Tuesday, April 26, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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Light Waves
©2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Deer in the headlights

Searching for the truth is ugly, frightening and dangerous
— and the only worthwhile choice

By John Kaminski

Maybe I'm already sufficiently hunkered down; safely ensconced in my leaky trailer; barricaded against the onslaughts to come; insulated from the contrived catastrophes that get worse with each new assault; prepared for the biological barrage our masters have scheduled for us to cull this feckless human herd and make their sinister existences even more profitable; as fortified as I can be against the imminent financial collapse about to engulf us all, at least for someone who earns his meager coins by hurling reckless adjectives at all these endless crimes against humanity.

After all, they haven't come for me yet. But will they come next week?

Oh, I am so prudent. I remove the magnetic antiwar sticker from my trunk in certain rural parking lots so the rednecks won't trash my car. Mmm, such courage. And sagacity. And always the darting eyes of man hazardously at large in an alien world. Who the hell are all these people, and why are practically all of them fast asleep?

Never have I heard so much talk as over the past few years about people wanting to escape from warmongering America. I get postcards from Costa Rica, cryptic e-mails from Thailand, letters about how nice it is in Denmark or Portugal or Brazil, all from people who have shucked that furtive sense of panic that still grips many people with actually functioning souls who remain uneasily in their decaying United States.

Once I wrote that we shouldn’t run off to foreign places, that the best of us should stay and fight for what is truly ours. But who can blame those of us who are intimidated by the widespread lack of support for values and actions that are truly humane. What’s the score now? About six people in the entire Congress who are apt to tell the unvarnished truth about anything? And not a single newspaper.

To not be afraid is to be stupid.

I have already received several notes from people who journeyed to Oklahoma City recently especially to see me. I had volunteered to go and participate in the group analysis of a previous disaster, now several incidents removed from the current affront to all things decent and holy, which is of course the continuing massacre of innocents in a faraway country whose oil America wishes to steal.

Some of you may remember that I canceled my appearance, essentially because of three things: extreme poverty; disenchantment with the overly respectful (and hence, IMHO, futile) way the organizers of the event planned to discuss this clear case of mass murder of American citizens by the American government. And, of course, fear of flying. I love to fly. But I wish to avoid having my orifices scrutinized by minimum wage Homeland Security goons.

More to the point in my recent field of vision were the hundreds of letters that have recently blessed me with tokens of appreciation for my efforts at describing how so-called humans can be so inhuman. We're talking cold hard cash here, folks, and book orders. In between my scribbled rants that often show up in the most unexpected places, I eke out an austere living by selling my books, in which I have collected these very rants. I am always uneasy about asking for support, and always humbled by the sincere ways in which many people respond.

People (them again) always ask me, "How can you read all those horrible stories day after day and not be affected by them; how can you keep from slitting your wrists?" or something along those lines. It's a question I don't usually answer.

But when I try to, I think of that series of photos taken at a checkpoint in Iraq in which triggerhappy U.S. troops shot first and asked questions later, later to find six terrified and bleeding children in the car that rolled to a stop. I think of that little bleeding girl screaming over her butchered parents, and U.S. soldiers wearing masks to hide their identities from the photographer. That little girl is my boss. And the rage I feel at the people who put her in that position, I'm telling you, is simply more than you want to hear. Why do I do what I do, and how can I stand what I have to look at? I work for that little girl, and if you don't too, then you have a problem with me.

Because if you don't work for her, that means you're an accomplice to mass murder (which as Americans, we all are), and that means I'm going to seriously kick your ass if I get the chance, although as you have rightly guessed by now, it will only be verbally and from a distance.

Likewise, I work for the souls of those kids in that Murrah building daycare center so righteously snuffed out by all those federal employees who were warned not to go to work that day. Which is why I got somewhat upset by the relatively inferential (as opposed to confrontational) intent of the organizers who had chronicled the irrefutable evidence that the OKC attack on humanity was not about a renegade pseudopatriot with a truck bomb, but about a government conducting an experiment on its population’s social alienation from reality. Which spectacularly continues, meaning the experiment was a success.

I wrote a story for that group, but they didn't want it because they already had plenty of good ones (especially by Pat Shannan and Craig Roberts), and I know it's only a fool who quotes himself, but here's part of what I wrote:

Your silence guarantees
more phony disasters
American cowardice triumphs as the facts
of the OKC bombing remain concealed

They come into your town, commit some unpardonable crime, then disappear into the night.

The cops follow, explain the event in some way that absolutely does not make sense, some luckless patsy is put on trial, convicted by a judge who excludes most of the relevant evidence, and the patsy is executed.

Case closed, the government tells you.

The next day the ad-filled newspapers embellish the official version. Legislation is then passed to prevent the contrived atrocities they took such pains to explain.

But as you contemplate the blazing memory of the sight of your beloved children exploded into little bloody pieces or crushed by fallen debris, you wonder what you should say, what you can do.

When you attempt to express your doubts about what happened, you are looked upon with a nervous terror by your neighbors. You receive unmistakable messages that you really shouldn't go there, out of concern for your own health, your own future.

The messages include newspaper reports of others who didn't heed this advice and were discovered in some odd place after their puzzling and unexpected suicides.

So the message gets through to most, and a brittle silence engulfs the land.

After awhile, those who continue to speak about the incompatibility of what was written down and what they saw with their own eyes begin to be tolerated as amusing oddities, embarrassing gadflies, whimsical conspiracy theorists.

The voluminous dossiers of suppressed facts they have compiled are regarded as mere evidence of their quirkiness, and can never supplant the initial impression that the popular cover story has hazed over the general populace, anesthetizing the consensus thought process like some warm, familiar blanket, which most refuse to realize is permeated with a smallpox of the mind.

"Well, we know it was those damned terrorists," is the repeated mantra. "That's why we make war on them."

"You don't want to put yourself in a place you know you can't go," say others, reviving a variation of the old canard that you can't fight city hall, and thereby guaranteeing that the sudden act of vicious tragedy will happen again in some other town, and be followed by the same process of phony explanation, prosecuted patsy, and ultimately suppressed knowledge of what really happened.

It is the one consistent pattern of American history. The majority don't really know what happened, and are terrified to challenge the official version lest they be blackballed by their cowardly neighbors, or worse, ruined or killed by the same shadowy, unidentified forces who perpetrated the original crime and then covered it up.

For those who disregard the obvious dangers and continue to speak the truth as they perceive it, the rewards are bittersweet and intangible.

OK. Now, from that point on, I attempted to discuss specifics I had learned, mostly from organizers Charles Key and Chris Emery. The story gets pretty involved, and I had garbled some of those facts. So in the rush to put together their program, they didn't have time to instruct me on every point, and the story didn't get published. That’s OK by me. No biggie. Their task was humongous. The event was, according to some, a great success, in that at least California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is mulling over the possibility of reopening an investigation into allegations that McVeigh and Nichols were assisted in handling explosives by the FBI. But as I said before, it will accomplish nothing. Too many paid-off shills in the way. This a political sop. The OKC coverup continues.

And what is worse is that the confidence of some of us who care has been badly shaken, mostly by the decision to invite reactionary politician Bob Barr as the featured speaker at the OKC 10th anniversary probe and gathering. It comes to me as a terrible shock that the very center of the resistance movement to the government’s coverup in OKC may, in fact, be rotten to the core.

So I, in my own way, continue on my atrocity watch, not to dabble in the lurid and duplicitous for its own titillating sake, but to analyze the inexplicable self-destructive behavior of humans and perhaps by talking about it, ameliorating it. Perhaps by understanding it, detoxifying it.

I tend to link OKC and Waco together in my mind. They were both unexplained government atrocities in the early 1990s, and some people accepted the government’s phony aspersions about the Patriot movement doing OKC in retaliation for Waco. But just the other day, a dozen years after federal troops incinerated all those women and children in that farmhouse, I finally heard the most plausible story of what I think really happened.

Now, as many of you know, I tend to reject out-of-hand any contentions that we are ruled by supernatural forces, be they angelic or alien. In my simple mind, it just makes life too complicated. Yet, you must accept valid information where you find it, which is sometimes in unexpected places. And you can’t let your own paradigms and beliefs get in the way of hearing what you need to hear. The penalty for that is the ugly world we have now.

Over time, I have received many recommendations to check out a website that utilizes as its chief metaphorical theme communication with a group of extraterrestrials known as Cassiopaeans. Having seriously dabbled with many New Age subjects in the early ’90s and found the genre as riddled as the Patriot movement with creepy charlatans and egotistical psychos, I tend to dismiss such recommendations out-of-hand. But that is not to say it can all be dismissed in such a way. [SOTT NOTE: We do not in fact describe the Cassiopaeans as extraterrestrials, although Kaminski's misreading is understandable given the wide play given to ETs by other websites. The Cassiopaeans have described themselves to us as "We are you in the future". They may also simply be the expression of the subconscious of Laura Knight-Jadczyk. We do not know, nor do we take the information gathered from them at face value. Everything they tell us is then researched to be confirmed or refuted according to our own work on the subject. Those issues that cannot be evaluated based on our own research, such as information about things that happened thousands or tens of thousands of years ago, are treated as possibilities that may or may not be true.]

When you look at the work of Laura Knight-Jadczyk and her physicist husband Arkadius, fast-buck operators seeking to harvest cash from seances is not what you see. I’m not sure that sending you to http://www.cassiopaea.com/cassiopaea/adventureindex.htm is the proper way into their insightful milieu, but it’s the way I went in. And I have no intention to commenting right now on the validity of the worth of their Quantum Future School or perceptions that are beyond the grasp of my own, but what I did find in their site at this very link — http://www.cassiopaea.org/cass/organic_portals.htm — was a fascinating examination of the nature of psychopathy, which in my mind bears very directly on the situation we are all facing in this messed up world today.

I know this explanation is getting a little long, but bear with me. As you know, we all have been looking for a way to explain the behavior and the rude and rapacious men who run our world, who are running it into the ground. They are not like us (or, they are not like me, I don’t know about you, really).

One of the more fascinating and enigmatic explanations of what is actually happening in the world today is put forth by British phenom David Icke, whose many books and lectures have posited that the powers that be are actually reptilian shapeshifters, cold blooded in the truest sense. Many people find that assertion preposterous, and turn away. I’ve always related to it in a metaphorical sense, and in any case respect Icke for being one of the bravest men in the world for even attempting to tackle problems in the way he does.

But given my queasy uneasiness with such fanciful interpretations, I sometimes feel choosing to go to this level can be a distraction from the problems themselves. Not so with Laura Knight-Jadczyk’s explanation — the mask of sanity. And the assertion of the Quantum Future School that the official culture in America is a natural state of psychopathy. Hey! You only need to read a newspaper that the assertion is true. I highly recommend this information. Go to http://www.cassiopaea.com/cassiopaea/psychopath.htm

But let me first synopsize my understanding of it, and tell you about the event that triggered Waco, because it bears on the tragedy and disappointing drive to unearth the truth about Oklahoma City. (I know this is convoluted; thank you for your patience.)

From one of Laura’s reviews of a book titled “The Mask of Sanity” by Hervey Cleckley comes this description:

... a person who is able to mimic the human personality, but who leaves the impression that something is not there. They have a personality structure which “functions in a manner apparently identical with that of normal, sane functioning” and yet when all is said and done, “we are dealing here not with a complete man at all but with something that suggests a subtly constructed reflex machine which can mimic the human personality perfectly” to the point that “no one who examines him in a clinical setting can point out in scientific or objective terms why, or how, he is not real.”

In my own search to identify who some have called “biorobots,” I find that when Knight-Jadczyk draws upon the work of Cleckley and the Russian exile Boris Mouravieff and labels half the human population “organic portals,” or people without souls, she is right on target in explaining why the newspaper headlines are the way they are these days, or have always been.

I know. It should come as no surprise to me that people don’t always to the right thing. But this line of investigation strikes me as the way to actually fix the problem, for all you out there who frequently suggest I complain too much and don’t do enough about proposing solutions. Understanding this concept is definitely the beginning of a solution to why the human race seems hellbent on destroying our planet.

The Jadczyks, as I understand it, have had a hard time with a fellow named Rick Ross, who once upon a time ran an outfit called the Cult Awareness Network, which supposedly rescued runaway teens who had been lured away from their parents by Moonies, Hare Krishnas and other exotic thought processes.

Yet it was Rick Ross and the Cult Awareness Network who told Janet Reno that David Koresh was abusing children at his Waco compound. And, of course, when you get into why he would do such a thing, and what it all means, you of course get into — you guessed it, Zionist influence, subterranean motivational activity that results in false flag operations like COINTELPRO, and worse (if there can be something worse than COINTELPRO?).

Observe, in this snippet lifted from <http://www.cassiopaea.org/cass/rickross2.htm>

What a lot of people don't keep in mind is the fact that COINTELPRO also concentrated on creating bogus organizations through which hostile actions might be instigated and blamed on innocent third parties.

In other words, creating bogus Palestinian Terrorists to attack the World Trade Center is entirely within the tradition of COINTELPRO - and we have seen, over and over again, a string of incidents when purported "Islamic Terrorists" have been noted, but the FBI and CIA just simply turn their heads and order their agents to stand down! One then begins to wonder just WHO initiated the COINTELPRO idea in the FBI?

We, or some of you out there, desperately need to put the pieces together on all this. This describes Waco, Oklahoma City, and the 9/11 massacres. We as a nation and as a species need to see who is doing what to whom, to us, before it’s too late.

Now (don’t hit me!), I said all that to say this.

Or more precisely, to let someone else say this. One of the letters I received from someone who traveled to the disappointing Oklahoma City protest had this to say (I’m not sure if I should use his name or not, given the nature of the subject matter):

Beam me up, Scotty! Yeah, the Cognitive Dissonance is ringing in my ears, it's so strong. A Dallas-local NewAge-ey speaker gave a talk last year on America's Shadow, in which he pretty accurately (but not totally completely) laid out a list of "our" continuing atrocities, dating from the 1800s. Very interesting and informative, and right in line with what I had already discovered that had me disparaging my parents and grandparents for blindly and blithely ignoring in their time; going along to get along until it gets to me and its a steaming heap of manure so high it obscures the horizon.

By the time I've come to awareness of the depth of the problem and the real issues, its an un-winnable situation. The media's sewn up. The voting process is totally co-opted. Whistleblowers are regularly and severely dealt with. The economic situation is getting ratcheted down to where the "middle class" becomes a term applying to the 1950s through the '70s; a historical footnote. Yet there is still so much residual inflationary "prosperity" that anyone and their kid brother can still float a loan on a new SUV. An economic sugar cube trail into a box canyon with debt in hot pursuit!

But, John, I've crashed some of the Homey Land security meets and listened to talks that will never make the cyclops tube. There is no going back. Even your words so far, which will echo in cyberspace long after you've made your decision to stay and slug it out or bail — those will not be forgotten.

If you had made it to OKC to speak, you could have listened to Gen. Partin and seen a few charts he held up. He maintains it's the same plan being carried out here that's been done throughout the world. Cut to the chase — when control is really consolidated, when level Red is reached, it's round-up time. You, me, and anyone that cracked a joke at the wrong party, you're a marked man. Know it. Everything now is just marking time.

So, what to do? I'm probably the wrong person to offer an opinion, because I'm sitting here with two little scars on my chest ... the nearest guess I have is from a Taser hit 10 or 11 months ago. One of the wounds would not heal until I pulled a small piece of shirt material out with tweezers. I still have the shirt with the holes in it. Meanwhile, I developed a nice bruise over a vein inside my right elbow. I really wish they'd use the left, y'know. Hard to hide the bruise when you're shaking hands, etc. I'm missing no more than 3 to 5 hours of time I can't account for, but after all this time I've only got a vague memory of what transpired, and one or two faces I might recognize; nothing more. And I'm really hoping I'll recover the whole thing, but not successful so far. So much for being an objective journalist!

So, what was this? This is how Homeland Security develops witnesses for their secret courts. And this is why they cannot reveal their sources. They're using you, or in this case, me, as a witness against ourselves. That's my best guess. Payback for me getting too close.

Can I reasonably conclude different? If I had been involved in planning anything nefarious I am sure I wouldn't be typing this note to you now. As it is, I'm just a truth seeker who found enough to speak out occasionally. And because I have some moral sense, no, it is not okay what they have done and are doing to people. It is diabolical.

So, here's my challenge. Even if you decide to quit, can you, really?

After what I've been through, I can't. I'm still out there gathering crumbs dropped by the cryptocracy, trying to make sense of it. When I don't have "real" work, I paint houses; do deliveries; anything to keep the bill collectors at bay til I can get back to my real work, my passion. It's not dedication, per se.

When you truly understand what's coming, can you do anything else?

Can you?

So there I sat, and here I sit. I hear the train coming. I see the light of Code Red blazing deadly in the dreams of my vision. I see the psychopaths driving the train. I am not an Organic Portal, though they are. I am a deer in the headlights. And they are the hunters.

All I ever promised was to keep pounding on this keyboard until the very last moment.

John Kaminski is a writer who lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida, who makes his living writing stories like this one, which are seen on hundreds of websites around the world, and collected into anthologies which he sells on his website, http://www.johnkaminski.com/

Comment: Indeed, an understanding of psychopathy and organic portals is crucial to understanding the mess we are in. When you understand and SEE that one half of humanity are quite content following the basic drives of sex, fear, and hunger in order to find satisfaction in their lives, and these drives are those that we share with animals, one's understanding is increased enormously and one sees how the playing field upon which we are obliged to live and act is so heavily tilted towards the other team.

When you really see it, as Kaminski obviously has, so much clicks into place that was incomprehensible before. You can never again look at the world with the same eyes. It all makes sense, the violence, the hypocrisy, the sense of a boundless horror lurking just below the mask of sanity.

One also understands why the world cannot be otherwise, and why, therefore, attempts to change it are doomed to failure.

These people are essentially in it for themselves and their demonstrations of altruism and empathy are usually masks for subtle methods of feeding off of those around them. They are incapable of feeling another's pain, of hurting for another person. However, they are very skilled in mimicking these empathetic behaviours so that people in their entourage, people who may well feel and hurt for another, will read their outward behaviour as reflecting the same internal experience as someone who is truly empathetic.

They may also appear to change their behaviour and adapt, leading one to believe that they have genuinely understood how they have hurt another. However, what has changed is only the programme they are running. They have adapted their software to the new situation. As they were unable to get what they wanted from the old programme/behaviour, they are forced to find a new way of preying upon the victim. It can take years of observation and study before seeing through the manipulations.

We have noticed one curious fact. Organic portals tend to appear in our lives at those moments when we are attempting to break out of the mold. We may end up in passionate love relationships at just those times, relationships that are completely based upon chemicals. They leave us feeling drained and emptied, unable to do our work. If we remember correctly, Kaminski himself was caught up in the snares of one such person about three years ago. He has written about the experience. It is by no means unique.

The difficulty is compounded by the fact that all of us are shaped by the same environment. The values and behaviours of the psychopath and the organic portal are the models for Western society as a whole. In order to succeed, one is obliged to internalise these ways of acting. Internalised for long enough, they become our way of being. We must never forget that we are all organic portals until we take a conscious decision to be otherwise.

The Signs team is currently preparing an expanded version of our original article on organic portals. It will include more material about psychopathy, as well as the results of our continued research into the subject. The book should appear in June.

Hervey Cleckley's book The Mask of Sanity is available here for download.

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GOP Fake Letter-Writer Ponders His Future
Greg Beato

A GOP operative named Kyle Vallone admits he "had a hand in 200 bogus letters published in Northern California newspapers" over the last decade. Some of his recent work? While assisting Bill Jones' 2004 senate campaign, he sent out seven fake letters blasting Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer. Also on his resume: Plagiarizing part of a Wall Street Journal article for one letter and using the name of a friend of Barbara Boxer for one of his anti-Boxer missives. Now that his efforts are getting attention, however, he's having a moment of self-doubt. "I don't know that I am going to retire. We'll see how this plays. If I get a lot of crap about it, I probably am going to retire."

Comment: Just thought we'd drop this in as an example of OP ethics. What matters is whether or not it pays....

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The Grand Ole Opry of Murder
Kurt Nimmo
April 24, 2005

In the wake of Bush’s invasion of Iraq and all the corporate media driven drivel supporting it, I have yet to encounter a coherent explanation of what it means to “support our troops.” I am told that I can be against the “war” (invasion and occupation) and still “support our troops.” How one can “support” the soldiers who are exacting Bush’s bloody aggression against the people of Iraq and claim to be against the “war” is not explained. It is impossible to separate the two. If you “support the troops,” you support killing 100,000 Iraqis, you support eventually killing innumerable Iraqis with depleted uranium, you support malnutrition, disease, and misery. It’s that simple.

Enter “country music legend” Dolly Parton. Ms. Parton “hosted” a “special broadcast” of the War and Mass Murder Department’s (otherwise known as the Defense Department) “America Supports You” campaign aired live on the War Department’s American Forces Television yesterday. “Performers at the live show, which included Parton, The Grascals, Hanna-McEuen and Jo Dee Messina, dedicated songs to servicemembers,” reports Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample of the American Forces Press Service. “And in the audience, Parton welcomed a surprise special guest on stage, the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry family, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.”

Sort of like welcoming Herman Goring, Martin Bormann, or Heinrich Himmler into the family.

After thanking Parton, the other artists and country music lovers from around the world for supporting the military, the secretary presented a special message to troops watching the program overseas and those listening here at home.

“I’d like to say to each of them, volunteers all, ‘Thank you so much for your service to the country. And thank you to your families and your loved ones as well because they too sacrifice, and we appreciate them,’” he said.

“And each of the men and women in uniform needs to know that the great sweep of history is from freedom, and they are on freedom’s side. They are on that side, and it’s the right side,” he said. “So God bless them, and God bless their families, and God bless this wonderful country of ours.”

Is it possible “country music lovers from around the world” support invading sovereign nations and killing thousands of innocent people? Is it possible they find it acceptable to “sacrifice” their loved ones in the name of “reshaping” the Middle East, in other words bombing the hell out of the place until it becomes a “functioning democracy” (as Richard Haass, U.S. State Department policy planning director and president of the Council on Foreign Relations, terms it)? Naturally, democracies, especially for Arabs, work best after their civilian infrastructure is decimated, hospitals ransacked as “propaganda centers,” ambulance drivers executed. Bushcon democracy works best after twelve years of medieval siege-like sanctions have killed 500,000 children, after tons of depleted uranium are scattered about the country, resulting in a cancer epidemic. Democracy, in the “real world” so scorned by Bushcons and Republicans (and no small number of Democrats), translates into massive and unrelenting misery—streets awash in sewage, intermittent electricity, Israeli-like checkpoints, and street violence and lawlessness unheard of before Saddam Hussein was deposed.

Yes, it is possible, in fact it is exactly what Rumsfeld and Parton are saying, although Parton may not possess the intelligence to discern otherwise, whereas Rumsfeld, like Herman Goring, as president of the Council of Ministers for Defense of the Reich and General of the SS, knows exactly what he is doing.

Parton told the audience that she was happy to host the show in partnership with the Defense Department’s America Supports You campaign “to show our wonderful soldiers all over the world how much we appreciate and support them.”

Sorry, Dolly. But this American does not support “our wonderful soldiers,” regardless of the absurd dictum that if one does not enthusiastically support mass murder and flattening cities (Falluja) in Stalingradesque fashion, one is “un-American” or even a traitor. I can’t think of anything more disgusting and reprehensible than sidling up to one of history’s most notorious war criminals and cheering on the murder of thousands stacked upon thousands of babies and grandmothers in Iraq.

I will support “our wonderful soldiers” when they return to the United States and do what they are supposed to do—protect this country, not be used as shock troops and SA units in the neocon-neolib plan to “reshape” the Middle East in the name of marauding multinational corporations and racist Zionists who view themselves as suzerains.

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Italian hostage blasts US report
An Italian journalist who was held hostage in Iraq has criticised a US military report into the killing of the agent who helped secure her release.

Italian Nicola Calipari was shot by US forces at a checkpoint as he escorted Giuliana Sgrena to Baghdad's airport.

US investigators are said to have found that the troops were "not culpable", in a report which Italy has not endorsed.

Ms Sgrena described the conclusion as a "slap in the face" and urged the Italian government to react.

"The greatest disappointment would be if our authorities were to accept this insult without reacting," Ms Sgrena wrote in a front page editorial in her newspaper, Il Manifesto.

"All the words said about Calipari would turn into hypocrisy... and Nicola would have been our government's hero, just for one day."

Although Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been a staunch US ally in the conflict in Iraq, the war is very unpopular with the Italian people.

A report exonerating the soldiers involved in the shooting could prove inflammatory in Italy, and damaging to Mr Berlusconi.

Correspondents say attempts may be made to agree on a mutually acceptable version before the report is published.

Events unclear

Mr Calipari was hailed as a national hero after he was shot while trying to protect Ms Sgrena from gunfire.

Rome and Washington have differed over what led to the incident in March.

A US army official said on Monday that they still disagree over the speed at which the vehicle approached the checkpoint and how much communication there was between those in the car and the checkpoint guards.

"The United States is ready to release the report but Italy has more questions," the official said.

The US military said the car carrying Mr Calipari was speeding as it approached the temporary checkpoint in western Baghdad.

They said the soldiers used "hand and arm signals, flashing white lights and firing warning shots" to get the driver to stop.

However, Ms Sgrena, who was hurt in the incident, said the car had not been speeding and that there had been no warning before the troops opened fire.

'Feel terrible'

The US military said it had had no knowledge of the rescue mission, dismissing as "absurd" Ms Sgrena's suggestion the troops may have deliberately targeted her car.

Just after the incident, she said it was possible the soldiers had targeted her because Washington opposed the policy of negotiating with kidnappers.

"The soldiers were only complying with the standard operating procedures for those checkpoints, so therefore are not culpable to dereliction of duty [charges]," the US army official told Reuters news agency.

"Everybody feels terrible about it," he said.

The soldiers involved will reportedly face no disciplinary action.

Comment: The information that Sgrena and Calipari were not traveling on the main highway to the airport, but on a road reserved for traffic that had been secured by American authorities tends to belie the American version of events. It is not a fact that has been widely reported in the US where many pundits discredit Sgrena's testimony because she is a journalist for a communist newspaper.

It is clear from the start that the US authorities would exonerate the troops. It might lead to the unearthing of unpleasant facts about the shooting, such as that it was planned in advance. Sgrena had been working on an article about the war crimes at Fallujah. The US media, complicit as always, had done its best to cover-up the story in its "hurray, Iraq is free and everything is going well, just look, they had free elections" coverage of the war.

What the results will be in Italy where Berlusconi is facing political problems of his own will be interesting to watch.

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Poll suggests Bush off to difficult start in second term
www.chinaview.cn 2005-04-26 23:44:04

WASHINGTON, April 26 (Xinhuanet) -- A wide-ranging survey published Tuesday suggested that US President George W. Bush is off to a difficult start in his second term, with a precipitous decline in support for the centerpiece of his Social Security plan and drops in his performance ratings.

Despite the fact that Bush and other administration officials have been stumping the country in a 60-day blitz to mobilize support for his Social Security reform plan, a bare majority, or 51 percent of the surveyed, opposed the plan, while 45 percent supported it, The Washington Post-ABC news poll showed.

The key of the Social Security reform plan is to set up private or personal accounts.

The poll also registered drops in key Bush performance ratings, growing pessimism about the economy and continuing concern about US involvement in Iraq.

Bush's overall job approval rating stood at 47 percent, matching his all-time low in Washington Post-ABC News polls. Half disapproved of the job he is doing as president.

On several other key measures of performance, Bush's standing with the public was at or near new lows, with less than half of the public supporting the way he is handling the economy, energy policy and Iraq. Almost six in 10 said the United States has gotten bogged down in Iraq.

Bush continues to get strong marks on his handling of the campaign against terrorism, with 56 percent supporting his actions, down five points since January. But the survey also found that the sluggish economy has eclipsed terrorism on the public's list of top priorities, fueling Bush's drop in the polls.

On the issue of Social Security, which Bush has made the principal domestic priority of his second term, the poll found that three in 10 approved of the job he is doing, while 64 percent disapproved, an eight-point increase in disapproval in a month. Only a third said they trust Bush more than the Democrats to handle the Social Security issue, a new low for the president.

A total of 1,007 randomly selected adults took part in the pollconducted on April 21-24. The margin of sampling error for the overall results is plus or minus three percentage points.

Comment: So what is it going to take to bring the public back on track? Karl Rove must already be searching out new ways of scaring the public back in line, on those days, at least, that he isn't watching men in leather.

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Mystery of the Democrats' New Spine
By Robert Parry
April 26, 2005

Across the nation’s capital, perplexed political pundits have been rubbing their chins wondering what has happened to the Democrats, who were supposed to quiver in fear of the victorious George W. Bush and his Republican congressional majority. Instead, the minority party has been picking – and even winning – some fights.

The Washington Post put the mystery on Page One with the headline, “Unexpectedly, Capitol Hill Democrats Stand Firm.” [April 25, 2005]

The Post story said, “Democrats were supposed to enter the 109th Congress meek and cowed, demoralized by November’s election losses and ready to cut deals with Republicans who threatened further campaigns against ‘obstructionists.’ But House and Senate Democrats have turned that conventional wisdom on its head.”

The mystery is, how did this happen? How did the Democrats find their voice and gain the upper hand over Bush on a number of issues: Social Security, his right-wing judicial appointments, the Terri Schiavo case, Tom DeLay’s ethics mess and the John Bolton nomination? What has caused the Democrats to grow a new spine?

Self-Inflicted Wounds

Certainly part of the explanation is Republican miscalculation, starting with Bush’s post-election decision to make partial privatization of Social Security his major domestic policy initiative. Bush also brazenly named the undiplomatic Bolton to a sensitive diplomatic job as U.N. ambassador.

Congressional Republicans overplayed their hand, too. They changed the ethics process to protect House Majority Leader DeLay from more reprimands. They appeared to pander to the Christian Right by intervening in the case of Terri Schiavo, a brain-damaged woman whose feeding tube was removed. The Republicans even let the Schiavo debacle taint the battle over confirming right-wing judges.

But another part of the answer lies with the Democrats. They appear less defensive, more willing to make their arguments without so many equivocations. Though there are still flashbacks to the old Democrats – for instance, Sen. Joe Biden’s reference to Alberto Gonzales as “old buddy” at the Attorney General’s confirmation hearing – those examples are rarer.

One explanation for the Democrats’ turnabout is the rise of progressive media, most notably progressive AM talk radio which has expanded rapidly over the past several months. Finally, Democratic leaders can go on sympathetic radio shows and make their case directly to listeners.

Before, Democrats almost always would find themselves speaking in unfriendly territory. Sometimes they would appear on conservative media, such as Fox News, or they’d face mainstream pundits eager to prove they weren’t liberal by being tougher on Democrats than Republicans, the likes of NBC’s Tim Russert.

Faced with hostile questioning, national Democrats often sought a safe middle ground, which made them look weak or indecisive, opening them to attacks as “flip-floppers” or “lacking conviction.” On the other hand, Republicans could count on friendly receptions from conservative hosts and mostly deferential treatment on mainstream programs.

Limbaugh’s Value

For more than a decade now, conservative talk radio has had the Republicans’ back. Republicans could count on Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, et al to go out on the nation’s air waves and organize support for conservative positions. Whenever Republicans were in a tough spot, they knew they had defenders.

That, in turn, meant Republicans had more margin of error when making their case. An overstatement – or even an outright falsehood – wouldn’t be a political death knell. So, Bush could talk loosely about Democratic senators as “not interested in the security of the American people” or pretend that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein had barred U.N. weapons inspectors before the war and expect little fallout. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Reality on the Ballot.”]

By contrast, Democrats could expect any clumsy remark to be turned into a huge controversy both by mainstream and conservative news outlets. In Campaign 2004, John Kerry got pummeled for saying that he had supported one version of an Iraq War appropriations bill but opposed another, when it was barely mentioned that Bush had opposed the first version and supported the second.

Four years earlier, Al Gore saw his words twisted beyond recognition to make him out to be a liar or delusional, a crucial factor in Election 2000. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Al Gore v. the Media.”] During the run-up to war in Iraq, Gore was savaged again for his thoughtful critiques of Bush’s unilateralist foreign policy. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Politics of Preemption.”]

The liberals simply lacked a media that could defend Democrats when they took tough stands or when they made innocent mistakes. They were pretty much on their own, helping to explain their timidity.

Left Side

But that dynamic has begun to change as more U.S. cities get “progressive talk radio” stations, which now number more than 50. Though still far fewer than the hundreds of conservative talk radio outlets, this “left side of the dial” is reaching critical mass, altering the political psyche both of rank-and-file Democrats and their leaders.

With humor and without deference, the progressive hosts give voice to the outrage that many American liberals feel over what they regard as years of conservative highhandedness – a stolen election in 2000, a deceptive case for war in Iraq in 2002-03, and the smearing of Kerry’s war record in 2004.

After more than a decade of the Right’s near monopoly of AM talk radio, listeners on the Left are taking pleasure in hearing the conservatives get a taste of their own medicine. Hosts – such as Stephanie Miller, Randi Rhodes, Al Franken and Ed Schultz – dish out a mixture of satire, ridicule and information.

Leading Democratic politicians from the House and Senate are lining up as guests, but now they are addressing an audience that expects tough talk about the Republicans, not mushy rhetoric designed not to offend.

In effect, a political market is emerging that rewards courageous Democrats and punishes wimpy ones. That is why references to Sen. Joe Lieberman bring derisive laughter on progressive talk radio shows because he is viewed as an archetype of the Democrat who seeks acceptance from the Brit Humes and Tim Russerts.

Liberalism also has gained media traction through the emergence of irreverent Internet sites, distribution of progressive documentaries on DVDs, and the satire of Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show,” which pokes fun at both the Bush administration and the national news media.

Anti-Bush Cool

For the first time in memory, many Americans are hearing coherent and consistent arguments from progressives. It’s suddenly cool to stand up to Bush and to recognize the phoniness of the mainstream media.

The lesson for progressive leaders would seem to be that media holds a huge potential for energizing liberals, challenging the Bush administration and reaching out to moderate Americans who are growing more alarmed over right-wing radicalism. Yet, despite this opportunity, many leading figures on the Left remain resistant to expanding the progressive media effort. [...]

Now, the media tide is showing signs of shifting. Progressives on talk radio are defending liberal values and criticizing conservative hypocrisy. Emboldened, Democratic politicians are starting to find their voice, too, and the Republicans have begun to stumble.

Progressives, who have long puzzled over how to get the Democrats to fight back, are discovering that relatively minor investments in media can bring major returns in convincing Democrats that there is a future in standing up to Republicans.

Ironically, however, the “progressive establishment” may ultimately save the conservatives’ hide by balking at plans for more media expansion and by refusing to learn lessons from the Mystery of the Democrats’ New Spine.

Comment: Well, yeah, maybe. Although how someone can keep a straight face when using progressive and Democrat in the same sentence is beyond us. Is Al Franken addressing the issue of government complicity in 9/11? Or is that still off-limits for many American "progressives"?

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Five US int'l airports to test new security technology
www.chinaview.cn 2005-04-26 12:20:36

WASHINGTON, April 25 (Xinhuanet) -- Five international airports in the United States will test new technology ranging from the cell phones to high-tech iris scanners to better protect them from terrorism, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced Monday.

"These programs will deploy various technologies, including state-of-the-art video surveillance, Radio Frequency Identification cards, iris scan readers, and hand geometry readers to protect against unwanted guests going to secure areas of the airport," David M. Stone, assistant secretary of homeland security for the TSA, said.

The new tests constitute phase two of a plan to improve security around airport perimeters, which are of particular concern because people could position themselves outside airports with shoulder-fired missiles, known as man-portable air defense systems, officials said.

The airports taking part in the pilot programs are Logan in Boston, JFK International Airport in New York, Denver International Airport in Colorado, Orlando International Airport in Florida and the Salt Lake City International Airport in Utah. At Logan, the TSA and the Massachusetts Port Authority will test an advanced water perimeter intrusion detection system, which can identify authorized people near active runways.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, along with TSA, will test a barrier-free boundary surrounding a cargo warehouse at JFK airport. People who are authorized to enter the secure area will have a personal radio-frequency identification card and will need to have their fingerprint scanned prior to gaining access. In addition, the TSA will deploy a state-of-the-art video surveillance system to monitor access.

Working with Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, the TSA will test equipment to monitor access of vehicles into secure areas of the airport at Orlando International Airport. The TSA will analyze the use of a dual iris scan recognition reader at a vehicle access gate to allow only authorized personnel through.

Denver International Airport will test a barrier-free boundary surrounding a cargo warehouse at the airport using technology including ultrasonic emitters and microwave sensors. In this test, everyone authorized to enter the secure area will have to have their fingerprint scanned prior to entry. An advanced video surveillance system will also be installed to monitor access.

Salt Lake City Department of Airports will focus on enhancing access control to the baggage area entrance, which is part of the non-public, secure side of the airport. The technologies will include a hand geometry reader and a video motion surveillance analysis system to prevent personnel from piggybacking through the door.

The TSA said the technologies will be tested to determine both their effectiveness and their impact on airport operations. TSA will collect and share data on the technologies with the industry so they may utilize it for future projects.

Comment: Feeling safer yet?

Obviously, everything the Bush government has done has made America more secure. After all, there haven't been any more attacks since 9/11, right?

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Bush Presses Saudi's Abdullah on Oil Prices
Mon Apr 25, 2005
By Tabassum Zakaria

CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - President Bush on Monday pressed Saudi Arabia to take steps to relieve record-high oil prices, but the world's largest exporter insisted global supplies were adequate.

Bush met Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah at his Texas ranch as consumer worries about soaring U.S. gasoline prices weighed on the president's job approval ratings.

"The crown prince understands that it is very important ... (to) make sure that the price is reasonable. A high oil price will damage markets, and he knows that," Bush told reporters before welcoming Abdullah at his Texas ranch.

"We'll talk about his country's capacity. It's an important subject," Bush said. Saudi Arabia is the biggest producer within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

"This is an important relationship," Bush said. He greeted the prince, who is in his early eighties, with a kiss on both cheeks and then firmly held his hand to guide him up the stone steps leading to the office on the president's ranch.

The White House is facing growing consumer unease over oil prices that have marched steadily higher during the past year, reflecting the rising demand for energy in China and India and little new global production.

But Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi foreign affairs adviser, said while the current price of oil was too high, his country's energy policies remained consistent and unchanged.

"Our policy is to ensure that the markets are adequately supplied. We have been doing so in the past. We are doing so now. We will do so in the future," he said.

U.S. crude oil prices hit record highs in April, briefly topping $58 a barrel. Nationwide retail gasoline prices have climbed to $2.28 a gallon (3.8 litres).

"There is no shortage of crude oil in the market today, what we see is a shortage of refining capacity," Jubeir said.

Democrats criticized the Bush administration's energy policy. "It is wrong that the president has let our national energy policy go so awry that he is asking a foreign prince for favors," Rep. Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat said in a statement.

Comment: Is it just us, or is there something more than mildly disturbing about two, probably psychopathic, world "leaders" holding hands?

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Arafat's doctor demands answers

Dr. Ashraf Al Kurdi was former Palestinian Authority president Yasser Arafat's physician for over 25 years.

Q: The U.S. press has insinuated that Yasser Arafat was a homosexual who died of AIDS. Are you aware of this?

A: I heard rumors he died of AIDS, but not rumors that he was a homosexual. I have done the HIV tests many times before on Arafat as a routine test. It was never positive.

Q: When was the last time you did a test?

A: About six months before he died. The Tunisian doctors told me they did this test in Ramallah and it was normal.

Q: Did Arafat have any longstanding health problems?

A: No, apart from the benign, nonessential tremor which manifests as a tremor in the lips and hands. He never had anything else.

Q: Did he have Parkinson's Disease?

A: Actually, this was investigated many times. No. It was the tremor only. He was tested many times for Parkinson’s.

Q: How long had you been Arafat's primary physician?

A: More than 25 years.

Q: You treated him after the plane crash in Libya?

A: Yes. We saved his life from bilateral subdural hematoma. This produced changes in his mental state and his physical appearance. He developed hemoplegia and when we caught it he was operated on in Amman.

Q: Could this cause any later medical condition?

A: No complications whatsoever. The operation went very smooth and was done by an ordinary neurosurgeon.

Q: Before you saw him the last time, had he had regular checkups?

A: Yes, of course.

Q: Arafat complained of stomach pain, could this indicate something?

A: No. He had abdominal pain from time to time, but not constant. A gastrointestinal gastroscopy showed a mild irritation.

Q: In the year prior to his death, how often had you seen him?

A: I was called on the sixteenth day after his illness, and when I went there I saw a group of Tunisian doctors sent by his wife to Ramallah without calling me. These people never had any idea about Arafat's health -- never saw Arafat before. I saw four Egyptian doctors and three Palestinian doctors. After I went to Ramallah with my group, I went straight to see him. There were signs of poisoning, manifested by a reddish patch on his face and a metallic, yellow color to his skin.

Q: Did any of these other doctors ask you about his medical history? Have you heard from them since?

A: No, they didn't consult me. Nobody talked to me and none of them knew his health before, except one of the Egyptians.

Q: Have you been contacted since for your opinion?

A: No. No, there were strict instructions not to contact me by his wife, according to Palestinian Authority leaders.

Q: How many checkups did he get in the year before his death?

A: Three times.

Q: Was he in good health?

A: Yes, he was perfectly healthy. But I must stress that I was called officially on the sixteenth day of his illness, not at the beginning, so we can't know exactly when it started. This is a very important point. I told Suha Arafat that by sending the Tunisian doctors, you delayed treatment on your husband. A gap of five or six days.

Q: Did you ask the PA leaders about this long delay?

A: There was no good answer -- no one dared to say anything. I was told that Suha refused me access. Why, I don't know. When I saw him, I decided he must go abroad because there were tests he needed that couldn't be done in Ramallah. There was contact with the French and their response was immediate. They sent a plane and the Jordanians sent two helicopters to take him to Amman. Nobody offered me to go with him to Paris, and whenever I asked after him, I never got a satisfactory reply. Again, because of one person, probably his wife.

Q: What was his appearance the last time you saw him alive?

A: He lost half of his body weight. He had this reddish spot covering his face, and his coloring was metallic yellow. He was conscious, talking and joking, even. His cognitive functions were perfect. After that I asked all the doctors to meet. We concluded he had platelet deficiency. Some of the causes for this were not clear, so I asked he be transferred to Paris as soon as possible. But even the French doctors didn't ask me for his previous history.

Q: Did Arafat know he was dying?

A: Yes. Yes, actually I heard from him in Ramallah, that he thought he'd been poisoned.

Q: Did he say who or why or how?

A: No.

Q: Last September 25th, 2003, there was an illness that some PA leaders in the Muqata said marked the start of his physical decline. What do you think?

A: I don't think so, because I went with a team to Ramallah from Jordan to investigate all known types of poisons. We took blood samples and there were no poisons, or HIV infection.

Q: According to Islamic law, when the cause of death is questionable, an autopsy is required?

A: That is absolutely true. I requested four things: a committee to investigate his health and the progression of his illness. I wanted all results of the Paris tests and to see the French doctors. I asked for cause of death and if it was not identified to perform an autopsy.

Q: Considering that Yasser Arafat was a major world figure for half a century, shouldn't an autopsy have been demanded? Why was it denied? Who denied it?

A: All of them. All the leadership, those with him in Paris and Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. He said there is no need, he is already buried. I said, "It’s not up to you."

Q: Did you feel Abbas made the decision alone or was it a committee decision?

A: I don't know.

Q: When you said publicly you thought he'd been poisoned, did you get threats?

A: No. The PA said I should communicate this to them, which I had done from the first.

Q: Some news accounts said the French government would be upset by an autopsy?

A: This is very stupid, I don't think this would upset them. If someone dies of unknown causes, it is mandatory to have an autopsy -- mandatory! They know the regulations. Here in Jordan, bodies have been exhumed many times in criminal cases.

Q: Is there a time limit to exhuming a body to trace forensic causes?

A: It depends on the agents used. I suspect Arafat died of a "killing poison", a catalyst. The death was due to this.

* Trish Schuh who conducted this interview is a freelance journalist who has worked for ABC News, Al Arabiya.net, Muslim's Weekly and The Indypendent. She studied Islam and Arabic at Bir Zeit University in Palestine. The interview was conducted in Amman Jordan on January 18, 2005 and published today in the Tehran Times.

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Hamas warns US against recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital
www.chinaview.cn 2005-04-25 20:47:04

GAZA, April 25 (Xinhuanet) -- The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) warned the United States on Monday against any attempt to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Hamas spokesman Mushir Al-Masri told reporters that any US resolution recognizing Jerusalem as the united and eternal capital of Israel will blow up all efforts to observe calmness in the Palestinian territories.

Days ago, the US Congress discussed a draft resolution that asked the US administration to recognize Jerusalem as the united and eternal capital of Israel before recognizing any possible Palestinian state.

Masri said the US administration will have to be blamed for any such step that will break the de facto truce that Hamas and other militant groups agreed to abide by till the year end.

Masri stressed that Jerusalem is the Palestinians' sacred city and the capital of the future Palestinian state.

"We will not accept less than this at any time," he warned.

He also accused the United States of being unfair and biased in its position on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, saying that US President George W. Bush has promised Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to retain large settlement blocs in the West Bank under any future peace agreement.

The Palestinians want the Gaza Strip and the West Bank for an independent and viable state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Comment: Does anyone care that the US congress and administration seem to be dominated by people who possess an overbearing allegiance and favoritism to the right wing Israeli government of Sharon, which bases its right to kill and maim innocent Palestinians on the idea that the Jews are somehow "special" and "chosen"?

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Settlers attack an elderly man
Saed Bannoura, IMEMC&Agencies
Monday, 25 April 2005

An elderly man was seriously injured when a group of settlers of Alon Moreh settlement hurled stones at him and severely beat him as he was herding his sheep on his land near the settlement.

Aziz Hanani, 70, from Beit Dajan near Nablus, said that he was attacked by five settlers who stole his cane and beat him with it for approximately twenty minutes, causing serious injuries, mainly to his head.

Hanani added that three of the settlers also hurled stones at him during the attack.

A tractor driver passing near the area later on, saw Hanani laying on the ground, and took him to his home, where he was transferred by ambulance to a local hospital in Nablus.

A nephew of Hanani said that his uncle suffers from diabetes.

“This is unbelievable, intolerable, we are living on our land, taking care of our fields, we never attacked anybody, never harmed anybody, yet they attack us with this brutality”, the nephew added.

Abu Akram, a resident of the village called the Israeli police about the attack. The police department dispatched one police car one hour after they were informed on the attack, and made no effort to track down the settlers involved in the attack.

“If a settler was attacked, and mildly injured, the police would have arrived immediately and attacked our village, but since the injured man is a Palestinian, they showed up an hour after the attack”, the resident said.

Also, Abu Akram added that the police said that they would investigate the event, but similar promises in the past have rarely been followed up on by Israeli police. The police took a statement from Hanani, who informed them that he would be able to easily identify at least one of the settlers, the most violent of his attackers.

Settlers of Itamar and Alon Moreh settlement have carried out several attacks against Palestinian residents in Nablus area.

The residents demanded that the Israeli police act against the increasing numbers of settler attacks against unarmed Palestinians.

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Female and Child Prisoners Suffer Israeli Torture
April 25, 2005, (WAFA)

RAMALLAH - Two organizations, concerned in prisoners affairs, confirmed that the Palestinian female and child prisoners in Israeli prison "Talmond" suffer miserable health conditions.

Two lawyers of "Mandela", Rateb Mhaisen and Nazih Abu al-Tin, who visited prisoners last Wednesday, said that female prisoners and children complaint of daily practices and health deterioration.

Mohaissen, who visited 8 female prisoners, said that they live in harsh and non healthy conditions, according to a joint press release issued by "Mandela Association" and "the Palestinian Legal Aid Fund".

He said that the (female) prisoners live in bad-smell crowded rooms lack of air and sun ray. Mohaisen said that several women prisoners suffer diseases and live between insects.

"Lina Farajallah, from Hebron, suffers hepatitis and chronic headache but she receives no medicine," Mohaisen said in the press release. The press releases included several cases who suffer different kinds of diseases such as leukemia and dermatitis and others who suffer wounds.

In the press release Mohaissen also mentioned to several cases were women were harshly physically and psychologically tortured and lived in solitary confinement.

For his part, Lawyer Abu al-Tin, who visited children prisoners in Talmond said that the Israeli jailers deliberately daily terrify and provoke children. Children told him that the jailers storm their rooms with dogs, cut electric power and procrastinate access medicine.

Beside the little amount of food and bad health conditions the administration of the prison prevent their families from visiting them, Abu al-Tin said.

Wissam Hoshiyah, from Jenin suffers fungal and dermatitis while Nasser Rodwan, from Qalqiliya suffers kidney stone. Several others suffer diseases and receive no medics.

The lawyer pointed out to several cases where children were tortured and lived in solitary confinement.

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New York Times Minimizes Palestinian Deaths

The Perversions of Daniel Okrent

A little over a week ago, some members of our organization, If Americans Knew, met with New York Times Public Editor Daniel Okrent to discuss the findings of a detailed study we had completed of two years worth of Times news stories on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Okrent was going to be writing a column discussing the paper’s coverage of Israel/Palestine, and we felt our study would be an important resource.

Using a PowerPoint presentation, we explained our findings and gave him copies of the 23-page report, along with approximately 40 pages of supporting documentation.

In order to find as clear and objective a measure as possible, our studies examine how news organizations report deaths among both populations, Israelis and Palestinian. Basically, we simply count the deaths reported on both sides of the conflict, and then compare these to the actual number of deaths that had occurred. It is our view that all deaths are equally tragic regardless of race, religion, or ethnicity; we hoped that the Times shared that perspective.


Our statistical analysis of their coverage, however, showed that there was startling disparity in how deaths were reported, depending on the ethnicity of the victim.

For example, we found that in 2004, at a time when 8 Israeli children and 176 Palestinian children were killed – a ratio of 1 to 22 – Times headlines and lead paragraphs reported on Israeli children’s deaths at a rate almost seven times greater than Palestinian children’s deaths.

A one-month sub-study indicated that this disparity grew even larger when the entire article was analyzed, with Israeli children’s deaths mentioned (through repetitions of deaths reported on previous days) at a rate ten times greater than Palestinian children’s deaths.

Times coverage of deaths of all ages, while less dramatically skewed, showed similar distortion. In the first year of the current Palestinian uprising, which began in fall of 2000, we discovered that the Times reported prominently on 42 percent of Palestinian deaths, and on 119 percent of Israeli deaths (follow-up headline articles, we find, frequently push coverage of Israeli deaths over 100 percent). In other words, the Times reported Israeli deaths at a rate approximately three times greater than Palestinian deaths.

During this period over three times more Palestinians were being killed than Israelis.

Overall, we found that in every single category Times coverage reported Israeli deaths at rates three or more times greater than Palestinian deaths.

Such patterns of distortion gave readers the impression that equal numbers of people on both sides were being killed – or that more Israelis were being killed – when the reality is that Palestinians have always been killed in far greater numbers. In particular, we found that Times stories so often repeated reports of Israeli children’s deaths that in some periods they were reporting on Israeli deaths at a rate of 400 percent.

In contrast, the majority of Palestinian deaths – particularly children’s deaths – were never reported by the Times at all.

According to Israeli human rights groups and others who assiduously gather data on all children killed in the conflict, at least 82 Palestinian children were killed before any Israeli children were killedand the largest single cause of these Palestinian children’s deaths was “gunfire to the head.” Yet, almost no one is aware of this, since Times coverage consistently omitted or minimized coverage of these Palestinian deaths.

In other words, we found that New York Times coverage of Israel-Palestine exhibited highly disturbing patterns of bias.

To make matters worse, since the Times is often considered “the newspaper of record,” with hundreds of newspapers subscribing to the New York Times News Service, the paper’s distortions become replicated throughout the country.

Unintentionally, editors around the country are reporting this issue with a distortion based on ethnicity that most would oppose, if they were aware that they were doing it.

New York Times Reaction

We presented these findings, complete with charts, spread-sheets, clear sourcing, and extensive additional documentation, to Okrent and his assistant. We gave him the names and details of 32 Palestinian children who had been killed during the first month of the uprising – none of whom had been the subject of Times’ articles. (28 of these children, it was found, had been killed by gunfire to the head or chest.)

Okrent appeared to accept our findings readily – even commenting at one of our findings that he "wasn’t surprised."

His subsequent column, purporting to examine Times coverage of Israel-Palestine, given all of the above, is perplexing. There is no mention whatsoever of our report, no mention of our two-year study, no mention of the 40-some pages of supporting evidence, no mention, even, of our lengthy face-to-face meeting (despite the fact that it appears we were one of the few groups to present our information in person).

In his 1,762-word column, there are a total of three mentions of us.

One is an off-hand sentence claiming that we “say” that the Times “ignores” the deaths of Palestinian children, whom, we “say” are often shot in the head or chest by Israeli soldiers. Instead of this loose, somewhat flawed paraphrase, Okrent could simply have quoted our report directly, perhaps even mentioning our substantial evidence. One wonders why he didn’t.

A second reference, potentially damaging, significantly misrepresents what we said. (We have phoned the Times asking for a correction and space for rebuttal to Okrent’s allegations.)

In his column, Okrent writes: “During my research, representatives of If Americans Knew expressed the belief that unless the paper assigned equal numbers of Muslim and Jewish reporters to cover the conflict, Jewish reporters should be kept off the beat. I find this profoundly offensive.”

Actually, Okrent is referring to his own words at the meeting, not ours. Let us tell you the complete version. It is quite illuminating.

Even before we had finished presenting our findings, Okrent interrupted to ask us why there was such distortion in Times coverage, what was causing the bias. He asked what we would suggest doing about it.

I replied that I wondered if there was a lack of diversity in the reporters and editors working on the issue. I pointed out that since this was a conflict between a state whose identity and purpose of existence was to be a Jewish state, it seemed to me that the number of Jewish-American reporters covering it should be balanced by approximately an equal number of Arab/Muslim-American reporters, or that there be reporters and editors working on it – for example, Asian-American or African-American journalists – without predisposition to partisanship toward either side.

Okrent said that it was impossible to find equal numbers of Arab/Muslim journalists of sufficiently high quality to balance out the number of Jewish reporters available to cover it, and ignored the suggestion that other groups be included in the reportorial/editorial pool. He said that there shouldn’t be an “ethnic litmus test” and that Jewish reporters shouldn’t be excluded just because there weren’t enough Muslims for the Times to employ. I agreed with him that there should not be a litmus test, and then asked him if he thought only Jewish reporters could cover it.

No, he said, the problem, he felt, was that Times reporters only lived in Israel and didn’t live in the Palestinian territories. He then said that when he had suggested to reporters that they also live in the West Bank or Gaza, a person he “trusted” told him that this was too dangerous; they would be kidnapped. I then said that he needed to reconsider the reliability of this anonymous person, since I myself had traveled throughout Gaza and the West Bank as a freelance reporter without any danger from the Palestinian population.

Finally, I said that fundamentally it was up to the Times to figure out how to improve their system of reporting – that I only saw the results. I said that we had provided free outside consultation, had found patterns I was sure they would find as disturbing as we did, and that it was now up to the Times to determine and remedy the cause.

Overall, I found this exchange bizarre. We had expected some questions about our study, its methodology, what additional patterns we had noticed, etc. Almost none of this took place. On the other hand, we came away with the very strong impression that Okrent, who is himself Jewish, felt basically that only Jewish reporters could cover this issue and that, while their reporting would be more accurate if some of them lived in the West Bank or Gaza, they probably wouldn’t do this because it would be too dangerous for them (despite the fact that such Jewish Israeli journalists as Amira Haas have lived there for years).

The fact that it could be both possible and valuable to have additional ethnic groups involved in covering this issue, including some without ethnic connection to this ethnic dispute, seemed incomprehensible to him. Finally, we were astounded at his assumption that it would be impossible for the Times to find sufficient numbers of high quality journalists of Muslim or Arab heritage to work on this issue.

Still disturbed at the oddness of this meeting, afterwards I sent a follow-up email again explaining my view. I will print it below:

Email to Dan Okrent

Dear Dan,

Thank you for meeting with us, and for your willingness to take on what is certainly one of the most volatile issues in the news today -- and one of the most urgent. I hope our study will help alert the New York Times to patterns of omission that I'm sure you find as disturbing as we do.

Regarding your important question about what changes I would suggest: Truthfully, it is difficult for me to offer solutions, since I only see the results, and have no idea what the internal dynamics are of the Times' reporting and editing that have created these patterns. It seems to me that news organizations themselves, once alerted to flaws in their coverage, are in the best position to undertake thorough analyses of the causation, and then to implement whatever changes are required.

I suspect that your idea that coverage would improve greatly if reporters lived in the West Bank and Gaza as well as Israel is quite correct.

One possibility, of course, is that the Times could hire some of the excellent Palestinian journalists living in these areas. When I visited Birzeit University a few months ago, I met a professor and a number of students in the journalism department that I found quite impressive. I haven't visited any journalism departments in Gaza, but I did visit some classes in American literature at Islamic University in Gaza City in 2001, and found a level of teaching equivalent to the finest in US universities.

At the same time, of course, it is important that those editing these reports be as unpartisan as possible -- which, I suspect, requires that those in this position have diverse backgrounds. While I'm not Jewish, I can imagine similar situations in which I might believe that I had arrived at a neutral position, not realizing that I was still influenced by what my mother had believed, or what my aunt would say, or the narrative I had absorbed as a child -- in other words, I might write and edit within parameters that would interfere with the accuracy of my work.

Finally, below is some more recent information about the disturbing -- and unreported, in the Times -- pattern of Israeli forces shooting and abusing children and other civilians.

1. Here is the link to the Remember These Children information: http://www.rememberthesechildren.org/remember2000.html. Again, please note the high number of young people shot in the head, neck, and chest in 2004 and 2005. Please ask Mr. Erlanger why Times' readers have not learned of these patterns. At least 29 Palestinian children have already been killed through March of this year, and one Israeli child. As you know, several more Palestinian young people have been killed this month.

2. The fact that Israeli forces have been targeting children and civilians has been noted in diverse reports. For example, Physicians for Human Rights reported: "Physicians for Human Rights analysis of fatal gunshot wounds in Gaza reveals that approximately 50% were to the head. This high proportion of fatal head wounds suggests that given broad rules of engagement, soldiers are specifically aiming at peoples' heads." Following are a few of the excellent and thorough articles on this topic that have appeared in the Israeli press, and some of the human rights reports on this topic.

Gideon Levy article from Ha’aretz, "Suffer the Little Children": http://www.dcipal.org/english/

Another Gideon Levy article (I highly recommend his column 'twilight zone'): http://www.jerusalemites.org/

Defence for Children International report: "Status of Palestinian Children's Rights" … http://www.dcipal.org/english/

Report on child prisoners: http://www.dcipal.org/

3. I understand that Times reporters are reluctant to spend much time in the West Bank and Gaza. Nevertheless, I would like to offer to personally take Times reporters to visit Palestinian hospitals to verify the high number of young people being shot by Israeli forces. In return, it would be excellent if Times' reporters would then take me to visit Israeli prisons, so that we might investigate the conditions in which Palestinian prisoners -- particularly children -- are being kept.

Again, thanks for your time. It was nice seeing you again -- it has certainly resurrected many memories of Ann Arbor and The Michigan Daily.

Best Wishes,


Okrent's Admission

(As the last sentence of this email indicates, Dan Okrent and I were friends and fellow student journalists many years ago.)

In his column, Okrent makes one other statement purportedly about us, but that actually seems to be a veiled confession: “I don't think any of us can be objective about our own claimed objectivity.” Given that admission, it seems that it would have been appropriate for Okrent to at least note the existence of our statistical study, so that his readers could examine our findings for themselves.

Truthfully, however, it is not rare for newspapers to cover up negative information about their organization, and for their ombudsmen to participate in the attempt to suppress such information.

Fortunately, however, the internet provides an increasingly effective counter to such media censorship; this study, and others, are all available for viewing and downloading from our website: We hope that anyone who feels Americans should be accurately informed on all topics – including Israel-Palestine – will tell others about these studies.

Comment: Yesterday, we commented:

"the entire world can see that the Israeli government and army sanction the murder of innocent Palestinian children."

In response, a reader wrote:

"Not much investigative, disinterested, journalism in that statement, is there ? If you proclaim a contentious argument as simple truth, then there's no need to prove it.

Well, I'm one small part of the "entire world", and I can't see it at all."

The fact is, our assertion IS based on investigative, disinterested, journalism, and the Israeli state DOES sanction the murder of Palestinian children, as is evidenced by the above article and the many incidences reported in the alternative press where it was clear that IDF troops deliberately murdered Palestinian children. The problem however, is that the US mainstream media does not report such incidences and in fact distorts the truth to make it appear that more Israeli citizens are being killed than Palestinians. We failed to mention this in our commentary yesterday and, as such, our comment should have read:

"Those who take the time to seek out real, objective news reports, can see that the Israeli government and army sanction the murder of innocent Palestinian children."

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Report: Yemen's military intelligence chief survives assassination attempt
Posted: 25-04-2005 , 15:48 GMT
Al Bawaba

Yemen's military intelligence chief Brig. Ali Sayani survived an assassination attempt in Sanaa Monday. Several civilians, however, were at least wounded in this incident. 
Daily Rai News quoted a Yemeni security source as saying the attacker tossed a hand grenade inside Sayani's car, but his bodyguards managed to throw it back before it detonated. According to this report, the attacker and a number of passersby were injured and rushed to the hospital. Another report said a bystander was killed after the assailant missed the intended target.  
The attack took place near the Central Customs office and close to the Italian embassy.

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Al-Qaeda threat to Trafalgar fleet
The Sunday Times - Britain
April 24, 2005
Michael Smith

SECURITY chiefs fear Al-Qaeda terrorists trained as scuba divers could mount attacks against a royal review of the fleet being held to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar.

A senior Ministry of Defence (MoD) police officer has disclosed that militants using techniques learnt in western diving schools to attack Royal Navy ships are considered the main threat to the event.

Officials fear Al-Qaeda divers could attach bombs to the hulls of the ships, detonate explosives strapped to their bodies in suicide attacks or even board vessels and kill some of those on board.

The Queen, in her office as Lord High Admiral, will review about 40 ships from the navies of nations including France and Spain. She will be on the deck of one of the Royal Navy ships. [...]

The 3,000-5,000 private yachts and small boats expected to gather in the Solent to watch the review will be kept away from the naval vessels in the main channel.

There will be a 200m exclusion zone around the naval ships and strict rules preventing “fast planing boats” from sailing at anything above minimum speed. Although that rule was ostensibly imposed to reduce the danger from wash, security sources have said it is designed to prevent terrorists using fast boats to mount bomb attacks similar to those carried out by Al-Qaeda on a US ship off the coast of Yemen in October 2000.

Small boats taking part in the Spithead review will be kept back against the shore away from the main route by marshals. Privately, however, officials admit it will be almost impossible to control the number of small boats attending and there will be no attempt to impose a pass system.

The MoD police’s marine units and Hampshire police, who are responsible for security at the review, will concentrate on maintaining the exclusion zone round the fleet, although all boats will have access to other parts of the Solent.

They believe the only way terrorists will be able to get through the security cordon would be underwater, which is why the threat from terrorist divers linked to Al-Qaeda is taken seriously.

One senior MoD police officer said: “It is something that really concerns us and has done for some time. The potential is obviously there. It presents a very difficult problem for the officers on patrol.”

Bruce Jones, chairman of a Nato security policy group, said the use of sub-aqua techniques fitted the Al-Qaeda modus operandi.

“Scuba-diving is fairly user-friendly,” he said. “It’s not high-technology and it’s not expensive. It is the type of thing a deep-cover Al-Qaeda cell could manage fairly easily.”

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US considers toughening stance toward Venezuela
www.chinaview.cn 2005-04-26 21:42:40

WASHINGTON, April 26 (Xinhuanet) -- US President George W. Bush and his top aides are weighing a tougher approach, including funneling more money to foundations and business and political groups opposed to President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

The Bush administration has already begun to urge Venezuela's neighbors to distance themselves from Chavez and to raise concerns about press freedoms, judicial independence and the Venezuelan government's affinity for leftist groups abroad, including Colombian guerrillas.

But Washington has found no allies so far in its attempts to isolate the Venezuelan leader, a by-lined story in the New York Times said.

On Sunday, Chavez ended a 35-year military cooperation agreement and ordered out four American military instructors he accused of fomenting unrest.

The accusation, which American officials denied, was the latestblow to relations that had been bitter since the US tacitly supported a coup that briefly ousted Chavez in April 2002, the article said.

Differences between Washington and Caracas increased constantly since Chavez took the helm of Venezuela. He openly challenges the "capitalist" and "new freedom" ideologies of the United States andopposes Washington's promotion efforts for a free trade area of the Americas.

The United States believes the close relations Caracas has beenpursuing with countries like Cuba, Iran and Libya have formed threats to its security.

However, the New York Times' article said that a main problem for the United States is that Washington has little, if any, influence over Caracas. The high price of oil has left Venezuela with no need for the loans or other aid that the Untied States could use as leverage.

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Chavez: U.S. might invade Venezuela
April 25, 2005

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - President Hugo Chavez says a longstanding military exchange program with the United States was cancelled because U.S. officers in Venezuela were attempting to turn the soldiers they were training against his government.

Chavez also announced the brief detention of several Americans and said the United States might be planning to invade his country.

The U.S. Embassy on Friday said Venezuela had abruptly and without explanation ended the 35-year-old military exchange program. Ambassador William Brownfield said the five U.S. officers in Venezuela involved in the program had been notified.

Some 90 Venezuelan military personnel were in the United States as part of the program, the embassy said. It was not clear how they would be affected.

During his weekly television and radio show, Chavez complained the U.S. officers "are sent here to turn our boys against us."

"It's best that they leave, until someday we can have transparent, clear relations and co-operation with the civil and military institutions of the United States, the way we do with almost all governments in the planet," Chavez said Sunday.

Chavez said that a woman in the U.S. armed forces had been detained by authorities while taking pictures of military installations in central Venezuela. He did not identify her or say whether she had been released.

"If she or any other U.S. official does this kind of activity again, they will be imprisoned and face trial in Venezuela," he said.

Chavez also said several American journalists were detained taking pictures of a refinery about 100 kilometres west of Caracas. He did not elaborate except to say they were released.

Chavez said the cases indicated the U.S. might be planning to invade Venezuela.

Venezuela is a top U.S. oil supplier, but tensions have risen due to U.S. criticism of Venezuela's purchase of 100,000 assault rifles from Russia, and Chavez's criticism of the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

Chavez accuses Washington of being behind a brief 2002 coup against him and of supporting other plots to oust him. Washington denies the allegation although it was slow to condemn the coup.

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Pope 'obstructed' sex abuse inquiry
Jamie Doward, religious affairs correspondent
Sunday April 24, 2005
The Observer

Confidential letter reveals Ratzinger ordered bishops to keep allegations secret

Pope Benedict XVI faced claims last night he had 'obstructed justice' after it emerged he issued an order ensuring the church's investigations into child sex abuse claims be carried out in secret.

The order was made in a confidential letter, obtained by The Observer, which was sent to every Catholic bishop in May 2001.
It asserted the church's right to hold its inquiries behind closed doors and keep the evidence confidential for up to 10 years after the victims reached adulthood. The letter was signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was elected as John Paul II's successor last week. Lawyers acting for abuse victims claim it was designed to prevent the allegations from becoming public knowledge or being investigated by the police. They accuse Ratzinger of committing a 'clear obstruction of justice'.

The letter, 'concerning very grave sins', was sent from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that once presided over the Inquisition and was overseen by Ratzinger.

It spells out to bishops the church's position on a number of matters ranging from celebrating the eucharist with a non-Catholic to sexual abuse by a cleric 'with a minor below the age of 18 years'. Ratzinger's letter states that the church can claim jurisdiction in cases where abuse has been 'perpetrated with a minor by a cleric'.

The letter states that the church's jurisdiction 'begins to run from the day when the minor has completed the 18th year of age' and lasts for 10 years.

It orders that 'preliminary investigations' into any claims of abuse should be sent to Ratzinger's office, which has the option of referring them back to private tribunals in which the 'functions of judge, promoter of justice, notary and legal representative can validly be performed for these cases only by priests'.

'Cases of this kind are subject to the pontifical secret,' Ratzinger's letter concludes. Breaching the pontifical secret at any time while the 10-year jurisdiction order is operating carries penalties, including the threat of excommunication.

The letter is referred to in documents relating to a lawsuit filed earlier this year against a church in Texas and Ratzinger on behalf of two alleged abuse victims. By sending the letter, lawyers acting for the alleged victims claim the cardinal conspired to obstruct justice. [...]

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Nike admits sweatshop conditions
25.04.05- BLOOMBERG

NEW YORK - Nike has just done it. Almost 10 years after allegations first surfaced that Nike's contractors were exploiting workers in Asian sweatshops, the world's biggest athletic-shoemaker has responded - and how.

In a 108-page report the company, based in Beaverton, Oregon, presented a surprisingly frank audit of labour conditions at 569 of 830 factories worldwide where Nike-branded footwear, apparel and sports equipment are made.

Nike's "corporate responsibility" report doesn't make for a pretty picture. From excessively long work weeks and wrong wage calculations to verbal abuse and curbs on toilet visits, the findings confirm a pervasive culture of exploitation. At risk are as many as 650,000 workers in factories located from Australia and China to the US and Vietnam. Most of them are women aged between 19 and 25.
So has Nike scored a self-goal by publishing the report?

Chairman Philip Knight's candour is probably backed by sound business acumen.

An honest acknowledgment of lax labour standards is a much required first step to make labour-rights activists and the media appreciate the sweatshop problem for what it is: an industry-wide menace that was neither created by Nike nor can be solved by it in isolation.

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Update: Police arrest Las Vegas woman who said she found a finger in a Wendy's chili


SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Police investigating how a human finger ended up in a woman's bowl of Wendy's chili declared the claim a hoax Friday and arrested her on charges of attempted grand larceny.

The arrest of Anna Ayala at her home outside Las Vegas was the latest twist in a case that has become a late-night punch line, taken a bite out of Wendy's sales and forced the fast-food chain to check its employees for missing fingers.

Ayala, 39, claimed she bit down on the well-manicured, four-centimetre finger in a mouthful of her steamy chili on March 22 in San Jose. She had hired a lawyer and filed a claim against the Wendy's franchise owner, but dropped the lawsuit threat soon after suspicion fell on her.

When asked whether police considered Ayala's claim a hoax, David Keneller, captain of the San Jose police department's investigations bureau, said yes.

"What we have found is that thus far our evidence suggests the truest victims in this case are indeed the Wendy's owner, operators and employees here in San Jose," police Chief Rob Davis said.

At a news conference, police refused to say where the finger came from and exactly how the hoax was carried out.

But according to a person knowledgeable about the case who spoke on condition of anonymity, the attempted larceny charge stemmed from San Jose police interviews with people who said Ayala described putting a finger in the chili. The source said the interviews were with at least two people who did not know each other and independently told similar stories.

The source added that investigators still did not know where the finger came from.

Ayala - who has a history of bringing claims against big corporations - has denied placing the finger in the chili.

"We're thrilled that an arrest has been made," Tom Mueller, president and chief operating officer of Wendy's North America, said in a statement. [...]

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Man says found skin on sandwich
Mon, Apr. 25, 2005
Associated Press

DAYTON, Ohio - A man is suing a fast-food restaurant operator for more than $50,000, claiming he found a slice of skin on his chicken sandwich.

David Scheiding filed the lawsuit in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court on April 1 after rejecting a settlement offer from GZK Inc., his lawyer said. GZK owns the Arby's restaurant in Tipp City where he bought the sandwich.

Scheiding said he realized something wasn't right when he bit into the sandwich on June 18 and found a piece of flesh about three-fourths of an inch long.

"It looked like I was seeing fingerprints on it," he said. "I got sick and went to the bathroom."

Miami County health investigators talked to the restaurant manager, who had a bandage on his right thumb and wore a latex glove, according to a health district report. The manager said he sliced skin from the thumb while shredding lettuce, and sanitized the area but didn't throw away the bin of lettuce, the report said. Scheiding's sandwich contained lettuce.

"Why wasn't the food searched, and why wasn't it thrown away?" said Scheiding's lawyer, Hank Hyde.

Christine Koeller, vice president of marketing and communications with GZK, said what happened was unintentional.

"(The manager) did destroy product that was in and around the slicer immediately, and did everything that he thought was appropriate to do," Koeller said.

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Inferno tamed after forcing evacuation in Ontario town
Last Updated Mon, 25 Apr 2005 23:46:24 EDT
CBC News

COBOURG, ONT. - Firefighters managed to control a huge blaze at a factory in southern Ontario Monday night and hundreds of people were allowed to return home.

Crews from at least four fire departments had been battling the fire since mid-afternoon at the Horizon Plastics plant in Cobourg, about 100 kilometres east of Toronto.

The town declared a state of emergency in early evening and asked hundreds – perhaps thousands – of people to leave their homes and businesses, fearing toxic fumes. [...]

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Five hurt in Kabul plane crash
From correspondents in Kabul
April 25, 2005
From: AAP

A RUSSIAN-made cargo plane arriving from Dubai swerved off the runway at Kabul airport in Afghanistan on Monday morning and burst into flames, injuring five crew members, an official told AFP.

"During landing one of its tires burst and the plane slid off the runway catching fire," Mohammed Qasim Jarar, director of Kabul Airport, told AFP after the Antonov AN-12 crash landed.

"But we were able to respond to it very quickly. Five of the crew members were slightly injured and one survived unharmed," he added.

No one was killed and the injured people have been taken to hospital for treatment, Jarar said.

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2 pilots killed in Vancouver crash
April 22, 2005

COMOX, B.C. (CP) - Two pilots died when a small cargo plane crashed Friday as it tried to make an emergency landing at CFB Comox on Vancouver Island.

Bill Yearwood, a spokesman for the Transportation Safety Board, said it appears an engine fire aboard the twin-engine Piper Navaho may have caused the fatal accident. The names of the pilots have not been released.

The Transportation Safety Board, the RCMP, and Canadian Forces were conducting investigations into the crash. The airport is used by both military and civilian aircraft.

Authorities say the plane came down just shy of the runway around 7:30 a.m.

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April 24, 2005

A flight instructor and his student were killed yesterday when their small plane crashed and burst into flames near Westchester County Airport, authorities said.

Teacher Isaac Negron, of Hamden, Conn., and student Lev Naumov, 23, of Yonkers, were killed when the control tower lost communication with the Cessna 172 at 3:19 p.m. as it was approaching the airport, officials said.

The four-seater was about a quarter of a mile from a runway at the airport when radar and radio communications were lost, said Holly Baker, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Local fire officials found the wreckage near Route 120 in North Castle just after 4 p.m.

Negron and Naumov were the only people aboard. [...]

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Father killed in plane crash

A FATHER killed when his light plane plummeted into a paddock north-east of Melbourne yesterday may have been practising a training manoeuvre.

James Traill, 45, died when the single engine Cessna 150 Aerobat he was piloting crashed at Badger Creek, near Healesville, about 10.15am.

The Kilsyth man, who was the only person on board, had flown out of Coldstream Airport shortly before.

Badger Creek residents said they heard the plane "stop starting" -- a training manoeuvre where planes are intentionally stalled mid-air and restarted -- moments before the crash.

Resident Brad Johnson said he saw the plane in vertical position before the crash.

"Originally I thought it must have been a glider because there was no noise," Mr Johnson said.

"I didn't actually see it hit the ground. Common sense would say it was nosediving."

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Two S.J. men injured in small plane crash
Sat, Apr. 23, 2005
Knight Ridder

Two San Jose men were hurt in the crash of a small plane this week east of Paso Robles, and one was still in critical condition Thursday.

David Michelberg, 44, the passenger in the plane, suffered a possible skull fracture, several facial fractures and two broken vertebrae in his neck and lower back, said his wife, Rachel Michelberg.

He underwent neurosurgery Wednesday at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo, she said, after being transferred Tuesday night from Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton.

``It's a mess,'' his wife said. ``He'll be there a couple weeks on an artificial respirator; he may lose an eye.'' [...]

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Lawrence native dies in plane crash
By Eric Weslander, Journal-World
Jay Senter, Journal-World staff writer
Saturday, April 23, 2005

A Lawrence native was among three people killed in a firefighting plane crash Wednesday in northeastern California.

Brian Bruns, 47, was taking part in a test flight of a P-3 Orion air tanker that was to be put into service next month for Aero Union, a company that runs firefighting flights for the U.S. Forest Service, when the accident happened.

Bruns' mother, Erma Bruns of Lawrence, said her son had chosen a treacherous profession, but he found it rewarding.

"It's very dangerous, but he said it was so gratifying when you save somebody's home," she said. "He loved to fly because he felt so close to God." [...]

His mother said authorities had not revealed the cause of the accident to the family.

"All we know is what we have been told: That they're still investigating," she said. "We don't know what caused it." [...]

The plane in the crash was built in 1966 and originally used in the Navy before being refurbished to serve as an air tanker. Last May, 33 similar tankers in the federal firefighting fleet were grounded after safety concerns.

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Pilot Survives East County Plane Crash
POSTED: 7:49 pm PDT April 22, 2005

SAN DIEGO -- The pilot of a small experimental plane survived a crash Friday that rescuers at first feared was deadly.

The accident happened near the western side of Otay Mountain, about 10 miles east of Brown Field, NBC 7/39 reported. From the air, it appeared that the plane hit the ground hard.

It took rescue workers a little less than an hour to reach the pilot, who suffered a broken arm and two broken legs. He was transported to Mercy Hospital.

Officials said the pilot had been flying with another experimental aircraft when the pilot of the other plane noticed that the first plane was missing. The pilot of the plane still flying returned to Brown Field to report the missing plane to authorities.

The plane is a RV-6 experimental airplane. It is not yet clear what caused the accident.

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Collision with plane kills sky diver
By Amy C. Rippel
Sentinel Staff Writer
Published April 24, 2005

Albert `Gus' Wing III died after his legs were severed, DeLand police say.

A sky diver respected for his decades of experience and video skills died Saturday afternoon after his legs were severed in a midair collision with an airplane, authorities said.

Albert "Gus" Wing III of Longwood was at an altitude of about 600 feet at about 9:20 a.m. when he crashed into the left wing of a Twin Otter aircraft, DeLand police said. Both of Wing's legs were severed at the knees, police said.

"He managed to maneuver the parachute and land," police said in a written statement. "The airplane landed safely and police investigators observed damage to the plane's left wing."

Wing, 50, was taken to Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, where he later died. It is unclear whether the pilot, William Buchmann of DeLand, was injured. [...]

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Moderate earthquake strikes off Sumatra
Tuesday April 26, 2005

HONG KONG (AP) - A moderate earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia's Sumatra island early Tuesday, Hong Kong seismologists said. 

The 5.5-magnitude tremor's epicenter was about 370 kilometers (229 miles) west-northwest of the city of Padang, the Hong Kong Observatory said.  

The tremor was recorded in Hong Kong at 4:24 a.m. (2024 GMT Monday), the observatory said. 

It was not immediately known whether the quake caused any casualties or damage. [...]

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Storms hit North Texas
09:26 PM CDT on Monday, April 25, 2005
From Staff Reports

Severe weather rolled into the area this afternoon, dumping heavy rain and hail as it moved quickly from west to east and possibly spawning a tornado in Tarrant County.

Storm spotters said a tornado touched down in the vicinity of Interstates 20 and 35W. However, Ft. Worth Fire Lt. Kent Worley said they had not found any confirmed reports of damage or injury.

A heavy concentration of hail fell on Cedar Hill and Duncanville in southern Dallas County, accumulating in some areas and looking almost like snow in several residents' yards.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport was reporting delays of 45 minutes to an hour for most arriving flights due to the storms, and officials said at least 22 flights had been canceled as a result. [...]

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Antarctic glaciers show major melting
Last Updated Fri, 22 Apr 2005 15:47:45 EDT
CBC News

WASHINGTON - A comprehensive survey of Antarctic glaciers shows the continent is melting worse than thought.

The three-year study by scientists from the British Antarctic Survey and U.S. Geological Survey used more than 2,000 aerial and satellite photographs. They document how 87 per cent of 244 glaciers have retreated over the past 50 years.

Glacier-ice shelves are floating glaciers that remain connected to the land, while tidewater glaciers rest on rock off the ocean.

"These glacier retreat patterns combined with dramatic ice shelf break-ups leave us in no doubt that the Antarctic Peninsula ice sheet is extremely sensitive to recent warming," said British glaciologist David Vaugan.

"What we still need to determine is whether or not the warming in this area has its roots in human-influenced global warming," he added in a statement.

Glacier retreat is important to the world's environment because it could allow more ice to drain further inland, contributing to a rise in sea levels.

Researchers found atmospheric temperatures rose more than 2.5 C along the Antarctic Peninsula, a narrow chain of mountains south of South America.

In the last half-century, the trend to glacier retreat moved south toward the mainland, the team found.

The jump in temperatures is five times the average for Antarctica.

Warmer winds from changes in atmospheric circulation as well as human-induced climate change could be causing the glacier retreat.

The study appears in the April 22 issue of the journal Science

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Bird flu looking more like a pandemic
Apr. 23 (UPI)

Hanoi, Vietnam, -- Public health officials in Vietnam fear the South Asian outbreak of bird flu is becoming less virulent and, thus, more likely to spawn a pandemic. The new fear stems, ironically, from the declining mortality rates of infected humans, the Washington Post reported Saturday.

About a year ago some two-thirds of human victims in Vietnam died, but recently that figure has plunged by nearly half.

If that trend continues, it raises the likelihood that infected humans' greater longevity will result in more people contracting avian influenza -- and thus increasing the chances it will become a global problem.

"The virus could be adapting to humans," said Peter Horby, an epidemiologist with the World Health Organization in Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital. "There's a number of indications it could be moving toward a more dangerous virus."

By way of comparison, the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic that killed some 40 million people worldwide, had a 5 percent mortality rate. The comparable rate for bird flu has fallen from nearly 70 percent to 35 percent this year.

Also worrying health officials is the emergence of asymptomatic bird flu in poultry.

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Flu outbreak sickens 280 in southern Chinese village
Monday April 25, 2005

HONG KONG (AP) - A flu outbreak has sickened about 280 people in a southern Chinese village, but early tests show it was not caused by the bird flu virus that has jumped to humans and killed dozens of people in Asia, the Hong Kong government said Monday. 

The victims suffered mild symptoms including fever, cough and muscle pains, and none required hospitalization, the Hong Kong government said in a statement, citing health authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong. 

The statement didn't say when the outbreak occurred in the village in Guangdong's city of Leizhou. Authorities have begun disinfecting the unidentified village and promoting better hygiene, it said. 

Health officials are vigilant about flu outbreaks amid warnings that bird flu could mutate into a form easily transmissible among humans, sparking a pandemic. 

The deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu has jumped from poultry to humans in Southeast Asia, killing 52 people and forcing ranchers to destroy millions of chickens, ducks and other fowl. 

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1,700 dead seals wash onto Nfld. shores
Last Updated Mon, 25 Apr 2005 22:22:17 EDT
CBC News

PORT AU CHOIX, NFLD. - At least 1,700 seal carcasses have washed ashore along parts of Newfoundland's northern peninsula, prompting federal officials to investigate.

Ron Burton, of Fisheries and Oceans, said Monday that the department has received reports of that many carcasses near Port au Choix – and they fear more will be discovered.

Fisheries officials are in the area to find out how many seals died and how big an area was affected.

Although they're still trying to determine the cause, they suspect the seals were crushed by ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Burton said it's not uncommon for younger seals to be killed after getting caught in heavy ice.

"It seems to be a majority of young seals – whitecoats – which is typical of an 'ice kill,'" Burton said.

"We've had some fairly strong wind events in the area the last few weeks ... and what happens is that these animals get caught in the ice as it's blowing around and they end up getting crushed."

Burton said dead seals periodically wash up on shore weeks after a big storm.

It happened in Bonne Bay within the last few years, he said, but fewer seals died in that incident.

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