Friday, July 22, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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Police hunt would-be suicide bombers after London's lucky escape
July 22, 2005

LONDON - Police are urgently hunting for four presumed would-be suicide attackers after a virtually identical repeat of the July 7 London bombings only avoided fresh carnage when the explosives apparently failed to detonate fully.

The swift succession of events on Thursday lunchtime, when bombers targeted three Underground subway trains and a double-decker bus, was a chilling echo of the July 7 attacks except that those happened in the morning rush hour.

Unlike the devastation of a fortnight before, when 56 people died and more than 700 were injured, Thursday's repeat attacks caused no casualties as the rucksack-borne bombs seemingly failed to detonate fully.

Witnesses reported hearing loud pops like guns or corks as smoke poured from the rucksacks, testimony which experts said indicated that the bombs' detonators went off but failed to ignite the main charges.

Comment: Four rucksack bombs, and they all failed to detonate?? Isn't that just a bit too lucky?

"Clearly the intention must have been to kill. You don't do this with any other intention," the head of London's Metropolitan Police, Ian Blair, said on Thursday.

Commuters warily returned to the Underground network, although the three stations involved in Thursday's incidents remained closed -- along with those stricken by the July 7 blasts.

Officers refused to give details of their investigation, but the evidence from witnesses strongly indicated that the latest attacks, like those of July 7, were planned as suicide attacks.

One London businessman recounted coming face to face with a dazed man lying on the floor on top of his smoking rucksack, seemingly in a state of shock at still being alive.

Abisha Moyo told the Daily Mail newspaper that he was on a subway train near Shepherd's Bush station in west London, the site of the first reported near-simultaneous train blasts, when he was startled by a loud bang.

He saw a young, smartly-dressed man lying face up on top of a rucksack.

"He had his eyes shut and there was a puff of smoke coming from the bag," Moyo said, recounting how the man eventually regained his senses and fled from the train.

At almost exactly the same time, passengers on trains at two other stations, Oval to the south and Warren Street in the centre, reported similar incidents.

Ivan McCracken, on the train at Warren Street, said fellow passengers described seeing a man carrying a rucksack which exploded.

"It was a minor explosion but enough to blow open the rucksack. The man then made an exclamation as if something had gone wrong. At that point everyone rushed from the carriage."

A similar event at Oval station sparked a dramatic chase during which the young presumed bomber wriggled free from pursuers on the platform before being tackled by a florist just outside the station but escaping again.

About an hour later, the driver of a Number 26 bus driving through Shoreditch, just east of the centre, reported hearing a loud bang on the top deck of the vehicle followed by a pall of smoke.

Fearing the worst -- 14 peopled died when a Number 30 bus was blown up on July 7 -- driver Mark Maybanks ventured to the top deck and found a small black rucksack, which he presumed was the bomb.

"I've never been so frightened as when I went up the stairs. After what happened earlier this month I didn't know what I would find," he was quoted as saying by the Sun newspaper.

According to a series of newspaper reports, police have recovered all four rucksack bombs, giving them a potentially huge boost in tracking down the perpetrators, as well perhaps as those who helped the four British Muslim suicide bombers who died in the July 7 attacks.

Officers refused to discuss the evidence, but police commissioner Blair said he felt "very positive" that the clues could give vital pointers.

"We do believe that this may represent a significant breakthrough in the sense that there is obviously forensic material at these scenes which may be very helpful to us," he said.

Comment: Again, what a stroke of luck!

Magnus Ranstorp, director of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland, said the bombs may have been a "bad batch" or badly wired.

"I think there could be the possibility that the material was degraded or they did not wire it correctly," he told AFP.

Prime Minister Tony Blair urged Londoners on Thursday to repeat their much-praised attitude of July 7 and carry on as normal.

The attackers were trying to "intimidate people and to scare them and to frighten them to stop them going about their normal business," he said after talks with Australian Prime Minister John Howard at Downing Street.

Comment: Yesterday, London mayor Ken Livingstone was asked what he thought motivated the 7/7 bombers. He responded:

"A lot of young people see the double standards, they see what happens in (U.S. detention camp) Guantanamo Bay, and they just think that there isn't a just foreign policy," he said.

People in high places had begun to question the lies of men like Bush and Blair, and that obviously could not be allowed to continue. It is highly likely that there will no longer be much debate over the new draconian "anti-terror" laws that are in the works in Britain.

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More Explosions in London: Psy-ops in Progress

Ask the question, who benefits?
Paul Joseph Watson & Alex Jones/
Prison Planet
July 21 2005

Today is the last day of parliament before an 80 day break. So if the government wanted to get those anti-terror measures through which were proposed after the 7/7 bombing, then this status of high alert is the perfect climate to get them rammed through without dissent.

Sky News reported that members of parliament could be recalled tonight in a special session for the express purpose of passing that legislation.

And what does the legislation include? Designating anyone who writes articles or puts out a website that advocates or gives aid and comfort to the terrorists.

So you have a situation whereby they could say that someone like myself writing articles accusing the government of involvement, has a negative impact on the public's trust of the government in fighting the war on terror and therefore aids the terrorists.

The definition is so loose that they could classify what we do on this website as aiding terrorists.

When of course all we're really doing is shining a spotlight on the real terrorists and attempting to save both lives and liberties.

The government is setting up a database of undersirables to be watched under this legislation.

In the early confusion about what is actually happening in London, several things are already clear.

- This immediately stalls questions about the first bombing. The mainstream media were finally beginning to highlight the fact that the government's official story did not fit together. This takes those issues off the front pages.

- This further promulgates the fearmongering and creates a pliable public that is willing to accept draconian anti-terror laws. They are trying to turn us into Israel, with an alert or a bombing every fortnight.

- On the very day that the Patriot Act is due to be renewed, Bush can use the alert level to grease the skids and bully Congress into re-authorizing the bill.

Related: Bush sees London attacks as reason for Patriot Act

Some early reports from the scene of the incidents are very interesting.

Reports are that Arabs were seen running from the sitesof the explosion. London's population is 20% Arab. If a bomb exploded near you, would you run? One of the Arabs is reported as saying "what is wrong with these people?" which suggests he was just scared but was immediately identified as a scapegoat.

Sky News is showing scenes of random Arabs being arrested. Watch for the fearmongering of 'four terrorists on the loose waiting to attack' - this will enable emergency stop and search powers to be used. How likely is it that all four bombs would fail to detonate?

ITN news reported that one of the suspected suicide bombers was arrested and taken into Whitehall. Why would somebody so potentially dangerous be taken into a government building and not to the police station? [...]

Comment: A reader sent an interesting observation to our forum:

With respect to the most recent bombings in London:
3 bombs on trains, one on a bus - just like July7...
No one is injured? The bombs fail to go off, only the detonators do? How likely is that?

Note the targets of the latest bombings in London:
- Shepherd's Bush Station (Bush?)
- Oval Station (Oval Office?)
- Warren Street (as in Warren Commission?)
- Hackney Road - doesn't seem to fit, except that the blast occurred near the junction of COLUMBIA RD & Shoreditch... (as in 'district of Columbia'?)

looks to me like somebody is trying to send a message...and a threat.

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UK bombs meant as carbon-copy, may be same group
By Mark Trevelyan
Reuters Security Correspondent
Thu Jul 21, 1:49 PM ET

LONDON - Four attempted bombings on London's transport system on Thursday look like an intended carbon-copy of attacks that killed 56 people two weeks ago and may be masterminded by the same group, security analysts said.

They put forward two main scenarios behind the latest blasts, which were much smaller than the previous ones, and did not cause any fatalities.

The first, more benign explanation, was that the attacks were carried out by "imitative amateurs" intent on mounting a copycat strike by targeting three underground trains and a bus in a cross-formation across the city.

The second, more worrying, was that the same group behind the suspected al Qaeda-linked attacks on July 7 had struck again, albeit with far less devastating effect.

Police refused to be drawn on which was more likely.

"Whether or not this is directly connected, in the sense of carried out by the same group of people, however loosely knit that is, I think that's going to take just a little bit longer before we can qualify that," police chief Ian Blair said.

But he added: "Clearly, the intention must have been to kill."


Whoever was behind Thursday's attacks, they managed to manufacture four explosive devices and smuggle them on to the London transport network despite the highest levels of security and public watchfulness in London for years.

Comment: How indeed did the "terrorists" manage to smuggle four more bombs through the tightest security in years?

If the same group was responsible for two waves of coordinated attacks two weeks apart, it would show an alarming ease in mobilising fresh operatives -- perhaps even would-be suicide bombers -- to follow the example of the four bombers who blew themselves up on July 7.

"The more we know about the bomb attack two weeks ago, the more skilful it looks, well planned -- the people behind it know what they're doing," said Michael Clarke, security expert at King's College London.

Comment: One might even suspect that the recent operations were so skillfully executed that they would require the expertise, coordination, and resources of a major intelligence organization.

"It is entirely plausible that they will have planned a campaign, not just one bomb. It's part of terrorist psychology that one bomb is never enough."

Former U.S. intelligence official Robert Ayers, a security analyst at respected London think tank, the Chatham House institute, said he thought it more likely the same group was behind both attacks than that a second, independent group had now emerged.

"What I've been saying all along is that you had four guys that died (in the July 7 bombings), but the infrastructure that trained them, equipped them, funded them, pointed them at the right target -- the infrastructure's still in place."

Comment: Well, this most recent statement from the Chatham House institute is quite an about face. From the July 18, 2005 Signs page:

The Royal Institute of International Affairs, known as Chatham House, concluded in a report that the war in Iraq gave a "boost" to Al-Qaeda and made Britain especially vulnerable to attacks -- a theory that clashed with Blair's belief that there is no link with the July 7 bombings.

"There is no doubt that the situation over Iraq has imposed particular difficulties for the UK, and for the wider coalition against terrorism," said the London-based research centre in its study, "Riding Pillion for Tackling Terrorism is a High-risk Policy".

"It gave a boost to the Al-Qaeda network's propaganda, recruitment and fundraising," Chatham House said, arguing that it also provided an ideal training area for Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists and deflected resources that could have gone to help bring terror mastermind
Osama bin Laden to justice. [...]

And the July 19, 2005 Signs page:

Chatham House also heavily criticised the British government's anti-terrorism strategy, accusing it of working shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States as a back seat passenger rather than an equal decision maker.

It seems these recent attacks, as "lucky" and "amateur" as they may be, are quickly stifling any dissent.

If the same group was involved, the obvious question is why the first wave of attacks was so professional and deadly and the second apparently so amateur.


Ayers noted that police had recovered unused explosives from various sites including a hire car abandoned by the July 7 bombers at Luton, near London.

"One speculation I've had all along is that they left those explosives in the car for another group to pick up and carry out a second attack, but when they got there the car had already been taken over by the police, so they've had to cobble something together fairly quickly," he said. [...]

The analysts said the impact of a second attack, although less deadly than the first, would be highly disruptive to life and business in Europe's biggest financial center.

Navin Reddy, strategic risk analyst at consultancy Merchant International Group, said "every half-baked terrorist in the country" would be looking at committing similar attacks.

"Given that the intelligence services will be unable to track groups that act independently of the major terror organizations they do watch, this raises the risk level," he said.

"The events of today and July 7 are having a distinct economic impact on the running of the capital. They have disrupted the transport system and they have tied up the emergency services.

"The longer-term trickle effect on the nation's pyschology and missed business opportunities could mount up," he added.

Comment: Yes, indeedy - the attacks are all about psychology. A QFS member sent us the following today:

It's very sad to report, but it seems that the UK propaganda campaign is working very effectively, from what I see around me:

1. A work colleague saw a TV program on monday night called 'The Real Story' which replaced at short notice the UK's highest rated program ('Eastenders') on the regular schedules in order to get absolutely maximum exposure. According to my colleague, it basically drummed home the mantra that 'Moslem equals terrorist', but in a really persistent, persuasive and effective way. He is an intelligent bloke, yet he said that if he didn't work with a 'cynic' (me) and a Moslem (our other colleague) every day, and have the kind of discussions that we do, he would probably have totally gone along with the opinions expressed, and he suspects that almost everyone will accept it. It will probably have similar viewing figures to 'Eastenders' that it replaced (so, about 12 million).

2. Also second hand, but worth repeating - people have been heard in pubs etc to express the opinions that we should 'kill em all', again relating to moslems.

So, unfortunately it's catching fire. Well done Mr Blair. Mission Accomplished.

If any of our other British readers saw 'The Real Story' or have other news or information to share, please e-mail us or post a message on our forum.

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Al-Qaeda group claims responsibility for London bombing 2005-07-22 20:55:23

LONDON, July 22 (Xinhuanet) -- A group linked to the al Qaeda terrorist organization has claimed responsibility for Thursday's bombings in London, as forensic teams are examining the rucksack bombs found on a bus and in underground trains.

The group named as Abu Hafs al Masri Brigade, also claimed responsibility for the explosions on July 7, the Sky news television reported Friday.

But the authenticity of the statement was not verified yet.

Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia ambassador to London, was quoted by Sky news as believing that Thursday's attacks are linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.

"The modus operandi, the sheer cowardice associated with them and the attacks on innocent civilians - these are all part and parcel of al Qaeda," he said.

On Thursday, four explosions took place almost simultaneously at three underground stations and a No. 26 bus in east London. They mirrored the attacks two weeks ago, in which more than 56 people were killed and over 700 people injured in blasts on three underground railway trains and a bus in London.

Three of the four devices found on Thursday are thought to be of a similar size and weight to the bombs used in the July 7 attacks. The fourth was smaller and appears to have been contained in a small plastic box.

Police said the device on the bus was in a newish-looking black Fitness First rucksack. Officers found it in a footwell on the topdeck of the double-deck bus. On the seat next to the rucksack they found a Duracell battery and some red wire.

Police received reports of people running away from two of the attempted blast sites.

At least two people were arrested on Thursday afternoon, including one in Downing Street, but they were released later without charge.

Reports suggested that only the detonators on the four devices went off. Detectives investigating the attacks are working on the basis that the bombs were not properly primed.

Police are appealing for witnesses to come with evidence and statements to several locations or call anti-terrorist hotline. They are also asking people with photos or mobile phone images from any of the incident scenes to send them on-line.

Comment: Well, we all knew it was coming. The new bombings were the work of "al-Qaeda". That fits rather nicely with the idea that these latest bombings were also false flag operations specifically timed to kill any doubts about the 7/7 bombings as well as any dissent regarding the new UK terrorism laws and the renewal of the Patriot Act in the US. As always, who benefits?

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Last Updated: 11:57 UK, Friday July 22, 2005

Police have killed a suspected suicide bomber at a Tube station in south London.

Armed officers opened fire up to six times on the suspect as he hurdled a ticket barrier and raced along a platform at Stockwell station.

Police screamed at passengers to evacuate and are thought to have shot the suspect as he stumbled on to a train.

Alarmed onlookers said they saw up to 10 plain-clothed officers chasing an Asian-looking man before opening fire.

Passenger Briony Coetsee said: "We were on the tube and then we suddenly heard someone say 'get out, get out' and then we heard gunshots."

Unconfirmed reports suggest the man was involved in Thursday's assault on the capital.

If the suspect is proved to be a suicide bomber, it would mark the fifth attempted terrorist attack on London in less than a day.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "We can confirm that just after 10am armed officers shot a male at Stockwell Underground station.

"A man was challenged by officers and subsequently shot. London Ambulance Service attended the scene. He was pronounced dead at the scene."

Police are believed to be under orders to shoot to kill if they believe someone is about to detonate a bomb.

Sky News Crime Correspondent Martin Brunt said: "The officer or officers involved in this clearly felt this suspect was about to detonate a bomb."

Tube services on the Victoria and Northern lines were suspended at the request of police.

An earlier bomb threat targeting a mosque in east London has been given the all-clear by police.

Comment: The Associated Press had a more interesting report:

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Police Shoot Suspected Suicide Bomber
July 22, 2005

[...] Passengers said a man, described as South Asian, ran onto a train at Stockwell station in south London. Witnesses said police chased him, he tripped, and police then shot him.

"They pushed him onto the floor and unloaded five shots into him. He's dead," witness Mark Whitby told the British Broadcasting Corp. "He looked like a cornered fox. He looked petrified."

Whitby said the man didn't appear to have been carrying anything but said he was wearing a thick coat that looked padded. [...]

Comment: And so the madness continues. British citizens are being herded to a finer order of control, just like in the US. Speaking of the Land of the Free, it seems that as we mentioned above, the latest attacks in London were perfectly timed to coincide with the vote to renew the US PATRIOT Act...

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US House votes to renew sweeping 'Patriot Act' supervision laws
Thu Jul 21,11:13 PM ET

WASHINGTON, United States - The House of Representatives has voted to renew the USA Patriot Act, the controversial package of laws passed in the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

The House passed the USA Patriot and Terrorism Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2005 by a vote of 257-171.

President George W. Bush hailed the enhanced investigative powers given to US law enforcement under the Patriot Act as an indispensable tool in forestalling new acts of terror

"I commend the House for voting to reauthorize provisions of the Patriot Act that are set to expire this year," said Bush.

"The Patriot Act has enhanced information sharing between law enforcement and intelligence personnel, updated the law to adapt to changes in technology, and provided critical tools to investigate terrorists that have been used for years in cases against organized crime and drug dealers," Bush said.

The president urged the US legislature to quickly send to the White House a final version of the bill for his signature.

"The Patriot Act is a key part of our effort to combat terrorism and protect the American people, and the Congress needs to send me a bill soon that renews the act without weakening our ability to fight terror," said Bush.

The Patriot Act, which was passed six weeks after the September 11 attacks on the United States, contained several temporary measures which required a new congressional vote or faced expiration by December 31 of this year.

Thursday's House vote made 14 temporary provisions of the legislation permanent and extended two others that had been scheduled to lapse at the end of the year.

Civil libertarians have strongly opposed the measures, which give law enforcement officials access to educational, financial and medical records without having to show probable cause of a crime.

It also allows police and prosecutors to access details of an individual's Internet activities and correspondence without probable cause or consent, among other measures. [...]

Similar reauthorization legislation is to be taken up shortly by the US Senate.

Comment: The Washington Times reports:

President Bush yesterday invoked the terrorist attacks in London as a compelling reason for Congress to renew the USA Patriot Act and for local governments to beef up security on mass-transit systems.

"As we saw in London, the terrorists are still active and they are still plotting to take innocent life," Mr. Bush told law-enforcement officers in Baltimore. "So my message to the Congress is clear: This is no time to let our guard down, and no time to roll back good laws."

It is difficult to know when the US republic was lost, leaving aside the question if it ever existed at all. The founding of the Federal Reserve Bank? Operation Paperclip? The assassination of JFK? 9/11? Bush's infamous "Niger" State of the Union speech? The passing of the Patriot Act four years ago or its renewal this year?

Each event marks a point on the vector of emerging fascism. At no point along the line has it met any resistance much less a wall that would change either its velocity or direction.

The emotional shock delivered to the American people on 9/11 marked the beginning of the end game. War, lies, and tyranny have been the order of the day ever since, with a brazenness we could not have imagined before as Bush seems to flaunt his power and lack of regard for anyone else's opinion. Think back a couple of weeks to Bush's comments prior to the G8 conference when he said that Blair had made a decision on Iraq based upon what was right at the time and that he saw no reason to tie it to Africa.

Asked if he would make a special effort to help Mr Blair in return for his support over Iraq, Mr Bush replied: "I really don't view our relationship as one of quid pro quo.

"Tony Blair made decisions on what he thought was best for keeping the peace and winning the war on terror, as I did."

"I go to the G8 not really trying to make [Tony Blair] look bad or good; but I go to the G8 with an agenda that I think is best for our country."

There was no political leader in the world that was more submissive to the desires of the Bush Reich than Poodle Blair, and his thanks is being humiliated in public by his "friend". Not that we're losing any sleep over it. If Blair is stupid enough to think he is anything more than a useful idiot for the neocons, he deserves his comeuppance.

Even if a great number of Americans are against Bush's politics, even if they are appalled by the Patriot Act, even if they want the US out of Iraq right now and were against the invasion from the beginning, they don't really see what is going on. If they did, they would do something to stop it. They would recognise that having faith "in the system" or "in the electoral process" is a nostalgic view that does not reflect the changes that have occurred in the US system since Bush seized power through a Supreme Court legal coup.

On the surface, we still see three branches of government, the Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Executive, but this is only the appearance of things. In fact, the system itself is undergoing a radical change, the topic of Chris Floyd's column this week:

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Master Plan
By Chris Floyd
Published: July 22, 2005

The United States long ago ceased to be anything like a living, thriving republic. But it retained the legal form of a republic, and that counted for something: As long as the legal form still existed, even as a gutted shell, there was hope it might be filled again one day with substance.

But now the very legal structures of the Republic are being dismantled. The principle of arbitrary rule by an autocratic leader is being openly established, through a series of unchallenged executive orders, perverse Justice Department rulings and court decisions by sycophantic judges who defer to power -- not law -- in their determinations. What we are witnessing is the creation of a "commander-in-chief state," where the form and pressure of law no longer apply to the president and his designated agents. The rights of individuals are no longer inalienable, nor are their persons inviolable; all depends on the good will of the Commander, the military autocrat.

President George W. Bush has granted himself the power to declare anyone on earth -- including any U.S. citizen -- an "enemy combatant," for any reason he sees fit. He can render them up for torture, he can imprison them for life, he can even have them killed, all without charges, with no burden of proof, no standards of evidence, no legislative oversight, no appeal, no judicial process whatsoever except those that he himself deigns to construct, with whatever limitations he cares to impose. Nor can he ever be prosecuted for any order he issues, however criminal; in the new American system laid out by Bush's legal minions, the Commander is sacrosanct, beyond the reach of any law or constitution.

This is not hyperbole. It is simply the reality of the United States today. The principle of unrestricted presidential power is now being codified into law and incorporated into the institutional structures of the state, as the web log Deep Blade Journal reports in a compendium of recent outrages against liberty.

For example, last Friday, a panel of federal judges -- including John Roberts, nominated for the Supreme Court this week -- upheld Bush's claim to dispose of "enemy combatants" any way he pleases, The Washington Post reports. In a chilling decision, the judges ruled that the Commander's arbitrarily designated "enemies" are nonpersons: Neither the Geneva Conventions nor American military and domestic law apply to such garbage. Bush is now free to subject anyone he likes to his self-concocted "military tribunal" system, a brutal sham that retired top U.S. military officials have denounced as a "kangaroo court" that tyrants around the world will cite in order to hide their oppression under U.S. precedent.

The kowtowing court ruling ignores the fact that the Geneva Conventions -- which lay down strict guidelines for the handling of any person detained by military forces, regardless of the captive's status -- have been incorporated into the U.S. legal code, Deep Blade points out. They cannot be abrogated by presidential fiat. And anyone who commits a "grave breach" of the Conventions by facilitating the killing, torture or inhuman treatment of detainees (e.g., stripping them of all legal status and subjecting them to rigged tribunals) is subject to the death penalty under U.S. law.

This is why the Bush Faction labored so mightily to advance the absurd fiction that the Geneva Conventions are somehow voluntary -- while simultaneously promulgating the sinister Fuhrerprinzip of unlimited presidential authority. The fiction was a temporary sop to the crumbling legal form of the Republic, a cynical perversion of existing law to keep justice at bay until the Fuhrerprinzip could be firmly established as the new foundation of the state.

It doesn't matter anymore if the president's orders to suspend the Conventions, construct a worldwide gulag, torture captives, spy on Americans, fabricate intelligence and wage aggressive war are illegal under the "quaint" strictures of the old dispensation; the courts, packed with Bushist cadres, are now affirming the new order, the "critical authority" of the Commander, beyond law and morality, on the higher plane of what Bush calls "the path of action."

This phrase -- with its remarkable Mussolinian echoes -- was incorporated into the official "National Security Strategy of the United States," promulgated by Bush in September 2002. That document in turn was drawn largely from a manifesto issued in September 2000 by a Bush Faction group whose members included Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Jeb Bush. Their detailed plan envisioned the transformation of America into a militarized state: planting "military footprints" throughout Central Asia and the Middle East, invading Iraq, expanding the nuclear arsenal, massively increasing the defense budget -- and predicating all these "revolutionary" changes on the hopes for "a new Pearl Harbor" that would "catalyze" the lazy American public into supporting their militarist agenda.

This agenda is designed, the group said, to establish "full spectrum dominance" over geopolitical affairs, assuring control of world energy resources and precluding the rise of "any potential global rival" that might threaten the unchecked wealth and privilege of the U.S. elite. The rule of law could only be a hindrance to such a scheme, hence its replacement by the Fuhrerprinzip and the "path of action."

There has been virtually no institutional resistance to this open coup d'etat. It's now clear that the American Establishment -- and a significant portion of the American people -- have given up on the democratic experiment. They no longer wish to govern themselves; they want to be ruled by "strong leaders" who will "do whatever it takes" to protect them from harm and keep them in clover. They have sold their golden birthright of American liberty for a mess of coward's pottage.

Court Rules Military Panels to Try Detainees
Washington Post, July 16, 2005

Domination by Detention
Deep Blade Journaly, July 16, 2005

Dark Passage: The Bush Faction's Blueprint for Empire
Excerpt from the book, Empire Burlesque

Ruling Lets U.S. Restart Trials at Guantanamo
New York Times, July 16, 2005

Alberto Gonzales' Tortured Arguments for Reigning Above the Law
LA Weekly, Jan. 14-20, 2005

Torture Treaty Doesn't Bar `Cruel, Inhuman' Tactics, Gonzales Says
Knight-Ridder, Jan. 26, 2005

Bush Has Widened Authority of CIA to Kill Terrorists
New York Times, Dec. 15, 2002

Special Ops Get OK to Initiate Its Own Missions
Washington Times, Jan. 8, 2003

Coward's War in Yemen
Spiked, Nov. 11, 2002

Drones of Death
The Guardian, Nov. 6, 2002

Comment: And should there be anyone around in twenty, fifty, or one hundred years, they'll be asking: "How could it have happened? Why didn't the American people see it coming?"

Some of them did. They're supporting it. They're asking for the "strong leader" who will lead them down the "path of action". Others are seeing it, but don't believe it is as bad as people like us say it is. It is still verboten to compare Bush to Hitler, to compare what is happening in the US with what happened in Germany in the thirties. It is as forbidden as it is to question whether Israel's politics of genocide towards the Palestinians might have something to do with Muslim anger towards the West. Or to suggest that all of the holes and contradictions in the official story of 9/11 suggest that it wasn't 19 Arab terrorists being directed from a cave in Afghanistan that were able to bring down the US Air Defense system that day, penetrate the Pentagon's defenses, or plant the charges in the WTC that appear to have been responsible for their collapse.

Who is profiting from these crimes?

It ain't the Arabs, that's for certain. They have been vilified the world over. They are demonised. "Muslim = terrorist" has been ingrained into the minds of tens if not hundreds of million of people who have no capacity to think for themselves.

It seems, as well, that the US isn't content to have total control over its own population. It wants total control over everyone. Ireland has recently signed an agreement with the US that gives US law enforcement agencies jurisdiction over Irish citizens:

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Treaty gives CIA powers over Irish citizens
By Dan Buckley
The Irish Examiner

US INVESTIGATORS, including CIA agents, will be allowed interrogate Irish citizens on Irish soil in total secrecy, under an agreement signed between Ireland and the US last week.

Suspects will also have to give testimony and allow property to be searched and seized even if what the suspect is accused of is not a crime in Ireland.

Under 'instruments of agreement' signed last week by Justice Minister Michael McDowell, Ireland and the US pledged mutual co-operation in the investigation of criminal activity. It is primarily designed to assist America's so-called 'war on terror' in the wake of the September 11 atrocities.

The deal was condemned yesterday by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) as "an appalling signal of how the rights of Irish citizens are considered by the minister when engaging in international relations". The ICCL said it appeared to go far beyond even what has been agreed between EU countries.

On signing the agreement, the minister said that "the international community must do everything it can to combat terrorism with every means at its disposal.

"Ireland will not be found wanting," he added.

The treaty will give effect to agreements on Mutual Legal Assistance and Extradition signed by the EU and the US in June 2003. These are aimed at building on mutual assistance and extradition arrangements.

Although the Department of Justice insists that the arrangement merely updates existing agreements, it goes much further. The US may ask Irish authorities:

  • To track down people in Ireland.
  • Transfer prisoners in Irish custody to the US.
  • Carry out searches and seize evidence on behalf of the US Government.

It also allows US authorities access to an Irish suspect's confidential bank information. The Irish authorities must keep all these activities secret if asked to do so by the US.

The person who will request co-operation is US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the man who, as White House counsel, instigated the notorious 'torture memo' to US President George W Bush which advised how far CIA agents could go in torturing prisoners. The person to whom the request is sent is the Minister for Justice.

About 20,000 immigrants, who have not been charged with any crime, are currently in prison in the US. In two recent US Supreme Court cases, the US Government argued that US citizens could be imprisoned indefinitely without charge if the president designated them as "enemy combatants".

ICCL director Aisling Reidy said: "An extraordinary aspect to this treaty is, despite its scope and its potential to violate basic constitutional and human rights, that all this happened without debate or transparency.

"To agree to give such powers to a government which has allowed detention of its own citizens without access to a lawyer for over a year, which has legitimised Guantanamo Bay and the interrogation techniques there, without public debate, is an appalling signal of how highly or not the rights of Irish citizens are considered by the minister when engaging in international relations."

The Department of Justice said it was wrong to say the treaty happened without debate, as the agreements update and supplement existing arrangements, and the EU-US agreement has been scrutinised by the Oireachtas four times since December 2002.

A spokesperson also rejected that the measures go beyond what was agreed between EU countries.

Legislation will be required to give effect to some elements of the Mutual Legal Assistance Instrument. The necessary provisions will be contained in the Criminal Justice (Mutual Assistance) Bill which Mr McDowell expects to publish shortly.

Comment: There is nowhere to run. There is nowhere to hide. Bush's new brand of fascism is slowly creeping around the globe disguised as the "war on terror". If a country's citizens resist, they are simply stricken by "terrorist attacks" until they cave in and willingly give up their rights - or until their fearless leaders cave in to the demands of Bush and the Neocon/Zionist cabal and. In instituting this "New World Order", fear is the weapon of choice.

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'Thick-Skinned' People Have Thick Brains
By Jennifer Viegas
Discovery News
July 21, 2005

Individuals who cope well with stress after trauma usually are described as being "thick skinned," but new research reveals the thickness is in their brains, not in their skin.

Scientists determined that resilient people tend to have a thick ventral medial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), which is near the front of the brain. Conversely, this region tends to be thin for those who experience a lot of anxiety.

The discovery will enable doctors to predict who is at risk for stress-related disorders, which could lead to better treatments and may even determine who is best suited for certain careers and activities.

"For instance, an individual with a thin vmPFC might wish to avoid high risk professions such as policeman, firefighter or soldier," said Scott Rauch, co-author of the study, which recently appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Rauch, who is associate chief of psychiatry for neuroscience research at Massachusetts General Hospital, and his colleagues made the determination after testing 14 healthy volunteers.

Volunteers looked at digital photographs of furnished rooms that contained lamps. Whenever the lamps lit up in colors, the test subjects would receive an electrical shock that each participant previously rated as "highly annoying but not painful."

A monitor measured skin moisture levels, or flop sweat, released during this fear-conditioning test.

The volunteers then underwent a "fear extinction" process, where they saw the same photos and lights, but received no shocks. This shockless test was repeated while the volunteers had an MRI brain scan.

The scan results then were compared to the skin moisture readings, which enabled the researchers to link the brain images to anxiety levels.

The MRIs revealed that volunteers whose conditioned fear of the flashing lights diminished during the fear extinction test phases each had a thick vmPFC.

Gregory Quirk, associate professor of neuroscience at Ponce School of Medicine in Puerto Rico, has performed similar MRI research on rodents.

"This finding is extremely important because it builds on data from rodents indicating that individual variability in fear responses is correlated with activity levels of neurons in the prefrontal cortex," Quirk told Discovery News.

When thick, this part of the brain appears to function like a fear helmet that protects against stress.

"Increase in the size, number or connections of neurons within the ventral medial prefrontal cortex may allow this particular brain region to have stronger inhibitory influence on brain regions that generate the conditioned fear responses in the first place," Rauch said. [...]

Comment: Note that the prefrontal cortex is that part of the brain associated with a variety of "higher" cognitive functions – language, abstract reasoning, problem solving, social interactions, and planning.

One of the ideas that we stress on the Signs page is that we can each choose to work on ourselves to root out our programmed behaviours and automatic emotional responses. While fear can be a very useful indicator of danger, it can also be misused and abused by those who wish to condition us with a certain fear response - the fear of the "evildoer terrorist", for example.

This article seems to support the notion that through the use and development of higher cognitive functions, we can actually "reprogram" ourselves to stop reacting emotionally and start acting based on reason and rational thought.

It isn't easy, but the alternative is certainly less appealing.

Continuing on, yesterday also saw the move by the Chinese to unhitch the yuan from the dollar. It was indeed a very busy day for the Powers that Be...

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China revalues currency; repegs to basket of currencies
July 21, 2005

BEIJING - China revalued its currency and scrapped the yuan's decade-old peg to the dollar in favor of a managed float against a basket of currencies, caving in to intense pressure from trading partners led by the United States.

The currency was fixed at 8.11 yuan to the dollar compared to the old rate of 8.2765 yuan, effectively a two percent revaluation, China's central bank, the People's Bank of China, (PBOC) announced on its website.

The bank added it was scrapping the yuan peg to the US dollar and setting the Chinese unit against a trade-weighted basket of currencies, but did not reveal what these currencies were. [...]

China's trade partners, which had criticized it for undervaluing the yuan, giving its exports an unfair trade advantage, welcomed the move Thursday, with a White House spokesman saying the United States was "encouraged." [...]

South Korea however said the move fell short of expectations and will have little impact on trade while Singapore said China's changes "will not have a major impact on the Singapore dollar or on our exchange rate regime." [...]

US Treasury Secretary John Snow had warned China that if it did not move on its currency by mid-October, the White House was prepared to name China as a currency manipulator, a move that might have led to trade retaliation.

Congress had threatened to pass a bill to slap a 27 percent punitive tariff on imports of textiles from China if it failed to act. [...]

But they said the move was mostly a symbolic gesture, timed to take the pressure off Chinese President Hu Jintao when he makes a scheduled visit to the United States in September.

"It's minimal, it's nothing really," BNP Paribas economist Chen Xingdong said. "It seems it's paving the way for (Chinese President) Hu Jintao to visit the US and try to calm down relations."

Andy Xie, China economist at Morgan Stanley in Hong Kong, said the revaluation will have "almost zero" impact on trade and will not change prices for American consumers. [...]

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Dollar sags as China scraps currency peg
By Gertrude Chavez
Thu Jul 21,11:58 AM ET

NEW YORK - The dollar slumped against the yen in heavy trading on Thursday after China abandoned its dollar peg in favor of a basket of currencies to manage the yuan.

The yen's rise accelerated and other Asian currencies firmed after Malaysia said it has changed the ringgit peg to a managed float, fueling further gains in the Japanese currency.

Traders had expected the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and Monetary Authority of Singapore to revise their currency regime as well. However, both said on Thursday that they are maintaining their current foreign exchange policy.

In late morning trade, the dollar fell 2 percent against the yen to 110.65 yen, after declining as low as 110.18 after the Chinese foreign exchange announcement. Before the announcement, it was trading at around 112.40. [...]

"The initial adjustment is smaller than most people anticipated, and to that extent it will in many ways place more pressure on China to adjust over time, both from a political standpoint and from an economic standpoint," said Alan Ruskin, research director, 4Cast LTD in New York.

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Police begin searching bags on NYC subways
The Associated Press
7/22/2005, 7:13 a.m. CT

NEW YORK - Alarmed by a new round of mass transit attacks in London, police in New York began random searches of bags and packages brought into the city's vast subway system.

The inspections started on a small scale Thursday in Manhattan and were expanded during Friday morning's rush hour - a development welcomed by some commuters.

"I'm not against it," Ian Compton, 35, a computer consultant, said at Grand Central Terminal in midtown Manhattan. "I think any measures for safety that aren't terribly intrusive are worth doing."

Officers, some with bomb-sniffing dogs, were stopping people carrying bags as they entered subways, commuter trains, buses and ferries at various points in the city, police said. Anyone who refuses a search will be turned away, and those caught carrying drugs or other contraband could be arrested.

One man was arrested during Thursday evening rush hour at the Brentwood Long Island Rail Road station after police became suspicious, stopped his van and allegedly found a machete and other weapons. Gilbert Hernandez, 34, had been convicted of possessing a pipe bomb in 1996, police said.

Friday morning, an officer was seen outside a subway stop at Penn Station with a sign saying, "NYPD, Backpacks and other containers subject to inspection."

Police officials said they had considered taking the measures to thwart bombings for the past three years. Two terrorist attacks on transit targets in London forced their hand, said Paul Browne, the police department's chief spokesman.

Browne called it "the first time this regimen has been used in (New York's) transit system."

On Thursday, a cluster of officers was seen stopping five men over a 15-minute period as they entered the subway in Union Square at evening rush hour. In each instance, the officers peered briefly into their bags, then waved them through.

"If it serves a purpose, I'm OK with it," said one of the men, James Washington, 45, about being stopped. [...]

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Anti-terror team targets imam

National security squad collecting intelligence on controversial cleric based at Fraser Street mosque
Amy O'Brian
Vancouver Sun
Wednesday, July 20, 2005

CANADA - A counter-terrorism team of police and other national security experts is investigating a radical Muslim cleric in Vancouver who has been known to promote Islamic holy war against Jews and other non-Muslim people.

Sheik Younus Kathrada, a cleric at the Dar al-Madinah mosque on Fraser Street, is being investigated by the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, INSET, which collects intelligence on "targets that are a threat to national security," according to the RCMP website.

Cpl. Tom Seaman, spokesman for the RCMP's E Division, told The Vancouver Sun Tuesday that Kathrada's file -- which was opened last October to investigate racist comments he had made -- was handed over to INSET "within the last six months."

"INSET has taken over the investigation. It's active, it's ongoing," Seaman said.

"They're looking into the activities of the gentleman that you're talking about."

Seaman would not confirm whether the Dar al-Madinah mosque at 5936 Fraser Street is also being investigated by INSET.

Kathrada enraged the Muslim and Jewish communities last fall after it was reported he had made anti-Semitic and racist comments during public speeches, several of which were posted on the Internet.

The cleric referred to Jews as "the brothers of monkeys and swine," and said that jihad -- holy war -- was justifiable against people who don't accept Islam.

Kathrada later released a statement saying he is "not a violent or hateful person" and that his comments were taken "completely out of context." [...]

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Surveillance of radical imams to be increased: Sarkozy

CALVI, France, July 22 (AFP) - French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy promised Friday to step up surveillance of radical Islamic clerics following the wave of failed bomb attacks in London.

"Everyone in France has the right to practice his religion ... but when you look at the age of these young suicide bombers in London you can see the influence of radical preachers on these weak spirits. I do not intend to tolerate it," he said on a visit to Corsica.

"We have decided that we must increase our means for video surveillance, speed up the introduction of the latest in telephone technology and information-processing and launch a large-scale project for the early detection of radicalising elements," the
minister said.

Sarkozy, who is also head of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party, said the decision was taken after he spoke to Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and anti-terrorist experts Thursday evening.

After the July 7 bombings in London Sarkozy said France will expel imams who preach violence.

Comment: What about rabbis who preach violence against the Palestinians? Or priests who preach the crusades against the Muslims? Let us hope Mr Sarkozy will be consistent and send them to Israel and the Vatican.

Then, of course, the newspapers that portray Muslims as "terrorists" should be closed and the owners thrown out of the country as well. Perhaps those who were responsible for the slander campaign against Alain Ménargues could also be deported? Let's see how many groups we can set against each other in a bid to bring peace to the land.

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Gov't Backs Off Idea of Civilian Patrol
Associated Press
July 22, 2005

LOS ANGELES - The Department of Homeland Security announced Thursday that it has no plans to enlist citizen volunteers to help patrol U.S. borders, one day after the agency's top border enforcement official said he was exploring such an idea.

On Wednesday, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert C. Bonner told The Associated Press that his agency was considering the training of volunteers to create "something akin to a Border Patrol auxiliary."

A Homeland Security spokesman issued a statement Thursday backing off Bonner's controversial suggestion.

"There are currently no plans by the Department of Homeland Security to use civilian volunteers to patrol the border," spokesman Brian J. Roehrkasse said. "That job should continue to be done by the highly trained, professional law enforcement officials." [...]

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White House Opposes Bill to Cut UN Funds
AP Diplomatic Writer
July 22, 2005

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration said Thursday it opposed a House-passed bill that would issue an ultimatum to the United Nations to reform or lose U.S. financial support.

Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, "We believe withholding dues in order to achieve a wide array of specific conditions would diminish our effectiveness."

Burns spoke in support of widespread changes in the United Nations, including creation of a new human rights council with a mandate to deal with torture and other major abuses.

Comment: Except torture and major abuses conducted by the US...

He called also for management and budget reforms, and said Secretary-General Kofi Annan's suggestions for changes at the U.N. devote too little attention to problems in those areas.

The United States contributes about 22 percent of the U.N. budget, more than $400 million this year, and about 25 percent of peacekeeping expenses, which adds more than $1 billion to the U.S. bill this year. [...]

Burns said withholding dues would undermine U.S. efforts to play the leading role in reforming the United Nations. "It would represent a tremendous setback in the reliability and credibility of the U.N. in the world," he said.

Comment: Well, sure! That's what John Bolton is for: he will reform the UN according the wishes of the fuhrer.

Several other provisions of the bill "impermissibly infringe" on
President Bush's constitutional authority to conduct the nation's foreign affairs, he said.

The committee chairman, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., agreed that a law requiring U.S. dues to be withheld would "tie the president's hands." [...]

The current U.N. human rights commission must be replaced, Gingrich said, because it has been taken over by "extremists and murders." He called the United Nations' treatment of Israel "scandalous," describing it as "hostility institutionalized."

Comment: We can't have the UN using the facts to criticize Israel, now can we?!

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The devaluation of a society
Jim Reed
CBC News Viewpoint | July 21, 2005

Since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the last century, Western powers have followed policies that resulted in the social and cultural devaluation of the Arab and, by association, the Muslim Middle East.

It was the British Empire that set the Muslim/Arab world on its course toward authoritarian, centralized rule. Powerful governments, under kings, emirs or tribal chieftains, were thought by the British to be easier to control than popular movements that might have given rise to some form of democracy.

The very idea of democracy in the Arab world was anathema to the British and, later, the Americans; any popular movement was seen as a potential threat to Western hegemony. This held especially true after the discovery of oil in the region.

The British government and its Colonial Office supported, we might even say invented, these centralized governments – Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States – and often maintained them in power through a combination of military support and financial subsidy.

In return, British and other western industrialists were granted petroleum exploration concessions.

Throughout the period between the First and Second World Wars, the victors – the British and French in particular – sought to micromanage both the politics and the resources of the Muslim/Arab world.

They ignored to a great extent the needs and the aspirations of the general population, relying instead on the tribal leaders, along with so-called “strongmen” to keep any popular movements in check. This was particularly true of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the shah in neighbouring Iran.

It can fairly be said that there has been a more or less continuous “occupation” of the Arab world and an intermittent occupation of Iran by the Western powers throughout the past century and a half.

This “occupation” has not always been strictly military, of course; for much of the time it has been a kind of economic occupation. And if the word occupation is thought to be too strong, certainly the word “domination” is not.

There was a general feeling in the corridors of British and American power, that Muslims in general – and Arabs in particular – were naturally subservient and weak. Furthermore, the Western powers came to believe that Muslim and Arab reliance on western technology, would keep them that way.

It was a dangerous point of view that would have disastrous results in the long term.

Western domination of these countries robbed the indigenous people of the ability to develop their own institutions. It denied them the kind of freedom needed to foster the education and training that would produce healthy independent societies.

And it left real power in the hands of dictators and cabals, who often used religion as a means of consolidating power.

Ironically, the one Muslim country that avoided western control was Turkey – which had been militarily defeated by the West. It’s useful to note, however, that Turkey was a nation without significant oil reserves.

As time passed and the post-World War Two generation of young Muslims gained access to education in Europe and North America, attitudes began to change. These young people became aware of their own history and many of them rejected the subservient role.

By then however, the western “occupation” was firmly entrenched. And the centralized regimes of the region had become fully reliant on either Europe and the United States, or the old Soviet Empire.

The durability of the revolution in Iran was a shock to the West and drastically altered the old balance of power. Saddam Hussein’s clumsy attempt to break the historic pattern by invading and reclaiming Kuwait only deepened western contempt for Muslim and Arab leaders.

The resounding military victory by the West over Saddam reinforced the feelings of dependence and weakness amongst the younger generation and raised the level of anger among them.

The entire Muslim Middle East has always believed that the establishment of Israel was just one more example of the West imposing its will on the region. No amount of historical justification by the rest of us will change that. And America’s unyielding defence of Israel as the region’s only democracy widened the divide between the two sides.

The difficulty of reaching a peace settlement between Israel and the displaced Palestinian people intensified the already unbearable strain on East-West relations.

Sporadic eruptions of terrorist activity by Palestinians were viewed by young radicals from other Muslim nations as heroic and even romantic examples of resistance to the longstanding and hated western “occupation.”

The Palestinians became role models for underground rebel movements in other countries, notably Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Egypt.

It happened slowly…almost indiscernibly, but inexorably. What was happening then – and continues to happen – is what I call the “palestinization” of the region.

One of the first to recognize the phenomenon was, ironically, the arch demon himself: Saddam Hussein. Saddam jumped on the martyrdom bandwagon and rewarded the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. He sent them vast sums of money over the years and that encouraged Palestinian extremists to commit ever more outrageous acts against Israel.

The “palestinization” phenomenon was also studied by a wealthy young Saudi citizen named Osama bin Laden. He went even further than Saddam. Unlike the Iraqi president, bin Laden used religion to buttress his strategy, which was to take on the “occupiers” on their own turf.

His increasingly bold terrorist adventures, which included the embassy bombings in Africa, the USS Cole bombing and others, eventually led the Americans to invade Iraq.

The invasion of Iraq was an unexpected gift to bin Laden. Saddam rejected bin Laden’s religious fundamentalism and shunned him. But an Iraq without Saddam has proved to be unstable, perfect for bin Laden’s purposes.

It would provide fertile ground for the growth and expansion of a new phase in the “war” against the regional “occupation.” Moreover, it would – as we now know – attract radicals from as far afield as Pakistan and Indonesia.

It’s increasingly apparent that only very dramatic changes in policy will extricate us from a situation that is becoming intolerable. Israel has begun that process now, with its decision to withdraw from the Gaza Strip.

The Americans and British can help it along by coming up with a rational plan to withdraw from Iraq.

The rest of the world can help by taking a hard look at the dangers of devaluing others; and by working to foster respect, equality and justice for all nations.

Terrorism is more likely to be defeated by political, rather than military means.

Comment: While giving a basic overview of Western interference in the Muslim world over the last one hundred years, showing that the use of "terror" on the part of the "Islamic terrorists" is based upon a long history of domination by the West, Reed still believes that Islamic "terrorism" is something without close connections to the intelligence agencies of the West and, especially, Israel, a country well known for its use of false flag operations to turn public opinion against the Arabs. As our articles and reader reports on yesterday's rather bizarre set of bombings in London shows, the propaganda campaign against Arabs and Muslims is succeeding.

The Israelis are no doubt tickled pink by this.

Keep in mind when reading about "Arab terrorists" that a great many of the so-called "suicide attacks" in Israel came at moments where they were detrimental to the Palestinian cause, such as the day the International Court ruled against the apartheid wall. Remember as well that the Israeli media very often has complete profiles of these "suicide bombers" within hours of the attacks, as if Israeli intelligence knows more than they are willing to admit -- for obvious reasons.

The vast number of contradictions in the official story of 9/11 show that there is more there than Bush and his handlers are willing to admit. Why was Bush so resolutely opposed to having an official investigation? Why was Blair so resolutely opposed to having an investigation of the London bombings of July 7? Don't you think it is normal to want to know what happened? If you were in charge, and had nothing to do with it, wouldn't you want to know?

With the London bombings, the Patriot Act in the United States was just renewed by the House. Now it's on to the Senate.

Amerika über alles.

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US on Nepal's case
By Ramtanu Maitra
Jul 23, 2005

Fresh from its perceived success in Kyrgyzstan, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), an American non-governmental organization, has a new mission in Nepal, where King Gyanendra has assumed autocratic powers.

According to reports from South Asia, this was disclosed to Nepalese politicians by US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Christina Rocca during her recent visit to Nepal. Although the entry of the Washington-based NED is officially to help stabilize and promote democracy in Nepal, its past record makes some in India wonder what the consequences will be for India's turbulent northeast and for India's relations with China.

Beijing has even more reason to concern itself with the NED's presence in Nepal, next door to sensitive Tibet. The NED makes no bones of its concerns about Uighur Chinese, and is known to have earlier funded anti-China forces in Tibet.

India is by no means wholly ill-disposed toward the NED. In fact, the American outfit has some strong promoters there. During the 2000 visit to India by president Bill Clinton, a proposal was made to jointly set up an Asian center for democracy. The Asian Center for Democratic Governance is to be based in New Delhi, and jointly set up by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the NED.

The pointman for the new center is one Gautam Adhikari, a former Washington correspondent of the Times of India and a member of the NED. Work on setting up the center has already started. When completed, according to CII in New Delhi, the center will aim at benefiting new and developing democracies of the region through the shared experiences of the two largest democracies in the world.

Still, India's security and military officers are worried by the NED's entry on the scene. It is no secret that despite openly receiving special appropriations from the US Congress, the NED has been accused of being a Central Intelligence Agency front at various times in the two decades it has been in existence. And there is no question of the organization's clout, because King Gyanendra had to accept its operations and agree to restore democracy in order to restore development aid flows.

The significant aspect of the NED, however, is its recent role in the "color-coded" revolutions in Central Asia - in the backwaters of Russia. Those "democratic revolutions" were designed to help Washington and antagonize Moscow and Beijing. It is too early to tell whether these "revolutions" will have the necessary staying power - but what is certain is that the NED was an active player. The arrival of such a potent force in volatile areas like Nepal and around unstable areas like India's northeast, is enough to worry the Indians, and the Chinese as well.

The recent record
The most notable of NED's "conquests" in recent months took place in Kyrgyzstan. In his March 30 article, "US Helped to Prepare the Way for Kyrgyzstan's Uprising", New York Times correspondent Craig S Smith pointed out that the US maintained the largest bilateral pro-democracy program in Kyrgyzstan because of the Freedom Support Act, passed by Congress in 1992, to help the former Soviet republics in their economic and democratic transitions.

Money earmarked for democracy programs in Kyrgyzstan totaled about $12 million last year. Hundreds of thousands more filtered into pro-democracy programs in the country from other US government-financed institutions like the National Endowment for Democracy, Smith added. "That does not include the money for the Freedom House printing press or the Kyrgyz-language service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a pro-democracy broadcaster," he states.

Kyrgyzstan's "Tulip" revolution - though it seems far from being complete and has in fact shown signs of withering under the summer sun - was orchestrated through one of the major non-government organizations (NGOs) working with the opposition to Askar Akayev's government, the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society (CDCS). CDCS received the bulk of its funding from the National Democratic Institute in Washington, which is financed by the US government.

Until recently, another Kyrgyz NGO, Civil Society Against Corruption (CSAC), received funding from the NED. The NED has extensive ties to the AFL-CIO trade union bureaucracy that was identified during the 1960s and 1970s for its efforts to topple governments deemed unfriendly to Washington.

The head of CSAC, Tolekan Ismailova, recently translated a pamphlet on the "revolutionary" methods used to bring down governments in Serbia, Georgia and Ukraine. This pamphlet was printed on a press in Kyrgyzstan owned by Freedom House, another American NGO. On one occasion, the day after the power went out, the American Embassy in Bishkek sent Freedom House two generators to keep the anti-Akayev materials rolling off the press, Smith reported.

Why Nepal now?
Many in India point out that the NED is particularly rough with countries that are undemocratic by nature or unfriendly to the US. But, they add, no government, unless it is an occupied country, can remain friendly on all occasions and all the time.

Take for instance Akayev, the ousted president of Kyrgyzstan. No doubt, Akayev was deeply unpopular in Kyrgyzstan. But Akayev was once hailed by the West as one of the few "democrats" to emerge out of the wreckage of the Soviet Union. Subsequently, he fell out of favor with Washington, and was later targeted for removal. In this friend-to-foe episode, Akayev joins the ranks of a long list of former US assets, including such figures as Manuel Noriega of Panama, Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia and Saddam Hussein of Iraq.

It is interesting to note that the NED's attention was not drawn toward Nepal following King Gyanendra's unilateral assumption of power on February 1, when he dismissed the government and assumed control, and intensified military action against Nepalese Maoist insurgents.

Gyanendra had been targeted for almost two years before this. On November 21, 2003, Peter M Manikas, director of Asia programs at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, a NED affiliate, testified before the US Congressional Human Rights Caucus, pointedly criticizing the Nepalese king for "anti-democratic activities".

In his testimony, Manikas noted that the political situation in Nepal had continued to worsen. He recounted that in May 2002 parliament was dissolved, but new elections (required within six months of the dissolution of parliament) did not take place because of growing Maoist violence. He also noted that when the term of local government officials expired the following July, no new elections were held.

Instead, over 200,000 elected local officials were replaced by civil servants. In October 2002, the king suspended the democratic process by appointing a "non-party" cabinet which operated the government without any elected representatives, Manikas testified.While critical in passing of Maoist brutalities, Manikas offered no balanced analysis of the Maoist insurgency that has gripped Nepal for the past five to six years and the complex dynamics underlying it. His target was King Gyanendra. Manikas accused the king of consolidating the power of the monarchy over the government and the army. He insisted that it was the failure of the government to deal effectively with Maoist violence that had led to a growing skepticism within the country that progress could be made without restoring the democratic process.

India's worries
India's worries concerning the NED are broad and indirect; they are not linked to any particular capability of the organization. India's northeast has long been in turmoil. During the past five decades a number of guerrilla groups have emerged there. New Delhi has been less than successful in politically settling matters in northeast India. From time to time, the Indian army has been called in to control the violent guerrilla groups, and India has been accused of human-rights violations in the northeast on more than one occasion.

But, more importantly, India just does not want any more foreign tampering in this unstable region. A number of NGOs have sought security clearance for projects on subjects unheard of in areas where such studies neither appear relevant or feasible, according to sources in New Delhi. The flow of foreign funds to carry out such studies has made New Delhi sit up and take notice. According to one estimate, more than 200 NGOs are operating in some of the major states of northeastern India.

Over the years, several of India's northeastern states have been heavily evangelized by Baptist and other missionaries. Census figures indicate that more than 85% of the residents in Mizoram are Christians. The troubled state of Nagaland also has an overwhelming majority of Christians. In the post-Cold War period, Dutch missionaries have been found active in the northeastern state of Tripura. These missionaries came in without seeking formal permission from the government of India. It has also been reported that guerrilla leaders in conflict with New Delhi go to the Netherlands to meet Dutch NGO officials prior to or after their meetings with officials in New Delhi. At least one Dutch NGO involved in the northeastern region is being funded by the Dutch government. New Delhi is watching these developments carefully.

In addition, New Delhi is deeply concerned about northeast India's on-going demographic change as a result of large-scale illegal immigration of Muslim-Bangladeshis into Assam and other areas. There are several districts in West Bengal and Assam where Muslims have become a predominant majority because of such illegal infiltration. This is worrisome because there is little doubt that Bangladesh is fast becoming a center of orthodox, if not violent, Islamic activities. Many reports suggest that a large number of al-Qaeda and Taliban have been settled in Bangladesh, possibly with the help of Pakistan's Inter Press Service. New Delhi has no idea how to deal with this problem. The attempt at this time is to contain the Bangladeshi infiltration and prevent the growth of anti-India elements in and around the northeastern cauldron.

Bad memories evoked
Moreover, any American interest in India's northeast will raise suspicions in the minds of those Indians who remember a study prepared by the Special Operation Research Office of the Washington-based George Washington University. The objective was to conduct sociological research in the northeastern states, including the kingdoms of Bhutan and Sikkim. (At the time an independent kingdom, Sikkim merged with India in 1975.) That study was seen as a precursor to "Project Brahmaputra". As reportedly envisioned by the US State Department at the time, Project Brahmaputra was to initiate a movement for a "United States of Assam", bringing together the northeastern insurgent groups under a "Seven Units Liberation Army".

These schemes never got very far on the ground. But the presence of a powerful American NGO in an area that is far from stable understandably raises red flags for Indian officials involved in the nation's security matters, who have no intention of entertaining new versions of such schemes.

The NED doles out over 300 grants per year, with the average grant amount topping $50,000. Writing for Slate online magazine, Brendan Koerner pointed on January 22, 2004, that the endowment had four principal initial recipients of funds: the International Republican Institute; the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs; an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, such as the American Center for International Labor Solidarity and an affiliate of the Chamber of Commerce, such as the Center for International Private Enterprise.

According to a recent NED tax return, these four groups each received $4,606,250 in 2001, which they in turn handed out to pro-democracy groups as they saw fit. The idea behind funneling equal amounts to these four groups is to stress the non-partisan nature of the NED. Along the same lines, the NED's board consists of bigwigs from both parties, including Democratic presidential hopeful General Wesley Clark and Republican Senator Jon Kyl.

Formed during the Ronald Reagan era in the 1980s, the NED is a favorite of the Bush administration. In fact, on the issue of spreading democracy around the globe, the Bush administration and the NED are in total sync. Not for nothing, President George W Bush, in his January 22, 2004, state of the union message, vowed to double the NED budget.

China's concerns
China is a more direct target of the NED. Reports have confirmed the identification, looting and arson of Chinese and Turkish properties in Bishkek on the evening the "Tulip" revolution" took to the streets and drove out Akayev.

This should not come as a surprise. The NED has promoted the anti-Beijing Uighur rebels' cause for a long time. They hold regular meetings with the Uighur American Association in the suburbs of Washington, DC. The doyen of the Uighurs is one Rebiya Kadeer, who was released from a Chinese prison just prior to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's trip to Beijing in March.

China wants Bishkek to continue to clamp down on the Uighur diaspora inside Kyrgyzstan, so that it cannot support opposition to Beijing at home. Hitherto, China had been very successful in persuading Akayev, using Chinese investment, foreign aid and military-political support as leverage. In the NED-driven new regime, which professes to be more "democratic", Beijing fears Bishkek might be inclined to support Uighurs across the border.

Chinese concern is not abstract. Already, Nury Turkel, president of the Uighur American Association, in a statement issued recently, has said: "... There are a few glimmers of hope for Uighurs. In early 2004, the National Endowment for Democracy, the American lifeline for dissidents worldwide, gave my organization, the Uighur American Association, a grant to begin human-rights research to document human-rights abuses against Uighurs."

In November 2004, Rebiya Kadeer was awarded the Rafto prize, a prestigious human-rights award. Kadeer was arrested in 1997 while on her way to brief a US congressional delegation on Uighur human rights. She was finally released by the Chinese authorities on March 17, on "medical parole", but it was the continued pressure exerted on the Chinese government by the US and international human-rights organizations - culminating in Rice's visit to Beijing - that truly led to Kadeer's release.

Nury Turkel also pointed out that Bush knows about the plight of Uighur Muslims in East Turkistan (Xinjiang province, that is) and Tibetan Buddhists in Tibet. "Bush's own religious beliefs lead us to believe that he is particularly sensitive to religious repression everywhere," Turkel added. "It was significant that in October 2001, just a month after 9/11, he specifically warned China not to use the fight against terrorism as an excuse to persecute its minorities."

Again, Tibet
According to Beijing, the presence of the NED, backed by the Bush administration, in Nepal raises the specter of an aggressive US involvement on the Tibet issue. Over the past 10 years, Nepal has rounded up nearly 6,000 Tibetans entering Nepal without proper travel documents, but none could be prosecuted because of the country's flexible immigration laws. The age-old traditions valid in Nepal as well as in Tibet do not allow Buddhists to be prosecuted for petty offences.

China has asked Nepal to cancel the residential permits of Tibetans and make Tibetan tourists register with the authorities each time they visit the country, especially when they are coming from bordering India and Bhutan. The pressure on the Tibetan issue came to the fore when Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao reportedly cancelled his Nepal visit during a recent South Asia tour because King Gyanendra could not satisfy the Chinese demands.

One of the reasons why China is particularly anxious about the Tibetans in Nepal is the British government's reaction in January when Nepal closed down the Tibetan Welfare Center and Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office that have worked for the welfare of Tibetan refugees for nearly five decades. "We regret the government action," said Mitra Pariyar, spokesman of the British Embassy in Kathmandu. The embassy made a representation to the Nepalese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Sudip Pathak, who heads the Human Rights Organization of Nepal, and NGO, said his organization supported the right of the Tibetans to practice their religion and traditional culture in a peaceful manner in Nepal. Pathak had met Nepal's home secretary, Chandi Prasad Shrestha, to advocate the reopening of the two centers.

Obviously, London saw the closure as a move by the Nepal government to placate China. Subsequently, Brad Adams, Asia director for the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW)group issued a statement: "The Refugee Welfare Office has been a critical safety net for tens of thousands of persecuted Tibetans. Closing the office leaves thousands of Tibetan refugees without crucial support." Although the official channels of the US remained quiet, the HRW, a prominent NGO, said what had been interpreted in Beijing was Washington's voice on the subject.

Comment: The US has been putting on the heat in Asia. As Bush recently said, the US relationship with China is complicated. On the one hand, WalMart and other US companies are closely tied to Chinese manufacturing for making the products that sell for so little on American shelves. As well, the Chinese hold an enormous amount of US dollars in reserve, and if it looked like they were starting to sell off those reserves, the run on the US dollar would be disastrous to the US economy.

On the other hand, the developing Chinese economy is a direct competitor for the oil and gas resources in central Asia, as is India. The Pentagon just came out with a report that overestimates the Chinese military capacity according to the Chinese and uses rhetoric the Chinese think is reminiscent of the Cold War.

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Writing the Planet's Epitaph
By William Marvel
Intervention Magazine

Those who denied all the indications of environmental degradation, from global warming to overpopulation, appear to have convinced us to delay the solution until it is too late.

With each passing month it becomes increasingly unlikely that the human species will come to its senses before destroying the planet that gave it life. It has been more than fifteen years since the first convocation of scientists warned of the global warming that our prodigal habits have initiated. Since then corporate-owned politicians have conducted a Parthian retreat on that issue, fighting rear-guard actions with denials and counter-arguments, and those habits have only worsened. As the principal creator of the problem, the United States has not only expanded its own fossil-fuel consumption but exported that bad habit to populous nations that now promise to exceed our own degradation of the atmosphere.

Population itself offers as great a threat as the fouling of the air and the erosion of Earth’s ozone layer. Our own country seems bent on imitating those Eastern and Central American nations that have impoverished themselves by filling their available space with dense masses of people. One would think that the modern parental tendency to indulge children ad nauseam would encourage smaller families, if only because of the obvious link between family size and resource distribution, but an absolute refusal to recognize the inescapable limits of resources seems to underlie every aspect of American life, if not human existence. Those who think they have money enough therefore continue spitting out three, four, five, or more children, all of whom they dutifully imbue with token doses of an insincere environmental consciousness.

Thanks to that early indoctrination in consumerism, the next generation waits impatiently to inflict its own insatiable appetite on an overburdened world. Sometime in the 1990s our species began using up the planet’s renewable resources faster than they can be restored, and the clock is now ticking in years, or perhaps decades, rather than in centuries or millennia. The gaggle of little faces peering obliviously from the comfort of Mom’s air-conditioned Suburban, Navigator, or Yukon will very likely see the death struggle of their species as food and potable water disappear, little realizing that they and their parents brought that struggle on.

That final struggle for resources has, of course, already begun. The crusade in Iraq and its associated conflicts originated more with the competition for oil than with religious differences, for oil drives the economy that represents the Western equivalent of food production. Aided by crooked politicians, water companies around this country are racing to drain off water they pretend to own, selling it to that exploding proportion of people whose water has been polluted beyond recovery, meanwhile hiring dough-faced engineers to convince the public that groundwater supplies (like the buffalo and the land they grazed) are inexhaustible. At the same time, most of that "inexhaustible" landscape has been diced into house lots and commercial strips, and the last open expanses of the American West are being reduced to 40-acre "estates" for future subdivision. The invisible human necessity of peace and quiet has already essentially vanished: just stop and listen.

The arrogance and ignorance of our leaders seems impossible to reverse, but if it can be contained our planet may be able to avoid a violent conclusion and end, instead, with the predicted whimper. Should that be the case, those of us who are already old enough may manage to wind out our time in relative comfort. For many of our remaining days we may enjoy the luxury of seeing a wild turkey herding her brood, or hearing the hooted inquiries of a predawn owl, or the magenta-and-azure sunrise that crested Pleasant Mountain at 4:45 this morning. Until such pleasures disappear, one by one, we will continue to find some wonder in the world. Like our ancestors, we probably have time enough to let our grandchildren write our epitaphs, but that generation will also have to write its own.

Comment: What could we have done to change the outcome? It wasn't laws or revolutions that could have made a difference; it was only the species waking up to its own split personalities and working to fuse them. To make a difference in the outcome, it would have taken a mass awakening to our true natures, and how likely was that ever to happen?

However, we do think that there is hope because we live in a non-linear world. We do think that small acts can have a powerful effect in the long term. That is why we must continue standing up for the truth today, tomorrow, and no matter how horrible it becomes the day after that. We have the conviction that the day that we never believed possible is on its way. Just read the page above and see what a leap it has taken towards chaos since the beginning of July.

Standing for the truth with no anticipation of the outcome is its own reward. However, it is not a choice to be taken out of despair or because we see no other way forward. It is a choice that must be taken because we see that it is the right choice in and of itself, the choice we would make even if there were other possibilities. And there are: we can ignore what has happening, or if we are aware, we can choose to make the best of things, "eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die..." We see people around us every day who have these choices. We see them, we understand why they have taken that route, but we know that we can not. It just isn't possible; it just isn't in us to do that. And we include you in our use of "we", gentle readers, for if you keep coming back to read these pages, it is because you do not want to shut your eyes, you do not want to go back to sleep, because you know that is the worst possible choice of all.

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U.S. Bodies Have Fewer Dangerous Chemicals
Associated Press
Thu Jul 21, 2:04 PM ET

ATLANTA - Americans have lower levels of lead, secondhand-smoke byproducts and other potentially dangerous substances in their bodies than they did a decade ago, according to perhaps the most extensive government study ever of exposure to environmental chemicals.

"These data help relieve worry and concern," Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Thursday.

The CDC released its first National Report on Exposure to Environmental Chemicals in 2001 and has updated it every two years. For its latest findings, the CDC took blood and urine samples from about 2,400 people in 2001 and 2002 and tested for 148 environmental chemicals, including metals, pesticides, insect repellants and disinfectants.

The CDC stressed that the presence of an environmental chemical in blood or urine "does not mean that the chemical causes disease."

In the early 1990s, 4.4 percent of U.S. children ages 1 to 5 had elevated lead levels. That dropped to 1.6 percent between 1999 and 2002, according to the latest study.

"This is an astonishing public health achievement" that is related to the removal of lead from gasoline and other efforts to screen and treat children for lead exposure, Gerberding said.

Gauging the effect of secondhand smoke, the CDC tested for nonsmokers' levels of cotinine, a product of nicotine after it enters the body. Levels dropped by 75 percent in adults and 68 percent in children between the early 1990s and 2002, the CDC said.

Gerberding said the decrease came from restrictions on smoking.

But more work needs to be done to reduce secondhand smoke, she said. Blacks still had more than twice the cotinine levels of whites or Mexican-Americans. Levels in children were more than twice those of nonsmoking adults.

The study looked at 38 chemicals, mainly pesticides, that were not measured during the last CDC analysis, in 2003. [...]

Other findings:

• About 5 percent of smokers 20 or older had the heavy metal cadmium in their blood at a level that could cause a kidney injury. Cadmium can come from cigarette smoke.

• Traces of aldrin and dieldrin, pesticides for cotton and corn discontinued in 1970 in the U.S., are either very low or undetectable in U.S. adults.

• No women in the survey had dangerous concentrations of methyl mercury, which can come from eating shellfish or fish. However, the CDC said mercury levels in women of childbearing age should be monitored because 5.7 percent of women in this age group had levels close to what is believed to cause birth defects. [...]

Comment: We suspect that a study that compares the levels of various dangerous chemicals in Americans to the citizens of several other nations would be even more interesting.

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Drought parches lawns, cripples water supply in Midwest
By Don Babwin
Associated Press
Wednesday, July 20, 2005

CHICAGO - Lawns are turning brown. Flowers are wilting. Water levels are so low that ducks can stand in some rivers and streams.

A drought that is stunting corn, rice and soybean crops across the nation's Farm Belt is also leading many communities in more urban parts of the Midwest to ban lawn-watering and urge homeowners to conserve.

"I'm not watering out of respect for what is happening ecologically," said Tod Lending, gesturing toward his the parched front lawn on Chicago's North Side. "I have a 10-year-old daughter and I'm trying to teach her what the right thing is to do ecologically."

In Indianapolis, officials have pleaded with customers to cut their water use. St. Peters, Mo., made a similar request. So did Chicago, where WGN-TV meteorologist Dennis Haller said this is the driest summer so far in 135 years.

In North Aurora, homeowners can hand-water flowers and gardens, but using a sprinkler can bring a fine of $750. Algonquin, in suburban Chicago, and Waterford, Wis., are limiting residents to watering every other day. Brownsburg, Ind., banned it. [...]

The city of Chicago has stopped watering the grass at parks. And the Fire Department decided to teach fire hose techniques to its firefighters at a park so the ground would benefit from the water sprayed.

The drought-stricken area cuts a swath from eastern Texas up into the Great Lakes region, taking in parts of Missouri, Indiana, Arkansas, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan, and almost all of Illinois. [...]

Conserving water can be a tough sell in Chicago, where the city's front yard Lake Michigan is a body of water about the size of West Virginia.

The level of Lake Michigan is only slightly below normal. But Sadhu Johnston, commissioner of Chicago's Department of Environment, warned: "If Chicago and other cities along the lake just continued pulling more and more water out of the lake, the level would drop" and devastate everything from fish to the shipping industry.

"There are all sorts of implications; it's unbelievable," he said.

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Record power demand sparks Calif. blackout scare
By Nigel Hunt
Jul 21, 8:56 PM (ET)

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California looked set to escape without power blackouts on Thursday, allaying earlier fears sparked by record breaking demand in the southern half of the state and a series of power plant breakdowns, a spokesman for the state's Independent System Operator said.

But the ISO said Friday could see new problems as temperatures rose in the northern half of the state.

The state agency warned earlier on Thursday that rotating blackouts were possible, but demand for power started to dip from record breaking levels late in the afternoon.

"Load is starting to really come off now and I think we are in better shape in terms of the rest of this afternoon and this evening," spokesman Gregg Fishman said.

The operator, which controls most of the state's power grid, declared a transmission emergency early on Thursday afternoon as high demand linked to scorching heat and a series of power plant outages sparked some voltage problems.

Within minutes it also declared a stage two power alert for southern California, but the situation eased later.

"That (voltage) has largely stabilized. We did find a bit of extra generation," Fishman said.


Southern California Edison, a unit of Edison International, said its customer demand reached 21,934 megawatts of power on Thursday, a new high. The previous record of 21,112 MW was set on Wednesday with a heatwave engulfing the southern half of the state.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the nation's largest municipal utility, on Thursday broke a demand record that had stood for almost seven years with a peak of 5,661 MW, a spokeswoman said. [...]

"Tomorrow (Friday) is going to be another interesting day," he said, noting utilities had already been asked to restrict maintenance in a bid to maximize available power supplies. [...]

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Mount St. Helens still cooking: Quakes shake, lava domes build
By Peggy Andersen
2:02 p.m. July 21, 2005

SEATTLE – There's a whole lotta shakin' going on at Mount St. Helens these days as the restless peak does what it has done for thousands of years: build new lava domes that totter and fall and become the foundations for still more new ones.

A series of unusually strong earthquakes – exceeding magnitude 3 – has been reported in recent days by the Cascades Volcano Laboratory in Vancouver, Wash., about 50 miles south of the mountain. The latest was a magnitude 3.1 quake early Thursday that was accompanied by a rockfall.

Rockfalls during the quakes send up plumes of ash. Some tower thousands of feet above the 8,364-foot crater rim; a March plume reached 30,000 feet, raising concerns about area air traffic. Some plumes don't escape the crater and some wispy, gritty puffs crest just above the rim.

The recent stronger quakes are related to rockfall from the mountain's towering, unstable new dome, said research hydrologist Jon Major at the lab. But it's not quite clear how.

"It's sort of a chicken-egg thing," he said, questioning whether shallow quakes are causing the rockfall or whether collapsing rock is thundering to the crater floor and setting off seismic monitors.

The mountain, site of a devastating 1980 eruption that killed 57 people and sent a river of hot mud and ash down the Toutle River Valley, rumbled back to life last September. After eight years of quiet, magma from deep below the mountain pressed toward the surface, surfacing as lava on the crater floor in October.

Since then, tons of rock have been extruded into the huge crater, which is open on the north side from the sideways blast of 1980. Initially, the rock formed a mass described as a "whale back," a mound of hot stone between the old dome and the south crater wall.

Lately, extruding rock has been piling up on the west side of the crater.

"This is much narrower, like a spine ... like a long linear ridge," Major said. "It's almost like a large tooth ... getting steeper and steeper."

The height of the new dome was measured at 7,600 feet in April – about 700 feet below the rim. With all the rockfall and rebuilding, that number is probably still good, he said.

"The active part of the dome has grown up and gotten quite steep and now it's starting to fall apart. These larger quakes seem to be associated with the decomposition process," Major said. "Gravity exerting its influence, I guess you could say."

There have been periodic bursts of seismic activity since fall, peaking in the 3.0 range and then subsiding to smaller quakes – barely perceptible temblors of magnitude 1 or 2 or less – that occur every four to seven minutes.

"One line of thought is that these larger earthquakes represent growth of fractures in the dome," Major said. The recent seismic activity is very shallow, near the surface.

"This is very characteristic of what this mountain has done over its history," he said.

St. Helens' snow-capped symmetrical Mount Fuji-like cone, destroyed in 1980 when the top third of the mountain was blown away, was "probably only about 4,500 years old," he said – very young in geologic terms.

The mountain is the youngest and most restless volcano in the Cascade Range.

Examination of the inside crater walls reveals that "the interior is just composed of a series of overlapping domes," Major said. "What's happening now in the crater is just a reflection of what this volcano has done throughout its geologic history."

Over time, as lava piles up on the crater floor, "the crater will probably be filled with coalescing lava domes and form a cone."

But St. Helens' racy pace is relative. The process could take hundreds of years.

"In my lifetime, I do not expect to see that crater fill and have a nice conical mountain build up and look like it did prior to 1980," Major said.

Before the eruption, St. Helens towered 9,677 feet.

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Ancient Aryan civilization achieved incredible technological progress 40 centuries ago
Natalia Leskova
07/16/2005 18:32

Scientists discovered mysterious circles on the area of the ancient Russian town of Arkaim, which is the same age with Egypt and Babylon

President Putin has recently visited one of the most mysterious places on planet Earth - the ruins of the ancient town of Arkaim, which is situated on the outskirts of the city of Chelyabinsk. Historians, archaeologists and ufologists have spent many years trying to unravel the secrets of the town. Which nation was living in Arkaim more than 40 centuries ago? How did people of such ancient civilization manage to accomplish incredible technological progress, which still seems to be unachievable nowadays? A group of Russian researchers, with Vadim Chernobrovy at the head, has recently returned from the mysterious region. The scientist said that specialists and students had built numerous tent camps around Arkaim.

The Arkaim valley in the south of Ural was supposed to be flooded in 1987: local authorities were going to create a water reservoir there to irrigate droughty fields. However, scientists found strange circles in the center of the valley: the authorities gave archaeologists 12 months to explore the area. Scientists were shocked to find out that Arkaim was the same age as Egypt and Babylon, and a little older than Troy and Rome.

Gennady Zdanovich, the chairman of the archaeological expedition in Ural had to prove the scientific significance of Arkaim to regional officials. "We achieved what seemed to be absolutely unreal: the multi-million construction project in the region was shut down," the scientist said.

Archaeological excavations showed that the people, who inhabited Arkaim, represented one of the most ancient Indo-European civilizations, particularly the branch, which is referred to as the Aryan culture. Arkaim turned out to be not only a town, but also a temple and an astronomic observatory.

"A flight above Arkaim on board a helicopter gives you an incredible impression. The huge concentric circles on the valley are clearly visible. The town and its outskirts are all enclosed in the circles. We still do not know, what point the gigantic circles have, whether they were made for defensive, scientific, educational, or ritual purposes. Some researchers say that the circles were actually used as the runway for an ancient spaceport," Vadim Chernobrovy said.

Researchers discovered that the ancient town was equipped with the storm sewage system, which helped Arkaim's residents avoid floods. The people were protected against fires as well: timbered floorings and houses themselves were imbued with fireproof substance. It was a rather strong compound, the remnants of which can still be found in the ruins of the town.

Each house was outfitted with "all modern conveniences," as they would say nowadays. There was a well, an oven and dome-like food storage in every house. The well was branching out into two underground trenches: one of them was directed to the oven and the other one ended in the food storage. The trenches were used to supply chilly air to the oven and to the food storage. The cool air from the trenches was also creating a very powerful traction force in the Aryan oven, which made it possible to smelt bronze there.

The central square in Arkaim was the only object of square shape in the town. Judging upon traces of bonfires that were placed in a specific order on the square, the place was used as a site for certain rituals.

Arkaim was built according to a previously projected plan as a single complicated complex, which also had an acute orientation on astronomic objects. While archaeologists are meticulously brushing dust off ancient stones trying to recreate the lifestyle of Arkaim's residents, ufologists study mysterious phenomena, which they register in the town: inexplicable fluctuations of voltage, magnetic field tension, temperatures and so on.

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Peruvian ‘writing’ system goes back 5,000 years
Ancient culture used knots and strings to convey information
By Jude Webber
Updated: 9:34 p.m. ET July 20, 2005

LIMA, Peru - Archaeologists in Peru have found a “quipu” on the site of the oldest city in the Americas, indicating that the device, a sophisticated arrangement of knots and strings used to convey detailed information, was in use thousands of years earlier than previously believed.

Previously the oldest known quipus, often associated with the Incas whose vast South American empire was conquered by the Spanish in the 16th century, dated from about A.D. 650.

But Ruth Shady, an archaeologist leading investigations into the Peruvian coastal city of Caral, said quipus were among a treasure trove of articles discovered at the site, which is about 5,000 years old.

“This is the oldest quipu, and it shows us that this society ... also had a system of ‘writing’ (which) would continue down the ages until the Inca empire and would last some 4,500 years,” Shady said.

She was speaking before the opening in Lima Tuesday of an exhibition of the artifacts which shed light on Caral, which she called one of the world’s oldest civilizations.

Found among offerings
The quipu, with its well-preserved, brown cotton strings wound around thin sticks, was found with a series of offerings including mysterious fiber balls of different sizes wrapped in ”nets” and pristine reed baskets.

“We are sure it corresponds to the period of Caral because it was found in a public building,” Shady said. “It was an offering placed on a stairway when they decided to bury this and put down a floor to build another structure on top.”

Pyramid-shaped public buildings were being built at Caral, a planned coastal city 115 miles (185 kilometers) north of Lima, at the same time that the Saqqara pyramid, the oldest in Egypt, was going up. They were were already being revamped when Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Cheops (or Khufu) was under construction, Shady said.

“Man only began living in an organized way 5,000 years ago in five points of the globe — Mesopotamia (roughly comprising modern Iraq and part of Syria), Egypt, India, China and Peru,” Shady said. Caral was 3,200 years older than cities of another ancient American civilization, the Maya, she added.

Caral ‘advanced alone’
Shady said no equivalent of the “Rosetta Stone” that deciphered the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt had yet been found to fully unlock the language of the quipus, but said their existence pointed to a sophisticated, organized society where such information as production, taxes and debts were recorded.

“They came up with their own system becausem unlike cities in the Old World which had contact with each other and exchanged knowledge and experiences, this (city) in Peru was isolated in the Americas, and advanced alone.”

Caral’s arid location at an altitude of 11,500 feet (3,500 meters) has helped preserve its treasures, such as piles of raw cotton — still uncombed and containing seeds, though turned a dirty brown by the ages — and a ball of cotton thread.

The exhibition includes some of the 25 huge whale bones fashioned into chairs found at the site, as well as a cotton-soled sandal and flutes and pipes made from animal horns, pelican or condor bones or reeds.

The remains of jungle fruits, cactus fiber and shells revealed trade with distant regions and a block of salt the size of a small laptop computer was found in Caral’s main temple, suggesting salt may have had religious as well as commercial value.

Shady said representations on clay figurines had helped show that nobles wore their hair in two long ponytails each side of the face, with a fringe at the front and the hair

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And Finally...

Get ready to e-mail this one to your friends...
Wed Jul 20, 9:02 AM ET

LONDON - The word "fail" should be banned from use in British classrooms and replaced with the phrase "deferred success" to avoid demoralizing pupils, a group of teachers has proposed.

Members of the Professional Association of Teachers (PAT) argue that telling pupils they have failed can put them off learning for life.

A spokesman for the group said it wanted to avoid labeling children. "We recognize that children do not necessarily achieve success first time," he said.

"But I recognize that we can't just strike a word from the dictionary," he said.

The PAT said it would debate the proposal at a conference next week.

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