapted to climate changes in the past.

The waters in the southern hemisphere are less salty than those in the northern hemisphere, and this freshwater in the south sinks to the ocean floor and is transported to the rest of the Atlantic, reducing the salinity of the North Atlantic Ocean and strength of the gulf stream.

Nevertheless, the researchers have observed a decrease in the volume of freshwater sinking to the floor of the South Atlantic Ocean.

According to Rainer Zahn, "although we don't know where global warming will take us, this could be a sign that the oceans are already adapting to the changes".

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Strong quake rocks Sumatra, other Indonesian islands
The Hindu

New Delhi, April 6 (PTI): A strong earthquake today rocked Sumatra and nearby Indonesian islands which were devastated by a massive temblor last week.

The quake, measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale, was recorded at 1650 IST and was epicentred in southern Sumatra, the India Meteorological Department said here.

No damage or casualty due to the fresh quake was immediately recorded.

Hundreds of people were killed last Monday by a massive earthquake registering 8.7 on the Richter scale, centred under the sea near Sumatra between the Indonesian islands of Nias and Simeulue.

It occurred three months after a quake measuring in excess of magnitude 9.0 triggered Tsunami waves which killed nearly three lakh people across Asia and Africa.

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Ebeko volcano threatens town underneath
06.04.2005, 03.02

PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY, April 6 (Itar-Tass) – The Ebeko volcano that increases its activity in January at the North Kurile island of Paramushir in the Russian Far East is threatening the city of Severo-Kurilsk situated just 7 km away, scientists said Wednesday.

Sergei Rychagov from the Kamchatka Institute for Volcanology and Seismology told Tass that a relevant warning has been sent to local authorities.

According to the scientist hydrogen sulphide and sulphurous gas exhaled by the volcano are the biggest threat as well as ash particles that find their way to reservoirs supplying water to the city. Mudslides towards it are also possible when snow starts melting on the volcano slopes. Scientists are permanently monitoring the situation, Rychagov said.

According to him, Ebeko ‘is the most dangerous volcano on the Kurile Islands.”

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Small earthquake felt in southeastern Massachusetts
April 5, 2005

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. -- A small earthquake was felt in southeastern Massachusetts Tuesday evening.

The Weston Observatory at Boston College reported the magnitude 2.3 tremor, which struck about 7 p.m. EDT about six miles north of New Bedford, was felt in nearby communities, including Achushnet, Marion, Mattapoisett, Dartmouth and Rochester.

"Most reports we had were of a loud bang," said Dina Smith, the observatory's associate director for operations. She said a quake of that size is big enough to be noticed, but not enough to cause damage.

"It sounded like a big truck hitting a big pothole, but it did shake this whole building," New Bedford firefighter Jim Kummer told WCVB-TV.

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Northern Mariana volcano erupts
Wednesday, April 6, 2005 Posted: 0348 GMT (1148 HKT)

Anatahan is a 33-square-kilometer (13-square-mile) island which sits 322 kilometers north of Guam.

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (AP) -- Anatahan Volcano has erupted, shooting a thick plume of ash 50,000 feet (15,000 meters) into the air and darkening the skies.

Officials in the U.S. commonwealth Wednesday placed Anatahan Island off limits until further notice, advising aircraft to exercise caution and avoid coming within 10 nautical miles (18.4 kilometers) of the area.

Ronald Dela Cruz of the Saipan Emergency Management Office said children were sent home early from school as ash fell on Saipan and Tinian, but there were no injuries or major disruptions reported.

Seismic signals began to climb slowly on Tuesday at about 10 p.m. local time. The seismicity peaked about five hours later.

Both the Washington Volcano Ash Advisory Center and the U.S. Air Force Weather Agency verified the plume at 50,000 feet (15,000 meters).

The Air Force said the upper ash plume was blowing east to southeast and a lower level ash plume at about 15,000 feet (4,500 meters) was blowing toward the southwest.

The eruption is at least the fourth in the past two years.

Anatahan had no historical eruptions until 2003. That year it erupted from May to August, covering the island that bares its name in several feet of ash but causing no casualties or damage to communities in the Northern Mariana Islands, where about 70,000 people live.

The Northern Mariana Islands, about 3,800 miles (6,100 kilometers) southwest of Hawaii, has nine active volcanoes.

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