Wednesday, July 06, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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The Road to Hell is paved...
Copyright 2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte

If you like music but don't like Bush, then check out the latest Signs of the Times production, You Lied. The words are now translated into French, German, Spanish, and Italian.

July already?
SOTT Musing

Look out at the headlines today and you see the usual features in the newscape: more dead in Iraq, the leaders of the G8 continue to prepare their summit in Gleneagles to screw the people of Africa and the rest of the world with a deep and caring smile of paternalistic concern, just like they were doing last year, another volcano goes off in Mexico, Chirac is being denounced by the British, this time for some unkind remarks about British cuisine, the mainstream media in the US is still letting Bush off easy, and the Pentagon is once more cooking the books for one of its reports, all in all, the basic stuff of the day's news. No great headline-making tragedies or catastrophes, just the incremental drops that are closer to the end of this round of the Chinese water torture. You know you're going to go stark, raving mad, it's only a question of how long you can hold out.

Or has it already happened?

Maybe we're all hostages and the majority of our compatriots have already succumbed to Stockholm Syndrome.

We tried to bring in ace roving reporter Ignacious O'Reilly to lighten things up a bit with a special report today, but he's experimenting with podcasting and is off to the sound effects library to get some creaky door sounds to play during his report on Bush's trip to Scotland. We wish him luck finding the sound of an aircraft carrier sinking in a glass of whisky.

So we're sitting in the office with a powerful new anti-Bush song playing with "Repeat One" for six hours wondering how we've managed to retain our sanity during the years we've been doing the Signs page. It's over three years and in Internet time we figure that makes us over 30. It's time to start thinking of settling down and raising a family.

"Do you mean it? Bring kids into this world?"

"Yes, I was kidding."

"Is that a pun?"

"No, it was the offspring of an enquiring mind..." at which point we realise that it is DOing the Signs page that has helped us to regain the sanity we had misplaced while we were still wandering lost in the desert.

Every once in awhile, it's helpful to sit down and reflect. See how it just helped us to get out of an endless loop of childish word play?

We've asked readers several times to try and remember what life was like prior to 9/11 when the great War on Terror was unleashed through a vicious attack on the United States by members of its own government. While many people are still unable to wrap their heads around that one, and we admit that it's a leap for some people to go from unquestioning faith in one's elected leaders to realising what a gang of murderers and psychopaths they really are, it is a bit easier to look objectively at how we lived our lives, at our preoccupations, at how easy it was to travel, and compare our recollections with the state of things today.

It is often said that the public has no memory and can't remember what Bush may have said a year or two ago, or even a week ago (remember his flip-flops on how important it was, or wasn't, to bring in Osama, dead or alive?) That is why the our archives, and the archives of other sites, are so important. One can then return and follow stories over time, that is, if the old pages still appear on the sites. Today we're pulling up some stories from the past few years on this date, a trip back in time.

But before diving once again into the great stream of life, we'd like to remind you that we have a searchable archives for you to use. It can become a tool in everyone's effort to develop better recall of the sins and crimes of those who run this part of the Cosmos. Also, we'll very shortly be publishing a collection of books containing some of the best commentaries we've written. We'll let you know when they are out. They'll be available on the bookstore.

Now, get on your bathing suits and let's get wet...

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FLASHBACK! On this date in 2003

July 2002

Signs of the Times

New! July 6, 2002- Earth 'will expire by 2050' - A study by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), to be released on Tuesday, warns that the human race is plundering the planet at a pace that outstrips its capacity to support life. [...] The report, based on scientific data from across the world, reveals that more than a third of the natural world has been destroyed by humans over the past three decades. [...] Martin Jenkins, senior adviser for the World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge, which helped compile the report, said: 'It seems things are getting worse faster than possibly ever before. Never has one single species had such an overwhelming influence. We are entering uncharted territory.' [...] Attention is now focused on next month's Earth Summit in Johannesburg, the most important environmental negotiations for a decade. However, the talks remain bedevilled with claims that no agreements will be reached and that US President George W. Bush will fail to attend. [...] America, which sent 300 delegates to the conference, is accused of blocking many of the key initiatives on energy use, biodiversity and corporate responsibility. [See also: The Future of the Beast Empire Also see: High Treason in the U.S. Government ]

New! July 5, 2002<- Health Officials Issue Plague Warning - LOS ANGELES -- State health officials issued a warning Wednesday to people planning to be outdoors this holiday weekend to guard against bubonic plague, which is carried by rodents in foothills, mountains and along coastal areas. Since 1970, 38 cases of the plague in humans have been reported statewide. The most recent report was in 2000 when a Kern County man survived the sometimes deadly disease by taking antibiotics, said Ken August of the California Department of Health Services. See also: The Future of the Beast Empire - by Laura Knight-Jadczyk - with a special announcement at the end of the article.

Spectacular New Crop Circle! - Normanton Down long barrows, near Stonehenge, Wiltshire. Reported 4th July.

Regarding the LAX shooting - One reader informs us: I was watching CNN shortly after the LAX event. An eyewitness, standing just a few feet away, related that the gunman was slightly overweight, tanned, blonde with a ponytail, caucasian and was shouting: "They gave my job to Artie...they gave my job to Artie!" It was a live interview and it was immediately cut off after the description. Now read the new "terrorist" spun version. Also see: POLITICAL ASSASSINATIONS AT L.A. AIRPORT

Update on LAX "conspiracy"<: Another reader has explained: The eyewitness caller who said he saw the shooting from 20 feet away, and heard the shooter say, "Artie took my job" was a prank call. The entirety of the call can be heard here If you listen he says "Artie Lange" at one point during the call. Artie Lange is on the Howard Stern Show, and the person the shooter described at LAX is description of none other than Jackie, the one Artie replaced on the show. If you listen to the clip you'll hear him say, "He seemed to be upset that Artie Lange took his job on the Howard S-" at that point they cut him off as they realized it was a prank. No conspiracy, just a prank caller.

Whitley Strieber Bashes “Conspiracy Theorists” and Their “Camp-Followers" UFO contactee/author/researcher, Whitley Strieber, in a brazen rhetoric, offered his views concerning the opinions of people whom he considers to express “crazy ideas,” and expressed his puzzlement as to why so many have suddenly cancelled their subscriptions to his free newsletter. See also: ARCHITECTURE OF CONTROL

New! July 4, 2002 - The Future of the Beast Empire - by Laura Knight-Jadczyk - with a special announcement at the end of the article.

Israel has 400 nukes, building naval force - A United States Air Force report asserts that Israel is building a nuclear naval force meant to respond to any nuclear strike by such countries as Iran or Iraq. It is the first time a U.S. military institution has stated that Israel has produced a hydrogen bomb. The number of purported Israeli nuclear weapons cited in the report is double that of previous assessments. The report, sponsored by the air force's Counterproliferation Center, asserts that the navy can deploy any of what it asserts is Israel's 400 atomic and hydrogen weapons, Middle East Newsline reported. The center is located in the Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.

Cops, FBI lied about probe, juror says Woman speaks out on Earth First trial after gag order lifted - Three weeks after they ordered Oakland police and the FBI to pay Earth First organizers $4.4 million, jurors were allowed to speak for the first time Tuesday, and one of them said "investigators were lying so much it was insulting. [...] I'm surprised that they seriously expected anyone would believe them." Nunn, a ticket agent at American Airlines, said she wanted protection from terrorism like the Sept. 11 attacks. But her jury experience made her skeptical about giving law enforcement a blank check to bypass civil liberties. "This trial taught me what it means to be American," Nunn said. "I realize that freedom is something we can never take for granted. . . . We are free because we hold people in power to a higher standard."

Cow mutilation mystery deepens with three more deaths

Denver-Area Foreclosures Go Through The Roof - Metro-area home foreclosures are headed for their highest level in 11 years, as the battered economy leads to a huge spike in homeowners defaulting on mortgages in the first half of the year.

Why is the US government protecting the anthrax terrorist? - An extraordinary commentary published in Tuesday’s New York Times declares that the FBI is refusing to arrest or seriously investigate the most obvious suspect in the anthrax attacks last fall which killed five people. - Kristof indicts the FBI’s “lackadaisical ineptitude in pursuing the anthrax killer,” writing: “Almost everyone who has encountered the FBI anthrax investigation is aghast at the bureau’s lethargy. Some in the biodefense community think they know a likely culprit, whom I’ll call Mr. Z. Although the bureau has polygraphed Mr. Z., searched his home twice and interviewed him four times, it has not placed him under surveillance or asked its outside handwriting expert to compare his writing to that on the anthrax letters.”

Comment: Plus ça change...

Yet while a cursory glance at the headlines may lead us to think we are in a timewarp, it is changing. It is getting worse. The incremental descent is effective because each step is so small that one loses the sense of the cumulative change. Rights and liberties are given up one at a time. The deaths in Iraq are regular but "manageable" in bureaucrat-speak. In Palestine, a few Palestinians die each day, a few houses are destroyed, a few olive groves destroyed, nothing so outrageous that it'll make the headlines in the US, and yet an entire people are being slaughtered. That it happens one at a time or 1,000 at a time doesn't change the movement to extermination.

However, the drip by drip method produces an end result where we become acclimatised to living amidst death and destruction. It is normalised. We accept it. We don't give it a second thought, unless it is happening to our children.

Check and mate for the Powers that Be.

There's been lots of talk in recent years about global warming. The year 2003 was in some sense the year when there was a leap in awareness of the problem. We all remember the weird weather that year. Here's an article we carried two years ago:

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FLASHBACK! On this day in 2003

July 6, 2003

Signs of the Times

Reaping the whirlwind

Extreme weather prompts unprecedented global warming alert

The Independent
03 July 2003

In an astonishing announcement on global warming and extreme weather, the World Meteorological Organisation signalled last night that the world's weather is going haywire.

In a startling report, the WMO, which normally produces detailed scientific reports and staid statistics at the year's end, highlighted record extremes in weather and climate occurring all over the world in recent weeks, from Switzerland's hottest-ever June to a record month for tornadoes in the United States - and linked them to climate change.

The unprecedented warning takes its force and significance from the fact that it is not coming from Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth, but from an impeccably respected UN organisation that is not given to hyperbole (though environmentalists will seize on it to claim that the direst warnings of climate change are being borne out).

The Geneva-based body, to which the weather services of 185 countries contribute, takes the view that events this year in Europe, America and Asia are so remarkable that the world needs to be made aware of it immediately.

The extreme weather it documents, such as record high and low temperatures, record rainfall and record storms in different parts of the world, is consistent with predictions of global warming. Supercomputer models show that, as the atmosphere warms, the climate not only becomes hotter but much more unstable. "Recent scientific assessments indicate that, as the global temperatures continue to warm due to climate change, the number and intensity of extreme events might increase," the WMO said, giving a striking series of examples.

In southern France, record temperatures were recorded in June, rising above 40C in places - temperatures of 5C to 7C above the average.

In Switzerland, it was the hottest June in at least 250 years, environmental historians said. In Geneva, since 29 May, daytime temperatures have not fallen below 25C, making it the hottest June recorded.

In the United States, there were 562 May tornadoes, which caused 41 deaths. This set a record for any month. The previous record was 399 in June 1992.

In India, this year's pre-monsoon heatwave brought peak temperatures of 45C - 2C to 5C above the norm. At least 1,400 people died in India due to the hot weather. In Sri Lanka, heavy rainfall from Tropical Cyclone 01B exacerbated wet conditions, resulting in flooding and landslides and killing at least 300 people. The infrastructure and economy of south-west Sri Lanka was heavily damaged. A reduction of 20-30 per cent is expected in the output of low-grown tea in the next three months.

Last month was also the hottest in England and Wales since 1976, with average temperatures of 16C. The WMO said: "These record extreme events (high temperatures, low temperatures and high rainfall amounts and droughts) all go into calculating the monthly and annual averages, which, for temperatures, have been gradually increasing over the past 100 years.

"New record extreme events occur every year somewhere in the globe, but in recent years the number of such extremes have been increasing.

"According to recent climate-change scientific assessment reports of the joint WMO/United Nations Environmental Programme Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the global average surface temperature has increased since 1861. Over the 20th century the increase has been around 0.6C.

"New analyses of proxy data for the northern hemisphere indicate that the increase in temperature in the 20th century is likely to have been the largest in any century during the past 1,000 years."

While the trend towards warmer temperatures has been uneven over the past century, the trend since 1976 is roughly three times that for the whole period.

Global average land and sea surface temperatures in May 2003 were the second highest since records began in 1880. Considering land temperatures only, last May was the warmest on record.

It is possible that 2003 will be the hottest year ever recorded. The 10 hottest years in the 143-year-old global temperature record have now all been since 1990, with the three hottest being 1998, 2002 and 2001.

The unstable world of climate change has long been a prediction. Now, the WMO says, it is a reality.

Comment: Surprise, surprise. The weather is only going to get stranger, folks. For a look at why, check out Laura's column " Independence Day".

Comment: Yes, the summer of 2003 with hot temperatures and drought was getting into full swing. It was the year when climate change became real, well, everywhere except in the White House. Two years later, Bush is still putting America First, that is, before the interests of the planet as a whole, only now Tony Blair is attempting to remake his image by making an issue of it, that and "aid" to Africa.

What a sick joke. Tony thinks that Bush owes him something! Well, Dubya has made it clear that he thinks otherwise.

A year ago, the myth of Zarqawi was being fabricated. Here's a story from July 6, 2004 that puts all the pieces together...

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FLASHBACK! On this day in 2004

July 6, 2004

Signs of the Times

A video nasty: Terror chief shows off his deadly work

By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
06 July 2004

The deadly efficiency of the foreign-led militants behind a series of terror attacks and assassinations across Iraq became clear yesterday with the release of a chillingly professional promotional video.

The group of militants is led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian blamed by the US for many of the deadliest attacks over the past year, and for wielding the knife that decapitated the American hostage Nick Berg. The video's starkest message to the fledgling government of Iraq is that Zarqawi's men - many of them foreign fighters - are now well organised, embedded inside Iraq, and can strike at a time and method of their choosing.

The sophisticated tape includes scenes such as a suicide bomber heading off on a mission, waving goodbye to his chanting colleagues as he climbs into the cab of a tanker packed with explosives. "I sacrifice myself for my religion," he says before leaving. Moments later the explosion can be heard and a massive ball of fire fills the screen as the suicide bomber reaches his target: an American position under a bridge west of the troubled city of Fallujah.

The video also shows the suicide car bomb attack on 17 May that killed the Iraqi Governing Council leader Izzadine Saleem. The car in which the cameraman is sitting is so close that the windscreen is cracked by the force of the blast. Seven others were killed in the attack.

The release of the tape, produced by the group Attawid wal Jihad (Unity and Jihad), came yesterday as US forces killed at least 10 people in a missile strike on a house in Fallujah. In recent days there have been a series of such strikes on what the US says are "safe houses" used by Zarqawi's network. It was not immediately clear whether the Americans were acting with the agreement of the new "sovereign" Iraqi government. [...]

The tape, complete with graphics and professional-quality editing and camerawork, is the latest raising of the stakes by militants since the return of partial sovereignty to Iraq by the US last week. "This video speaks of a danger more organised than the one viewed through the snippets of the intelligence and glimmers of insight the public [has] previously seen," wrote Michael Ware, the Time magazine reporter who obtained the tape.

"It does not bode well for the immediate future of Iraq's fledgling government, nor the ultimate exit plans for the 130,000 US troops still [in Iraq]."

Mr Ware, who has interviewed a number of insurgents over the last year, said the tape was intended to send a very clear message to coalition troops and foreigners. "We can get you. You cannot stop us."

He also said the video, like a corporate recruitment product, was designed to lure new fighters - and funding - to Zarqawi's network. "It is a very, very sophisticated part of Zarqawi's information campaign, stamping him as the star of the new global jihad inspired by Osama bin Laden," Mr Ware said.

The video suggests that foreign fighters have been able to develop a reasonably sophisticated network inside Iraq. The footage features interviews and statements from Saudis, Algerians, Libyans, Jordanians and fighters from other countries. One bomber claims to have lived in Italy and played hockey for a leading club.

It also appears to confirm the central role played by Zarqawi within the insurgents' community. The voice of the Jordanian-born extremist, currently the most wanted man in Iraq, only appears briefly on the recording and it seems to have been taken from an audio tape he released last month threatening the new Iraqi government. [...]

Comment (2004): First of all, we should state that it is possible that Zarqawi is actually dead, and it is only his ghost, resurrected by the US spin doctors, that is carrying out these attacks.

Secondly, we have commented repeatedly that it is highly unlikely that a so called "Iraqi militant", fighting against the US occupation would mount attacks that kill Iraqis rather US soldiers at a ratio of about 10:1. A sentiment that has been echoed by Iraqi leaders.

Thirdly, this video comes from a reporter for Time Magazine, a Zionist publication, and as such should be immediately suspect. Note the comment by the reporter that the video was, "designed to lure new fighters to Zarqawi's network". What kind of idiotic analysis is that? What "fighters" in their right mind would be lured to a group where the first mission would be a suicide bombing? Either Zarqawi is a very poor propagandist, or someone is trying to feed us a line here. Of course, there is the argument that they are simply crazy Arabs, and they delight in killing themselves for Islam, but we find that such an argument has more to do with the mind programming effect of too much CNN than objective research and investigation.

Fourthly, Zarqawi is alleged to have carried out the beheading of Nick Berg, but there are so many inconsistencies with the Berg video that we can dismiss it as pure US and/or Israeli negative propaganda against Arabs. Perhaps this new video is not being released to the public, as the Berg video was, because it too would show similar glitches that suggest it is the product of the covert OPs boys in Iraq.

In the last paragraph above we have yet another of those anomalous little glitches that suggest that something is not quite right. If this video was produced by Zarqawi and his band of merry men, why does his voice only appear briefly on the tape, and why was the brief snippet taken from an totally different tape that was released last month? Mirroring the Saddam trial debacle, perhaps Mossad and the CIA are unwilling to take the chance that someone will notice something wrong with the voice.

We have found that the best way to get to a closer approximation of the truth is to actually analyse the news as opposed to assimilating the "news bites". For example the following four stories are all freely available to the general public and lead us to a slightly different conclusion than the simplistic - Zarqawi = "evil terrorist behind all attacks"...

Comment (2005): Ah, where would the US press be without Zarqawi? They'd have to invent him... wait a second!

While our travel budget doesn't let go any further than the Pyrénées, with the exception of Ignacious, fortunately there are others who can. Next is a report on the Zarqawi phenomenon entitled appropriately enough:

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The Zarqawi Phenomenon
Tom Dispatch and Dahr Jamail

Just in the last few days, according to USA Today, a "propaganda video purportedly made by al-Qaeda-linked terror suspect Abu Musab al-Zarqawi" has been released showing suicide attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq supposedly inspired by or ordered by him. Since George Bush first mentioned him in October 2002 in a speech in Cincinnati as proof of an al-Qaeda presence in Iraq, and so of Saddam Hussein's essential al-Qaeda-ness, Zarqawi has moved ever more front and center as Iraq's main terrorist threat. He now has an enormous bounty on his head and is cited regularly by the President as well as other administration officials as our enemy of enemies in that land, proof positive that Iraq is "the central theater in the war on terror." In the U.S., he has come to personify the war in Iraq, his presence both a kind of instant why-we-fight explanation for our being there and a living justification for everything we are doing there.

Zarqawi has indeed been a strange phenomenon of the ongoing war. Sometimes he seems to be everywhere at once in that country, blamed for (or, through jihadist websites, taking credit for) everything from the latest IED attacks on U.S. troops to mortar barrages against U.S. bases, suicide car-bomb assaults on Shiite civilian targets, kidnappings, beheadings, even a string of bombings stretching from Morocco to Turkey in 2003, not to speak of the resistance of whole Iraqi cities to the American occupation, If it happens and it's horrific, he seems to be the one responsible. His name has more or less replaced Saddam's and Osama Bin Laden's as the enemy of choice for the United States. He is a literal whirling dervish of an enemy. His lieutenants or aides fall constantly into American hands; he is reportedly at every hotspot all over Iraq -- or not in Iraq at all. His organization seems to take credit for just about every attack, every suicide bomb, every explosion in the country. The search for Zarqawi has become an –- if not the -– organizing theme of the American war in Iraq. At one point recently, the blogger Billmon posted the following set of typical Zarqawi headlines:

June 16, 2005: U.S. Says It Has Captured Al Qaeda Leader for Mosul Area

June 5, 2005: Militant linked to Zarqawi arrested

May 25, 2005: Top aide to al-Zarqawi arrested north of Baghdad

May 25, 2005: US: al-Zarqawi aides arrested

May 9, 2005: Gains seen after new arrest of al-Zarqawi aide

April 19, 2005: Iraqi Security Forces Capture Two Zarqawi Associates

March 9, 2005: A Zarqawi cell "prince", six others captured in Baquba

And he suggested the following template for the basic we-almost-got-Zarqawi story in our press, a kind of Iraqi variant on America's Most Wanted:

[Iraqi/US/US and Iraqi] forces have [nabbed/captured/ arrested] [a/one/two] [senior/middle/] [figure(s)/operations chief(s)/terrorist operative(s)] of [Jordanian/al-Qaeda-linked/Iraq's most wanted] terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi.

And yet, as far as anyone can tell, Zarqawi's actual organization or network is, at best, modest in nature and no one writing about it or him even really knows whether the man is alive or dead, in or out of Iraq. A look at basic press accounts of Zarqawi finds them filled to the brim with words like "purportedly," "allegedly," "claims," and "the CIA believes with a high degree of confidence." And the unnamed sources who tell us what is supposedly known about Zarqawi are invariably anonymous "American officials" or "intelligence officials," the same people who once assured us that he had a leg amputated in one of Saddam's Baghdad hospitals. (He is now believed to be two-legged.)

How to put together this conveniently satanic figure -- capable of personalizing all the horrors of Iraq in a single monstrous body and bringing them home to the American public in a way that the Bush administration has found convenient -- with what little is known about a possibly not-too-bright small-town thug is a curious challenge. Independent journalist Dahr Jamail, who wrote for Tomdispatch (among other places) from Baghdad and then came home for a break, is now back in the Middle East and, from Amman, Jordan, he went on his own search for the truth behind the Zarqawi phenomenon. Tom

The Zarqawi Phenomenon

By Dahr Jamail

A remarkable proportion of the violence taking place in Iraq is regularly credited to the Jordanian Ahmad al-Khalayleh, better known as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and his organization Al Qaeda in Iraq. Sometimes it seems no car bomb goes off, no ambush occurs that isn't claimed in his name or attributed to him by the Bush administration. Bush and his top officials have, in fact, made good use of him, lifting his reputed feats of terrorism to epic, even mythic, proportions (much aided by various mainstream media outlets). Given that the invasion and occupation of Iraq has now been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be based upon administration lies and manipulations, I had begun to wonder if the vaunted Zarqawi even existed.

In Amman, where I was recently based, random interviews with Jordanians only generated more questions and no answers about Zarqawi. As it happens, though, the Jordanian capital is just a short cab ride from Zarqa, the city Zarqawi is said to be from. So I decided to slake my curiosity about him by traveling there and nosing around his old neighborhood.

"Zarqawi, I don't even know if he exists," said a scruffy taxi driver in Amman and his was a typical comment. "He's like Bin Laden, we don't even know if he exists; but if he does, I support that he fights the U.S. occupation of Iraq."

Chatting with a man sipping tea in a small tea stall in downtown Amman, I asked what he thought of Zarqawi. He was convinced that Zarqawi was perfectly real, but the idea that he was responsible for such a wide range of attacks in Iraq had to be "nonsense."

"The Americans are using him for their propaganda," he insisted. "Think about it -- with all of their power and intelligence capabilities -- they cannot find one man?"

Like so many others in neighboring Jordan, he, too, offered verbal support for the armed resistance in Iraq, adding, "Besides, it is any person's right to defend himself if his country is invaded. The American occupation of Iraq has destabilized the entire region."

The Bush administration has regularly claimed that Zarqawi was in -- and then had just barely escaped from -- whatever city or area they were next intent on attacking or cordoning off or launching a campaign against. Last year, he and his organization were reputed to be headquartered in Fallujah, prior to the American assault that flattened the city. At one point, American officials even alleged that he was commanding the defense of Fallujah from elsewhere by telephone. Yet he also allegedly slipped out of Fallujah either just before or just after the beginning of the assault, depending on which media outlet or military press release you read.

He has since turned up, according to American intelligence reports and the U.S. press, in Ramadi, Baghdad, Samarra, and Mosul among other places, along with side trips to Jordan, Iran, Pakistan and/or Syria. His closest "lieutenants" have been captured by the busload, according to American military reports, and yet he always seems to have a bottomless supply of them. In May, a news report on the BBC even called Zarqawi "the leader of the insurgency in Iraq," though more sober analysts of the chaotic Iraqi situation say his group, Jama'at al-Tawhid wal Jihad, while probably modest in size and reach is linked to a global network of jihadists. However, finding any figures as to the exact size of the group remains an elusive task.

Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell offered photos before the U.N. in February, 2003 of Zarqawi's "headquarters" in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, also claiming that Zarqawi had links to Al-Qaeda. The collection of small huts was bombed to the ground by U.S. forces in March of that year, prompting one news source to claim that Zarqawi had been killed. Yet seemingly contradicting Powell's claims for Zarqawi's importance was a statement made in October, 2004 by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who conceded that Zarqawi's ties to Al Qaeda may have been far more ambiguous, that he may have been more of a rival than a lieutenant to Osama bin Laden. "Someone could legitimately say he's not Al Qaeda," added Rumsfeld.

The Eternal Netherworld of Zarqawi

For anyone trying to assess the Zarqawi phenomenon from neighboring Jordan, complicating matters further are the contradictory statements Jordanians regularly offer up about almost any aspect of Zarqawi's life, history, present activities, or even his very existence.

"I've met him here in Jordan," claimed Abdulla Hamiz, a 29 year-old merchant in Amman, "Two years ago." However, Hajam Yousef, shining shoes under a date palm in central Amman, insists, "He doesn't exist except in the minds of American policy-makers."

In fact, what little is actually known about Zarqawi sounds like the biography of a troubled but normal man from the industrial section of Zarqa. Thirty-eight years old now, according to the BBC, Zarqawi reportedly grew up a rebellious child who ran with the wrong crowd. He liked to play soccer in the streets as a young boy and dropped out of school when he was 17. According to some reports, his friends claimed that in his teens he started drinking heavily, getting tattoos, and picking fights he could not win. According to Jordanian intelligence reports provided to the Associated Press in Amman, Zarqawi was jailed in the 1980's for sexual assault, though no additional details are available. By the time he was 20 he evidently began looking for direction, and ended up making his way to Afghanistan in the last years of the jihadist war against the Soviets in that country. While some media outlets like the New York Times claim that he did not actually fight in Afghanistan, there are people in Jordan who believe he did.

He is reported to have returned to Jordan in 1992 where he was arrested after Jordanian authorities found weapons in his home. Upon his release in 1999, he left once again for Pakistan. When his Pakistani visa expired, expecting to be arrested as a suspect in a terror plot if he returned to Jordan, he entered Afghanistan instead.

After supposedly running a weapons camp there, he was next sighted by Jordanian authorities, crossing back into Jordan from Syria in September of 2002. Sometime between then and May 11, 2004, when he was reported to have beheaded the kidnapped American, Nick Berg, in Baghdad, Zarqawi entered Iraq. Many news outlets have reported that his goal in Iraq is to generate a sectarian civil war between the Sunni and Shia.

In September, 2004, the BBC, among others, reported, "U.S. officials suspect that Zarqawi…is holed up with followers in the rebellious Iraqi city of Fallujah," though their sources, as is true of more or less all sources in every report on Zarqawi, were nebulous. During the second siege of Fallujah, last November, Newsweek reported that "some U.S. officials say that Zarqawi may actually be directing or instigating events in the town by telephone from elsewhere in Iraq." Though they too cited no specific sources and provided no evidence for this, Newsweek then summed Zarqawi's importance up in this way: "His crucial role in the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, however, cannot be underestimated." Meanwhile, the BBC was reporting that his "network is considered the main source of kidnappings, bomb attacks and assassination attempts in Iraq" -- another statement made without much, if any, solid evidence.

In the end, the vast mass of reportage on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi amounts to countless statements based on anonymous sources hardly less shadowy -- to ordinary readers -- than him. He exists, then, in a kind of eternal netherworld of reportage, rumor, and attribution. It could almost be said that never has a figure been more regularly written about based on less hard information. While we have a rough outline of who he is, where he is from, and where he went until he entered Iraq, evidence that might stand up in a court of law is consistently absent. The question that begs to be answered in this glaring void of hard information is: Who benefits from the ongoing tales of the mysterious Zarqawi?

The Search for Zarqawi's Past

My own little journey only seemed to repeat this larger phenomenon on a more modest scale. It was the sort of story where, from beginning to end, no one I met ever seemed willing to offer his or her real name (or certainly let a real name be used in an article). From second one, Zarqawi and an urge for anonymity were tightly -- and perhaps appropriately -- bound together. Abdulla (not his real name, of course), the man who agreed to drive my translator Aisha and me to Al-Zarqa for this excursion was a Jordanian, by the look of things about 30 years old, who chain-smoked nervously throughout the trip. We decided to go with him after running into him while I was conducting my own informal Zarqawi reality poll in Amman.

"I know him personally because we fought together in Afghanistan in the early ‘90's," insisted Abdulla. "If you like, I can show you where he is from."

When he picked us up on the late afternoon of the next day in his beat-up, rusting taxi, he agreed to a modest fee that was to be paid at the end of our excursion. As we puttered up a hillside on our venture to Zarqawi's hometown of Al-Zarqa, he promptly pulled out a small stack of photos. I flipped through them as we drove towards Zarqawi's neighborhood and noted Abdulla standing in front of the huge Faisal Mosque in Islamabad, Pakistan, a giant beard (no longer present) dominating his flowing dishdasha.

Another picture had him in Peshawar, Pakistan, a city near the Afghan border known as a recruiting and staging area for the Taliban. Others seemed to have him in the Philippines standing amid dense forest with a gun slung over his shoulder. In none of them -- why should I have been surprised -- did he have a companion with the now so globally recognizable Zarqawi sneer.

A little while into our journey, out of nowhere Abdulla suddenly said, "Anyone collaborating with the Americans in Iraq should be killed!"

I took this as a sign that he felt like talking, and asked him what he knew of Zarqawi. According to him, he met the mythic terrorist in Peshawar before being sent with him to a training camp on the border of Afghanistan in 1990. "There are several well known training camps in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan," he explained, "And we were in one of those, along with freedom fighters from Syria, Jordan, Palestine, and Lebanon."

Only fighters for "jihad" were allowed into the camps, he continued proudly. Only fighters who were identified by other well known mujahideen were granted permission to enter, in an effort to safeguard those camps against spies. After three months of training with machine guns and rocket launchers, Abdulla claims that he and Zarqawi headed for Afghanistan to fight the Russians who remained there.

When I looked at him quizzically -- since the Russians withdrew from Afghanistan in February of 1989 -- he replied, "Many of them stayed after their government announced they had withdrawn -- so we were pushing the rest of them out."

This was already a questionable tale, but he went right on. They were given the choice, he claimed, of where to go in Afghanistan, and Abdulla proudly stated that most of the mujahideen went to the "hot" areas where they expected to find fighting. Our discussion was then interrupted because we had completed the hop to Zarqa and arrived in the neighborhood, so rumor has it, where Zarqawi's brother-in-law lives. We were dropped off near a small mosque where Zarqawi supposedly used to pray.

Abdulla says it isn't safe for him to linger here -- though he doesn't bother to explain why -- and we agree instead that he will call us on my cell phone in an hour to see if we need more time or not.

So Aisha and I begin to walk around the quiet, middle-class neighborhood asking people if they know where the brother-in-law lives. Small children play in the streets. Behind them young men and parents sit eyeing us suspiciously. The wind whips plastic bags along the roads between the usual stone houses of Jordan. Finally, we find an old man with a white, flowing beard and tired eyes sitting in a worn chair at the front of a small grocery stall. He admits to being the Imam of the mosque, but when asked if he remembers Zarqawi he dodges the question artfully.

"It is probably true that he used to pray in my mosque," he responds tiredly, "but I can't say for sure, as my back is to the people whom I lead in prayers."

After this he looks away, down the road. I assume he's wishing we were gone -- undoubtedly like so many Zarqawi seekers before us. So we thank him and walk on.

Next, we find a woman -- no names given -- who assures us that Zarqawi is from the Beni Hassan tribe, the largest tribe in Jordan, before pointing to a two-story white house with a black satellite dish on top.

"That is Ahmed Zarqawi's home," she says softly, referring to one of his brothers before warning, "But don't go there because they will throw rocks on your head. They are sick of the media."

After being sidetracked by being shown his brothers' home, we keep doggedly asking for his brother-in-law, but everyone insists that they simply don't know where he lives, which seems odd. Just up the hill from his brother's home, we stumble upon a middle-aged man who is willing to be interviewed. He's a rare find in this village that has certainly been inundated with media, not to speak of far more threatening visits from the intelligence and police personnel of various countries.

Like our taxi driver, this man agrees to be interviewed on condition of anonymity. These are, it seems, a reasonably media-savvy group of villagers. He tells us that Zarqawi's brother doesn't know much about the mythic legend of the Jordanian jihadi outlaw, due to the fact that he keeps his distance from all the hoopla. He then laughs and adds, "But all the media went to his brother's house anyway to film it, because they thought it was Zarqawi's home!"

He then points across a shallow valley where lines of homes sit bathed in the setting sun. "He [Zarqawi] is from that village, lives near a cemetery, and his father is mayor of that district, which is called al-Ma'assoum quarter."

He claims to have known Abu Musab since he was seven years old, as they went to Prince Talal Primary School together. "He was a trouble maker ever since he was a kid," he explains, "What the media is saying about him is not true, though. Abu Musab is a normal guy. What the Americans are saying is not true. Most of us who know him here and in his neighborhood don't believe any of this media."

He tells us that Zarqawi left the neighborhood in the early 1990's to go to Afghanistan, but that he doesn't believe he is in Iraq. Along with others in the neighborhood, he is convinced that Zarqawi was killed in the Tora Bora region of Afghanistan during the U.S. bombings that resulted from the attacks of September 11th.

"His wife and their three children still live over there," he adds. "But don't go talk to them. They won't allow it." He believes Zarqawi was killed, "100%," and then says emphatically, "If he is still alive, why not show a recent photo of him? All of these they show in the media are quite old."

Like so many Jordanians, he supports the Iraqi resistance, "All Muslims should fight this occupation because everyday the Americans are slaughtering innocent Iraqis." Zarqawi, he tells us, wasn't a fighter until he went to Afghanistan. "Then his wife covered herself in black and has worn it ever since." According to this man, Zarqawi has two brothers named Ahmed and Sail. He says with a smile, "Most of the media coming here are westerners because I think most of the Arab media know this is all a myth."

He holds up his hands when one of his sons brings us coffee and asks, "When they show hostages in Iraq, why doesn't he put himself in the film? There is simply no proof he is alive offered by the Americans or the media."

We engage in some small talk while drinking our strong Arabic coffee as we sit under grape vines lacing the terrace over our heads. As the sun begins to set, we thank him for the talk and the coffee, and head off as our taxi driver phones.

I am walking quickly through the streets to meet him when Aisha, whom I've worked with often in Baghdad, reassures me: "You can slow down, Dahr, we are not in danger here. This isn't like Baghdad where we'll be killed after dark."

Shortly thereafter we meet our driver. "They didn't tell you where his brother-in-law is because his home has been raided so many times," he states as a matter of fact. "By both Jordanian and US intelligence."

Our driver insists that Zarqawi is alive and well in Iraq. "I'm certain of it, because if he was dead they would show his picture and make the announcement. He has always been so strong. When we were in Afghanistan, any time we got a new machine to learn or French missiles, he was the first to learn them."

He drives us by another mosque Zarqawi is also supposed to have attended. We are in the al-Ma'assoum quarter now and our driver tells us that a sister of Abu Musab is the head of the Islamic Center of the district. He then adds, somewhat randomly, that he himself has been in different prisons for a total of seven years -- one of those statements you can't decide whether you wished you had never heard or are simply relieved you didn't hear hours earlier just as you were beginning.

"In Afghanistan when we beheaded people it was to show the enemy what their fate was to be. It was to frighten them."

I think to myself grimly: Well, it works.

He adds, "The jihad in Iraq is not just Zarqawi. It is up to Allah if we prevail, not dependent on the hand of Zarqawi. If he is killed, the jihad will continue there."

I ask him about civilian casualties. Does he think Zarqawi cares about the killing of innocent people?

"I have had so many discussions with Iraqis to tell them that Zarqawi doesn't instruct his followers in the killing of innocent people. If he did this, I would be the first to turn against him. He only targets the Americans and collaborators."

He's still chain smoking as we drive through the darkness back to Amman. I pay him as we thank him for taking us to Zarqa, and then his beat up taxi rolls off down the busy street.

The Eerie Blankness of Zarqawi

After discussions with our driver and other Jordanians, the only thing I feel I can say for sure is that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a real person. Whether or not he is alive and fighting in Iraq or not, or what acts he is actually responsible for there, is open to debate. On one point, I'm quite certain, however: Reported American claims that Zarqawi has affiliations with the secular government of Syria make no sense. Just as Saddam Hussein opposed the religious fundamentalism of Osama Bin-Laden, the Syrian government would not be likely to team up with a fundamentalist like Zarqawi.

As Bush administration officials have falsely claimed Saddam Hussein had links to Bin-Laden and to Zarqawi, they have also conveniently linked Zarqawi to a Syrian government they would certainly like to take out. Similarly, Bush officials continue to link Zarqawi to the Iraqi resistance -- undoubtedly another bogus claim in that the resistance in Iraq is primarily composed of Iraqi nationalists and Baathist elements who are fighting to expel the occupiers from their country, not to create a global Islamic jihad.

Thus, even if Zarqawi is involved in carrying out attacks inside Iraq and is killed at some future moment, the effect this would have on the Iraqi resistance would surely be negligible. It would be but another American "turning point" where nothing much turned.

Right now, when you try to track down Zarqawi, a man with a $25 million American bounty on his head, or simply try to track him back to the beginnings of his life's journey, whether you look for him in the tunnels of Tora Bora, the ruined city of Fallujah, the Syrian borderlands, or Ramadi, you're likely to run up against a kind of eerie blankness. Whatever the real Zarqawi may or may not be capable of doing today in Iraq or elsewhere, he is dwarfed by the Zarqawi of legend. He may be the Bush administration's Terrorist of Terrorists (now that Osama Bin-Laden has been dropped into the void), the Iraqi insurgency's unwelcome guest, the fantasy figure in some Jihadi dreamscape, or all of the above. Whatever the case, Zarqawi the man has disappeared into an epic tale that may or may not be of his own partial creation. Even dead, he is unlikely to die; even alive, he is unlikely to be able to live up to anybody's Zarqawi myth.

Whoever he actually may be, the "he" of Jihadist websites and American pronouncements is now linked inextricably with the devolving occupation of Iraq and a Bush administration that, even as it has built him up as a satanic bogeyman, is itself beginning to lose its own mythic qualities, to grow smaller.

I'm sure we'll continue to hear of "him" in Iraq, in Jordan, or elsewhere as his myth, perhaps now beyond anyone's control, continues to transform itself as an inextricable part of the brutal, bloody occupation of Iraq where the Bush Administration finds itself fighting not primarily Zarqawi (or his imitators) but the Iraqis they allegedly came to liberate.

Dahr Jamail is an independent journalist from Anchorage, Alaska. He has spent 8 months reporting from occupied Iraq, and recently has been reporting from Jordan and Turkey. He regularly reports for Inter Press Service, as well as contributing to The Nation, The Sunday Herald and Asia Times among others. He maintains a website at:

Copyright 2005 Dahr Jamail

Comment: Isn't curious how Zarqawi has replaced Osama and then Saddam as the Demon of the Month? Fear is the prime directive of the forces of entropy. As long as those juices of fear are coursing through our nervous systems, we are easily manipulated. Learning to identify it while it is happening so that we can step back and watch its power and its effect is an important step in self-observation. Unfortunately, when it is mixed in a cocktail of patriotism and served in a deep-seated belief in the rightness of a cause, you can pretty much forget about getting a handle on the emotions.

Just look at the supporters of Bush. They aren't even capable of seeing him as the sneering, little merdeur he is. When he shed a tear for the lost troops during last week's speech, they think it's real:

Here's this post from the blog The Shape of Days:

The President we don’t get to see

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Near the end of his address to the soldiers of Fort Bragg on Tuesday night, when declaring that our enemies are “no match for the men and women of the United States military,” the President grew visibly emotional and nearly wept.

Now we know why.

“Before his speech, as is his custom, the president met for three hours with more than 90 spouses, children and parents of 32 soldiers killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom,” writes Bill Sammon for The Washington Times. The last person with whom he spent time was Crystal Owen of Fayetteville, N.C., whose husband, SSGT Mike Owen, was killed by a terrorist bomb in Iraq last October. Owen gave the President a bracelet engraved with the name of her husband and another soldier from his unit who lost his life in the same incident. The President wore the bracelet during his address to the assembled troops and the nation.

In keeping with the President’s unbreakable prohibition, no reporters were allowed in the room, and only a White House photographer was allowed to take pictures. The photographs, which the White House has declined to release, will become part of the historical record of the George W. Bush Presidency.

Stories of the President’s character are nothing new to his supporters. But the White House has done so little to publicize them, so little to promote them, that they always come as a little bit of a surprise.

Yeah, really touching. We can feel a tear coming to our collective Sign's eye. Oh, sorry, that was a bit of ash from our collective Sign's cigarette.

What astonishes us is that when this blogger isn't writing about how moved he is by the Shrub, he can be intelligent and interesting, but when it comes to politics, those chemicals are racing through his brain, and it seems to short out his critical capacities. But then , that's what they were designed for: fight or flight.

Now let's see what happens when Bush meets people in the privacy of the White House, families of dead troops whose members are against the war:

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Mom, Who Lost Son In Iraq, Talks About 'Disgusting' White House Private Meeting With Bush
Posted on: 7/5/2005 9:21:00 AM - Columnist
By Greg Szymanski

Cindy Sheehan has already had her heart ripped into a million pieces by the illegal Iraqi war, losing the son she loved more than life itself only five days after he arrived in Baghdad in April 2004.

There is nothing more painful or more heart breaking than a parent losing a child.

And for Sheehan to lose her 24-year-old son, Casey, must have been like someone taking her very own heart and soul and, without warning, ripping them out and throwing them into the depths of hell.

No one should have to experience such pain, but the cold reality of war is that someone’s child actually dies and there are actual parents left living with the hopeless task of trying to cope with the pain.

And anyone with any semblance of a heart and soul knows a mother coping with such a loss needs all the help and understanding she can get.

Anyone with the slightest bit of compassion knows a kind word or a shoulder to cry on helps a mother, who experienced the ultimate loss, get through another day when every day feels like it could be the end of the world.

So when Sheehan received an invitation to meet privately with President Bush at the White House two months after her son died, the least she could have expected was a bit of compassion or a kind word coming from the heart.

But what she encountered was an arrogant man with eyes lacking the slightest bit of compassion, a President totally "detached from humanity" and a man who didn’t even bother to remember her son’s name when they were first introduced.

Instead of a kind gesture or a warm handshake, Sheehan said she immediately got a taste of Bush arrogance when he entered the room and "in a condescending tone and with a disgusting loud Texas accent," said: "Who we’all honorin’ here today?"

"His mouth kept moving, but there was nothing in his eyes or anything else about him that showed me he really cared or had any real compassion at all. This is a human being totally disconnected from humanity and reality. His eyes were empty, hollow shells and he was acting like I should be proud to just be in his presence when it was my son who died for his illegal war! It was one of the most disgusting experiences I ever had and it took me almost a year to even talk about it," said Sheehan in a telephone conversation from Washington D.C. where she was attending a July 4th anti-war rally.

Sheehan said the June 2004 private meeting with the President went from bad to worse to a nightmare when Bush acted like he didn’t even want to know her name. She said Bush kept referring to her as ‘Ma’ or ‘Mom’ while he "put on a phony act," saying things like ‘Mom, I can’t even imagine losing a loved one, a mother or a father or a sister or a brother.’

"The whole meeting was simply bizarre and disgusting, designed to intimidate instead of providing compassion. He didn’t even know our names," said Sheehan. "Finally I got so upset I just looked him in the eye, saying ‘I think you can imagine losing someone. You have two daughters. Imagine losing them?’ After I said that he just looked at me, looked at me with no feeling or caring in his eyes at all."

Sheehan said what really upset her about the meeting is that Bush appeared to become annoyed and even angry at her daughter Carley, 25, who also attended the White House get-together.

"My daughter said to him directly ‘I wish I could bring my loved one back’ and he said something like ‘so do we.’ Later she told me that after he made his remark he gave her one of the filthiest looks she had ever had gotten in her life.

"I just couldn’t believe this was happening. It was so surreal and bizarre. Later I met with some of the other 15 or 16 families who were at the White House the same day and, sure enough, they all felt the same way I did.

"It’s interesting that they put us each in separate rooms. I heard this was done to prevent any type of group outburst and since it’s easier to control a situation when people are separated. Looking back, all I can say is that the meeting with Bush was one of the most disgusting experiences in my life.

"And I even asked him: ‘Why did you even bother to bring us here when I didn’t vote for you and don’t support the illegal nature of your war?’ He said it wasn’t political but I know it was just another one of his lies, as he probably wanted to be able to say out on the political stump that he wasn’t afraid to meet with families who lost loved one’s in the war."

Although Sheehan was opposed to the illegal nature of the war from the outset, it wasn’t until January that she began to become politically active.

Besides speaking at rallies and becoming known in Washington for her outspoken criticism of Bush, Sheehan formed a group called Gold Star Families For Peace, joining together families who lost loved ones in an effort to expose the illegal nature of the war and to hasten the return of troops still fighting in Iraq.

Her involvement with the anti-war movement also led her recently to join forces with the After Downing Street movement, a civic, political and activist group seeking to open a Presidential impeachment inquiry based on the release of damaging British intelligence documents showing Bush doctored WMD intelligence reports to justify his war policy.

"Americans need to wake up and we need to put public pressure on our leaders to end this illegal war," said Sheehan, adding that if the public remains passive, recent statements by Donald Rumsfeld that the war may last another 12 years will come true. "We can’t let these people continue to murder our children and also continue murdering innocent Iraqi citizens, now totaling more than 100.000.

"This is an immoral war based on a false premise. Iraq was never an imminent threat and the Downing Street Memo proves Bush went to war for oil, greed and all the wrong reasons.

Commenting on Bush’s recent speech at Ft. Bragg intended to rally America behind an unpopular war, she said:

"He never mentioned the WMD threat and repeatedly brought up 9/11 in an attempt to scare and frighten everyone again. People have characterized the speech in many ways, but if I had to pick a few words, I would say hypocritical, manipulative, condescending, meaningless drivel."

After the speech, Sheehan was unexpectedly invited on the CNN Larry King Show June 28, but expressed concern and outright anger over the fact she was only given 82 seconds to be "the token anti-war peace speaker" in an hour show which essentially contained a pro war message from all the other guests.

In a recent rebuttal article placed on the Internet, expressing her displeasure with some of the CNN guests and the short time given for her anti-war message, she wrote:

"My absolute favorite guest of the evening was Sen. John Warner, powerful chair of the Senate Armed (Disservices) Committee. Of course, he fell in lockstep behind his Führer (Bush) and praised the speech…. I sat in the Green Room with Sen. Warner's entourage. I wondered (even out loud) what price they have paid for our administration's misdeeds in Iraq. They all looked like happy, well-fed, well-dressed, well-educated, and well-hydrated Americans.…I sincerely doubt if any of them had a loved one ripped from their lives by a car bomb, IED, or bullet in an ambush.

"I spoke with John Warner after his interview and told him unless he was prepared to sacrifice even a good night's sleep over this senseless and criminal war, then he should work on ending it, not prolonging the carnage. He told me that I was "entitled to my opinion," but he would respectfully have to disagree with me. That was awfully Constitutional of him!

"I finally got to speak for my 82 seconds (all the time Larry King Live could spare for the peace message) about how this war is a catastrophe and how we should bring the troops home and quit forcing the Iraqi people to pay for our government's hubris and quit forcing innocent children to suffer so we can allegedly fight terrorism somewhere besides America. How absolutely racist and immoral is it to take America's battles to another land and make an entire country pay for the crimes of others? To me, this is blatant genocide.

"After my brief advocacy for peace, my position was refuted by another mom whose son was killed in Iraq in 2003, saying she "totally disagrees" with me and "feels sorry" for me.

"Well, you know what? I ache for her blindness and for the millions of ‘sheeple’ who have had the wool pulled over their eyes by this bunch of hypocritical, bad shepherds who are running a disastrous herd over the world. I have distressing news for the ‘Soccer Safety Moms’ and the ‘NASCAR Dads’ who are such ardent supporters of this administration and war:

"Your grandchildren and children who will be entering Kindergarten this fall will be fighting George's endless war if he gets his way and is allowed to continue spreading the cancer of imperialism in the Middle-East….

"Think about it when you tuck your child into bed tonight."

Comment: Quite the change from concerned and tearful leader to vindictive and arrogant SOB. Cindy Sheehan's description fits that of the psychopath, a person who feels no real emotions of his own except that of wanting to feed off of others. He is able to mimic real emotions when needed to prey on his victims, but it is all show. There is no real empathy felt inside. It is, as Hervey Cleckley termed it, the mask of sanity.

Notice how in the report given in the blog above, the families presented Bush with a bracelet from the fallen soldier. Right there, in the opening moments, they made Bush feel important. They were feeding him.

Sheehan was telling him the truth. Bad opening gambit if you want to be bathed in that fake sincerity and concern he oozes behind his smirk.

And well he might smirk, he's pulling off the biggest con job of the third millennium while the sycophants of the press kneel before the Exhalted Leader.

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Bush off the hook in U.S. media
by Linda McQuaig
July 4, 2005

If clear evidence emerged showing George W. Bush had written in his diary that he had lied to the American people to justify his invasion of Iraq, would the U.S. media even consider that a story?

I'm not sure any more. To an astonishing extent, the U.S. media have avoided scrutinizing this U.S. president, even after it became clear he'd launched a war in the name of disarming Iraq of weapons that didn't exist.

The Bush administration and the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee blamed this on “faulty intelligence,” an explanation the media have largely parroted.

The Senate committee promised last summer to probe what role the White House may have played in concocting the faulty intelligence — but only after the presidential election.

Once the president was re-elected last fall, the Senate committee chairman, Republican Pat Roberts, simply cancelled the promised investigation of the White House's role, insisting it would be “a monumental waste of time to replow this ground any further.”

Replow it further? How about plowing it once?

Roberts' decision to let the administration off the hook on Iraq was barely covered in the media.

Recently, some top-secret British government memos, leaked to the British press, have revealed that America's chief ally believed Bush's case for war was fabricated. Still, the U.S. media have barely stirred.

The British memos reveal the Bush administration had decided by April 2002 — a year before the invasion — to use military force against Saddam. This contradicts Bush's insistence that war was only a last resort.

One memo, detailing a secret meeting chaired by British Prime Minister Tony Blair in July 2002, shows the Blair government considered that Bush's case about the dangers of Saddam's weapons “was thin” and that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”

The memo also shows the Blair government realized invading Iraq would be illegal and hoped Saddam could be provoked into doing something to justify war against him. One plan was for U.S. aircraft patrolling southern Iraq (officially to protect ethnic minorities from Saddam) to drop bombs in the hopes that Saddam would fight back.

The memo noted that “spikes of activity” by U.S. aircraft had already begun “to put pressure on the regime.” British figures show that between May and August 2002, ten tonnes of bombs a month were dropped on Iraq. Still, Saddam failed to be lured into war.

In a televised address last week, Bush portrayed U.S. actions in Iraq as defensive, as necessary to protect America from another 9/11.

I saw no mention in the TV coverage of what the British memos reveal: that those with inside knowledge knew Saddam's arsenal posed no danger, that the intelligence was being “fixed” and that the U.S. dropped bombs to try to provoke a war — while insisting it was doing everything it could to avoid one.

Instead, the media kept their focus on what the president said in his speech. Pravda, covering a Soviet leader's speech, would have been similarly respectful.

Comment: Sure, it's old hat to readers of this page that the US media are cowering flatterers before the imperial presidency.

Have you ever wondered how it was Hitler was able to come to power? Well, you're getting a first-hand example of how it was done, although there was probably more of an opposition in Germany in those days than there is in the US today. But Bush, er, Hitler worked to isolate them from each other and pick them off one-by-one. Of course, to compare what happened in Germany seventy years ago to what is occurring in the US today is to incur the wrath of the good patriots with the chemicals in their nervous systems.

As the old PR tag put, "Better living through chemistry".

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The U.S. – a world leader in hypocrisy
by Jerry West
June 29, 2005

This past Sunday, U.S. President George Bush said that the United States is committed to eliminating torture worldwide. He has been making similar statements for a number of years now. Whether this statement is true or not depends on several things.

One is how exactly does the President define torture? Another is what does he mean by the United States? If by the U.S. he means its people, then no doubt there are many who are dedicated to working for a better world, one where torture has been abolished. On the other hand, if he means his administration he is about as credible as Clifford Olsen would be saying that he was committed to ending serial killings, or Joe Stalin claiming that he was opposed to purges.

Last year the Bush administration produced a memo advising that torture was legally defensible. The Abu Ghraib scandal has highlighted the use of torture by U.S. troops, and persistent reports from a number of areas including from within the U.S. military indicate that Abu Ghraib was not an exception.

There is also much speculation that the responsibility for torturing prisoners climbs much higher up the chain of command than the administration would have the world believe. According to Amnesty International, the U.S. Army has used training manuals on torture at its School of the Americas where military personnel from all over the hemisphere are trained, and U.S. companies supply torture equipment to repressive regimes world wide.

More recently, much fuss has been made over the U.S. practice of sending detainees to foreign countries where they can be tortured with impunity. The case of Canadian Maher Arar who was reportedly tortured in Syria is but one example where the U.S. government has taken someone and sent them to a foreign prison. And currently, the Italian courts have issued a warrant for the arrest of 13 CIA officers for the kidnapping of a person in Italy who was transported to Egypt and reportedly tortured .

Contrary to Bush's rhetoric, the U.S. has also been a major stumbling block in the world's attempt to build effective institutions to deal with the problem of torture and war crime. In 2002, it opposed the strengthening of the UN Convention Against Torture, joining such stalwarts of freedom and humanity as Libya, Syria and Saudi Arabia. Currently, it has not only failed to sign on to the International Criminal Court and join other more civilized nations, but threatens to withhold aid from any country that does not agree that U.S. personnel are exempt from prosecution by the court.

Far from being committed to ending torture, the present U.S. administration under Bush has not only failed to act against torture, except when to do so aids the pursuit of some other self-serving purpose, it has actually endorsed torture in some instances, trained people to carry it out, and supplied implements of torture to repressive regimes. All the while, it has fought international actions to control torture and hold torturers responsible, and refuses to cooperate with most of the rest of the world to establish and international system of justice for all.

The Bush regime's hypocrisy on torture is also carried over in its position on terrorism. While mounting a major "war on terror" the U.S. has blocked prosecution of accused terrorists in other countries. In Miami, the U.S. government tolerates, if not supports, a nest of Cuban terrorists including those like Orlando Bosch and Louis Posada Carilles. Both Bosch and Posada are implicated in the 1973 bombing of a civilian airliner over the Caribbean which killed 73 people. Posada has arrest warrants outstanding in Venezuela and a request has been made to the U.S. government to extradite him to face charges. So far the Bush administration prefers to protect this accused terrorist rather than turn him over for prosecution.

Meanwhile the Spanish have in custody two men accused of being involved in the September 11 plot against the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. The key witness in the case is being held somewhere by the CIA and the U.S. is refusing to give Spanish authorities access to interview him for their case. In a similar case earlier in Germany, U.S. refusal to allow access to a witness resulted in the conviction of a terrorist being overturned. One has to wonder if Mr. Bush really is committed to ending terror, why he will not allow witnesses to provide information in the prosecution of terrorists.

The answer is that the so called war on terror is merely a device meant to manipulate the population. In reality, the U.S. war on terror is actually a war between terrorists, and political and economic advantage, not justice, is the driving motivation. As can be plainly seen from U.S. actions in Iraq and around the globe, terror and torture are tools of the trade, despite the official rhetoric and flag waving to amuse the gullible. The U.S. which likes to fancy itself the world's leading democracy may also be leading in hypocrisy.

Comment: Bush. Hypocrite. US. Hypocrite.



How many times have we seen evidence of this over the last, oh, five or six decades? What? Ten decades, you say? Twenty decades?

The world is lost. We're pointing out certain inconsistencies, shall we say, between American actions and words, but they're no different than the other countries on the planet. A planet of corrupt people leading a planet of sleeping automatons couldn't end up anywhere else. It's the nature of the beast; the nature of all of us, otherwise we'd have incarnated elsewhere.

Cigarette break.

What do you do when you have a losing war in Afghanistan and a losing war in Iraq, aside from claiming you're winning both of them? Well, why not change your military policy to prepare your troops to be able to fight "two major wars at the same time"?

Hmmm. Aren't they already fighting two wars? Ah, right. Two MAJOR wars. That bodes well for the next couple of years.

Weren't we talking about bringing kids into this world earlier? Cannon fodder, my boy. Cannon fodder.

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The Yellow Peril is back or will be coming to a theatre of war near you soon!

Pentagon considering major military changes – Report

July 5, 2005 10:00:00 PM GMT

The Pentagon is considering a change in its two-war military strategy

The Pentagon is considering a change in its military strategy that requires U.S. soldiers to be ready to fight two major wars at the same time, The New York Times reported.

The newspaper said that the changes are aimed at freeing more resources for the defense of U.S. territory and the fight against terrorism.

In their Qadrennial Defense Review mandated by Congress, top military officials are concerned that the concentration of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq is limiting the army's ability to deal with other potential armed conflicts, The Times said.

The two-war model provides enough people and weapons to mount a major campaign, like the Persian Gulf war of 1991 or the invasion of Iraq in 2003, while maintaining enough reserves to respond in a similar manner elsewhere,” the daily said.

The Pentagon is now questioning the concept of the two-war strategy, the daily said, adding that a prolonged military commitment, like the one in Iraq, can prevent the military from engaging in a full-scale campaigns elsewhere.

After years of claiming that U.S. forces were sufficient for a two-war strategy, “We’ve come to the realization that we’re not,” an unidentified Defense Department official was quoted as saying. “It’s coming to grips with reality.”

The two-war strategy requires more high-technology weapons, in particular warplanes, The Times said.

But it added that a focus on one war and counterterrorism efforts would require lighter, more agile forces, perhaps fewer soldiers, but more Special Operations units and a range of other requirements, such as intelligence, language and communications specialists.

The Defense Review, due to be presented to Congress by next year, is “an effort to create a construct that will bring a better balance” among domestic Defense, the antiterrorism campaign and conventional military requirements, the officials told the daily.

Military officials are also considering in detail what would happen if the U.S. decided to attack China, North Korea or Iran.

“The war in Iraq requires a very large ground-force presence ... War with China or North Korea or Iran ... would require a much more capable Navy and Air Force,” said Loren Thompson, an analyst at the Lexington Institute, a policy research center in Arlington, Virginia.

“What we need for conventional victory is different from what we need for fighting insurgents, and fighting insurgents has relatively little connection to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons. We can’t afford it all,” he added.

Comment: "Attack China"???? Where's that coming from? The threat of economic competition? The fight over oil? What's Wal-Mart gonna do if the US attacks China? What are the strip malls in America going to do?

Now, let's do a quick reality check:

  • USA: population of 290,000,000.
  • China: population of 1,300,000,000.

China has over 1 billion people more than the US! If they want war with China, it isn't a land war. Can you imagine US troops invading and being welcomed as liberators? Well, the Pentagon is. Notice how they phrase it, with an almost British sense of understatement:

"War with China or North Korea or Iran ... would require a much more capable Navy and Air Force,” said Loren Thompson, an analyst at the Lexington Institute, a policy research center in Arlington, Virginia.

Is that to support the trrops onthe ground? Or will it be nuke 'em and wipe them off the face of the Earth?

Judge it for yourselves.

Let's look at what the Pentagon is saying:

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Pentagon cooks up report on China's military 2005-07-06 14:00:47

BEIJING, July 6 -- A Pentagon report on China's military is being worked on by several U.S. government agencies, the Defense Department said on Tuesday, suggesting an expanded drive to make sure it meshes with the Bush administration's views.

The Defense Department is "trying to make sure that everybody has the opportunity to weigh in on it," said Lawrence Di Rita, the Pentagon's chief spokesman, in an apparent reference to the State Department and the White House National Security Council, among others.

"And once we release it, we know it will undergo a great deal of scrutiny," Di Rita said. "We think we'll be up to that."

The U.S. Defense Department has no target date in mind for release of the 2005 annual report, officially required to be delivered to Congress by March 1 under a law passed in 1999.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said June 4 in Singapore the report would be published "soon." Di Rita said he doubted it would be this week.

The report is sensitive because China has objected strongly to being portrayed by the United States as a growing threat to the military balance in Asia.

"The wave of 'China military threat theory' whipped up by the U.S. military is a dangerous practice," People's Daily said in a commentary it carried on June 15. Proponents of this view are "setting up all kinds of obstacles in the way of the development of Sino-U.S. relationships," it said.

U.S. President Bush also is seeking Chinese support on a wide range of diplomatic, economic and strategic issues, including luring North Korea back to the six-party negotiation table.

After the regional security conference in Singapore, Rumsfeld is widely reported to have ordered the draft be reworked.

"The report has undergone an awful lot of scrubbing by policy officials across the government," said Daniel Blumenthal, the Defense Department's senior country director for China region until last November.

One possible explanation for the delay in sending the report to Congress is a controversy over how much China is spending on its military.

A report released May 19 by RAND Corp. -- a research group that studies many issues for the Pentagon -- concluded that the Defense Department may have overestimated China's military spending by more than two-thirds in 2003.

Comment: Then we have this from the "other side", as it were, though in matters such as this, we think it's best to refrain from taking sides ourselves.

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China, Russia push for U.S exit from Central Asia

ASTANA, Kazakhstan - A regional alliance led by China and Russia called today for the United States and its allies in Afghanistan to set a date for withdrawing from several states in Central Asia, reflecting growing unease at the U.S. military presence in the region.

The Shanghai Co-operation Organization, which groups Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, urged a deadline be set for withdrawal of foreign forces from its member states in light of what it said is a decline in active fighting in Afghanistan.

The alliance's move appeared to be an attempt to push the United States out of a region Russia regards as historically part of its sphere of influence and in which China seeks a dominant role because of its extensive energy resources.

The United States rejected the call for a deadline. U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the military presence "is determined by the terms of our bilateral agreements, under which both countries have concluded that there is a benefit to both sides from our activities."

At the U.S. Defence Department, spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said regarding U.S. bases in Uzbekistan: "It's a decision the Uzbek government has to make as to whether or not we would continue to operate from that."

U.S-led military forces have been deployed at air bases in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States to back up the anti-terrorist campaign in neighbouring Afghanistan.

The military said Uzbekistan hosts at least 800 U.S. troops, while 1,200 U.S.-led troops are in Kyrgyzstan.

Tajikistan has allowed the French air force to use Dushanbe airport since 2001 as a base for logistical support to its troops in Afghanistan. Some 200 French air force personnel are based there.

"We support and will support the international coalition, which is carrying out an anti-terror campaign in Afghanistan and we have taken note of the progress made in the effort to stabilize the situation," the Shanhai Co-operation Organization said in a declaration at a summit in the Kazakh capital.

"As the active military phase in the anti-terror operation in Afghanistan is nearing completion, the SCO would like the coalition's members to decide on the deadline for the use of the temporary infrastructure and for their military contingents' presence in those countries," it said.

A Russian foreign policy adviser, Sergei Prikhodko, said the group had not demanded an immediate withdrawal. But he added it is ``important for the SCO members to know when the (U.S.) troops will go home."

Russia did not object when Uzbeks and Kyrgyz agreed to host U.S. troops.

However, Russia's suspicion of the West has increased recently amid speculation the United States is encouraging the overthrow of Central Asia's pro-Russian governments.

Earlier Tuesday, SCO leaders accused unnamed outside forces of trying to destabilize Central Asia.

The summit followed a violently suppressed uprising in eastern Uzbekistan in May and turmoil in Kyrgyzstan in March when demonstrators stormed the administration's offices and sent the president fleeing into exile.

Chinese leader Hu Jintao said at the summit he believes "the fate of Central Asian countries is in their own hands and they are wise and capable enough to sort out their domestic problems on their own."

The leaders promised to step up security co-operation in the region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said "new regional threats are of a transborder nature...There are people who place orders and execute them. Our task is to find them and render them harmless and also to prevent their activity."

Islam Karimov, president of Uzbekistan, said some outside forces are joining radical Islamists "to create instability and undermine the region economically in order to impose their own development model."

Uzbekistan was widely denounced abroad for the harsh suppression of the May uprising in the city Andijan - in which Uzbek authorities said 176 people died but rights activists said as many as 750 may have been killed.

Karimov put restrictions on the U.S air base in Uzbekistan after Washington joined calls by other western countries for an international inquiry into the Andijan massacre.

However, Russia and China expressed support for Uzbek authorities at the time.

Iran, India and Pakistan joined the SCO on Tuesday as observers. If they become fully fledged members, the group will represent one-half the world's population.

Russia, in particular in recent years, has pushed for what it calls a "multipolar" world, seeking to balance U.S. domination of foreign policy issues.

Comment: It is obvious that the US is funding and training the so-called soft revolutions in the former Soviet republics (and Lebanon), the great chessboard as Breszinski has called it. If the Russians and Chinese were doing the same thing in Mexico and the Caribbean, or anywhere in Latin America for that matter, the US would be screaming to the UN and then going in with the kinds of secret armies they had in Nicaragua in the 80s.

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Did one woman's obsession take America to war?

She is a conspiracy theorist whose political conceits have consistently been proved wrong. So why were Bush and his aides so keen to swallow Laurie Mylroie's theories on Saddam and terrorism?

By Peter Bergen
Monday July 5, 2004
The Guardian

Americans supported the war in Iraq not because Saddam Hussein was an evil dictator - they knew that - but because President Bush made the case that Saddam might hand weapons of mass destruction to his terrorist allies to wreak havoc on the United States. In the absence of any evidence for that theory, it's fair to ask: where did the administration's conviction come from? It was at the American Enterprise Institute - a conservative Washington DC thinktank - that the idea took shape that overthrowing Saddam should be a goal. Among those associated with AEI is Richard Perle, a key architect of the president's get-tough-on-Iraq policy, and Paul Wolfowitz, now the number-two official at the Pentagon. But none of the thinkers at AEI was in any real way an expert on Iraq. For that they relied on someone you probably have never heard of: a woman named Laurie Mylroie.

Mylroie has credentials as an expert on the Middle East, national security and, above all, Iraq, having held faculty positions at Harvard and the US Naval War College. During the 1980s she was an apologist for Saddam's regime, but became anti-Saddam around the time of his invasion of Kuwait in 1990. In the run-up to that Gulf war, with New York Times reporter Judith Miller, Mylroie wrote Saddam Hussein and the Crisis in the Gulf, a well-reviewed bestseller.

It was the first bombing of the World Trade Centre in 1993 that launched Mylroie's quixotic quest to prove that Saddam's regime was the chief source of anti-US terrorism. She laid out her case in a 2000 book called Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein's Unfinished War Against America. Perle glowingly blurbed the book as "splendid and wholly convincing". Wolfowitz and his then wife, according to Mylroie, "provided crucial support".

Mylroie believes that Saddam was behind every anti-American terrorist incident of note in the past decade, from the levelling of the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995 to September 11 itself. She is, in short, a cranky conspiracist - but her neoconservative friends believed her theories, bringing her on as a terrorism consultant at the Pentagon.

The extent of Mylroie's influence is shown in the new book Against All Enemies, by the veteran counterterrorism official Richard Clarke, in which he recounts a senior-level meeting on terrorism months before September 11. During that meeting Clarke quotes Wolfowitz as saying: "You give Bin Laden too much credit. He could not do all these things like the 1993 attack on New York, not without a state sponsor. Just because FBI and CIA have failed to find the linkages does not mean they don't exist." Clarke writes: "I could hardly believe it, but Wolfowitz was spouting the Laurie Mylroie theory that Iraq was behind the 1993 truck bomb at the World Trade Centre, a theory that had been investigated for years and found to be totally untrue."

Mylroie's influence can also be seen in the Bush cabinet's reaction to the September 11 attacks. According to Bob Woodward's recent book, Plan of Attack, Wolfowitz told the cabinet immediately after the attacks that there was a 10 to 50% chance that Saddam was implicated. Around the same time, Bush told his aides: "I believe that Iraq was involved, but I'm not going to strike them now."

The most comprehensive criminal investigation in history - pursuing 500,000 leads and interviewing 175,000 people - has turned up no evidence of Iraqi involvement.

How is it that key members of the Bush administration believed otherwise? Mylroie, in Study of Revenge, claims to have discovered what everyone missed: that the plot's mastermind, a man generally known by one of his many aliases, "Ramzi Yousef", was actually an Iraqi intelligence agent. Some time after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Mylroie argues, Yousef was given access to the passport of a Pakistani named Abdul Basit whose family lived in Kuwait, and assumed his identity. She reached this deduction following an examination of Basit's passport records that indicated Yousef and Basit were four inches different in height. But US investigators say that "Yousef" and Basit are the same person, and that he is a Pakistani with ties to al-Qaida, not to Iraq. Yousef's uncle, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was al-Qaida's military commander until his capture in Pakistan in 2003.

The reality is that by the mid-90s, the FBI, the CIA and the State Department had found no evidence implicating the Iraqi government in the first Trade Centre attack. Vincent Cannistraro, who headed the CIA's counterterrorist centre in the early 90s, told me, "My view is that Laurie has an obsession with trying to link Saddam to global terrorism. Years of strenuous effort to prove the case have been unavailing." Ken Pollack, a former CIA analyst and author of The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq, dismissed Mylroie's theories: "[The National Security Council] had the intelligence community look very hard at the allegations that the Iraqis were behind the 1993 Trade Centre attack ... The intelligence community said there were no such links."

Neil Herman, the FBI official who headed the Trade Centre investigation, explained that one of the lower-level conspirators, Abdul Rahman Yasin, did flee New York to live with a family member in Baghdad: "The one glaring connection that can't be overlooked is Yasin. We looked at that rather extensively. There were no ties to the Iraqi government."

In July last year, Mylroie published a new book, Bush v the Beltway: How the CIA and the State Department Tried to Stop the War on Terror. The book charges that the US government suppressed information about Iraq's role in anti-American terrorism, including the investigation of 9/11. It claims that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the now captured mastermind of 9/11, is an Iraqi intelligence agent who, like his nephew Ramzi Yousef, adopted the identity of a Pakistani living in Kuwait.

The US government doesn't seem to have explored this theory. Why not? Mylroie explained to the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks: "A senior administration official told me in specific that the question of the identities of the terrorist masterminds could not be pursued because of bureaucratic obstructionism." We are expected to believe that the Bush administration could not find anyone to investigate supposed Iraqi links to 9/11, at the same time as 150,000 American soldiers were sent to fight a war in Iraq.

Mylroie had only this comment when I asked about her research: "This issue [of Iraq's involvement in anti-US terrorism] has become enormously politicised. When I first wrote about it in 1995, major magazines and newspapers and the Israeli ambassador commented positively on my research." The only other chance I have had to talk with Mylroie came last February, when we both appeared on Canadian television to discuss the impending war. "Listen," she declared, "we're going to war because President Bush believes Saddam was involved in 9/11. Al-Qaida is a front for Iraqi intelligence."

Towards the end of the interview, Mylroie became agitated, jabbing her finger at the camera: "There is a very acute chance as we go to war that Saddam will use biological agents against Americans, that there will be anthrax in the US and smallpox in the US. Are you in Canada prepared for Americans who have smallpox and do not know it crossing the border?"

Such hyperbole is emblematic of Mylroie's method. She has said that Terry Nichols, one of the Oklahoma City plotters, was in league with Ramzi Yousef, the supposed Iraqi agent. The federal judge who presided over the Oklahoma case ruled this theory inadmissible. Mylroie implicates Iraq in the 1996 bombing of a US military facility in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 servicemen. In 2001, a grand jury indicted members of Saudi Hezbollah, a group with ties to Iran. Mylroie suggests that the attacks on US embassies in Africa in 1998 were "the work of Bin Laden and Iraq". An investigation uncovered no connection. Mylroie has written that the crash of TWA flight 800 in 1996 was probably an Iraqi plot; a two-year investigation found it was an accident. Saddam is guilty of many crimes, but there is no evidence linking him to any act of anti-US terrorism for a decade, while there is a mountain of evidence against al-Qaida.

Mylroie has also recently taken on the role of defender of Ahmed Chalabi, the head of the Iraqi National Congress, who is accused of providing fraudulent information about Iraq's WMD programme and passing intelligence to Iran. In May, in the conservative newspaper the New York Sun, Mylroie described Chalabi as the victim of a "longstanding grudge" by the CIA.

Mylroie's theories have bolstered the argument that led us into a costly war in Iraq, and swayed key opinion-makers in the Bush administration, who in turn persuaded Americans that the Iraqi dictator had a role in the 9/11 attacks. In November Mylroie told Newsweek: "I take satisfaction that we went to war with Iraq and got rid of Saddam Hussein. The rest is details." Now she tells us.

Comment: Geez, and people think we're conspiracy minded!!!

As influential and demented as Mylroie's theories might be, we don't think that there is any single person who is responsible for the linking of Saddam and every nasty thing ever done to the US, though we're certain that most of those leading the chorus have close ties with the Zionist entity carved out of Palestine after WWII. The AEI is one of the most important neocon breeding grounds. Many of the leading lights of the Bush administration policy-makers have passed through it's intestines before landing in cushy jobs in the Bush Reich.

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Insurgents attack 2 diplomats in Iraq
Last Updated Tue, 05 Jul 2005 11:35:36 EDT
CBC News

The top envoys of Bahrain and Pakistan were attacked in Baghdad on Tuesday, taking the number of assaults on diplomats in Iraq to three in one week.

In the latest incident, gunmen in two cars fired on Pakistan's envoy to Iraq as his convoy left the Mansour district.

Mohammed Younis Khan, who was named to the posting last year, was not injured.

Earlier in the day, attackers tried to abduct Hassan Malallah al-Ansari, Bahrain's senior envoy to Iraq.

He was shot while on his way to work, treated for a shoulder wound and discharged from hospital, said an official with Baghdad's Yarmouk Hospital.

A spokesperson for Bahrain's Foreign Ministry called it an attempt to kidnap the envoy.

The attacks occurred three days after the abduction of Egypt's envoy to Iraq, Ihad al-Sherif. He had been buying a newspaper in Baghdad on Saturday when he was seized by gunmen.

Witnesses say the 51-year-old was beaten and shoved into the trunk of a car.

There's no word on his fate.

An Iraqi government official blamed insurgents for al-Sherif's kidnapping, saying they are trying to create a climate of fear and discourage Arab leaders from working with the U.S.-backed Iraqi government.

His kidnapping is an "attempt to ... scare the other diplomatic missions so that they won't expand their presence in Iraq," said Iraqi government spokesman Laith Kuba.

Also Tuesday, gunmen attacked a minibus carrying workers to the Baghdad airport. Four women and three men were killed in the ambush.

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Russia says embassy cars were shot at in Iraq
05 Jul 2005 15:01:09 GMT
Source: Reuters

MOSCOW, July 5 (Reuters) - Two cars belonging to the Russian embassy were shot at in Iraq on Sunday though no diplomats were injured, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

"Two armoured cars from the embassy were shot at on the way to the airport in Baghdad on Sunday," Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko told Reuters.

He said Russian experts said the shooting was not directed specifically against their convoy.

"This incident shows once again that the situation with security in Iraq remains very difficult," he said. [...]

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Terror trial ends in Spain
Panel to deliberate September 11 case against 24 people
Wednesday, July 6, 2005 Posted: 0041 GMT (0841 HKT)

MADRID, Spain (AP) -- The alleged leader of an al Qaeda cell in Spain, accused of using the country as a staging ground to plot the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, on Tuesday called prosecutors' claims "an invention."

The trial of 24 people -- Europe's biggest court case against radical groups with alleged ties to Osama bin Laden's network -- ended Tuesday and the three-panel judge prepared to begin deliberations.

Seven of the accused, including the alleged leader Imad Yarkas, said they were innocent and condemned terrorism on the last day of the trial. Yarkas, a Syrian-born Spaniard, called the Spanish cell "an invention." [...]

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Chirac's insults on Britain heightens rivalries at G8 2005-07-06 00:48:12

LONDON, July 5 (Xinhuanet) -- The British-French "tensions heightened" after French President Jacques Chirac delivered a series of insults to Britain, as London and Paris are facing fresh disagreement at the G8 summit, the Daily Telegraph newspaper said on Tuesday.

The newspaper comments came after Chirac joked "the only thing they (the British) have done for European agriculture is mad cow" when he chatted with German and Russian leaders in a Russian cafe.

Chirac also cracked jokes about bad British food. "You can't trust people who cook as badly as that".

To the laughter of Russian and German leaders, Chirac also told a story of how George Robertson, the former NATO secretary general and a former defense secretary in British Prime Minister Tony Blair's cabinet, had once made him try an "unappetizing" Scottish dish, apparently meaning haggis, news report said.

Blair, who was in Singapore to push London's bid for the Olympic Games against Paris, which is reported to be the favorite biding city for the Games and also trying to secure its bid, was said to be furious when told of the comments, according to the Daily Telegraph.

But British officials said that as the holder of the G8 and EU presidencies, Blair was "determined" to retain the moral high ground.

Chirac's relations with Blair were already at a low ebb after rows over the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy and Britain's EU rebate, and most of all the disagreement over the Iraq war, the paper said.

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Chavez stresses state sovereignty on Independence Day 2005-07-06 11:50:58

CARACAS, July 5 (Xinhua) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez stressed state sovereignty in a speech to mark the oil-rich South American country's Independence Day on Tuesday.

"Here the Venezuelans rule; there is no hegemonic power from any other part of the world that has to do with the sovereign decisions taken in Venezuela," he said in the speech delivered at the Legislative Palace.

He also laid emphasis on a struggle to win independence in a real term, saying his country is still in the process of independence "like 200 years ago."

"The call for independence...was valid 200 years ago and this is more valid nowadays," said Chavez.

"We have recovered our political independence, but we're far from the integral independence level nations need," he told the nation.

"Political independence has to be linked to economic independence which is much more difficult to attain; independence in our way of living; independence in the social, cultural and technological aspects," he said.

Chavez, a fierce critic of the United States, has accused the Bush administration of trying to topple his government. He also said Venezuela will remain a steady supplier of oil as long as there are no US "aggressions."

Venezuela ships nearly 1.2 million barrels of crude oil to US ports daily while many businesses in Venezuela import products made in the United States, including medicine, food and machinery.

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Stalagmite fuels climate debate
By David Whitehouse
Science editor, BBC News website

A stalagmite from an Alpine cave may indicate that global warming is not as unusual as many think.

Deposits laid down in the stalagmite have enabled a European team to probe past climates confirming a Medieval Warm Period between AD 800 and 1300.

The warm spell is also indicated in some studies of tree-rings, ice-cores and coral reef growth records.

Writing in Earth and Planetary Science Letters the researchers suggest that global warming is a natural process.

Other scientists, however, say phenomena such as the Medieval Warm Period become less significant when broad sets of so-called "proxy data" are calibrated and synthesised to give a truly global picture - not just regional ones.

When this is done, they argue, the warming witnessed in the past few decades appears to be very unnatural.

Prolonged, stable record

The latest research was performed by Augusto Mangini and Peter Verdes, of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences, Germany, and Christop Spötl, of the Institute for Geology and Palaeontology, at the University of Innsbruck, Austria.

SPA-12 is a 20cm long stalagmite recovered from Spannagel cave in the Central Alps, a remote part of an extensive high-altitude complex of caves extending for at least 10km.

At an altitude of almost 2,500m the conditions inside the cave have remained relatively constant for possibly the past 5,000 years and certainly the past 2,000 years. Any changes there have been, the researchers believe, due to long-term changes in climate.

Several factors enabled the team to use SPA-12 to reconstruct the Alpine climate over the past two millennia.

For one, the relatively high radioactive uranium content of the mineral-rich liquid dripping from the roof to form the stalagmite makes it possible to date the time at which the various layers were laid down.

In addition, the stable environment in which SPA-12 has grown makes it relatively straightforward to relate its isotopic composition to the temperature at which various parts of the stalagmite formed.

'Little Ice Age'

SPA-12 also shows evidence of the so-called "Little Ice Age", a temperature dip between roughly 1400 and 1850 when there is complimentary evidence from tree-rings and glacier advances that at least Northern Europe chilled a little.

The long-term changes in temperature as revealed by SPA-12 are at odds with the temperature change profile adopted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The IPCC temperature curve only shows small variations during the last 1,800 years with an abrupt temperature increase after 1860 - the so-called "hockey stick" - which is generally ascribed to the increase of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.

But the researchers analysing SPA-12 say that the stalagmite's temperature record is corroborated by ice-core records from Greenland and sediment deposits on the sea floor near Bermuda, both of which show evidence for a Medieval Warm Period.

The implications of SPA-12 will stoke up what is already an acrimonious debate between global warming sceptics and the scientific "consensus".

The latter say the hockey stick profile of recent temperature change is now evident from several studies using different raw data and methodologies.

The former argue the present climate is experiencing a natural rebound and that the IPCC should abandon the hockey stick and return to its 1990 position when the existence of the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period were recognised as more significant climate events.

Comment: Current global changes may not be uniquely due to human factors. There are some strange things going on in the heavens that might also be a factor. However, it is clear that, whatever the causes, the climate is changing. We are in a period of turbulence, and when that turbulence reaches a certain degree, they'll be a change of state that will be stable for longer than any of us or our children will be on this planet.

We think that global warming will lead to a rapid return of the ice age.

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Scientists finally study Captain Picard
By Melissa Lee Phillips
in Seattle, Washington State

Nearly nine years after an ancient skeleton known as Kennewick Man was discovered along the shores of the Columbia River in Washington State, scientists will finally get to study it.

On Wednesday morning a team of researchers will gather at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle for a 10-day "measurement and observation trip".

The scientists want to figure out how chemical, biological and geological processes, as well as human actions, have altered Kennewick Man's skeleton since he died.

Estimated to be more than 9,000 years old, the Kennewick skeleton is one of the oldest, most complete specimens ever found in North America.

A map showing where Kennewick Man was found, BBC
Eight anthropologists sued to study the bones after the US government seized them on behalf of Native American tribal groups, who claim Kennewick Man as an ancestor and want to rebury his skeleton.

Since early 2004, when the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the anthropologists' favour, scientists have been negotiating with government agencies on a study protocol, said Paula Barran, a lawyer for the plaintiff scientists.

"We've been chomping at the bit to get this thing done," she said.

Finally getting to it

The scientists leading this week's study met briefly at the Burke Museum in December 2004 to examine the skeleton's condition and to outline an initial study plan, explained Thomas W Stafford Jr, a Colorado-based geochemist who will participate in the investigation.

First, a group led by Smithsonian Institution anthropologist Douglas Owsley will lay out the 300-plus bones "so we can see the whole skeleton in anatomical correctness", Dr Stafford told the BBC News website.

Then, Dr Stafford's group will look for mineral stains and accumulation of sediment and calcium carbonate, which should tell them how the body was positioned in the ground.

"Was he a drowning victim, was he buried on purpose with arms folded in a certain way?" Dr Stafford said.

Scientists with other expertise will try to deduce Kennewick Man's cause of death, medical problems he had while alive and whether bone breakages happened during life or after death.

Throughout the process, Dr Stafford said, Dr Owsley's group "will do, from beginning to end, the definitive measurements and photographs".

Later analyses

Some of Dr Stafford's own work will wait until after Seattle. He will take with him a few remnants of bone that were used for radiocarbon dating several years ago.

"I don't plan on taking any samples from the skeleton itself right now," he said.

Back in his lab, Dr Stafford will analyse the bones' protein composition, to see if there is enough for further radiocarbon dating to establish firmly Kennewick Man's true age.

"I may also be able to find that there's DNA preserved that hadn't been found before," he told BBC News.

A DNA sample would reveal which ancient and modern populations are most closely related to Kennewick Man, Dr Stafford added, but "if there's no DNA, then the fallback will have to be the physical measurements".

C Loring Brace, one of the plaintiffs and an anthropologist at the University of Michigan, US, thinks that the physical measurements will show that Kennewick Man was related to prehistoric inhabitants of Japan who may have migrated to the Americas separately from the people who gave rise to today's Pacific Northwest Indians.

But "just saying it is one thing," Dr Brace added. "I want to get my callipers on it, get the set of measurements, and run them through our database to see what they tell me."

The tribes who claimed Kennewick Man as an ancestor still do not want the remains studied, though.

"Our goal, our position has never changed," said Debra Croswell, a spokeswoman for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, one of the four tribes involved in the final court decision.

"We still want this individual reburied as soon as possible."

Dr Stafford does not agree: "If somebody else wants to look at it next week, next year, they should be able to come in just like we came in. This thing should be open. There should be no final opinion for maybe even years."

Comment: This is pretty clear proof of the existence of time travel, though we weren't aware of the episode of ST:NG where they went back to that era.

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UN says it may take a decade to beat bird flu in Asia
Last Updated Tue, 05 Jul 2005 18:24:56 EDT
CBC News

United Nations officials say bird flu is entrenched in Asia and it will take up to a decade to rid the region of the deadly virus.

The head of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, Joseph Domenech, says more than $100 million US will be spent over the next three years to improve the detection and reporting of outbreaks and in combating the virus.

The virus, which arrived in Asia in late 2003, has killed 39 people in Vietnam, 12 Thais and four Cambodians.

The World Health Organization has warned that mutations of the virus might pose a pandemic threat to humans.

Meanwhile, a 20-year-old man has died and 13 others are in hospital with flu-like symptoms after eating cooked chicken in Cambodia. Blood samples have been taken from the patients and will be tested for bird flu. Initial results should be ready within 24 hours.

It is not clear whether the dead man has been tested.

The dead man was admitted to hospital from an orphanage in the capital's Tuol Kork district.

The 13 others are also from the orphanage.

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Mexican volcano rumbles to life once more
July 06 2005 at 09:27AM

Guadalajara, Mexico - An explosion inside the ever-smouldering summit of western Mexico's Volcano of Fire sent ash and gases nearly five kilometres into the air late on Tuesday, but did not cause any immediate evacuations.

Authorities said the eruption, which occurred shortly before midnight, was not as large as several spectacular explosions the volcano unleashed last month, but was still stronger than a well-known July 1999 blast that sent glowing rock down its slopes and a plume of ash eight kilometres skyward.

There were no reports of damage, but authorities were searching the area around the 3 820m volcano to ensure evacuations were not necessary, said Jorge Sapien, a spokesperson for emergency response teams in Jalisco state, of which Guadalajara is the capital.

The 3 820m volcano straddles the border of Jalisco and Colima states and is located 690km west of Mexico City. It is considered among the country's most-active and potentially most-destructive volcanoes.

Seismologists say the increasing frequency of eruptions and their intensity are signs that the volcano is returning to an explosive stage like one that started in 1903. In that era, the eruptions climaxed with a massive explosion in 1913, which left a 500m deep crater at the volcano's peak and scattered ash on cities 385km away. Records aren't clear if there were any casualties

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Tropical storm moves over Louisiana

Kevin McGill | New Orleans, United States
06 July 2005 12:02

Tropical Storm Cindy began moving ashore on Wednesday, pelting the Louisiana coast with rain and intermittent squalls.

St Bernard Parish sheriff's office spokesperson Captain Mike Sanders said the low-lying coastal parish has seen much worse, but residents are still keeping a watchful eye on the storm -- as well as on Tropical Storm Dennis, which is brewing in the Caribbean but will likely arrive in the Gulf of Mexico by the weekend.

"Our main concern with Cindy is that she'll come along the coastline, like it here, and stay awhile," Sanders said. "We like tourism, we know people enjoy it here, but in Cindy's case, we hope she just keeps on going."


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A Volcano In Austin?
07/06/05 - 7:56 am

Did you know there's a volcano in southeast Austin?

It's true. St. Edward's University is built on the mouth of a volcano that dates back 80 million years. If you're wanting to learn about the history of our landscape, this is a great place to start.

All you need to do is head up to Blunn Creek Preserve in south Austin. There you'll find what's called volcanic tuff, the ash that came off of the volcano that sits underneath St. Ed's.

During that time 80 million years ago, this area was covered by a sea about 200 feet deep, and it wasn't the only volcano.

"There are 200 of these submarine volcanos all along what's called the Balcones Fault Zone," said Chris Karan, a geologist.

So will it ever erupt again? Karan says they never say never when it comes to Mother Nature, but it's been extinct for close to 80 million years.

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Kaali crater: still having an impact

By Steve Roman

TALLINN - It’s kind of an unwritten rule in Estonia - if you want to see something weird, go to the islands. Chalk it up to geographic isolation or the celebrated beer brewing traditions of some islanders, but it’s on these outlying patches of land that the nation keeps all the assorted bits that don’t fit anywhere else - emu farms, mysterious clusters of stones, allegedly haunted manor houses and villages that appear stuck in time.

One of the most famous of these curiosities is the Kaali meteor crater site on Estonia’s largest island, Saaremaa, 18km from its capital Kuressaare.

Now resembling a small, round lake, the main crater was formed sometime between 7,500 and 4,000 years ago when a 20-80 ton iron meteorite slammed into the Earth, carving out a hole 110m across. Pieces also broke off the meteor as it entered the atmosphere, spraying the land like a shotgun blast and creating eight smaller craters nearby.

By itself this cluster of meteorite craters is already interesting enough to attract thousands of curious visitors each summer, but let’s remember that this is an Estonian island phenomenon, so the X-Files factor gets cranked up a few notches. To the site’s resume we can also add pagan worship, ritual animal sacrifice, appearances in the Finnish national epic, the possible origin of Jaanipaev traditions and connections to a former Estonian president.

With a track record like this, it’s no wonder the site’s popularity as a tourist destination shows no sign of waning. On June 17, a brand new, 9 million kroon (575,000 euro) visitor center was inaugurated in Kaali to help provide for the hoards of visitors who flock here during the high season.

Tuuli Partel, Project Leader of the non-profit organization that runs the center, isn’t surprised that she and other employees in Kaali find themselves working 12 to 16-hour shifts.

“Scientists say that this is the most attractive crater in Eurasia. Here you can see the main crater and little craters all together, and see how the meteorite came down,” she said.

Apart from its museum of meteoritics and limestone, the 700 square-meter wood and dolomite facility features a souvenir shop, a food shop, a 60-person conference hall, a 10-room guesthouse and that most vital of Estonian creature comforts: wireless internet access.

Despite all this public attention, the new high-tech facility and nearly a century of intense scientific scrutiny, there are many secrets that Kaali still isn’t giving up, and it’s those unknowns that make this place truly mysterious.

Weird science

Scientists are fairly sure they know how this story began: a meteor initially weighing some 400 - 10,000 tons sped in from the northeast moving 15 - 45 kilometers per second and entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a 45-degree angle. After turning into a fireball and losing most of its mass, the meteor broke apart about 5 - 10 kilometers from the surface, then hit Saaremaa with a force that has been compared to that of a small atomic blast.

What they still can’t tell us is when this all happened. The evidence, at least for now, points in two different directions.

“We usually give two dates - ‘4,000 years’ and ‘older’,” said Reet Tiirmaa, a geologist with Tallinn Technological University who specializes in meteors.

The age of the sediments of the lake in the main crater tell us that the [impact] was almost 4,000 years ago. But now we’ve studied the peat of the [nearby] swamp and in one layer we found very small impact spheres from the explosion. This layer was 7,500 years old, which says that the impact was 7,500 years ago,” she said.

Research continues, but the age contradiction shows no sign of being resolved. Scientists from France, Poland and Hungary have brought in more advanced testing equipment, but they’re having the same problems, according to Tiirmaa.

Nor is this the first headache that Kaali has caused for investigators. In 1927, the site’s pioneer researcher, Ivan Reinwald, found evidence that the craters were meteoric in origin, but it took him an entire decade to find the first fragments of the actual meteor to prove it.

While geologists are working on the question of when the meteor hit, archaeologists are trying to interpret the oddities they’ve dug up at the site. Excavations begun in the 1970s have uncovered many interesting things: remains of a 470 meter wall that surrounded the crater during the early iron age (600 BC to AD 100), evidence of a fortified settlement inhabited from the 5th to 7th century BC, a small hoard of silver jewelry from the 3rd to 5th centuries AD, and piles of domestic animal bones, some dating to as late as the 17th century.

The wall, the silver and the bones have led to speculation that centuries after the catastrophic explosion took place, the crater took on the role of a pagan worship site. The practice of sacrificing animals to ensure a good harvest was known to have continued on Saaremaa well into Christian times, despite condemnation from the church.

The local geographical labels add fuel to this pagan worship argument. Lake Kaali, the small lake formed by the crater, is said to have been originally called “Holy Lake” in Estonian, and the nearby forest is still called Puhamets, which means “Sacred Forest.” It’s, therefore, no stretch of logic to assume that Kaali was a place of spiritual significance, whether or not it was connected with ancient tales of a fireball in the sky.

Stuff of legend

It was precisely this kind of connection to ancient tales that interested Lennart Meri. Long before he became president of Estonia (1992 - 2000), the ethnographer found what he considered to be echoes of the Kaali meteorite event in the Baltic region’s oral folk tradition, in particular, the Finnish national epic, Kalevala.

“Rune 47” contains numerous accounts of the child of the sun falling from the sky that could easily double as poetic accounts of a large meteor impact. “Downward quick the red-ball rushes, / Shoots across the arch of heaven, / Hisses through the startled cloudlets, / Flashes through the troubled welkin, / Through nine starry vaults of ether…,” goes one such passage.

In his book “Hobevalge” (Silver White, 1976), Meri not only puts forth the theory that the Kaali impact appears in the Kalevala but also suggests that the Baltic Jaanipaev (Midsummer) bonfire traditions are a reenactment of the event.

Other, more far-fetched theories have cropped up connecting just about every European national epic to the event. Speculation even goes so far as to suggest that the Golden Fleece of the Argonauts was actually in Lake Kaali, pointing out that 3,000 years ago the land on Saaremaa was 10 meters lower, hence it would have been possible to navigate a ship here from the Black Sea.

It’s unlikely that any of these theories will ever be proven one way or the other. Still, it’s amusing to think that as we sit around our bonfires each June grilling shashlyk and drinking beer that we might actually be worshiping an ancient hunk of space rock.

That particular pleasure will have to wait another year. In the meantime, visitors can drop by the Kaali Visitor Center every day from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.. Admission to the museum costs 25 kroons (1.60 euros). Visiting the crater itself, and speculating on its impact on ancient Baltic culture, is absolutely free.

Comment: Readers of Laura Knight-Jadczyk's The Secret History of the World and How to Get Out Alive will know that there is evidence of a recurring 3,600 year cycle of meteorite bombardment of our planet. Curious that both dates given for this crater fall within the timescale of the two most recent cycles. We'd put the most recent cycle around the time of the volcano on the island of Thera around 1628 BC... which is about 3,600 years ago.

Seen any bright lights in the sky recently?

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Space Debris, Meteor Or What?
From MS Gumelar

Sunday, 26 June 2005 at 17.50 pm was MS Gumelar's lucky day. In Graha Yasa Asri, Indonesia, his daughter called him outside saying something was falling from the sky. He, along with many neighbors, watched a magnificent ball of fire with an immense tail entering the atmosphere. Gumelar went inside, got his camcorder and began recording. He notes that it made absolutely no sound whatsoever, and as far as he could discern, it didn't crash into the earth. He monitored the television for reports, but nothing was said.

He sent the following Windows Media clip to for all to see. Notice the enormous size of the object at the very end of the clip, as the burning object passes behind Gumelar's rooftop in the foreground.

Comment: Just a coincidence. Really. What are the chances...? Really?

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For sale: 1 Canadian 'treasure island'
Last Updated Tue, 05 Jul 2005 12:38:48 EDT
CBC News

Oak Island, rumoured for two centuries as the home of hidden treasure, is being offered for sale to the Nova Scotia provincial government for $7 million.

After being locked in a legal struggle for seven years, the two estranged business partners who own most of the island, located off Nova Scotia's South Shore, are giving up their hunt for the buried treasure.

Dan Blankenship, 82, and David Tobias, 81, have agreed to shut down their business, Oak Island Tours Inc.

Everything from the Holy Grail to Captain Kidd's pirate treasure has been rumoured to be hidden on Oak Island, but 200 years of searching has failed to yield any treasure. Blankenship and Tobias have spent almost 40 years in their search.

A court-appointed liquidator hopes to wind up the business at the end of August. At that time, the island can change hands, provided that the partners and the court approve the sale.

The Oak Island Tourism Society calls this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the province to buy the island and open it up to visitors. The group has the support of the newly elected member of the legislature for the area, Judy Streatch.

"As I've been out on the campaign trail and speaking with people, the interest is there. It's a phenomenal piece of property," she said.

Streatch said she has a call in to Tourism Minister Rodney MacDonald to see if the department would be interested in developing the island.

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