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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

©2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte



In the mirror of the water

New Orleans as a portrait of ourselves and our future
By John Kaminski

The dog opened his mouth to get the other bone, and as he did, the bone he already had fell into the water.
- Aesop

All our seeming wakings are but the debris of evening waters.
- Edward Dahlberg

Still water is like glass.
- Chuang Tzu

Welcome to Bantustan, Louisiana, where the first stage of creating a large, armed, New World Order fortress, complete with gated communities and an Israeli wall against the sea and the riffraff, has begun. It is the inevitable course of human history, playing like a bad rerun of humanity's medieval nightmares.

In the meantime, the chief sephardic rabbi in Jerusalem declared that the hurricane that obliterated New Orleans was God's punishment because President Bush supported the eviction of Israeli settlers from Gaza.

Take a taste, a gargantuan, thirst-quenching slug of that delicious elixir brewed by humanity's most successful citizens, that Cajun cabernet of pesticide-fouled Mississippi River water curdling in the backwater blender of the Gulf of Mexico dead zone, spiced by fragrances from all across the periodic table of toxic elements and spiced with a disease-bearing melange of decomposing dead animals.

Savor the bouquet. See how it tinkles on your tongue and wafts into your hairy nostrils. Close your eyes and you can envision the perfect portrait of human civilization.

They say we are 89 percent water. The quality of the water within us is directly correlative to the ingredients of the potion in the cauldron of New Orleans.

Note the bloated black man, floating face down in the brew. Boats rush past, to and fro, hoping to pry decomposing remains from dank attics, and occasionally, with luck, find some terrified child shivering in the stinking darkness, while National Guardsmen play cards at a nearby truckstop.

If there is a legitimate vision of hell in this life, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina is it (although this act has also been seen recently in Fallujah, Kigali, Port-au-Prince and many other locations as well).

Where your last breath, to last you for all eternity, is the fetid stench of humanity's caustic creations, what kind of hope could there be for anyone? Why did four people last week die suddenly simply by breathing the air? Must be a new government test.

The two major conspiracy angles on the New Orleans disaster are (1) the hurricane was directed toward the city by artificial means, and (2) the rescue efforts were deliberately inept to increase the death toll among indigent African-Americans.

Culling the herd. That would be the neocon phrase, slurred out as humor by people like Barbara Bush.

But when you observe who keeps getting it in the face, without even perusing the obvious evidence all across history, you realize there is and has always been a continuing war on blacks, on the dark-skinned peoples of the world, and New Orleans is - whether deliberately contrived or not - a genuine manifestation of this nasty and pointless insanity.

Because so many ordinary people have tried to help New Orleans storm victims and been thwarted by bureaucratic officialdom, one can only draw the conclusion that the government has severely limited its rescue efforts because there is no place in corporate society for these people, and they need to be eliminated.

I thought it was very cool that so many of those like DU activist Dennis Kyne and others who went to Texas to support antiwar mom Cindy Sheehan smoothly moved their operation to New Orleans to help out.

This small remaining segment of morally decent Americans knows - much more authentically that the government could ever pretend to know - that when people are dying you don't argue about causes or rules. Perhaps that is the true test of being human.

9/11 taught us that our government will sacrifice 3,000 of its own best and brightest without blinking an eye. New Orleans is the message that the number eligible in this category, especially if they're black, is much, much higher.

And it is a confession that a real population control program is moving into high gear.

Good numbers in Indonesia, good numbers in New Orleans. Could a West Coast quake be far behind? Heck, they have already caused several of those in Iran.

And it's way past time for the government, after many decades of trying, to develop a really effective biological agent - the new flu as an expression of love in the New World Order world - and you begin to get some sense of how twisted we have become as a species.

Which leads to an examination of how twisted we have always been. Kind of like ... on the bridge at twilight, a man with a flashlight falls off a bridge, and what you can remember was the rhythmic flailing of his arms as he fell. I dunno. Maybe I'm thinking about 9/11 again...

Now the new images are of floating, inert, face down in poison after rummaging through spoiled and flooded supermarkets looking for clean water. I found it heartwrenching that a top choice of New Orleans looters was disposable diapers.

How far? How far distant is the realization in the minds of everyone that we have created a monster, and that monster is what we do to ourselves and the planet.

Did you ever notice how the Andaman Island indigenents were not harmed by the tsunami, or how animals are never killed in these storms? I don't mean to point out faults in those who were caught in the floodtide, but as regards our fitness to survive as a society.

In our sparkling delusions, our high-minded ideals and low-flying scams, we have abandoned the planet. Soon the planet, which has gone out of its way to help us for millions of years, will abandon us.

Where will your dreams be then? Floating on the bayou, baby, with all the other dead birds.

John Kaminski is a writer who lives on a part of the Gulf Coast of Florida that for some reason Hurricane Katrina inexplicably swerved around on its way to New Orleans. He is the author of "The Day America Died: Why You Shouldn't Believe the Official Story of What Happened on September 11, 2001."

Comment: The following are some interesting quotes which cast the last one in a different light:

"The U.S. and other world powers should sign a treaty to outlaw the tampering with weather as an instrument of war. It may seem far fetched to think of using weather as a weapon -- but I'm convinced that the U.S. did, in fact, use rainmaking techniques as a weapon of war in Southeast Asia."
- "United States and Other World Powers Should Outlaw Tampering With Weather for Use as War Weapon", Editorial by Senator Claiborne Pell, D-Rhode Island, The Providence Journal Bulletin, 1975.

"To preserve the cooperative, peaceful uses of space for the benefit of all humankind by permanently prohibiting the basing of weapons in space by the United States, and to require the President to take action to adopt and implement a world treaty banning space-based weapons. The term 'exotic weapons systems' includes weapons designed to damage space or natural ecosystems (such as the ionosphere and upper atmosphere) or climate, weather, and tectonic systems with the purpose of inducing damage or destruction upon a target population or region on earth or in space. Such terms include exotic weapons systems such as--chemical, biological, environmental, climate, or tectonic weapons."
- 'Space Preservation Act of 2001', H. R. 2977 107th Congress, 1st Session, October 2, 2001

"Some countries...are engaging even in an eco- type of terrorism whereby they can alter the climate, set off earthquakes, volcanoes remotely through the use of electromagnetic waves. So there are plenty of ingenious minds out there that are at work finding ways in which they can wreak terror upon other nations. It's real, and that's the reason why we have to intensify our efforts, and that's why this is so important."
- Secretary of Defense William Cohen speaking at an April 1997 terrorism conference at the University of Georgia, revealing the existence of weather weapons

"Weather-modification offers the war fighter a wide-range of possible options to defeat or coerce an adversary... In the United States, weather-modification will likely become a part of national security policy with both domestic and international applications. Our government will pursue such a policy, depending on its interests, at various levels."
- Air University of the US Air Force, AF 2025 Final Report

"Technology will make available, to the leaders of major nations, techniques for conducting secret warfare, of which only a bare minimum of the security forces need be appraised... Techniques of weather modification could be employed to produce prolonged periods of drought or storm."
- Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Adviser, Between Two Ages, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1992)

"It's as if the entire Gulf Coast were obliterated by the worst kind of weapon you can imagine.''
- President George Bush, commenting on the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina, from a Coast Guard Hanger in Mobile, Alabama, 9-2-05

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Post-Katrina military response slowed by state-federal dispute: report
September 9, 2005

WASHINGTON - The US military reportedly failed to respond quickly to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina as advisers weighed whether
President George W. Bush should take over relief operations from state authorities.

At the heart of the dispute was a US law preventing military troops from intervening in states where there is risk of armed conflict without the approval of state authorities, The New York Times said.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina's August 29 strike on the US Gulf coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, massive flooding in New Orleans created a humanitarian nightmare punctuated by looting and gunfire.

While Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco had authority over the National Guard (state military forces), which arrived in the crippled city a week ago -- four days after Katrina struck, Navy and Coast Guard search and rescue teams had arrived on the scene two days two days earlier.

Those troops, however, could not intervene in New Orleans before Bush requested Blanco to surrender control of the National Guard, by invoking the Insurrection Act, federal and state officials told the daily.

Bush aides presumed Blanco would refuse to surrender her authority, and Louisiana officials agreed that the governor would not have given up control of the National Guard, the daily said.

However, Blanco, who on August 31 asked for 40,000 federal soldiers, said in an interview with the daily she was unaware she had to specifically give up control of the National Guard.

"Nobody told me that I had to request that," Blanco said. "I thought that I had requested everything they had. We were living in a war zone by then."

The prospect of Bush taking over military control of a state run by a governor of the rival political party -- Bush is a Republican, Blanco, a Democrat -- also posed a political dilemma to his aides, officials told The New York Times.

"Can you imagine how it would have been perceived if a president of the United States of one party had pre-emptively taken from the female governor of another party the command and control of her forces, unless the security situation made it completely clear that she was unable to effectively execute her command authority and that lawlessness was the inevitable result?" asked one senior administration official who asked not to be identified.

Comment: Well, we hate to burst the administration's bubble, but Blanco was "unable to execute her command authority", and lawlessness did break out as a direct result of Bush's refusal to send in federal help when she did indeed request "everything they had".

To make matters worse, we have heard a lot of rumors about "refugees" being sent to what amount to FEMA detainment camps, and not even being allowed to leave the camps of their own free will. The following post includes photos of one woman's alleged visit to such a makeshift camp in Oklahoma:

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California Earthquake Could Be the Next Katrina
By Jia-Rui Chong and Hector Becerra
LA Times Staff Writers
September 8, 2005

U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Lucy Jones remembers attending an emergency training session in August 2001 with the Federal Emergency Management Agency that discussed the three most likely catastrophes to strike the United States.

First on the list was a terrorist attack in New York. Second was a super-strength hurricane hitting New Orleans. Third was a major earthquake on the San Andreas fault.

Now that the first two have come to pass, she and other earthquake experts are using the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as an opportunity to reassess how California would handle a major temblor.

Jones, scientist-in-charge for the geological survey's Southern California Earthquake Hazards Team, and other experts generally agree that California has come a long way in the last two decades in seismic safety.

In Los Angeles, all but one of 8,700 unreinforced masonry buildings - considered the most likely to collapse in a major quake - have been retrofitted or demolished. The state spent billions after the 1994 Northridge quake to retrofit more than 2,100 freeway overpasses, reporting this week that only a handful remain unreinforced.

Despite these improvements, however, officials believe that a major temblor could cause the level of destruction and disruption seen over the last week on the Gulf Coast.

More than 900 hospital buildings that state officials have identified as needing either retrofitting or total replacement have yet to receive them, and the state recently agreed to five-year extensions to hospitals that can't meet the 2008 deadline to make the fixes. More than 7,000 school buildings across the state would also be vulnerable during a huge temblor, a state study found, though there is no firm timetable for upgrading the structures.

And four Los Angeles Police Department facilities - including the Parker Center headquarters in downtown - worry officials, because they were built to primitive earthquake standards and might not survive a major temblor. Only two of the LAPD's 19 stations meet the most rigorous quake-safe rules.

"We could be dealing with infrastructure issues a lot like New Orleans," Jones said. "Our natural gas passes through the Cajon Pass…. Water - three pipelines - cross the San Andreas fault in an area that is expected to go in an earthquake." Railway lines are also vulnerable, she said.

A catastrophic temblor at the right spot along the San Andreas could significantly reduce energy and water supplies - at least temporarily, she and others said. Researchers at the Southern California Earthquake Center said there is an 80% to 90% chance that a temblor of 7.0 or greater magnitude will strike Southern California before 2024.

"We aren't anywhere close to where I wish we were" in terms of seismic safety, Jones said.

Seismologists are particularly concerned about a type of vulnerable building that has received far less attention than unreinforced masonry.

There are about 40,000 structures in California made from "non-ductile reinforced concrete," a rigid substance susceptible to cracking. This was a common construction ingredient for office buildings in the 1950s and '60s, before the state instituted stricter standards. Few such structures have been seismically retrofitted, officials said.

Seismic safety advocates have also recently lost some major battles in Sacramento. The state rejected a proposal from the Seismic Safety Commission in the wake of the 2003 San Simeon earthquake to force owners of unreinforced masonry buildings to post warning signs. In that quake, two women died when the roof slid off of a two-story Paso Robles brick building where they worked.

Last week, the Legislature sent to the governor's desk a bill that encourages local governments to develop retrofitting programs for "soft story" wood-frame apartment buildings.

There are an estimated 70,000 such structures in the state, and experts worry that they could sustain major quake damage, because they often have tuck-under parking and lack solid walls at their bases.

The danger of this kind of construction was illustrated in the 1994 collapse of the Northridge Meadows apartment complex, in which 16 residents were killed.

There are other potential safety gaps as well.

Although Los Angeles, Long Beach, Pasadena and several other cities have reinforced almost all their masonry buildings, about a third of such structures across the state remain unprotected, said Frank Turner, an engineer with the Seismic Safety Commission.

A state study published last year on hazard reduction paints a sobering picture of California's earthquake danger. About 62% of the population lives in a zone of high earthquake danger, including 100% of the population of Ventura County, 99% of Los Angeles County and 92% of Riverside County.

Since 1971, there have been at least 13 earthquakes of magnitude 6.0 or greater in the state, and research conducted after the 1989 Loma Prieta quake in the Bay Area found a 62% probability that at least one earthquake of magnitude 6.7 or more would strike the Bay Area before 2032.

"We're pretty confident we have some of the best buildings in the world here, but … there are always going to be losses, because these are extraordinary events," Turner said.

Still, Southern California's geography could help prevent a catastrophe on the scale of that in New Orleans.

Because the Los Angeles region is so much larger than the Louisiana city, it is difficult to conceive of a disaster - "short of an A-bomb" - that would blanket the whole city, let alone the whole county, in ruin, said Lee Sapaden, a spokesman for Los Angeles County's Office of Emergency Management.

Earthquakes tend to do the most damage closest to the epicenters. The 1994 Northridge quake, for example, damaged a large swath of the San Fernando Valley as well as parts of Hollywood and the Westside. But areas farther to the east and south, such as Long Beach and Orange County, saw little damage.

A large quake in the Valley would probably still allow emergency supplies and rescuers to reach the area from other locations such as the San Gabriel Valley and South Bay, Sapaden said.

Emergency crews would have better mobility than those in New Orleans, he added, because even if freeways were wrecked, aid would probably be able to get through the vast majority of areas on surface streets. "Here in Southern California, Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange and Santa Barbara counties would help us out, just like we would help them," he said.

One of the biggest concerns of seismic safety officials is the fate of hospitals.

The 1971 Sylmar earthquake pushed Olive View Medical Center a foot off its foundation, causing the first floor to collapse, killing three patients and a hospital worker. The 1994 Northridge quake knocked 23 hospitals temporarily out of service.

After that quake, the Legislature passed a law requiring that hospitals retrofit buildings to withstand a major temblor or replace them with new ones. About 78% of hospitals have at least one building deemed at risk, said Jan Emerson, spokeswoman for the California Hospital Assn.

But hospitals, many of which are fighting budget problems, have balked at the price tag - estimated at $24 billion for 2002-2030 - and in many cases have successfully pushed Sacramento to delay the retrofitting deadline. The state has already granted about 200 requests for extensions to make the necessary repairs by 2013, according to a state document.

Safety officials said more work is also needed at schools.

A 2002 state study found that more than 7,500 school buildings across California are expected to "perform poorly" in a major temblor.

The Los Angeles Unified School District has completed seismic upgrades to nearly 2,000 buildings, spending $222 million on the effort, according to Richard Luke, director of design for the district.

But the district has not finished upgrades on 600 portable buildings and will look at an additional 239 buildings identified by the Division of State Architect as possibly performing poorly during a major quake.

Jones of the geological survey and Turner of the Seismic Safety Commission believe that one worst-case scenario would involve a massive temblor on the San Andreas fault around where major utility lines run, possibly compromising water and power supplies.

"We should not be at all surprised if something similar to Hurricane Katrina mirrors itself in California," Turner said. "There have been lots of articles written about the failure of levees in the [Sacramento-San Joaquin] Delta, the loss of drinking water in California. This is just the tip of the iceberg."

About 60% of Southern California's water is imported from outside the region in three major aqueducts that cross the San Andreas fault, making them particularly vulnerable to major earthquake damage.

One branch of the 444-mile California Aqueduct, which carries water from the delta, virtually sits on top of the fault for a few miles near Palmdale. A second aqueduct from the Colorado River crosses the fault near Beaumont. And the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which transports snowmelt from the eastern Sierra, runs across the San Andreas in a mountain tunnel between Lancaster and Santa Clarita.

Southern California water managers say they've made progress in recent years building local reserves they could turn to if they lost water from one or more of the transport systems.

With such efforts, "we feel even more confident we are able to provide sufficient water to sustain us during an earthquake," said Debra Man, chief operating officer of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the region's main water wholesaler.

Jim McDaniels, chief operating officer for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's water system, said that if disaster struck, the DWP could double its groundwater pumping within the basin and draw from its four big local reservoirs.

Major gas lines also come into Southern California over the San Andreas at several points, including at Indio, Palmdale, the Cajon Pass and the Tejon Ranch. Still, officials at the Southern California Gas Co. expressed confidence that the system could withstand a strong earthquake, noting they have been upgrading the pipeline for years.

Another open question is whether the major quake would cause damage to fire stations, police headquarters and facilities of other emergency agencies, possibly slowing their response. A state study found that many of the 1,300 emergency operations buildings were constructed before strict quake building standards were enacted in 1986, and that only a portion of those had been retrofitted.

At the LAPD, the only four facilities to meet the most recent and rigorous "essential building" standards are the department's newest: the West Valley and Mission police stations and two 911 dispatch centers.

Yvette Sanchez-Owens, head of the department's facilities management office, said she is most concerned about three stations built in the 1960s: Rampart, Hollenbeck and Harbor. Police officers at the Harbor station in San Pedro have been relocated to trailers while a new station is built; officers could be moved out of the Hollenbeck station in Boyle Heights sometime this fall as preparation for construction of a new station begins.

As for Parker Center, it already sustained significant damage during the Northridge earthquake. It is also scheduled to be replaced, but not for several years.

"It could be in real trouble," Sanchez-Owens said. "It's definitely not built up to standard."

Comment: A Casschat member writes:

Escape would be impossible. When I lived in So.Cal. I used to picture a map in my mind and mentally do an 'escape run-through" every time I was tempted to let my earthquake preparations lag. Even after the devastation of 1994 though, most people there still live in la-la land though, and continued to make fun of me for keeping 5 gal. of clean water per family member, canned food, and other basic supplies on hand (even my husband!), So I know it will be a horrific situation when it happens. As a 'people' we've been bred to live in the illusion that we live in "the greatest country on earth" that will take care of us no matter what. Even now, after what we've seen from Katrina, people are busy bolstering their illusions of safety by blaming the victims; such things only happen to poor blacks who are part of the Great Welfare Society. The irony is that those very same people could soon become victims themselves. BTW - Since "welfare reform" a recipient can only receive welfare for a total of two years. So...two years a welfare society makes???

It is quite interesting that FEMA seemed to predict the 9/11 attacks on New York and hurricane Katrina's effect on New Orleans. Perhaps the Powers that Be at some level are aware of the disasters to come, and are doing as little as possible to prepare the population. The relief efforts in New Orleans seem to back this theory. Natural catastrophes would be the perfect way to institute what amounts to martial law, and the economy could be sent off the cliff while blaming it all on Mother Nature.

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Quake Will Kill Children and Elderly in California
Tom Hayden
Huffington Post
Fri Sep 9, 1:37 AM ET

The Times brought back some of my worst memories from the Legislature with its report today that a California earthquake is third on a list of threatening national catastrophes, right after an attack on New York City and a hurricane on the Gulf Coast.

As I took my five-year-old to kindergarten this morning, the Times was reporting that 7,000 California school buildings lack seismic safety upgrades, despite the fact that the 1995 Northridge quake occurred just hours before our children would have been in their classrooms.

I tried for months to mandate a sufficient quantity of medical and food supplies at each school site, and was rebuffed because it was "too expensive."

Some may remember earthquake victims trying to get to hospital emergency rooms while those same hospitals were evacuating patients traumatized by the earthquake damage. Twenty-three hospitals were shut down by the Northridge quake.

With others, I tried for months to mandate an absolute deadline for retrofitting or replacing the 900 hospitals statewide judged vulnerable to a large quake. Instead, under the pressure of the hospital lobby and tight budgets based on anti-tax fundamentalism, those hospitals were granted waivers extending the deadline far into the future. Imagine -- hospitals lobbying to keep their facilities unsafe!

In the immediate shock of a predictable disaster, the outraged public demands to know why innocent children, the infirm and the elderly are put at preventable risk. Then amnesia and denial set in, the issues are deadened through hearings, and the special interests return to business as usual.


I remember chairing hours of hearings where I nearly cried over evidence that the only thing more certain than the coming disaster was that our poltical system would never respond in time.

Don't think of the Deep South as a place of backwardness and neglect. CALIFORNIA IS THE NEXT LOUISIANA, THE NEXT MISSISSIPPI.

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2005 September 9 07:26:44 UTC

A major earthquake occurred at 07:26:44 (UTC) on Friday, September 9, 2005. The magnitude 7.3 event has been located in the NEW IRELAND REGION, PAPUA NEW GUINEA. The hypocentral depth was estimated to be 91 km (56 miles). (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)

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Ophelia Could Pose Threat to East Coast
Sep 9, 8:21 AM (ET)

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. - Tropical Storm Ophelia was drifting away from Florida's northeast coast Friday, but that may not be the end of it for the peninsula, Georgia or the Carolinas.

Though Ophelia's top sustained winds had dropped to 65 mph, some forecast models showed it turning back toward land as a hurricane sometime next week.

"By no means should people take this short-term motion as being let off the hook here," National Hurricane Center meteorologist Jamie Rhome said. "I don't want people to say, 'Whew this one's going out to sea.' There's still a possibility that it could loop back."

Ophelia was nearly stationary about 115 miles east of Daytona Beach. It briefly had been upgraded to a hurricane Thursday when its winds reached 75 mph - 1 mph over the hurricane threshold.

A tropical storm warning remained in effect for a 120-mile stretch of the Atlantic coast from Sebastian Inlet north to Flagler Beach, meaning tropical force winds of at least 39 mph are expected within the next day.

Florida has been struck by two hurricanes this year and six in 13 months. Many residents who learned from previous experiences have stocked up on batteries, water and nonperishable food.

"These people around here are veterans. They are already prepared," said Rick Storm, a clerk at a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Merritt Island. "They are fully stocked and ready to go."

Even as it lingered offshore, Ophelia sent waves crashing onto beaches and stirred up winds. Officials shut down a stretch of coastal road in Flagler County so transportation workers could shore it up with sand and boulders.

"The storm is eating up our dunes," county communications manager Carl Laundrie said. "It has cut up right next to the road."

Officials at NASA were also keeping an eye on Ophelia. Last summer, the space agency's launch and landing site took the brunt of three hurricanes, which punched big holes into the massive building where shuttles are attached to their booster rockets and fuel tanks.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic, Hurricane Nate pulled away from Bermuda, and Tropical Storm Maria was weakening in the north Atlantic. Neither posed a threat to land.

The Atlantic hurricane season began June 1 and ends Nov. 30. Peak storm activity typically occurs from the end of August through mid-September.

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Mexican Troops Enter U.S. to Bring Aid
Associated Press
Fri Sep 9,12:22 AM ET

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - A Mexican army convoy of nearly 200 people crossed the border into the United States on Thursday to bring aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina, becoming the first Mexican military unit to operate on U.S. soil since 1846.

Mexico's first disaster aid mission to the United States was greeted in San Antonio by honking car horns, welcome signs and cheering people wrapped in or waving Mexican flags.

"San Antonio is probably the most Mexican city in the entire United States," councilman Richard Perez said. Of the city's 1.2 million residents, roughly 500,000 identify themselves as being of Mexican descent, according to the U.S. Census.

Earlier, dignitaries from both Mexico and the United States greeted the soldiers at the Laredo border crossing.

The unarmed soldiers, physicians, nurses and dentists aboard the convoy wore green uniforms with yellow armbands that said "Humanitarian Aid" in Spanish.

Daniel Hernandez Joseph, the Mexican consul in Laredo, said the cooperation was understandable since the United States has helped Mexico following natural disasters, including the Mexico City's earthquake in 1985.

"We know what it is like to be on the other side of this, because of that we are saying thank you by responding in kind," he said.

The convoy includes two mobile kitchens that can feed 7,000 people a day, three flatbed trucks carrying mobile water treatment plants and 15 trailers of bottled water, blankets and applesauce.

After the convoy entered the former Kelly Air Force base, soldiers began setting up the kitchen to feed about 500 people Thursday night.

The Mexican government already was planning another 12-vehicle aid convoy for this week. It has sent a Mexican navy ship toward the Mississippi coast with rescue vehicles and helicopters.

Mexico has sent disaster relief aid missions to other Latin American nations, but not to the United States.

In 1846, Mexican troops briefly advanced just north of the Rio Grande in Texas, which had then recently joined the United States. Mexico, however, did not then recognize the Rio Grande as the U.S. border.

The two countries quickly became mired in the Mexican-American War, which led to the loss of half of Mexico's territory in 1848.

Comment: It seems Henry Kissinger's words may very soon be regarded as prophetic, especially if FEMA's third prediction about a devastating California quake is correct:

"Today Americans would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order; tomorrow they will be grateful. This is especially true if they were told there was an outside threat from beyond, whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will plead with world leaders to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well being granted to them by their world government."
- Henry Kissinger speaking at Evian, France, May 21, 1992

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Vice President Cheney heckled on hurricane tour
Fri Sep 9, 1:12 AM ET

GULFPORT, United States - US Vice President Dick Cheney was confronted by an irate heckler when he toured the US Gulf coast region devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Cheney, who was sent to the region by President George W. Bush amid intense criticism of the federal response to the disaster, was briefing reporters in Gulfport, Mississippi, on his impressions of the relief work when he was interrupted by a bystander.

"Go f--- yourself Mr. Cheney!" the unidentified man shouted. The man then repeated: "Go f--- yourself!"

Asked by a reporter if had encountered similar protests during his tour, Cheney replied: "That's the first time I've heard it."

Returning to the issue at hand, Cheney said the hurricane relief and recovery effort had made "significant" progress over the past week.

"I think the performance in general, at least, in terms of the information I have received from the locals is definitely very impressive," he said.

Cheney visited the region with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who has been one of the principal targets of anger over the sluggish reaction of federal disaster agencies as the extent of the catastrophic destruction wrought by Katrina first became apparent.

"I'm here to help Mike and do everything I can to avoid interference back in Washington if help's needed with related agencies," Cheney said.

"I have enormous confidence in the secretary as does the president," he added.

Later on in his tour, as he watched army engineers working to block one of the breaches in the system of flood-prevention levees around New Orleans, Cheney insisted that the city would emerge from the devastation stronger than ever.

"If there is a place on the face of the earth to have the resources to deal with this problem, it is the United States," he said.

Cheney, Chertoff and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales later accompanied Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco to the state's emergency operations center in Baton Rouge for talks with state and federal officials coordinating disaster aid.

The vice president said he would return to the affected region on Saturday.

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Tight Constraints on Pentagon's Freedom Walk

Event Remembering 9/11, Troops to Be Kept 'Sterile,' Limited to Preregistered
By Petula Dvorak
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 9, 2005; A01

Organizers of the Pentagon's 9/11 memorial Freedom Walk on Sunday are taking extraordinary measures to control participation in the march and concert, with the route fenced off and lined with police and the event closed to anyone who does not register online by 4:30 p.m. today.

The march, sponsored by the Department of Defense, will wend its way from the Pentagon to the Mall along a route that has not been specified but will be lined with four-foot-high snow fencing to keep it closed and "sterile," said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense.

Comment: The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines "sterile" as follows:

(c) lacking in stimulating emotional or intellectual quality : LIFELESS

Yup, we'd say that pretty much sums it up...

The U.S. Park Police will have its entire Washington force of several hundred on duty and along the route, on foot, horseback and motorcycles and monitoring from above by helicopter. Officers are prepared to arrest anyone who joins the march or concert without a credential and refuses to leave, said Park Police Chief Dwight E. Pettiford.

The event, the America Supports You Freedom Walk, is billed as a memorial to victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks and a show of support for those serving in the military, topped off with a concert by country singer Clint Black, known for his pro-troops anthem, "Iraq and Roll." Organizers said they expect 3,000 to 10,000 participants.

Comment: It's called the "America Supports Your Freedom Walk", but anyone who tries to join the march without having been vetted by the authorities will be arrested?!

Furthermore, compared to the numbers that marched against the war and who protested the Bush Reich's lies, the number of participants expected is simply pathetic.

Barber said that organizers would rather not have such stringent measures on their event but that police had requested them.

Pettiford said officers would patrol to keep interlopers out because the Pentagon restricted the event in its permit application. "That is what their permit called for, so we have those fences to keep the public out."

Once the National Park Service approves the permit, it is normal for police to do what they can to adhere to the organizers' requests. "It's a permitted event. That means [organizers] are allowed to say who is in and who's out," said Sgt. Scott Fear, a Park Police spokesman. He declined to say how many officers were in the Park Police, which had a Washington detail of about 400 two years ago.

What's unusual for an event on the Mall is the combination of fences, required preregistration and the threat of arrest.

Park Police officials said security and safety were concerns, especially because Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld will participate in some of the day's events. They said they have approved a permit for a small group of protesters that plans to stand along Independence Avenue.

Comment: Officials then continued, "We have placed an electrified 'America Supports Your Freedom to Disagree with the Fuhrer Cage' one half-mile away from the parade route for any terrorists who wish to protest."

Barber at first said this week that event organizers would rather not be so strict but that they were complying with police orders. But yesterday she said Park Police offered two options: Screen participants at the Mall, as police did for the Fourth of July fireworks and concert, where bags would be searched and restricted items such as alcohol, weapons, animals or glass bottles would be seized; or screen them at the Pentagon and, by restricting access throughout the march, "make sure the same people who were screened at the Pentagon are the same people going to the concert," she said.

Barber added: "We didn't want a bottleneck at the concert. We didn't want people to miss the concert while waiting to be screened. So we decided to do the screening at the Pentagon. That means the entire route has to be kept closed."

Some military supporters have welcomed the event as a way to counter the antiwar movement and back the troops abroad. Antiwar groups say they are convinced that the event was orchestrated to boost the war effort and link the war to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- and to undercut an antiwar protest planned for Sept. 24.

One restricted group will be the media, whose members will not be allowed to walk along the march route. Reporters and cameras are restricted to three enclosed areas along the route but are not permitted to walk alongside participants walking from the Pentagon, across the Memorial Bridge to the Mall.

The Washington Post and other corporate entities initially signed on as co-sponsors. But critics from within the newspaper and from the antiwar movement said partnering with the Pentagon raised questions about objectivity, and three weeks ago The Post pulled its co-sponsorship.

Other media co-sponsors -- WTOP radio, WJLA-TV and NewsChannel 8 -- support the effort with advertising.

Opponents of the Freedom Walk took issue with the way the Pentagon is staging the event. When the walk first was publicized, participants were required to submit their names, ages, e-mail addresses and home addresses. After some groups accused the Pentagon of using the registration as a recruiting tool for the military, the requirements were changed.

Barber said the government now asks for a full name, age group, T-shirt size and e-mail address (each registered walker will get a T-shirt). Walkers have until 4:30 p.m. today to register, which must be done online ( ).

Officials at the Pentagon, where 184 people died in the attack, decided to open the attack site and memorial chapel to the public tomorrow for the first time.

Visitors will be welcome from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and can see the stone that marks the crash site of American Airlines Flight 77 and the memorial chapel built there.

There is no need to register to visit the memorial chapel tomorrow.

Comment: After the Freedom Walk, there will also be a book-burning session where participants are encouraged to torch any books or other documents that dare to question the official government line on 9/11.

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German Minister: Bush must be 'shot down'
Thursday, September 8, 2005 Posted: 1140 GMT

BERLIN, Germany (Reuters) -- A conservative German minister in a southern state has caused uproar by saying U.S. President George W. Bush should be "shot down" for his handling of the crisis in hurricane-struck New Orleans.

Andreas Renner, Social Minister in Germany's southern state of Baden-Wuertemberg, clarified later that he had only meant Bush should be downed politically.

During a visit to a local company on Tuesday, Renner said of Bush: "He ought to be shot down."

He later retracted the remark, saying he meant Bush should be shot down "in a political sense", according to the Reutlinger General-Anzeiger newspaper.

Opposition Social Democrat (SPD) politicians in the state called for his resignation, noting conservatives were quick to call for the resignation in 2002 of a former SPD national justice minister, Herta Daeubler-Gmelin, who according to press reports compared Bush to Hitler.

Daeubler-Gmelin is reported to have said that by threatening to attack Iraq, "Bush wants to distract attention from his domestic political problems. That's a favorite method. Hitler did that too."

She was later replaced.

Renner's Christian Democrat Party (CDU) is traditionally close to the United States and has openly supported the Bush administration in marked contrast to Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

Comment: Even in many European countries, questioning Bush is not allowed.

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Koizumi appears headed for victory ahead of election on reform
Friday September 9, 7:53 PM

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi looked headed for victory ahead of weekend snap elections which he wants to be a referendum on reforming the world's second largest economy.

As three opinion polls gave Koizumi's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) a commanding lead in Sunday's vote, the stock market rallied to a new four-year high on record turnover.

An upbeat Koizumi, who is fighting both the opposition and rivals he purged from the LDP, said Friday he felt a "good response" from voters.

"We will beat out certain elements who have ravaged politics in an attempt to protect their own vested interests," Koizumi told reporters. "This election has significant meaning."

Koizumi called the snap election after parliament rejected his signature plan to privatize the massive post office, which is effectively the world's largest financial institution.

Koizumi, the longest serving Japanese premier in two decades, has tapped a series of celebrity candidates to defeat LDP members who voted against the postal reforms and were purged from the ticket.

One key LDP dissenter who defeated the bills in the upper house, Yoshitada Konoike, was quoted as saying Friday he would back the privatization if Koizumi wins.

Some 42 percent of voters in single-seat constituencies plan to vote for the LDP, up from 37 percent in the previous survey conducted last week, the Yomiuri Shimbun said.

Japan's best-selling daily said it was the highest rating for the LDP in five polls since Koizumi called a new election on August 8, indicating that swing voters were siding with the ruling party. [...]

Koizumi has threatened to resign if his coalition, which includes the Buddhist-oriented New Komeito, fails to win a majority.

He believes that breaking up the post office, which is used in Japan for savings and insurance and sits on three trillion dollars in assets, would give new life to the world's second largest economy and clean up a political culture of patronage.

The main opposition says Koizumi is misdirected and should instead focus on reforming the pension system, which faces crisis when Japan's population begins to decline next year.

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Solar flare affects communications, disruptions possible
Thursday, September 8, 2005 Posted: 1136 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A large solar flare was reported Wednesday and forecasters warned of potential electrical and communications disruptions.

The flare was reported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Environment Center in Boulder, Colorado.

Significant solar eruptions are possible in the coming days and there could be disruptions in spacecraft operations, electric power systems, high frequency communications and low-frequency navigation systems, the agency said.

"This flare, the fourth largest in the last 15 years, erupted just as the ... sunspot cluster was rotating onto the visible disk of the sun," said Larry Combs, solar forecaster at the center.

The flare has affected some high-frequency communications on the sunlit side of Earth, NOAA reported.

Comment: reports:

Solar activity is very high. Forecasters predict a 50% chance of powerful X-class flares during the next 24 hours. Such flares could cause radio blackouts, auroras and radiation storms.

The source of all this activity is sunspot 798. Since it appeared at the sun's eastern limb on Sept. 7th, it has unleashed three major solar flares: an X17-category blast on Sept 7th (1740 UT), an X5 on Sept 8th (2105 UT), and an X1 on Sept. 9th (0300 UT). continued below

Possibly, coronal mass ejections (CMEs) hurled into space by these explosions will strike glancing blows to Earth's magnetic field during the next 48 hours. Sky watchers in Canada, Alaska and other northern places should be alert for auroras.

So far, except for brief radio blackouts, the flares from sunspot 798 have had little effect on Earth. The 'spot is near the sun's eastern limb, so the explosions have not been Earth-directed. This will change: In the days ahead, the sun's rotation will turn sunspot 798 increasingly toward our planet. The last time sunspot 798 was facing Earth, in late August, it sparked strong auroras seen as far south as Utah and Colorado. We might get more such displays next week if sunspot 798 remains active.

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Polish customs officers seize haul of meteorites on Russian truck
September 9, 2005

WARSAW - Customs officers in Dorohusk, on Poland's border with Ukraine, have made an unusual seizure, confiscating nearly 530 kilogrammes (1,166 pounds) of meteorites they found hidden on a Russian-registered truck.

"In total, 529.5 kilogrammes of meteorites were confiscated, including three very big ones, weighing 176 kilos, 150 kilos and 80 kilos," Poland's customs service said in a statement.

"They probably came from the same place in Siberia where a meteorite crashed in 1947," the statement said Friday.

According to the truck's payload ledgers, its cargo was quartzite, a tough stone composed almost entirely of quartz grains, derived from sandstone. The truck was bound for the Czech Republic.

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Launch Of New Commercial Spaceport To Be Announced By New Mexico's Governor
Sep 07, 2005

Hartford CT -- New Mexico's Governor, Bill Richardson, will announce Wednesday in Santa Fe the inaugural launch in a series of space launches to occur at the State's new Southwest Regional Spaceport.

On March 27, 2006, UP Aerospace - heralding "Unlimited Possibilities" for business and education - will launch its SpaceLoft rocket on a sub-orbital flight from the New Mexico Spaceport. The flight will carry seven experimental and commercial payloads for a variety of scholastic and business entities.

After traveling into space, the rocket and its payloads will land in the downrange area of the Spaceport.

The inaugural space launch will be announced tomorrow, September 7th, at 2:00 PM MT on the steps of New Mexico's State Capitol Building in Santa Fe. The announcement will take place in a combined press conference with Governor Richardson, New Mexico's government leadership, and the principals of UP Aerospace.

"This is a milestone event in the history of aerospace," said Eric Knight, CEO of UP Aerospace. "For the first time in all of space flight, a facility is now available for regularly scheduled, private space launches. Thanks to the vision of the State of New Mexico, as well as the aerospace capabilities provided by our company, the 'final frontier' is now open to everyone."

UP Aerospace has the capability to launch up to 30 space launches per year from New Mexico's Spaceport. The company believes that its unique SpaceLoft rocket provides the world's lowest cost-per-pound of any space-transportation vehicle. Rocket specifications and capabilities can be viewed at the company's web site.

UP Aerospace concentrates it services on three markets: (1) Businesses that require economical testing of space-flight hardware, (2) scientific analysis of the earth and in-space phenomena, and (3) research conducted by the educational sector.

According to Jerry Larson, President of UP Aerospace, "New aerospace technologies can now be tested and evaluated quickly at very low cost. And for scientists studying the earth and celestial phenomena, we provide a remarkable in-space vantage point." [...]

For details on the New Mexico press conference, please contact Katie Roberts, Public Information Officer, New Mexico Economic Development Department, at (505) 476-3747.

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Study: Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay
Sarah F. Brosnan and Frans B. M. de Waal
Nature, 425: 297-299, 2003

During the evolution of cooperation it may have become critical for
individuals to compare their own efforts and pay-offs with those of others.

Negative reactions may occur when expectations are violated. One theory proposes that aversion to inequity can explain human cooperation within the bounds of the rational choice model, and may in fact be more inclusive than previous explanations. Although there exists substantial cultural variation in its particulars, this 'sense of fairness' is probably a human universa that has been shown to prevail in a wide variety of circumstances. However, we are not the only cooperative animals, hence inequity aversion may not be uniquely human. Many highly cooperative nonhuman species seem guided by a set of expectations about the outcome of cooperation and the division of resources.

Here we demonstrate that a nonhuman primate, the brown capuchin monkey (Cebus apella), responds negatively to unequal reward distribution in exchanges with a human experimenter. Monkeys refused to participate if they witnessed a conspecific obtain a more attractive reward for equal effort, an effect amplified if the partner received such a reward without any effort at all. These reactions support an early evolutionary origin of inequity aversion. [...]

Comment: This study begs the question: why do humans - who are supposedly so much more advanced than monkeys - so readily accept financial, social, racial, and gender inequality?

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Genes Show Signs Brain Still Evolving
Sep 8, 10:35 PM (ET)

WASHINGTON (AP) - The human brain may still be evolving. So suggests new research that tracked changes in two genes thought to help regulate brain growth, changes that appeared well after the rise of modern humans 200,000 years ago.

That the defining feature of humans - our large brains - continued to evolve as recently as 5,800 years ago, and may be doing so today, promises to surprise the average person, if not biologists.

"We, including scientists, have considered ourselves as sort of the pinnacle of evolution," noted lead researcher Bruce Lahn, a University of Chicago geneticist whose studies appear in Friday's edition of the journal Science.

"There's a sense we as humans have kind of peaked," agreed Greg Wray, director of Duke University's Center for Evolutionary Genomics. "A different way to look at is it's almost impossible for evolution not to happen."

Still, the findings also are controversial, because it's far from clear what effect the genetic changes had or if they arose when Lahn's "molecular clock" suggests - at roughly the same time period as some cultural achievements, including written language and the development of cities.

Lahn and colleagues examined two genes, named microcephalin and ASPM, that are connected to brain size. If those genes don't work, babies are born with severely small brains, called microcephaly.

Using DNA samples from ethnically diverse populations, they identified a collection of variations in each gene that occurred with unusually high frequency. In fact, the variations were so common they couldn't be accidental mutations but instead were probably due to natural selection, where genetic changes that are favorable to a species quickly gain a foothold and begin to spread, the researchers report.

Lahn offers an analogy: Medieval monks would copy manuscripts and each copy would inevitably contain errors - accidental mutations. Years later, a ruler declares one of those copies the definitive manuscript, and a rush is on to make many copies of that version - so whatever changes from the original are in this presumed important copy become widely disseminated.

Scientists attempt to date genetic changes by tracing back to such spread, using a statistical model that assumes genes have a certain mutation rate over time.

For the microcephalin gene, the variation arose about 37,000 years ago, about the time period when art, music and tool-making were emerging, Lahn said. For ASPM, the variation arose about 5,800 years ago, roughly correlating with the development of written language, spread of agriculture and development of cities, he said.

"The genetic evolution of humans in the very recent past might in some ways be linked to the cultural evolution," he said.

Other scientists urge great caution in interpreting the research.

That the genetic changes have anything to do with brain size or intelligence "is totally unproven and potentially dangerous territory to get into with such sketchy data," stressed Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute.

Aside from not knowing what the gene variants actually do, no one knows how precise the model Lahn used to date them is, Collins added.

Lahn's own calculations acknowledge that the microcephalin variant could have arisen anywhere from 14,000 to 60,000 years ago, and that the uncertainty about the ASPM variant ranged from 500 to 14,000 years ago.

Those criticisms are particularly important, Collins said, because Lahn's testing did find geographic differences in populations harboring the gene variants today. They were less common in sub-Saharan African populations, for example.

That does not mean one population is smarter than another, Lahn and other scientists stressed, noting that numerous other genes are key to brain development.

"There's just no correlation," said Duke's Wray, calling education and other environmental factors more important for intelligence than DNA anyway.

The work was funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

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And Finally...

The cost of a magical education

Currency experts say they have worked out the value of galleons in JK Rowling's Harry Potter books.

Travelex reckon each gold galleon is worth £5.01p, or 7.39 euros, making Hogwarts an expensive option.

Kitting out young witches and wizards for their first year at the school would cost parents about £1,700, just for the basics.

That means a magic wand would be £35.08 and a superior broomstick, like Harry Potter's Nimbus 2000, would set you back £1,503.

Saskia van Opijnen, director of Travelex, said they had based their calculations on JK Rowling's books and on interviews with the author.

Opijnen said: "This is the first time that we have dealt with a currency from another world. Magic money is a very sturdy currency that could assert itself on the international money market."

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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!

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