Friday, April 22, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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Spring Storm
©2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte

The Sad State Of The Union
By Jolly Roger
3-14-5
[...] It's not just a matter of corrupt leaders robbing us and killing us, or stealing our freedom while selling our nation. The real problem is that they don't even look upon us as human beings anymore. In their eyes we've become much lesser beings, who are obviously not deserving of the slightest bit of compassion. And just like a sadistic child might torture a small animal, they can be expected to gain some type of sadistic pleasure from insuring our misery. They probably flaunt their power by bragging about the ruined lives they've left in their wake, and then joke about the hardship they've heaped upon the slave class. I think they laugh about the lies we believe, and gloat over the number of body bags filled by their genetically engineered viruses.

The people ruining our lives and this country are cruel, heartless, and sadistic murderers, who have shown no hint of remorse or regret for the acts of mass murder they committed in Oklahoma city, and on 9-11. Murdering 3000 citizens to rally support for profitable wars is all part of a day's work for them. It's not easy to sway the opinion of an entire nation overnight, or to induce them to accept life without freedom in the "post 9-11 world." It wasn't easy, but it's gotten them richer than you can imagine, and it will leave the rest of us poor and oppressed.

The time-honored techniques of murder, intimidation, bribery, blackmail, and nepotism have left our fascist regime in firm control of all three branches of our government, as well as the media. It might be an uncomfortable reality to accept, but there is no longer anyone in our government we can turn to for help. Our "representatives" have sold us out, and their new function is to assist in the pillaging of our wealth, and to get as much work out of us as possible before we die. Our entire lives have been reduced to mere entries in a corporate leger, and as such, our lives must be as inexpensive as possible.

They won't waste any more money on the homeless, the mentally ill, the disabled, or the elderly. If you can't work, you'll die, and if you can work they'll get as much work out of you as they can, while they squeeze from you every penny they can grab. They dream up new ways to tax us every day, despite the fact that the richest 1% just received an additional 85% tax cut most of which will be invested overseas. America's wealth is being systematically drained, and the nation's infrastructure is crumbling. Our roads are falling into disrepair, and our parks, libraries and schools are closing. Your social security retirement funds have been looted, and there is only enough money for police, prisons, and war. There's still no sign of the $2.3 trillion that was "lost" by the pentagon, but no one in our government seems to be worried about it. I guess it would be silly to try to find it, or hold anyone accountable, when it's a lot easier to squeeze some more money out of the people.

I don't think we deserve their obvious contempt for our very existence, but I do think it's the inevitable result of allowing ourselves to be ruled and oppressed by a gang of thieves, mass murderers, and pederasts. These things happen because we allow them to happen, and it will only stop when we stop it, because no one exists who will do it for us. You can't detach yourself from this responsibility by saying "I voted for Kerry." Kerry wouldn't have made a difference, nor would the "election" of anyone else. The elections are about as important as any traveling circus, but they must exist so you ll feel you have some recourse. The elections are rigged, it doesn't matter who you vote for, and that may never change. But the elections are legitimate, as is the election process, because we didn't fight hard enough to prove that they're fraudulent. Either way, our present emergency demands that your political participation consist of a lot more than voting in a bogus election. Our rulers will continue to rob us, murder us, and molest our children, until we put a stop to it.

Our options, and our time, are both running out, and as more time is wasted, our options diminish further. Naturally, we will pursue all lawful and peaceful avenues to their extreme end before considering any horrifying solutions, but the scary factor in the equation is that if change is violent it won't be the result of anyone's careful consideration. It's something that will erupt quickly, like a long-dormant volcano, that now releases steam silently, through tiny cracks in the mountain. It might happen in a week, and it might happen in a year, and hopefully, it will never happen at all, but our present circumstances make it very likely. An economic collapse is inevitable, and a lot of people will be left with nothing to lose.

Anger is building steadily, and it increases with every mortgage foreclosure and every time someone watches a loved one die because they can't afford health insurance. It grows quickly in those who have worked all their lives, and fought for this nation, who are now unworthy of having a roof over their head in the land of plenty. It rises silently under the gaze of an intrusive and oppressive government, that has pried its eyes into everything we do, and steals a big piece of everything we've worked for, only to spend it entirely against our will.

This is not America, this is tyranny defined, and the proof lies in your fear of speaking your mind, or questioning your government. And the fear is justified when well known journalists like Gary Webb and Hunter Thompson suffer from "preemptive book burnings", that forever silence dissenting opinions, and try to slow the continuous dissemination of truth. The official rulings of "suicide" are an obvious farce when you know the details but the killers aren't worried about that either. The message they want to convey is "if you speak out, we'll kill you, and nobody's going to stop us."

We need to answer this message by letting them know that they will be stopped, because we won't be.

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"Creeping Fascism" In US No Longer Creeping
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Xymphora

The gold bugs are all a bit nuts, as they insist, correctly, that the gold market is completely fixed, while constantly advocating that people should buy more gold! Nevertheless, paranoia provides enlightenment. From a market summary at Jim Sinclair's MineSet, here is a letter to Jim Sinclair from "Anonymous Pal" and Jim Sinclair's reply (also reprinted in the Gold Forum at www.gold-eagle.com and reprinted here and here; the MineSet editorials are worth reading):

"Dear Jim:

My Bank in London called me today to inform me that in order to comply with new US laws, they are halting all new services to American residents (citizens?).

I can keep my accounts for the moment, but I cannot add any new currency accounts or any other investment products to my portfolio. They will not allow any US residents to open accounts in the future.

Just my thoughts but:

1. New bankruptcy law (last week)

2. Announcement that travel to other parts of North America will require a passport (papers please)

3. New compliance standards for foreign banks (this past year)

4. Elimination of foreign accounts for US residents (one by one)

Currency controls have been initiated.

Regards,

Your "Anonymous Pal"

Dear "Anonymous Pal:"

I have cautioned the Community that financial privacy is all but a chapter of history - with the exception of bullion coins.

Anyone attempting to open international bank accounts at major and reputable non-US banks will run into the difficulties you have outlined, making it all but impossible to accomplish even with the best of intentions.

The net result is an effective form of currency control as part of Patriot Act II. This covert method of currency control is a preemptive strike at what is coming when it is realized - as the Economist put it - that there is no constituent support and therefore no real political will to reduce the US Budget Deficit.

As a result, the dollar must decline. The result of a declining dollar is logically a move towards other currencies which in itself is a form of Gresham's law.

Of all the possibilities you outline, there is only one that is in the black: Patriot II will be just as effective as any currency control put into law. This has significant implications for gold once all of this hits the proverbial fan.

Regards,
Jim"

The effect of requiring more banking data from international banks dealing with Americans will just be to discourage them from dealing with Americans. It's a soft way of introducing currency controls, which would otherwise be politically unpopular. Apparently, everything is possible if it is part of the 'war on terror'. Soft currency controls will be necessary to manage the upcoming crisis with the American dollar. Some American war in the Middle East will cause the cost of oil to rise so much that Asian countries will have to sell their U. S. treasury bills in order to pay for it, and that will signal the end of Asian central bank support for the American dollar. Once it starts to fall, it will fall fast.

The 'creeping fascism' in the United States is no longer creeping, it's on a full run. The Bush Administration doesn't want to stop spending money on wars and allowing its friends like Halliburton to make out like bandits on war profiteering, and certainly doesn't want to stop its class warfare in the ongoing transfer of money from everybody else to the plutocrat class. Currency controls are needed because the Bush Administration doesn't want to deal with the double deficits, trade and budget, as that would require giving up the war addiction and putting an end to the tax cuts for the rich. The bankruptcy bill has to be seen in the same context of class warfare. Most Americans get into bankruptcy trouble due to health care costs, and bankruptcy has been the only way out. By limiting the only way out of permanent slavery to lenders the Bush Administration makes the average American even less secure, and makes employer-provided health insurance even more vital. As such insurance is almost never portable, and it is increasingly difficult to find a job with such insurance, the interplay between the bankruptcy bill, the insane American health care system, and employer-provided health insurance means that more and more Americans are completely denied any chance of labor mobility, which of course decreases the cost of labor.

Which jurisdiction is going to manufacture the most North American vehicles in 2005? Michigan? Ohio? How about . . . Ontario? Why? Health care costs. The Bush Administration is so interested in pursuing it's cheap labor/high commodity price policies that it is prepared to see GM either disappear or at least be forced into manufacturing outside the United States. GM is a bad example anyway, as it provides its employees with good benefits and a decent salary. Conservatives feel that companies like GM give too much money to their employees. It is much better to have employers like Walmart.

All of the seemingly inconsistent and certainly insane policies of the Bush Administration can be explained in the class warfare known as 'cheap-labor conservatism'. Nothing else matters as long as the cost of labor can be decreased at the same time that commodity prices are increased. Middle East wars, the war on terror, the bankruptcy bill, the tax cuts, the failure to address the deficits, the crazy inefficient health care system - it's all part of the same package. Much of the real-world realities of these policies has been shielded from the American public by the recycling of money paid for oil into the American economy, followed by the recycling of money paid for Asian consumer products into the American economy. Once the recycling stops, and Americans see the full price of conservative policies, it will be interesting to see what their reaction will be.

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An Epidemic Of Feelinglessness
Thursday, 21 April 2005, 1:10 pm
Opinion: Mary Pitt

When one engages in political dialogue, in person or in print, with persons of differing opinion, there is one great punch line that those on the right use as a final damnation of those with a more liberal viewpoint, that Liberals CARE and Liberals FEEL. This is to indicate that caring and feeling are foolish and impractical traits that should be wiped out of the American consciouness. One does not need a very long memory to recall that, in the year 2000, the presidential candidate, George W. Bush, felt it necessary to qualify his declaration of "conservatism" with the adjective "compassionate". However, since he assumed the Presidency we have seen little that passed for "compassion" and the act of "caring" or "feeling" has become a virtual act of treason in the minds of his adherents.

When confronted with opposition, a "liberal" will inquire as to the reason for your views and attempt to understand your thinking and attempting to persuade you with his own reasoning. But when you confront a "conservative" with opposition, he will emohatically question your patriotism, your sanity and even, perhaps, your genetic heritage. It appears that absolutely none of the conceptions of any Liberal is correct and you will find that you will be promptly given the guidelines necessary to correct your perception. That lesson will sound much like this:

It is neither patriotic or politically expedient to care that we went into Iraq based on false information or to feel that those in power knew at the time that it was a lie. We went, we won, and it feels good, so don't you rain on our parade by saying that it was unneccessary! Don't feel the pain of the nearly 1600 sets of parents who will never see their children again and don't care that tens of thousands of other young American men and women will come home irreparably broken, never to live normal lives again. And. further, don't even think about the Iraqi people who have been "caught in crossfire" or "mistakenly shot" but are dead nonetheless, despite the fact that "it isn't our fault". The ragheads probably had it coming anyway.

And, for Heaven's sake, don't EVER take your eyes off the glories of war and bringing freedom to the nations of the Middle East! If we do, we may see what is happening all around us, in the good old US of A. Don't think about the fact that 18,000 people, citizens of our own "super-rich" country, died in the past year because they couldn't afford the needed medical care. Don't feel a pang at seeing a neighborhood school that is old and in horrendous condition, fenced and guarded like a penitentiary, where little children, in fear for their very lives, are expected to learn to become responsible and productive adults. Accept as a fact that the great majority of black males can expect to spend some prison time for something at some time in their lives and that many black girls can look forward to becoming single mothers when barely into her teens. It doesn't matter. Move on.

Support the plans of the President and his economic advisors to borrow 11 trillion dollars over the next ten years to destroy Social Security because the nation is already so deeply in debt that repaying the "trust fund" money would cause a hardship, though it is an amount considerably less than the cost of replacing the entire system with a new, improved "privatized" model. Don't look too closely at the pending "bankruptcy reform" which would allow people to lose their homes due to their inability to pay extraordinarily high medical bills, and don't care about the fact that even the very elderly could find themselves homeless as the result. Don't care that the Medicare and Medicaid system is teetering on the verge of bankruptcy while we fight over Social Security. The Medicaid budget is already insufficient and further cuts are planned so that the very poor, already suffering from the loss of jobs and faced also with the loss of employer-paid insurance coverage, will be turned away and will add to the numbers of the dead from the lack of health maintenance.

Ignore the news items that reflect badly upon our government in the enforcement of the Patriot Act. Forget the attorney in Portland, Oregon, who was arrested in error on suspicion of being somehow involved in the train bombing in Spain, carted off to an undisclosed location where he was held for a long time in communicado before it was discovered that a mistake had been made. OOPS! There are NOT prisoners who have been held at Guantanamo Bay for YEARS without access to courts or to any opportunity to protest their innocence. And, if there were, they were treated kindly and should enjoy their vacation on the Caribbean, with room service, no less.

All this support for the President, his corporate cronies, and his favoritism toward the enrichment of certain corporations at the expense of our freedoms and the resources of the American people would not be possible without turning the compassion switch to OFF, with ceasing to feel and refusing to care that, at the same time our own nation is being destroyed from within, atrocities and international crimes are being committed in our names. Now, if only it were possible to teach us stupid Liberals how to accomplish it. Somehow we're just too dumb to realize what is in our own best interests.

Mea culpa!

Mary Pitt is a septuagenarian Kansan who is self-employed and active in the political arena. Her concerns are her four-generation family and the continuance of the United States as a democracy with a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people". Comments and criticism may be addressed to mpitt@cox.net .

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American People & Citizenship
Nancy Levant

Our country is globally loathed. Our primary religion is considered to be one of the primary causes of Third World suffering. American people are referred to as infidels and Satanists. We are seen as and have been called “ugly” Americans for at least 50 years. We have been blamed for rampant over-consumption of the Earth’s natural resources. Entire countries turn out into their streets carrying signs that say “Death to America.” We are blamed for global pollution. We are blamed for global poverty. We are seen as weak, stupid, soft, and repugnant. We are believed to be the corrupters of the world.

As a grandmother, a mother, a teacher, an American woman, and a citizen of the United States, I’ve just never understood the world’s reactions to our country. It has never made sense that while so many people, from every nation, have struggled and fought to begin lives in America, knowing their lives and the lives of their children would improve, why then did the evolution of hatred grow to such proportions in the last 20 or 30 years?

The world’s opinion of America has been skewed and polluted by media, and media in America is repulsive. American citizens have been fighting trash media for decades, but citizens do not control the media. Media, in America, is bought, and not by average citizens, but by corporations and government who do not listen to us. Corporations and government, the public-private pairing, is Fascism, and Fascism does not listen to citizens. In fact, today the term “citizen” means very little in the United States. In America, we are employees above and beyond all rights of citizenship.

American people are some of hardest working people in the world. Our workday is 10-12 hours, and the cost of our housing and automobiles, medical care and higher education, and mandatory insurance policies are beyond what any of us can afford. We live in a perpetual state of earning money and sending it to creditors. It is very true that we have over-spent, over indulged, and fallen victim to corporate marketing. However, government, banks, and corporations also implemented an economic system that forced us into debt due to the cost of housing, automobiles, medical care, and higher education. They knew what they were doing, and their interest rates have made them multi-billionaires.

95% of all American people work for simple pleasures, like having birthday parties for their children, having family gatherings on weekends, paying for our children’s intramural sports programs and ballet classes, fishing and swimming, and keeping our cars in running order. But we have made mistakes, too. Many of us got caught up in the low or no-interest automobile and mortgage scams. Many of us drive cars and live in houses we cannot afford. But we are also people who, in our history, have trusted our government and our elected officials. Today, most of us realize that this was a mistake, and we are learning what may be the hardest lessons of our lives, and our children and grandchildren’s lives.

Today, American people, who have lived well, are experiencing our mistakes first-hand. Today, our government, which was supposed to of our people, for our people, and by our people, has taken on a life of it’s own. The democracy, which created a good country for people to live in, has turned into a corporate dictatorship. All decisions made in America now serve corporate profits and balance sheets. No legislation serves the American people in today’s America. Today, only the profits of governmental partners are served by American legislation. In fact, American citizens are now problematic to our government, and particularly so as they agreed to implement Agenda 21, and equally decided not to tell us that they had done so. They still haven’t told us. They just slid its infrastructure beneath us and into all our social systems.

So today, American people continue to be strapped for money, working non-stop just to have a home, and we are unsettled by the betrayal of our government and our elected. We are all in different states and levels of understanding our new big picture. We are also very confused by and angry with the global mission to topple the world’s major religions because, historically in America, all religions were supposed to be honored and acknowledged. Our country was founded upon religious freedom, first and foremost. The literal taking of faith and belief is, indeed, a mission of our government and it’s global partners. And the efforts to destroy faith and belief have been implanted into our children’s schools via curriculum and legislated mental health manipulations. Therefore, you can imagine our fear and our anger, for how does one remove belief and faith in God? We are living under a government that is insisting that God be erased from the hearts, minds, and souls of our children by virtue of an education system that we, as taxpayers, are forced to fund. And this same educational system is profiling our children annually with tests and assessments that we, again, are forced to pay for and to submit to.

American people are in a state of terrible confusion because we are facing the cold, hard reality that our government has taken away what we thought were unalienable rights under God, which we are now told is not the case. And we are now only beginning to comprehend that the plan to dismantle our democracy and assemble socialism has been in the making for decades, and yet still, to this day, not one American politician has dared to tell us that truth. But we are learning, day-by-day, and inch-by-inch, that we are not what we thought we were – not who we thought we were, and our anger grows day-by-day, inch-by-inch.

To the world, I say this: American people are not what you think. They are not evil corruptors. We are not infidels or ugly people. Media is that. Government is that. Corporate politics, bureaucracies, and partnerships are that, but we, the people, are not. Our country is in turmoil, thanks to the dishonesty and secret missions of our elected, thanks to their hidden legislation and Executive Orders, and thanks to the fact that their greed dismissed their loyalty to God, country, and to us. One day, all American people will have equal understanding of this, our new country. That will be an interesting day in American history.

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THE NEW AMERICAN MILITARISM
The normalization of war
By Andrew J Bacevich
[...] Under the terms of that consensus, mainstream politicians today take as a given that American military supremacy is an unqualified good, evidence of a larger American superiority. They see this armed might as the key to creating an international order that accommodates American values. One result of that consensus over the past quarter-century has been to militarize US policy and encourage tendencies suggesting that American society itself is increasingly enamored with its self-image as the military-power nonpareil.

How much is enough?
This new American militarism manifests itself in several different ways. It does so, first of all, in the scope, cost, and configuration of America's present-day military establishment.

Through the first two centuries of US history, political leaders in Washington gauged the size and capabilities of America's armed services according to the security tasks immediately at hand. A grave and proximate threat to the nation's well-being might require a large and powerful military establishment. In the absence of such a threat, policymakers scaled down that establishment accordingly. With the passing of crisis, the army raised up for the crisis went immediately out of existence. This had been the case in 1865, in 1918, and in 1945.

Since the end of the Cold War, having come to value military power for its own sake, the United States has abandoned this principle and is committed as a matter of policy to maintaining military capabilities far in excess of those of any would-be adversary or combination of adversaries. This commitment finds both a qualitative and quantitative expression, with the US military establishment dwarfing that of even America's closest ally. Thus, whereas the US Navy maintains and operates a total of 12 large attack aircraft carriers, the once-vaunted Royal Navy has none - indeed, in all the battle fleets of the world there is no ship even remotely comparable to a Nimitz-class carrier, weighing in at some 97,000 tons fully loaded, longer than three [US] football fields, cruising at a speed above 30 knots, and powered by nuclear reactors that give it an essentially infinite radius of action. Today, the US Marine Corps possesses more attack aircraft than does the entire Royal Air Force - and the United States has two other even larger "air forces", one an integral part of the navy and the other officially designated as the US Air Force. Indeed, in terms of numbers of men and women in uniform, the US Marine Corps is half again as large as the entire British army - and the Pentagon has a second, even larger "army" actually called the US Army - which in turn also operates its own "air force" of some 5,000 aircraft.

All of these massive and redundant capabilities cost money. Notably, the present-day Pentagon budget, adjusted for inflation, is 12% larger than the average defense budget of the Cold War era. In 2002, American defense spending exceeded by a factor of 25 the combined defense budgets of the seven "rogue states" then comprising the roster of US enemies. Indeed, by some calculations, the United States spends more on defense than all other nations in the world together. This is a circumstance without historical precedent.

Furthermore, in all likelihood, the gap in military spending between the United States and all other nations will expand further still in the years to come. Projected increases in the defense budget will boost Pentagon spending in real terms to a level higher than it was during the Ronald Reagan era (1981-1989). According to the Pentagon's announced long-range plans, by 2009 its budget will exceed the Cold War average by 23% - despite the absence of anything remotely resembling a so-called peer competitor. However astonishing this fact might seem, it elicits little comment, either from political leaders or the press. It is simply taken for granted. The truth is that there no longer exists any meaningful context within which Americans might consider the question, "How much is enough?" [...]

The new American militarism also manifests itself through an increased propensity to use force, leading, in effect, to the normalization of war. There was a time in recent memory, most notably while the so-called Vietnam Syndrome infected the American body politic, when Republican and Democratic administrations alike viewed with real trepidation the prospect of sending US troops into action abroad. Since the advent of the new Wilsonianism, however, self-restraint regarding the use of force has all but disappeared. During the entire Cold War era, from 1945 through 1988, large-scale US military actions abroad totaled a scant six. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, however, they have become almost annual events. The brief period extending from 1989's Operation Just Cause (the overthrow of Manuel Noriega) to 2003's Operation Iraqi Freedom (the overthrow of Saddam Hussein) featured nine major military interventions. And that count does not include innumerable lesser actions such as Bill Clinton's signature cruise-missile attacks against obscure targets in obscure places, the almost daily bombing of Iraq throughout the late 1990s, or the quasi-combat missions that have seen GIs dispatched to Rwanda, Colombia, East Timor, and the Philippines. Altogether, the tempo of US military interventionism has become nothing short of frenetic.

As this roster of incidents lengthened, Americans grew accustomed to - perhaps even comfortable with - reading in their morning newspapers the latest reports of US soldiers responding to some crisis somewhere on the other side of the globe. As crisis became a seemingly permanent condition, so too did war. The Bush administration has tacitly acknowledged as much in describing the global campaign against terror as a conflict likely to last decades and in promulgating - and in Iraq implementing - a doctrine of preventive war.

In former times American policymakers treated (or at least pretended to treat) the use of force as evidence that diplomacy had failed. In our own time they have concluded (in the words of Vice President Dick Cheney) that force "makes your diplomacy more effective going forward, dealing with other problems". Policymakers have increasingly come to see coercion as a sort of all-purpose tool. Among American war planners, the assumption has now taken root that whenever and wherever US forces next engage in hostilities, it will be the result of the United States consciously choosing to launch a war. As President Bush has remarked, the big lesson of September 11 was that "this country must go on the offense and stay on the offense". The American public's ready acceptance of the prospect of war without foreseeable end and of a policy that abandons even the pretense of the United States fighting defensively or viewing war as a last resort shows clearly how far the process of militarization has advanced.

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The 9-11 Passenger List Oddity
by Vincent Sammartino

As everyone who is involved in exposing the 9-11 cover-up knows, nothing concerning 9-11 is as it seems. Whether it's the magic jet that our government told us crashed into the Pentagon, the obvious missing jet at Shanksville (Flight 93), the three perfect demolitions of the World Trade Center towers, or the fact that Arab hijackers are still alive and their supposed ring leader Osama bin Laden has the ability to change his facial features at will. Nothing, I repeat, nothing about the government/controlled media version of 9-11 makes any sense.

So, let's get one thing straight and out of the way right now. There are no such things as physical inconsistencies in the world we live in. We can always depend on the laws of physics to be consistent and unchanging. Coincidence is a self-contained human concept; and the real world - the atoms, molecules and planets that whiz around - don't care if you understand them. Likewise, they aren't concerned if their movement happens to favor you or not. I say this because, as Victor Thorn and Lisa Guliani know (WING TV), this is the key to understanding what is real and what is contrived. [...]

Which brings me to Ellen Mariani: sheís the woman who lost her husband Louis on Flight 175 that crashed into the South Tower on 9-11. With the help of a lawyer named Phil Berg, she filed a lawsuit against President Bush and company under the RICO act. Also, she refused to take the hush money that was offered to her under the 9-11 Victims Compensation fund.

In addition, I had just discovered Black Op Radio earlier in the year and found an interesting show in their archives (# 156) on which Ellen and Mr. Berg appeared as guests. This may be the single biggest point concerning 9-11, and hopefully the last nail in the coffin of our government's lies. During this broadcast, Mrs. Mariani said that she was the only relative of all the passengers that died on Flight 175 that crashed into the South Tower. Her lawyer, Phil Berg, repeated this statement.

I listened to this show over and over again and couldn't believe what she had just said. Everything came together at this point. Thatís when it dawned on me that not only had our government lied about the physics of 9-11; they may very well have taken it one step farther by faking the number of people that died that day. I believed what she and Mr. Berg had just said. Nothing about 9-11 made any sense. Why should it start now?

Not knowing then what I know now, Ellen and Phil believed that for some reason the government was holding back the names of the people that had died on Flight 175. She had tried to get in touch with the relatives of other family members, but to no avail. You see, she and her lawyer believed, just like most other people believe, that four jets had been hijacked by Arab terrorists and crashed into buildings and into the ground at Shanksville. I, on the other hand, had already swept those lies aside.

Their statement also gave credence to the Fox News reporter who said that the jet which crashed into the South Tower had no windows. Hey, this jet appeared to have a "pod" under it anyway. The pieces of the puzzle were starting to fit.

Comment: Here at SOTT we think the Fox reporter's remark was disinfo being seeded in real time.

Now, we come to most interesting stuff - the Social Security Death Index, and thanks to Victor Thorn's idea, the September 11th Victimís Compensation Fund. After all, it's one thing to say that the flight lists are not on the up and up, but it's another thing to prove it.

The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) (Social Security Death Index) is a privately-owned website that is not affiliated with Social Security. It boasts an accuracy rate of about 83% (e-mail them any questions you may have). Anyway, to check its reliability, I inputted the names of people I knew that had died in my family, along with friends and neighbors. Being a true skeptic, I had no way of knowing whether they were telling the truth or not. With the exception of a cousin, I found everyone I was looking for. (Be sure you have the person's true first name - they may not be listed by the state they last lived in, but can be found in the state where their social security number was issued.) By all means try it yourself.

Which brings us to the 9-11 Victims Compensation Fund (also known as the Shut Up and Take the Money Fund), which most of you have heard about.

9-11 Victims Compensation Fund

This is where our government opened up the Treasury and gave family members of those who lost their lives that day lots of money. In return, these families were basically told to shut up about anything else concerning 9-11. (Considering all the lies surrounding this horrific event, you can see why.)

At this point there is one thing we should never forget, and that is how powerful the notion of human greed is. Remember this concept as you read the number of victims whose family members sought compensation.

The names of the victims can be found on the CNN website.

Here are the results:

Flight 11: of the 92 people who are listed as dying on this flight, only 20 are listed in the SSDI (22%)

Of these 20 people, only three are on the 9-11 Compensation Fund list:

Judy Larocque
Laurie Neira
Candace Lee Williams

=======================================

Flight 77: of the 64 people who are listed as dying on this flight, only 14 are listed in the SSDI (22%)

Of these 64 people, only five on the 9-11 Compensation Fund list:

William Caswell
Eddie Dillard
Ian Gray
John Sammartino
Leonard Taylor

=======================================

Flight 175: of the 65 people who are listed as dying on this flight, only 18 are listed in the SSDI (28%)

Of these 65 people, only three are on the 9-11 Compensation Fund list:

Michael C. Tarrou
Gloria Debarrera
Timothy Ward

=======================================

Flight 93: of the 45 people who are listed as dying on this flight, only 6 are listed in the SSDI (13%)

Of these 45 people, none are on the 9-11 Compensation Fund list:

No one

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Have you noticed anything strange yet? Of the passengers and crew of Flight 11, 77, 175 & 93, only 22%, 22%, 28%, 13% respectively are in the SSDI.

Remember human greed? Of the 266 people that we were told died on these jets, only 11 relatives applied for compensation. Can you believe that not a single relative from Flight 93 applied for compensation? I can't. Were all the relatives of the victims so rich that they weren't eligible to receive compensation? No, that's not it. (The minimum federal award was $250,000, and the average pay-out was about $1.8 million. The recipients only had to make agreement: they couldnít sue the airlines.)

You should also know that most lawyers told their clients to take the money and run (which is what most lawyers would do - take the sure money). Ellen Mariani clearly elaborated on this point during her appearance on the radio show mentioned above.

Finally, during the past week, thanks to Lisa Guliani's insatiable quest for the truth, the 9-11 Victims Compensation Final Report has come to light.

9-11 Victims Compensation Final Report

Oddly, but consistent with everything concerning 9-11, the actual complete list of the people who benefited has been omitted from this report. Even without this, it does contain an interesting fact. According to the report, 98% of all the people who suffered a loss on 9-11 took the fund money. The average payment was $1.8 million.

But here's where it gets strange. According to the government, here are the number of people who accepted the compensation fund:

Out of a total of 92 people on Flight 11, only 65 accepted the 9-11 fund (71%)
Out of a total of 65 people on Flight 175, only 46 accepted the 9-11 fund (71%)
Out of a total of 64 people on Flight 77, only 33 accepted the 9-11 fund (52%)
Out of a total of 45 people on Flight 93, only 25 accepted the 9-11 fund (56%)

Does any of this seem a little odd to you? Or is it possible that not only were the jets on 9-11 magical, but their passengers as well?

So there you have it; yet another glaring 9-11 inconsistency - just maybe the biggest of them all?

Skeptically yours,
Vincent Sammartino

Comment: Yet more discrepancies in the official story. It is certainly curious that so many of the families of the supposed victims did not take up the governments offer of as much as $1.8 million. Do we imagine that they were all so patriotic as to forego payment to help the war cause?

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About the Abuse of History; a new Controversy Surrounds Norman Finkelstein
Julian Hanich

04/13/05 "Tagesspiegel" - - The American historian Norman Finkelstein, whose book "The Holocaust Industry" provoked a fierce debate in Germany four years ago, is creating new furor. There are protests in the USA against the publication of his new book "Beyond Chutzpah. On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History". Finkelstein plans to bring the book out in August through the University of California Press. The attorney and Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, has, however, expressed his vigorous reservations against Finkelstein's book in a number of letters to the publishers as well as to CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's legal department. "This would be a scandal equal to Holocaust denial" Dershowitz told the Tagesspiegel.

In his new book Finkelstein attacks the new anti Semitism. Primarily, however, it is about the "dishonesty in the research on the Israeli - Palestinian conflict", as it is called in one of the publisher's synopsis. The point being: The criticism is aimed at no other than Alan Dershowitz. Finkelstein makes serious allegations against Dershowitz' book "The Case for Israel" which has recently appeared in Germany through the Europa Verlag and was called "an intelligent argument" by the New York Times. Finkelstein maintains that Dershowitz "systematically distorted facts". On the basis of these accusations the publishers employed six expert appraisers on the book. The spring publishing date which had been planned thus had to be postponed. Dershowitz announced that he planned to sue Finkelstein for libel. A representative of the University of California Press said that there had been interest in "Beyond Chutzpah" expressed in Germany, and that negotiations are in process with the Piper Verlag, which had published the translation of Finkelstein's "The Holocaust Industry".

Meanwhile Finkelstein has received support from Noam Chomsky. The linguist and radical critic of the American and Israeli foreign policies called "Beyond Chutzpah" a "very solid, important, and highly informative" book. Dershowitz, on the other hand, says that the book can be published - but by a "Neo Nazi publisher" and not a university. "Finkelstein's readership comprises primarly of Neo Nazis and fanatics" says Dershowitz. With Finkelstien and Chomsky who crticize, and Deshowitz who defends Israel, two factions of American Judaism collide. Moreover, there seems to be a personal feud between Finkelstein and Dershowitz. It goes back to the "Case for Israel", during which time Finkelstein and Dershowitz clashed fiercely during a radio discussion.

Comment: The Zionist propaganda machine goes into overdrive once more. Let nothing be printed, spoken, written, or even thought that criticises the God-given state of Israel. Because God did give it to the Jews. He did. Really. There's a book about it. And a movie. You can get it at the video store.

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Israel decides on three-week pullout delay
www.chinaview.cn 2005-04-22 11:27:07

JERUSALEM, April 21 (Xinhuanet) -- Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz agreed Thursday to a three-week delay for the Gaza pullout plan, originally set for July 20.

The postponement to Aug. 15 is aimed at avoiding clashing with a traditional Jewish mourning period which ends on Aug. 14.

Mofaz gave the green light to the delay, proposed by Disengagement Administration head Yonatan Bassi, at a meeting with top military and police officials, security officials said.

Mofaz's recommendation will then go to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who is set to announce the delay after security chiefs endorse it.

Earlier, Sharon denied that Israel will further withdraw from the West Bank after the scheduled pullout plan this summer.

The prime minister denied reports that he might carry out a further evacuation from the West Bank where a majority of Jewish settlers are living.

"I want to deny the reports stating that following the first disengagement plan, Israel intends to implement an additional disengagement in the West Bank," Sharon told his cabinet.

"This subject was not even mentioned in my visit to the United States," said Sharon, who held talks with US President George W. Bush earlier this month in Washington.

Also on Thursday, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei and Israeli Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres met in Jerusalem to coordinate ways to implement the Gaza pullout plan.

The meeting lasted about two hours, Palestinian officials said,adding that chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and Minister of Civil Affairs Mohamed Dahlan attended the meeting.

At the meeting, Peres called on Qurei to increase Palestinian security operations so that negotiations between the two sides can be renewed.

While terming the meeting as "good," Peres said the merger of the Palestinian security bodies is an important step ahead of talks.

For his part, Qurei pledged that changes in the Palestinian security apparatuses will be carried out soon.

They agreed that professional teams of the two sides should renew their talks and there will be economic cooperation for the pullout.

In New York, a senior UN official said the Palestinians must do more to reorganize their security forces to prevent violence and Israel must halt all settlement activities if recent hopes for resolving the Middle East conflict are to be sustained. [...]

Meanwhile, sporadic violent incidents continued in the region.

The Israeli military said on Thursday that a jeep patrolling the Gaza-Israel border was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade fired from Gaza, seriously wounding a soldier.

Israel's commanders in Gaza also said they noted an increase in Palestinian attacks in recent days, warning that a two-month truce might be in jeopardy.

In central Gaza, a riot erupted after Israeli soldiers closed aroad. One Palestinian was wounded by Israeli gunfire before soldiers lifted the roadblock, witnesses said.

Comment: How many Palestinians have been murdered since the truce began? How many Palestinian homes have been demolished?

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Sharon vows to defy Bush over expansion of Israeli settlements

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem
22 April 2005

Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister, vowed to continue expanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank despite his admitted differences with President George Bush on the issue.

In his most uncompromising comments yet on the settler question, Mr Sharon depicted the planned withdrawal from Gaza as the only way of preserving the largest settlement blocks on the Palestinian side of the pre-1967 border with Israel. "I am doing everything I can to preserve as much [of the West Bank settlements] as I can," he said.

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, which will be published in full today, Mr Sharon acknowledged that the US and Israel did not, in the paper's words, "necessarily see eye to eye" on settlement expansion.

But Mr Sharon underlined his determination to go ahead with it in defiance of US exhortations by pointing out that settlement growth had always gone ahead in the past despite formal expressions of US opposition to it. He said hundreds of homes were being built in two West Bank settlements, Ma'ale Adumim and Betar Illit. [...]

Mr Sharon, in the interviews, extended his claim on West Bank settlements by declaring that henceforth "Jews will always live in" Hebron.

Although the US President has agreed that the main existing settlement blocks should remain in Israel in any final deal with the Palestinians, no such public endorsement exists in the case of Hebron.

Denying that he would come under pressure after disengagement to start further withdrawals from the West Bank, Mr Sharon repeated to Ha'aretz that talks on this would await fulfilment by the Palestinians of their obligation to dismantle the armed factions.

In terms which will fuel the claims of critics that the route of the separation barrier is intended as a de facto future border, Mr Sharon indicated that demographics - the future proportion of Jews to Arabs in Israel - had been a factor in not locating the barrier further to the east and even deeper into Palestinian territory. The present route has already been widely internationally criticised for cutting into the occupied West Bank. Mr Sharon said that an even more easterly location would have left "hundreds of thousands of Palestinians" on the Israeli side, which would have been a "major problem".

Comment: Sharon continues to be bluntly honest about his goals. First fence the Palestinians in. That is the purpose of the Wall. Then, make life so miserable for them that they "choose" to leave.

Meanwhile, the international community stands by and nods its collective head at how the Palestinians must fulfill the demands of the "Road Map" as their people are killed in a war of attrition: a few here, a few there, day in , day out, over the decades.

Stealing Palestinian land has been denounced by the international community as contravening international law, several UN resolutions and the Geneva convention, yet the Bush administration continues to sanction it. In 1991, Saddam attempted to steal Kuwaiti land which he claimed rightfully belonged to Iraq. In response, the US attacked and bombed Iraq, killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi conscripts and thousands of civilians.

Notice how blunt Sharon becomes when he's giving an interview with the Jerusalem Post. He's openly saying that it doesn't matter what protestations GWB makes to the media, Israel will ignore him and continue to expand settlements anyway. The pullout from Gaza is not about peace but legitimizing the border and appropriating more land on the West Bank. Because he is speaking to an Israeli newspaper, intended for an Israeli audience and he lets his real intentions show when he says, "Jews will always live in Hebron."

Compare this to the media coverage in the States when Sharon visits Crawford Ranch. All about cease-fires, giving concessions, keeping to the roadmap, and praise for each other as men of peace. This is what the American public sees, and is one of the reasons why most remain so ignorant as to the real situation in the Middle East.

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Israel calls for tenders for new illegal West Bank settlements
4/18/2005

Israel put itself on a collision course with Washington by inviting bids to build 50 new homes in the West Bank, just days after U.S. President George W. Bush warned against any expansion of Jewish settlements.

Yaakov Harel, a spokesman for the Israel Lands Authority, said a tender had been issued for the construction work at the illegal settlement of Elkana in the northern West Bank.

The houses "will be built by private entrepreneurs," Harel said.

The move was immediately denounced by the Palestinians as well as the Israeli anti-settlement watchdog Peace Now as a clear violation of the government's commitments under the peace roadmap plan.

"We regard this launch of a new tender process extremely seriously," Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat said.

"While the Israelis talk about leaving 2,100 housing units in the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank, they are at the same time tripling the numbers in other parts of the West Bank and Jerusalem.

This will destroy President Bush's two-state vision. It now appears that the disengagement plan is a substitute for the roadmap," the Palestinian official added.

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NII: Israel has one of the widest social gaps in the West
Last update - 10:49 20/04/2005
By Ruth Sinai, Haaretz Correspondent

Recent budget cuts have reduced social expenditures in Israel to among the lowest among western countries, while the parallel income tax reforms primarily have benefited the wealthy, leading to one of the largest social gaps in the West, according to the National Insurance Institute's annual research report released Tuesday.

The NII warned that if this trend continues, Israel will soon find itself with the widest social gaps in the West.

The sharpest decline in social expenditure was in NII allotments, which have dropped 11.5 percent in real terms since 2001 with the per capita average cut by 16 percent. Some NIS 42.8 billion in allotments were issued in 2004, compared to NIS 46.8 billion in 2001, which when adjusted for population growth and inflation, translates to a real drop of NIS 6.3 billion. In 2001, allotments constituted 9.3 percent of gross domestic product, compared to 7.9 percent last year, a retreat to the levels of 1997.

Israel dropped last year to 24th on the social expenditure scale among the 30 nations belonging to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. Despite treasury claims that allotments in Israel were too generous and encouraged people not to work, Israel ranked 20th in 2002.

Social expenditure, which includes allotments, health and welfare spending and vocational training, dropped from 19.3 percent of the GDP in 2002 to 17.7 percent in 2004, compared to an average of 21 percent in the OECD. The data shows once again that the country's welfare services are not particularly generous compared to the international community, whether in 2001, when welfare allotments reached their peak, and certainly not in 2004, according to NII Director General Yigal Ben Shalom.

The last two years have been marked by shrinking allotments for people of working age, while unemployment allotments sank by 43 percent, followed by child allotments, down 40 percent, and guaranteed income for retirees, down 20 percent. Only 20 percent of the unemployed are eligible for unemployment compensation, placing Israel at the very bottom of the OECD scale. Cutting unemployment eligibility hit the weakest workers, those with low paying, part-time jobs, the hardest.

When the gradual cuts in child allotments are completed in 2009, Israel will fall to the bottom of the OECD ranking for child allotments as a percentage of per capita GDP. Currently, child allotments are 4.7 percent of per capita GDP and by 2009, they will be only 2 percent.

"There's no need to fall into the trap of poverty to start to recover from this," said Leah Ahdut, NII deputy director general for research and planning. "It is already possible to understand how much those cuts have cost and will continue to cost in the coming years, and to change direction, the way England did.

"After England fell into the abyss of Thatcherite policies that made deep cuts in social spending, it sobered up and made a change, making the reduction of poverty a goal - and it is meeting its goals," said Ahdut, who oversaw the study.

Bucking the trend in the West toward stability and poverty reduction, the dimensions of poverty in Israel are expanding, according to the data. In the 1990s, there was a smaller percentage of poor families in Israel compared to the United States - 12.6 percent versus 18.3 percent. But over the last several years, Israel has lost its advantage, having moved away from countries like England and Canada, to which it was once compared. England has reduced poverty by 2 percent and Canada by 1.3 percent, while in Israel, poverty increased to 18.1 percent of the population in 2002 and 19.3 percent in 2003.

The treasury's agreement to start increasing allotments to the elderly poor, as demanded by the NII, will reduce poverty among the elderly, according to the report. But the authors recommend taking steps to reduce poverty in families with children, by, among other things, halting child allotment cuts and applying a negative income tax to increase the income of low-wage workers. A committee appointed by the treasury to examine the negative income tax proposal has been working on it for months.

Comment: Guns or butter. When a country becomes as militarised as Israel, social services have to go. Look at what is happening in the United States with its monstrous deficit.

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Israeli soldiers wounded in Gaza blast
Thursday 21 April 2005, 15:34 Makka Time, 12:34 GMT

Palestinian resistance fighters have detonated a roadside bomb alongside an Israeli military vehicle on the Gaza Strip border, wounding three soldiers, Aljazeera reported.

But the Israeli army said only one soldier was moderately injured.

The explosion on Thursday threatened a fragile ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians, and came just hours before the two sides were set to hold their first meeting on coordinating Israel's planned withdrawal from Gaza.

Thursday's bombing occurred on the Israeli side of the Karni crossing, the main transit point for cargo going in and out of Gaza, the army said.

It was not immediately clear how fighters planted the bomb. Gaza is enclosed by a fence that makes infiltrations extremely difficult.

Palestinian residents in the area said Israeli troops began firing machine guns after the explosion, and an army helicopter was seen landing in the area. [...]

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Car Bomb at Shi'ite Mosque in Baghdad Kills 10
Fri Apr 22, 2005
By Salem Ureibi

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A car bomb blew up outside a Shi'ite mosque in Baghdad as prayers were ending on Friday, killing 11 people and wounding 17, Iraqi police and hospital sources said.

The blast at the al-Subeih mosque in eastern Baghdad knocked down part of the building and a cistern inside burst, soaking the floor. Blood mixed with the water forming large red pools, Reuters Television pictures showed.

There have been more than a dozen attacks on Shi'ite and Sunni mosques over the past year-and-a-half fueling tension between the two main Muslim sects in Iraq.

"I was rushing to the mosque in my car for Friday prayers when I heard a big blast," Wameed Mohammed told Reuters Television. "I ran inside and started carrying the bodies of those who were killed. My clothes were covered in blood."

Rescuers carried the bodies away in wheelbarrows and collected rubble and debris with spades. A passenger bus parked nearby was destroyed, although no one was in it at the time of the explosion.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack.

Witness Ahmed Rubaie said it was aimed at sparking Sunni-Shi'ite clashes.

"It was a blast in al Mehdi (Subeih) targeting Friday prayers and they did it to start factional fighting," he said.

STRAINED TIES

Relations between the denominations, always tense, have grown more strained in the wake of an election in January that brought the once-persecuted Shi'ite majority to power, at the expense of the Sunni Arab minority that once dominated.

Insurgents have also bombed churches in an effort to scare away Iraq's Christian community, which makes up about 3 percent of the population. [...]

Comment: As we have been saying for many months now, agents of the US and Israeli governments are waging a deliberate campaign to foment ethnic conflict, and ultimately civil war, among Iraq's Sunni and Shia populations.

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The shadow Iraqi government
By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

The ideal White House/Pentagon script for Iraq calls for a pro-American government, total control of at least 12% of the world's known oil reserves and 14 military bases to make it happen. Reality has been churning up other ideas.

Whenever there is a so-called "transfer of power" in Mesopotamia, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, like clockwork, steps on a plane to Baghdad. On his latest trip designed to issue orders for the new, supposedly sovereign Iraqi government, Rumsfeld, in a splendid Freudian slip, let it be known on the record the US "does not have an exit strategy" in Iraq: only a "victory strategy". This is code for "we're not going anywhere".

Reality had intervened two days before Rumsfeld arrived, when about 300,000 Shi'ite nationalists occupied the same Firdaws Square of "liberation day", April 9, 2003, but this time with no Saddam-toppling photo-op intent. Their messages were clear: out with the occupation; and Bush equals Saddam Hussein.

By organizing this huge, Shi'ite mass protest - the largest popular demonstration in Iraq since 1958 - young cleric Muqtada al-Sadr was not just occupying a political vaccum: he was daring the new prime minister, Ibrahim Jaafari of the Da'wa Party - who appeals to the same Shi'ite constituency - to reveal his true colors.

Muqtada and his thousands were saying: you cannot pose as "sovereign" and sanction the occupation at the same time. The new Iraqi president, reconstructed Kurdish warlord Jalal Talabani, also revealed his true colors: he said he wanted the American military to stay. Talabani has a history of shady deals with everyone and his neighbor - Israel, the Shah of Iran, Turkey, Britain, the US - and his tug-of-war with rival warlord Masoud Barzani has led to the deaths of tens of thousands of Kurds.

To add fuel to the fire, Talabani now is also in favor of using Kurdish peshmerga and assorted Shi'ite militias to fight the Sunni Arab resistance - a certified recipe for civil war: this could begin the day the peshmerga are sent to guard Kirkuk's oil fields.

The Sadrists - now constituted as a very organized, openly anti-sectarian and anti-occupation movement - have learned a political thing or two after the 2004 face-to-face between Muqtada and the Pentagon. They have 23 seats in the new National Assembly. In the elections in Basra - the Shi'ite-dominated southern city - they got only 12 of 41 city council seats. The Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) won 20. But the Sadrists managed to form a coalition and are now actually in control in Basra. The Sadrists' Mehdi Army is even more powerful than the SCIRI's Badr Brigades. Without Mehdi Army interventions, the Badr Brigades would have taken over every government institution in the south. The Badr Brigades' thuggish approach has led many Shi'ites to give at least the benefit of the doubt to the Mehdi Army. The whole Shi'ite south around Basra - provincial councils, the police, the administrative bureaucracy - is controlled by Shi'ite militias.

Muqtada the religious outsider and the Sadrists are cleverly placing Jaafari and his supporters - the powerful Najaf Shi'ite clergy - in an intolerable position. In this epic battle between Muqtada and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the Sadrists all-out campaign for the end of the occupation is touching a raw nerve: popular opinion is exasperated with the haggling and corruption in Baghdad; with the snail's pace of the political process; and most of all with the abominable conditions of everyday life.

Don't touch our thugs

According to Washington's script, progressive invisibility of the occupying force means increasing repression exercised by Iraqi forces. This means the return - in full force - of Saddam's Mukhabarat agents, now posing as agents of the new Iraqi security and intelligence services. Seemingly, that is the way the disenfranchised Muqtada-regimented masses see it: Bush equals Saddam because the same people who repressed us are back. Not to mention that everyone painfully remembers how George Bush senior did nothing to prevent Saddam from smashing the Shi'ite uprising at the end of the first Gulf War in 1991. The masses correctly interpreted the meaning of Rumsfeld's "message" to the Shi'ite al-Jafaari: don't touch the defense and interior ministries, ie, don't touch our old Mukhabarat allies and counterinsurgency experts.

Not featured in the elaborate Pentagon plans to regiment Mukhabarat agents is that these same Sunni, Saddam-era operatives may not be exactly inclined to fight the Sunni resistance. To complicate the equation, 70% of the US-trained Iraqi security forces are former Ba'athists. The top commando, with 10,000 operatives, is almost 100% composed of former Saddam army officers. If Jaafari's government purges them, it's the end of the American dream of having Iraqis doing the dirty jobs.

All the explosive issues - federalism, who gets Kirkuk, the fate of the oil industry - which translated into nine weeks of turbulence before a president, two vice presidents and a prime minister were appointed - are now back into the negotiations over a new constitution. People in Baghdad knows it's unrealistic to expect a draft of the new constitution in the course of the next four months, according to the American-imposed calendar.

Ominous signs abound. Sunni tribal sheikh Ghazi al-Yawer, one of the two vice presidents, is furious that the Shi'ites and Kurds have decided to give only four ministries to Sunni Arabs, instead of the original six. Even moderate Sunnis now accuse Shi'ites and Kurds of marginalizing what we have termed the Sinn Fein stance of the Sunni Arab resistance.

Moreover, the story playing in the global media for days, according to which the Wahhabi hardcore faction of the Sunni resistance had kidnapped up to 150 Shi'ites in Madaen, south of Baghdad, is an elaborate hoax - and this after former Central Intelligence Agency asset and outgoing prime minister Iyad Allawi quickly described the alleged hostage situation as "a dirty atrocity". The story was apparently planted by the SCIRI. Abdul Salam al-Qubaisi of the powerful Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars, said: "This was an excuse to produce a small-scale Fallujah." Iraqis tend to agree that intimations of civil war only benefit one player: the occupying power.

Allawi - the Americans' man, as he is known in Baghdad - also has his reasons to be furious. He badly wanted the Interior Ministry, so he could organize the Mukhabarat-led espionage and overall repression in conjunction with the Green Zone. The Shi'ites of SCIRI came up with a resolute "no". The next interior minister may well be Hadi al-Amiri, the leader of the Badr Brigades. To say that Amiri is a bete noire of choice in Rumsfeld's vast collection would be an understatement.

It is well known that the Badr Brigades - the paramilitary wing of SCIRI, recently renamed Badr Organization - were trained in exile by Iran's Revolutionary Guards. That makes them extremely suspicious to all Sunni Arabs. So just like in Afghanistan, private militias (peshmergas, Badr Brigades) in Iraq are fusing into the government's army and police, competing with small militias of former Ba'athist friends of Allawi armed with Pakistani weapons and following the American agenda. Adding to this lethal cocktail, the hardcore Wahhabis, Abu Musab Zarqawi-style, who get their kicks killing Shi'ites, the overall picture spells chaos. Once again, in the eyes of a majority of Iraqis, this benefits only one player: the occupying power.

Highway to hell

The occupation is worse than an economic tsunami: it managed to plunge Iraq - once a beacon of development in the Arab world - into Sub-Saharan poverty.
There's less electricity each day than in 2003 or even 2004. Without electricity, the whole country is paralyzed: nothing - communications, industry, the healthcare system, the educational system - works properly. All water plants "reconstructed" by Bechtel and co are breaking down. With weekly, sometimes daily attacks on pipelines, oil production is pitiful, still inferior to Saddam-era, pre-war levels. Sixty percent of the total population survives on food stamps.

Baghdad is a hellish labyrinth of concrete walls and barbed wire, where a BMW is "the kidnappers' car", 4X4s are favored by candidates for suicide attacks and there's no safe place to hide. Reuters staff survive barricaded behind sandbags and concrete walls; the only one able to venture out to collect images by motorbike is Abu Ali, a kind of local hero. Gas lines are endless. The resistance is relentless. The al-Batawiyyin district has become a Dantesque hell of criminal gangs, drug trafficking, prostitution and trafficking of human organs. Western Iraq is totally out of US control. Mosul is infiltrated by the Iraqi resistance. Ramadi, the resistance capital of the Sunni triangle, is controlled by - who else - the resistance.

Made in the shade

There may be no funds for rebuilding American-bombed Iraqi infrastructure, but US$4.5 billion promptly found its way to Halliburton's subsidiary KBR for the construction and maintenance of the 14 "enduring camps" or permanent military bases. The most notorious of these may be Camp Victory North, a sprawling complex attached to Baghdad (former Saddam) International Airport. Camp Victory is a KBR-built, bungalow-with-air-con American city for 14,000, complete with Burger King and gym. When finished, it will be twice the size of giant Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, the base attached to surveillance of oil pipelines in the Balkans.

American economist Jeremy Rifkin has calculated the number of years known world oil reserves would last at current rates of consumption and extraction. In the US it would be only 10 years. By contrast, in Iran it would be 53 years; in Saudi Arabia 55; in the United Arab Emirates 75; in Kuwait 116; and in Iraq no less than 526 years. That says it all about controlling oil reserves in the Middle East.

Nothing gets done in Iraq without Green Zone approval, ie the all-powerful American Embassy. The overwhelming majority of Sunnis as well as many disgruntled Shi'ites who sympathize with the Sadrists know the Green Zone would never tolerate new Iraqi ministers not pliable to the White House/Pentagon military/corporate agenda for Iraq.

The White House/Pentagon, just in case, can count on a number of key Trojan Horses. Antonia Juhasz, who was project director at the International Forum on Globalization for many years and is currently writing a book about corporate greed in Iraq, has been one of the very few voices who pointed out the key role of the ultimate Trojan Horse - Abdel Mahdi, one of the two new Iraqi vice presidents and former finance minister in the Allawi interim government.

Mahdi was the man who carried out the shock therapy conceived by former American proconsul L Paul Bremer to totally deregulate the Iraqi economy. Last December, in a press conference in Washington, Mahdi stressed that a new Iraqi oil law would be "very good" for the American oil majors (Iraq's oil was fully nationalized in 1972). Mahdi will keep on pushing for full privatization of the Iraqi oil industry - a prospect that makes the bulk of the Iraqi population recoil in horror. The myriad laws passed by Bremer remain in effect and can only be amended by a three-quarters vote in the new National Assembly. There's ongoing, serious, widespread speculation in Iraq that the SCIRI may have made a deal with Washington: we get political power, you get control of our oil industry.

The only way Jaafari's transitional government can garner any measure of popular credibility is to demand a firm deadline for total American withdrawal. This is what the Shi'ite masses voted for. Whatever the scale of mass protests though, Rumsfeld remains unfazed: he wants Saddam's Mukhabarat back in action and he wants the 14 military bases.

The White House/Pentagon/Green Zone axis wants "shock therapy", deregulation, wide-ranging privatization, control of Iraqi natural resources, Iraq reduced to a deregulated capitalist colony with all or most government properties and services controlled by American multinationals and all assets held by the foreign lending institutions that own the majority shares of the Iraqi National Bank. People who disagree may hit the streets and scream. So much for Iraqi "democracy". Long live the shadow Iraqi government.

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Eleven dead as US Mercenaries' helicopter downed in Iraq
April 22, 2005 - 9:46AM

Insurgents in Iraq downed a Bulgarian helicopter with a missile strike today, killing all 11 occupants, as foreign security workers found themselves increasingly caught in the firing line of attacks. [...]

The latest attacks brought the number of foreign security specialists killed in Iraq to at least 10 over the last two days.

A United States Embassy spokesman said 11 people were killed in the Bulgarian helicopter crash, among them six Americans, three Bulgarians and two people identified as Filipinos by the Bulgarian defence ministry in Sofia.

The six US citizens worked for Blackwater Security Consulting, which provides security for the embassy and other clients, the spokesman said.

"Six passengers who died were Blackwater. They were Americans," the embassy spokesman said. "SkyLink is often chartered for transporting people around the country."

Iraq insurgents downed the Mi-8 helicopter with a missile, the defence ministry said.

Earlier today, one employee from the British-based Aegis defence services company was killed and another injured when a bomb exploded as their car headed from the capital towards the airport, company spokeswoman Sarah Pearson said.

"Aegis defence services ltd can confirm that one member of staff was killed in the line of duty in Baghdad today and another person sustained injuries", she said. She gave no details as to their identities.

One Iraqi civilian, travelling in another car, was also hurt by the blast, according to an interior ministry official.

Today's attack followed an ambush on the same road yesterday, when an American, an Australian and a Canadian security specialist were killed when vehicles in their convoy came under small arms fire, their employer, the British-based Edinburgh Risk security firm said.

Thousands of security specialists, mostly former soldiers, currently work in Iraq, helping to protect coalition facilities along with employees of private organisations and foreign news teams.

In other developments, US troops today shot and killed an Iraqi woman they said had set off a roadside bomb under a military convoy, wounding one soldier near the restive city of Ramadi, about 100 kilometres west of Baghdad.

Meanwhile, an Iraqi interpreter working in the green zone, a protected area home to parliament, the government and the US embassy, was kidnapped today by armed men, an interior ministry official said.

And militants loyal to al-Qaeda frontman Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in an internet statement claimed responsibility for attempting to assassinate Prime Minister Iyad Allawi on yesterday.

A car bomb targeting Allawi's motorcade killed two policemen. This was the fifth attempt on the prime minister's life. [...]

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Senate OKs $81B for Iraq, Afghanistan
LIZ SIDOTI

WASHINGTON, Apr 21, 2005 (AP) - The Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly approved $81 billion for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in a spending bill that would push the total cost of combat and reconstruction past $300 billion.

Both the Senate and House versions of the measure would give President Bush much of the money he requested. But the bills differ over what portion should go to military operations.

Bush urged a quick resolution of the differences and passage of a bill "that focuses taxpayer dollars on providing the tools our troops and diplomats need now."

Comment: Indeed. "The tools our troops need" are the tools of war and death. Bush has decided that all US citizens agree with his assessment and should directly contribute, throught the "sweat of their brows" to the continued slaughter of Iraqi and Afghan civilians in a war for profit.

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Virtual reality 'war' helps treat troops traumatised by combat
By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
22 April 2005

The Pentagon has spent $4m (£2.1m) to create virtual reality "video games" that simulate combat situations in Iraq, to help treat traumatised soldiers on their return to the US.

Thousands of the troops are suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As part of the scheme, military doctors will measure their reaction to the combat simulation through heartbeat, blood pressure, breathing rate and skin temperature.

Doctors hope the data will help them better diagnose PTSD and suggest appropriate treatment. They also hope the project, which took three years to develop at the San Diego Naval Medical Centre in California, will have civilian uses.

Dr James Spira, a staff psychologist at the centre, said that monitoring troops' reactions could help them gain a better control over their behaviour in certain situations. "The virtual reality environment is clearly not the same as being there," he said. "We don't want it to be the same as being there. We want it to be semi-realistic. We want it to be enough to trigger the thoughts and feelings so they can control those."

An article in the New England Journal of Medicine said nearly 17 per cent of all US troops returning from Iraq had reported mental illness of some type relating to combat. Officials said there had been an increase in broken marriages, car accidents, fights, and alcohol or drug abuse. Many troops report problems dealing with their anger and frustration on return to a non-combat environment.

In addition to the visual simulations, troops taking part in the project wear headphones into which the sound of American military helicopters is played, along with that of sniper fire and mortar rounds.

Comment: Is it just us, or does anyone else see this as a somewhat bizarre and twisted form of therapy for war-traumatised troops?

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U.S. Will Spend $5M to Establish Democracy in Belarus

Created: 22.04.2005 12:26 MSK (GMT 3), Updated: 12:26 MSK, 5 hours 50 minutes ago
MosNews

The U.S. Senate has approved an extra $81 billion war budget that includes $5 million for programs aimed to support democracy in Belarus, RIA Novosti reports.

The programs will be under the control of the State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. The Bureau announced earlier this month that $2 million would be spent on “consolidation of democratic parties” in Belarus.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, in power since 1994, is widely regarded as a dictator. During her visit to Russia earlier this week the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called the former Soviet republic “the last dictatorship in the center of Europe”. She also added that Belarus should be the next country to establish democracy.

In October 2004 a referendum in Belarus approved a third term for Lukashenko. The presidential elections are due to be held in 2006. Many commentators say that Lukashenko’s attempt to run for a third term will spark next the “velvet revolution” in the CIS.

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US accused of trying to block abortion pills
Sarah Boseley, health editor
Thursday April 21, 2005
The Guardian

The US government is trying to block the World Health Organisation from endorsing two abortion pills which could save the lives of some of the 68,000 women who die from unsafe practices in poor countries every year.

The WHO wants to put the pills on its essential medicines list, which constitutes official advice to all governments on the basic drugs their doctors should have available.

Last month, an expert committee met to consider a number of new drugs for inclusion on the list. They approved for the first time two pills, to be used in combination for the termination of early pregnancy, called mifepristone and misoprostol. In poor countries where abortion is legal, doctors currently have no alternative to surgery.

The Guardian understands that the US department of health and human services has been lobbying the director general's office at the WHO to block approval of the pills, in line with President George Bush's neoconservative stance on abortion. [...]

Comment: So, eh...what happened to Bush's "culture of life"? 68,000 women in impoverished countries are dying every year because Bush has decided that they should not have abortions. If any of you doubted that Bush and his right-wing fascist friends really do see themselves as some sort of demi-gods, then doubt no longer. If such arrogance and self-righteousness cannot be described as "evil" then nothing can.

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Only a bunch of Venezuelan traitors would sell their country for a mess of potage
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Kenneth T. Tellis

The more we read about US government propaganda, the more we realize that Hollywood, the CIA, the Pentagon are all gainfully employed by the powers that be.

The whole story of the assassination attempt on the "Il Manifesto" journalist Giuoliana Sgrena and the murder of Nicollo Calipari of the Italian Secret Service were orchestrated and carried out by a team of the US Special Forces in Iraq.

Remember that only un-embedded journalists and TV crews are the targets which the White House has ordered a hit on. Because a free press would expose the wholesale massacres of men, women and children by US forces in Iraq.

• There was no way that the Bush regime was going to permit any news to get out that was not first doctored by the US propaganda agency.

As usual, all the accidents of un-embedded foreign journalists and TV crews were done on purpose ... the crew at the White House have overtaken Adolf Hitler's Deutsche Rundfunk (German Radio) in the area of mass propaganda.

• Reading any newspaper which receives its information from US government sources is like reading Fairy Tales written by the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson or some other fabulist.

If what we see are a sample of US propaganda in Iraq, can one imagine what is going on in the White House, vis-a-vis Venezuela?

The is well-planned campaign of disinformation soon to be launched against Hugo Chavez Frias and the Bolivarian Republic in hopes of bringing it down and establishing a US-controlled puppet regime, as Venezuela had before.

• But as things are, this will not happen as long as the Venezuelan people, who love their country, do not want foreign control over their country.

Only a bunch of Venezuelan traitors would sell their country for a mess of potage.

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US may demand passenger lists from flyover planes
22 April 2005 0258 hrs - AFP /ls

WASHINGTON : The United States may demand the passenger lists from foreign airlines for planes that fly over US territory, US authorities said Thursday.

"We are working closely with our international aviation partners in giving thoughtful consideration to all aspects of this," Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Amy Von Walter said.

Currently planes that land in the United States must send passenger lists before they take off for the US airport. The names are checked with US lists of suspected and wanted terrorists.

The demand is one of the many security measures imposed since the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

"We have not made any final decision on the implementation at this point. Certainly, in everything we do, our motivation is to further enhance security conditions," the spokeswoman said. "We are reviewing that issue, we are giving it thoughtful consideration."

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Woman To File Police Complaint Over Taser Incident
POSTED: 7:06 am CDT April 21, 2005

OMAHA, Neb. -- An Omaha woman said she plans to file a complaint with the police department over a stun gun incident at a house fire Sunday night.

Jasmine Franklin told KETV Newswatch 7 that a police officer used a stun gun on her three times as she tried to get inside her burning home because she thought her 2-year-old daughter was still inside.

Police said Franklin attempted to hit a firefighter and was told repeatedly that everyone was out of the house.

Franklin admitted that the officer's first use of the stun gun may have been justified, but the second and third were not.

She said the officer zapped her two more times with the Taser gun as she was backing away from the house.

Sgt. Teresa Negron, a spokeswoman for the Omaha Police Department, defended the officer's use of the stun gun. She said Franklin was not obeying commands and was being actively aggressive. [...]

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Japanese PM apologizes for wartime aggression in bid to ease row with China
08:28 AM EDT Apr 22

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - Japan's prime minister expressed "deep remorse" over his country's Second World War aggression against Asian neighbours in a speech Friday at the Asia-Africa summit in Jakarta - a move aimed at defusing Tokyo's growing tensions with China.

"In the past Japan through its colonial rule and aggression caused tremendous damage and suffering for the people of many countries, particularly those of Asian nations," Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said at the opening ceremony of the Asian-African Summit in Jakarta. "Japan squarely faces these facts of history in a spirit of humility."

Koizumi's apology did not go beyond what Japanese leaders previously have said, but its delivery at the conference clearly was aimed at easing an escalating row with China over Tokyo's handling of its wartime atrocities and its bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

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Coal mine explosion traps 18 in Turkey, officials see little hope
22 April 2005 0211 hrs

ANKARA : Eighteen workers were trapped deep underground in a coal mine in western Turkey after a gas explosion caused a cave-in and sparked a fire, local officials said.

"Experts at the spot say the survival of the workers would be a miracle," an official from the sub-governor's office in Gediz, in the province of Kutahya, where the incident ocurred, told AFP.

He said rescuers trying to reach the 18 people, an engineer and 17 miners, were impeded by the blaze, and were pumping oxygen into the mine to increase the chances of survival.

"The efforts will continue throughout the night," he said, adding that a specialized search-and-rescue team was flown to the site on a helicopter. [...]

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Many die in India train crash
Thursday 21 April 2005, 8:56 Makka Time, 5:56 GMT  

A crowded passenger train has slammed into a stationary cargo train in western India, killing at least 24 people and leaving dozens more injured.

One coach climbed atop another and at least five others fell sideways off the tracks in the accident at the Samlaya village station on Thursday, about 36km west of the city of Vadodara in western Gujarat state.
 
"The figures I have been given are that at least 24 people have died and 56 are injured," Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat state, said at the accident site.
 
The passenger train was coming from the Hindu pilgrimage city of Varanasi early on Thursday morning when it hit the cargo train.
 
"It's a very serious accident," said Shailendra Kumar, a spokesman for India's Western Railway. "We are still removing dead and injured from three coaches." [...]

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32 Vietnamese war veterans die in bus accident
21 April 2005 1951 hrs

HANOI : Thirty-two Vietnamese veterans of the Vietnam War died in a bus accident while on their way to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the victory over US-backed South Vietnamese forces, police said.

Only one person on the bus survived, and among the dead were 14 female veterans, police said Thursday.

The accident took place at 8:00 am (0100 GMT) while the bus was crossing the Lo So peak in central Vietnam's Kon Tum province about 1,100 kilometres (nearly 700 miles) south of Hanoi.

The bus was transporting 33 people, all war veterans from Hanoi bound for Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, for the celebrations scheduled for April 30.

When the bus started its descent from the peak, the driver lost control of the bus, which fell into a ravine 70 metres (about 230 feet) deep. [...]

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51 killed in explosives plant blast
irishexaminer

A blast ripped through an explosives manufacturing plant at a copper mine in Zambia today, killing at least 51 people, authorities said today.

Government investigators said today it was still unclear how many people were working at the plant at the time of the explosion yesterday morning. The cause of the blast was under investigation.

The company, BGRIMM Explosives of China, said its records showed 72 people were in the plant at the time of the blast. However, government officials did not have exact records of the number of casual or temporary workers employed at the site about 245 miles north of Lusaka.

The force of the blast destroyed the plant that provides explosives to copper mines in the region.

State television showed horrific footage of workers collecting body parts from the rubble.

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US gov't issues drought alert for 3 African nations
21 Apr 2005 12:46:00 GMT
Source: Reuters

WASHINGTON, April 20 (Reuters) - U.S. government weather forecasters issued a drought alert on Wednesday for areas of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia which face widespread crop losses and food shortages.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said its weather satellites detected "areas of stifling drought conditions" in parts of the three countries for the sixth consecutive year.

"If the drought continues, any hope of success for a decent early-stage agricultural season in the Horn (of Africa) would be seriously at risk," said Felix Kogan of NOAA's Office of Research and Applications. "We are issuing a drought alert to notify humanitarian and relief agencies of these potentially deadly conditions so that hopefully lives can be saved."

Conditions are worst in eastern Kenya, southeastern Ethiopia and northern and central Somalia, NOAA said. That region typically grows food from March through May to sustain local residents until the autumn, when the next harvest occurs. [...]

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Drought, Locusts Leave Thousands of Children in Niger Facing Malnutrition, UN Says
UN News Service (New York)
April 21, 2005

Extrapolating from a survey conducted in two areas of Niger hard hit by locust infestation and scanty rains, a United Nations agency estimates that nearly 350,000 children younger than 5 could be suffering from malnutrition, with the risk of stunted growth.

The study in the Zinder and Maradi regions of the West African nation suggests that 346,000 children could suffer from malnutrition this year, with 63,000 of them suffering severely, the World Food Programme (WFP) said in the capital, Niamey.

"Following a season of poor rains, coupled with the impact of the worst locust invasion in 15 years, the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better. Niger is facing a food deficit of nearly a quarter of a million metric tons this year," it said. [...]

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5,000 may require shots in Tennessee hepatitis scare
By DAVID WAHLBERG
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 04/21/05

CLINTON, Tenn. — More than 5,000 people who ate at a Waffle House about 15 miles northwest of Knoxville this month may have been exposed to hepatitis A, a viral liver disease that can cause serious illness, even death in rare cases.

Health officials say anyone who ate at the Waffle House off Exit 122 of Interstate 75 from April 5 to April 15 — when school spring breaks put people from many states on the north-south freeway — should get immune globulin shots to ward off the disease. More than 1,000 people had received the shots by Wednesday at a massive clinic hastily set up at a National Guard Armory in Clinton.

Another 2,000 or so customers who visited the restaurant April 1-4 who also may have been exposed were advised to watch for symptoms, but authorities said shots would be ineffective for exposure that long ago. While no cases of hepatitis A have been reported among the Waffle House patrons, officials said it is too early for most people potentially infected to have become ill.

The sheer size of the potential exposure, combined with the possibility of interstate infection, has elevated concern among health authorities. Equally troublesome is the likelihood that travelers have returned to their home states and may not get the warnings about preventive measures.

The Waffle House is not believed to be the source of the hepatitis A outbreak that has sickened 17 people in the Tennessee counties of Campbell, Scott and Anderson this month. But a Waffle House waitress is among those in the cluster of cases, officials said. She became ill April 11 and was hospitalized April 15.

The woman, two others who were hospitalized, and 14 other people are thought to have contracted the disease at another restaurant, which officials have not named, in La Follette, Tenn., about 20 miles north of Clinton. Because hepatitis A usually takes a month before it causes symptoms, health officials say she may have exposed Waffle House customers from about April 1 until she stopped working April 15. [...]

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Typhoid outbreak in Malaysian state kills two, sparks health scare
21 April 2005 1617 hrs

KUALA LUMPUR : Two people have died and 203 people have been hospitalized following a typhoid outbreak in Malaysia's northeast Kelantan state that has sparked a public health scare, reports said Thursday.

State health director Ahmad Razin Ahmad Maher said the outbreak detected three weeks ago was becoming critical but was still under control. He said the department had taken immediate steps to control the disease including conducting large-scale operations at eateries and business premises.

More than 30 dirty foodstalls have been closed for two weeks, he said.

"I hope the public will not panic with the situation as it is under control," he was quoted as saying by Bernama news agency. [...]

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Asteroid Belt Discovered Around Our Sun's "Twin"
Brian Handwerk
for National Geographic News
April 21, 2005

NASA's orbiting Spitzer Space Telescope has found evidence of a massive asteroid belt around a "twin" of our own sun.

Kim Weaver, a Spitzer Space Telescope scientist, said the finding marks "the first time that scientists have found evidence for a massive asteroid belt around a mature, sunlike star."

"This region around the star is the sort of place where rocky planets [like Earth] may form," Weaver said yesterday at a press conference from NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The star, dubbed HD69830, is some 41 light-years away—which, in space terms, is practically our own backyard. Part of the constellation Puppis, the star is a tad too faint to see with the unaided eye.

The discovery may help reveal how other Earth-like planets could be formed and whether our own solar system is common or unique in space. [...]

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Morning quake registers 5.5 on Richter
by Fredalynn Mortera Hecita, KUAM News
Friday, April 22, 2005

If you were shaken out of bed this morning, you weren't dreaming. According to Civil Defense administrator Chuck Ada at around 7:32 this morning an earthquake was recorded at a magnitude of 5.5 on the Richter Scale.

The epicenter of the quake was pinpointed 45 miles southeast of Hagatna. Paul Hatorri of the U.S. Geological Survey says the quake was about 31 miles deep. Ada says currently there are no reports of any damages at this time or trouble with the island's infrastructure.

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Cavers smash world depth record
BBC
Cavers have ventured deeper into the Earth than anyone has been before.

A Ukrainian team has reached a record depth of 2,080m (6,822ft), passing the elusive 2,000m mark at Krubera, the world's deepest known cave.

The nine-strong group were part of a project that has made breaking the 2,000m depth its goal for four years.

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Antarctic glaciers show retreat
By Jonathan Amos
BBC News science reporter

Overall, retreating glaciers have lost an average of 600m in 50 years
The glaciers of the Antarctic Peninsula are in rapid retreat.

A detailed study reported in Science magazine shows nearly 90% of the ice bodies streaming down from the mountains to the ocean are losing mass.

But the authors - a joint team from the British-Antarctic and US-Geological Surveys - say the big melt could have a number of complex causes.

Although higher air temperatures are a factor, they say, the full picture may go beyond just simple global warming.

"The overall picture is of glaciers retreating in a pattern that suggests the most important factor is atmospheric warming; we can connect the retreat with the observed warming recorded at climate stations along the peninsula," explained Dr David Vaughan, from the British Antarctic Survey (Bas).

"But it's not a perfect fit; there seem to be other factors involved as well - possibly to do with changing ocean currents and temperatures," he told BBC News.

The study covers 244 marine glaciers found largely on the western side of the peninsula.

They are all relatively small, independent streams of ice that fall from an altitude of about 2,000m down to sea level. Their fronts either ground and calve icebergs into the ocean, or push out into the water as a floating "tongue".

The team used more than 2,000 aerial photographs dating from 1940, and over 100 satellite images from the 1960s onwards, to assess the change in position of glacier fronts over time.

Bas scientist Alison Cook, who led the research, said: "This is the first comprehensive study of marine glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula,"

'Shrinking rapidly'

"We found that 87% of the 244 glaciers have shown retreat since the earliest records, which on average were 1953.

"This is a reverse of the pattern 50 years ago - then most glaciers were actually growing. Now the majority are shrinking and rapidly." [...]

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This flu season, a triple whammy
After recovery, relapse with second strain
Then, respiratory virus struck with flu-like symptoms
TRISH CRAWFORD
LIFE WRITER
Apr. 22, 2005. 08:33 AM

Ontario has been hit with a doozy of a flu season.

It began earlier than usual in September, a second strain showed up around Christmas and is still making people ill and a severe respiratory virus, with flu-like symptoms, hit many who had been weakened fighting the flu bugs.

This added up to people getting sick more than once and a record number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities, seniors' residential lodges and hospitals.

While issuing assurances that the flu season is winding down, Dr. Karim Kurji, associate medical officer of health for Ontario, revealed that there were 525 outbreaks reported, up from 397 the year before. Of that total, 144 are still ongoing.

"It is dying (out)," says Kurji.

The first case of flu appeared unusually early, popping up in Ottawa the first week of September. Officials were in a quandary about issuing vaccines early (flu shots are usually given in October), he says, because the positive effects only last up to five months and they didn't want to leave the elderly losing that protection while the flu bug was still active.

More than 5.25 million Ontarians, or 44 per cent of the population, were vaccinated last fall for the A Fugian flu virus. Unfortunately, in January, an entirely different strain of flu — called the A California — was reported in Hastings-Prince Edward County health district. [...]

Flu is very common and "in a bad year, up to 25 per cent of the population can get it," says Finkelstein. This was such a year.

Toronto has had 24 flu-related deaths this year, compared to 17 last year.

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'Infomania' worse than marijuana
Last Updated: Friday, 22 April, 2005, 06:29 GMT 07:29 UK
Workers distracted by email and phone calls suffer a fall in IQ more than twice that found in marijuana smokers, new research has claimed.

The study for computing firm Hewlett Packard warned of a rise in "infomania", with people becoming addicted to email and text messages. [...]

The study, carried out at the Institute of Psychiatry, found excessive use of technology reduced workers' intelligence.

Those distracted by incoming email and phone calls saw a 10-point fall in their IQ - more than twice that found in studies of the impact of smoking marijuana, said researchers.

More than half of the 1,100 respondents said they always responded to an email "immediately" or as soon as possible, with 21% admitting they would interrupt a meeting to do so.

The University of London psychologist who carried out the study, Dr Glenn Wilson, told the Daily Mail that unchecked infomania could reduce workers' mental sharpness.

Those who are constantly breaking away from tasks to react to email or text messages suffer similar effects on the mind as losing a night's sleep, he said.

Comment: It appears that there has been a war on our attention spans, our ability to stay concentrated on an idea, a logical process, the development of an argument. It is noticeable when you look at films made forty, fifty, or sixty or more years ago. They are not paced at the frenetic speed of the current crop of Hollywood blockbusters -- and think of other meanings of the word "block". The music video revolution appears to have been part of it with images coming at the viewer in rapid succession.

The old films appear sluggish to many modern viewers. Time taken to establish a mood, think of the opening sequence in Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West, is hard for them to sit through.

It may also be related to the American model of television with commercial breaks every, well, forty years ago it was every fifteen minutes. Now, every seven or eight?

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Outrage as family flies Nazi flag
irishexaminer

An Australian family has caused outrage in a small country town by flying the Nazi flag in their garden.

The local authority, however, said today it had no power to remove it.

The young family in Mannering Park, a community of 10,000 people about 125 miles north of Sydney, has refused neighbours’ requests to bring down the black swastika on a red and white background which they have flown alongside a skull-and-crossbones flag for the past week.

Wyong Shire Council had received several complaints but all the council could do was order the family to shorten the flag pole to the maximum allowable 20 feet, council spokeswoman Kristie Down said.

The flag’s owners, Darren Mackay and Jenni Duncombe, told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph newspaper they bought it for AUS$10 (€18.90) at a market and hoisted it about a week ago for fun.

Duncombe told the newspaper she did not realise the significance of the flag until the controversy erupted.

She said the couple had refused to remove the flag as an act of defiance after an angry neighbour threatened to hurt her and her four-month-old daughter Breeana if they did not bring it down, the newspaper said. The couple could not be immediately be contacted by The Associated Press.

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Victory Day Show at Russian Circus to Feature Nazi Monkeys

Created: 22.04.2005 16:05 MSK (GMT 3), Updated: 16:09 MSK, 2 hours 5 minutes ago
MosNews

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of Soviet victory in World War II a circus show will dress monkeys as Nazis and have them act in wartime stories, NewsRu reports.

The director of the Yekaterinburg circus, Anatoly Marchevsky, said he opted for monkeys to represent Nazis because it was easy to design costumes for them.

“You can not dress a horse like a Nazi,” he told the UralPolit.Ru website.

“People see Nazis as beasts anyway,” he added. [...]

Comment: As above, so below. Above, chimps dressed up as Nazis, below, Nazis dressed up as chimps...

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