Sunday, April 10, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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Panache de Cumulonimbus
©2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte

United Vegetative States of America
by Anwaar Hussain
Baltimore Chronicle
April 6, 2005

After having lived for 15 years in a persistent vegetative state, Terri Schindler Schiavo crossed over from here to the hereafter on the last day of March.

With her blood scent up in the air, the feral American media went berserk in the last two weeks of Schiavo's life. Using this so-called freest press in the world, the American public was led on a leash by the right-wing activists with a not-so-subtle help from the neofundos ruling the roost in their great country. The pro-life campaigners remained at the point of this bizarre national entertainment.

Americans never fail to astound the world with their penchant for sensationalism. Just when it appears that they've scaled new peaks, they manage to notch themselves up yet higher into the dizzying summits of luridness. While the carnival of mayhem is progressing ahead in full tide in Iraq, the Americans love and sympathy for the plight of Terri Schiavo is the very embodiment of duplicity. Hypocrisy in its truest form, it speaks volumes of their O.J. Simpson syndrome.

Every facet of Schiavo's affliction was dissected with microscopic focus by the voracious lens of the American media. The American public gobbled it all up like starved men on a king's feast.

Consider the following.

The dizzying media blitz surpassed even the Asian tsunami three months ago that left approximately 300,000 people dead or missing. According to "TVEyes"--the digital monitoring service--in this period the cable outlets and networks have mentioned "Schiavo" more than 15,000 times. On the other hand, these same outlets mentioned "tsunami" only 9,000 times during the two weeks following the Asian humanitarian crisis. Internet chat rooms, letters to editors, opinion columns, television talk shows and all national debate forums buzzed with arguments on Schiavo's right to live or die.

The American President played a lead role in this theater of the absurd. On her death he said, "I urge all those who honor Terri Schiavo to continue to work to build a culture of life... The essence of civilization is that the strong have a duty to protect the weak. In cases where there are serious doubts and questions, the presumption should be in the favor of life."

Some hypocrisy, some gall, some double bloody standards. As the Americans applaud their president who makes murder acceptable and lies seem true, they neither challenge the serious doubts and questions in Iraq's case nor force their government for a presumption in the favor of Iraqis' lives.

Forever reined by their corporate-controlled media, the American nation lapped at the pool of misery of a suffering human being. For two tumultuous weeks, the American public really excelled--in the festive ambiance of human misfortune duly projected by their so-called world's freest media.

It would not have been so out of place had the Americans shown the same tenderness for the misery of other human beings, especially for the ones upon whom they have inflicted it themselves. The long-forgotten Iraq war got just about 2,900 TV mentions over the same two weeks that Schiavo obsession ran wild.

When they were shedding tears over Schiavo, not very long back an Iraqi girl Fatima was being repeatedly raped by the beasts that guarded Abu Ghraib prison. Here is an excerpt from her heart-rending letter to Iraqi resistance fighters:

"...I say to you: our wombs have been filled with the children of fornication by those sons of apes and pigs who raped us. Or I could tell you that they have defaced our bodies, spit in our faces, and tore up the little copies of the Qur'an that hung around our necks? ....By God, we have not passed one night since we have been in prison without one of the apes and pigs jumping down upon us to rip our bodies apart with his overweening lust. Kill us along with them! Destroy us along with them! Don't leave us here to let them get pleasure from raping us....Leave their tanks and aircraft outside. Come at us here in the prison of Abu Ghurayb.

"They raped me on one day more than nine times. Can you comprehend? Imagine one of your sisters being raped. Why can't you all imagine it, as I am your sister. With me are 13 girls, all unmarried. All have been raped before the eyes and ears of everyone. They took our clothes and won't let us get dressed. As I write this letter one of the girls has committed suicide. She was savagely raped. A soldier hit her on her chest and thigh after raping her. He subjected her to unbelievable torture. She beat her head against the wall of the cell until she died, for she couldn't take any more.

"Brothers, I tell you again, fear God! Kill us with them so that we might be at peace. Help! Help! Help!"

One hundred resistance fighters launched a fierce attack on the prison, led by Fatima's elder brother. People died, Fatima among them. Go talk of Schiavo's right to live or die.

While the Americans and their media kept a macabre death-watch over Schiavo's plight, Dr. Hafidh al-Dulaimi, the head of "the Commission for the Compensation of Fallujah citizens" has reported the destruction that American troops have inflicted on Fallujah. Here is a brief gist:

"7000 totally destroyed, or nearly totally destroyed, homes in all districts of Fallujah....8400 stores, workshops, clinics, warehouses, etc. destroyed....65 mosques and religious sanctuaries demolished....59 kindergartens, primary schools, secondary schools and technical colleges destroyed....13 government buildings leveled....Four libraries, that housed thousands of ancient Islamic manuscripts and books, gutted completely...." And on and on and on

Human beings lived in those buildings; make your own guess of their toll. Go talk of Schiavo's right to live or die.

It seems that having wallowed in the deceptions, lies, crimes and war-mongering of their rulers for centuries, and now immersed neck-deep in a smothering swamp of consumerism, the Americans have lost their sense of impartiality, justice and fairness. It also seems that there are too many Americans with blood lust out there who look at pictures of butchered Iraqi kids and rejoice.

The coverage of Schiavo-like events allows the Americans to whet their appetite for tragedy, hone the fine art of hypocrisy and feed their morbid addiction of calamity. It may be a blatant affront to the sense and sensibilities of the enlightened world citizenry, they don't care.

Haven't the lies of their rulers now been fully exposed? Why is it that the common Americans do not see the Iraqi butchery for what it is--a brazen plan for occupation, suppression and theft of vital resources of an already aggrieved and impoverished nation, whatever the human cost. Or is it that they see it and agree with the plan of maintaining white man's license for as long as possible? Why else would they reelect this gang of criminals and thus be responsible for the carnage by default. Or has the American nation, too, lapsed into a persistent vegetative state and thus did not notice the gang sneaking into the White House? Should their country now be named as the United Vegetative States of America?

Why can't they see the horrendous atrocities that the United States military is visiting upon unarmed Iraqis who never posed any danger to their beloved country? Why can't their free media catch on its eagle-eyed lens the raining cluster bombs, the showering napalms, and the tortures in the dungeons? If the BBC can broadcast an interview with a grieving Iraqi woman whose pregnant daughter had been machine-gunned by US troops, why is there nothing on the US media? Why is it that the common Americans are not out on the streets protesting the horrendous actions of their administration and the sinister complicity of their media? Would they show the same stoic indifference if a couple of tons of depleted uranium are shot up the New York alleys? Go talk of Schiavo's right to live or die.

Where was this concern for human misery when the death toll in Iraq shot past the 100,000 mark? Where were the tears of human compassion when Fallujah was razed to the ground and its citizens--men, women and children alike--gunned down by the valiant American troops and left on the streets for the dogs to feed on? Go talk of Schiavo's right to live or die.

Where is the free American media and their kind-hearted patrons when their G.I. Joes are pumping up Iraq with depleted uranium, napalm bombs, cluster munitions and poisonous gases even as these lines are being written? Is death less camera-friendly in Iraq or is it less worthy of the Americans' attention? Are Iraqis children of a lesser god? Go talk of Schiavo's right to live or die.

When it comes to Iraq, the Americans' sympathy wells suddenly dry up. While they shed tears for a woman who remained in a halfway house for the past 15 years, the dead and the maimed of other nations are forgotten as soon as their media leads them to yet another thrilling topic. Or are these crocodile tears that they shed when they are ready to devour?

Who was it that said, "The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity"?

The American writer Lee Harris was spot on the dot in his article "Good American Hypocrisy" when he wrote, "America's current critics need to recognize that in pursuing its self-interest the United States is hardly unique--what singles us out from among nations is our obdurate hypocrisy. We have to pretend to ourselves that we are doing the right thing--often at the cost of actually doing it." Go talk of Schiavo's right to live or die.

Long live the United Vegetative States of America.

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SPEAKING FREELY: Oil for dollars, and dollars for US deficit
By Richard Benson

The Asians remain shocked and in disbelief. Just when Japan, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong had accumulated enough dollars to buy oil to keep them warm for many winters, it's all over. In broad daylight, the Americans and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cheered as the price of oil popped up from US$30 a barrel to more than $50.

Indeed, this jump in the price of oil increases the world's daily oil consumption bill of 84 million barrels a day to $4.2 billion, from $2.5 billion (or $1.5 trillion a year from $900 billion). The world now has to shell out an additional $600 billion a year of "lucky bucks" to oil-producing countries just to stay in motion.

The bigger shock, however, is in the devaluation of dollar holdings of US Treasury debt. The rise in oil prices guarantees that the value of the US dollar will be pushed down even further, and stay down. Now that China is the No 2 oil importer and Japan is No 3 - with the rest of Asia very thirsty for oil as well - you can understand why the Asians must find a way to protect themselves.

The US strategy for using oil to finance its deficit is, of course, brilliant. America's elected officials knew that at some point those independent foreign central banks would start getting edgy about buying more dollars to pay for the United States' war and deficits. The $650 billion trade deficit is breathing down the dollar's neck. So which central banks can the US continue to use as the fall guys to buy the dollar? Why not the Persian Gulf oil states - but where would they get the dollars to buy US Treasuries? Well, with the Chinese piling up dollars and growing like crazy, at some point the oil market had to tighten. It was only a matter of time before the Chinese would start bidding up the price of oil. The Asians, therefore, are hung out to dry when the price of oil rises because they have to spend more of their dollars on oil.

As the price of oil goes up, extra money floods into the Gulf kingdoms. With the US secretary of defense putting troops all over the ground in the Middle East, and those nimble aircraft carriers nearby and ready to deliver the "shock and awe of sudden democracy" to the Gulf monarchs, it's a sure bet that America's OPEC buddies will stash their newly found Asian lucky bucks into good old American Treasury notes.

With such a simple policy to fund its deficit for another year, it's no wonder the United States can get by without any brain power at the Treasury Department. In effect, the US and its Gulf Arab allies just pulled off the biggest central-bank heist in the history of the world. The price of oil just went up 60% or more, which really cuts down to size that $3.4 trillion of net foreign holdings of US financial assets. As a loyal American, one would like to cheer one's government's deft move to pick the pockets of our trading and financing partners. Moreover, the US gets the Arabs to fund a large share of our deficit, subsidize our interest rates, and help keep our taxes low for another year. Surely I can afford to buy another gas-guzzling sport-ute, get a rifle, and wave a flag.

The United States is extracting tribute on oil from the world. If the world wants Middle Eastern oil, it can pay for it through the Saudi branch of the US Treasury. Why do the heads of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Qatar, etc, hold dollars? Because they want to keep the money and the power. The ruling family of Saudi Arabia controls 25% of the world oil reserves and is completely dependent on oil revenues for its survival. Tens of thousands of Saudi princes live off lavish royal stipends. Think of Arabia as a family firm. If the dollar goes down in value, the Saudi royal family still gets to keep hundreds of billions of dollars. But, if they don't buy dollars, why would the US keep them in power? It would simply not be in our interests to do so. Remember when Saddam Hussein talked about pricing Iraq's oil in euros? "Shock and awe" quietly followed.

This program of oil for dollars and dollars for the US Treasury deficit is the simple tribute that we, as the superpower, can expect. The United States is well paid for keeping the world's supply of black gold safe and available to all. Unlike the Vietnam era - when the US was trying to finance guns and butter - getting others to pay now for our guns allows us to milk the oil out of the sand and turn it into butter.

The next question will be how the Asians respond to a 60% hike in the price of oil. Please stay tuned.

Notice in the chart below there are some big, smart, anonymous dollar holders (such as hedge funds) located in the Caribbean. No one knows who they really are.

Major foreign holders of US Treasury securities (in billions of dollars)

Japan 702
Mainland China 194
England 163
Caribbean 93
Korea 68
Taiwan 59
Hong Kong 59
Total (including other countries with fewer holdings) 1,960
Comment: If Benson is correct in his analysis, then Mike Ruppert and the Peak Oil gang's suggestion that oil should be priced closer to $180/barrel takes on a whole different light, not to mention the "terrorist" attacks against targets within Saudi Arabia that have been linked in the Western press to al Qaeda.

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The myth of an Israeli strike on Iran
By Kaveh L Afrasiabi

BERLIN - There is much talk these days of an impending Israeli military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, fueled most recently by a London Times article indicating that the Israeli parliament had given the initial nod to the planned attack - to take care of what the Israeli politicians of various persuasions regularly describe as the "biggest existential threat" to the Jewish state.

Yet a careful examination of the various logistical, operational feasibility as well as geopolitical and regional aspects or consequences of this much-debated scenario leads us to the opposite conclusion, namely, the impractical and unworkable nature of the so-called "Osirak option", named after Israel's successful aerial bombardment of Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981.

Lest we forget, while the full details of the Osirak operations have yet to be revealed, it is fairly certain that Israeli fighter jets crossed the airspace of one or more of Iraq's neighbors to reach Iraq for their single strike. In attacking Iran's multiple nuclear facilities, spread throughout the country, particularly in central Iran, requiring a long trek across the borders, Israel's best option would be a simultaneous multi-pronged strike using different routes, eg through Jordan and Iraq as well as the Mediterranean route through Turkey and or Azerbaijan, not to mention the logistical "nightmare" of long distance necessitating either aerial refueling or midpoint landing.

Yet at present neither option is available to Israel, nor is there any immediate prospect of their availability in the near future, given both Iran's cordial relations with its neighbors and the fears and concerns of those neighbors of a severe Iranian backlash in case they permit their airspace for an Israeli attack on Iran.

Turkey, Israel's "strategic partner" in the region, has excellent economic and diplomatic relations with Iran, as the two enjoy voluminous energy trade, regional cooperation through the Economic Cooperation Organization, and common policy toward Iraq and the "Kurdish issue"; the latter was for all practical purposes solved after 2001 after both sides set up a joint "border security" committee that resolved the outstanding differences between Tehran and Ankara on the issue of Kurdish insurgency. Hence, at present, irrespective of their divergent political orientations, one being secularist the other Islamist and theocratic-republican, Iran and Turkey enjoy the dividends of stable neighborly relations unlikely to be torpedoed by an Israeli incursion inside Iran through Turkish territory.

Of course, Turkey remains concerned about the nature of Iran's nuclear programs, yet its leaders do not share Israel's paranoid alarm about a "nuclear Iran" in the absence of any credible intelligence that would substantiate this fear, notwithstanding Iran's adherence to the intrusive Additional Protocol of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and the recent IAEA chief's report confirming the absence of any evidence to corroborate the (US and Israeli) accusations that Iran is building a nuclear arsenal. (Recently, Aharon Ze'evi, an Israeli general, went on record stating that "Iran is not actually capable of enriching uranium to build a nuclear bomb ..." This is in contrast to Brenda Shaffer, a former Israeli officer turned Harvard scholar, who has repeatedly penned that Iran is at the "nuclear threshold".)

In the light of Turkey's leaders' stated satisfaction with Iran's continued cooperation with the IAEA inspections and the Iran-European Union nuclear negotiations, it is hard to envisage them taking on the risk of jeopardizing their sensitive, and mutually rewarding, economic, security and other ties with Iran by allowing Israel to use their air space against Iran.

Unfortunately, the high improbability of an Israeli operation against Iran through Turkey has consistently escaped the attention of Western media and the army of military and security pundits writing about this scenario. To give an example, in his recent book, The Persian Puzzle, Kenneth Pollock overlooks Turkey's unwillingness to accede to Israel's request when discussing the "Osirak option". Similarly, veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, in his New Yorker article on a similar subject, simply takes for granted that because of Turkey's close ties to both Israel and the US it could be a launching pad for military offensives against Iran's nuclear installations.

Clearly, such convenient oversights, and consistent mischaracterizations of Iran-Turkey relations as predominantly competitive, when in fact the cooperative side has the clear upper hand, simply add fuel to the myth of an imminent Israeli attack on Iran, whereas what is needed is a proper analysis of the key variables, such as the long-term damage to Iran-Turkey relations affecting the larger region if Turkey ever consented to an Israeli request for the use of its airspace for military action against Iran.

What makes this an even less likely scenario is the recent setback in Turkey-Israel relations caused by media revelations that Israel is actively courting Kurdish groups in the region, a charge flatly denied by Israel when confronted harshly about it by Ankara not long ago. Turkey's relations with the EU could suffer as well, and its prospects for inclusion as a EU member further postponed, if Turkey puts itself at the disposal of US and Israel for military action unsupported by Europe.

Henceforth, the most likely scenario for Israeli use of Turkey's airspace against Iran is a prior Turkey-EU consultation and understanding on the matter, unlikely to materialize in the post-Iraq invasion milieu featuring a war-weary Europe uninterested in risking the entire sum of its relations with Iran over the nuclear question.

The same argument applies, mutatis mutandis, to Iran's other neighbor, Azerbaijan, whose new leader visited Iran recently and assured Tehran that under no circumstance would he allow a foreign attack against Iran through Azerbaijan. In fact, compared with Turkey, Azerbaijan has even more to fear of a harsh Iranian reaction in case of an Israeli raid through the Caspian state, which looks to Iran for support in its long bid to regain the territory lost to Armenia during the 1990s. In other words, Baku would have much to lose and little, if anything, to gain, by playing in the hands of US and Israel, which would also mar its carefully cultivated relations with Moscow (unhappy with Baku's cozying up to the US military).

As with Azerbaijan, all the other Caucasian-Central Asian doors to Israel for an attack on Iran are currently closed, given the prominent sway of the Russian military in the region and Moscow's inherent opposition to any US-Israeli plan to weaken a powerful and reliable allay, namely the Islamic Republic of Iran. As for Pakistan, much like Turkey and Azerbaijan, it has simply too much vested interest with Iran, covering Afghanistan and the Indo-Pakistani balance of power, among other things, to allow itself a supporting role for an invasion of Iran by the Jewish state hated by Pakistan's mass of Muslim fundamentalists. Already, President General Pervez Musharraf and his assistants have repeatedly gone on record clearly stating that they would never allow Pakistan to be used against Iran.

What then remains of the "Osirak option" is an Israeli strike passing through Jordan and then Iraq before reaching Iran, hardly conceivable in today's Shi'ite-dominated Iraqi polity. Assuming, in argumendo, that Israel would "violate" Iraqi airspace to conduct its operations, this could only happen with the United States' complicity, which, in turn, would both seriously complicate the relationship of the US and the new Iraqi government, making a mockery of the United States' claim that the "occupation had ended" and Iraq's sovereignty "restored", and, worse, igniting an unpredictable new round of Iran-US hostility inside Iraq that could easily escalate and engulf the oil-rich Persian Gulf. For one thing, this would adversely impact the world economy by causing substantially higher oil prices, much to the chagrin of Western economies already suffering from high energy prices.

Again, it is rather astounding how simplistic, and naive, most of the published stuff is on an Israeli strike against Iran, drawing illicit comparisons between the Osirak power plant in Iraq, which was barely constructed and was in the incipient stage of construction when demolished by Israeli bombs, and the Russian-made Bushehr nuclear reactor, employing hundreds of Russian workers now putting the final touches on it; the Bushehr plant is more than 90% completed, Russia and Iran have reached an agreement on the return of "spent fuel", and in addition to the loss of Russian lives, causing Moscow's fury perhaps to the level of affecting Israel's energy ties with Russia, its bombardment would cause a massive environmental catastrophe likely to impact Iran's neighbors in the Persian Gulf.

Thus, aside from the question of what Israel would actually achieve by destroying the Bushehr power plant, except angering the Russians, Arabs and the whole Muslim world and making Iran ever more determined to retaliate and build a nuclear arsenal without hesitation, the simplest questions concerning the dissimilarities of Osirak and Bushehr targets have yet to be addressed by the "experts" and policymakers in Washington and Tel Aviv advising a military strike against the Bushehr reactor.

And then there are the "operational" nightmares pertaining to Iran's air defense systems, particularly when Israeli jets would have to fly across Iran to reach the targets in Isfahan, Tehran, Arak and elsewhere, facing rather formidable responses from Iran's air force and surface to air missiles. By hitting these targets, Israel would inflict major "collateral" damage on civilians in Iran, and this factor alone would have a long-term implication hardly desirable by Israel, that is, Iran's transformation into a sworn enemy of Israel.

Despite virulent anti-Israeli rhetoric in Iran today, Iran's leaders and policymakers by and large consider Israel an "out of area" country not germane to Iran's national security worries. In fact, no one in Iran takes seriously Israeli propaganda about Iran's threats to Israel, and yet this could change overnight if Israel attacks Iran, causing substantial new security worries for Israel at its borders with Lebanon, and even Syria. A whole new Arab-Iran alignment against Israel would take shape in the aftermath of an Israeli strike against Iran, compared with the relatively benign relations between the two sides now.

Sadly, the Israeli perspective on Iran appears fixated on the rhetoric, ignoring both the gap between mass-generated, largely symbolic rhetoric and the actual policy, as well as the positive signals of an evolving Iranian position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, notwithstanding Iran's declared willingness to abide by the will of Palestinians, above all, a two-state solution. But no matter how deep their misperceptions of Iran, or their delusions of an "Osirak option" against Iran, Israeli leaders, and their media pundits, are consciously propagating a myth of military action that flies in the face of formidable obstacles that make it impractical and, increasingly, into a paper wish-list, but one that nonetheless adds much to the political and psychological instabilities in the volatile region and beyond.

Kaveh L Afrasiabi, PhD, is the author of After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran's Foreign Policy (Westview Press) and "Iran's Foreign Policy Since 9/11", Brown's Journal of World Affairs, co-authored with former deputy foreign minister Abbas Maleki, No 2, 2003. He teaches political science at Tehran University.

Comment: And what if the ultimate goal is a war between Israel and the Arab world leading to the destruction of Israel and much of the Arabs? Such a scenario doesn't fit into geopolitical thinking because the origins are buried in the hyperdimensional nature of our reality and the long-term goals of our keepers.

Planners and strategists who ignore or deride such a possibility will not be able to look below the surface and see other forces at work.

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Mideast tensions rise over sacred site
Last Updated Sun, 10 Apr 2005 01:12:30 EDT
CBC News

JERUSALEM - Palestinian militants are threatening to scrap a truce with Israel if Jewish hardliners rally as planned Sunday at Jerusalem's most disputed holy site.

Israeli police have vowed to stop any march on the hilltop compound, revered by Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) and by Jews as the Temple Mount.

Police have barred non-Muslims from visiting the site, which includes Islam's third-holiest site, the al-Aqsa mosque, and the ruins of biblical Jewish temples.

Comment: In fact, excavations in and around Jerusalem have never come up with the slightest evidence that there existed the so-called Temple of Solomon at the site of the al-Haram al-Sharif or anywhere else in that city.

However, Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups warned they would resume fighting if the site is entered by the right-wing Jewish protesters, who want to sabotage Israel's planned pullout from the Gaza Strip.

"If the Zionists defile al-Aqsa mosque, they will be planting the seeds of the third uprising," said Nizar Rayyan, of Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's visit to the sacred site in 2000 when he was the opposition leader sparked Palestinian riots that grew into the 4½ -year armed uprising, or intefadeh.

Violence in Gaza strains truce

The fragile ceasefire agreement reached by Israeli and Palestinian leaders in February already seemed to be wavering after violence broke out in Gaza a day earlier.

Israeli troops killed three Palestinian teenagers from the Rafah refugee camp and militants retaliated by firing mortars at Jewish settlements in Gaza on Saturday.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the shooting violated his Feb. 8 ceasefire agreement reached with Sharon.

The incidents shattered weeks of calm before Sharon was to leave Sunday to meet with U.S. President George W. Bush.

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Israel wants to escape from final status talks: Erekat 2005-04-10 16:52:58

RAMALLAH, April 10 (Xinhuanet) -- Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat warned on Sunday that the Israeli government wanted to escape from implementing the third phase of the roadmap peace plan related to the final status talks.

Erekat told reporters that the talks covered such issues as Jerusalem, refugees, borders and the water, adding that the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) wanted to cancel the second phase of the roadmap which is a non-binding phase contrary to the third one.

The second phase talks about establishing a Palestinian state with temporary borders.

"The PNA seeks to cancel this phase for fear that (Israeli Prime Minister) Ariel Sharon might work on transforming this phase into a permanent solution," Erekat explained.

He admitted that there are Palestinian internal differences over the planned Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

"A team, including myself, believes that it is necessary to coordinate with Israel to know how the various matters will work after the withdrawal with regards to the airport, seaport, new bornand passports," said Erekat.

Another team believes Israel occupied Gaza through a unilateral decision and has to leave in the same manner, said Erekat.

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Indifferent to death: tragedy of the traumatised children of the intifada

Daily acts of violence may be leaving Gaza's youngsters too emotionally scarred to adjust to a life of peace, reports Sandra Jordan
Sunday April 3, 2005
The Observer

'Sawerney! Sawerney!' the children shout as they swarm around ('Take my picture! Take my picture!'). This is Yibna, in Rafah, one of the most desolate sites of destruction in the Gaza strip, where Palestinian children play in the ruins of their demolished homes. Despite the ceasefire - and the danger - they still chase Israeli tanks. This is their playground.

'Money!' they demand. When you tell them you have none, their mood changes. 'Shalom,' they say sullenly - Hebrew for peace.

Some of these youngsters are not responding well to peace. Their latest grievance is with the Palestinian police, newly dispatched to co-ordinate with the Israeli army guarding the border with Egypt. 'We hate the police,' says 11-year-old Ahmed. 'They try to stop us throwing stones. They pull us by the ears. Sometimes, to make an example of you, they'll cut your hair really short.'

He scowls. 'We hate Abu Mazen [Yasser Arafat's successor as President of the Palestinian Authority]. We are not afraid to die for Palestine.'

Comment: Since when have these children known peace? The recent cease-fire - you know, the one for Western media where Israel continues to kill Palestinians while demanding the Palestinians not retaliate - has hardly meant a time of peace. But the idea gets planted in the media, journalists discuss it as if it really exists, and when Israel succeeds in provoking the Third Intifada, they'll tell us that they knew all along that the Palestinians as a people are not "responding well to peace". The rest of the article gives us the psychological foundation for this argument.

For all their bravado, these are children who laugh one minute and burst into tears the next. Three-quarters suffer from anxiety and nightmares. Many suffer flashbacks of violent events. According to research by the Gaza Community Centre for Mental Health, 55 per cent of kids in 'hot' areas such as Rafah have acute post-traumatic stress disorder.

'These children become indifferent to death,' says Dr Fadel Abu Hein, associate professor of mental health and psychology at Al-Aqsa University. 'On the one hand, the Israeli soldiers make them feel insecure; on the other, they embrace death because in this society the martyr is celebrated.'

Worst affected are those who have seen relatives or friends killed in front of them, but children are also traumatised by shooting, night raids, demolitions and other people's stress. 'In the long term, the trauma will grow with the child and becomes part of the personality,' says Abu Hein. 'The disease matures with them.'

The result could be that some children never adjust to peace, growing instead into aggressive adults who vent their rage against their own families and society. 'Some may project their anger on to their own children, to observe their own suffering in their kids. Like a mirror,' says Abu Hein. Around a third of Gaza's children need deep treatment, cautions the psychologist, to guard against 'the creation of a soldier against Israel in the future'.

Lubna's house was demolished in the last incursion. Her family are squeezed into an aunt's house, within sight of the Israeli military. Lubna, 11, says: 'I feel afraid of the bulldozers and tanks, but throw stones at them because the Israelis are bad. They kicked us out of our home and beat my dad.'

Lubna has nightmares about her father's beating. 'When I grow up,' she says, 'I want to be a doctor so I can heal injuries caused by the Israelis.'

Comment: Here we see that an individual's response is not set in stone. There are those, like Lubna, who see the horror and don't want to strike back, but want to devote their lives to healing.

After school, Lubna goes to the Lifemakers' Centre for two-hour sessions at which 40 children learn English, listen to stories and talk. Few parents can afford the 50p monthly fee so the centre, a rare space for safe play, has a precarious existence. It is supposed to be open three days a week, but most of the children turn up every day.

'How can I tell them not to come?' asks Fida Qishta, 22, a volunteer who says her job is 'to fix broken hearts'. She tells jokes and sings songs to cheer up the most depressed children. 'But I can't fix them in one day. They think of bulldozers and tanks and being martyrs.'

This is clear from the plays the children write and perform themselves. Lubna takes part in one. Four girls walk slowly across the room. Lubna falls to the ground - she has been shot at a checkpoint by the Israeli army. Her friends weep. They walk again. Another girl falls. When the two survivors go home, their mothers meet them: 'Where's Lubna? Where's Abir? Why are you carrying their bags?' The girls reply: 'They have become shahids [martyrs].' They all hug and cry.

'I was shocked when they started this,' says Qishta, whose own plays about picnics were scorned. 'It makes me cry because it's not like they're acting; it's like it's real. It is their reality.'

Anees, 19, lives nearby. Most of his neighbourhood has been crushed to rubble by Israeli bulldozers. In one army raid he witnessed the death of seven neighbours. 'I looked for them in the street,' he recalls, 'and I saw the head of one in the middle of the road. Pieces of them were in the trees. I was looking at meat. These were my friends.'

Many people in the area think Anees is insane. 'They call me Anees the Israeli because I am sick of blood. I voted for Abu Mazen because the intifada has done nothing. If an Israeli officer comes to my house, I'd like to invite him for tea. I would like to have a Jewish friend in Tel Aviv.'

These are not popular ideas to express out loud in Rafah, even though most Palestinians are sick of the fighting. What Anees wants more than anything is to study abroad. His suitcase has been packed for the past year. What's stopping him is lack of qualifications - he keeps failing two subjects in his final exams. 'I have tried. But look at this place. It's all destruction. I can't study here.'

Anees is not alone. Some of Abu Hein's students complain that they are losing their brainpower. 'They say, "Doctor, four years ago we felt like intelligent people and acquired knowledge quickly. But we've lost our concentration and energy. Now we feel stupid." '

Research shows that exposure to long-term trauma could have detrimental physical effects on the brain. After adrenalin kicks in, the chemical cortisol is released into the bloodstream. In the short term, this 'fight or flight' mechanism is good for survival, says David Trickey, chartered clinical psychologist at the traumatic stress clinic at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. But over longer periods 'cortisol becomes toxic and affects the brain, especially in children whose brains are still developing and therefore more malleable'.

Emotion and learning become affected. 'The brain is now organised around threats and doesn't want to pay attention to what's happening in the classroom, but to what's happening outside,' says Trickey.

During the intifada more than 630 Palestinian minors under 17 have been killed. According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, another 3,700 have been wounded. Reeham is one. She is a beautiful seven-year-old with glossy hair. She takes out one of her eyes.

Reeham was shot in the eye and lost a finger during an Israeli raid. The other children call her 'one-eye'. She has lost her self-esteem and all interest in learning. She spends hours in front of a mirror, talking to herself and studying photos of herself before and after the incident.

'She feels inferior and this has become part of her personality,' says Abu Hein. 'Even if she goes to university and her peers swear "We are not observing your eye", she won't believe them.'

Reeham's father, Hani, has other concerns. 'I'm a bit worried because she's a girl. If it happened to a boy he could adapt but as a girl her future is to be married.' Reeham holds her artificial eye to the camera. 'Sawerney,' she whispers.

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Pakistan confirms its embassy staffer kidnapped in Iraq 2005-04-10 19:20:38

ISLAMABAD, April 10 (Xinhuanet) -- Pakistan Foreign Office said on Sunday that a Pakistani embassy staff member in Baghdad, who went missing late Saturday night, has been kidnapped.

Malik Mohammad Javed did not return home after he went for the Isha prayers in District Amariya, according to Pakistani Foreign Office Spokesman Jalil Abass Jilani.

"Persons claiming to be members of Omar bin Khattab group have apparently kidnapped the official," said a Foreign Office statement issued here on Sunday.

"Malik Mohammad Javed has contacted his family in Baghdad and said that he is safe," the statement said.

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China protesters march for second day
Sunday 10 April 2005, 9:57 Makka Time, 6:57 GMT

Anti-Japan protests have erupted for a second day in China, as Tokyo demanded better protection for its interests a day after demonstrators smashed windows at Japan's embassy in Beijing.

About 3000 people marched on Sunday towards the Japanese Consulate General in the southern city of Guangzhou for a peaceful "spontaneous demonstration" and police were maintaining order, said a spokesman with the Guangzhou municipal government.

Ide Keiji, a spokesman for the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, said police prevented demonstrators from getting near the consulate.

A Hong Kong Cable Television correspondent reporting from the scene said the protesters threw eggs at Japanese restaurants as they passed by.

Calls for boycott

In the southern city of Shenzhen, up to 600 protesters marched to a Japanese department store. They shouted "Boycott Japanese goods" and some threw plastic bottles of mineral water at a store selling Japanese camera equipment.

On Saturday, about 1000 protesters threw rocks and broke windows at Japan's embassy in Beijing, demanding a boycott of Japanese goods to oppose new schoolbooks critics say distort Japan's wartime atrocities. They also urged their government to prevent Tokyo from gaining a permanent seat on the United Nations' Security Council.

China said on Sunday it had urged anti-Japanese protesters in Beijing to stay "calm and sane", and mobilised additional police to maintain public order, but Japanese officials said that not enough was done. [...]

Most protests in the Chinese capital are banned, but the government occasionally allows brief rallies by a few dozen people at a time outside the Japanese embassy on key war

Saturday's protest was the biggest in Beijing since 1999, when the US embassy was besieged after Nato warplanes bombed Beijing's embassy in Belgrade during the war over Kosovo.

Anger has grown in China and South Korea over the Japanese government's recent approval of new textbooks that critics say gloss over offences by Japan's military, including forcing tens of thousands of women into sex slavery to service troops.

Comment: This article, and the two that follow, report on the growing rifts that are appearing between peoples. Sixteen years ago, when the Berlin Wall came down, there was a moment when it seemed possible that barriers would drop. Liberal democracy, we were told, had proven itself victorious. It was obviously propaganda and manipulation. The old Soviet alliance fell apart to be replaced by oligarchs, the mafia, and US and Western capital, all of which are not necessarily three distinct entities.

The period of peace we were assured would be ushered in has been a constant period of local wars as groups fought each other for power.

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Divided without a wall, Germans are now split by a rift of the mind
Peter Beaumont in Berlin
Sunday April 3, 2005
The Observer

Before the wall came down, Gerd Glanze was an entertainer in East Berlin, telling risky jokes about life under communism.

Occasionally the feared secret police would wave a warning finger at him, when the jokes became too politically charged. Then he would find new ways of mixing 'the fire and pepper'.

These days Glanze runs the souvenir stall at Eastside Gallery, the longest surviving section of the wall, in an industrial hinterland close to Ostbahnhof station and the neo-gothic bridge spanning the River Spree.

Once a malevolent partition dividing families and lovers, now the wall that cut Germany in half is a muralled tourist attraction where Glanze sells wall chippings, toy Trabant cars and T-shirts.

The wall is now a few fragmented relics, monuments and museums at more iconic points like Checkpoint Charlie, but the divide it represented remains firmly lodged in German minds. Last week a poll commissioned by Berlin Free University reported that - 16 years after the wall came down, 15 years after political reunification that cost $1.5 trillion and wrecked Europe's largest economy - a quarter of former West Germans and half as many easterners would like the wall back.

The east-west divisions are defined by history, economics and psychology; by education and job opportunities; even by marriage. Prejudice persists between Ossis (easterners) and Wessis (westerners). Ossis - facing high unemployment and low wages - feel like second-class citizens in new Germany. The Wessis begrudge the bill for the faltering reunification that has poisoned their economy.

The depth of the split was revealed, a decade into reunification when the Berliner Kurier newspaper reported that of 15,000 marriages in Berlin, only 400 were 'mixed' - one spouse from the west and one from the east.

Few who have studied the implications of Germany's split personality have any reason to believe it has changed much in the past few years.

At his stall, Glanze is scathing about those who wish the wall back. 'They are stupid. It is the older generation. For the young people it's not a topic. But there are people for whom a border still exists. I heard a taxi driver the other day say that he had never been into east Berlin and would never cross the border. I thought he's a special Mr Arsehole.'

Sascha Seipel is a west Berliner, and a victim of Germany's struggling economy. He worked as a sound engineer until six years ago when he was laid off. These days he makes a living - like his father - as a taxi driver. As he drives, he points out the monuments of Berlin's tumultuous history: the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate.

While Seipel is happy to go anywhere in Berlin, he admits there is distaste among many for the east.

'The wall still exists in people's minds. When I cross the city I say I'm going over to the east. It does not mean anything to me. But when a lot of westerners say that they don't mean it in a nice way.'

'I think the problem has been that in the east they thought that we had all the wealth, they did not realise we had problems too.

'They did not realise the full meaning of freedom. The wall remains for some as a psychological idea, a safety blanket. In the past everything was guaranteed for them from education to jobs.'

At the Berlin Wall Documentation Centre, Katrin Passens runs education programmes. She agrees there are still people who have not crossed the city.

'I know someone like that - who has not stepped into the east in 15 years.' Passens says even interest in the wall's history is divided. The schools most keen on her seminars are inevitably from the east.

'Although there are people who want the wall back, what people are saying is they want a return to better social security, a return to low unemployment. Before '89, both my father and my mother had jobs. My father has lost his and now my mother only works part-time.'

Professor Oskar Niedermayer, a political scientist at Berlin Free University, was one of the authors of last week's poll. 'I was not surprised by the figures,' he said. 'All of our studies have indicated to us that the friction between east and west is not decreasing. I think we perhaps underestimated the difficulties created by four decades of very different socialisation for the two societies, especially in the east, combined with the reality that has followed.'

After 15 years of political insistence that a level playing field must be created at all cost, it is only now some have begun to question whether that is possible. Germany's President Horst Köhler, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, became the first senior politician to break that taboo by saying he thought it unlikely the east would ever have the same living standards as the rest of Germany.

Dr Tobias Just, an analyst with Deutsche Bank, believes the excitement of reunification in 1990 was 'dangerously hubristic' and politicians failed to 'manage expectations better on both sides'.

And expectations are represented by a wealth of data. Three years ago, the Shell Youth Study revealed that German youth from both sides have spent the past 15 years in almost identical leisure pursuits but in other fields have radically different outlooks. Among young east Germans, 65 per cent are deeply pessimistic about their future - 20 per cent more than in the west.

The same study described how almost two thirds of Ossi youth are critical of democracy in Germany, twice the number in the west.

But there are a few signs of hope. The Allensbacher Institute has been measuring Germany's mood since 1947. Dr Thomas Petersen believes that as Germany approaches the anniversary of reunification on 1 July, a new generation is ready to break with the past.

'What we are seeing is the development of a value gap between young east Germans and their parents. It is exactly what we started to see 15 years after the end of Nazism, and also around the same after Franco's death in Spain. People under 30 in the east now have more "western attitudes" than west Germany.'

The Berlin Wall may yet finally fall.

Brick by brick

Inspired by the flight of easterners to the west, an economic crisis and worsening Cold War relations, on 13 August 1961 the German Democratic Republic, under Erich Honecker, began to block off East Berlin and the GDR from West Berlin by means of barbed wire and anti-tank obstacles. Rail links above and below ground were cut.

By the time of its completion a 107 km wall followed the border between East and West Berlin. In most places 4m high, there was usually a concrete tube on top. To the east was an illuminated control area (the 'death area'). Refugees who reached it were shot on sight.

The border cut through 192 streets, 97 of them going east to East Berlin, the rest to the surrounding GDR.

At least 100 people were killed at the Berlin Wall: the last was Chris Gueffroy in June 1989.

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How a 'Non' from France could throw Europe's future into crisis

French voters are in the mood to sink the EU constitution
Alex Duval Smith in Paris
Sunday April 10, 2005
The Observer

Once they were seen as the most loyal of all Europeans, but this week President Jacques Chirac faces one of the biggest battles of his political career as he launches a crusade to persuade the French to vote 'Oui' in next month's referendum on the EU constitution.

Chirac will use a televised debate on Thursday to lay out his arguments in favour of the draft European constitution, amid mounting hostility. Yesterday the president of the European parliament, Josep Borrell, warned the French that they would plunge Europe into crisis if they rejected the constitution. Alarmed by opinion polls which show the 'Non' campaign in the lead, Borrell warned that rejecting the treaty on 29 May would have far more serious implications for the future of Europe than they imagine.

'Everywhere in Europe I come across a feeling of serious concern. People thought the problem would come from the British, but are discovering it is coming from a founding (EU) member state without which you cannot imagine the European project continuing,' Borrell told Le Monde .

'The "no" supporters in France think their rejection will cause a salutary crisis or even salvation without a crisis. I think there will be a crisis and it will not be salutary.'

Successive opinion polls have bolstered the 'no' campaign - the latest, released last week, showed 55 per cent of the French public were opposed to the constitution, against 40 per cent a month ago - and the government and mainstream Socialists have redoubled their efforts to win over the electorate. They have resorted to gimmicks such as a tour of Casino supermarkets by astronaut-turned-minister Claudie Haigneré, visits by foreign politicians and explanatory meetings for homeless people.

The 'yes' campaign launched réunions d'appartement, at which leading politicians will be beamed into homes to answer questions by video conference. Chirac's two-hour televised question time with young people - delayed by a week because of the Pope's death - aims to counter the most persistent trend: only the over-65s seem to be emerging as pro-constitution.

At the same time, many of Chirac's allies - such as former President and constitution campaigner Valéry Giscard d'Estaing - are warning him against taking too prominent a role. They say the President, at a disadvantage for being in mid-term, could go the same way as his mentor, General Charles de Gaulle, who resigned after losing a 1969 referendum on regionalisation.

Some observers point out that the fact that the rightwing government and opposition are teaming up in favour of the constitution has awakened anti-establishment feelings among the electorate. While Chirac takes the credit for having forced Brussels last month to reconsider the 'overly liberal' EU services directorate, his government's tendency to blame Europe for France's 10.1 per cent unemployment rate could now be backfiring.

The text of the draft constitution has not yet been distributed to French homes, but Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin said: 'If the "no" side wins, the French will have a much tougher time because we will be in a world of unbridled economic liberalism.' In a video conference, right-wing UMP leader Nicolas Sarkozy told farmers: 'If we are not in Brussels, who will defend the common agricultural policy?'

For the Socialist Party, the referendum has laid bare bitter divisions. While former European Commission president Jacques Delors has been brought out of retirement to campaign on the 'yes' side, opponents of the constitution have found an eloquent figurehead in former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius, who is using the campaign to stage a political comeback.

But on closer examination, Fabius emerges as an ally of what Socialist MP Bruno Le Roux calls 'a bunch of racists and nationalists who portray the prospect of Turkey's potential entry as a future Muslim invasion'. Even though Fabius is one of the few politicians whose arguments are based on the content of the draft constitution, his bedfellows are National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, French nationalist Philippe De Villiers, and Trotskyist Arlette Laguiller.

The Greens have been persuaded by the mainstream Socialists to support the constitution. But when they launched their campaign, they were unconvincing, stating that they were pressing for a 'not entirely enthusiastic "yes", but not a resigned "yes" either'.

In the middle of the confusing message coming from his party, Green Euro MP Jean-Luc Bennahmias seemed to sum up the general mood in France: 'The desire to have a go at the establishment is what is motivating people to tell pollsters that they will vote against the draft constitution. But when it comes to 29 May, I am sure the picture will be different.'

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Gannon Stories Ignite Internet, Television Again
Prison Planet
April 9 2005

Jeff Gannon is firmly back in the spotlight after a National Press Association appearance and an MSNBC show which discussed whether he was kidnapped paperboy Johnny Gosch.

Gannon-is-Gosch mystery makes new MSNBC show

A new talk show on MSNBC, "Dietl and Daniels" featured as it's first story, the mystery of whether faux journalist Jeff Gannon is actually kidnapped Iowa paperboy Johnny Gosch. Bo Dietl did most of the interview and had on Johnny's mother Noreen Gosch and investigators Andy Stephenson and James Rothstein. (I want to thank my source for alerting me to this segment and this new show on MSNBC, otherwise I would've missed it).

Basically they went over the case and showed photos of Gosch at age 12 in 1982 and Gannon in present day. There are striking similarities and supposedly the two share similar birthmarks.

Of course Dietl asked Noreen Gosch if when she was briefly reunited with her son in 1997, if this guy Gannon looked like the same man claiming to be her son back then. She blandly answered that she wasn't sure. I was disappointed Mrs. Gosch didn't say more about what she thought about the whole issue.

Dietl said he talked to 'Gannon' (aka James Guckert) last night and had an in-depth conversation with him about various issues. Dietl said he asked Gannon point blank if he was Johnny Gosch and all Gannon said was "I feel sorry for that poor woman, Noreen." Dietl added that his gut told him Gannon wanted to talk more but that his lawyers told him not to. So, basically, Gannon left the door open. Dietl said that his show would stay on the story and await new developments. Mr. Rothstein ended the show saying they sent an investigator to talk to Gannon and that when the issue of "Johnny Gosch" came up, Gannon slammed the door in his face. [...]

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'Gannon' Appears at National Press Club, Draws Heat
By Joe Strupp
Editor and Publisher
April 08, 2005

More than two months after he resigned as the White House correspondent for right-leaning Talon News, James Guckert -- also known as Jeff Gannon -- was back in the spotlight this morning as part of a panel at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

When the panel ended at 11 a.m. after the alotted 90 minutes, heated questions were still flying from the audience and moderator Rick Dunham of the Press Club told the audience members to seek out panel members afterward.

The panel had closed with Gannon refusing to say, under repeated questioning, how long it had taken him to get his credentials to the White House, something for which others have had to fight. Another panelist, Matthew Yglesias of The American Prospect, commented: "I have a hard time believing that you don't have a recollection of how long it took you to get access to the White House." [...]

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Gosch-as-Gannon expose shakes Iowa media
Total Information Analysis
Thursday, April 07, 2005

Two Gannett sources tipped this writer off to the impending merger of the Des Moiines alt-weeklys, CityBeat and Pointblank in the light of the latter's searing expose of the Gosch-as-Gannon situation printed on the same day as Gannett's Des Moines Register whitewash of the story. One source provides more detail below. This site has questions out to the Pointblank...

the alternative weekly paper in Des Moines, Pointblank, just printed a cover story on the subject that was much better. It's at - for now anyway. Word came out yesterday that the paper shut down the day the story came out. The owner, Michael Gartner, is a high-profile, very powerful man in Iowa. He is head of the state board that disburses state funds to business to spur economic growth, he owns the AAA baseball team affiliated with the Chicago Cubs, worked at one point for the Des Moines Register and Tribune and won a Pulitzer prize and was once President of NBC News but was forced to resign when they ran a story about trucks that exploded when hit from the side, when in actuality they planted the explosives on the truck to make better footage. Gartner has apparently started a new company which purchased another weekly paper in town and will print under that name (City View) from now on, with the same staff from Pointblank. Except for the managing editor who wrote the Gannon ? Gosch piece. He was fired the day the story hit the street.

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Teachers and Classmates Express Outrage at Arrest of Girl, 16, as a Terrorist Threat
Published: April 9, 2005

At Heritage High School in East Harlem, where the student idiom is hip-hop and salsa, the 16-year-old Guinean girl stood out, but not just because she wore Islamic dress. She was so well liked that when she ran for student body president, she came in second to one of her best friends - the Christian daughter of the president of the parent-teacher association, Deleen P. Carr.

Now Ms. Carr, a speech pathologist who calls herself "a typical American citizen," is as outraged as the girl's teachers and classmates, who have learned that the girl and another 16-year-old are being called would-be suicide bombers and are being held in an immigration detention center in Pennsylvania.

"They have painted this picture of her as this person that is trying to destroy our way of life, and I know in my heart of hearts that this is bogus," said Ms. Carr, who welcomed the Guinean girl to her house daily and knows her family well. "I feel like, how dare they? She's a minor, and even if she's not a citizen, she has rights as a human being."

According to a government document provided to The New York Times by a federal official earlier this week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has asserted that both girls are "an imminent threat to the security of the United States based on evidence that they plan to be suicide bombers." No evidence was cited, and federal officials will not comment on the case.

Its mysteries deepened as teachers and neighbors gave details of the Guinean girl's life, like the jeans she wore under her Muslim garb, her lively classroom curiosity about topics like Judaism and art and her after-school care for four younger siblings while her parents, illegal immigrants who have lived in the United States since 1990, eked out a living.

"I just can't fathom this," said her art teacher, Kimberly Lane, who has repeatedly called the youth detention center but like Ms. Carr was not allowed to speak to the girl, who has no lawyer. Among the unanswered questions they raised was why, if she was really a suspect, no F.B.I. agent had shown up to search her school locker or question her classmates, who sent her letters of support.

"This is a girl who's been in this country since she was 2 years old," Ms. Lane said. "She's just a regular teenager - like, two weeks ago her biggest worry was whether she'd done her homework or studied for a science test."

Until now, attention has focused on the other 16-year-old, a Bangladeshi girl reared in Queens who could not deal with the hurly-burly of her West Side high school and withdrew into home schooling. Yesterday, on a motion of the government, an immigration judge closed the Bangladeshi girl's bond hearing to the public and adjourned it to next Thursday, said Troy Mattes, a lawyer who is taking over the case but has yet to meet her.

By the Bangladeshi girl's account, reported by her mother, the girls did not meet until March 24, after their separate arrests in early-morning raids on immigration charges against their parents. Both grew up in Islamic families. But while the Bangladeshi girl had grown increasingly pious, and uncomfortable in the urban culture of the High School of Environmental Studies on West 56th Street, the Guinean girl, a 10th grader, embraced every aspect of Heritage High, at 106th Street and Lexington Avenue, her teachers said.

"She is, yes, an orthodox Muslim, but completely integrated into this school," said Jessica Siegel, her English teacher in a class in which topics like teenage pregnancy and world politics were discussed. Ms. Siegel was profiled in the book "Small Victories," by Samuel G. Freedman, as an unsentimental, but fiercely committed teacher who provoked and delighted her students.

"She's a wonderful, wonderful girl," Ms. Siegel said. "She's about the last person anyone could imagine being a suicide bomber."

The English teacher's most vivid recollection was of a day two months ago when she heard a kind of roar in the hallway of the school, which is full of colorful student collages and life-size sculptures in papier-mâché. The teenager had stopped wearing her veil, and she beamed as her fellow students, seeing her face for the first time, cheered.

After the class read "Night," the Holocaust memoir by Elie Wiesel, the girl wrote a paper about genocide in the Sudan, she recalled. But she was so excited about a field trip to see Christo's "Gates" in Central Park, Ms. Siegel said, that she skipped an appointment at immigration - a teenage impulse the teacher now worries might have set off problems with federal authorities. Her father is now in immigration jail facing deportation.

At Woodrow Wilson Houses a few blocks from the school, a sticker on the family's apartment door reads, "Allah is our protector." Yesterday no one was home, but across the hall, Christine Anderson, a neighbor, shook her head in disbelief when she learned why she had not seen the girl or her father in recent weeks.

"Why would they take the lady's daughter?" she asked. "They're nice people, and hard-working people. I've been here four years. I know she's not a problem child."

Ms. Lane, the art teacher, said that when Heritage High first learned that immigration agents had picked up the girl, one of her best friends asked if someone from the school might have denounced her as an illegal immigrant. "I remember telling her the government doesn't go after 16-year-old girls," Ms. Lane said. "And in the last few days, I'm wrestling with the fact that, yes, it does."

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9/11 paranoia gets scientist

Washington, April 8: An Indian scientist has been arrested in Florida for stealing his own research work and has been asked to surrender his passport for fear that he may flee America to return home.

The curious case of Singh Lakshman Meena, 33, a research scientist on a one- year fellowship at the University of Central Florida sponsored by the Indian government, has the potential to become a landmark in the fine line dividing academic work and terrorist sensitivities in America in the paranoia following 9/11.

Meena was arrested by the university police on March 22 after a search of his office revealed that he was in possession of vials containing DNA samples from his tuberculosis research and computer disks containing information from the study.

He was to have finished his research and left for India two days later. Instead, this week, he was produced in an Orange County court where his bail was set for $3,500.

A spokesman for the county's law enforcement said Meena would be unable to leave for home because his passport is being confiscated. Immigration authorities at airports have been instructed to hold him if he tries to leave the US.

Meena's lawyer, Dean Mosley, has tried to convince the court that his client is a respected scientist with academic credentials, who was simply trying to take his work back to India.

In an affidavit, the dean of University of Central Florida's Burnett College of Bio-medical Sciences said the DNA samples found in Meena's possession have "real potential for use in drug development", including tuberculosis vaccines, and have been classified by the US as "potential weapons for bio- terrorism".

The lawyer disputes this. "This is not about any kind of terrorism or a bio- terrorist situation. This is just one scientist trying to show his university in India and the government that this is what you paid for, sending me to America," Mosley told reporters in Florida.

Mosley said the trauma of his arrest has made Meena a "nervous wreck". The lawyer, however, admits that his client failed to fill out the necessary paperwork for transferring his research out of the Florida institution.

Randy Means, a spokesman for the state's attorney's office, indicated that prosecutors were willing to err on the side of caution. He admitted that "what concerns us is we don't know enough about what these proteins, DNA samples and genes can do or can't do".

It is the kind of dilemma that America has faced since September 11 and has made US universities poorer both financially and academically as students are now shifting to universities in Canada and Europe.

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In Canada, Secretive Ritual Prompts Very Public Uproar

Some Say Recent Deaths Show 'Spirit Dance' Is Too Rigorous
By Doug Struck
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, April 9, 2005; Page A12

BRENTWOOD BAY, B.C. -- Marianne Edwards had received her song from the other world, and now, up on Mount Newton, she stripped and backed into the black, frigid pond to purify her body and cleanse the human odors that would offend the spirits.

If the spirits were pleased, they would accept her as a Spirit Dancer, which Edwards believed could ease her torment from arthritis and kidney and liver problems, according to her family. She had heard the stories of miraculous cures brought about by the ancient native ritual and begged to become a dancer.

Once, twice, three times she immersed herself, witnesses recounted. The razor chill of the February air cut at her skin. Fir trees soared above her. She stepped heavily from the water onto a carpet of spongy green moss. It muffled the sounds of the forest and cushioned her fall as she collapsed to the ground.

Edwards, 36, was not the first to die during initiation to the Indian Spirit Dance on Vancouver Island, off Canada's west coast. Nor was she the last. Her death in February 2004 was followed by that of Clifford Sam, 18, who died in a ceremonial longhouse just after Christmas while fasting during the once-banned Spirit Dance rites.

The uproar over their deaths has worried some native elders. In the public outcry from beyond their reservations, they hear an echo of the past, when the secretive Spirit Dance was outlawed in a prolonged wave of anti-Indian hysteria from 1884 to 1951.[...]

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police say that no crime was committed and that both deaths resulted from health complications. But the controversy has been stoked by historical frictions and by what many First Nations people see as a legacy of mistreatment that shuffled them onto reservations where they are disproportionately poor and unemployed. [...]

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Book Review: When all life changed

The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death
by John Kelly
364pp, HarperCollins, £18.99
John Kelly traces the advance of the Black Death in The Great Mortality, but loses sight of its wider impact, says Andrew Rissik

The Guardian
Saturday April 9, 2005

Between 1347 and 1351 it must have looked as if the end of the world had come. As John Kelly describes, in a compellingly vivid moment-to-moment account, a virulent form of plague bacillus swept out of Asia across China, the Middle East and Europe, killing from a third to a half of the population. Christendom, which had been sanguine about the devastation of the pagan Mongol empire, seeing it as God's judgment, reacted with terror when a Genoese galley brought it closer to home. A false but wish-fulfilling story soon arose that it had been spread deliberately.

Like the trail of infection itself, Kelly's prose moves with brushfire speed, leaping over the medieval map, painting the chain of outbreaks with a Goya-like hard-edgedness, and a mordant, modern eye for the stupidities and cruelties of the time. The book is often as exciting as a first-class TV drama-documentary. Yet there's a drawback. The urbane, science-thriller-ish style keeps us focused - restlessly, emotionally - on the foreground. Although the detail of what happened is authoritative and explained with clarity, we don't go much beyond it, to the question which hangs over the subject and which should pull its many aspects into a more profound coherence: what imprint did the disaster leave on the human mind?

Because, after the decimating visits of King Death, minds did change, in subtle but inwardly seismic ways. Something in the European temperament became blunter, less trusting, less imaginatively consolable - arguably more secular and politically militant. In England, within a generation we get the Bishop-scourging sermons of the anti-clerical reformer John Wyclif, the rise of the proto-puritan Lollard movement, the anarchy and violence of the peasants' revolt. It was as if a too-long-standing wall of ideological correctness had finally been breached, and once down, it could not credibly be rebuilt.

Societies based on the idea of plentiful cheap labour were suddenly drastically short of it. Those once obliged to be content with the role of feudal serf could now demand high wages and withdraw their labour if they didn't get the freedom and social mobility they requested. The embattled nobility - which had half-believed its privileged status to be immutable and ordained by God - fought back in various economically restrictive ways, often with disastrous results.

Something similar happened in more recent memory after the first world war, when the horror and the slaughter were put aside and society tried, with a sort of desperate vigour, to revert to the old pre-catastrophic way of doing things. Just as the world of the 1920s was in some measure a restless, vulgar, essentially aggressive parody of what had gone before, so the years after the Black Death let loose hectically intense social pressures which the old-order conservatism could not contain.

Although Kelly is cautious in his conclusions, he makes it easy to see why this sea-change - part of a criticalness already in the air of the Middle Ages, but latent - took place. By 1351, the pre-conditions of Biblical apocalypse were visible everywhere, yet the promised end - the return of Christ and His Saints - did not come. Prayers were offered up, frantic with fear, but went unanswered. There were sickening bouts of scapegoating - anti-Jew, anti-leper, anti-anyone theologically impure - which satisfied long- standing Crusader bloodlust but revolted the more discriminating.

Is it entirely a coincidence that the corpus of English literature, in its commonly accepted form, begins shortly after the great catastrophe? The authors we still read - Chaucer, Langland, Malory - follow within 50 to 100 years. In the lewd, warm, thrusting, self-justifying pilgrims of The Canterbury Tales, or the stabbing anger at social injustice which fuels the visionary phantasmagoria of Piers Plowman, or the tragic sense of inveterate human weakness permeating the Morte d'Arthur, the historically aware reader can catch, even now, some half-absorbed, still-reverberating aftershock of the trauma of the plague, the way it helped to destabilise the structures of the old faith, the way it reminded men that the social dispensation they had been loyal to was not, could not be, the earthly mirror of a divine harmoniousness - that in the power of kings and the promises of churchmen "there was no trust for to trust in".

Kelly is at his best when his own astringency is strongest. A phrase in his chapter on medieval medical theory - "ancient authority over observable fact" - catches the limits not merely of the New Galenism but of the whole magico-scriptural mindset. These lucid scientific interjections compensate rewardingly for the book's relatively weak cultural sense. (He quotes an allegedly contemporary poem about the plague actually written 300 years later about death in general.)

Unlike more elemental but better-understood natural disasters - the floods, storms and failed harvests common to every era - the great mortality defied empirical explanation. The speed with which it moved, the invisibility of its transmission, the lack of an observable, exterior cause comprehensible to medieval medical experience, bred a special kind of mental terror.

The human mind, addicted to detecting - and thus mastering - the concealed patterns governing material phenomena, has always balked at the apparent randomness of illness. So it looks instead for the hidden inner meaning, the spiritual justice, underlying the physical malady. Thus the havoc wrought by bacteria or innate structural weakness (or, here, the deadly Y Pestis virus) are confidently ascribed to God, or the devil, or the divided state of the soul.

In the old superstitious view (as perhaps too in our modern psycho- analytical one) a sense of guilt, or at least of warping psychic conflict, hangs over disease - a belief that the outer reveals the inner, the body the spirit within it. As ever in human affairs, what mattered wasn't what was true, but what seemed at the time to make wider sense.

This was important because, if medieval art and philosophy are reducible to a single, easy generalisation, it's the idea that, ultimately, everything did make sense, creation was harmonious. It's the view of which Dante's Comedia provided the most sublime expression. Heaven and earth fitted together in a divinely ordered coherence, governed by unanswerable moral laws. By these, and the intercessionary powers exercised in Christ's name by the church, the wayward, suffering individual was enabled to endure with patience and die with a higher hope.

The great mortality fatally undermined these bejewelled, consoling beliefs. So many millions had perished, in such pitiful circumstances, that only the most obstinately devout could trust any longer that this was an expression of wider divine planning, or some spiritual unworthiness on the part of the deceased.

As Kelly notes, the idea of science began - slowly but with a steady persistence - to replace the idea of magic. And, in art, the idea of allegory began to fade. [...]

The voices that follow are wearier of the old religious cant, less patient with the idea that revealed "truths" somehow cancel out the vicissitudes of the literal, tangible world. They presume that human beings create themselves, that life must be rebuilt from the ground up. [...]

We tend now to think this scepticism essentially modern, but it's the oldest recognisable tone in western literature: the hard, bright, pitiless, stoic, huddled-for-warmth battle-cry of ancient epic poetry and tragic drama. We find it in the Anglo-Saxon poems of wandering, exile and sea-voyaging; in Beowulf, and the Icelandic sagas. But it had a relatively minor place in the culture and thought of the High Middle Ages. Until the great mortality.

In his introduction, Kelly writes: "The medieval plague was one of the seminal events of the last millennium. It cast a deep shadow across the centuries and remains part of the collective memory of the West."

True: and that's why its crater-like impact can't definitively be traced without a more inclusive degree of distance, a drawing-back from ground- level journalistic immediacy, at which Kelly is superb, into a broader cultural and deeper historical sense, which he doesn't really attempt. Because, as Philip Zeigler showed in his masterly 1969 study The Black Death, the subject's meaning lies not in the rats, fleas, plague pits and panic but in the repercussions - the dark, troubling, traumatic shadow out of which so much of our modern thinking eventually grew.

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Earthquake Hits Sumatra

A strong earthquake hit near the Indonesian island of Sumatra today, Hong Kong seismologists said.

The 6.8-magnitude tremor's epicentre was about 74 miles southwest of Padang, a city in western Sumatra, the Hong Kong Observatory said. The quake was recorded at 1035 GMT, it said.

Tremors from the earthquake were felt in several areas surrounding the Malaysian city of Kuala Lumpur, national meteorological chief Chow Kok Kee told TV 3 news.

Chow however said the earthquake was not strong enough to trigger tsunami, but authorities were on alert.

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Woolly Mammoth Resurrection, "Jurassic Park" Planned
Stefan Lovgren
for National Geographic News
April 8, 2005

A team of Japanese genetic scientists aims to bring woolly mammoths back to life and create a Jurassic Park-style refuge for resurrected species. The effort has garnered new attention as a frozen mammoth is drawing crowds at the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi, Japan.

The team of scientists, which is not associated with the exhibit, wants to do more than just put a carcass on display. They aim to revive the Ice Age plant-eaters, 10,000 years after they went extinct.

Their plan: to retrieve sperm from a mammoth frozen in tundra, use it to impregnate an elephant, and then raise the offspring in a safari park in the Siberian wild.

"If we create a mammoth, we will know much more about these animals, their history, and why they went extinct," said Kazufumi Goto, head scientist at the Mammoth Creation Project. The venture is privately funded and includes researchers from various institutions in Japan.

Many mammoth experts scoff at the idea, calling it scientifically impossible and even morally irresponsible.

"DNA preserved in ancient tissues is fragmented into thousands of tiny pieces nowhere near sufficiently preserved to drive the development of a baby mammoth," said Adrian Lister, a paleontologist at University College London in England.

Furthermore, Lister added, "the natural habitat of the mammoth no longer exists. We would be creating an animal as a theme park attraction. Is this ethical?"

Ice Age Giants

Mammoths first appeared in Africa about four million years ago, then migrated north and dispersed widely across Europe and Asia.

At first a fairly generalized elephant species, mammoths evolved into several specialized species adapted to their environments. The hardy woolly mammoths, for instance, thrived in the cold of Ice Age Siberia.

In carvings and cave paintings, Ice Age humans immortalized the giant beasts, which stood about 11 feet (3.4 meters) tall at the shoulder and weighed about seven tons.

"It is hard to imagine that woolly mammoths browsed around the places where we live now, and our ancestors saw them, lived with them, and even hunted them," said Andrei Sher, a paleontologist and mammoth expert at the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution in Moscow, Russia.

At the end of the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago, woolly mammoths dwindled to extinction as warming weather diminished their food sources, most scientists believe. [...]

Comment: From The Secret History of the World and How to Get Out Alive:

Something catastrophic happened to the large mammals roaming the world during the Pleistocene Epoch. Woolly mammoths, mastodons, toxodons, sabre-toothed tigers, woolly rhinos, giant ground sloths, and many other large Pleistocene animals are simply no longer with us. The fact is, more than 200 species of animals completely disappeared at the end of the Pleistocene approximately 12,000 years ago in what is known to Paleontologists as the "Pleistocene Extinction."

At the same time that the paleontologists are dealing with the unsettling notion of such a recent mass death, geologists are confronted with the evidence of terrifying geological changes which took place: extensive volcanism and earthquakes, tidal waves, glacial melting, rising sea levels, and so on. The Pleistocene Epoch didn't end with a whimper, for sure. It went out roaring and thundering.

We already know that Geologists and Paleontologists don't like catastrophism - it keeps them up at night. They fought long and hard against the Catastrophists. But in the present day, scientists in both fields have to face the fact that the Catastrophists were mostly right from the beginning - even if they might have gone overboard and explained everything in terms of catastrophe. It is evident that there are "gradual" changes, but that most of what happens on the Big Blue Marble in terms of significant changes is catastrophic.

One of the major facts that paleontologists and geologists and archaeologists have had to face is the stupendous number of frozen carcasses in Canada and Alaska in the western areas, and in Northern Russian and Siberia in the eastern areas - all dated to about 12000 years ago. This suggests, of course, that something dreadful happened on the planet, and its effect on the Northern hemisphere was more severe than on the Southern hemisphere.

Back in the 1940s Dr. Frank C. Hibben, Prof. of Archeology at the University of New Mexico led an expedition to Alaska to look for human remains. He didn't find human remains; he found miles and miles of icy muck just packed with mammoths, mastodons, and several kinds of bison, horses, wolves, bears and lions. Just north of Fairbanks, Alaska, the members of the expedition watched in horror as bulldozers pushed the half-melted muck into sluice boxes for the extraction of gold. Animal tusks and bones rolled up in front of the blades "like shavings before a giant plane". The carcasses were found in all attitudes of death, most of them "pulled apart by some unexplainable prehistoric catastrophic disturbance."

The evident violence of the deaths of these masses of animals, combined with the stench of rotting flesh, was almost unendurable both in seeing it, and in considering what might have caused it. The killing fields stretched for literally hundreds of miles in every direction. There were trees and animals, layers of peat and moss, twisted and tangled and mangled together as though some Cosmic mixmaster sucked them all in 12000 years ago, and then froze them instantly into a solid mass.

Just north of Siberia entire islands are formed of the bones of Pleistocene animals swept northward from the continent into the freezing Arctic Ocean. One estimate suggests that some ten million animals may be buried along the rivers of northern Siberia. Thousands upon thousands of tusks created a massive ivory trade for the master carvers of China, all from the frozen mammoths and mastodons of Siberia. The famous Beresovka mammoth first drew attention to the preserving properties of being quick-frozen when buttercups were found in its mouth.

What kind of terrible event overtook these millions of creatures in a single day? Well, the evidence suggests an enormous tsunami raging across the land, tumbling animals and vegetation together, to be finally quick-frozen for the next 12000 years. But the extinction was not limited to the Arctic, even if the freezing at colder locations preserved the evidence of Nature's rage.

Paleontologist George G. Simpson considers the extinction of the Pleistocene horse in North America to be one of the most mysterious episodes in zoological history, confessing, "no one knows the answer." He is also honest enough to admit that there is the larger problem of the extinction of many other species in America at the same time. The horse, giant tortoises living in the Caribbean, the giant sloth, the saber-toothed tiger, the glyptodont and toxodon. These were all tropical animals. These creatures didn't die because of the "gradual onset" of an ice age, "unless one is willing to postulate freezing temperatures across the equator, such an explanation clearly begs the question."

Massive piles of mastodon and saber-toothed tiger bones were discovered in Florida. Mastodons, toxodons, giant sloths and other animals were found in Venezuela quick-frozen in mountain glaciers. Woolly rhinoceros, giant armadillos, giant beavers, giant jaguars, ground sloths, antelopes and scores of other entire species were all totally wiped out at the same time, at the end of the Pleistocene, approximately 12000 years ago.

This event was global. The mammoths of Siberia became extinct at the same time as the giant rhinoceros of Europe; the mastodons of Alaska, the bison of Siberia, the Asian elephants and the American camels. It is obvious that the cause of these extinctions must be common to both hemispheres, and that it was not gradual. A "uniformitarian glaciation" would not have caused extinctions because the various animals would have simply migrated to better pasture. What is seen is a surprising event of uncontrolled violence. In other words, 12000 years ago, a time we have met before and will come across again and again, something terrible happened - so terrible that life on earth was nearly wiped out in a single day.

Harold P. Lippman admits that the magnitude of fossils and tusks encased in the Siberian permafrost present an "insuperable difficulty" to the theory of uniformitarianism, since no gradual process can result in the preservation of tens of thousands of tusks and whole individuals, "even if they died in winter." Especially when many of these individuals have undigested grasses and leaves in their belly. Pleistocene geologist William R. Farrand of the Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory, who is opposed to catastrophism in any form, states: "Sudden death is indicated by the robust condition of the animals and their full stomachs ... the animals were robust and healthy when they died." Unfortunately, in spite of this admission, this poor guy seems to have been incapable of facing the reality of worldwide catastrophe represented by the millions of bones deposited all over this planet right at the end of the Pleistocene. Hibben sums up the situation in a single statement: "The Pleistocene period ended in death. This was no ordinary extinction of a vague geological period, which fizzled to an uncertain end. This death was catastrophic and all inclusive."

The conclusion is, again, that the end of the Ice Age, the Pleistocene extinction, the end of the Upper Paleolithic, Magdalenian, Perigordian, and so on, and the end of the "reign of the gods," all came to a global, catastrophic conclusion about 12,000 years ago. And, as it happens, even before this evidence was brought to light, this is the same approximate date that Plato gave for the sinking of Atlantis.

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Strange wind gust hits home
By Jannise Johnson , Staff Writer
Friday, April 08, 2005

Ronald Webb said he thought the world was ending for a few seconds Friday afternoon.

It wasn't.

But the weather phenomenon that caused the racket above the home he shares with his wife on East Alvarado Street caused some damage.

Webb's family was working inside the garage at 1:30 p.m. when a "mini tornado' struck an outdoor shelter, he said.

"It sounded like a combination of a train, a sonic boom and a clap of thunder,' Webb said. "It was just crazy. It shook the whole house.'

Webb said the winds hoisted his cabana shelter made of thick wood planks and steel coverings from one corner of his back yard over his home before letting it crash to the street. The shelter was covering a boat, he said.

The shelter was torn to pieces, some of which ended up across the street in a neighbor's front yard. The majority of the debris ended up on Webb's lawn.

No one was injured. But one of Webb's vehicles was damaged and the incident left a few holes in his roof, he said.

Firefighters arrived, but did not stay long, said John Mancha, inspector with the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

While Webb said the Fire Department referred to the event as a "mini tornado, ' a spokesman for the National Weather Service disputed that.

"If there are no clouds in the sky, it really can't be classified as a tornado,' said Philip Gonsalves, forecaster for the National Weather Service. There were some gusty winds throughout the area Friday, which may have caused some funnel-type activity, he said. But Gonsalves said he could only speculate what caused the damage.

Webb retained his sense of humor about the situation.

"It's so much fun,' Webb said, looking out over the debris on his front lawn. "I wondered what I was going to do this weekend. Now I know.'

Comment: Morris K. Jessup wrote:

With planes, there is perhaps some added element other than metal fatigue which involves striking some apparently solid object while in the air, or being rent by unimaginable forces just before falling.

Planes seem to hit something which crushes them or tears them apart, which is nevertheless invisible, and which strikes with such suddenness that the pilots do not have time to make an outcry via their ever-live radios.

Then, too, there are cases of dead or frightened birds, and the cases of people being struck by unseen forces, as with seventeen marching soldiers in eighteenth-century France who were simultaneously struck down by an invisible agency.

After analyzing these things, one speculates as to new types of obstacles as well as new forces. Take the mysterious Maunder object, which moved deliberately across the sky above southern England in November 1882. Rand Capron, an authority on auras, said it was auroral, while other equally competent scientists said it was a physical or material object. Then there are the many modern sightings of things which seem to manifest intelligent action, and to possess all normal physical characteristics except mass or weight. We recollect that radar sees things which are not visible to the eye.

From such analysis we come by easy stages to conceive of a force, ray, or focal point, in some force-field either; unknown to us, or at least not understood, which produces rigidity in a localized or sharply delimited volume of air, or possibly in space itself. We are thinking of something like crystals of ice freezing within a body of water. The element remains the same but its physical attributes change suddenly and drastically.

Another example might be the passage of a limited but powerful magnetic field through a scattering of iron filings or iron powder. Before the approach of the magnetic flux, the powder lies loose, flexible, and penetrable. Yet, when the flux enters it, invisibly and imperceptibly to the senses of man, this docile powder become rigid, tenacious, coherent, and at least semisolid. Do the space dwellers have a force which produces this temporary rigidity In the air, or even possibly in the gravitation field itself? Or do they create "local" concentrations of the gravitational field as we are able to do with the magnetic field?

Suppose that some intelligent entity was directing a concentration of potential which could make small volumes of rarefied air rigid, could set up a sort of island in the gravitational or magnetic field, moving the island about as the spot of a searchlight is moved on thin clouds. Such a thing would be invisible, would have many of the physical attributes of a solid body, but very small mass. For example, its movement through the air would be wavelike, and would not involve translation of the medium any more than the spot of the searchlight would require movement of the cloud which enabled the beam to attain visibility. In moving, this island would simply "freeze" on the advancing edge and "thaw" on the trailing edge. In this way it could have almost infinite velocity, and also acceleration, just as the spot of the searchlight. In this manner it would appear to be free of mass, and actually it would be free of mass, because only the force beam would move, not the air. Yet in resisting the impingement of a bird, a plane, or perhaps a meteor, it would have mass, and a very destructive mass at that. A pilot flying a plane into such a body would have no warning. Yet if such a thing were a few hundred yards in diameter, its mass in resisting the plane would be thousands of pounds, perhaps tons. The analogy to a ship hitting an iceberg would be very close.

If such a force island were formed in the upper atmosphere, it might be very possible for it to have many of the physical characteristics of a solid body, and yet in matters of illumination it could behave exactly as any other auroral phenomena. In this connection we must remember that auroral phenomena are magnetic and may be caused by streams of electrons from the sun which are, in effect, precisely the type of force beam upon which we are speculating.

It seems obvious that a single beam could not have the effect which we have suggested, else the freeze would take effect along the entire length of the beam. However, it is possible that the three-dimensional volume enclosed within the intersection of two beams might create such a congealed island.

Speculating further on this weird possibility, remember that oxygen is a magnetic substance. It is not, perhaps, paramagnetic like iron, manganese and nickel, but nevertheless sufficiently magnetic that it can be separated from the other constituents of air by means of a magnetic field.

If such a congealment were possible, consider the result of crossing the two beams at the exact aerial position of a flying plane and congealing the air around and in the plane. Could you, in this way, hold a plane in suspension, or even carry it away? Could you, by a similar concentration of beams, freeze two aviators on the sands of the Arabian Desert, and carry them away? Could you freeze a man and instantly lift him out of sight, or cause him to be invisible within the block or frozen air or oxygen? Could you freeze the crew of a ship, and remove them from the vessel? Could you catch or kill birds, quickly and over a vast area, with such a thing, and dump them on a city in Louisiana? All these peculiar things happened, but we don't know how, or why.

Before we leave this tantalizing topic, give thought to the nature of an aurora borealis. As early as the time of Maunder's object, it was recognized that auroras are magnetic phenomena, or at least associated with the earth's magnetic field. It has been further ascertained that they are related to sunspots, and that they are probably due to the interaction of electronic streams from the sun or from sunspots. Is not an aurora, then, something very much akin to the congealed islands which we have just postulated? Is it not a delimited volume of rarefied air caught within the tripping reaction of an electron stream passing through a magnetic field? Was Maunder's object, then, in a sense both material and nonmaterial; both massive and nonmassive? Is it the encounter with the "pockets" which makes meteors explode? Do they make blips on a radar screen?

Have we a clue here, or are we dangerously close to science fiction?

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Science's Doomsday Team vs. the Asteroids
By Guy Gugliotta
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 9, 2005; Page A01

Astronomer David Tholen spotted it last year in the early evening of June 19, using the University of Arizona's Bok telescope. It was a new "near-Earth object," a fugitive asteroid wandering through space to pass close to Earth.

Tholen's team took three pictures that night and three the next night, but storm clouds and the moon blocked further observations. They reported their fixes to the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass., and moved on.

Six months later, Tholen's object was spotted again in Australia as asteroid "2004 MN4." In the space of five days straddling Christmas, startled astronomers refined their calculations as the probability of the 1,000-foot- wide stone missile hitting Earth rose from one chance in 170 to one in 38.

They had never measured anything as potentially dangerous to Earth. Impact would come on Friday the 13th in April 2029.

The holidays and the tsunami in South Asia pushed 2004 MN4 out of the news, and in the meantime additional observations showed that the asteroid would miss, but only by 15,000 to 25,000 miles -- about one-tenth the distance to the moon. Asteroid 2004 MN4 was no false alarm. Instead, it has provided the world with the best evidence yet that a catastrophic encounter with a rogue visitor from space is not only possible but probably inevitable.

It also demonstrated the tenacity of the small band of professionals and amateurs who track potential impact asteroids, and highlighted the shortcomings of an international system that pays scant attention to their work.

"I used to say the total number of people interested in this was no more than one shift at a McDonald's restaurant," said David Morrison, an astronomer at NASA's Ames Research Center and a student of near-Earth objects for nearly three decades. "Now it's maybe two shifts." Awareness of the apocalyptic potential of near-Earth objects has been slow to develop. It took years for Nobel laureate Luis Alvarez and his son Walter to win acceptance for their 1980 research showing that a near-Earth object impact quite likely caused the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

"The human brain wouldn't grasp reality until it had somewhat more direct evidence," said Colorado-based planetary scientist Clark R. Chapman of the Southwest Research Institute, another longtime expert on near-Earth objects. "Alvarez provided that."

The vast majority of near-Earth objects are asteroids -- huge rocks or chunks of iron that travel around the sun in eccentric orbits that cross Earth's path periodically. The rest are comets -- ancient piles of dust, stones and ice that come in from the edges of the solar system.

"The good news is that comets represent 1 percent of the danger," said Donald K. Yeomans, who manages NASA's Near-Earth Object Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "The bad news is that should we find one, there's not a lot we can do about it. . . . We detect them only nine months from impact."

Comment: It is highly unlikely that the Powers that Be would notify the masses of an impending impact, especially considering the maximum sustainable population figures discussed in the Adventures Series written in the Spring of 2002 by Laura Knight-Jadczyk. In Adventures Chapter 30 she writes:

Hugh Everett's name may be familiar because of what is called The Everett-Wheeler interpretation of quantum mechanics. a rival of the orthodox "Copenhagen" interpretation of the mathematics of quantum mechanics. The Everett Wheeler theory is also known as the "many worlds" interpretation. [...]

Everett left physics after completing his Ph.D., going to work as a defense analyst at the Weapons Systems Evaluation Group, Pentagon and later became a private contractor.  He was very successful, becoming a multimillionaire.  In 1968 Everett worked for the Lambda Corporation, now subsidiary of General Research Corporation in McLean, Virginia. His published papers during this period cover things like optimizing resource allocation and maximizing kill rates during nuclear-weapon campaigns. [...]

I was curious about Everett's work for Lambda.  A recent search of the literature turns up a paper written by Joseph George Caldwell entitled Optimal Attack and Defense for a Number of Targets in the Case of Imperfect Interceptors. [...]

Aside from the fact that we see evidence of the use of pure mathematics - Game Theory, in fact - in matters of warfare strategy, which includes source notes connecting this work to Wheeler, we find Joseph George Caldwell to be a bit interesting for other reasons.  He has a website where he promotes the following idea:

"What is the sustainable human population for Earth?", I propose that a long-term sustainable number is on the order of ten million, consisting of a technologically advanced population of a single nation of about five million people concentrated in one or a few centers, and a globally distributed primitive population of about five million.

"I arrived at this size by approaching the problem from the point of view of estimating the minimum number of human beings that would have a good chance of long-term survival, instead of approaching it from the (usual) point of view of attempting to estimate the maximum number of human beings that the planet might be able to support.

"The reason why I use the approach of minimizing the human population is to keep the damaging effects of human industrial activity on the biosphere to a minimum. Because mankind's industrial activity produces so much waste that cannot be metabolized by "nature," any attempt to maximize the size of the human population risks total destruction of the biosphere (such as the "sixth extinction" now in progress).

Let's stop right here and ask the question: Who said that there was such a thing as the "Sixth Extinction," and that it was now in progress?  Is this something that is generally "known" in the circles that do this kind of research?  Is this WHY they are doing it?  What do they know that the rest of us don't?  Or better, what do they think that they aren't telling us?  Caldwell writes:

The role of the technological population is "planetary management": to ensure that the size of the primitive population does not expand.

The role of the primitive population is to reduce the likelihood that a localized catastrophe might wipe out the human population altogether.

The reason for choosing the number five million for the primitive population size is that this is approximately the number (an estimated 2-20 million) that Earth supported for millions of years, i.e., it is proved to be a long-term sustainable number (in mathematical terminology, a "feasible" solution to the optimization problem).

The reason for choosing the number five million for the technological population size is that it is my opinion that that is about the minimum practical size for a technologically advanced population capable of managing a planet the size of Earth; also, it is my opinion that the "solar energy budget" of the planet can support a population of five million primitive people and five million "industrial" people indefinitely. [ ]

Mr. Caldwell's ideas are a techno representation of Synarchy, a clue to the REAL Stargate Conspiracy.  It seems that, there is, indeed, something very mysterious going on all over the planet in terms of shaping the thinking of humanity via books, movies, and cultural themes, but at this point, we understand that most of what is promulgated is lies and disinformation.  We hope to come to some idea of what the "insiders" know that they aren't telling us, and perhaps we will find some clues as we continue our investigation here.

Getting back to the article...

Asteroids, by contrast, generally offer decades or even centuries of warning -- unless they are too small to detect, in which case there is no warning at all. But today's technology enables astronomers to get a fix on any asteroid capable of causing a global "extinction event" -- six miles in diameter or bigger.

Asteroid 2004 MN4 is a "regional" hazard -- big enough to flatten Texas or a couple of European countries with an impact equivalent to 10,000 megatons of dynamite -- more than all the nuclear weapons in the world. Even though it will be a near miss in 2029, that will not be the last word.

"You don't know what the gravitational effect of the Earth will be," said Brian G. Marsden, who oversees the hunt for near-Earth objects as director of the Minor Planet Center at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

"In 2029, the [close encounter with] Earth will increase the size of the orbit, and the object could get into a resonance with the Earth," he added. "You could get orbit matchups every five years or nine years, or something in between." In fact, 2004 MN4 could come close again in 2034, 2035, 2036, 2037, 2038 or later.

So, what can be done? The first thought, dramatically depicted in the 1998 movies "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon," is to nuke the intruder into small pieces so it will burn up in Earth's atmosphere.

Many scientists say, however, that this is unacceptably sloppy -- instead of obliterating the target, the bomb could break the asteroid into large radioactive chunks capable of transforming huge stretches of Earth into wasteland.

Or the explosion could deflect but not destroy the asteroid, putting it on a future collision course. A nuclear strategy would also forever require a stockpile of doomsday weapons.

"The cure's worse than the disease," said former Apollo astronaut Russell L. "Rusty" Schweickart. He is a board member of the B612 Foundation, a group of experts promoting a space mission by 2015 to send a "tugboat" spacecraft to a near-Earth object, dock with it and gently alter its speed enough to change its orbit -- to show that it can be done. (B612 is the name of the asteroid home of "The Little Prince," in the Antoine de Saint-Exupery story.) "You want to delay or speed up the asteroid a little," said Berlin- based Alan Harris, chairman of the European Space Agency's Near-Earth Object Mission Advisory Panel. "What kind of surface do you have: Is it rocky? Dusty? Rubbly? How much force can I apply? I don't want to break it up -- unless I really break it up."

B612 has a design but little money, while ESA has spent only a nominal amount to study the feasibility of a reconnaissance mission to an asteroid. NASA, at $4 million a year, is currently the big spender for near-Earth object research.

With this, NASA maintains a database at JPL to plot and record orbits for all known near-Earth objects, and contributes money to the Minor Planet Center and to sky surveys underway at telescopes in Arizona, California, Hawaii, New Mexico and Australia.

The money was authorized after a push from Congress led by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), a conservative, and former House Science Committee chairman George E. Brown Jr. (D-Calif.), known as one of Congress's most liberal members before his death in 1999. "I have a vision of something terrible happening, and I feel compelled to see that it doesn't happen," Rohrabacher said.

NASA's task -- which Congress imposed in 1998 -- is to find 90 percent of the estimated 1,100 near-Earth objects that are one kilometer (0.6 miles) or greater in diameter by 2008. As of mid-March, JPL's database included 762 of these.

On March 1, Rohrabacher introduced the George E. Brown Jr. Near-Earth Object Survey Act, mandating $40 million for a two-year start-up to survey every object 100 meters (328 feet) across or larger, of which there may be 300,000. To date, Marsden has registered 3,265 near-Earth objects of all sizes.

Comment: Gee, that leaves an estimated 296,735 near-Earth objects that we don't know much about, most of which could probably devastate at least a small city...

Tholen, of the University of Hawaii, is a frequent contributor in the search for threatening objects. He specializes in "Atens," a subspecies that orbit mostly between the Earth and the sun and are difficult to see in the glare of the sun. To spot Atens, astronomers must work at dawn or dusk.

Tholen's team, on a field trip to the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory, had booked an hour on the evenings of June 19, 20, 23 and 24, 2004. They found a new Aten on the first evening and saw it again on the second evening. It was about 106 million miles away.

The team recorded the sightings and sent them electronically to Marsden, who published the object's position, which he named 2004 MN4 in accordance with a complicated coding system based on the date of discovery.

Tholen waited for another opportunity, but rain clouds cloaked the sky. When the storm passed, the moon was squatting right where the team wanted to look. For the next six months, nobody looked for it.

Then, on Dec. 18, astronomer Gordon Garradd, working at the Siding Springs telescope in Coonabarabran, Australia, 240 miles northwest of Sydney, spotted what he thought was a new near-Earth object, "brightly lit and traveling fast," he recalled. He took four images in his first set, then followed up with two more sets.

Marsden's team put Garradd's data on the center's Web page, a signal for astronomers to get more fixes. On Dec. 20, JPL produced its solution. Chance of impact was one in 2,500 -- nothing to get excited about. "Usually the probability goes down with more observations," Marsden said.

Not this time. On Dec. 23, the risk rose to one in 270, and rose steadily over Christmas and beyond. "We'd never had anything this big come this close, and we'd never predicted anything like it," Marsden said. "It was quite fantastic." The asteroid was 9 million miles away -- about as close as it would get this trip.

By Dec. 26, the impact probability had risen to one chance in 38. What the plotters needed was a "precovery," an overlooked observation from before Tholen's initial June fixes to yield a more precise orbital solution.

In Tucson, astronomers at the Spacewatch Project, at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, started searching their archive. Spacewatch has been surveying the solar system for 20 years, and precovery is a specialty.

"We store [our images] on DVDs," Spacewatch leader Robert S. McMillan said. "If there's something that wasn't automatically sorted by our software, we can usually find it -- if we were looking in the right place at the right time."

They were. On Dec. 27, Spacewatch astronomers Jeffrey Larsen and Anne Descour found 2004 MN4 in a series of images taken March 15, more than three months before Tholen's sighting. They passed the word to JPL, which issued a news bulletin: "An Earth impact on 13 April 2029 can now be ruled out."

Since then, astronomers have continued to observe 2004 MN4 whenever possible, but most of the time it is obscured.

"It would be awfully nice to have information so we don't get surprised," said Schweickart, who advocates flying a small interceptor mission to plant a transponder on 2004 MN4 that would constantly radio its location, tagging it like a grizzly bear. "Our favorite little asteroid might provide enough reality here to provoke people. Maybe we should get serious."

Comment: Indeed. If there is one major characteristic of the search for near-Earth objects (NEO's), it is that the more that "experts" look into the problem, the less they seem to actually understand. There are a huge number of untracked NEO's flying around the BBM. If one tracked NEO can surprise and defy scientists' predictions, what about the other few hundred thousand?

One of the reasons we created our Signs Meteor, Fireball, and NEO Supplement was to demonstrate that there have been numerous reports of near-Earth objects streaking down upon the Earth in recent days. The reports that comprise the supplement are readily available to the masses - and therefore the scientists who are supposed to be tracking NEO's, as well. Given the research into maximum sustainable population (see above), it would appear that those in power have a plan to deal with potential impending cataclysmic changes, and it does not involve notifying any of us in advance.

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