Tuesday, June 28, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
Signs Logo
Printer Friendly Version
Fixed link to latest Page



ZombieDogs™ make excellent companions for young children!


Boffins create zombie dogs
By Nick Buchan of NEWS.com.au
June 27, 2005

SCIENTISTS have created eerie zombie dogs, reanimating the canines after several hours of clinical death in attempts to develop suspended animation for humans.

US scientists have succeeded in reviving the dogs after three hours of clinical death, paving the way for trials on humans within years.

Pittsburgh's Safar Centre for Resuscitation Research has developed a technique in which subject's veins are drained of blood and filled with an ice-cold salt solution.

The animals are considered scientifically dead, as they stop breathing and have no heartbeat or brain activity.

But three hours later, their blood is replaced and the zombie dogs are brought back to life with an electric shock.

Plans to test the technique on humans should be realised within a year, according to the Safar Centre.

However rather than sending people to sleep for years, then bringing them back to life to benefit from medical advances, the boffins would be happy to keep people in this state for just a few hours.

But even this should be enough to save lives such as battlefield casualties and victims of stabbings or gunshot wounds, who have suffered huge blood loss.

During the procedure blood is replaced with saline solution at a few degrees above zero. The dogs' body temperature drops to only 7C, compared with the usual 37C, inducing a state of hypothermia before death.

Although the animals are clinically dead, their tissues and organs are perfectly preserved.

Damaged blood vessels and tissues can then be repaired via surgery. The dogs are brought back to life by returning the blood to their bodies,giving them 100 per cent oxygen and applying electric shocks to restart their hearts.

Tests show they are perfectly normal, with no brain damage.

"The results are stunning. I think in 10 years we will be able to prevent death in a certain segment of those using this technology," said one US battlefield doctor.

Comment: They write: "Tests show they are perfectly normal, with no brain damage."

We have to wonder if that is entirely true? Are these dogs with distinct personalities that are well known, and then is there any evaluation as to long term (or even immediate) effects on those personalities?

Click here to comment on this article

Shark Attacks 2nd Teen Off Fla. Panhandle
Associated Press
Mon Jun 27, 7:58 PM ET

PANAMA CITY, Fla. - A boy fishing in waist-deep water Monday was bitten and critically injured in the second shark attack on a teenager along the Florida Panhandle in three days.

Craig A. Hutto, 16, of Lebanon, Tenn., was taken to Bay Medical Center in Panama City, where his leg was amputated. He was listed in critical condition but was expected to recover, said hospital spokeswoman Christa Hild.

The boy was attacked off Cape San Blas, a popular vacation destination about 80 miles southeast of the Destin area, Jamie Marie Daigle of Gonzales, La., was killed by a shark on Saturday. She was 14.

The boy was fishing with two friends when the shark bit him in the right thigh, nearly severing his leg, Gulf County Sheriff's Capt. Bobby Plair said.

The three then tried to wrestle the shark off the boy, hitting it in the nose several times. The teen was pulled ashore by his friends, and a doctor who happened to be nearby began treatment before the boy was taken to the hospital, Plair said.

"It got the main arteries in the right leg," Plair said, adding that the boy lost a large amount of blood. The shark was about 6 to 8 feet long, Plair said, citing witnesses.

Gulf County has no lifeguards on any of its beaches, he said. Officials closed the county's beaches until late Tuesday morning.

On Saturday, Daigle had been swimming on a boogie board with a friend about 100 yards from shore when a shark tore away the flesh on one leg from her hip to her knee.

Erich Ritter of the Shark Attack Institute said the girl was probably attacked by a 6-foot bull shark, based on measurements of the bite wound. He said it was unlikely the same shark was responsible for Monday's attack.

After Saturday's attack, a 20-mile stretch of shore was closed to swimmers, but beaches reopened Sunday with a double staff of sheriff's beach patrol officers. On Monday, off-duty deputies were called in to beef up beach patrols and watch for sharks from the air and the water.

Florida averaged more than 30 shark attacks a year from 2000 to 2003, but there were only 12 attacks off the state's coast last year, according to figures compiled by the American Elasmobranch Society and the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Click here to comment on this article

Grizzly kills couple in Alaska
Monday, June 27, 2005

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Two people camping along the Hulahula River in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge were killed by a grizzly bear, officials said.

Officials discovered the bodies and an unused firearm in a tent Saturday at a campsite near the river. They also shot and killed the animal.

The couple, whose names were not released, was believed to be in their late 50s or early 60s, North Slope Borough police said on Sunday. They were from Anchorage and had been on a recreational rafting trip down the river, Alaska State Troopers said.

The victims were in their tent when the attack occurred, according to Tim DeSpain, spokesman for Alaska State Troopers.

The campsite was clean, with food stored in bear-proof containers.

"The initial scene indicates that it was a predatory act by the bear," DeSpain said. [...]

Click here to comment on this article

Two died as plague reported in Tibet
2005-06-27 14:26

Two persons died of bubonic plague and three others are recovering from the disease in the Tibet Autonomous Region in southwest China, the regional government's information office reported on Saturday.

The outbreak occurred in Zhongba, a county in Xigaze Prefecture bordering Nepal, and has been brought under control, the office said.

The Ministry of Health reported the infections to the World Health Organization and Nepal early Saturday morning.

The disease was discovered when nine people who had come to Zhongba from Mianyang City in southwest China's Sichuan Province ate marmot meat on June 11, and five of them later felt sick.

They went to the county hospital a few days later.

One of them died on June 15, and another succumbed on June 17. The other three are still in the hospital but are recovering.

Tibet's public health department dispatched a 10-member task force to deal with the situation when it received a report on the infections on June 17.

Experts sent by the Ministry of Health arrived in Xigaze on June 20.

The work team traced 76 direct contacts, and 75 of them are now under quarantine and show no abnormal symptoms. The other one went to Nepal, and police are now searching for her.

The quarantine will continue for another 15 days.

Click here to comment on this article

Hubble spies comet Tempel 1 belching dust
Monday, June 27, 2005

WASHINGTON -- The volatile nucleus of comet Tempel 1 blew off a stream of dust that was captured in an image by the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists said on Monday.

The dust jet could be a preview of what astronomers see on July 4, when NASA's Deep Impact space probe is set to collide with the comet, giving the first glimpse inside the heart of a comet, the scientists said in a statement.

The collision on the comet could cause a similar dust plume on Tempel 1's surface.

Hubble captured the images when it was 75 million miles (120 million km) away from Tempel 1. The orbiting telescope's views complement close-up pictures being captured by Deep Impact's cameras as it speeds toward the comet.

The two images snapped by Hubble were taken seven hours apart on June 14. One shows a view of the comet before the outburst; the other shows the jet, which extends about 1,400 miles (2,200 km).

Comets often show bursts of activity, but astronomers do not know why. It might be because Tempel 1 is moving closer to the sun and the increased heat could have opened up a crack in the comet's crusty surface, allowing trapped dust and gas to escape.

Another theory is that part of the comet's crust lifted off the nucleus because of the pressure of heated gases beneath the surface, and the crust may have quickly crumbled into small dust particles, producing a fan-shaped jet.

Astronomers hope the July 4 smashup will release more primordial material trapped inside the comet, which formed billions of years ago.

Comets are thought to be "dirty snowballs" made up of ice and rock.

Comment: In other words, scientists really don't have a clue what's going to happen when the the Deep Impact probe smashes into Tempel 1...

Click here to comment on this article

39 Dead in El Salvador, Honduras Flooding
Mon Jun 27, 8:16 PM ET

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador - Heavy rains caused flooding and landslides in El Salvador and Honduras, leaving a total of 39 dead in both countries, including 21 people killed when a bus was carried away by flood waters.

Authorities were still searching for nine people missing after the bus was engulfed late Sunday 35 miles west of San Salvador. It was carrying home a total of about 40 players and fans of a nonprofessional soccer team called Los Leones. Ten passengers have been found alive.

In towns west and southwest of the capital, seven people were killed in landslides and three people were killed when their homes were carried away by flood waters.

In neighboring Honduras, officials said eight people died and 200 homes were damaged during three days of flooding.

Click here to comment on this article

Officials move to protect elderly from nation's deadly heat wave
Chicago Tribune
June 28, 2005

ROME, ITALY -- Italy's health minister said Monday that a heat wave linked to at least seven deaths is putting the lives of 1 million elderly Italians at risk and announced steps to protect people older than 80 who live alone.

Health Minister Francesco Storace said Italian authorities want to avoid a repeat of the fatalities of the summer of 2003, when a prolonged heat wave in Europe was blamed for thousands of deaths. Many of those who died were elderly people who lived alone.

"We are alarmed," Storace said at a news conference outlining the measures, which include allowing health clinics access to lists of names of those most at risk--people older than 80 who live alone and who have had repeated recent hospitalizations.

The measures also include house calls on those at risk, TV and radio spots reminding people to drink lots of water and stay inside during the hottest hours, and a toll-free number offering advice on how to cope.

Northern Italy has been hit hardest by the heat wave, with temperatures in Milan, Florence and Turin rising above 95 degrees.

Click here to comment on this article

Pakistan heat wave kills 196
June 28, 2005

Islamabad -- A scorching heat wave sweeping Pakistan has killed at least 196 people, with 120 of the casualties occurring in the worst-hit Punjab province.

There seems to be no early end to the people's miseries as monsoon rains are nowhere in sight, Dawn Tuesday quoted weather and health officials as saying.

Ten deaths occurred in Sindh till Monday evening, taking the toll in the province to about 55.

The highest temperature of 52 degrees Celsius recorded during the heat wave was in Jacobabad in Sindh on Friday.

Conditions had eased in about a third of the area hit by the heat wave but the high temperatures would persist elsewhere till at least Wednesday evening.

June and July are traditionally the country's hottest months before seasonal rains bring relief before a mild autumn.

Hot weather in neighbouring Afghanistan had melted snow on the Hindukush mountains, flooding rivers there and in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province, where about 300 families have been displaced by the swirling waters.

Click here to comment on this article

Authorities believe summer heat caused Alton woman's death
Posted on Tue, Jun. 28, 2005

ILLINOIS - A heat wave across the region is believed to have caused the death of an elderly Alton woman over the weekend.

Mabel Fish, 70, was found dead in her home at 624 Shepherd St. in Alton on Saturday by a family member, police said. [...]

Click here to comment on this article

Heat melts record

Ontario hydro usage soars
Toronto Sun
Tue, June 28, 2005

ONTARIO SUCKED up record levels of electricity to beat the heat yesterday as striking Hydro One workers continued targeting generators that are running flat out to feed air conditioners.

Late yesterday afternoon, electricity consumption soared past the previous provincial record, surpassing Ontario's home-grown supply and forcing power officials to import expensive electricity from neighbouring U.S. states and provinces.

The previous record for hourly consumption was set on Aug. 13, 2002, when 25,414 megawatts were consumed. By 6 p.m. yesterday, usage had edged above the 26,000-megawatt mark.

The difference between yesterday's consumption and the previous record represents almost enough electricity to power a city the size of London, Ont., according to one system official. "Although the system is strained, no question, we can meet demand," said Terry Young, spokesman for the Independent Electricity System Operator.


Yesterday's record, however, may not last long. The heat wave carries on through the week and air conditioners will work even harder to keep buildings cool. "We could be looking at another record (today)," Young said.

A new report by the IESO warns the province will continue to be reliant on its neighbours for power during the hot days until more local generation is up and running.

Ontario Power Generation managed to keep its available turbines cranking out hydro through the day, despite picket lines being set up outside two stations early in the morning.

Over 2,000 megawatts were being imported during the day. [...]

Click here to comment on this article

Dry spell hits fields, farmers, pocketbooks
By Melissa Widner
June 28, 2005

INDIANA - When a heat wave hits, people can hide inside with an air conditioner, or hit the mall in search of cooler climes.

For plants, trees and field crops, there is literally no place to go.

"If you drive around and take a look at any of the fields you'll see the corn is rolling up in the afternoon to protect itself," said Mike Hanley, manager of Jasper County's Kersey grain elevator near DeMotte. "Plants shut down in hot weather to protect themselves, just like we would, and don't grow."

Hanley said the dry spring and summer haven't helped plants, but the heat makes prospects worse.

"We know some damage has already been done by the heat, not just by it being dry. It cuts yields back, but as to how much damage has been done, it's a guessing game.

"Anybody that has irrigation is running it and that's a cost to farmers, too, that will come out of the bottom line later."

Ken Scheeringa, an associate state climatologist at Purdue University, said this year's dry spell qualifies as a "moderate drought," but is hardly the worst Indiana has seen.

"The worst drought period we found was about 1930-1931. For the past few years we've been in an alternating pattern that either it's a little wet or it's a little dry.

"We're just bouncing back and forth on both sides of normal," Hanley said.

Between March and now, Northwest Indiana as a whole is 4.5 inches below normal rainfall levels, he said. [...]

Click here to comment on this article

20,000 dead carp: something fishy
Steve Pollick
Toledo Blade
Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Few things grab your nose's attention on a hot summer afternoon down by the creek quicker than the putrid odor of a dead carp.

But imagine 20,000 dead carp.

That is what the good folks on western New York's famous Chautauqua Lake are contending with right now - in the height of summer vacation season with the big Fourth of July holiday weekend looming.

"There is some odor, but they're trying to keep ahead of the game," explained Russ Biss, natural resources supervisor for the Allegany, N.Y., office of the state department of environmental conservation. "The Chautauqua Lake Association has been very active out there, picking up fish."

The rafts of dead carp are being buried in trenches next to the local landfill. "They're the big fish - 10, 15, 20 pounds up to 30 inches long," said Biss. "They're probably stressed from spawning."

Add in the sustained heat wave of air temperatures in the 90s, plus an outbreak of koi herpes virus in the lake's carp stock, and there you have it: Piles of dead fish.

No significant carp dieoffs have been noted in Lake Erie so far this year, said Jeff Tyson, supervisor of the Sandusky-based Lake Erie Fisheries Research Station of the Ohio Division of Wildlife. But he added that noteworthy numbers died a couple of summers ago. An exact cause could not be determined at the time.

Tyson noted that significant dieoffs of freshwater drum, or sheepshead, have occurred this summer, but those deaths likely are linked to post-spawn stress. Stress seems to cause a sizable drum dieoff about every third summer, the biologist said.

Koi, an Asian species commonly called "goldfish," are an aquacultural color variation of common carp. They vary in color from reddish-orange to orange and white with colored patches. They are popular in residential fish ponds and other ornamental ponds.

New York's Biss said that Chautauqua Lake, 17 miles long and covering some 13,000 acres, had a smaller oubreak with dying carp last summer. But a few thousand dead fish then have blossomed to an estimated 20,000 so far this summer. Again most of the outbreak is in the lake's relatively shallow southern basin, where it empties into the Chadakoin River. Water temperatures there this week are in the mid 70s. [...]

Click here to comment on this article

Recent Earthquakes

Magnitude 6.0 - MOLUCCA SEA

A strong earthquake occurred at 08:23:04 (UTC) on Sunday, June 26, 2005. The magnitude 6.0 event has been located in the MOLUCCA SEA. The hypocentral depth was estimated to be 95 km (59 miles).


A strong earthquake occurred at 11:35:45 (UTC) on Monday, June 27, 2005. The magnitude 6.3 event has been located OFF THE COAST OF JALISCO, MEXICO. The hypocentral depth was poorly constrained.

Comment: Note that Jalisco is on the west coast of Mexico. Perhaps this quake is tied to the recent rumblings in California?


A moderate earthquake occurred at 14:05:08 (UTC) on Monday, June 27, 2005. The magnitude 5.2 event has been located near the CENTRAL MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE.


A moderate earthquake occurred at 17:14:23 (UTC) on Monday, June 27, 2005. The magnitude 5.0 event has been located in the NIAS REGION, INDONESIA.

Click here to comment on this article

UN refugee head wants doors open to asylum seekers
By Mark Felsenthal
Mon Jun 27, 6:39 PM ET

UNITED NATIONS - The new United Nations high commissioner for refugees on Monday urged countries to grant asylum to refugees rather than seal borders because of fears of terrorism.

Antonio Guterres, the former Portuguese prime minister who assumed the U.N. post on June 15, urged that refugees be treated as victims of upheaval and be welcomed.

"Asylum seekers and refugees are not terrorists. They are the first victims of terror and should be considered as such," he told a news conference in his first visit to U.N. headquarters since he taking the job.

Refugees do not leave home to better their economic status, but are fleeing civil wars and violations of their human rights, Guterres said.

The number of refugees fell worldwide 4 per cent to 9.2 million people in 2004, the lowest figure since 1980. But that figure omits those displaced within their own country, such as the 2 million people displaced in Sudan's Darfur region.

Many nations including Australia, the United States and Canada are screening asylum seekers more closely. Western Europe, a favorite refuge, has been debating stricter rules for years because once asylum seekers are recognized in one country they have the right to move elsewhere in the European Union.

Guterres called specifically on Kyrgyzstan not to return asylum seekers to Uzbekistan. More than 500 Uzbeks fled to Kyrgyzstan after troops shot into a crowd to put down an uprising last month.

U.N. officials said in Kyrgyzstan on Monday they wanted to move the Uzbek refugees to third countries because there were fears Uzbekistan might try to snatch them and take them home by force.

Guterres acknowledged part of his task as the new head of the U.N. refugee agency would be to restore morale after the departure of his predecessor Ruud Lubbers, who was pressured to resign in February following allegations of sexual harassment, which he vigorously denied.

The Geneva-based United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has an annual budget of close to $1 billion and 6,000 staff in 115 countries.

Click here to comment on this article

EU enlargement must be put on hold: Sarkozy
June 27, 2005

PARIS - France's ruling party chief and presidential hopeful Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy called on Monday for the process of EU enlargement to be put on hold to give time for its internal institutions to be "renovated."

"Enlargement must be suspended at least as long as the institutions have not been renovated. Europe must have borders. What I am saying does not cover Romania and Bulgaria where the process is too far advanced to be stopped. But all the others," Sarkozy said.

"Not all countries have a vocation to be in Europe," he said.

The minister was talking at the start of consultations between Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and leaders of political parties on the
fall-out of last month's rejection of the EU constitution in a national referendum.

Before the referendum Sarkozy put himself at odds with President Jacques Chirac by speaking out against Turkish membership of the EU. Ankara's accession talks are supposed to begin later this year under Britain's EU presidency.

Click here to comment on this article

Migration myth busting

The World Migration 2005 report challenges many of the pre-conceptions about the impact of international migration.
June 2005

The rapid expansion of the European Union eastward seems to have been one of the many factors that persuaded the public in France and the Netherlands to reject the EU Constitution in referendums in May and June.

Indeed, conscious of concerns cheap labour would flood their local jobs markets, most established EU member states introduced restrictions on labour mobility prior to the 'big bang' in May 2004 when 10 Eastern and Central European states joined the EU.

This is hardly surprising: Europe is already host to more than 55 million of the estimated 192 million people the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) says are living as migrants in the world.

The Right

Jean-Marie le Pen's Front National in France, Belgium's Vlaams Belang and a host of other far-right politicians in Europe have for years played up what they say are the negatives associated with immigrants.

More mainstream parties have increasingly moved towards the need to control migration as they see concerns about the issue rising among their electorates.

Myth and reality

  • Migrants represent 2.9 percent of world population
  • Half of 192 million migrants are women
  • Migrants are a financial asset rather than burden
  • International migration doubled in 1970-1990
  • Migrant political visibility is sometimes greater in industrial countries than the percentage suggests

The interception of boat-loads of would-be immigrants from North Africa is a daily occurrence off the Spanish coast. Many who avoid the authorities end up falling victim to leaky boats or unscrupulous people smugglers.

Since the meteoric rise and murder of anti-immigration populist Pim Fortuyn, the Dutch government has considerably toughened migration laws in the Netherlands and decided future immigrants will have to undertake special courses to help them integrate into Dutch society.


But the overriding perception that migration is a problem and nothing more is misleading, according to the World Migration 2005 report by the International Organisation for Migration.

The IOM says the first ever comprehensive benefits study of international migration provides ample evidence that migration brings both costs and benefits for sending and receiving countries, "even if these are not always shared equally".

"We are living in an increasingly globalised world which can no longer depend on domestic labour markets alone. This is the reality that has to be managed," IOM director Brunson McKinley says.

World Migration 2005, for instance, cites a Home Office study in the UK which revealed migrants there contribute the equivalent of more than USD 4 billion (EUR 3.3 billion) more in taxes than they receive in benefits.

And in the US, the National Research Council estimated that national income expanded by USD 8 billion (EUR 6.6 billion) in 1997 because of immigration.

IOM's study also noted that there is rarely direct competition in a wide variety of jobs between immigrants and locals. Migrants occupy jobs at all skills levels, but with a particular concentration at the higher or lower ends of the market, "often in work that nationals are either unable or unwilling to take".

The report also talks about the better-known benefits for sending countries. Remittances by immigrants sent back home through official channels surpassed USD 100 billion in 2004, and now seriously rival development aid in many countries, the IOM found.

Morocco, for instance, received USD 2.87 billion, or 8 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), from remittances by migrant workers in 2002. Remittances to the Philippines came to almost 10 percent of its GDP.

Some sending countries are seeing a shift from brain drain to brain gain as a result of increasingly pro-active policies to attract back émigrés with newly acquired skills and education.


Reviewing the situation in Europe, the World Migration report says despite the long-standing preoccupation with asylum issues, the focus has recently shifted to economic immigration, irregular migrants and the integration of newcomers.

"The latter, in part, reflects an often ignored reality in Europe: many immigrants are not fully integrated, some not at all." The report looks at the new measures being introduced in the Netherlands, Germany and Austria to foster integration among immigrants.

Referring to worries about a flood of immigrants from the new EU states, the report says that the data shows about one percent of the population of the new EU member states (i.e. some 700,000 people) firmly intend to migrate to a western country.

This would put the total migration potential over the next 20 years at 3 to 4 million people.

"Experience from earlier EU enlargements suggests, however, that emigration is more likely to decrease than increase after EU accession of countries with below-average GDP and a negative migration balance," the report says.

"This has been demonstrated by Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain. It is therefore likely that new immigrants from Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria will fill some of these jobs."

What needs to be done

The World Migration 2005 report emphasises the need for effective policies of socio-economic inclusion of migrants into host communities, even on a temporary basis to maximise productivity.

"These measures have a cost but can ensure social cohesion in the face of cultural diversity and enable migrants to be productive for themselves, their host and home communities."

Migrant-sending countries would greatly benefit, the report says, from engaging in "dynamic and broad-based" development, combining job creation and economic growth with a fairer distribution of income. This would create a general optimism about the future of the country.

At a time of growing resistance to migration in some receiving countries, governments have to work together and make the right policy choices to steer migration more in the direction of benefits than costs.

Click here to comment on this article

German chancellor seeks confidence vote
The Seattle Times
Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder asked Parliament yesterday to hold a vote of confidence, a key step in the German leader's plan to call early national elections and renew his mandate.

The chancellor was in Washington yesterday for talks with President Bush, but his office gave the request to the lower house of Parliament, government spokesman Thomas Steg said. Lawmakers were expected to vote Friday.

Schroeder intends to lose the vote of confidence, which would require some lawmakers from his own party to vote against him or abstain, then persuade President Horst Koehler to call new elections. The national ballot would likely be held in September.

Click here to comment on this article

With support for Iraq war fading, Bush tries to turn tide
June 28, 2005

WASHINGTON - President George W. Bush will give a key speech in a bid to convince an increasingly sceptical American public to support him over the presence of US troops in Iraq.

The US leader will go to the huge Fort Bragg army base in North Carolina to give the speech, which will mark the first anniversary of the transfer of civilian authority from the United States to an Iraqi government.

He will also meet privately with the parents of some of the more than 1,700 US military who have died in Iraq since the US-led invasion in March, 2003.

Comment: Perhaps this is an effort to change Bush's image to that of a "concerned president". You can bet that the parents will be carefully screened to weed out those who are hostile to the Bush regime...

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Monday that "significant progress" had been made since the handover, most notably the elections last January and the installation of a transitional government under Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who last week met with Bush at the White House.

Nevertheless, the US public is increasingly questioning the need to keep 135,000 US troops in Iraq.

Comment: The US public is increasingly questioning a LOT more than just the need to keep the troops in Iraq. Many aspects of the so-called "war on terror" - including the torture, the stripping of civil liberties through draconian legislation, and the Bush administration's lies about all of it - are now raising a lot of different questions in the minds of many Americans.

According to survey published last week, 59 percent of Americans want a partial or total pullout of US forces from Iraq, where daily insurgent attacks are taking a mounting toll.

The Bush administration has rejected calls from US lawmakers, including from the president's Republican Party, to set a firm timetable on the withdrawal of US troops.

US Vice President Dick Cheney recently said that the insurgency is currently in its "last throes" but US military officials have been less sanguine.

Comment: The violence in Iraq continues to escalate. How can Cheney possibly claim that the "insurgency" is in its last throes??

And Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told US television on Sunday that the insurgency could go on for "years".

"Insurgencies tend to go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years," he told Fox television.

Having used Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction to justify the war, Bush has now had to change tack following the failure to find them.

Bush now justifies the US presence in Iraq as part of the US "war on terror" and efforts to spread democracy in the Middle East.

Another ABC News/Washington Post poll found that for the first time most Americans -- 57 percent -- believe the Bush administration "intentionally misled" the public in going to war in Iraq.

Looking ahead to the speech, the White House spokesman said: "I think one thing the president will do is talk about the nature of the enemy that we face in Iraq. These are terrorists that have no regard for human life. They are a determined and ruthless enemy that has made Iraq a central front in the war on terrorism."

Comment: In other words, Bush will spew the same old lies.

The United States is now putting greater emphasis on Iraqi forces beating the insurgents as it seeks an exit strategy.

"Foreign troops are not going to beat the insurgency. It's going to be the Iraqi people that are going to beat the insurgency and Iraqi security forces," Rumsfeld told NBC television on Sunday.

Comment: Rumsfeld then added, "Just as soon as our CIA master torturers train enough Iraqi security forces in the ways of death and oppression."

He also admitted that US representatives had meet representatives from Iraqi insurgent groups in recent months, while minimising their importance.

But some Republicans have joined Democrats in questioning the US strategy in Iraq.

Senator Chuck Hagel, a senior Republican, said last week that the White House had lost touch with reality in its dealings over Iraq.

Senator Edward Kennedy, a top Democrat, has called for Rumsfeld to resign. "The current policy is not working. The American people understand that, and we ought to hold (the administration) accountable," he said last week.

Comment: The White House was never in touch with reality in the first place. Remember this excerpt from Hysterica Passio by Chris Floyd?

Now we come at last to the heart of darkness. Now we know, from their own words, that the Bush Regime is a cult -- a cult whose god is Power, whose adherents believe that they alone control reality, that indeed they create the world anew with each act of their iron will. And the goal of this will -- undergirded by the cult's supreme virtues of war, fury and blind faith -- is likewise openly declared: "Empire."

You think this is an exaggeration? Then heed the words of the White House itself: a "senior adviser" to the president, who, as The New York Times reports, explained the cult to author Ron Suskind in the heady pre-war days of 2002.

First, the top Bush insider mocked the journalist and all those "in what we call the reality-based community," i.e., people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality."

Suskind's attempt to defend the principles of reason and enlightenment cut no ice with the Bush-man.

"That's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality," he said. "And while you're studying that reality, we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do." [...]

Bush and his gang are history's actors, and the rest of us are just along for the ride to study what they do. The advisor's comments sound like something Hitler might have said to his biographer. We are informed that a judicious study of discernible reality presents no solutions. The Neocons and Zionists in control of the American Empire act, and reality is created.

Talk about wishful thinking...

Reality is what it is. Contrary to the views expressed by the mysterious senior Bush official, there IS a discernible reality, and studying it can be quite useful. In fact, this is why we create the Signs page each day. It is not surprising that someone who believes in creating his own reality would declare that observing reality as objectively as possible is useless - if one does exactly that, one discovers the reality of the delusional thinking of those in power.

Each person that believes in the lies and propaganda of the Bush administration reinforces the fairytale. Ultimately, it appears that the whole charade will not end until enough people stand up and declare in no uncertain terms that they've had enough of the fairytale reality.

Click here to comment on this article

Yes, Virginia, There Really Are Downing Street Memos
by Mary Titus
Editorial Page, The Washington Post
June 2005

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Post:

I am 8 years old. Some of my little journalist friends say there are no Downing Street Memos. Papa says, "If you see it in The Washington Post, it's so." Please tell me the truth, are there Downing Street Memos?
-- Virginia O'Falon

Virginia, your little journalist friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see on FOX. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be Judith Miller's or children's, are little. In this great media consolidation of ours, American news is a mere insect, an ant, in its intellect as compared with the boundless world about it, as measured by the intelligence of the international press who are capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there are Downing Street Memos.

They exist as certainly as truth and honesty and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no info-tainment! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith in corporate media, no muzak, no blind consumerism to make tolerable this existence. We should have information, instead of sports and entertainment hoopla. The external light with which good journalism fills the world has all but been extinguished.

Not believe in Downing Street Memos! You might as well not believe in Greg Palast. You might get your papa to hire men to watch all the TVs on the eve of the State of the Union address to catch a lying President, but even if you did not see the boldface liar yabbing about WMDs, what would that prove? Nobody sees WMDs, but that is no sign that there are no Downing Street Memos. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor New York Times' men can see. Did you ever see protesters on the White House lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. 30 million or so. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the mainstream media world.

You tear apart the cluster bomb and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the biggest east coast paper, nor even the united strength of all the strongest American media that ever were could tear apart. Only a few phone calls, fact checking, or a foreign press, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the obscene child killing and DU effects beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding (even if it is censured here).

No Downing Street Memos? Thank God they live and live forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, they will continue to make fools of the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Happy May Day!!!!

Click here to comment on this article

Wrong CIA analysis triggered major 2003 terror alert
June 28, 2005

WASHINGTON - A mistaken CIA analysis of an Arabic-language television broadcast triggered a major terror alert in United States in 2003 and the cancellation of nearly 30 international flights, NBC News said.

The color-coded terror alert system went from yellow to orange, after CIA agents thought they saw secret numbers encoded in the moving text at the bottom of the screen of an Al-Jazeera broadcast, NBC said late Monday.

The "scrawl" was thought to contain attack dates, flight numbers and geographic coordinates for targets, which included the White House, Seattle's tallest structure, the Space Needle, and even the small town of Tappahanock in Virginia.

For weeks after Christmas 2003, a high level terror alert was maintained leading to the cancellation of almost 30 international flights by Air France, British Airways, Continental and Aeromexico, the news service said.

In the end, the treasure of secret information the Central Intelligence Agency analysts thought they had uncovered turned out to be completely wrong.

However, nothing was revealed to the public about the mistake until NBC News was told by unidentified senior US officials.

Tom Ridge, who was Secretary of Homeland Security at the time of the snafu, in an interview with NBC defended the CIA analysis at the time, although he did call it "bizarre, unique, unorthodox, unprecedented."

"Maybe that's very much the reason that you'd be worried about it, because you hadn't seen it before," said Ridge, who during the 2003 terror alert said it was based on "credible sources."

Intelligence sources consulted by NBC defended the technique then used of "steganography" -- messages hidden inside a video image, saying it was a valid subject for CIA analysis.

Ridge said the US government had no choice but take the suspected terror messages seriously at the time.

"We acted accordingly, based on our best information and best conclusions and the information that we had at the time," he said.

However, he added, "speaking for myself I've got to admit to wondering whether or not it was credible."

Comment: Great! The next time the US government issues a terror alert, it may be due to secret codes that senior intelligence officials noticed in their morning bowl of Cheerios.

Of course, if Tom Ridge had doubts about the credibility of the information, that begs the question of whether senior Bush officials were again demanding and using such "intelligence" to fit their plans?

Don't have evidence to prove your statements? Just make it up! Better yet, get someone else to invent the evidence. That way, when the lies are later uncovered, you can point the finger at the other guy!

Click here to comment on this article

Court: Some Commandments Displays OK
Associated Press
Tue Jun 28, 1:16 AM ET

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court ruled Monday that displaying the Ten Commandments on government property is constitutionally permissible in some cases but not in others. A pair of 5-4 decisions left future disputes on the contentious church-state issue to be settled case-by-case.

"The court has found no single mechanical formula that can accurately draw the constitutional line in every case," wrote Justice Stephen G. Breyer.

Breyer was the only justice to vote with the majority in both cases: One that struck down Ten Commandments displays inside two Kentucky courthouses and a second that allowed a 6-foot granite monument to remain on the grounds of the Texas Capitol.

The court said the key to whether a display is constitutional hinges on whether there is a religious purpose behind it. But the justices acknowledged that question would often be controversial.

"The divisiveness of religion in current public life is inescapable," wrote Justice David H. Souter.

He said it was important to understand the Constitution's Establishment Clause, which requires the government to stay neutral on religious belief. Questions of such belief, he said are "reserved for the conscience of the individual."

Comment: If religion is so divisive, and the Establishment Clause requires the government to remain neutral when it comes to religion, then wouldn't it be simply logical to ban any and all religious displays at official government sites?

In both cases, Breyer voted with the majority. In the Kentucky case barring the courthouse displays, that left him with the court's more liberal bloc where he normally votes. In the Texas case, he wound up making a majority with the more conservative justices.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, often a swing vote, joined the liberals in both decisions.

The rulings mean thousands of Ten Commandments displays around the nation will be validated if their primary purpose is to honor the nation's legal, rather than religious, traditions. Location also will be considered, with wide open lots more acceptable than schoolhouses filled with young students.

Comment: The idea that the Ten Commandments honor the nation's legal traditions is a religious belief, plain and simple.

"It means we'll litigate cases one at a time for decades," said Douglas Laycock, a church-state expert at the University of Texas law school, noting the decisions provide little guidance beyond the specific facts of the cases. "The next case may depend on who the next justice is, unfortunately," he said.

In sharply worded opinions, Justice Antonin Scalia said a "dictatorship of a shifting Supreme Court majority" was denying the Ten Commandments' religious meaning. Religion is part of America's traditions, from a president's invocation of "God bless America" in speeches to the national motto "In God we trust."

Comment: And yet, religion cannot be a part of America's traditions if the separation between church and state is to be anything more than mere words...

"Nothing stands behind the court's assertion that governmental affirmation of the society's belief in God is unconstitutional except the court's own say-so," Scalia wrote.

The justices voting on the prevailing side in the Kentucky case left themselves legal wiggle room, saying that some displays inside courthouses - like their own courtroom frieze - would be permissible if they were portrayed neutrally in order to honor the nation's legal history.

The Supreme Court's frieze depicts Moses as well as 17 other figures including Hammurabi, Confucius, Napoleon and Chief Justice John Marshall. Moses' tablets do not have any writing.

The monument on the grounds of the Texas Capitol - one of 17 historical displays on the 22-acre lot - was determined to be a legitimate tribute to the nation's legal and religious history.

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist argued that the Texas monument with the words 'I AM the LORD thy God'" was a permissible acknowledgment of religion's place in society.

Breyer, who provided the fifth vote in the holding, did not join Rehnquist's opinion. As a result, his separate concurrence, concluding that the Texas display was predominantly nonreligious and thus constitutional because it sat in a vast park, was the controlling viewpoint.

The rulings were the court's first major statement on the Ten Commandments since 1980, when the justices barred display in public schools.

"This is a mixed verdict, but on balance it's a win for separation of religion and government," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. "The justices wisely refused to jettison long-standing church-state safeguards. We're thankful for that."

On the other side, Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, said: "It is very encouraging that the Supreme Court understands the historical and legal significance of displaying the Ten Commandments. Unfortunately, the high court's decision in the Kentucky case is likely to create more questions."

In Kentucky, two counties originally hung the copies of the Ten Commandments in their courthouses. After the ACLU filed suit, the counties modified their displays to add other documents demonstrating "America's Christian heritage," including the national motto of "In God We Trust" and a version of the Congressional Record declaring 1983 the "Year of the Bible."

When a federal court ruled those displays had the effect of endorsing religion, the counties erected a third Ten Commandments display with surrounding documents such as the Bill of Rights and Star-Spangled Banner to highlight their role in "our system of law and government."

The Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal subsequently struck down the third display as a "sham" for the religious intent behind it.

Meanwhile in Texas, the Fraternal Order of Eagles donated the exhibit to the state in 1961, and it was installed about 75 feet from the Capitol in Austin. The group gave thousands of similar monuments to American towns during the 1950s and '60s.

Thomas Van Orden, a former lawyer who is now homeless, challenged the display in 2002. He lost twice in the lower courts in holdings the Supreme Court affirmed Monday.

Dissenting in the Texas case, Justice John Paul Stevens argued the display was an improper government endorsement of religion.

"If a state may endorse a particular deity's command to 'have no other gods before me,' it is difficult to conceive of any textual display that would run afoul of the Establishment Clause," he said.

The cases are McCreary County v. ACLU, 03-1693, and Van Orden v. Perry, 03-1500.

Click here to comment on this article

Turin Shroud 'confirmed as fake'
June 22, 2005

A FRENCH magazine has said it had carried out experiments that proved the Shroud of Turin, believed by some Christians to be their religion's holiest relic, was a fraud.

The Shroud is claimed by its defenders to be the cloth in which the body of Jesus Christ was wrapped after his crucifixion.

It bears the faint image of a blood-covered man with holes in his hand and wounds in his body and head, the apparent result of being crucified, stabbed by a Roman spear and forced to wear a crown of thorns.

In 1988, scientists carried out carbon-14 dating of the delicate linen cloth and concluded that the material was made some time between 1260 and 1390. Their study prompted the then archbishop of Turin, where the Shroud is stored, to admit that the garment was a hoax. But the debate sharply revived in January this year.

Drawing on a method previously used by sceptics to attack authenticity claims about the Shroud, the magazine got an artist to do a bas-relief - a sculpture that stands out from the surrounding background - of a Christ-like face.

A scientist then laid out a damp linen sheet over the bas-relief and let it dry, so that the thin cloth was moulded onto the face.

Using cotton wool, he then carefully dabbed ferric oxide, mixed with gelatine, onto the cloth to make blood-like marks. When the cloth was turned inside-out, the reversed marks resulted in the famous image of the crucified Christ.

Gelatine, an animal by-product rich in collagen, was frequently used by Middle Age painters as a fixative to bind pigments to canvas or wood.

The imprinted image turned out to be wash-resistant, impervious to temperatures of 250 C (482 F) and was undamaged by exposure to a range of harsh chemicals, including bisulphite which, without the help of the gelatine, would normally have degraded ferric oxide to the compound ferrous oxide.

The experiments, said the magazine, answer several claims made by the pro-Shroud camp, which says the marks could not have been painted onto the cloth.

Click here to comment on this article

Update: Ex-Gay Camp Investigation Called Off

Investigation Was Prompted by Teen's Blog
June 28, 2005

Tennessee officials closed an investigation into a so-called ex-gay ministry because of a lack of evidence to support child abuse allegations. But the Memphis organization that says instilling Christian beliefs can keep gays from acting on their homosexual desires continues to be the center of controversy.

The Tennessee Department of Children's Services began an investigation into Love In Action, which advertises homosexual conversion therapy for adolescents, after a 16-year-old boy's blog started causing a stir in the blogosphere.

"Zach" wrote in his blog that he was admitted into the facility by his parents after he told them he was gay.

He said he was to be admitted to Refuge, a camp associated with Love In Action on June 6 and was to remain there at least until June 20, according to a June 3 blog entry. According to some fellow bloggers who have been in intermittent contact with Zach, he gets dropped off at the facility daily and returns home with his parents.

Love In Action is supported by several Memphis-area churches, and accredited by Exodus International, an organization that describes itself as "a worldwide interdenominational, Christian organization called to encourage, strengthen, unify and equip Christians to minister the transforming power of the Lord Jesus Christ to those affected by homosexuality."

"DCS dispatched its special investigations unit to the facility, and after conducting a full investigation, determined that the child abuse allegations were unfounded," Rob Johnson, an agency spokesman, told The Associated Press. [...]

Click here to comment on this article

U.S. hostages forgotten in Colombian jungle
By Jason Webb
Mon Jun 27, 7:58 PM ET

BOGOTA, Colombia - The mother of an American hostage held by Colombian rebels for more than two years said on Monday her son and two fellow hostages had been forgotten by the U.S. public and abandoned by the government.

"These three are Americans. Why do I have to fight for them? I don't understand. Why doesn't their own country fight for them," said Jo Rosano of Bristol, Connecticut, dabbing tears as she spoke to Reuters in a Bogota hotel.

Her son Marc Gonsalves, together with Thomas Howes and Keith Stansell -- all civilians working for a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Corp. -- were captured by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia on a U.S.-funded mission to locate crops used to make cocaine in southern Colombia on Feb. 12, 2003.

Their Cessna surveillance plane crashed on a rugged hillside. Two other crew members who struggled from the Cessna's wreckage, an American Vietnam veteran and a Colombian army sergeant, were killed by the guerrillas, according to local peasants.

The 13,000-strong rebel army known by the Spanish initials FARC initially said it wanted to swap the men together with another group of about 70 hostages for hundreds of rebels held in government jails.

But the FARC over the weekend offered to negotiate directly with the U.S. government and said it would free the Americans in return for two high-ranking guerrillas who have been extradited to the United States.

The U.S. government rejected the offer on Monday.

"With respect to our policy about making concessions to terrorists, that policy remains unchanged. We do not," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, calling the liberation of the three men "a top priority of the United States."

Rosano was dismayed.

"The FARC wanted 500 guerrillas that are in the prisons here in Colombia, now they're asking for two. So is that right?" she said, tears running down her face.

"Now they just want two, so what's the problem now?" she said.


Rosano's 33-year-old son, who has a daughter and two stepchildren, has been caught up in a war the FARC has been waging for 41 years for socialist revolution. The conflict claims thousands of lives a year.

She believes the American public, absorbed by the conflict in
Iraq, is largely ignorant of U.S involvement in Colombia, to which Washington has provided more than $3 billion in mainly military aid to fight rebels and the cocaine trade since 2000.

"Many, many people don't know that there are American hostages here, and I come here in hopes that somebody's heart will soften," she said.

The last news she had of her son, a former member of the Air Force, came two years ago when a Colombian journalist brought a videotape of the three Americans surrounded by heavily-armed FARC rebels in a secret camp.

"He said on the video that he would never give up, that he would never get to the point where he would want to kill himself," said Rosano.

The mother's attempts to obtain help from Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, a staunch U.S. ally who is fiercely anti-FARC, also made little progress.

"When I was here last year, I wrote President Uribe a letter requesting to meet with him. But he never responded," she said.

Colombian authorities have said in the past they have had intelligence about the location of hostages but have not been able to act due to fears for their safety.

Rosano is convinced any attempt to snatch the men to freedom would end with their deaths, as when the FARC killed 10 hostages during a botched rescue attempt by Colombian troops in thick jungle in May 2003.

"God tells me in my heart my son is alive, and when I get mad he reminds me, 'Your son is alive and I'm watching over him.' God is the one who'll bring my son home -- not (U.S. President George) Bush or Uribe," she said.

Click here to comment on this article

Suicide bomber kills dean of Iraq parliament
June 28, 2005

BAGHDAD - Iraq's oldest member of parliament, Dhari al-Fayadh, died with his son and three bodyguards in a suicide bombing north of Baghdad, while more bombs killed two and wounded 20 elsewhere.

Fayadh, 87, and his son were killed whan "a vehicle packed with explosives and driven by a suicide bomber was detonated alongside his two-car convoy in Al-Rashidyah," an interior ministry source said.

Chief of the Albuamer, a powerful and predominantly Shiite tribe, Fayadh had presided over the first sessions of Iraq's new parliament before a speaker was elected.

Sheikh Humam Hamudi, head of the parliamentary committee currently drafting a new constitution, told AFP: "Those who killed Sheikh al-Fayadh are criminals trying to destroy the country."

Fayadh was lord of the mud huts around his gated villa complex in the orange and palm groves of his rural fiefdom in Diyala province just north of the capital.

He won election to the 275-member national assembly in landmark January polls after running as an independent in the victorious Shiite-dominated United Iraqi Alliance.

The octogenarian was enjoying a political comeback after losing his parliamentary seat in 1958 when the so-called Free Officers led by Abdul Karim Qasim overthrew the British-backed monarchy.

Fayad spent about a year in jail in 1969 after Saddam Hussein's Baath party seized power. He then withdrew to his rural retreat, keeping a low profile until Saddam's overthrow in 2003.

Two more bombings killed two people and wounded around 20 early Tuesday in the volatile northern oil city of Kirkuk and in Musayyib, south of Baghdad.

A policemen died and 17 people were wounded when a suicide bomber walked into a hospital in Musayyib and blew himself up, police and medics said.

In disputed Kirkuk, which the Kurds want as the capital of an expanded autonomous region, a car bomb targeted traffic police chief Tallar Abdullah, a brigadier general.

One civilian died and three of the general's bodyguards were wounded, said police Captain Farhad Abdullah, who is not related to the general.

On Monday, 11 people died in Iraq violence, including five who were killed when a car bomb ripped through a crowded market in southeast Baghdad.

US forces also reported losses, including the two-man crew of an Apache helicopter that crashed in the town of Mishahda, around 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Baghdad, raising the overall US death toll in Iraq to 1,729, according to a Pentagon tally.

The US military said that a marine and a sailor previously identified as missing were confirmed killed along with four other marines in a suicide bombing in Fallujah on Thursday.

The confirmation brought female casualties from the attack to three dead and 11 wounded -- the biggest single day toll for US servicewomen in Iraq. [...]

Click here to comment on this article

Oil holds over $60, market tests demand
By Felicia Loo
Tuesday, June 28, 2005; 1:45 AM

SINGAPORE - Oil prices held firmly above $60 a barrel on Tuesday as speculators sought to test the resilience of strong U.S. demand and as Iran's presidential election sowed fresh geopolitical worries.

U.S. crude futures traded down 19 cents to $60.35 a barrel after rising 70 cents on Monday to close above $60 for the first time since trading started in 1983.

London Brent crude slid 24 cents to $59.06 a barrel. Speculative buying has helped fuel a 29 percent gain in prices since May 20 amid growing fears of a global strain on production and refining capacity in the fourth quarter, when demand for heating oil peaks.

Oil demand in the United States and Asia has so far remained strong in the face of soaring fuel costs, encouraging traders to test the upper limits of what consumers will pay for.

"Speculators want to see actual proof that end-user demand has fallen due to high oil prices," said Tony Nunan, manager at Mitsubishi Corp.'s international petroleum business in Tokyo.

Higher costs may be creating obstacles for economic growth in many import-dependent countries but they have yet to derail a global expansion, economic officials say. [...]

Comment: Import-dependent countries... like the US?

Demand for distillates, which include heating oil and diesel, typically peaks during the northern hemisphere winter. It has been running strong this year, limiting refiners' ability to lift stockpiles from below-average levels.

"The U.S. gasoline demand has been holding up very well and distillate demand growth is stronger in the face of high oil prices," Nunan added.

The data will be released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration on Wednesday at 1430 GMT.


Victory in Iran's presidential election for ultra-conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also supported prices, as the hard-liner said he would press ahead with its nuclear program, which is opposed by the United States.

Heightened geopolitical worries weigh heavily on an oil market sensitive to any potential outages since spare production capacity is limited to small unused volumes in Saudi Arabia.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) could decide this week on a 500,000 barrel per day (bpd) output increase, cartel President Sheikh Kahmad al-Fahd al-Sabah said on Monday.

But members have already said they believe more crude may not help cool prices being driven higher by a shortage of refined products. U.S. crude inventories are still near six-year highs reached earlier this summer.

Click here to comment on this article

Wal-Mart Heir John Walton Dies in Crash
June 28, 2005

BENTONVILLE, Ark. - John Walton, the billionaire son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and a member of the company's board, died Monday in a plane crash in Wyoming.

Walton, 58, of Jackson, Wyo., was piloting an ultralight that crashed shortly after takeoff from the Jackson Hole Airport in Grand Teton National Park, the company said. He was pronounced dead at the scene, and the cause of the afternoon crash was not known, officials said.

The plane was an experimental ultralight aircraft with a small, gasoline-powered engine and wings wrapped in fabric similar to heavy-duty sail cloth, officials said.

In March, Forbes Magazine listed John Walton as No. 11 on its list of the world's richest people with a net worth of $18.2 billion. He was tied with his brother Jim, one spot behind his bother Rob, and just ahead of his sister Alice and his mother Helen.

Walton joined the board of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in 1992, but did not work for the company.

"We're sad that John Walton, who was well-known and much-loved in this valley, died doing something that he loved to do, which was fly aircraft," said Joan Anzelmo, a spokeswoman for Grand Teton National Park.

"I saw parts of it," she said of the plane. "I didn't realize what I was seeing at first. It was so lightweight it looked like a giant model airplane."

"Because this is a homemade, non-registered, experimental aircraft, at least today they told us there was not going to be an investigation," she said. Grand Teton rangers will conduct their own probe, as is done with any major accident in the park, she said. [...]

Click here to comment on this article

Australia conducts more anti-terror raids
June 28, 2005

SYDNEY - Australian anti-terror officials have raided homes in major cities for the second time in a week, officials said on Tuesday, but refused to comment on reports the raids involved Islamic extremists and plots to attack landmarks.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) executed search warrants on homes in Sydney and Melbourne on Monday, but refused to give details.

"We do not target Muslims, we target people of interest. Nobody is targeted because of their religion," Ruddock told reporters when asked Islamic extremists were targeted.

Australia has steadily beefed up its anti-terrorism laws under conservative Prime Minister John Howard, a close U.S. ally, since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

The latest raids, which again did not result in any detentions or arrests, sparked criticism of Australia's tough new security laws which allow security agencies to raid homes and detain people suspected of having information about terrorism.

Former conservative prime minister Malcolm Fraser said the government's post-Sept. 11 anti-terrorism policies had created a "secret police" and a culture of fear.

"You can be arrested because ASIO think you know something ... that turns ASIO into some sort of secret police," Fraser told local radio.

Fraser said Howard's government had "frightened the Australian community about the prospect of terrorist attacks and therefore anyone who opposes those measures is seen to be soft on terrorism."

But Ruddock said the raids were legitimate information-gathering exercises because Australians had been the target of "terrorist activity" in the past five years.

"I can assure you of this, that issues they are addressing are the ones of utmost seriousness" said Ruddock.

Comment: Well, fascism sure is a serious issue...

Australia has never suffered a major terror attack on home soil, but 88 Australians were among 202 people killed in the October 2002 nightclub bombings on the Indonesian island of Bali.

The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported that the latest raids were aimed at deterring suspected Islamic extremists "from graduating to terrorist activities."

The Australian newspaper said three homes had been targeted in the latest raids in Sydney, Australia's largest city, in an attempt to find material linking known Islamic extremists to plots against Melbourne landmarks.

It said at least two other homes in Melbourne were also raided. Both newspapers based their reports on unidentified sources which linked the latest raids to those last week.

Australian media reported last week's raids were aimed against Islamic extremists who were planning possible attacks on targets such as the stock exchange building and train stations in Melbourne and the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House.

Click here to comment on this article

France to host nuclear fusion project
By Guy Faulconbridge
June 28, 2005

MOSCOW - France is to host the world's first nuclear fusion reactor, the project's multinational partners agreed on Tuesday, bringing closer a technology backers say could one day provide the world with endless cheap energy.

France beat off a rival bid from Japan to host the 10-billion-euro ($12.18 billion) experimental reactor at Cadarache in the south of the country, according to an agreement signed by the partners after a meeting in Moscow.

The ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) project is backed by China, the EU, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States. It seeks to mimic the way the sun produces energy, potentially providing an inexhaustible source of low-cost energy using seawater as fuel. [...]

ITER began in 1985. Decades of research, however, have yet to produce a commercially viable fusion reactor.

The EU supported the French bid to have the reactor built in Cadarache. Tokyo had sought to have it built in the northern Japanese village of Rokkasho. The other partners have also been at odds over which of the two should host the reactor.

"It is a big success for France, for Europe and for all the partners of ITER," said a statement issued by the office of French
President Jacques Chirac.

France has been a big producer of nuclear energy since the oil shocks of the 1970s and has 58 nuclear reactors, the most in the world after the United States.

Click here to comment on this article

The Origins of Doomsday Anxiety
June 14, 2005

After years of ignoring the most pervasive fear in human history, it is time to examine its roots dispassionately. For such a purpose, we need only call upon the appropriate rules for evaluating historical evidence.

Let a comet appear in the sky. Let the "zeroes" line up on a calendar. Let the weather turn stormy, or world events grow unsettled. When such things occur they will invariably trigger a cultural response - the "doomsday anxiety", a fear of the end of the world.

Today little attention is given to the historic origins of this cultural syndrome. However, only a few years ago it reared its head at the turn of the millennium. And just two years earlier we saw it with the dramatic appearance of the comet Hale Bopp. Within various religious cults, preachers and gurus and wild men have pointed to imminent apocalypse for as long as any of us can remember.

Indeed, the phenomenon may seem too trivial to merit concern. We easily dismiss it as a minor demonstration of the irrational in our species. But the historic nature of the anxiety does deserve attention, for no archaic culture was free from the fear of Doomsday. And most of the collective investment in ritual and magic bore a direct connection to the mythology of overwhelming catastrophe.

Early mythic and religious traditions reveal many fears, beliefs, and yearnings shared by all of the early cultures. But while many of the motives are universal, the experiences to which they refer are beyond the ability of accepted science and theory to explain. Science today has no frame of reference for dealing with the collective memories that drove the early cultures.

At the end of a 52-year calendar cycle, Aztec priests would anticipate a world-ending conflagration. On seeing that the heavens remained as they were, the people would celebrate the new lease on life. Moreover, the theme of cosmic upheaval appears in New Year's festivals around the world. Our own Halloween, Christmas, New Year, and May Day celebrations have preserved many fragments. The prototypes for these occasions lay in the remote past, in such celebrations as the Egyptian Sed Festival and the Babylonian Akitu festival, both harking back to events of cosmic chaos and destruction.

It is no overstatement to say that ancient nations the world over were obsessed with ideas of world-ending disaster. But here is the heart of the matter, the one fact that can explain the Doomsday anxiety both ancient and modern. Humans everywhere on earth once remembered a world-altering catastrophe, an event of such devastating intensity that it hung like a cloud over every culture for thousands of years. And what they remembered, they expected to happen once more. As before, so again.

The world-ending catastrophe remembered by Nordic cultures gave rise to the prophetic vision of Ragnarok, the destruction of the world in a rain of fire and stone. In this vision the great serpent Jormungand rises from the waters of the deep and attacks, spitting its fiery venom upon the world. A battle ensues between gods and giants. Odin's dark angels, the Valkyries, ride their steeds across the sky, their golden hair streaming behind them. The walls of the heavenly city Asgard fall down, and the celestial bridge of Bifrost dissolves in flames.

A much earlier account of universal disaster, preserved by the Greek poet Hesiod, described the "clash of the Titans". On one side, the leader of the Titans was the god Kronos, original ruler of heaven; on the other, his own son, Zeus. Their war in the sky brought the world to the edge of complete destruction.

"For a long time now, the Titan gods and those who were descended from Kronos had fought each other, with heart-hurting struggles, ranged in opposition all through the hard encounters," wrote Hesiod. The upheaval lasted for ten years, culminating in a heaven-shattering conflagration, when the whole world shuddered beneath the thunderbolts of the gods. The celestial combatants "threw their re-echoing weapons and the noise of either side outcrying went up to the starry heaven as with great war crying they drove at each other."

To witnesses of the events, "it absolutely would have seemed as if Earth and the wide Heaven above her had collided, for such would have been the crash arising as Earth wrecked and the sky came piling down on top of her, so vast was the crash heard as the gods collided in battle…." Huge boulders flew between the celestial combatants. The roaring wind and quaking earth brought with them a great dust storm "with thunder and with lightning, and the blazing thunderbolt, the weapons thrown by great Zeus."

In such descriptions as these the gods do not just disturb the earth with their thunderbolts, they pound each other with them amid horrific sound, earthquake, raging wind, and a devastating fall of rock.

The notion that archaic memories of universal catastrophe were simply exaggerated accounts of local disasters is an unsupportable oversight in specialized cultural study today. Specialists have suggested that the world of the first storytellers was so limited it was "only natural" that they would experience a local flood or a particularly destructive volcanic eruption as a world-ending conflagration. But this gratuitous supposition is contradicted by a cross-cultural coherence.

To reconcile human memories and scientific evidence, it is not sufficient to dismiss the ancient witnesses when their testimony is incompatible with today's "scientific mythology." The essential requirement is that appropriate ground-rules be followed for assessing cross-cultural evidence. Ancient testimony is both unreliable and useless when individual stories are considered in isolation. No one will ever penetrate to the original human experience by studying a local legend in North America or the South Pacific. But human testimony can be extraordinarily reliable in the hands of one attentive to the points of agreement - particularly where extraordinary and unexpected details are repeated around the world.

In its every nuance the Doomsday theme declares that our theoretical assumptions are not correct. But ideology has prevented accredited specialists from following the most obvious question: Does the occurrence in every culture of the same themes and details, which are unnatural in today's world, indicate an archaic experience of a world with a different nature? Certainly no Egyptologist or Sumerologist could know, based on his specialized learning, whether cosmic violence punctuated the recent history of the solar system. But the supposition of a changeless solar system has kept specialists from comparing data and asking the question.

The worldwide Doomsday theme has no roots in familiar natural events. Therefore, we cannot ignore the direct implication: the myths arose as imaginative interpretations of extraordinary occurrences. If mankind's Doomsday anxiety was provoked by events no longer occurring, the conventional historians' dismissive approach to the subject must be counted among the greatest theoretical mistakes of modern times.

Click here to comment on this article

New Jack the Ripper theories put sleuths in a spin
By Elizabeth Fullerton

LONDON - A mental patient, a butcher, the artist Walter Sickert, a serial wife poisoner and even Queen Victoria's grandson have all been touted as Jack the Ripper suspects in one of the greatest whodunits in history.

But what if Jack the Ripper was not a Londoner, not even British? What if he was a merchant seaman, who pursued his blood lust as far afield as Nicaragua and Germany?

Ripperologists -- self-appointed sleuths on the Ripper's trail who number in the thousands -- are in a spin over a new book proposing that Britain's most famous serial killer was a merchant sailor who murdered when his ship was docked.

In London's grimy East End the Ripper slew five prostitutes over 10 weeks in 1888, leaving their throats slashed from ear to ear and lacerations up and down the bodies of all but one of the victims. Some of their organs were also removed.

Trevor Marriott, a former detective and author of the controversial new book "Jack the Ripper: The 21st Century Investigation", says police on the case wrongly assumed that the killer lived and worked in London's East End and failed to see a pattern between the dates of the crimes.

"I believe the police were blinkered and didn't choose to look at the possibility the killer could be a merchant seaman," he told Reuters.


The Ripper has spawned a multi-million pound industry in books, souvenirs, a musical and films -- most recently "From Hell" starring Johnny Depp -- showing that the public's fascination with the murderer is very much alive.

The macabre Ripper tour is by far the most popular walking tour in London, pulling in around 60,000 people annually, curious to visit the murder sites and haunts of the victims.

To the annoyance of local residents, the summer brings a surge in tourists to Whitechapel district, where blood from slaughterhouses once ran down the cobbled streets and around 40,000 prostitutes plied their wares by gas light.

Here, in the teeming slum beyond the city walls, the Ripper hunted his prey and then vanished into the twisting alleyways.

Marriott believes the murderer arrived on one of a handful of ships that were docked in or near the East End around the dates of the killings. However, records of their crews were destroyed or lost, making it impossible to focus on one sailor.

What Marriott did find were reports of six prostitutes carved up, Ripper-style, in Nicaragua over 10 days in January 1889, just two months after the murder spree supposedly ended.

These were followed by a similar killing in London in February, one in the German port of Flensburg in October and another in London in July 1891.

But the Ripper had no medical knowledge, Marriott says, contrary to some assumptions. Even if the Ripper were a practised surgeon, he would have trouble carving out women's organs in a pitch black alley, he argues.

Marriott suggests the organs were removed at the mortuary for sale in the thriving illegal organ market of the time.

His theories have set blogs buzzing among Ripper enthusiasts, who are estimated by some to number 50,000. One old hand called Marriott's findings "the same old cod", while others said the sailor idea had been around since the killings.


A second new book, "Uncle Jack" by Tony Williams, proposes the killer was the author's ancestor, Sir John Williams -- a gynaecologist to Queen Victoria's children and the founder of the National Library of Wales.

Williams had set out to explore his family history when he stumbled upon a box of Sir John's personal effects, including a knife, three medical slides and diaries with the 1888 entries ripped out.

He discovered that besides his posh Harley Street surgery, Sir John had a clinic in Whitechapel, giving him access to the prostitutes who thronged the area.

His medical notes showed he had performed an abortion on the Ripper's first victim, Mary Ann Nichols, in 1885.

Williams believes Sir John was enraged by the prostitutes he saw getting pregnant while his own wife was unable to have children and killed them either out of vengeance or to use their organs for researching a cure for infertility.

"These women were having children left, right and centre and he wanted this cure," said Williams.

However, shortly after the killings stopped, Sir John had something akin to a nervous breakdown, gave up medicine and returned to Wales for good.

Again, most Ripperologists were scathing of Williams' theory. "I felt so cheated after reading this nonsense I demanded, and received, my money back," wrote Horace Kelly.

But one, Amanda C, found his arguments convincing. Betraying what may be the real reason for such vehement scepticism from the sleuth community, she asked: "What will we all do if the mystery is solved?"

Click here to comment on this article

Readers who wish to know more about who we are and what we do may visit our portal site Quantum Future

Remember, we need your help to collect information on what is going on in your part of the world!

We also need help to keep the Signs of the Times online.

Send your comments and article suggestions to us Email addess

Fair Use Policy

Contact Webmaster at signs-of-the-times.org
Cassiopaean materials Copyright ©1994-2014 Arkadiusz Jadczyk and Laura Knight-Jadczyk. All rights reserved. "Cassiopaea, Cassiopaean, Cassiopaeans," is a registered trademark of Arkadiusz Jadczyk and Laura Knight-Jadczyk.
Letters addressed to Cassiopaea, Quantum Future School, Ark or Laura, become the property of Arkadiusz Jadczyk and Laura Knight-Jadczyk
Republication and re-dissemination of our copyrighted material in any manner is expressly prohibited without prior written consent.