Wednesday, August 24, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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"You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you'll stop the terrorism." - Cindy Sheehan

P I C T U R E   O F  T H E  D A Y

"So, let me see if I got this straight; these planes go 'zoom! zoom!' and then they drop the bombs on the bad guys and doers of evil and kill them dead, right?"


NEW! Signs Commentary Books are Now Available!

For the first time, the Signs Team's most popular and discerning essays have been compiled into book form and thematically organized.

These books contain hard hitting exposés into human nature, propaganda, psyop activities and insights into the world events that shape our future and our understanding of the world.

The six new books, available now at our bookstore, are entitled:

  • 911 Conspiracy
  • The Human Condition
  • The Media
  • Religion
  • The Work
  • U.S. Freedom

Read them today - before the book burning starts!

My Response to George

By Cindy Sheehan, AlterNet. Posted August 24, 2005.

I would give everything I own to have one more glimpse of my son. How dare Bush live a normal life when he has ruined mine by his lies?

Editor's Note:The italicized portions below are quotes from AP stories.

President Bush charged Tuesday that anti-war protesters like Cindy Sheehan who want troops brought home immediately do not represent the views of most U.S. military families and are "advocating a policy that would weaken the United States."

Bringing our troops home from the quagmire that he has gotten us into will be weakening the United States? George: Even if you pretend you didn't know that Saddam did not have weapons of mass destruction and Iraq was not a threat to the USA before you invaded -- Americans know differently. We have read the reports and the Downing Street Memos. We know you had to "fit the intelligence around the policy" of invading Iraq. I want to know what your real reasons were.

In brief remarks outside the resort where he is vacationing, Bush gave no indication that he would change his mind and meet with Sheehan after he returns to his Texas ranch Wednesday evening. Sheehan lost a son in Iraq and has emerged as a harsh critic of the war.

I will be back in Crawford, George: Even closer to you now, in Camp Casey II. Why don't you channel some courage from my son and come down and face me? Face the truth. Your house of cards built on smoke and mirrors is crumbling and you know it.

Sheehan has been maintaining a vigil outside Bush's ranch, a demonstration that has been joined by more and more other anti-war protesters.

Because I am not the only one in America who wants the answers; America wants the answers.

Bush said that two high-ranking members of his staff already met with her earlier this month and that he met with her last year.

I didn't go to Crawford to meet with Steven "Yellow cake uranium liar" Hadley or the other "high ranking" official they sent out. I went to meet with George. Does he get that yet? I did meet with him 10 weeks after his insane and arrogant Iraq war policies killed Casey and nine weeks after I buried my oldest child. George: Things are different between you and I now.

"I've met with a lot of families," Bush said. "She doesn't represent the view of a lot of families I have met with."

I never said I did. I want one answer: What is the "noble cause" MY son died for? There are also dozens, if not hundreds of families from all over the country who want to know the same thing.

On Iraq, Bush said that a democratic constitution "is going to be an important change in the broader Middle East." Reaching an accord on a constitution after years of dictatorship is not easy, Bush said.

A Democratic constitution? Is anyone else insulted that he thinks we are stupid and think that the constitution they will form in Iraq will be democratic and insure equal rights to all citizens? Does anyone else know what "democratic" means? It simply means majority rule. Not some high-minded, free-floating, pie in the sky ideal. It means 50% plus one. Up to 62% of Americans think our troops should be coming home soon. That is a majority, so why don't we force our employee, the president, to do what we want him to do?

He spoke after the head of the committee drafting Iraq's constitution said Tuesday that three days are not enough to win over the minority Sunni Arabs, and the document they rejected may ultimately have to be approved by parliament as is and submitted to the people in a referendum.

Another sham election where the country is shut down for the day and no one knows what the heck they are voting for?

"The Iraqi people are working hard to reach a consensus on their constitution," Bush said, speaking outside the Tamarack Resort, in the mountains 100 miles north of Boise. "It's an amazing process to work. First of all, the fact that they're even writing a constitution is vastly different from living under the iron hand of a dictator."

As hard as George is working riding bikes and taking naps? If he cares so much about an Iraqi Constitution, why doesn't he take some time from his busy vacation activities and read the U.S. Constitution? He may find out that he started an un-constitutional war in Iraq. He may lose some sleep over it. (What am I saying?)

"The Sunnis have got to make a choice," Bush said. "Do they want to live in a society that's free? Or do they want to live in violence?"

Too bad George didn't give them that option before he invaded and occupied their country, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people. I bet they would choose to live in a peaceful country free of foreign occupiers.

He said he thought that most mothers, regardless of their religion, would prefer to live in peace rather than violence.

Amen to that, George. You got one thing right. Thanks to you and your lies, the people of Iraq are suffering from a tragic and unnecessary war, and my son was violently killed and ripped out of the heart of our family.

He said Rice had assured him that the rights of women were being protected. "Democracy is unfolding," the president said. "We just cannot tolerate the status quo."

Then bring our troops home. The status quo in Iraq is awful. Besides the Iraqi people suffering from lack of adequate infrastructure, clean water and medical attention, our troops still don't have armored Humvees or proper body armor. I got a letter from a soldier over in Iraq who says that he feels like an innocent man in prison. All of the soldiers and Marines who contact me say that they were lied to about the "mission." They were told that they would be rebuilding the country and all they are doing is trying to survive so their moms won't go through what I am going through.

I think the Camp Casey movement is taking hold and growing because America is sick of the status quo. We are sick of needless death and suffering on both sides. We are sick of paying for a war with our taxes and with our lifeblood that is not making our country more secure. George: Your employers cannot tolerate the status quo.

On Sheehan, the grieving mother who has camped near his ranch since Aug. 6, the president said he strongly supports her right to protest. "She expressed her opinion. I disagree with it," Bush said. "I think immediate withdrawal from Iraq would be a mistake," he said. "I think those who advocate immediate withdrawal from not only Iraq but the Middle East are advocating a policy that would weaken the United States."

This is the biggest smokescreen from him yet. I didn't ask him to withdraw the troops; I asked him, what "noble cause" Casey died for. I am still waiting for one of the press corps to ask him that. I am still waiting for that answer.

First, we were told WMDs -- false. Then we were told Saddam=Osama -- false. Then we were told Saddam was a bad man to his own people and we had to get rid of him -- he's gone. Then we were told the Iraqi people had to have elections -- they did. Now we are spreading "freedom and democracy" but we are building 14 permanent bases, some the size of Sacramento, California. To me that indicates that we are spreading the cancer of imperialism and usurping THEIR natural resources.

Bush has scheduled more than two hours to meet with family members of slain soldiers Wednesday at the Mountain Home Air Force Base near Boise.

I am just asking for an hour from his vacation, and he just has to come down the road --not travel to Idaho. I wonder if any of the hand-picked family members will ask what noble cause their child died for. I hope so.

Bush said he planned to go on a hike and have dinner later Tuesday with Kempthorne and the Idaho congressional delegation. Bush said he also planned to spend "quality time" with first lady Laura Bush, who is traveling with him.

I would give everything I own, will own, or have owned to have one more glimpse of my son. Dare I even say ... one last hug or phone call? How dare Bush go on vacation and live a normal life when he has ruined mine by his lies? How dare he take five weeks off when he is waging a devastating and needless war?

Bush, who is seeking to quell growing criticism at home over the Iraq war, told the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in Salt Lake City on Monday that "a policy of retreat and isolation will not bring us safety."

His policies of preemptive wars of aggression for power and greed don't bring America safety, either.

Bush made a rare reference of the U.S. military death toll -- more than 2,000 killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. "We owe them something. We will finish the task that they gave their lives for ... by staying on the offensive against the terrorists, and building strong allies in Afghanistan and Iraq that will help us win and fight -- fight and win the war on terror," he told the VFW convention."

How does he honor the soldiers by killing more of their buddies? People say Casey is ashamed of me and that I dishonor his memory! I knew my son better than anyone on earth and I know he is appalled by the continued carnage in his name.

George: You can't win the war on terror by killing more of our soldiers and innocent Iraqi people. You are breeding more terror. And judging from the fact that you are now tied with the worst president in U.S. history (Nixon) in your abysmal poll numbers, the people of our country realize this too, and want you stopped.

Comment: That's telling him, Cindy. Yes, the majority of Americans are questioning the war and the reasons for it. They know that Bush is lying, that death and destruction are the plagues of the land of his lies, that Bush is a weakling disguised as a bully who is in over his head and under pressure from the real power to march on! March on!

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The Prosecution of George W. Bush for torture: an update
Monday, August 22, 2005

A Pre-Hearing Conference of the Application to review the December 6/04 decision blocking criminal charges against George Bush is scheduled for 10:00 am, Thursday, August 25th, 2005, at B.C. Supreme Court, 800 Smithe Street, Vancouver, B.C.

The Attorney General wants to seal the courtroom at the pre-hearing conference. LAW says Canadians have the right to be there.

On November 30 2004 Gail Davidson, co-chair of Lawyers against the War LAW), filed an Information in the Provincial Court of B.C. charging George W. Bush as President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces with torture.

When Davidson went to court on December 6th to secure a date for a process hearing, the Attorney General applied to declare the information a nullity on the grounds that, as head of state, Mr. Bush was immune from prosecution. In an extraordinary action and over the objections of the reporter present, the courtroom was sealed and the press and public were excluded. Behind closed doors, the charges against Bush were stopped before any evidence could be heard.

An application for review of that decision was filed in the Supreme Court of B.C. The pre-hearing conference on Thursday is to determine a schedule for the exchange of arguments and authorities and to set a date for the review itself. The Attorney General wants to prevent the public and the press from attending this pre-hearing conference.

Many individuals and organizations around the world allege that George Bush has used his position as President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces to carry out torture that has included among its victims at least one Canadian (a minor) and many, perhaps thousands, of other non-Americans. These allegations and the evidence supporting them are widely available. LAW wants to present this evidence in court.

The Attorney General says that George Bush, as the President of the United States and a sitting head of state, is immune from prosecution. LAW insists that diplomatic immunity is irrelevant to this case of torture. Canadian jurisdiction to prosecute Mr. Bush was triggered when he came to Canada on November 30, 2004 and when a Canadian citizen became the victim of torture under Mr. Bush command.

The law is very clear on torture and LAW simply wants the law to be applied. Under international and domestic law, Canadians have a responsibility to prevent torture and to prosecute those who commit torture. LAW wants the hearing to be public so that Canadians can see justice being done.

Information note on the crime of torture: Torture is a unique international crime. Torture can only be committed by or through state officials. It is a crime universally condemned by Canada and other nations as one of the most egregious violations of both international human right law and international humanitarian law. Torture is a war crime and a crime against humanity. The prohibition against torture is absolute – torture cannot be justified by any circumstances. No nation holds torture to be legal.

The right to freedom from torture is universal and non-derogable—it cannot be displaced even temporarily. Criminal law prohibits the torture of anyone.

International law says Canada owes a duty to the whole world to prosecute Mr. Bush for torture. Canada has a duty to act effectively to prevent further torture of the people in Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay and to deter other states from using torture.

For further information, contact
Gail Davidson, Tel: 604 738 0338; Fax: 604 736 1175, Email:

LAW is an international group of jurists and others based in Canada with members in 14 countries

Comment: Given the implication of the Canadian State in the case of Maher Arar - a Canadian citizen arrested while in transit through the USA and sent to Syria to be tortured - we can understand why the government wants to hush up the issue of the long-standing and well-known issue of the crime of torture. Once the floodgates open, what government in the world would be immune?

That said, we certainly are in agreement with using the law to bring to light the crimes of these war criminals.

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Chavez assassination row erupts

A row has erupted over a call by US religious broadcaster Pat Robertson for the US to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Visiting Cuba, Mr Chavez would not be drawn but his deputy said Mr Robertson had made "terrorist" remarks and the country was studying its legal options.

The US State Department said the comments were "inappropriate" and did not reflect the policy of the US.

Mr Robertson's remarks come amid tense relations between the two countries.

Assassination call

President Chavez is a regular critic of the US, which regards Venezuela as a possible source of instability in the region.

Mr Chavez has accused Washington of conspiring to topple his government and possibly backing plots to assassinate him. US officials have called the accusations ridiculous.

Comment: However, the US did back the 2002 coup as well as fund the anti-Chavez groups who lost last year's referendum. The major destabilising force in Venezuela is not the legally elected government, it is the US-backed groups.

'Criminal statement'

Mr Robertson, 75, said on Monday's edition of the 700 Club: "We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability."

"We don't need another $200bn war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator.

"It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."

When asked in Havana what he made of the call, the Venezuelan president said: "I haven't read anything. We haven't heard anything about him.

"I don't even know who that person is."

Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel said this was a "criminal statement" and the way Washington responded to the remarks would put its anti-terrorism policy to the test.

"It's huge hypocrisy to maintain this discourse against terrorism and at the same time, in the heart of that country there are entirely terrorist statements like those."

The vice-president also said the Organization of American States could take up the case, saying an inter-American anti-terrorism accord includes provisions against inciting others to kill.

State department spokesman San McCormack said Mr Robertson was speaking as a private citizen and that the US administration did not share his views.

"Any allegations that we are planning to take hostile action against the Venezuelan government are completely baseless," Mr McCormack said.

"We have been very clear that this is not the policy of the United States."

Venezuela is the fifth-largest oil exporter and a major supplier of oil to the United States.

Comment: Yeah, it is the policy of the US to let other countries decide their future for themselves. Right! McCormack should read a little history, and he need not go back that far. Remember Afghanistan? What about Iraq?

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US rejects prominent preacher's call for Chavez assassination
Tue Aug 23, 6:02 PM ET

WASHINGTON - The United States distanced itself from a call by prominent religious broadcaster Pat Robertson for Washington to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The conservative televangelist's comments outraged Venezuelan authorities, who expressed concern about Chavez's safety when he travels to the UN General Assembly in New York next month.

Robertson is a former presidential candidate who strongly supports US President George W. Bush and rallied his followers to vote for Bush in the November election.

"I would say that Pat Robertson is a private citizen and that his views do not represent the policy of the United States," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters, describing the TV preacher's comments as "inappropriate."

Comment: Robertson's statements certainly don't represent the official policy of the US, but there are most certainly unofficial policies that are just as relevant. From our timeline:


The CIA recreates a covert action wing, innocuously called the Office of Policy Coordination, led by Wall Street lawyer Frank Wisner. According to its secret charter, its responsibilities include "propaganda, economic warfare, preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation procedures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous anti-communist elements in threatened countries of the free world."

The CIA corrupts democratic elections in Italy, where Italian communists threaten to win the elections. The CIA buys votes, broadcasts propaganda, threatens and beats up opposition leaders, and infiltrates and disrupts their organizations. It works - the communists are defeated.


Indonesia - The CIA overthrows the democratically elected Sukarno with a military coup. The CIA has been trying to eliminate Sukarno since 1957, using everything from attempted assassination to sexual intrigue, for nothing more than his declaring neutrality in the Cold War. His successor, General Suharto, will massacre between 500,000 to 1 million civilians accused of being "communist." The CIA supplies the names of countless suspects.

Dominican Republic - A popular rebellion breaks out, promising to reinstall Juan Bosch as the country's elected leader. The revolution is crushed when U.S. Marines land to uphold the military regime by force. The CIA directs everything behind the scenes.

Greece - With the CIA's backing, the king removes George Papandreous as prime minister. Papandreous has failed to vigorously support U.S. interests in Greece.

Congo (Zaire) - A CIA-backed military coup installs Mobutu Sese Seko as dictator. The hated and repressive Mobutu exploits his desperately poor country for billions.


El Salvador - The Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero, pleads with President Carter "Christian to Christian" to stop aiding the military government slaughtering his people. Carter refuses. Shortly afterwards, right-wing leader Roberto D'Aubuisson has Romero shot through the heart while saying Mass. The country soon dissolves into civil war, with the peasants in the hills fighting against the military government. The CIA and U.S. Armed Forces supply the government with overwhelming military and intelligence superiority. CIA-trained death squads roam the countryside, committing atrocities like that of El Mazote in 1982, where they massacre between 700 and 1000 men, women and children. By 1992, some 63,000 Salvadorans will be killed.

"As we have said before, any allegations that we are planning to take hostile action against the Venezuelan government are completely baseless and without fact," McCormack added.

US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld denied that the
Pentagon has considered assassinating the leftist president.

"Our department doesn't do that type of thing," Rumsfeld said. [...]

Comment: SOf course not, that's the CIA's department...

David Brock, president and CEO of Media Matters for America, a self-described watchdog of conservative media, dubbed Robertson's statement "an irresponsible use of the public airwaves, as well as a call for the Bush administration to violate the executive order banning assassination."

"Responsible news outlets should think twice before providing him a platform from which to peddle his inappropriate and inaccurate claims," Brock said. [...]

Comment: So why don't "responsible news outlets" think twice before providing the Bush gang a platform to peddle its lies? Everyone knows that Bush lied about Iraq, yet the mainstream media keep spreading his "inappropriate and inaccurate claims" far and wide.

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Are We There Yet?
Fascism in America

August 23, 2005

Is America going fascist? Or has the cursed event already happened? It depends on your definition of fascism. What usually occurs in a fascist scenario?

* Labor unions are weak and the right to strike is denied by law. In Bush's America, the unions and their solidarity are extremely weak. The right to strike is still permitted by law, but strikes seldom happen and when they do, as in the current case of Northwest Airlines, scabs are brought in and management and the White House collude about how best to crush the workers. A merging of giant corporations and the State is well along.

* Civil liberties are declining in number and the right to assert them grows increasingly chancy. When the Patriot Act is combined with a variety of authoritarian laws passed during the Clinton administration and fanatics are placed in charge of the secret police, those who do speak out against the government must carefully watch their words. Much of what was once permitted to rebels is now against the law. Indeed, with secret trials, undisclosed prisons and torture, one may question to what extent the law actually still exists.

* The increasingly Draconian regime faces a weak, dispirited and divided opposition. America is almost a de facto one party state where the Democrats pay Bush the highest compliment by trying to imitate him. And many in the radical left and progressive movements (Cindy excepted) aren't able to go beyond silly sectarianism or tactical and organizational incompetence. --- The rise and glorification of irrational philosophy. The current government assault on scientific thought in the name of Christian extremism and phobic nationalism easily fills that requirement. Additionally, a cultural war rages where authoritarian religious values deride and delegitimize their opponents as practitioners of decadence and treason.

* Fascism tends to be warlike and criminally aggressive. The invasion of Iraq combined with the flag waving, ultraviolence and official big lies does the trick. And the ongoing threats to Syria and Iran strengthens the case.

* We usually find a "Duce" in charge. A character created by image manipulation and propaganda. Every attempt has been made to put Bush over as a triumph of the will cowboy hero who flies big airplanes and struts on flight decks in his special uniform. The effort to create a sneering superman hasn't completely worked because Dubya comes across as a little too dumb for the task.

* Racism is usually part of the fascist mix. The post 9/11 antidemocratic assault on Arabs and certain Muslim Asians combined with the panic and minute man vigilantism taking place on the Mexican border satisfies this similarity.

* Free elections no longer take place although fascism may permit some stage managed electoral activity. George Bush was not elected President in 2000. The Presidential election was fixed in Florida. Doubts continue about the integrity of the 2004 election. There is authentic concern about the introduction of non paper trail computer voting. And Republicans are redistricting to assure their Congressional power.

The leaders of this fascist construction have been following a successful right wing version of Gramscian analysis. They have gradually been building an authoritarian culture within the framework of ordinary civil society and have now reached a point of power where they have begun reconstructing the State.

When making judgments about fascism's presence we should not just look at the final totalitarian model that developed in Europe during the 1930s. Fascism passed through various stages and wasn't born overnight in its final horrible form. And it's possible that America will never go the full route. It may even develop am Americo-fascism with a human face. But there is a difficulty with this speculation. The fascisms of Europe evolved in opposition to the rise of the proletariat and the challenge of socialism. Hence it included and corrupted certain aspects of socialism in its practice. It always contained an element of welfare state in its structure and defined itself as a middle way between liberal capitalism and socialism.

American fascism is flowering in a post socialist era in which global capitalists feels fully free to bury the welfare state. Because of this historical circumstance, American fascism has within itself the potential for an unearthly collective barbarism.

Comment: Speaking of the other "F" word, here's a report out of Utah. Go to the original to see the video footage.

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Utah Youth Treated Like Terrorists!

Evol Intents Account Of The Incident!

08/22/05 "ICH"

Last night, I was booked to play an event about an hour outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. The hype behind this show was huge, they presold 700 tickets and they expected up to 3,000 people total. The promoters did an amazing job with the show.. they even made slipmats with the flyers on them to promote in local shops.

So, we got to the show around 11:15 or so and it was really cool. It was all outdoors, in a valley surrounded by huge mountains. They had an amazing light show flashing on to a mountain behind the site, the sound was booming, the crowd was about 1500 people thick and everything just seemed too good to be true really. Well...

At about 11:30 or so, I was standing behind the stage talking with someone when I noticed a helicopter pulling over one of the mountain tops. I jokingly said "Oh look, here comes big brother" to the person I was with. I wasn't far off.

The helicopter dipped lower and lower and started shining its lights on the crowd. I was kind of in awe and just sat and watched this thing circle us for a minute. As I looked back towards the crowd I saw a guy dressed in camoflauge walking by, toting an assault rifle. At this point, everyone was fully aware of what was going on . A few "troops" rushed the stage and cut the sound off and started yelling that everyone "get the fuck out of here or go to jail". This is where it got really sticky.

No one resisted. That's for sure. They had police dogs raiding the crowd of people and I saw a dog signal out a guy who obviously had some drugs on him. The soldiers attacked the guy (4 of them on 1), and kicked him a few times in the ribs and had their knees in his back and sides. As they were cuffing him, there was about 1000 kids trying to leave in the backdrop, peacefully. Next thing I know, A can of fucking TEAR GAS is launched into the crowd. People are running and screaming at this point. Girls are crying, guys are cussing... bad scene.

Now, this is all I saw with my own eyes, but I heard plenty of other accounts of the night. Now this isnt gossip I heard from some candy raver, these are instances cited straight out of the promoters mouth..

- One of the promoters friends (a very small female) was attacked by one of the police dogs. As she struggled to get away from it, the police tackled her. 3 grown men proceeded to KICK HER IN THE STOMACH.

- The police confiscated 3 video tapes in total. People were trying to document what was happening out there. The police saw one guy filming and ran after him, tackled him and his camera fell, and luckily.. his friend grabbed it and ran and got away. priceless footage. That's not all though. Out of 1,500 people, there's sure to be more footage.

- The police were rounding up the staff of the party and the main promoter went up to them with the permit for the show and said "here, I have the permit." The police then said, "no you don't" and ripped the permit out of his hand. Then, they put an assault rifle to his forehead and said "get the fuck out of here right now."

Now.. let's get the facts straight here.

This event was 100% legal. They had every permit the city told them they needed. They had a 2 MILLION DOLLAR insurance policy for the event. They had liscenced security guards at the gates confiscating any alcohol or drugs found upon entry (yes, they searched every car on the way in). Oh, I suppose I should mention that they arrested all the security guards for possession.

Oh another interesting fact.. the police did not have a warrant. The owner of the land already has a lawsuit against the city for something similar. A few months ago, she rented her land for a party and the police raided that as well. And catch this, the police forced her to LEAVE HER OWN PERSONAL PROPERTY. That's right. They didnt arrest her, but made her leave her own property!!!

Don't get it twisted, this is all going down in probably THE most conservative state in the USA. And this is scary.. a gross violation of our civil liberties. The police wanted this party shut down, so they made it happen. Even though everything about this event was legal. The promoters spent over $ 20,000 on this show and did everything they had to to make it legit, only to have it taken away from them by a group of radical neo-con's with an agenda.

This was one of the scariest things I have ever witnessed in person. I can't even begin to describe how surreal it was. Helicopters, assault rifles, tear gas, camoflauge-wearing soldiers.... why? Was that really necessary?

This needs to be big news across the USofA. At least in our music scene (edm as a whole)... this could happen to any of us at any time. When we're losing the right to gather peacefully, we're also letting the police set a standard of what we can get away with. And I think that's BULLSHIT!

The system fucked up last night... They broke up a party that was 100% legal and they physically hurt a lot of people there at the same time. The promoters already have 6 lawsuits ready to file with their lawyers and the ACLU is already involved.

I'm sure some pictures (and hopefully some video) will surface soon. I'll make sure to post them up here on 404, so you can see the Police State of America at work.

Comment: There is video footage of the incident on the linked page.

Unlike the writer of this report, we don't think the system made a mistake. Such a raid is part and parcel of the system, the authoritarian, pseudo-Christian state that Bush's handlers are bent on imposing over the entire population.

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UK unveils grounds for banning hate preachers
By Madeline Chambers
August 24, 2005

LONDON - Britain on Wednesday released guidelines for barring foreigners the government believes inspire terrorism, as part of a broad crackdown on Islamist preachers after last month's deadly bombings in London.

In a move that sparked sharp criticism from civil rights groups, the government published a list of unacceptable activities which would trigger deportation or an entry ban.

"The terrorist threat facing the UK remains real and significant and it is right that the government and law enforcement agencies do everything possible to counter it," said Interior Minister Charles Clarke.

"That includes tackling those who seek to foster hatred or promote terrorism, sending a strong message that they are not welcome in the UK."

Two waves of bomb attacks in London which killed 52 commuters in the capital last month prompted a series of new anti-terrorism measures and British Prime Minister Tony Blair says the "rules of the game are changing."

The list of activities deemed unacceptable, which covers non-UK citizens in Britain or abroad, includes expressing opinions which "foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence" or seeking to provoke others to commit terrorist acts.

The government said the guidelines, which take immediate effect, applied to views conveyed through written or published material, including websites, as well as public speaking.


"The proposals do nothing but unleash further Islamophobia in British society," said the Islamic Human Rights Commission, saying the plans represented a "criminalisation of thought."

Britain is home to 1.6 million Muslims, just under three percent of the population. About two-thirds of British Muslims hail from the Indian subcontinent.

Some experts say Blair is belatedly responding to criticism that Britain's tradition of granting asylum to Middle East dissidents, a practice that earned London the tag "Londonistan," has helped foster a dangerously radical Islamist scene.

"There's an element of this which is to prove to the British public that the government is taking it very seriously," said Michael Clarke of London's Center for Defense Studies.

He warned the new criteria would be challenged in court as deportees will have the right to appeal.

Civil rights groups oppose any move that would lead to suspects being sent to countries with a record of torture.

"We believe it's better for terrorist suspects to be tried than shuffled around the world," said James Welch of Liberty.

Earlier this month, Britain pledged to deport 10 people, including the alleged spiritual leader of al Qaeda in Europe, Jordanian national Abu Qatada.

Britain is working on agreements with a number of countries which it says will protect any deportees from ill treatment.

Comment: Not surprisingly, Blair is supporting rendition just like Bush. Perhaps someday in the near future, we will all be completely terrified of our governments as we cower in the corner, afraid that they will ship us off to Egypt or Syria to be brutally tortured and killed.

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Gaza Stripped: But the Occupation Remains

August 22, 2005

Although Israeli Forces withdrew settlers from Gaza the military occupation of Palestinians continues. Despite U.S. mainstream media reports that the 38-year-occupation of Palestinians within Gaza has "ended," the Israeli military still controls water, the Palestinians' passage through checkpoints and air space.

When the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs surveyed the West Bank in April 2005, OCHA counted over 600 closure barriers placed by Israeli Defense Forces. When Israeli soldiers create flying checkpoints, they block roads with cars or tanks so they can stop Palestinians instantly. These physical obstacles restrict Palestinians' access to jobs, schools, health care, shopping, family gatherings, community events, and places of worship. When Palestinian farmers transport their goods across checkpoints their produce may perish because of the wait-time in checkpoint lines, or because Israeli soldiers deny them passage.

Israeli by-pass roads are not only on land confiscated from the Palestinians, but Israeli forces deny Palestinians access to them. Israeli license plates are yellow and Palestinian license plates are blue, so the color differentiation determines which roads are accessible to settlers only. The continued construction of by-pass roads and expanding, Israeli settlements in the West Bank not only forces Palestinians to use back roads, but physically alters their communities into geographical cantons or disconnected islands.

The three aquifers in the region are controlled by Israel. As a result, Palestinians need permits to dig and repair wells. It is not uncommon for Israeli forces to destroy Palestinian wells. Even if they are repaired Israeli forces have a track record of damaging them again. An example of this practice occurred in Rafah. Even though Israeli forces remove the settlers does not mean they disengaged from Israeli practices.

With the construction of Israel's separation barrier or wall, Israeli forces restrict not only Palestinian movement, but the use of their wells for their villages and farmland. As a result, Palestinians absorb the cost of water trucks and their transport. As farmers try to sustain their olive and citrus groves through this forced, watering alternative it is time-consuming and expensive. Overall, Israelis use five times more water per capita than Palestinians, which means Israelis use 80 per cent of the water.

Palestinian cities and villages have curfews, so people who venture outside of curfew jeopardize lockout from the gatekeeper. However, the greater risk is their lives because Israeli soldiers may beat, shoot or spray tear gas at Palestinians.

Although some of the commentary in U.S. mainstream media focuses on whether Gaza will now be a "hotbed for terrorists and warlords" who will attack Israel, most of the U.S. mainstream media refuses to cover the basic facts on the ground. Yes, they agree the Palestinians suffer from unemployment and economic hardship, but they do not report the root-cause of the economic strangulation.

Even though OCHA's report on Israel's physical barriers states "the closures are the primary cause of poverty and the humanitarian crisis" for the Palestinians, I have read and heard American journalists turn the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into an issue about terrorism. However, they do not address Israel's military occupation, continued land confiscation or expanding settlements. These issues are the major causes behind the oppression of Palestinians, who lead resilient lives amid desperate, living conditions. With no end to the occupation in sight the idea that two states ­ Israel and Palestine - living side-by-side in peace is not only geographically impossible, but it misinforms the public. As long as Israel controls the Palestinians, a Palestinian state is not viable because they do not have their independence.

While the removal of settlers from Gaza was a step in the right direction, it is only the beginning. Some American journalists see Gaza as the beginning of a Palestinian state, yet they do not focus on the occupation, East Jerusalem or the West Bank because talking about all of the issues means criticism of Israel. Although Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made a controversial withdrawal of settlers from Gaza, his decision does not address the 400,000 settlers in the West Bank, or the Israeli Army occupying the Palestinian Occupied Territories.

At this juncture the international community needs to intervene in the peace process. The Fourth Geneva Convention contains over 100 provisions concerning human rights, to which Israel agreed for entry into the United Nations. Now, Israel must be held accountable to these humanitarian laws, some of which specifically prohibit colonization, along with the degradation and humiliation of a civilian population. Two examples are: UN Security Council Resolution 465, which affirms the Fourth Geneva Convention and addresses Israel's settlement policy in the OT and Jerusalem; and UN Security Council 242, which requires the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from the OT.

The dynamic implementation of international law is the beginning of peace and safety for both Israelis and Palestinians. Hope may keep the people going, but a fair and just peace out of the siphon of occupation will bring the reality Palestinians have a right to and are hoping for.

Sonia Nettnin is a journalist who writes about social, political, economic, and cultural issues. Her focus is the Middle East.

Comment: We saw the law group in Canada attempting to use the rule of law against the torture approved by Bush. Here, there is an appeal to international law. But Israel has been defying international law for decades. They don't care about international law, much as the US doesn't care about international law. It is there to be used if it serves their interests and to be ignored if it doesn't. Both the US and Israel consider themselves above the law, and for the same reason: each considers itself the Chosen One of "God", with a holy mission to take the planet for their master.

Yes, the Occupied Territories are still occupied. Israel remains the illegal holder of Palestinian lands, the final arbitor of life and death for millions of people...who, it must be stressed, are considered somewhat less than human by their "caretakers". The charade of the evacuation was a media special carried out for the population in the US, a ten day mini-series of Israeli propaganda.

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Palestinian Injured in West Bank Town
Tuesday August 23, 2005

JERUSALEM (AP) - Palestinian gunmen opened fire at Israeli troops patrolling an area near the site of Tuesday's West Bank pullback, sparking a gunbattle that left a Palestinian militant moderately wounded, Israeli and Palestinian security officials said.

The army said no soldiers were wounded in the gunfight near the village of Qabatiya. Army Radio said the attack was meant to disrupt the eviction of four West Bank settlements. The wounded gunman is a member of the Islamic Jihad militant group, a Palestinian security official said.

The shooting occurred about 10 miles away from where Israeli troops were forcibly removing settlers. Israeli commanders said they were on alert for Palestinian attacks in the area.

Comment: Here in this little new snippet, we have the seed of a story that should, by right, be front page news all over the world. Why is no one raising the question as to why exactly a "Palestinian militant" would want to disrupt the eviction of Israeli settlers from occupied Palestinian land?

Yet again we must ask, who ARE these "Arab terrorists" who periodically shoot themselves in the foot in a most blatant way and play into the hands of Sharon and his claim that Israel "has no partner for peace"?

Has no one yet heard of the concept of fighting a war on both sides? Double agents who incite violence against their own side in order to justify the continuation of a war of conquest.

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Iraqi Doctors Warn Of Humanitarian Crisis
By Dr. Salam Ismael
08/23/05 "Iraq Dispatches"

Doctors for Iraqi is calling for an independent investigation into the serious breaches of the Geneva Convention, the alleged killing of civilians and obstructing medical personal from carrying out there work.

Haditha, Rawa and Parwana have been under attack for the past three weeks with US/ Iraqi military activities intensifying over the past few days. The main hospitals in the area are reporting shortages of medicine oxygen, sugerical kits, anti-biotics and other basic medicines.

Civilians have fled to neighbouring towns and villages such as Ana and are in need of basic foods, water and shelter. Shop keepers are unable to open their premises because of the US/ Iraqi operation, and trucks with urgent food supplies are facing serious difficulties entering the seiged areas.

Eyewitnesses and medical personal have told Doctors For Iraq that snipers are operating inside some of the seiged cities. Haditha hospital estimates that at least eleven civilians were killed during the attack and 15 injured. The US military prevented ambulances from entering the areas and medics from working freely. The area remains under siege.

Local people say that US marines invaded the town of Rawa and carried out air strikes bombing many buildings and homes. It unclear how many civilians have been killed or injured in the areas where the military is carrying out operations A school building in Parwana was bombed with people inside the school. It is unclear how many people were inside the school and who they were.

Doctors for Iraq has organised for medical aid to reach some of the hospitals and a medical team has been sent to the affected areas.

The military operations in the West of Iraq have left the healthcare system paralysed. Hospitals in the area are unable to provide sufficient medical services for the population. The new military attacks are further compounding the suffering of people in the area.

Doctors for Iraq is calling for the immediate end of US/ Iraqi military attacks in the area.

Doctors for Iraqi is calling for an independent investigation into the serious breaches of the Geneva Convention, the alleged killing of civilians and obstructing medical personal from carrying out there work.

We need urgent medical supplies to be delivered to the hospitals in the area.

For more information or to find out how you can send medical aid to the areas contact:

Dr. Salam Ismael - Or Aisha Ismael

(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail

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Coup in Baghdad
Juan Cole
Informed Comment

Unfinished Constitution Presented, vote Delayed

According to the interim constitution, the permanent constitution should have been presented to parliament and passed by August 15. There should have been two readings of it, two days apart, before the vote. Otherwise, parliament should have been dissolved and new elections called. Parliament avoided this fate with a last-minute amendment of the interim constitution, allowed if by 3/4 vote, though the nicety of two readings of the amendment two days apart was dispensed with (arguably, unconstitutionally, though it is a relatively minor affair). The amendment stipulated that the new constitution would by passed by August 22, with other conditions unchanged.

The new constitution, with blank passages, was presented to parliament just before midnight on August 22. But parliament did not vote on it, and a "three-day delay" was announced.


The rule of law is no longer operating in Iraq, and no pretence of constitutional procedure is being striven for. In essence, the prime minister and president have made a sort of coup, simply disregarding the interim constitution. Given the acquiescence of parliament and the absence of a supreme court (which should have been appointed by now but was not, also unconstitutionally), there is no check or balance that could question the writ of the executive.

The NYT suggests that the religious Shiites had been planning to use their majority in parliament to simply pass the constitution they liked into law, presenting everyone else with a fait accompli. Somehow they were blocked in this plan by the secular Iyad Allawi bloc and by the Kurds. Having failed in this gambit, they punted, giving themselves 3 days by simple announcement.

Al-Zaman suggests that some parliamentarians, including Allawi and some of the Kurds, actually want parliament dissolved and new elections held, convinced that in the next parliament the religious Shiites will not have such a dominant position. They think that might be a better situation for drafting the constitution. Al-Zaman did not give any quotes or proof that this suggestion is founded in more than speculation.

The unfinished draft of the constitution presented was hammered out by community leaders like Jalal Talabani (the Kurdish president of Iraq) and Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim (Shiite leader of the United Iraqi Alliance parliamentary bloc). The constitution drafting committee in parliament appears to have been superseded. The Sunni Arab delegates complained of being frozen out. A partial deal was struck between Shiites and Kurds. Now they will take 3 days to complete the bargain and then lobby the Sunnis to accept it. ("Have we got a deal for you!") The Sunni Arab members of the drafting committee, not recently consulted on the draft, rejected the entire process and much of the language with some outrage.

It could matter. Any three provinces can reject the constitution by a 2/3s margin in the October 15 referendum. I'd say Anbar and Salah al-Din are in the bag for a no vote at the moment. Since Ninevah, Diyala Baghdad, and Babil are mixed, though, it isn't clear whether the Sunni Arabs can muster a 2/3s "no" vote elsewhere. Maybe if the Turkmen and Chaldeans/Assyrians join them in Ninevah. Or if the Sadrists join them in Baghdad Province. In insisting on this veto privilege, which Grand Ayatollah Sistani always rejected, the Kurds may have hoisted themselves on their own petard-- giving the Sunni Arabs a means of rejecting the loose federalism they advocate.

I don't know how this very loose federal system will work, and the granting of the right to form provincial federations seems to me dangerous. And I have a sinking feeling that rigid interpretations of Islamic canon law may end up trumping some of the beautiful human rights otherwise promised.

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US: Iran cannot be let off hook over nuclear charges
Tue Aug 23, 6:26 PM ET

WASHINGTON - The United States said that Iran should not be let off the hook although an independent probe has reportedly showed no evidence of clandestine atomic weapons activities in the Islamic republic.

A group of US government experts and other international scientists has determined that traces of bomb-grade uranium found two years ago in Iran came from contaminated Pakistani equipment and are not evidence of a clandestine nuclear weapons program, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

"The biggest smoking gun that everyone was waving is now eliminated with these conclusions," the Post quoted a senior official, who discussed the still-confidential findings on the condition of anonymity.

The existence of the group of experts had not been previously reported, the newspaper said, adding that they had met in secret to pore over data collected by inspectors from the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The IAEA, according to Western diplomats, has already concluded that enriched uranium particles found in Iran were from smuggled Pakistani equipment.

Iran has long contended that the uranium traces were the result of contaminated equipment bought years ago from Pakistan. But the Bush administration had pointed to the material as evidence that Iran was making bomb-grade ingredients.

The State Department stressed Tuesday that the question about contamination was only "one part of this overall set of questions" about Iran's nuclear program.

"We believe that they are developing, they are pursuing a nuclear weapon -- that of course we would cooperate with the IAEA in their work and we would expect any other country to do so," department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.

Listing what he called "unresolved concerns" about Iran's nuclear program, he questioned Iran's so-called P-1 and P-2 centrifuge program and the extent of its dealings with alleged clandestine nuclear procurement networks.

"There are still questions separately about their pursuit of a plutonium route to a nuclear weapon, separate from the highly-enriched uranium route," McCormack said.

"There are questions about Iran's formerly secret uranium mine ... There are questions about whether Iran is still refusing to allow the IAEA further access to investigate suspicions about high explosives" at the Parchin military facility, he said.

McCormack asked why Iran was still refusing access to the IAEA to investigate several Iranian officials whom the agency believed might be involved in suspicious nuclear-related procurement.

He also raised IAEA's concerns about why Iran bulldozed a production facility to the ground before allowing the agency to visit the site.

In addition, McCormack highlighted IAEA concerns about the extent of the Iranian military's role in the country's nuclear program.

"These are all big questions that are still unresolved," he said.

The IAEA called on Iran earlier this month to resume a full suspension of nuclear fuel activities it had undertaken as a confidence-building measure for talks with the European Union on guaranteeing its atomic program was peaceful.

Washington was not part of the EU diplomatic initiative, but supported it.

The IAEA is to report September 3 on Iran's compliance, with the EU ready to take Tehran before the UN Security Council for possible sanctions if the suspension is not resumed.

Iran suspended nuclear activities last November but broke that suspension earlier this month as it rejected an EU offer of trade and other benefits, saying they failed to recognize the Islamic republic's rights under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to make nuclear fuel.

France, Britain and Germany, dubbed the EU-3, have called off a meeting with Iran on August 31 because of its decision to resume nuclear activities, the French foreign ministry said Tuesday.

McCormack said the talks should seek the "truth" about any Iranian weapons program.

"And at every turn, the Iranians obfuscate, they try to change the subject. The focus should be on Iran's behavior. That's why we're having this discussion."

Comment: As with Iraq, there is no way that the US will let Iran off the hook about their imaginary nuclear weapons. As Rummy once remarked, an absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence. In other words, Iran - like Iraq - will never be able to prove to the US's satisfaction that it does not possess nuclear weapons. Therefore, a conflict is inevitable.

Meanwhile, the US Bush Reich will conveniently continue to ignore the estimated 200 nuclear weapons sitting in Israel.

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Plane crashes in Peruvian jungle

A passenger plane has crashed in Peru's Amazon jungle, with at least 40 of the 100 people on board known to have died.

The Tans Boeing 737-200 was on an internal flight from the capital, Lima, to the city of Pucallpa when it made an emergency landing during a storm.

At least 50 people are reported to have survived the crash, with many being treated in hospital.

Survivors spoke of strong turbulence moments before the crash and described their escape from the burning wreckage.

"The plane was jumping, stronger, stronger, and the more it came down, the rougher it got," one survivor, Yuri Salas, said on local radio station CPL.

"The pilot said we'd be there in 10 minutes, but the turbulence was strong... We felt a fierce impact, there were flames and fires around us," he said.

Police officer Arioso Obregon described the horror at the crash site. "It's really a Dante-esque scene," he said. [...]

Eyewitness: Plane crash

"I am following minute by minute the unfolding of this tragic accident," he said.

A Tans spokesman said that "preliminary information" indicated that wind shear caused by violent crosswinds could be to blame. [...]

The crash comes a week after a Colombian plane crashed in Venezuela killing all 160 people on board, most of them French citizens from the Caribbean island of Martinique.

And on 14 August, a Cypriot plane crashed near Athens, killing all 121 passengers.

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Asians, Americans take different view of world 2005-08-23 11:09:20

BEIJING, Aug. 23 -- American students spent longer looking at the tiger, while the Chinese students' eyes tended to dart around, taking in the context.

Chinese and American people see the world differently – literally. While Americans focus on the central objects of photographs, Chinese individuals pay more attention to the image as a whole, according to psychologists at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, US.

"There is plenty of anecdotal evidence suggesting that Western and East Asian people have contrasting world-views," explains Richard Nisbett, who carried out the study. "Americans break things down analytically, focusing on putting objects into categories and working out what rules they should obey," he says.

By contrast, East Asians have a more holistic philosophy, looking at objects in relation to the whole. "Figuratively, Americans see things in black and white, while East Asians see more shades of grey," says Nisbett. "We wanted to devise an experiment to see if that translated to a literal difference in what they actually see."

The researchers tracked the eye-movements of two groups of students while they looked at photographs. One group contained American-born graduates of European descent and the other was comprised of Chinese-born graduate students who came to the US after their undergraduate degrees.

Each picture showed a striking central image placed in a realistic background, such as a tiger in a jungle. They found that the American students spent longer looking at the central object, while the Chinese students' eyes tended to dart around, taking in the context.

Harmony versus goals

Nisbett and his colleagues believe that this distinctive pattern has developed because of the philosophies of these two cultures. "Harmony is a central idea in East Asian philosophy, and so there is more emphasis on how things relate to the whole," says Nisbett. "In the West, by contrast, life is about achieving goals."

Psychologists watching American and Japanese families playing with toys have also noted this difference. "An American mother will say: ‘Look Billy, a truck. It's shiny and has wheels.' The focus is on the object," explains Nisbett. By contrast, Japanese mothers stress context saying things like, "I push the truck to you and you push it to me. When you throw it at the wall, the wall says ‘ouch'."

Nisbett also cites language development in the cultures. "To Westerners it seems obvious that babies learn nouns morys. But while this is the case in the West, studies show that Korean and Chinese children pick up verbs – which relate objects to each other - more easily.

"Nisbett's work is interesting and suggestive," says John Findlay, a psychologist specialising in human visual attention at Durham University, UK. "It's always difficult to put an objective measure on cultural differences, but this group have made a step towards that."

Nisbett hopes that his work will change the way the cultures view each other. "Understanding that there is a real difference in the way people think should form the basis of respect."

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Scientist: Men do have trouble hearing women
Updated: 2005-08-08 09:26

Men who are accused of never listening by women now have an excuse -- women's voices are more difficult for men to listen to than other men's, a report said.

The Daily Mail, quoting findings published in the specialist magazine.

NeuroImage, said researchers at Sheffield university in northern England discovered startling differences in the way the brain responds to male and female sounds.

Men deciphered female voices using the auditory part of the brain that processes music, while male voices engaged a simpler mechanism, it said.

The Mail quoted researcher Michael Hunter as saying, "The female voice is actually more complex than the male voice, due to differences in the size and shape of the vocal cords and larynx between men and women, and also due to women having greater natural 'melody' in their voices.

"This causes a more complex range of sound frequencies than in a male voice."

The findings may help explain why people suffering hallucinations usually hear male voices, the report added, as the brain may find it much harder to conjure up a false female voice accurately than a false male voice.

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Bones reveal first shoe-wearers
By Olivia Johnson
BBC News

Sturdy shoes first came into widespread use between 40,000 and 26,000 years ago, according to a US scientist.

Humans' small toes became weaker during this time, says physical anthropologist Erik Trinkaus, who has studied scores of early human foot bones.

He attributes this anatomical change to the invention of rugged shoes, that reduced our need for strong, flexible toes to grip and balance.

The research is presented in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

The development of footwear appears to have affected the four so-called "lesser" toes - excepting the big toe.

Ancient footwear

While early humans living in cold northern climates may have begun covering up their feet to insulate them as early as 500,000 years ago, protective footwear comparable to modern-day shoes is thought to be a much later innovation.

It has been difficult for archaeologists to determine exactly when humans stopped going barefoot, however, because the plant and animal materials used to make prehistoric shoes is highly perishable.

"The oldest shoes in the world are about 9,000 years old, and they're from California," said Professor Trinkaus, of Washington University in St Louis, US.

But by examining the foot bones of early modern human (Homo sapiens) and Neaderthal (Homo neanderthalensis) dating from 10,000 to 100,000 years ago, Professer Trinkaus says he has determined the period in which footwear became the norm.

Anatomical evidence

He found Neanderthals and early moderns living in Middle Palaeolithic times (100,000 to 40,000 years ago) had thicker, and therefore stronger, lesser toes than those of Upper Palaeolithic people living 26,000 years ago.

A shoe-less lifestyle promotes stronger little toes, says Professor Trinkaus, because "when you walk barefoot, you grip the ground with your toes as a natural reflex". Because hard-soled shoes improve both grip and balance, regularly shod people develop weaker little toes.

To test the theory that the more delicate toes resulted from shoe use, the Washington University researcher compared the foot bones of early Native Americans, who regularly went barefoot, and contemporary Alaskan Inuits, who sported heavy sealskin boots.

Again, he identified chunkier toes in the population that routinely went without shoes. The research suggests shoe-wearers developed weaker toes simply because of the reduced stresses on them during their lifetime; it was not an evolutionary change.

The comparison proves his hypothesis, he says: "It has been suggested in the past that thicker toes and fingers are related to greater blood supply in colder climates, but it just doesn't hold up."

Cultural "explosion"

The advent of footwear occurred during a period Professor Trinkaus describes as "a well-documented archaeological explosion" which also produced a number of other notable human advances.

Paul Mellars, professor of prehistory and human evolution at the University of Cambridge, agrees there were "dramatic changes" in human behaviour at this time. "From 35,000 years ago onward, you see the first art, the first stone tools, and the first personal decorations and jewellery."

More advanced shoe-making skills could have been a product of this overall increase in technological ingenuity.

"There is a strong hint that people were doing more complicated things with ...skins, with special stone tools for cleaning and awls for piercing. In view of all these changes, it wouldn't be at all surprising if we saw better shoes," Professor Mellars explained.

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Bird flu 'stabilising' in Russia

The bird flu situation is stabilising in Russia with the exception of the Siberian region of Tyumen where 40 birds died on Monday, officials say.

No birds have died in several other affected regions of Siberia while one bird death was reported in the Urals.

Fearing the spread of the virus westwards, the Netherlands banned its farmers from keeping fowl outdoors.

The European Union is to hold talks on Thursday but is unlikely to follow the Dutch example, experts say.

"We are following the situation closely, but we are not being alarmist," European Commission spokesman Philip Tod said. "Our analysis is that the risk is low."

"Not every member state shares the Dutch government's view of the risk," he added.

Germany said it may adopt similar precautions, following the Dutch announcement on Monday.

'No human cases'

Russia's emergencies ministry said bird flu had stabilised in nearly all the affected regions apart from Tyumen, local news agency Itar-Tass reports.

More than 120,000 birds have been culled in an attempt to curb the spreading of the virus.

Russian doctors suspect that migratory birds brought the virus to Siberia from South-East Asia.

The strain found in several regions in Siberia has been identified as H5N1 - the type that has killed at least 57 people in Asia in 2003.

Russian officials say there have been "no cases of sickness among the human population".

There are fears of a global pandemic stemming from the H5N1 type, if it mutates into a form which could spread easily from human to human.

Most of those who have died in Asia are believed to have contracted the virus directly from birds.

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Earthquake shakes Southern Flinders Ranges
ABC News
Last Update: Wednesday, August 24, 2005. 3:46pm (AEST)

Residents in the Southern Flinders Ranges, north of Adelaide, have reported a strong earthquake in the region.

The earthquake happened just after 1:00pm ACST.

It was followed by three aftershocks.

Gordon Jones from Wilchata Station, 20 kilometres north-east of Carrieton, says he has experienced earthquakes in the area before, but this one was particularly strong.

"I was on the phone at about seven or eight minutes past one and the house shook very violently," he said.

"[The earthquake was] very quick and sudden and very loud and then in the next quarter of an hour there were three aftershocks, not quite so strong."

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Turkey, Greece hit by moderate earthquake
AFX News Limited
08.24.2005, 06:14 AM

ANKARA (AFX) - A moderate earthquake was recorded this morning in the Aegean Sea near Turkey's northwest coast, but there were no reports of damage.

Istanbul's Kandilli Observatory said the tremor at 6:06 am (0306 GMT) registered 5.1 on the Richter scale, Anatolia News Agency reported.

However, Athens Observatory's Geodynamic Institute reported the quake, with its epicentre between the Greek islands of Lemnos and Lesbos, measured 4.4.

There were no reports of damage in Turkey or Greece, although Anatolia reported that the tremor was felt in seaside towns in Turkey's Canakkale province.

Earthquakes are common in the region, which is crisscrossed by geological fault lines. About 20,000 people were killed when two quakes struck Turkey's densely populated northwest in 1999.

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Is extreme weather down to climate change?

With fires raging through southern Europe - a region experiencing its worst drought for decades - and some parts of the continent submerged by floods, it is tempting to ascribe such extreme weather to the effects of global warming.

A firefighter looks on as fires rage in Moncao, Portugal Image: AFP
The wildfires are confounding attempts to contain them

But climate change researchers are reluctant to make such links.

"You can say that due to the Earth getting warmer there will be on average more extreme events," said Malcolm Haylock, of the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit, UK, "but you can't attribute any specific event to climate change."

Dozens of wildfires have been raging out of control across Portugal, confounding attempts to contain them.

Portugal, like other areas of southern Europe and North Africa has been experiencing searing heat and drought this summer.

Meanwhile, floods have brought chaos to a large swathe of central Switzerland, triggering landslides and cutting roads and railway lines.

Growing consensus

There is a growing consensus, based on past climate records and other data, that greenhouse gas emissions are warming the Earth's climate.

Many climate scientists now believe the data points to global temperatures rising by about two tenths of a degree C per decade for the foreseeable future.

But as far as the droughts and floods are concerned, climate scientists have found it more difficult to find long-term trends in rainfall.

European weather is affected by a climate system called the North Atlantic Oscillation. This describes changes in atmospheric pressure at sea level as measured over Iceland and over the Azores.

"Over the last 50 years or so, there's been a trend to lower pressures over Iceland and higher pressures over the Azores in winter," said Dr Haylock.

The impact of this climate system reaches from the upper atmosphere to the bottom of the ocean.

But its most obvious impact over the last half century is a trend towards drier conditions in southern Europe and more extreme rainfall in northern Europe during winter.

Its effects during other seasons, such as summer, are not as clear. Local weather systems seem to play a larger role here.

Computer models

Dr Haylock said that changes in the North Atlantic Oscillation cannot be linked to human-induced climate change.

Scientists simply don't have the long-term measurements to say either way.

However, computer models suggest that, as the climate gets hotter over the coming decades, the available water in the landmass may be reduced. This may in turn have knock on effects for global temperatures.

"When we run these climate models for future years, we find we were getting very, very hot days. These were so hot, they can't be explained just by more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere," said Dr Haylock.

"Water on the ground cools the atmosphere around it a lot, and once this has dried out, the temperatures just accelerate. So there is some concern that these hot days may become more frequent over the next decade, but that is still uncertain."

As for the fires in Portugal, observers point out that poor land management and arson have also played their part in the devastation.

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Ocean 'dead zones' remain prevalent
Herald Staff Writer
Wed, Aug. 17, 2005

ANNA MARIA ISLAND - Ten miles off our coast are areas bereft of sea life along the Gulf floor. The devastated marine communities span 2,162 square miles - larger than the state of Delaware.

The Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg, and Sarasota's Mote Marine Laboratory continue investigating reports of "dead zones," or areas devoid of life in the Gulf of Mexico from Sarasota to New Port Richey.

Preliminary results were released Tuesday from a three-day research cruise conducted last week from the mouth of Tampa Bay to Pasco County, indicating that oxygen and sea life are beginning to return to some affected areas.

Also on Tuesday, the Sierra Club held a press conference to call for local, state and federal authorities to curb pollution of coastal areas and fund research into algal blooms and coastal degradation.

It is unclear how much of a role pollution played in the latest red-tide season and resulting reef devastation, but researchers said oxygen is returning to areas that had little or none during the past two weeks, an encouraging sign to the institute's Cynthia Heil.

"The bottom communities are still impacted, but it's the first step in the recovery process," Heil said.

The bottom waters of sample areas from northern Pinellas and Pasco counties, however, still show conditions of anoxia, the absence of dissolved life-sustaining oxygen, and hypoxia, or little dissolved oxygen.

The most intense anoxic areas appear to lie between Anna Maria Island north to Pasco and Hernando counties, said Richard Pierce, senior scientist and director of Mote's center of ecotoxicology.

Offshore from Sarasota, areas of low oxygen were found last week at the 1 mile mark and further south to the Fort Myers area, Pierce said.

Scientists are still unsure whether the mass mortalities were caused from direct contact with the red tide toxin or the secondary effects of oxygen depletion from the decomposition of marine life, Heil said.

The preliminary report said there's a strong thermocline, the zone where the water changes temperature and can prevent upper and lower water levels from mixing and diluting the red tide toxin or pockets of anoxia.

High concentrations of the red tide toxin Karenia brevis were found at the surface and bottom of nearshore regions, as well in the surface waters offshore of the affected area.

Affected sites showed low visibility and high levels of hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide is produced by bacteria, emits a rotten-egg-like smell and turns metals black, two occurrences reported by divers last week.

The full report, expected to be released today, will include data from Mote Marine focusing on areas south of Longboat Pass.

The waters off Longboat Pass is where captain Wayne Genthner said he first witnessed the absence of life from the water's surface to sea floor.

"Last Wednesday, (I) found a dead zone seven miles out of Longboat Pass," Genthner told The Herald. "I went diving down there and did five others the same day to confirm my observations."

At Tuesday's press conference, Genthner said the situation has shrunk his weekly charter boat revenue from $3,000 to $300 per week.

Genthner said fish are moving further west so he must take fishing charters further out. The result is higher expense in gas and potential safety issues.

"What happens if a storm gets in between me and land?" Genthner said.

Dr. Larry Brand, a scientist at the University of Miami, also spoke at the press conference to share the results of a study he conducted for Lee County using data going back to the 1950s.

"The red tide organisms are 10 times more abundant than 50 years ago," Brand said.

According to the data from the Gulf between Tampa Bay and Sanibel, Brand said the blooms are more intense, spatially larger and longer lasting.

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Tropical Storm Katrina Moves Toward Fla.
August 24, 2005

MIAMI - Tropical Storm Katrina formed Wednesday morning in the Bahamas and moved toward Florida, threatening to hit the state with winds of 70 to 75 mph and heavy rain when it makes landfall Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said.

A 200-mile stretch of Florida's east coast from the Seven Mile Bridge in the Keys north to Vero Beach was under a tropical storm watch, meaning tropical storm conditions were likely within 36 hours. The storm is expected to slowly cross the state and could cause flooding as it dumps a foot of rain or more in spots before heading into the Gulf of Mexico.

At 8 a.m. EDT, the season's 11th named storm had winds of 40 mph and was about 70 miles southeast of Nassau and about 250 miles east-southeast of Florida. It was moving to the northwest at 8 mph and was expected to strengthen and that it could reach hurricane strength of 74 mph.

Eric Blake, a hurricane center meteorologist, said Floridians in the watch area should consider putting up hurricane shutters, particularly in coastal and exposed areas. He said all residents should stock up on hurricanes supplies such as water, batteries and generator fuel.

"It's time for South Florida to start taking precautions," he said.

The Florida Panhandle was hit by Tropical Storm Cindy and Hurricane Dennis earlier in the Atlantic hurricane season, which began June 1, and four hurricanes last year, which caused $19 billion in insured wind damage. Actual damage was about double that, experts said.

In an average year, only a few tropical storms develop by this time in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. The Atlantic hurricane season ends Nov. 30.

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Fires, floods leave trail of death and destruction in Europe
Tue Aug 23, 3:10 PM ET

VIENNA - Rescue workers struggled to contain floods that left a trail of death and destruction across parts of central Europe, as parched Spain and Portugal in contrast battled dozens of raging wildfires.

Two people were killed and two others reported missing after three days of torrential downpours in central and eastern Switzerland turned Alpine streams into raging torrents and triggered flooding around the country's lakes.

It brought the confirmed death toll in Switzerland to four, after two fire fighters were killed in a landslide Sunday near Lucerne.

Floods also hit Austria, where two people have died, Bulgaria and southern Germany, hitting roads, homes, railways and tourist spots.

In Switzerland, roads and railways through the Alps were cut, helicopters helped evacuate mountain homes and campsites, and schools were closed in many areas, the authorities said, although water levels were later reported to be stabilising.

Low-lying neighbourhoods of the capital, Bern, were partly underwater after the river Aare exceeded record levels set during floods in 1999.

About 2,500 people, including some tourists, have been granted temporary shelter in civil defence facilities or hotels in villages and towns in several areas over the past two days.

In Germany, flooding was worst surrounding the popular Alpine ski resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria. The town, where 105 liters per cubic metre fell overnight, was almost completely cut off when the Partnach dam burst, turning the main road into a surging river and flooding hundreds of cellars.

"We're in a state of chaos," said Bernd Putzer, the local police spokesman in Garmisch said, adding that rescue workers were having problems getting to the area.

All train traffic between Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the regional capital Munich was suspended and more than 1,000 firefighters, troops and police were sent to that area alone to reinforce local rescue services.

Emergency warnings were also issued in three other parts of the state.

In neighbouring Austria, one person was found dead in the western region of Tyrol, apparently killed in a rockslide, and nine were injured in Vorarlberg, also in the west, including six when flood waters set off an explosion in their house for as yet unclear reasons. Two others are missing.

Some 450 soldiers have been mobilized to help out firemen in the west and south of the country. In Styria, in the south, a 50-year-old woman died Monday when her home was hit by floodwaters.

Waters continued to rise Tuesday in rivers in Vorarlberg and Tyrol, after heavy rain overnight cut telephone service and made many roads unpassable.

In Bulgaria, the death toll climbed to 26 since June after torrential rains flooded the northwestern region of Montana and a man was killed by lightning.

But it was a far different story in Portugal and Spain, ravaged by wildfires and the worst drought since the mid-1940s.

Nearly 3,000 firefighters and soldiers battled dozens of blazes in Portugal and police found the charred body an elderly woman near her rural home.

Eleven fires raged out of control in the centre and north of the country but firefighters said that Coimbra, the nation's third-largest city, was no longer under threat from flames due to a change in wind direction.

The agriculture ministry said most of the country faced either a "maximum" or "very high" risk of wildfires.

Portuguese forces were backed by nine firefighting planes and helicopters rushed in from five fellow European Union nations -- France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands -- after Lisbon appealed for help.

Police said they had detained seven people, including two minors, suspected of setting fires, raising the number of suspected arsonists held this year so far to 105.

In Spain's northwestern Galicia province, firefighters battled 24 blazes, including one that has burned for three days near Santiago de Compostela.

On Tuesday, the Spanish interior ministry said fires across the country had killed 17 people and forced the evacuation of 2,786.

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