Friday, July 15, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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London Patsies: A Replay Of The Pristine 9/11 Passport
Jon Rappoport | July 13 2005

The cover stories are flying thick and fast as British investigators try to put some kind of cap on the London attacks.

It turns out, if you believe the Brooklyn Bridge is for sale, that actual IDs of bombers were found in separate piles of rubble at the sites of the blasts.

These IDs must have been engraved deeply in three-foot-thick steel.

Remember the 9/11 hijacker passport that floated out of the crashing jetliner on 9/11 and landed intact on a New York street?

Here is a Sky News report out of London. There are too many points to make up front, so I've inserted comments in caps and brackets as you go:


It is "highly likely" one of the Tube bombers died in the attacks on the Underground network, police say.


The suspected bombers travelled down from the West Yorkshire and met at Kings Cross station shortly before the attacks were launched on Thursday morning, police said at a press conference.

Their images were captured by CCTV cameras.

Personal documents have been found at all four bomb scenes and although the four attackers are thought to have died [OH THEY'RE ALL CONVENIENTLY DEAD BUT THE BOMBS THEMSELVES WERE ON TIMERS, WHICH WOULD HAVE GIVEN THE KILLERS TIME TO WALK AWAY FROM THE BOMBS---I SEE---IT WASN'T SUICIDE BOMBINGS, IT WAS JUST FOUR COINCIDENTAL SCREW-UPS BY THE TERRORISTS THAT RESULTED IN THEIR DEATHS] police were careful not to say whether Britain had suffered its first suicide bomb strike.

Anti-terror police said they had traced the bombers and six arrest warrants have been issued for addresses in West Yorkshire.

Police said there was forensic evidence that meant it was "very likely" the bomber responsible for the train explosion at Aldgate died there.


One of the four men had been reported missing by his family on the day of the attacks and his property was found at the bus blast scene. The second man's property was found at the scene of the Aldgate blast and the third man's property at both the Aldgate and Edgware Road blasts.


One man has just been arrested in west Yorkshire in connection with the attacks. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, head of Scotland's Yard anti-terrorist branch, said: "The investigation quite early led us to have concerns about the movement and activities of four men, three of whom came from the West Yorkshire area. "We are trying to establish their movements in the run-up to last week's attack and specifically to establish whether they all died in the explosions. [THEY'RE ALL LIKELY DEAD. NO MAYBE NOT. LOOKS LIKE YES. WE CAN'T TELL. BUT WE HAVE THEIR 'PROPERTY' RIGHT THERE AT THE BLAST SCENES. MAYBE IT WAS PLANTED SO THEY COULD ESCAPE. TYPICAL AL QAEDA. PRETEND TO BE A SUICIDE BOMBER AND THEN ESCAPE. FORGET THE OTHER COVER STORY ABOUT THE AL QAEDA MO BEING SUICIDE AND GOING TO PARADISE. THIS IS DIFFERENT. BUT IT'S THE SAME. IT'S AL QAEDA.] We executed six warrants under the Terrorism Act at premises in the West Yorkshire area."

These included the home addresses of three of the four men. A detailed forensic examination will now follow and this is likely to take time to complete."


He continued: "We know that all four of these arrived in London by train on the morning. We have identified CCTV footage showing the four men at King's Cross Station shortly before 8.30am on that morning, July 7.


"One of them who had set out from West Yorkshire was reported missing by his family to the casualty bureau on July 7. We have been able to establish that he was joined on his journey to London by three other men. We have since found personal documents bearing the names of three of those four men close to the seats of three of the explosions." [IN PRISTINE CONDITION, NO DOUBT, WITH LARGE RED ARROWS POINTING TO THE NAMES, RIGHT THERE AT THE VERY CENTERS OF THE BLAST SCENES. IMMORTAL IDs.] As regards to the man who is missing, some of his property was found on the route 30 bus in Tavistock Square. Property of a second man was found at the scene of the Aldgate bomb and in relation to a third man property with his name was found at the Aldgate and Edgware Road bombs." [BUNDLES OF CLOTHING WITH HIS NAME SEWN ON LABELS? CLOTHING MADE OF ASBESTOS?] We have strong forensic evidence that it is very likely that one of the men from West Yorkshire died at the explosion at Aldgate."

Sky News terror expert Steve Park said the documents may have been deliberately planted to "send police the wrong way".


The news comes as armed police search a house in Leeds after the Army used a controlled explosion to get in.


It was the discovery that the bus bomber was likely to have died in the blasts that triggered the raids. [AREN'T AMERICAN NEWS OUTLETS CLAIMING THE REAL CLUE WAS PROVIDED BY A PHONE CALL ON THE 7TH FROM A FAMILY IN THAT NEIGHBORHOOD? CAN'T THEY KEEP THEIR COVER STORIES STRAIGHT?] Hundreds of people were evacuated from the area around Hyde Park Road, Burley.

No one was in the house at the time but armed officers had been used as a precaution. Five other homes in Leeds had earlier been raided by police hunting the terrorists behind last week's attacks.

Neighbours at one of the addresses said a 22-year-old man who lived there with his family had gone missing. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair said the raids were "directly connected" to Thursday's atrocity.

Hours later, police evacuated Luton railway station and car park to recover a vehicle suspected of being linked with the terrorist attacks. The car was blown up in two controlled explosions.


end Sky News article

This has to be one of the most transparent and amateur efforts at stitching together cover stories I've ever run across. Right up there with 9/11 and the OKC bombing.

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How the Government Staged the London Bombings in Ten Easy Steps
Paul Joseph Watson/Prison Planet | July 13 2005

Ten Step Method To Staging a Terrorist Attack

1) Hire a Crisis Management firm to set up an exercise that parallels the terrorist attack you are going to carry out. Have them run the exercise at the precise locations and at the very same time as the attack. If at any stage of the attack your Arabs get caught, tell the police it was part of an exercise.

2) Hire four Arabs and tell them they're taking part in an important exercise to help defend London from terrorist attacks. Strap them with rucksacks filled with deadly explosives. Tell the Arabs the rucksacks are dummy explosives and wouldn't harm a fly.

3) Tell four Arabs to meet up at London Underground and disperse, each getting on a different train. Make sure Arabs meet in a location where you can get a good mug shot of them all on CCTV which you can later endlessly repeat to drooling masses on television.

4) While four Arabs are in London, plant explosives in their houses in Leeds. Plant some explosives in one of their cars in Luton for the police to later discover. Remember that Qu'ran and flight manual in the hijackers' car? Ha ha, they fell for that one hook, line and sinker. No need to change tactics on this one.

5) Before the bombings take place, make sure you warn any of your buddies who are scheduled to be anywhere near where the bombs go off. If this gets leaked to the press, just deny it.

6) 4th Arab goes out partying in London night before and ends up getting out of bed late. No worries, the 9/11 'hijackers' did the same thing but that didn't cause us a big problem. 4th Arab catches bus to see if other Arabs are waiting for him. 4th Arab starts hearing about explosions in the London Underground. 4th Arab comes to the realization that this he is being set up and freaks out. 4th Arab starts fiddling in his rucksack. 4th Arab sets bomb off and is blown up.

If you hired any additional Arabs and they also got wind of the set up, make sure tere are GPS locators in the rucksacks so you can have police snipers ready to kill them before they can blow the whistle.

7) After the bombs go off, put out a story for over an hour that the explosions are a simple electrical fault. This gives you cover time to make sure the lazy bus Arab is dead and any other hired Arabs who reneged are also dead. Make sure any CCTV footage that doesn't support your official story is either seized or destroyed.

8) A few hours after the bombings, have one of your boys post an 'Al-Qaeda statement' claiming responsibility. Don't worry about the whole 'misreferencing the Qu'ran' thing, these idiots don't have the attention spans to figure it out.

9) After you have made sure that all the Arabs are dead and you are managing the story accordingly, wait for four days until the police piece together the story and find the explosives you planted in Leeds and in the car in Luton. Remember that Qu'ran and flight manual in the hijackers' car? Ha ha, they fell for that one hook, line and sinker. No need to change tactics this time either. The time delay will convince the gullible public that a real investigation is taking place. Create a background of the hired Arabs being militant Muslims. The drooling masses, as was the case with the '9/11 hijackers,' will ignore stories of neighbours saying they were the quiet, educated types who liked children and playing sports.

BBC excerpt: One local resident described him as "a nice lad".

"He liked to play football, he liked to play cricket. I'm shocked."

Another resident said he was just a "normal kid" who played basketball and kicked a ball around.

10) Sit back and enjoy as Blair and his minions grandstand in front of television cameras about staying the course in the war on terror. The pay raise, extra agency funding, and power to strip more freedoms and liberties made the ten easy steps to staging a terrorist attack a worthwhile venture. The dozens of dead people were necessary collateral damage. This is a dirty war, we need to be less moral than the terrorists to defeat them.

And that's how the government staged the bombings in ten easy steps.

Granted, you can interchange different pieces of the puzzle. The bombers could be real terrorists that knew exactly what they were doing. All you would need to do is control the 'mastermind' behind the attack and make sure his boys carried out the job in the way you wanted. Voila.

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Does Anyone Really Believe This Horseshit?
British authorities finger patsies within days of bombings, country drinks it up, and it’s like Déjà vu all over again
by Brian Richards
LONDON, ENGLAND -- (OfficialWire) -- 07/14/05

Give me a break. Four young men, maybe five though one chap remains a secret at present, simply decided to blow themselves up in support of a cause none of them had ever previously mentioned to their families, friends or anyone who knew them. Does that sound right?

In fact, UK intelligence agencies had never heard of these guys. They, the alleged London bombers, had everything to live for and no motive in becoming suicide bombers. Do you believe that?

Comment: It took many, many months after 9/11 for large numbers of people to begin putting the pieces together, to begin seriously questioning the official story. Today it is going on in real time. Researchers are taking the story in different directions, which is to be expected because everyone has their particular angle, and, human nature being what it is, some people will want to make a name for themselves. Add the disinfo artists that one expects in cases like this, and it will likely be very confusing to get at the real story.

For this reason, we need to be able to stand back and observe the London bombings in the larger context of the neocon designs on the world which appears to be instigating the "clash of civilisations" they so fervently promote. Whether "Greater Israel" is the final goal or just a smokescreen for something else, such as the annihilation of the Semites, will demand more work. We have our suspicions that the ultimate goal may be far more extreme than most people imagine, and may well have something to do with ethnic specific weapons.

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A Historical Look At Israeli False Flag Operations
Posted by Ansar at Liberty Forum

With all that we see happening with the London bombings, I think it is wise for us to take a brief look at some historical information. History could be repeating itself. British and American targets have been bombed many times in the past and the evidence seemed to point to specific perpetrators. But as was discovered numerous times, the evidence was faked.

Numerous writers, scientists, investigators and even political figures have pointed out Israel’s involvement with 911. There is a huge pile of evidence that is being ignored, shoveled under the carpet and being labeled as “urban legend” regarding Israel’s involvement in 911. We should know that Jews have a consistent history of fraudulent actions resulting in the loss of lives of millions of human beings to accomplish their purpose.

False flag operations are not new for Jews. As I will show in the list below, false flag operations, the act of committing terrorist actions and having others blamed for it, is a technique that they have employed in numerous situations for hundreds even thousands of years. Not only have they done false flag operations to blame Muslims, they have done these actions to have others blamed like, the Czarist government in Russia, other Jews, Germany, enemy organizations and states, etc. I also find it interesting that they have been caught red handed in numerous false flag operations. Not once but several times they have been caught. As regards today’s terrorists actions, it is interesting to note that Israelis have been caught in false flag operations attempting to have Muslims blamed, but yet there is not one false flag operation where Muslims were caught attempting to blame Jews. We should really think about this and ask the reasonable question of, “I wonder why that is?”

Here is a brief look at some past Jewish actions showing their treachery, deception and fraud in having innocents take the blame for their horrible actions. I have summarized this and provided links... [...]

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New York police to warn public on suicide bombers
By Christine Kearney
Jul 14, 4:42 PM (ET)

NEW YORK - Police in New York will board city buses and subway trains and teach passengers how to recognize suicide bombers, officials said on Thursday in the wake of the deadly blasts blamed on such bombers in London.

New York, hardest hit by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has been spared suicide bomb attacks such as those that plague daily life in Iraq and have frequently shaken Israel.

The bombings of three subways and a bus in London last week, which killed at least 53 people, were Britain's first suicide attacks.

Alerting the public to identify suicide bombers is part of a broader plan to step up warnings on New York's public transportation system of possible terror-related activity, officials said.

The idea of alerting people face-to-face comes after the New York Police Department got a positive public response when a city police officer who was searching a bus the day of the London bombings spoke to commuters about being aware of suspicious activity, said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

"It is kind of unique to be on a bus to be able to do that," Kelly said at a news conference. "In reality, we can't do it on every bus, but I think we are going to use that where we can, where it is reasonable to do it."

New York's 37,000-member police force is already on high alert, working overtime with bomb-sniffing dogs to patrol subways, buses, ferries and prominent buildings, and the warnings about suicide bombers will be added to those efforts, officials said.

"People could be told to look out for bulky clothing in warmer weather, or people repeatedly returning to a package," said Police Department spokesman Paul Browne. [...]

Comment: Remember Operation TIPS? From the August 11, 2002 Signs Page:

Ashcroft's Master Plan to Spy on Us

The July 17 editorial in The Boston Globe was headlined, "Ashcroft vs. Americans." It began: "Operation TIPS - The Terrorism Information and Prevention System - is a scheme that Joseph Stalin would have appreciated. Plans for its pilot phase, to start in August, have Operation TIPS recruiting a million letter carriers, meter readers, cable technicians, and other workers with access to private homes as informants to report to the Justice Department any activities they think suspicious." - The Boston Globe went on to say, "Ashcroft's informant corps is a vile idea not merely because it violates civil liberties . . . or because it will sabotage genuine efforts to prevent terrorism by overloading law enforcement officials with irrelevant reports about Americans who have nothing to do with terrorists. Operation TIPS should be stopped because it is utterly anti-American."

Well, it's back - only this time, it'll be ordinary Americans bombarding law enforcement officials with reports of "suspicious" individuals and activities. Remember, don't carry around large boxes, bags, or backpacks. Don't return to the same spot more than once on a train, a bus, or at a public transport station. And finally, if you become ill during warmer weather, don't wear any extra layers no matter how miserable you feel.

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Bush's Orgy of Carnage
By Mike Whitney

"Truth will come to light; murder cannot be hid long".
~ William Shakespeare ( Thanks to Brian Cloughley )

"ICH" - - "Does anyone doubt that 10,000 bin Ladens have been created by the events of the past two and a half years? If they do, they have their head in the sand." MP George Galloway; British Parliament, 7-7-05

"The destructiveness of the occupation affects the vast majority of Iraqis in a negative way and thus they are fed up with the presence of occupiers on our land. The resistance is not short on recruits to join them. Quite simply there are hundred of thousands of people in Iraq who are ready to sacrifice their lives for their country." Dr. Mohammad al-Obaidi, speaking for the Iraqi National Resistance; Counterpunch, 7-12-05

America has never been involved a war more clearly immoral than Iraq. From the phony pretext of weapons of mass destruction to the sadistic treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, the conflict has been a nauseating chronicle of butchery and deception. Now, the victims of that massive crime are striking back in London and Madrid while the Bush press-corps regurgitates the same stale theories about radicals and Islam.

What baloney. Baghdad has morphed into an assembly-line for extremists churning out enough fanatics for 1,000 London-type bombings. This is Bush's work; and Blair's. The people who were killed in the London subway died for the crimes of their government, not because some young Muslim studied under a fiery cleric in South Leeds. The carnage is as much Bush and Blair's responsibility as if they had carried the bombs on the subway and detonated them themselves.

Those who've watch the developments in Iraq carefully know that the situation has steadily deteriorated. Rumsfeld's storm troopers (The Wolf Brigade) now roam the country freely, killing and maiming as they see fit; spreading terror to every corner of the Sunni heartland. (Just today, another 10 young Sunnis were dumped at the Baghdad morgue with gunshot wounds to the back of their heads) At the same time, the US military is moving from city to city; applying the "Falluja-solution" of wanton destruction to every town they invade. Falluja, Sammarra, Ramadi, Karbala, Heet, Qaim; everywhere the story is the same; the cities are pounded mercilessly while the people are denied water, food, electricity and vital medical supplies. The crusade to crush the resistance is reducing more and more Sunni cities to rubble.

This is Rumsfeld's remedy for resistance. This is Bush's "Liberation". Take a good look.

The people in London are the lucky ones. If they'd been in Iraq (after the explosions) the passers-by would have been cut-down by snipers on top of surrounding buildings. Their ambulances would have fired on as they tried to remove the dead and wounded. Their hospitals would have been bombed and occupied by a foreign army. They would have been deprived of even basic medical supplies to keep them alive. How can anyone compare the bombings in London to the all-encompassing campaign of terror in Iraq?

The victims of the London bombings disserve our sympathy, just as surely as the cut-throats in Washington and 10 Downing Street disserve our contempt. MP George Galloway summarized the feelings of many of us when he said, "Members of Parliament find it easy to feel empathy with people killed in explosions by razor-sharp red-hot steel and splintering flying glass when they are in London, but they can blank out of their mind entirely the fact that a person killed in exactly the same way in Falluja died exactly the same death."

There's a straight line between Falluja and the London subway; just as there is a straight line between the gulags at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and the terror attacks that Americans can expect to face in the near future.

For America, the prospect of London-type bombings is a mathematical certainty.

American newspapers are all breathlessly circulating their theory of "suicide bombers" in headlines across the nation.

Why not? It fits nicely with the racist ideology the underscores Bush's war on terror. Washington knows that their support would disappear in a flash if they failed to conjure up the requisite racial stereotypes that feed the public rage. And, no one is better at demonizing and fear-mongering than the Bush administration.

Look at Bush's comments following the London attack:

"And the contrast couldn't be clearer between the intentions of those who care deeply about human rights, and those who kill, those who've got such evil in their hearts that they will take the lives of innocent folks." What rubbish; Bush fouling the air with his lies when he's already killed more than 100,000 Iraqis.

And, Bush's "war-poodle" Blair reads from the same script:

"It is important, however, that those engaged in terrorism realize that our determination to defend our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire to impose extremism on the world."

"Our way of life"? Is that what we are defending, or the blatant misuse of military force to subjugate an entire nation and steal its resources?

No one is fooled by Bush-Blair's facile rhetoric. Bin Laden doesn't care a whit about "our freedoms"; his message has been consistent throughout; "Get out of our countries, stop training our brutal secret police, stop propping up our corrupt regimes, and stop stealing our resources." When the imperialism stops, so, too, will the terrorism.

We know the root of terrorism now; the secret has been divulged. Robert Pape has done an exhaustive study that provides scientifically-researched answers to all the critical questions surrounding suicide bombers. His findings are more important to antiwar activists than the contents of the Downing Street memo.

Why? Because his research proves beyond a doubt that suicide bombing is the predictable upshot of occupation. As social scientist Scott Atran said, "Most jihadists have no history of religious education prior to becoming 'born again' radical Islamists, and many are well-educated, middle class and married. Most would-be suicide bombers say they act to restore dignity to their communities -- real or virtual -- marginalized by globalization and humiliated by military occupation."

This not only obliterates Bush's specious yammering about "hating our freedoms", but also counters the propaganda from the mainstream media. Every editorial columnist from Tom Friedman (who calls the bombers a "jihadist death-cult") to Christopher Hitchens (who coined the phrase "Islamo-fascism") has added to the media-smokescreen by feeding the idea that terrorism emerges from an irrational hatred of the West or from religious zealotry. Neither is true. These theories have only confused the public and perpetuated a conflict that serves the exclusive interests of elites.

Pape's 7-9-05 column in the New York Times ("Al Qaida'a Smart Bombs" or "The Logic of Suicide Terrorism" dispels the commonly held illusions about terrorism and exposes the underlying reason for the current violence; Occupation. The driving force behind terror attacks, Pape says, is "to compel the United States and its Western allies to withdraw combat forces from the Arabian Peninsula and other Muslim countries". Period.

Pape's findings have armed us with the most priceless of weapons: the Truth. He has uncovered the vile fraud that fuels Bush's orgy of carnage and pointed the way out of the war on terror. With a clear-eyed approach to terrorism we can cut-through the demagoguery and propaganda and block the Bush strategy for perennial war.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at:

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The Wrong Stuff
By Stephen Pizzo
News for Real
Posted July 15, 2005

Need proof that the U.S. is on the down-slope of the empire bell curve? Take a look at our turkey of a space shuttle and the skyrocketing cost of medical care.

Ever wonder why empires don't last forever? After all, by definition an empire holds all the cards. They dominate trade, education, science, literature, quality of life and so on. So, why do they all inevitably whither? Because, nothing fails quite like success.

Here are two examples from the world's current Imperial office holder -- the U.S. of A.

It's a bird. It's a plane. No, it's a turkey.

And there it was yesterday, all dressed and no place to go. America's only manned space vehicle, the space shuttle, steaming off liquid oxygen like a giant upright turd in the Florida sun.

The space shuttle is the actualization of the old joke, "An elephant is a mouse designed by a committee."

The reason I choose the space shuttle as proof the US is on the down-slope of the empire bell curve is because, of all the ways we could have explored space, we chose to invest all our marbles in bolting an 18-wheeler to rockets.

Sending a Mack truck into orbit required some very complicated and expensive engineering contortions. Satellites sent up on the shuttle cost $25 million a ton. Compare that with the cost of sending the same payload up on simpler Russian or Chinese rockets, $3-6 million a ton.

It costs upwards of $10,000 per pound to launch anything, including the crew, into orbit on the shuttle, a cost that is more than triple that charged by the workhorse expendable launch vehicles of NASA's heyday, the Apollo era.

What happened to NASA's own "right stuff"?

"Once we won the Space Race in 1969, NASA morphed from a can-do, risk-taking, think out-of-the-box organization, to Just Another Tax-Fed Federal Bureaucracy, that, instead of playing to "win", was instead playing "not to lose." (Thomas Andrew Olson, Libertarian Institute)

The space shuttle is a mind-bogglingly expensive example of this process. It's too damn big, too damn expensive, too damn dangerous and too damn unreliable. It was designed 40 years ago. If it were a car it would be spending its days being lovingly polished in the garage by some old geezer trying to recapture his youth. Instead, the folks now running NASA decided to put a garage in orbit, call it a space station, and send the shuttle there to polish their own image.

There are a lot of cheaper ways to put people in space. The Russians, who can barely run their own country, do it regularly. Thanks to the Russians' simple and reliable Soyuz capsules we didn't end up with three skeletons floating around the space station after the shuttle crash two years ago.

With any luck a bolt of lightening will reduce the next shuttle to a pile of tile on its way to the launch pad. That would leave just two shuttles. We could put one in the Smithsonian and sell the other to Disney World.

Then turn NASA over to Bert Rutan and Richard Branson. They seem to be the current possessors of the right stuff. Imagine what they could do with just a fraction of NASA's $16 billion annual budget. We'd be orbiting Earth sipping diet cola and munching peanuts in cramped coach seating within five years. (But please remember to return your seat backs to the full upright position for re-entry. Items in overhead compartments may have shifted in weightless conditions.)

Bad Medicine

What good is an empire if it can't provide affordable medical care for its own citizens? Good question, and one that confronts Americans now.

President Bush and Big Medicine would have you believe that the skyrocketing cost of medical care is the fault of lawyers who sue. But a study released yesterday disputes that, noting that malpractice suits have a miniscule impact on medical costs.

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Americans pay more for health care per person than citizens anywhere else in the world, doling out half again as much in medical expenses each year as the second-highest-cost country, according to a new study.

According to Dr. Gerard Anderson, lead author of a report just issued by John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, "We pay for drugs and hospital stays and doctor visits 2 to 2.5 times as much as other countries pay."

And why, you ask? Malpractice suits? Nope. According to the study, lawsuits add less than 1% to health care overhead. Another 8% in increases come from so-called "defensive" medicine -- doing lots of unnecessary tests to avoid being sued.

The remaining 91% of increases are price, not cost increases. Americans are being financially disemboweled by the pharmaceutical/health care industries. The average American paid $5,267 on health care in 2002, compared with an average $1,821 in other industrialized nations. [...]

Stephen Pizzo is the author of numerous books, including "Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans," which was nominated for a Pulitzer.

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National ID Cards
by Bruce Schneier
Founder and CTO
Counterpane Internet Security, Inc.
April 15, 2004

As a security technologist, I regularly encounter people who say the United States should adopt a national ID card. How could such a program not make us more secure, they ask?

The suggestion, when it's made by a thoughtful civic-minded person like Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times, often takes on a tone that is regretful and ambivalent: Yes, indeed, the card would be a minor invasion of our privacy, and undoubtedly it would add to the growing list of interruptions and delays we encounter every day; but we live in dangerous times, we live in a new world....

It all sounds so reasonable, but there's a lot to disagree with in such an attitude.

The potential privacy encroachments of an ID card system are far from minor. And the interruptions and delays caused by incessant ID checks could easily proliferate into a persistent traffic jam in office lobbies and airports and hospital waiting rooms and shopping malls.

But my primary objection isn't the totalitarian potential of national IDs, nor the likelihood that they'll create a whole immense new class of social and economic dislocations. Nor is it the opportunities they will create for colossal boondoggles by government contractors. My objection to the national ID card, at least for the purposes of this essay, is much simpler.

It won't work. It won't make us more secure.

In fact, everything I've learned about security over the last 20 years tells me that once it is put in place, a national ID card program will actually make us less secure.

My argument may not be obvious, but it's not hard to follow, either. It centers around the notion that security must be evaluated not based on how it works, but on how it fails.

It doesn't really matter how well an ID card works when used by the hundreds of millions of honest people that would carry it. What matters is how the system might fail when used by someone intent on subverting that system: how it fails naturally, how it can be made to fail, and how failures might be exploited.

The first problem is the card itself. No matter how unforgeable we make it, it will be forged. And even worse, people will get legitimate cards in fraudulent names.

Two of the 9/11 terrorists had valid Virginia driver's licenses in fake names. And even if we could guarantee that everyone who issued national ID cards couldn't be bribed, initial cardholder identity would be determined by other identity documents... all of which would be easier to forge.

Not that there would ever be such thing as a single ID card. Currently about 20 percent of all identity documents are lost per year. An entirely separate security system would have to be developed for people who lost their card, a system that itself is capable of abuse.

Additionally, any ID system involves people... people who regularly make mistakes. We all have stories of bartenders falling for obviously fake IDs, or sloppy ID checks at airports and government buildings. It's not simply a matter of training; checking IDs is a mind-numbingly boring task, one that is guaranteed to have failures. Biometrics such as thumbprints show some promise here, but bring with them their own set of exploitable failure modes.

But the main problem with any ID system is that it requires the existence of a database. In this case it would have to be an immense database of private and sensitive information on every American -- one widely and instantaneously accessible from airline check-in stations, police cars, schools, and so on.

The security risks are enormous. Such a database would be a kludge of existing databases; databases that are incompatible, full of erroneous data, and unreliable. As computer scientists, we do not know how to keep a database of this magnitude secure, whether from outside hackers or the thousands of insiders authorized to access it.

And when the inevitable worms, viruses, or random failures happen and the database goes down, what then? Is America supposed to shut down until it's restored?

Proponents of national ID cards want us to assume all these problems, and the tens of billions of dollars such a system would cost -- for what? For the promise of being able to identify someone?

What good would it have been to know the names of Timothy McVeigh, the Unabomber, or the DC snipers before they were arrested? Palestinian suicide bombers generally have no history of terrorism. The goal is here is to know someone's intentions, and their identity has very little to do with that.

And there are security benefits in having a variety of different ID documents. A single national ID is an exceedingly valuable document, and accordingly there's greater incentive to forge it. There is more security in alert guards paying attention to subtle social cues than bored minimum-wage guards blindly checking IDs.

That's why, when someone asks me to rate the security of a national ID card on a scale of one to 10, I can't give an answer. It doesn't even belong on a scale.

This essay originally appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

My earlier essay on National ID cards:

My essay on identification and security:

Comment: Upon considering the author's perfectly reasonable arguments, the only logical conclusion that remains is that the powers that be want national ID cards and a giant database not to keep us all safe, but to track and control us.

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Govt admits it's considering ID cards
19:52 AEST Fri Jul 15 2005

AUSTRALIA - Attorney-General Philip Ruddock has been forced to admit that the government is considering introducing national identity cards, three days after flatly ruling out the suggestion.

Prime Minister John Howard put the idea on the agenda, saying circumstances had changed since he opposed the Hawke Labor government plan in 1987.

"We haven't made a decision to have an ID card in this country, but it should be properly on the table," Mr Howard told reporters in Sydney before flying out on a 12-day overseas visit.

The change of heart comes in the wake of both the London bombings and a damning report into how immigration officials mistook two Australians for illegal immigrants - detaining one and deporting the other.

Mr Ruddock says the government has had to reconsider security issues after suicide bombers attacked three trains and a bus in London last week, killing at least 54 people, including Australian man Sam Ly.

"We've made it very clear that at a time like this you put everything on the agenda and you ask yourself the question again, is this something we need to reconsider?" Mr Ruddock told Sydney radio 2SM.

But speaking at a security conference on Tuesday, Mr Ruddock ruled out the idea, saying: "We've made it very clear that we're not about establishing a national identity card."

Labor is sceptical about Mr Ruddock's about-face, speculating that it is aimed at diverting attention from former federal police chief Mick Palmer's scathing report on immigration bungles.

"Labor waits with interest to see what ID card proposal - if any - the government comes up with," opposition homeland security spokesman Arch Bevis said. [...]

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White House urges another vote on Bolton
By Vicki Allen
Wed Jul 13, 6:06 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Despite two failed attempts, the White House on Wednesday said it wanted the Senate to vote again to try to win confirmation of John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

But Republican and Democratic senators said the stalemate continued on Bolton's nomination over demands from Democrats that the White House provide information they said would shed more light on his suitability for the job.

The nomination of the blunt-spoken conservative has been held up by accusations he tried to manipulate intelligence and intimidated intelligence analysts to support his hawkish views in his post as the top U.S. diplomat for arms control.

"We continue to believe that John Bolton should have an up or down vote on the floor of the Senate. That remains our position," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. [...]

Comment: We're not sure why exactly, but something gives us the feeling that the White House will not stop asking the Senate to vote on Bolton until he is approved. So much for democracy...

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Report Shows Karl Rove May Have Lied to Federal Agents, a Federal Crime, During Oct 2003 Testimony Into CIA Agent Leak
by Jason Leopold

Looks like Karl Rove did break the law, the same federal law that got Martha Stewart sentenced to six months in prison.

It now appears that Rove, President Bush’s chief of staff, may have lied to the FBI in October 2003—a federal crime—when he was questioned by federal agents investigating who was responsible for leaking information about a covert CIA operative to the media.

During questioning by the FBI about his role in the Plame affair, Rove told federal agents that he only started sharing information about Plame with reporters and White House officials for the first time after conservative columnist Robert Novak identified her covert CIA status in his column on July 14, 2003, according to a report in the American Prospect about Rove’s testimony in March 2004, a copy of which can be found here.

But Rove wasn’t truthful with the FBI what with the recent disclosure of Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper’s emails, which reveal Rove as the source for Cooper’s own July 2003 story identifying Plame as a CIA operative, and show that Rove spoke to Cooper nearly a week before Novak’s column was published and, according to previously published news reports, spoke to a half-dozen other reporters about Plame as early as June 2003.

“Iit was, KR said, wilson's wife, who apparently works at the agency on wmd [weapons of mass destruction] issues who authorized (Wilson’s) trip," Cooper’s July 11, 2003, email to his editor, obtained by Newsweek, says. “Wilson's wife is Plame, then an undercover agent working as an analyst in the CIA's Directorate of Operations counterproliferation division. (Cooper later included the essence of what Rove told him in an online story.) The e-mail characterizing the conversation continues: "not only the genesis of the trip is flawed an[d] suspect but so is the report. he [Rove] implied strongly there's still plenty to implicate iraqi interest in acquiring u ranium fro[m] Niger .. "

Moreover, evidence suggests that President Bush was aware as early as October 2003 that Rove and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, were the sources who leaked Plame’s undercover CIA status to reporters and after the president was briefed about the issue the president said publicly that the source of the leak will never be found.

Furthermore, a few aides to Condoleeza Rice, then head of the National Security Council, may have played a role as well by being the first officials to learn about Plame’s role as a CIA operative and gave that information to Rove, Libby and other senior administration officials.

The disclosure of Plame’s name and CIA status was an attempt by the White House to discredit Plame’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, an outspoken critic of the Iraq war who had alleged that President Bush misspoke when he said in his January 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq acquired yellow-cake uranium from Niger.

Wilson was recommended by Plame, his wife, to travel to Niger to investigate the yellow-cake claims but he said publicly that he Cheney’s office sent him there. Cheney did in fact contact the CIA at first to arrange the mission but Plame ultimately recommended Wilson. Still, in February 2002, he went to Niger and reported back to the CIA that there was no truth to those claims.

Here’s the fullest account yet of how the events leading up to the disclosure that Wilson’s wife was a CIA operative unfolded, and how it all leads back to Rove. But first let’s get to the real story behind the leak, the catalyst behind this issue.

Comment: The tone in the White House news room was noticeably different this week, with Press Secretary facing a newly aroused press corp. Reporters recovered their memories and were able to refer back to statements made two years ago! We'll see if this memory enhancement works when the war drums begin again for Iran. So far, there has been precious little comparison between the arguments for war against Iran with those same arguments when used against Saddam.

Sceptics as we are, we start to wonder whether all this commotion might not be a diversion. Certainly, Rove is a scoundrel who should be behind bars, but then so are the rest of the occupants of the White House and other high offices in the Bush government. They have lied to us for years with impunity, not be mention being responsible for 9/11, the war in Afghanistan, and the occupation of Iraq, as well as the imposition of the Patriot Act in the US. Will the sacrifice of Rove or Scooter Libby change any of that? Or would it simply reinforce in people's minds that "the system, slow as it might be, works"?

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Editorial: Karl Rove/Real issue is the case for war
Minneapolis Star-Tribune
July 14, 2005 at 7:02 AM

Did White House political adviser Karl Rove deliberately reveal the identity of an undercover CIA operative? Only two people can answer that question, and neither one is talking: Rove himself and special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who is investigating the question.

Sooner or later, we probably will get an answer. Fitzgerald has been so aggressive in this investigation -- to the point of jailing a New York Times reporter who refused to reveal her confidential sources -- that indictments are reasonably likely.

In the meantime, it's important to look beyond the immediate political spectacle in Washington -- White House spokesman Scott McClellan finally confronted by reporters who feel abused and lied to -- to the reason Rove was talking to a reporter about ex-diplomat Joseph Wilson at all.

The real issue, more serious and less glitzy than whether Bush will stand by his political adviser, is the extraordinary efforts the Bush administration made to protect a case for war in Iraq from all contradictory evidence -- in effect, as the British spymaster Sir Richard Dearlove put it, to "fix" the facts and intelligence so they would support a decision already made.

Enter Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame, an undercover CIA operative specializing in weapons of mass destruction. As Wilson tells it, a question arose at the CIA early in 2002, prompted by an inquiry from Vice President Dick Cheney's office, about reports that Iraq had purchased uranium for nuclear weapons from the African country of Niger, where Wilson previously had served. When someone was needed to travel to Niger, Plame apparently told her superiors that her husband had good contacts there. CIA officials talked with Wilson and decided he should be the one to make the trip.

In late February of 2002 Wilson made the trip, talked with numerous people in Niger, including the U.S. ambassador, and concluded there was nothing to reports of an Iraq-Niger connection. He briefed officials at both the CIA and State Department on his conclusions.

In January 2003, however, President Bush asserted an Iraq-Africa uranium connection in his State of the Union message. Subsequently, it turned out that Bush was indeed referring to Niger. The Niger-Iraq connection became one of the pillars in Bush's case for war with Iraq.

After the start of the war, Wilson wrote a lengthy op-ed piece for the New York Times laying out the facts of his trip and saying he had "little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat."

Five days later, Rove told Time reporter Matt Cooper he should "not get too far out on Wilson." His trip to Niger, Rove said, wasn't approved by Cheney or CIA Director George Tenet. Cooper wrote to his boss, "It was, KR said, wilson's wife, who apparently works at the agency on wmd issues who authorized the trip."

Three days later, columnist Robert Novak identified Plame as a CIA operative and said two "senior administration officials" told him Plame suggested sending her husband. About the same time, a confidential source also told a Washington Post reporter that the trip was a "boondoggle" arranged by Plame.

This is a classic Rove technique: undercut a critic by planting the notion that he was off to Africa on a lark arranged by his wife. Rove's history as a rough political player is well-documented. But this wasn't about a political campaign; this was about a serious question of national security and the justification for a difficult war.

It also wasn't true. On July 22, Newsday reported that a "senior intelligence officer confirmed that Plame was a directorate of operations undercover officer who worked 'alongside' the operations officers who asked her husband to travel to Niger. But he said she did not recommend her husband to undertake the Niger assignment." This senior intelligence officer also told Newsday that it was incorrect to suggest " 'she was the one who was cooking this up.' " Besides, he said, " 'We paid his airfare. But to go to Niger is not exactly a benefit. Most people you'd have to pay big bucks to go there.' " The CIA always said Plame did not recommend her husband.

It is instructive to remember that the investigation into who revealed Plame's identity was initiated by Tenet, not by administration critics. Remember also that Wilson was correct; ultimately the White House had to retract Bush's State of the Union statement on the Niger connection.

In addition to discrediting critics of the Niger connection, the Bush administration, through the actions of John Bolton -- now nominee to be U.N. ambassador -- sought to intimidate intelligence analysts who objected to conclusions about Iraq's WMD, and to get a U.N. chemical weapons official fired so he wouldn't be able to send inspectors back to Iraq, where they might disprove more of the case for war.

In the scheme of things, whether Rove revealed Plame's identity, deliberately or not, matters less than actions by Rove, Bolton, Cheney and others to phony up a case for war that has gone badly, has cost thousands of lives plus hundreds of billions of dollars, and has, a majority of Americans now believe, left the United States less safe from terrorism rather than more.

That's the indictment which should matter most.

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Flashback! Karl Rove, Jeff Gannon, and Joe Wilson...

Sex, Lies, and Jeff Gannon
The unmaking of a media whore

by Justin Raimondo

A gay prostitute, a phony media organization that managed to sneak its "reporter" into White House press briefings, and the lies that were fed to the media and the American people in the run-up to war with Iraq ­ what possible connection could these items have to one another?

The answer: a man called "Jeff Gannon."

Amid the media frenzy over Gannon's journalistic bona fides, or lack of them ­ and the lurid speculation going on in the left lane of the blogosphere about how a purported male hooker got admitted to White House press briefings before his "Talon News Agency" (a front group created by "GOPUSA") was even created ­ one has to ask: who cares?

Answer: Patrick J. Fitzgerald, for one, the chief prosecutor in an investigation that could rope in several high-ranking administration officials and even lead to the White House itself. And those of us who have been awaiting the come-uppance of this White House, for two, and are ready to get out the popcorn and the chips-and-dip and settle down for a nice long juicy scandal.

Let's go back to my column for Jan. 12, 2004, in which I pointed to an interview with Iraq war critic Joe Wilson conducted by Gannon. Wilson, a former ambassador to Gabon, was sent to Niger by the CIA to find out whether Saddam had been trying to procure uranium in that African nation as part of his weapons development program ­ you know, the one that turned out not to exist. When Wilson returned, he reported that no such attempt had been made, and he was therefore astonished when the president, in his 2003 State of the Union address, made reference to Saddam Hussein, who supposedly "sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Wilson went public with his mission and its results, which is when the neocon smear machine went after him hammer and tongs. Robert Novak wrote a column in which administration officials were cited as saying that Wilson was a partisan out to get the president and had only gotten the job because his wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA agent.

At that point, Ms. Plame's career as a covert agent ­ apparently assigned to nuclear nonproliferation issues ­ came to an abrupt end. A crime had been committed ­ a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which makes it a felony to "out" a CIA agent on a covert mission ­ and an investigation was launched. When then-Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself and appointed a special counsel to look into the matter, the political implications of the case became clear.

Whoever was guilty of engineering the "outing" of Plame was also part of a more general effort to discredit Wilson ­ and head off any further investigation into how so much phony "intelligence" came to be touted by the president and his White House as "fact." The president's infamous "16 words" alluding to the Niger uranium caper supposedly launched by the Iraqis turned out to be based on an elaborate forgery ­ which was exposed by the scientists at the International Atomic Energy Agency, using Google, within hours of receiving the documents.

How did such a fantastic hoax get perpetrated on the Bush White House ­ and by whom? You can bet the Bushies were really interested in finding out the answers to these questions. That explains the otherwise mysterious Ashcroft recusal and the launching of an extensive investigation that, in its relentless hunt for information, has several journalists facing subpoenas and the threat of jail.

Enter Jeff Gannon, aka Jim Guckert, supposedly a journalist for the "Talon News Agency." Gannon, a familiar face at White House press briefings who had distinguished himself as outspokenly pro-Bush by the nature and tenor of his questions, somehow finagled Wilson into doing an interview, which was subsequently published on the Talon Web site (and then erased), in which he asked:

"An internal government memo prepared by U.S. intelligence personnel details a meeting in early 2002 where your wife, a member of the agency for clandestine service working on Iraqi weapons issues, suggested that you could be sent to investigate the reports. Do you dispute that?"

How did Gannon get his hands on an "internal government memo" that was classified information? That's what I wanted to know last year at around this time, and the authorities were similarly interested, as the Washington Post reported:

"Sources said the CIA believes that people in the administration continue to release classified information to damage the figures at the center of the controversy, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV and his wife, Valerie Plame. …

"Sources said the CIA is angry about the circulation of a still-classified document to conservative news outlets suggesting Plame had a role in arranging her husband's trip to Africa for the CIA. The document, written by a State Department official who works for its Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), describes a meeting at the CIA where the Niger trip by Wilson was discussed, said a senior administration official who has seen it.

"CIA officials have challenged the accuracy of the INR document, the official said, because the agency officer identified as talking about Plame's alleged role in arranging Wilson's trip could not have attended the meeting."

It is true that news of the internal memo cited by Gannon had already appeared in the Wall Street Journal, but when confronted on the Free Republic Web site, where he frequently posted, as to the provenance of the memo and his knowledge of it, Gannon did not deny that he had seen it ­ and never so much as mentioned the Journal article. [...]

This story isn't about sex ­ although Gannon's reported sideline as a gay escort (or was his "journalism" the sideline?) could figure even more prominently as the personal and the political meet and merge in this case. It's about a bitterly fought internal power struggle inside the Bush administration, pitting the neoconservative clique centered in the office of the vice president and the civilian upper echelons of the Pentagon against the remnants of resistance in the intelligence community, in the top ranks of the military, and in the diplomatic corps.

It's about the lies the former told in order to bamboozle Congress and the nation into a disastrous conflict in the Middle East ­ and the crimes they committed in covering up the lies. It's a story about the neocon "alternative" media ­ such as "Talon News" and its many proliferating clones in cyberspace and the world of print and television ­ the purpose of which is to refract and distort images of an unjust and increasingly troubling war into the illusion of "victory." It's about payola pundits and media whores who swallow the party line without question and without even charging a fee.

If Gannon is a plant, then what about the other right-wing screamers and ranters with an identical agenda and tactics who are, in many cases, just as sleazy?

Who planted Gannon in the White House press pool, and gave him all that access ­ and to what purpose?

Clearly part of the scheme was to lob softball questions at a beleaguered White House press secretary facing a barrage of pointed questions about the war and the Bush administration's many scandals.

However, the idea was also to debunk and distract attention away from the questions that were beginning to be raised not only about the Plame matter, but also about the series of outright fabrications that represented a great deal of this administration's case for going to war. That case had been made by influential neocons now facing scrutiny from Congress and the Justice Department, and Gannon served as their personal pitbull, going after Wilson and other debunkers of the neocons' war myth.[...]

If we follow the slime trail left by Gannon and his sponsors all the way to the end, we'll stand face-to-face with the real authors of the Iraq war, and the full record of their crimes in the reckless pursuit of power and imperial glory. Gannon may be a minor player in all this, but then so was the Watergate burglary a minor escapade ­ the unraveling of which eventually led to the resignation of Richard M. Nixon and a general disillusionment with the neoconservative agenda of global interventionism.

What I wrote last winter about the Plame case applies equally to l'affaire Gannon:

"This case is about much more than the outing of a CIA agent: It's about a cabal of ruthless liars who stopped at nothing ­ not even treason ­ to achieve their goals, and kept lying (and committing forgery) even after they were caught. It's about a bogus war fought on account of faked 'evidence.' It's about the hijacking of American foreign policy on behalf of interests that are neither American nor morally defensible."

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Miller could take all of them down ...
By Dan Wingfoot

From putting together all of the pieces about the Plame affair that have appeared here in the past few days, it looks as if the initial information leaked from the State Department, from the file they keep on Joe Wilson. That probably means John Bolton, who had access to State Dept files, is the one who introduced the information abot Plame to the White House staff.

After the Wilson op ed piece in the NYTimes, Bolton, who also had access to CIA files about its operatives, probably told Rove and Libby about Plame and her possible connection to Joe Wilson and his trip, and it was Rove and Libby who called Cooper, Novak, and the other reporters on strict background (double super secret, whatever that means; obviously much deeper cover than cross your heart and hope to die).

In addition, Bush and Cheney were probably told about the Plame-Wilson by Rove and/or Libby, and that explains why they hired personal counsel outside the White House, so that they would be protected by client-attorney privileges, and to have counsel if they were required to testify about Rove or Libby.

But, where does Miller fit in? Is she protecting Bolton? Is it possible that Bolton was really her source for all of that disinformation about WMDs in the runup to the Iraq War, and not Chalabi (as we were led to believe by a supposedly secret email that may have itself been leaked disinformation)?

If the above is true, and if Miller testifies about how she got her information, she gives the evidence necessary for Fitzgerald to indict Bolton, Rove, and Libby, and eventually possibly Cheney and Bush if any of those three go to trial!

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Post: White House fears indictment
Jul. 14, 2005

White House officials told The Washington Post they fear someone in the Bush administration may be indicted regarding the leak of a covert CIA operative's name.

The Post report Thursday did not name its sources, saying "officials acknowledged privately" that an indictment naming a member of the administration could come this year. [...]

Comment: Before people begin to get too cocky about bringing down Karl Rove, take a look at what Robert Parry writes in the following.The Bush family has a long history of getting out of tight spots.

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Bush Family Tradition: Ducking Scandal
By Robert Parry
July 15, 2005

If there is one trait that has followed the Bush family through generations of privilege, it is the ability to escape scandal – a skill that will be put to the test again over the leaking of the identity of an undercover CIA officer, apparently to get back at her husband for criticizing George W. Bush’s case for invading Iraq.

The criminal investigation into who revealed Valerie Plame’s identity – and endangered clandestine operatives working with her – has been building for two years. But it is finally reaching critical mass with the disclosure that Bush’s political guru Karl Rove discussed Plame’s CIA work with Time correspondent Matthew Cooper in July 2003.

Rove appears to have been part of a P.R. campaign to punish Plame’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, for writing an article on July 6, 2003, that the administration had reason to doubt claims about Iraq seeking yellowcake uranium when Bush cited that dramatic allegation in his State of the Union address in January 2003.

A United Nations agency debunked the yellowcake claim in March 2003 – finding that it was based on forged documents – but Rove and other Bush allies still went on the offensive against Wilson in July 2003. Their primary line of attack was to assert that his CIA wife had authorized his trip to Niger in 2002 to check out the allegations.

It was never clear why this trip-authorization argument was relevant. Presumably it was meant to discredit Wilson by suggesting that the guy was untrustworthy or needed his wife’s help to get a job. (Incidentally, Wilson and Plame denied that Plame authorized the trip, which was ordered by her CIA superiors.)

Yet, even today, Republicans and the powerful conservative news media are continuing this denigration of Joe Wilson. Since the disclosures about Rove tipping Time magazine about Mrs. Wilson’s CIA work, Bush’s defenders have resumed the debate about who authorized Wilson’s Niger trip.

False Memo

On July 12, the Republican National Committee distributed “talking points” asserting that Rove’s comments to Cooper were simply to save the reporter from publishing a “false story based on a false premise” – which the RNC defined as “Joe Wilson’s allegation that the vice president sent him to Niger.”

But this assertion in the RNC’s talking-point memo is false, even according to the Republicans’ own citation.

Here is how the Republicans lay out their case in the memo: “Wilson falsely claimed that it was Vice President Cheney who sent him to Niger, but the vice president has said he never met him and didn’t know who sent him.”

However, the talking-point memo then details what Wilson actually said:

“Wilson says he traveled to Niger at CIA request to help provide response to vice president’s office. ‘In February 2002, I was informed by officials at the Central Intelligence Agency that Vice President Cheney’s office had questions about a particular intelligence report. … The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the vice president’s office.’”

So, Wilson is not claiming that Dick Cheney “sent him” to Niger. Indeed, there is no contradiction between Wilson’s explanation about the CIA asking him to check out a report that had interested Cheney and Cheney’s statement that he didn’t know Wilson.

The RNC’s accusation that Wilson lied is another example of the continuing GOP campaign against Wilson. It’s a case of the RNC lying, not Wilson lying.

Neocon Strategy

The “talking point” memo also is a classic example of how the neoconservatives have used rhetorical games since the early 1980s when they rose to power under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

When people have come up with information that can cause the neocons trouble, the neocons have applied an approach called “controversializing” the accuser.

The process works whether that person is a federal prosecutor (as in the case of Iran-Contra independent counsel Lawrence Walsh), a member of Congress (as with Rep. Henry Gonzalez and his probe of George H.W. Bush’s secret aid to Iraq); a journalist (as with New York Times correspondent Raymond Bonner, who wrote about Central American death squads in the early 1980s); or a private citizen (like Wilson was when he questioned Bush’s use of the yellowcake allegations).

In 1991-92, for instance, Walsh – a lifelong Republican – closed in on the obstruction of justice that had surrounded the Iran-Contra scandal for five years. Walsh’s investigation broke through the White House cover-up when his staff discovered hidden notes belonging to former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger.

The notes made clear that there was widespread knowledge of the 1985 illegal arms shipments to Iran and that George Bush Sr. had been lying when he claimed that he was “not in the loop” on the covert Iranian shipments.

Walsh Bashing

The belated discovery led to indictments against senior CIA officials and Weinberger. In retaliation, the conservative Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page fired near-daily barrages at Walsh often over trivial matters, such as his first-class air fare or room-service meals.

Congressional Republicans also denounced Walsh and called for an end to his investigation. Key mainstream columnists and editorial writers for the Washington Post and the New York Times – along with many TV pundits – joined in the Walsh bashings. Walsh was mocked as a modern-day Captain Ahab, the character from Moby Dick.

In his memoir, Firewall, Walsh compared his trying experience to another maritime classic, Ernest Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea. In that story, an aging fisherman hooks a giant marlin and, after a long battle, secures the fish to side of his boat. On the way back to port, the marlin is attacked by sharks that devour its flesh and deny the fisherman his prize.

“As the independent counsel, I sometimes felt like the old man,” Walsh wrote, “more often, I felt like the marlin.”

The congressional and media attacks limited Walsh's ability to pursue other false statements by senior Reagan-Bush officials. Those perjury inquiries could have unraveled a variety of national-security mysteries of the 1980s and helped correct the history of the era. But Walsh could not overcome the pack-like hostility of official Washington.

Rep. Gonzalez, D-Texas, encountered similar ridicule in 1991-92 when he revealed that George H.W. Bush and other senior Republicans had followed an ill-fated covert policy of coddling Saddam Hussein in the 1980s.

Nazi Investments

The Bush family’s success in brushing aside scandals dates back even further to when Prescott Bush, George W. Bush’s grandfather, escaped disgrace despite his role in helping to finance the Nazi war machine in the years before World War II.

By the mid-1930s, Prescott Bush was a managing partner of Brown Brothers Harriman, which handled a variety of sensitive investments in Germany. When Germany and Japan went to war against the United States in 1941, these holdings became political liabilities.

The U.S. government seized the property of the Hamburg-Amerika line under the Trading with the Enemy Act in August 1942. The government also moved against affiliates of the Union Banking Corporation where Nazi financial backer Fritz Thyssen had placed money. UBC was run by Brown Brothers Harriman, and Prescott Bush was a UBC director.

For many public figures, allegations of trading with the enemy would have been a political kiss of death, but the disclosures barely left a lipstick smudge on Prescott Bush, Averell Harriman and others implicated in the Nazi business dealings.

“Politically, the significance of these dealings – the great surprise – is that none of it seemed to matter much over the next decade or so,” wrote Kevin Phillips in American Dynasty. “A few questions would be raised, but Democrat Averell Harriman would not be stopped from becoming federal mutual security administrator in 1951 or winning election as governor of New York in 1954. …

“Nor would Republican Prescott Bush (who was elected senator from Connecticut in 1952) and his presidential descendants be hurt in any of their future elections. It is almost as if these various German embroilments, despite their potential for scandal, were regarded as unfortunate but in essence business as usual.”

But the quick dissipation of the Nazi financial scandal was only a portent of the Bush family’s future. Unlike politicians of lower classes, the Bushes seemed to operate in a bubble impervious to accusations of impropriety. [For details, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq.]

That protective bubble has grown thicker over the decades with the emergence of a strong conservative news media that can be counted on to defend George W. Bush’s interests regardless of the merits of his position.

Parallel Universe

Yet, in the continuing assault on former Ambassador Wilson, Bush’s political allies seem to be testing the limits of how far they can lure Americans into a parallel universe where Bush and his White House team are always beyond reproach.

Rather than finally accept that some senior officials in the White House may have acted improperly two years ago in divulging the identity of Wilson’s wife as a covert CIA officer, the Republican attack machine has stayed on the offensive.

“The angry Left is trying to smear” Rove, declared Republican National Chairman Ken Mehlman, even as White House officials refused to answer questions by citing an “ongoing investigation.” [Washington Post, July 13, 2005]

So Rove – famous for his smear campaigns against George W. Bush’s opponents from Texas Gov. Ann Richards to Arizona Sen. John McCain – is being reinvented as a blameless victim.

Recent history also is being turned on its head. What should be clear by this point is that the Bush administration was determined in 2002 to construct a case for invading Iraq regardless of the evidence and was using weapons of mass destruction as the hot button that was sure to terrify the American people.

According to the infamous Downing Street Memo on July 23, 2002, Richard Dearlove, chief of the British intelligence agency MI6, described his discussions with Bush’s National Security Council officials.

“Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy,” Dearlove said.

The memo added, “It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.”

'White Paper'

Though the British knew how flimsy the case was, Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed to throw in his lot with Bush for the sake of the Anglo-American alliance.

On Sept. 24, 2002, Blair’s government published a “white paper” on Iraq’s WMD stating, “there is intelligence that Iraq has sought the supply of significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” While this statement was technically true, the reality was that the so-called “intelligence” resulted from an apparent forgery.

In his State of the Union address on Jan. 28, 2003, Bush then cited the British “white paper” in what became known as the “sixteen words.” In making his case for war with Iraq, Bush said, “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

Little more than a month later, on March 7, 2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency exposed the Niger documents as “not authentic.” The next day, a State Department spokesman acknowledged that the U.S. government “fell for it.”

Wilson – a former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and Niger – then appeared on CNN, saying that the U.S. government had more information about the Niger fabrication. After that appearance, Wilson wrote in his memoir, The Politics of Truth, that sources told him that a meeting in the vice president’s office led to a decision “to produce a workup” to discredit Wilson.

Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003. Though U.S. forces ousted Saddam Hussein’s government three weeks later, no caches of WMD were discovered, nor was there any evidence of an active nuclear-weapons program.

On July 6, 2003, Wilson wrote an op-ed article for the New York Times entitled “What I Didn’t Find in Africa” and appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to elaborate on his conclusion that Iraq had not tried to buy uranium from Niger. Two days later, Wilson wrote in his memoir, right-wing columnist Robert Novak told one of Wilson’s friends that he (Novak) knew about Plame’s work for the CIA.

On July 11, 2003, Time magazine correspondent Cooper wrote an internal e-mail saying that he “spoke to Rove on double super secret background” and had gotten a “big warning” not to “get too far out on Wilson.” Rove was pushing the theme that Wilson’s trip had not been authorized by Cheney or CIA Director George Tenet, but rather “wilson’s wife, who apparently works at the agency on wmd issues.”

The timing of Cooper’s e-mail was significant because it preceded Novak’s public disclosure of Plame’s name three days later on July 14. That meant Rove, a political operative, had been given a discrete intelligence secret – the identity of a covert CIA officer – prior to its appearance in the public domain.

Novak Column

In the July 14 column, Novak also stressed the supposed relevance of Wilson’s wife allegedly intervening to get Wilson the assignment. “Two senior administration officials told me Wilson’s wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate” the yellowcake report.

After Novak’s column, the Bush administration appears to have intensified its campaign to discredit Wilson. On July 20, 2003, NBC’s correspondent Andrea Mitchell told Wilson that “senior White House sources” had called her to stress “the real story here is not the 16 words … but Wilson and his wife,” according to Wilson’s memoir.

The next day, Wilson said he was told by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that “I just got off the phone with Karl Rove. He says and I quote, ‘Wilson’s wife is fair game.’ I will confirm that if asked.”

In that time frame, Novak told Newsday that he was approached by the his sources with the information about Plame. “I didn’t dig it out, it was given to me,” Novak said. “They thought it was significant, they gave me the name and I used it.” [Newsday, July 22, 2003]

On July 30, 2003, the CIA requested a Justice Department investigation into the disclosure of a covert CIA officer, leading to the appointment of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald as a special prosecutor five months later.

So far the Bush administration has been able to contain the damage from the scandal. Rove personally oversaw Bush’s re-election campaign in 2004, when the Plame case was barely mentioned. After Bush’s victory, Bush promoted Rove to deputy White House chief of staff.

Since the scandal has resurfaced in the past few weeks – as New York Times reporter Judith Miller went to jail rather than divulge her sources and Time magazine agreed to cooperate with Fitzgerald – the White House has refused to comment while letting the RNC and the conservative news media carry the fight.

On July 13, 2005, the Wall Street Journal editorial depicted Rove as not just a victim, but a hero. “Mr. Rove is turning out to be the real ‘whistleblower’ in this whole sorry pseudo-scandal,” the editorial said. “Mr. Rove provided important background so Americans could understand that Mr. Wilson wasn’t a whistleblower but a partisan trying to discredit the Iraq War in an election campaign.”

The pundits on Fox News and on right-wing talk radio have pounded out similar messages to their audiences.

Still, whether George W. Bush can match his father and grandfather in turning aside scandal is yet to be decided.

Comment: Wishful thinking can be the downfall of the proud and arrogant. They overlook a detail, they believe their own lies and underestimate others, they are so removed from reality, and in the case of the White House, even boast about it, that sometimes a small slip can bring down the house of cards.

So maybe, just maybe, this incident could threaten the Bush administration. But rest assured that if that looks like a possibility, the war on terrorism will be brought back to the shores of the United States in order to once again recast GW in the role of commander-in-chief.

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By Peter Fredson
July 12, 2005

If the words someone speaks do not match reality, are they lies? If a person sincerely believes what he is saying but the words are not true, is that still a lie? If a person suffers from megalomania and announces that he is Napoleon or Jesus or a deity, is it a lie from his standpoint? If we strongly disbelieve someone saying they are Napoleon or Jesus or a deity doesn’t that make them a liar?

When we examine a person’s credibility do we categorize lies into big dark ones and little bitty white ones? Should we distinguish between playful evasions and outrageous untruth?? Should we distinguish between lies, falsehoods, fabrications, deceit, fibs, prevarications, misinformation, mendacity, dishonesty, mendacity, untruthfulness, perversion, misconduct, equivocation, dodging the truth, spinning the truth, evading the truth, knavery, and half-truths?

Should we overlook that fact that everybody, at one time or another, has lied consciously in order to escape some consequence of their actions, or to obtain some advantage? Is there anyone who has never said a phrase like, “No, I never saw it’ or “Not me” or “I have no idea of how that happened” when you did something. Even examining the history of Church saints one realizes that prevarication was in general use.

About half of the U.S. general population has lived through a period when President Bill Clinton presented a fascinating display and classification of lying to protect him from the consequences of at least one blow-job. In case you have forgotten, or somehow missed this presentation, it created a National fire-storm of moral indignation, high dudgeon, string-him-up rhetoric, and endless prying into sordid detail of pleasures supposedly forbidden to politicians. Preachers wrung their hands in anguish at such goings-on, supposedly never seen before by civilized men, and thundered that the world was at the point of collapse into some sort of divine destruction.

Senators pressed their avid noses into the metaphorical crotch of a buxom intern, and reveled in details of kneeling pads, cigars, and positions taken. Drooling seemed to occur daily with calls for ever more details. Some of the sex-repressed senators must have come close to sexual climax with juicy details of how stains got on a dress. Clinton responded with a definition of what IS is, and several distinguished senators came close to apoplexy before and after terms of impeachment. Certainly nearly half of Congress decided that lying merited impeachment, if not castration. Their wrath, their fuming and fulminating were high theater for people glued to their television screen. And, it is reported, that several adventurous souls tried variations of the missionary position by reading the Kama Sutra.

We have no idea how many yards of cloth were ruined by moist stains after this debauchery.

When does lying become treason? Is it not when lives are lost on the basis of deliberate misinformation, and wars fought on the basis of some pretended intention or Napoleonic-like dream of world conquest? Is it not when national reputation, morals and morale is damaged by deliberate misinformation?

But here again we face the megalomania part of the scheme. Is it treason if people suffering some form of mania believe their own lies? Is it lying when a leader is told that he is really above the law, and by finding clever definitions evades the law? Is it lying when someone has been brain-washed from their alcoholic stupor by religious devotees into thinking they are selected by some deity to legislate quotations from their sacred book?

Half of Congress, about the same half and people that vociferously demanded the impeachment of Bill Clinton, are remarkably uninterested in any details of any sort of shenanigans the President has perpetuated. Lies, for them, seem to be relative to party discipline, and irrelevant to any sort of legalistic inquiry. All the corruption, missing billions, corporate criminality, sycophant chorus lies of a venal overly-aggressive True Believer cabinet, civil repression, etc., are too frivolous to be noticed. All the failures, the unfulfilled promises, the misuse of public funds, are simply minor details to be quickly forgotten in the pursuit of corporate profit. After all, Bush did get that dangerous felon, Martha Steward, even if Ken Lay is walking about free as a swallow.

Lies, for many people, are worthwhile if the ends to be gained are worthwhile. To pronounce someone EVIL and then declare war is a perfectly good way to make air-bases, start a plan for world conquest, and get scarce resources. Having several thousand soldiers die for lies is no big deal when the stakes are set by Almighty God himself whispering into the ear of a President. It was worth-while for Julius Caesar, so it should be good enough for our Saint George. Golly, he would gladly have sacrificed many times that number of lives, U.S. and Iraqi, for his vision of world domination and apocalypse. At least he says it was worthwhile, and that’s all that counts. Right?

It may all be relative, but we must ask: Does George W. Bush lie? Does he lie habitually or only incidentally? Does he lie from some mania or psychosis? And, finally, do his lies add up to an impeacheable offense?

Comment: The question not asked is: if his lies add up to an impeachable offense, is there the will in Congress, or the votes, to follow through?

And if Bush went, would Cheney follow, or would he ascend to the Oval Office?

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Number Of Iraq Casualties Is Double Official Figures, Says Puerto Rican Government

By Jesœs Davila, El Diario
July, 2005
Translated from Spanish by Carolina Gonzalez.

Official US. government reports on soldiers under US command killed in Iraq are so fragmented that they account for less than half of the total number, according to information uncovered as part of an inquiry by the Government of Puerto Rico regarding the total number of Puerto Rican war casualties.

This analysis was confirmed by El Diario/La Prensa's review of multiple documents, including official reports issued by the US Department of Defense, the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior and more than 230 battlefront reports, which reveal that more than 4,076 troops under US command have been killed in 799 days of battle.

This information contrasts markedly with the limited information on casualties generally issued by US military authorities, which focus only on US uniformed troops. These total 1,649.

Military affairs expert Jose Rodriguez Beruff from the University of Puerto Rico said that the figures showing more than 4,000 dead indicate that, far from winning the war in Iraq, "what is happening is that the troops are being worn down." He said that traditional theorists calculate that for an armed invading force to win a guerrilla war, its casualties should be one to ten of its enemy's. In this case, that would require 40,000 casualties among the insurgents.

In addition, Rodriguez Reduff warned that the reports should be reviewed on an ongoing basis, as he suspects that the number of casualties is even higher.

Calculations are even more difficult when it comes to the wounded, which US authorities number at more than 12,600, and medical discharges -- those maimed or suffering from physical and mental injuries -- about whom only partial reports can be obtained. In this category, large discrepancies in counts have been publicized by news outlets such as the national German Press Agency (DPA), which ran a story reporting on US Army documents putting the number of US soldiers with war-related mental ailments at 100,000. That issue is more controversial. The Argentine press agency Argenpress reported about 17,000 unreported cases of war-related mental illness. But no matter the scenario, the numbers of wounded and medical discharges are larger than those officially announced, as is the case with casualties.

The figures came to light in the course of an ongoing investigation that El Diario/La Prensa is making on the number of Puerto Rican and Hispanic casualties in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That inquiry prompted Congressman Jose Serrano (D-NY) and Anibal Acevedo Vila, then Resident Commissioner of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, to request a full casualty report, which yielded a partial list with 200 Puerto Rican losses, including casualties, wounded and medical discharges.

After his election as Governor, Acevedo Vila renewed his request to the Department of Defense for a total and specific accounting, but as of press time he had yet to receive an answer.

According to documents reviewed by this paper, in addition to the 1,649 fatalities among US uniformed troops, there were 88 from Great Britain, 92 from other coalition member countries, 238 reported by private contractors, and at least 2,000 from members of the Iraqi Army. The biggest defect in published counts is the missing casualties among Iraqi troops under command of the occupying forces.

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Pentagon Casualty Figures Don’t Add Up

By Jim Rense

Today I’m going to do something a little bit like journalism, except I haven’t done any real follow-up. Still, it’s an important issue, and I’d like any Google maestros reading to help.

Go to your local newspaper site, or TV station site, and do a search for “local man woman killed wounded Iraq”. Weed out the duplicates, total the numbers, and then check them against the casualty lists, because there’s something funny going on here.

I started to notice something several months ago. The local papers would interview the mother of someone killed or wounded in Iraq, and more often than not, there’d be a bitter aside: “Of course, for some reason, he’s not included in the official totals.”

Somehow, that struck a chord. And the thought crystallized: They’re lying about the numbers. Think about it ­ it’s absurd to think they wouldn’t, considering everything else they’ve done.

So, I started reading. Here’s what I’ve found. [...]

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US Military Report: The High Death Rates exposed

by Brian Harring

U.S. Military Personnel who died in German hospitals or en route to German hospitals have not previously been counted. They total about 6,210 as of 1 January, 2005. The ongoing, underreporting of the dead in Iraq, is not accurate. The DoD is deliberately reducing the figures. A review of many foreign news sites show that actual deaths are far higher than the newly reduced ones. Iraqi civilian casualties are never reported but International Red Cross, Red Crescent and UN figures indicate that as of 1 January 2005, the numbers are just under 100,000. [...]

The government gets away with these huge lies because they claim, falsely, that only soldiers actually killed on the ground in Iraq are reported. The dying and critically wounded are listed as en route to military hospitals outside of the country and not reported on the daily postings. Anyone who dies just as the transport takes off from the Baghdad airport is not listed and neither are those who die in the US military hospitals. Their families are certainly notified that their son, husband, brother or lover was dead and the bodies, or what is left of them (refrigeration is very bad in Iraq what with constant power outages) are shipped home, to Dover AFB.

You ought to realize that President Bush personally ordered that no pictures be taken of the coffined and flag-draped dead under any circumstances. He claims that this is to comfort the bereaved relatives but is designed to keep the huge number of arriving bodies secret. Any civilian, or military personnel, taking pictures will be jailed at once and prosecuted.

Bush has never attended any kind of a memorial service for his dead soldiers and never will. He is terrified some parent might curse him in front of the press or, worse, attack him. As Bush is a coward and in denial, this is not a surprise. [...]

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Lithuanian paper fined for saying Jews rule the world
Jul. 11, 2005

A Lithuanian court has fined the owner of a popular newspaper 3,000 litas for publishing an anti-Semitic editorial.

Vitas Tomkus, the owner and editor-in-chief of the daily Respublika, was found liable for his scurrilous attacks aimed at homosexuals and Jews. In an editorial published last year, entitled "Who Rules the World?," Tomkus warned readers to be suspicious of America, because it, "is ruled by Jews." He added that "Jews use the issue of the Holocaust to conceal their own crimes."

An editorial cartoon, also published last year, depicts a caricatured Jewish figure holding aloft a globe. He is standing next to a man identified as a homosexual.

Representatives of Lithuania's 4,000 Jews testified in court. One spokesperson accused the paper of "openly promoting anti-Semitic hysteria." The incident had provoked denouncements from around the world, including the United States. In a letter to the Lithuanian ambassador from New Jersey Senator Steve Rothman, signed by 19 other congressman, the Senator warns: "[P]rejudice against Jews and gays will only threaten the stability of trans- Atlantic relations between Lithuania and the United States and potentially slow the progress of the Republic of Lithuania's integration into European institutions."

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Denmark jails 'racist' pizza man

A Danish pizzeria owner has gone to jail for refusing to pay a fine imposed after he barred German and French customers from his restaurant.

Aage Bjerre acted in protest against the French and German governments' opposition to the US-led war in Iraq.

He will now serve an eight-day sentence at a minimum security prison, the Associated Press reports.

"I'm doing it to show my sympathy with the United States," he said. He refused to pay a 5,000-kroner (£461;$800) fine.

In June 2003 a Danish court convicted of him of racial discrimination.

The 46-year-old was forced to sell his pizzeria on the western island of Fanoe after repeated vandalism and a plunge in sales.

In February 2003 he had put up signs at his pizzeria with bars through the images of people coloured in the French and German flags.

He also reprinted his menus without German translations.

The island is a popular spot with tourists from neighbouring Germany, but there are few French visitors to Fanoe, which has a year-round population of 3,300.

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Top Chinese general warns US over attack
By Alexandra Harney in Beijing and Demetri Sevastopulo and Edward Alden in Washington
Financial Times
Published: July 14 2005

"If the Americans draw their missiles and position-guided ammunition on to the target zone on China's territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons," said General Zhu Chenghu.

Gen Zhu was speaking at a function for foreign journalists organised, in part, by the Chinese government. He added that China's definition of its territory included warships and aircraft.

"If the Americans are determined to interfere [then] we will be determined to respond," said Gen Zhu, who is also a professor at China's National Defence University.

"We . . . will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all of the cities east of Xian. Of course the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds . . . of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese."

Gen Zhu is a self-acknowledged "hawk" who has warned that China could strike the US with long-range missiles. But his threat to use nuclear weapons in a conflict over Taiwan is the most specific by a senior Chinese official in nearly a decade. [...]

Gen Zhu said his views did not represent official Chinese policy and he did not anticipate war with the US.

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Flashback: Britain 'Prepared to Use Nuclear Weapons': Defense Chief
People's Daily
March 21, 2002

Britain was prepared to use nuclear weapons against states such as Iraq if they ever used "weapons of mass destruction" against British troops in the field, said Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon on Wednesday.

Hoon told the MPs that he was not certain Britain's nuclear arsenal would deter a first strike from a state willing to sacrifice its own people to make a "gesture".

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Flashback: US plans widespread use of nuclear weapons in war

Bush orders Pentagon to target seven nations for attack
By Patrick Martin
11 March 2002

The Bush administration has told the US military to greatly expand preparations for the use of nuclear weapons in future wars, according to press reports on the weekend which have been confirmed by the Pentagon and White House.

The Pentagon has been directed to develop contingency plans for nuclear attacks on seven different countries. These include China and Russia, the two powers which have long been targeted by the US nuclear arsenal; Iraq, Iran and North Korea, the three countries demonized by Bush as the "axis of evil" in his State of the Union speech; and Libya and Syria.

An initial draft of this report, called the "Nuclear Posture Review," was delivered to Congress on January 8. A copy of the classified material was obtained by William Arkin, military columnist for the Los Angeles Times, and the newspaper reported its contents March 9. The New York Times obtained the same material a day later. [...]

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Egypt confirms alleged London blast bomb-maker arrest
July 15, 2005

CAIRO - The alleged bomb-maker in the July 7 London terror attacks has been arrested in Cairo, where he is being interrogated, Egyptian officials said.

They named the man on Friday as 33-year-old Magdy Nashar and said he had been arrested "several days ago."

The did not give any further details.

British police said Friday they were "aware" of an arrest in Egypt in connection with the investigation into last week's London bombings.

"We are aware of an arrest made in Cairo but are not prepared to discuss if we may or may not wish to interview (the person) in connection with this investigation," a spokeswoman for London's Metropolitan Police told AFP.

"This remains a fast-moving investigation with a number of lines of enquiry, some of which may have an international dimension."

The US network ABC News reported the arrest earlier Friday, saying Nashar is the alleged bomb-maker behind the attacks on three Underground trains and a double-decker bus that killed at least 54 people and injured some 700.

Citing sources including the FBI, ABC said the detained man helped set up the attackers' bomb factory and left Britain two weeks before the blasts.

Previous reports in Britain said police were seeking a man with a similar name who had been studying for a doctorate in chemistry at Leeds University, in the same city where three of the suspected bombers lived.

A British grant-awarding group said Friday it had given the man financial support to pursue research which had an industrial application.

Comment: So, Egypt arrests a "terrorist" who is now being tortured - er, interrogated. The reader may recall that Egypt has been the foremost destination for many years now for prisoners rendered to other nations by the US:

Politicians demand inquiry into CIA operations in Italy

The Independent
15 July 2005 16:34

[...] Extraordinary rendition, the American practice of exporting foreigners suspected of involvement in terrorism to countries where torture is routine, has been practised since the mid-1990s, but became frequent after the 11 September attacks. Egypt is the most common destination, but suspects have also been sent to Syria, Morocco and Jordan. [...]

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UK rejects Sarkozy's mosque surveillance plan
July 13, 2005

BRUSSELS - British Home Secretary Charles Clarke on Wednesday ruled out setting up surveillance at mosques after last week's London bombings, following a proposal to do so by French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy.

"We are considering the position of some of the preachers in certain circumstances and if it is necessary to do so," Clarke said in Brussels after a meeting of EU interior ministers.

"But I think to move to an overall position that says surveillance is the right way is a big step which we need to consider carefully.

"It is important in everything that we do, that we work with the legitimate mainstream Muslim community and do not alienate what they do," he

Police now believe that four young British Muslims of Pakistani origin carried out last Thursday's morning rush-hour bombings, killing at least 52 people and injuring some 700.

In his statement to the ministers, Sarkozy said that places of worship should be watched to help stop radical preachers recruiting militants.

Clarke said he did not criticise the proposal but that he thought Sarkozy might have been proposing something that was more appropriate for France.

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Man badly injured by letter bomb in Spain--radio
Thu Jul 14, 5:59 PM ET

MADRID - A man was seriously injured when a letter bomb exploded as he opened it at his home in the northwestern city of La Coruna, Spanish state radio said on Thursday.

Police were investigating the explosion, which shattered car windows in the street outside, the radio said.

On Tuesday, a metal coffee pot packed with explosives blew up in the doorway of the Italian Culture Institute in Barcelona on Tuesday, slightly wounding a policeman.

Later the same day, four bombs exploded near a power station in Spain's Basque country after a warning from Basque separatist guerrillas ETA. They caused no damage or injuries.

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Schizophrenia more common in west
By Janelle Miles
11 july 05

SCHIZOPHRENIA was much more common in the developed world, possibly because people with the mental illness in poorer countries were more likely to recover, an Australian expert said today.

In the most comprehensive survey of the prevalence of schizophrenia worldwide, John McGrath and colleagues from the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, reviewed data from 188 studies published between 1965 and 2002.

Their findings are expected to rewrite international textbooks on the devastating mental illness characterised by symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, disorganised communication, poor planning and reduced motivation.

Although previous research by Professor McGrath's team found the number of new cases emerging each year were similar in both western and developing nations, the latest survey finds the prevalence is "significantly lower" in poorer countries.

Although the reasons were still largely a mystery, Prof McGrath said people with the disorder in the developing world had a better prognosis.

"If you get schizophrenia in a place like India, for example, you tend to have a type of illness that recovers," Prof McGrath said.

"If you get schizophrenia in a place like New York or London, you tend to have an illness that's less likely to respond to treatment.

"It's extremely paradoxical. You'd think in the developed world like Australia, the UK, Canada and America we'd have better treatments so you'd be more likely to recover but that's not the case." [...]

The survey, published recently in the American-based journal, Public Library of Science Medicine, also confirms schizophrenia is more common in migrants than in native-born people.

Again, the reasons are unclear but migrants with darker skin tend to have an increased risk of schizophrenia, suggesting lack of vitamin D may play a part.

"It could be stress-related to racism, it could be vitamin D, it could be something we don't know about," Prof McGrath said.

While textbooks worldwide commonly report schizophrenia affects one in 100 people no matter where people live, the survey finds this is over-stated.

Prof McGrath said rates varied worldwide and the overall prevalence was more likely to be between seven and eight in 1000 people.

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Gravity doughnut promises time machine
Published online: 13 July 2005; | doi:10.1038/news050711-4
Mark Peplow

Movement into the past gets one step less improbable.

One of the major difficulties of travelling backwards in time has just been solved, according to an Israeli theoretical physicist. And the solution, he says, is doughnut-shaped.

Trips in time have been theoretically possible ever since Einstein worked out that heavy masses can warp both time and space, and that objects travelling close to the speed of light tend to experience the passage of time more slowly.

Moving forwards in time is therefore easy. Certain short-lived cosmic particles, for example, can be seen on Earth. Their journey looks to us as if it has taken thousands of years, but the particle feels as though it has whipped across space in just a few minutes, and arrives on Earth before it has had time to decay. In effect, the particle has travelled into the future, living beyond its years.

But getting back to the past is more problematic. Researchers thought you would need all kinds of strange things to do this, including a neutron star (which we know to exist), worm holes (which we don't), and a kind of exotic matter that we can only imagine.

Time present and time past

This is where Amos Ori from Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, comes in. He says that according to Einstein's theories, space can be twisted enough to create a local gravity field that looks like a doughnut of some arbitrary size. The gravitational field lines circle around the outside of this doughnut, so that space and time are both tightly curved back on themselves. Crucially, this does away with the need for any hypothetical exotic matter.

Although it is difficult to describe what this would look or be like in real life, Ori says the mathematics reveal that every period of time between when the doughnut was created and the present moment would be somewhere in the vacuum inside the doughnut. All you need to do is work out how to get there.

In theory, it should be possible to travel back to any point in time after the time machine was built, reports Ori in Physical Review Letters1. One slight snag is that he has not worked out how to generate the gravitational doughnut, although he has some ideas. "It's wild speculation, but you may need to move large masses rapidly in a circular motion," Ori says.

An abstraction

"The paper is a welcome addition to the subject, and it does look like an improvement on the previous models," says Paul Davies, a theoretical physicist at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, and author of How to Build a Time Machine.

The leading model of travel into the past involves zipping through a wormhole, which offers a shortcut between two distant points in space. If you could connect a wormhole between Earth and something very heavy, such as a neutron star, this would set up a time difference between the two ends. This is thanks to the fact that mass can warp space and time, such that a clock on the surface of a dense neutron star would run about 30% slower than it does on Earth.

But wormholes are tricky beasts, and need something to stop them collapsing under their own intense gravity. Kip Thorne, a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, has speculated that some form of exotic antigravity matter would be needed to keep the wormhole open. Unfortunately for eager time lords, physicists have never seen anything like this.

A perpetual possibility

There are still difficulties to overcome with the doughnut model, however. Davis thinks that the instability of the compact vacuum core might be an insurmountable problem. "Closed time-like curves are inherently unstable against quantum fluctuations," he says. He expects a huge energy surge inside the doughnut would probably destroy it.

Ori agrees that energy fluctuations might be problematic, but thinks this is probably soluble. "Unfortunately it's not going to be in existence in our generation, or maybe ever," he says. Still, he puts the chances of ever being able to construct a time machine at 50:50.


1. Ori A., et al. Phys. Rev. Lett., 95. 021101 (2005).

Comment: Should we take Ori seriously? The article ends with:

"Unfortunately it's not going to be in existence in our generation, or maybe ever," he says. Still, he puts the chances of ever being able to construct a time machine at 50:50.

Well, if there is a 50% chance that a future generation may be able to construct a time machine, then there is a pretty good chance that they "already" constructed it in the future, and we are being manipulated by them. But Ori evidently does not want to bring his reasoning to the logical conclusion!

We are terrorized by thoughts of space rocks with 0.01 probability of impact. What about 50% probability of being impacted by the future?

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Einstein's close encounter

The great physicist took his own peep at the paranormal 74 years ago. George Pendle tells of 'spooky action'

Thursday July 14, 2005
The Guardian

The 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein's "annus mirabilis" has not passed quietly. Newspapers, magazines and TV documentaries have all trumpeted the year in which Einstein published five papers fundamentally rethinking the laws of time and space. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the former patent clerk's death.

Yet lying between these two dates is a less well-known anniversary. It is 74 years since Einstein attended the only seance of his life. What could have persuaded Einstein, harbinger of the scientific age, to attend such an unscientific event?[...]

In Pasadena, the 51-year-old Einstein found solace in the company of one of the locale's most notorious gadflies, the author Upton Sinclair. The Michael Moore of his time, Sinclair's The Jungle (1906) had exposed the unsanitary conditions and labour exploitation rife in Chicago's meat-packing industry. The book caused a national outcry and so horrified President Theodore Roosevelt that he reputedly threw his sausages out of the White House window.

Sinclair went on to write further jeremiads against big business, yet his latest project was quite different. He had become obsessed with extra-sensory perception and had written a book, Mental Radio (1930), about experiments he had conducted that seemed to prove telepathy's existence.

Sinclair had sent Einstein a copy of Mental Radio before his arrival in the US. Einstein was a great admirer of Sinclair's previous, muckraking works and offered to write an open-minded, if ultimately non-committal, preface. [...]

Other than in the preface to Mental Radio, Einstein had never professed any kind of interest, let alone belief, in supernatural beings or extra-sensory powers. "Even if I saw a ghost," he once said, "I wouldn't believe it." But Sinclair was particularly excited by a new prospect he had been nurturing and thought that this was his best chance to convert Einstein to his cause.

Count Roman Ostoja was a muscular, dark-eyed man who claimed to be a Polish aristocrat, although he was really from Cleveland, Ohio. He had been working the west coast under the stage name of Nostradamus and gained plaudits for being buried underground in a coffin for three hours. He claimed to have studied under "occult masters" in India and Tibet and had wowed Sinclair with his mind-reading.

Nevertheless, Ostoja must have been slightly overawed by what was now suggested to him. Sinclair wanted Ostoja to conduct a seance at his house to which would be invited not only Einstein, but Richard Tolman, soon to be chief scientific adviser to the Manhattan Project, and Paul Epstein, Caltech's professor of theoretical physics. When the evening came, Sinclair addressed the learned crowd, warning them not to panic. At a previous seance Ostoja had managed to levitate a table, while in a trance. If Ostoja could repeat the performance for the scientists, surely the world would not ridicule Sinclair's interest.

Helen Dukas, Einstein's secretary, remembered being "frightened to death" by the proceedings. Ostoja went into a cataleptic trance and began mumbling incomprehensible words. Each of the guests was invited to ask him questions. Silence fell, the table shook, "and then," remembered Dukas, "nothing happened". Sinclair was distraught. He grumbled about "non-believers" being present at the table.

Curiously enough, when Einstein was asked, years later, about his beliefs in the telepathic experiments of Dr JB Rhine, then studying parapsychology at Duke University, he stressed his scepticism in strictly scientific terms. All of Rhine's experiments had reported that psi-forces did not decline with distance, unlike the four known forces of nature - gravity, electromagnetism, the strong force and the weak force. "This suggests to me a very strong indication that a non-recognised source of systematic errors may have been involved," Einstein wrote.

Indeed it was scientific fallacies such as these, rather than drawing room seances, that could most reliably send a shiver up Einstein's spine. When he was confronted with seemingly illogical phenomena in quantum mechanics - where particles appear to communicate instantaneously with each other - he chose to label it in terms more suited to one of Sinclair's seances as "spooky action-at-a-distance".

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The Great UFO Debate
By Seth Shostak
SETI Institute
14 July 2005

The good news is that polls continue to show that between one and two-thirds of the public thinks that extraterrestrial life exists. The weird news is that a similar fraction thinks that some of it is visiting Earth.

Several recent television shows have soberly addressed the possibility that alien craft are violating our air space, occasionally touching down long enough to allow their crews to conduct bizarre (and, in most states, illegal) experiments on hapless citizens. While these shows tantalize viewers by suggesting that they are finally going to get to the bottom of the so-called "UFO debate", they never do. That bottom seems perennially out of reach.[...]

Additional evidence that is endlessly cited is "expert testimony." Pilots, astronauts, and others with experienced eyes and impressive credentials have all claimed to see odd craft in the skies. It’s safe to say that these witnesses have seen something. But just because you don’t recognize an aerial phenomenon doesn’t mean that it’s an extraterrestrial visitor. That requires additional evidence that, so far, seems to be as unconvincing as the trickery-free saucer snaps.

What about those folks who have experienced alien beings first-hand? Abduction stories are an entirely separate field of study and one which I won’t address here, although I must confess that it’s intriguing to see photos of scoop marks on the flesh of human subjects, coupled with the claim that these minor disfigurements are due to alien malfeasance. But even aside from the puzzling question of why beings from distant suns would come to Earth to melon-ball the locals, this evidence is, once again, ambiguous. The scoops might be due to aliens, and then again, they could be the consequence of spousal abuse or many other causes.

When push came to shove, and when pressed as to whether there’s real proof of extraterrestrial visitation, the experts on this show backed off by saying that "well, we don’t know where they come from. But something is definitely going on." The latter statement is hardly controversial. The former is merely goofy. If the saucers and scoopers are not from outer space, where, exactly, are they from? Belgium?

The bottom line is that the evidence for extraterrestrial visitors has not convinced many scientists. Very few academics are writing papers for refereed journals about alien craft or their occupants. Confronted with this, the UFO experts usually take refuge in two possible explanations:

  • The material that would be convincing proof has been collected and secreted away by the U.S. government. While endlessly appealing, this is an argument from ignorance (tantamount to saying "we can’t show you good evidence because we haven’t got it"), and perforce implies that every government in the world has efficiently squirreled away all alien artifacts. Unless, of course, the extraterrestrials only visit the U.S., where retrieval of material that falls to Earth is supposedly a perfected art form.
  • Scientists have simply refused to look carefully at this phenomenon. In other words, the scientists should blame themselves for the fact that the visitation hypothesis has failed to sway them.

Not only is this unfair, it’s misguided. Sure, rather few researchers have themselves gone into the field to sift through the stories, the videos, and the odd photos that comprise the evidence for alien presence. But they don’t have to. This complaint is akin to telling movie critics that films would be better if only they would pitch in and get behind the camera. But critics can compose excellent and accurate evaluations of a movie without being participants in the business of making films.

The burden of proof is on those making the claims, not those who find the data dubious. If there are investigators who are convinced that craft from other worlds are buzzing ours, then they should present the absolute best evidence they have, and not resort to explanations that appeal to conspiratorial cover-ups or the failure of others to be open to the idea. The UFO advocates are not asking us to believe something either trivial or peripheral, for after all, there could hardly be any discovery more dramatic or important than visitors from other worlds. If we could prove that the aliens are here, I would be as awestruck as anyone, however, I await a compelling Exhibit A.

Comment: Between one-third and two-third... what number could that be? A little math shows us that it is 50%! Why couldn't the author come out and say it?

This article is a pathetic attempt at debunkery.

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Cop 'tries to convert' pagans during arrest
June 26, 2005 © 2005

A traffic stop in Greer, S.C., this month is turning into a holy war of sorts, as a practicing Druid couple claim they were targeted by a Christian police officer who tried to convert them away from their pagan belief.

Debra and Tony Gainey say they were pulled over because they had a bumper sticker reading "It's A Druid Thing."

Tony Gainey was driving at the time of the stop June 10 and was taken into custody on charges of driving with a suspended license, operating a vehicle with an improper tag and failure to have proof of insurance.

"The reason they were stopped was the tag was improper on the vehicle," Greer police Lt. Cris Varner told WHNS-TV.

But Debra Gainey, a minister at the local Emerald Sanctuary Druidic Church, believes it was the druid sticker that prompted the traffic stop, as evinced by the conversation with officer Tony Stewart.

"[Stewart said], 'Did those bumper stickers come on the car or did you put them on?' and I said I put them on," Debra said.

She says the officer asked if she knew what they meant.

"So he started talking to me about God and Jesus Christ. ... I just felt like he was really getting into it, I had never expected to actually follow- up with a letter or anything."

According to Mrs. Gainey, the officer sent a card and letter to her home address days later.

"In this letter, he promises our problems will continue unless we listen to the words of the Baptists," she told the station. "We're feeling like those are threats." [...]

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Women get new trial against church for fraud
AP, via the Casper Star-Tribune, USA
July 8, 2005
Paul Foy

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Two women who gave their life savings to an apocalyptic religious group will get a new trial on their terms, the Utah Court of Appeals decided Friday.

Kaziah Hancock and Cindy Stewart sued leaders of a polygamous church for failing to make good on promises they'd get land, some money back and a face- to-face visit with Jesus. The promises were made in return for their contributions to The True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of The Last Days.[...]

Stewart was promised she'd be repaid for liquidating her retirement accounts early. Both were excommunicated from the church in 1997 before they could redeem any promises, court papers say.

Harmston's attorney, Kevin Bond, had argued that the promises were rooted in church doctrine, not a business contract that never was drafted. He said the promises were to be fulfilled by God, not Harmston.[...]

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Prayer appears to have no effect on patients in study
Michael Stroh, Baltimore Sun
July 15, 2005

Praying for someone who is ill and preparing to undergo a risky medical procedure appears to have no effect on the patient's future health.

That's the finding of one of the largest scientific investigations of the power of prayer, published today in the British medical journal the Lancet. Scientists said it undoubtedly will renew debates over whether prayer has a measurable effect on illness and even whether it's a suitable subject of scientific inquiry.

Researchers at Duke University recruited nearly 750 people undergoing heart-related procedures. Religious groups of different denominations were randomly assigned to pray for the health of half the volunteers; the other half received no organized prayers.

The prayers by representatives of Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist faiths had no effect on whether patients experienced postprocedure complications, such as heart attack, death or readmission to the hospital.

But a nontraditional intervention known as "MIT therapy," which involves playing music and administering therapeutic touch at the bedside, had a slight beneficial health effect.

Volunteers who received MIT therapy, researchers found, had less emotional distress before their procedures and slightly lower mortality rates six months after admission.[...]

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Unborn babies carry pollutants, study finds

Thu Jul 14, 2005
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Unborn U.S. babies are soaking in a stew of chemicals, including mercury, gasoline byproducts and pesticides, according to a report released on Thursday.

Although the effects on the babies are not clear, the survey prompted several members of Congress to press for legislation that would strengthen controls on chemicals in the environment.

The report by the Environmental Working Group is based on tests of 10 samples of umbilical-cord blood taken by the American Red Cross. They found an average of 287 contaminants in the blood, including mercury, fire retardants, pesticides and the Teflon chemical PFOA.

"These 10 newborn babies ... were born polluted," said New York Rep. Louise Slaughter, who spoke a news conference about the findings on Thursday.

"If ever we had proof that our nation's pollution laws aren't working, it's reading the list of industrial chemicals in the bodies of babies who have not yet lived outside the womb," Slaughter, a Democrat, said.

Cord blood reflects what the mother passes to the baby through the placenta.

"Of the 287 chemicals we detected in umbilical-cord blood, we know that 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests," the report said.[...]

Slaughter had similar tests done on her own blood.

"The stunning results show chemicals daily pumping through my vital organs that include PCBs that were banned decades ago as well as chemicals like Teflon that are currently under federal investigation," she said in remarks prepared for the news conference.

"I have auto exhaust fumes, flame retardant chemicals, and in all, some 271 harmful substances pulsing through my veins. That's hardly the picture of health I had hoped for, but I've been living in an industrial society for over 70 years."

The Government Accountability Office issued a report on Wednesday saying the Environmental Protection Agency does not have the powers it needs to fully regulate toxic chemicals.

The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, found that the EPA's Toxic Substances Control Act gives only "limited assurance" that new chemicals entering the market are safe and said the EPA only rarely assesses chemicals already on the market.

"Today, chemicals are being used to make baby bottles, food packaging and other products that have never been fully evaluated for their health effects on children -- and some of these chemicals are turning up in our blood," said New Jersey Democrat Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who plans to co-sponsor a bill to require chemical manufacturers to provide data to the EPA on the health affects of their products.

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Swarm of quakes heightened possibility of larger temblor
Benjamin Spillman
The Desert Sun
July 14, 2005

An earthquake swarm near the remote desert town of Ludlow raised eyebrows among Southern California seismologists Thursday.

The series of roughly 30 quakes resembles - but does not precisely mimic - a pattern of temblors that preceded the magnitude 7.3 Landers earthquake in 1992.

The 1992 swarm started roughly seven hours before the Landers event and was felt by people near that isolated desert community. But, at the time, it went mostly unnoticed by scientists.

The recent swarm began Wednesday afternoon and included about 30 quakes, the largest being two magnitude 3.1 temblors around 7:15 and 7:30 p.m. that evening. It continued throughout the day and into Thursday evening.

"As a personal opinion, it is not the most reassuring sequence I have ever seen," said Susan Hough, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Hough said published academic papers have indicated a connection between swarms of small quakes followed by larger events in the same area. But the connection isn't completely predictable or consistent. "It is not something you can quantify and say there is an X percent chance," Hough said.

Some areas of California are known for producing such swarms without a subsequent larger event. The area around Ludlow is not among those places.

"In this case it is a little bit hard to say this happens all the time," Hough said. "But again, we don't have enough studies of foreshock sequences to really be able to say anything."

A color-coded earthquake hazard forecast map posted online by the USGS indicated an increased likelihood for an earthquake in the desert west of Needles. Before the swarm began, the map, which is updated regularly and automatically by computer, was a light-green tint in the area - indicating the likelihood of such a quake would be around one in 10,000 at any given moment.

A map for Wednesday evening after the two magnitude 3.1 quakes showed the region was a lighter, brighter yellow, indicating the likelihood of a magnitude 4.5 or greater quake had increased to around one in 100.

A later version of the map posted Thursday evening at 8:22 p.m. indicated the likelihood was decreasing toward the pre-swarm level.

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Emily Strengthens to Category 4 Storm
Associated Press
Fri Jul 15, 2:48 AM ET

ST. GEORGE'S, Grenada - Hurricane Emily grew even more powerful Friday after slamming into Grenada, tearing up crops, flooding streets and striking at homes still under repair from last year's storms. At least one man was killed.

The storm strengthened to a dangerous Category 4 after it cleared the Windward Islands, unleashing heavy surf, gusty winds and torrential rains on islands hundreds of miles away: Trinidad in the south, nearby Venezuela, to the west and Dominican Republic in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.

Venezuelan authorities ordered some oil tankers to stay in port in the key oil refining zone of Puerto la Cruz, port captain Jose Jimenez Quintero said.

The storm, the second major hurricane of the Altantic season after Dennis, was packing sustained winds of 135 mph. "That makes Emily a very rare Category 4 hurricane in the Caribbean Sea in the month of July," said Stacy Stewart, a meteorologist with the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Emily struck hard in Grenada, especially in the northern parishes of St. Patrick's and St. Andrew's and the outlying islands of Carriacou and Petit Martinique, authorities said.

The damage comes as the island nation is still recovering from last year's Hurricane Ivan, which destroyed thousands of residences and damaged 90 percent of the historic Georgian buildings in the capital.

"Just as we were trying to rebuild ... this is a very, very major setback," said Barry Colleymore, a spokesman for Prime Minister Keith Mitchell. "There's been lots of destruction."

The Organization of American States expressed concern at the prospect of a "severe economic setback" to countries hit by hurricanes, especially Grenada, and called an emergency meeting for Friday. [...]

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Floods sweep Bulgaria, ruined grain crops threaten to hike up bread prices
Wed Jul 13, 2:57 PM ET

SOFIA - Bread prices are expected to rise by as much as 40 percent in Bulgaria in the wake of heavy rains and flooding that ruined grain crops, the bread producers' union predicted.

"We expect a poor harvest to follow the abundant rainfall and flooding this summer and, together with the recent hike in fuel prices, it will necessitate a 30 to 40 percent increase in bread prices in some regions of the country," union chief Dimitar Ludiev told BTA news agency.

Grain crops are also threatened by an ever increasing rat population in Bulgaria's wheatbelt around Dobrich (southeast), press reports said.

In the past week wind, hail, and torrential rain turned vast tracts of farmland into swamps and flooded thousands of houses around the country.

Whole towns were cut from the world with no electricity, communications and running water, as landslides cut through highways, railroads and bridges in Ruse and Silistra to the north, and Gabrovo and Veliko Tarnovo in central Bulgaria, state emergency services announced.

An uprooted tree hit and killed a woman during a storm Tuesday in Karlovo (central), the Standard daily newspaper reported.

Two cargo trains were derailed Tuesday night in the region of Stara Zagora because of track damaged by the rains.

One of UNESCO's world heritage sites in Bulgaria, the rock-hewn churches near Ivanovo in the northeast, dating back to the 12th century, is in critical condition, local authorities reported.

They sought governmental help Wednesday to preserve the precious murals severely damaged by the rains. [...]

Finance Minister Milen Velchev requested Tuesday 75 million euros (91 million dollars) in financial aid from the European Commission to rebuild submerged infrastructure, his ministry announced.

One fourth of Bulgaria's population has suffered from flooding, with more than 6,300 innundated or completely ruined houses, 52 destroyed bridges, 420 streets and 35 kilometers of railroad.

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