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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

Voie Lactée
Copyright 2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte


NEW! 9/11: The Ultimate Truth is Available for Pre-Order!

On the fourth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, Laura Knight-Jadczyk announces the availability of her latest book:

In the years since the 9/11 attacks, dozens of books have sought to explore the truth behind the official version of events that day - yet to date, none of these publications has provided a satisfactory answer as to WHY the attacks occurred and who was ultimately responsible for carrying them out.

Taking a broad, millennia-long perspective, Laura Knight-Jadczyk's 9/11: The Ultimate Truth uncovers the true nature of the ruling elite on our planet and presents new and ground-breaking insights into just how the 9/11 attacks played out.

9/11: The Ultimate Truth makes a strong case for the idea that September 11, 2001 marked the moment when our planet entered the final phase of a diabolical plan that has been many, many years in the making. It is a plan developed and nurtured by successive generations of ruthless individuals who relentlessly exploit the negative aspects of basic human nature to entrap humanity as a whole in endless wars and suffering in order to keep us confused and distracted to the reality of the man behind the curtain.

Drawing on historical and genealogical sources, Knight-Jadczyk eloquently links the 9/11 event to the modern-day Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She also cites the clear evidence that our planet undergoes periodic natural cataclysms, a cycle that has arguably brought humanity to the brink of destruction in the present day.

For its no nonsense style in cutting to the core of the issue and its sheer audacity in refusing to be swayed or distracted by the morass of disinformation that has been employed by the Powers that Be to cover their tracks, 9/11: The Ultimate Truth can rightly claim to be THE definitive book on 9/11 - and what that fateful day's true implications are for the future of mankind.

Published by Red Pill Press

Scheduled for release on October 1, 2005, readers can pre-order the book today at our bookstore.

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Sun has binary partner, may affect the Earth
September 13, 2005

The ground-breaking and richly illustrated new book, Lost Star of Myth and Time, marries modern astronomical theory with ancient star lore to make a compelling case for the profound influence on our planet of a companion star to the sun. Author and theorist, Walter Cruttenden, presents the evidence that this binary orbit relationship may be the cause of a vast cycle causing the Dark and Golden Ages common in the lore of ancient cultures.

Researching archaeological and astronomical data at the unique think tank, the Binary Research Institute, Cruttenden concludes that the movement of the solar system plays a more important role in life than people realize, and he challenges some preconceived notions:

The phenomenon known as the precession of the equinox, fabled as a marker of time by ancient peoples, is not due to a local wobbling of the Earth as modern theory portends, but to the solar system's gentle curve through space.

This movement of the solar system occurs because the Sun has a companion star; both stars orbit a common center of gravity, as is typical of most double star systems. The grand cycle–the time it takes to complete one orbit––is called a "Great Year," a term coined by Plato.

Cruttenden explains the affect on earth with an analogy: "Just as the spinning motion of the earth causes the cycle of day and night, and just as the orbital motion of the earth around the sun causes the cycle of the seasons, so too does the binary motion cause a cycle of rising and falling ages over long periods of time, due to increasing and decreasing electromagnet effects generated by our sun and other nearby stars."

While the findings in Lost Star are controversial, astronomers now agree that most stars are likely part of a binary or multiple star system. Dr. Richard A. Muller, professor of physics at UC Berkeley and research physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is an early proponent of a companion star to our sun; he prefers a 26 million year orbit period. Cruttenden uses 24,000 years and says the change in angular direction can be seen in the precession of the equinox.

Lost Star of Myth and Time expands on the author's award-winning PBS documentary film "The Great Year," narrated by actor James Earl Jones. The book brings intriguing new evidence to the theory of our binary companion star and an age old mystery - the precession of the equinox.

Comment: We're with Muller on the dates, thinking that the 26 million year cycle better fits than the smaller 24,000 year cycle, but it is certainly curious to see a book on the binary star system of our Sun being trumpeted on a physics news site, especially when endorsements come from such figures as Graham Hancock, John Anthony West, and John Major Jenkins.

Of course, the simple fact that our Sun is part of a binary star system is not what is important; it is the effects of this system upon our lives here on earth. Yes, the Dark Twin does have an influence, the most important of which is that it's passage through the Oort cloud every 26 or 27 million years is like a bowling ball knocking over the bowling pins and sending them scattering every which way. Only, it isn't bowling pins; it is countless numbers of space rock that are sent hurtling inward towards the inner solar system, approaching the Earth from every direction.

Of course, if it comes by only once in many millions of years, one might suggest that we aren't in much danger: what are the chances that WE are alive at the dangerous moment?

Funny you should ask.

We think that the Maunder Minimum, a 75 year solar minimum during the second half of the 17th century, was very likely caused by the dampening effects of the presence of the Dark Star at its perihelion. This means, first, that we're it, the lucky folks who happen to be alive at the fateful moment. It also means that the space rock heading our way has been moving in for over 300 years. Might the recent increase in the number of reported moons for Jupiter and Saturn be due to pieces of rock being picked up by the gravitational fields of these planets?

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If We Understand New Orleans; we understand the Bush strategy
Mike Whitney
September 13, 2005

New Orleans provides us with a reliable template for judging what the Bush administration will do in the event of a massive "casualty-producing" terrorist attack. However depressing, this is useful information.

Special military units will be deployed to the affected areas to patrol the streets in heavily-armored vehicles; conducting house-to-house searches according to their own discretion.

The cities will be placed under martial law; invoking shoot to kill orders for anyone either looting or out of doors after the designated curfew.

Heavily-armed mercenaries and paramilitaries will be used on various assignments that require secrecy or additional security. We assume they will be used to protect dignitaries, perform harsh and illegal interrogations, intimidate dissidents, and subvert efforts by the media to provide accurate information from the region.

A massive media campaign will be mounted to create a narrative of an "involved and compassionate government" providing security to their people in times of crisis.

Is this a fair description of what is taking place in New Orleans?

There's little doubt that the Bush administration capitalized on the hurricane to activate its strategy to militarize the city. There's ample evidence that they had extensive knowledge of the magnitude of the disaster, and yet, chose to do nothing. In fact, for more than 3 days they prevented food, water or medicine from entering the stricken city. Here are just a few of the headlines that illustrate this point, although there are numerous others:

"FEMA won't accept Amtrak's help in evacuations.''
"FEMA turns away experienced firefighters.''
"FEMA turns back Wal-Mart supply trucks.''
"FEMA prevents Coast Guard from delivering diesel fuel.''
"Homeland Security won't let Red Cross deliver food.''
"FEMA bars morticians from entering New Orleans.''
"FEMA blocks 500-boat citizen flotilla from delivering aid.''
"FEMA fails to utilize Navy ship with 600-bed hospital on board.''
"FEMA to Chicago: Send just one truck.''
"FEMA turns away generators.''
"FEMA first responders urged not to respond.''

The administration's criminal negligence in the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of New Orleans occupants is not in doubt, nor is their predictable response in countering the bad press. Michael Brown said it best when he noted that he wanted "to convey a positive image of disaster operations to government officials, community organizers, and the general public." Brown's "positive image" of the catastrophe has been left to the usual Bush media-operatives, who have deftly shifted the national dialogue away from "criminal negligence" to the more benign-sounding "government unresponsiveness" or "failure of leadership." Neither of these have anything to do with the facts as we now understand them. Many of the people who died in the disaster were murdered by their government just as surely as if Bush had personally held their heads under water himself.

Now, the city is a fully-militarized war-zone no different than Baghdad or Kabul. Already, reports are coming in of doors being kicked down by armed soldiers and terrified residents being shunted off to special detention camps in hand cuffs.

We should not expect a different scenario when America's major cities come under terrorist attack sometime in the not-to-distant future.

A great deal has been written about the ethnic-cleansing operation of New Orleans poor and black, that has paved the way for America's flagship corporations to set up shop in the Big Easy.

What more can I add to the volumes that have been transcribed about this global project? Americans have been warned that they would be treated no differently than anyone else, and that the masters of new world order claim no regional loyalties. New Orleans merely adds an exclamation point to what everyone should already know.

It should be instructive to die-hard supporters of the commander-in-chief that the military deployment was accompanied by orders for all residents to "surrender all legally-registered firearms" to the authorities. I can only imagine the fidgeting at the next NRA meeting when the membership conducts an open forum on the governments' plan to disarm the nation in the event of a terrorist attack. I am reminded of George Washington's sage advice:

"A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government".

Or, Thomas Jefferson:

"The constitutions of most of our states assert that all power is inherent in the people. That it is their right and duty to be at all times, armed."

That, of course, was before the reign of George 2 and the hasty rescinding of the Bill of Rights. Did gun-lovers really believe they would be spared Bush's terrible swift sword?

The "disarming" of America is a similar ruse to the WMD-scare that was used to invade Iraq. The New American Century is predicated on the belief that only the overlords will have weapons. A careful comparison of Haiti to Iraq provides an interesting contrast in the benefits of self-defense.

The deployment of mercenaries to the region should be of particular concern to Americans. Currently, more than 40,000 National Guardsman from Louisiana and Mississippi are serving in Iraq. It would have been quite simple to return them to their home states to meet the needs of the tragedy. Instead, the Bush administration chose to use exorbitantly-paid mercenaries.

Why? Is it because pacification on a large scale cannot be accomplished without a well-paid, elite-corps of corporate-warriors who are free to carry out orders with complete impunity? Are mercenaries imperative for neutralizing resistance, or is there another motive; perhaps, covert or illegal operations directed against American citizens that require additional secrecy?
In any event, paid killers should never be used on American soil.

New Orleans is looking more and more like a dress rehearsal for an ambitious cross-country strategy. It is unlikely that any plan for militarizing the country will evolve at a "snail's pace" of one city at a time. The administration would have to take advantage of massive "casualty-producing" events occurring in many strategically important cities at the same time. (Coordinated terrorist attacks?) This would provide the necessary cover for the same scenario we see presently unfolding in New Orleans.

It's worth thinking about.

Comment: Indeed...

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Bush Takes Responsibility for Blunders
Associated Press
September 14, 2005

WASHINGTON - President Bush said Tuesday that "I take responsibility" for failures in dealing with Hurricane Katrina and said the disaster raised broader questions about the government's ability to respond to natural disasters as well as terror attacks.

"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government," Bush said at joint White House news conference with the president of Iraq.

"To the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," Bush said.

The president was asked whether people should be worried about the government's ability to handle another terrorist attack given failures in responding to Katrina.

"Are we capable of dealing with a severe attack? That's a very important question and it's in the national interest that we find out what went on so we can better respond," Bush replied.

He said he wanted to know both what went wrong and what went right.

As for blunders in the federal response, "I'm not going to defend the process going in," Bush said. "I am going to defend the people saving lives."

He praised relief workers at all levels. "I want people in America to understand how hard people worked to save lives down there," he said.

Bush spoke after R. David Paulison, the new acting director of the
Federal Emergency Management Agency, pledged to intensify efforts to find more permanent housing for the tens of thousands of Hurricane Katrina survivors now in shelters.

It was the closest Bush has come to publicly finding fault with any federal officials involved in the hurricane response, which has been widely criticized as disjointed and slow. Some federal officials have sought to fault state and local officials for being unprepared to cope with the disaster.

Bush planned to address the nation Thursday evening from Louisiana, where he will be monitoring recovery efforts, the White House announced earlier Tuesday.

Paulison, in his first public comments since taking the job on Monday, told reporters: "We're going to get those people out of the shelters, and we're going to move and get them the help they need."

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff introduced Paulison as the Bush administration tried to deflect criticism for the sluggish initial federal response to the hurricane and its disastrous aftermath.

Chertoff said that while cleanup, relief and reconstruction from Katrina is now the government's top priority, the administration would not let down its guard on other potential dangers.

"The world is not going to stop moving because we are very focused on Katrina," Chertoff said.

Paulison, named to the post on Monday, said he was busy "getting brought up to speed."

He replaced Michael Brown, who resigned on Monday, three days after being removed from being the top onsite federal official in charge of the government's response.

Paulison said Bush called him Monday night and "thanked me for coming on board."

Bush promised that he would have "the full support of the federal government," Paulison said.

Chertoff said the relief operation had entered a new phase.

Initially, he said, the most important priority was evacuating people, getting them to safety, providing food, water and medical care.

"And then ultimately at the end of the day, we have to reconstitute the communities that have been devastated," Chertoff added.

He said the federal government would look increasingly to state and local officials for guidance on rebuilding the devastated communities along the Gulf Coast.

"The federal government can't drive permanent solutions down the throats of state and local officials," Chertoff said. "I don't think anyone should envision a situation in which they're going to take a back seat. They're going to take a front seat," he said.

Chertoff said that teams of federal auditors were being dispatched to the stricken areas to make sure that billions of dollars worth of government contracts were being properly spent. "We want to get aid to people who need it quickly, but we also don't want to lose sight of the importance of preserving the integrity of the process and our responsibility as stewards of the public money," Chertoff said.

"We're going to cut through red tape," he said, "but we're not going to cut through laws and rules that govern ethics."

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said that some military aircraft and other equipment may be able to move out of the Gulf Coast soon.

"We've got to the point where most if not all of the search and rescue is completed," said Rumsfeld, who is attending a
NATO meeting in Berlin. "Some helicopters can undoubtedly be moved out over the period ahead."

He also said there is a very large surplus of hospital beds in the region, so those could also be decreased. The USS Comfort hospital ship arrived near the Mississippi coast late last week. Rumsfeld added that nothing will be moved out of the area without the authorization of the two states' governors, the military leaders there and the president.

Elsewhere, workers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aren't finding many sick people, even though the specter of diseases has alarmed relief and rescue figures. Instead, between 40 and 50 percent of patients seeking emergency care have injuries. The CDC has counted 148 injuries in just the last two days, Carol Rubin, an agency hurricane relief specialist, said by telephone from the government's new public health headquarters in New Orleans' Kindred Hospital.

While she couldn't provide a breakdown, Rubin said chain saw injuries and carbon monoxide exposure from generators are among them. Those are particularly worrisome because they're likely to become more common as additional hurricane survivors re-enter the city in coming days, she said.

The message: Those injuries are preventable, if people take proper precautions, Rubin stressed.

Comment: Note that Bush didn't just say, "I take responsibility" - he said, "To the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility". In other words, with Michael Brown gone from FEMA and investigations into what went wrong in the works, Bush could still escape without an official scratch. As we pointed out yesterday, however, he is certainly not out of the soup just yet.

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Katrina-Related Legislation Hits Snags
Associated Press
Wed Sep 14, 3:42 AM ET

WASHINGTON - A spate of bills to cut federal red tape and otherwise make it easier to get aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina has hit a slow patch as lawmakers wrestle over how to shape their response.

Congress zipped through bills providing $62 billion in emergency aid to hurricane victims but the broader legislative response is a work in progress.

Included in this second phase are proposals to provide Medicaid health benefits to those made homeless by Katrina, lift work rules for welfare recipients, and implement tax changes to help hurricane victims and charitable donors. More comprehensive bills are to follow.

Republicans are starting to voice complaints that Democrats are seeking to seize upon the tragedy to pass more ambitious legislation than they otherwise could expect to achieve in the GOP-dominated Congress.

"In some instances, (Democrats are) trying to up the ante and use this crisis to accomplish goals that maybe they wouldn't have otherwise been able to accomplish without a natural disaster,"
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said. Grassley is at the center of the storm as he negotiates over taxes, welfare and Medicaid.

For example, a House-passed bill to temporarily ease rules requiring that welfare recipients work 30 hours a week for their benefits and extend the welfare program is still pending before the Senate, despite a big push by Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., to clear it for President Bush's signature. Democrats are pressing for a more generous approach.

For their part, outgunned House Democrats have settled on a far-reaching Katrina response plan, including housing vouchers, increases in unemployment insurance payments and full Medicaid coverage for hurricane victims.

Grassley has formally introduced a bipartisan tax break plan costing up to $7 billion that would let hurricane victims tap their retirement accounts, assist businesses and encourage charitable donations. A House plan is still taking shape. [...]

On Wednesday, Congress was to begin investigating the government's readiness and response to Katrina at a Senate
Homeland Security Committee hearing. Committee Chairwoman Susan Collins, R-Maine, said the inquiry would investigate the sluggish response at all levels of government.

"It's going to be an in-depth, extensive review," Collins said.

Democrats continue to press for an independent, bipartisan panel modeled after the Sept. 11 Commission and they say congressional inquiries should not be controlled by Republicans. [...]

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Love Canal-type landfill submerged in New Orleans floodwaters

A Solid Waste & Recycling magazine exclusive

Overlooked in many news reports about the unfolding storm disaster in the southern United States, especially in the City of New Orleans, in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, is a potentially dramatic pollution issue related to a toxic landfill that sits under the flood waters right in the city's downtown, according to map overlays of the flooded area. The situation could exacerbate the already dire threat to human health and the environment from the flood waters.

The Agriculture Street Landfill (ASL) is situated on a 95-acre site in New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana. The ASL is a federally registered Superfund site, and is on the National Priorities List of highly contaminated sites requiring cleanup and containment. A few years ago the site, which sits underneath and beside houses and a school, was fenced and covered with clean soil. However, three feet or more of flood waters could potentially cause the landfill's toxic contents – the result of decades of municipal and industrial waste dumping – to leach out.

Houses and buildings that were constructed in later years directly atop parts of the landfill. Residents report unusual cancers and health problems and have lobbied for years to be relocated away from the old contaminated site, which contains not only municipal garbage, but buried industrial wastes such as what would be produced by service stations and dry cleaners, manufacturers or burning. The site was routinely sprayed with DDT in the 1940s and 50s and, in 1962, 300,000 cubic yards of excess fill were removed from ASL because of ongoing subsurface fires. (The site was nicknamed "Dante's Inferno" because of the fires.)

The ASL can be thought of a sort of Love Canal for New Orleans -– and now it sits under water.

The ASL site is three miles south of Lake Pontchartrain and about 2.5 north-northeast of the city's central business district (roughly halfway between the old French Quarter and the shore of Lake Pontchartrain).

Disturbingly, the site is also very close to the Industrial Canal Levee, a section of which collapsed and allowed flood waters to pour in, almost directly in the direction of the ASL site.

Government reports describe ASL as being "bounded on the north by Higgins Boulevard and south and west by Southern Railroads right-of-ways. The eastern boundary of the landfill extends from the cul-de-sac at the southern end of Clouet Street, near the railroad tracks to Higgins Boulevard between Press and Montegut Streets."

Locate that site on a map (see websites below), and then overlay published maps of New Orleans flooding, and one finds the old toxic landfill is situated right in the middle of a huge area of three-foot flooding. That industrial area is almost continuously connected with water to the downtown and northern areas of the city. It's not outlandish to consider the possibility that toxic waste from the landfill may mix with floodwaters and spread far beyond the old landfill site.

Although the humanitarian rescue operation must take precedence at the current time, authorities and the public must not overlook this pollution situation, which in both the near and long-term may be dangerous to human health and the environment. We must hope that emergency responders will investigate this site as soon as possible and take steps to mitigate potential off-site migration of hazardous materials. It may be that sandbag walls are required here, as well as on the broken levees.

This magazine will update the situation as more information becomes available.

Story prepared by Guy Crittenden, editor. Contact 705-445-0361 or (See useful websites below.)

Useful websites:

This website offers the Appendix to the government Public Health Assessment and further technical details about the site, plus a small map at the end.

Environmental Justice Case Study website offers a detailed description of the Agriculture Street Landfill, and the history of pollution problems and residents seeking to relocate: website offers interactive map of New Orleans flooded areas. (Look near top of blue sidebar at right beside main story for "Interactive: New Orleans' Damage.")

Google map of New Orleans can be pulled up at this website. Enter "Higgins Blvd., New Orleans" to get the approximate location of the landfill, then compare this with the NBC-17 map. (Note: you can zoom in and out, and toggle around this Google map, and also hit "satellite" in the upper right to switch from map view to a satellite view of the terrain.)

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Bush Family Continues to See Bright Side of Hurricane

At a speech to the Heritage Foundation yesterday, Laura Bush disclosed more about the White House's unorthodox information-gathering methods. Speaking about the good that has come from Katrina's aftermath, she said, "Maybe the media hasn't shown us that much, but we've read about it and we do know about it." Of course -- they subscribe to the same relentlessly optimistic paper -- The Bullshit Express -- as the Chertoff household. "Gulf Evacuees Say Group Showers the Least Humilating Experience Yet" was the headline the day after it told them "New Orleans Dodged the Bullet." And later, special guest columnist Barbara Bush observed many evacuees "were underprivileged anyway, so this -- this is working very well for them." Yes, the Bullshit Express has been a font of stellar coverage, almost as good as their Alternate Universe Pultizer Prize-winning series, "Iraq in 2003: Mission Accomplished."

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UK fuel protest fizzle, France gets tough
By David Clarke
September 14, 2005

LONDON - A handful of demonstrators gathered outside oil depots in Britain on Wednesday to protest against high fuel costs as France pledged to get tough with oil companies that failed to trim prices fast enough.

Fears of a repeat of protests that all but brought Britain to a standstill five years ago proved unfounded, as lorry drivers carried on working and the police ensured tankers delivered fuel from refineries and depots as usual.

"People are turning up and the police turning them away," protest leader Andrew Spence told Reuters from outside Shell's Jarrow fuel distribution center before dawn.

Anger over high fuel prices in Europe has been growing since a surge in crude oil prices ramped the cost of petrol at filling stations. Governments have put pressure on oil companies to trim the cost of fuel.

French Finance Minister Thierry Breton said on Wednesday that firms could do more to help people cope with surging prices and that he would meet large oil companies on Friday to discuss how they could help customers.

"As soon as there is a fall in prices, I want this fall to be passed on immediately and that's exactly what I want to discuss with them, so that they don't keep the drop for themselves instead of returning it to consumers," Breton said.

Crude oil prices hit a record of more than $70 a barrel two weeks ago after more than half of U.S. oil production in the Gulf of Mexico was shut down by Hurricane Katrina. Prices have since subsided to $63 a barrel.

Breton's calls echoed similar pleas this week by French President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and came two days after Austria's finance minister asked oil companies there to trim prices.


In Austria, oil majors BP and Shell lowered petrol and diesel prices the day after the government call but said the move was to match declines in world prices, not a result of political pressure.

A BP spokesman in France also responded to Chirac's pressure for further cuts by saying pump prices are ruled by moves on international markets and that high taxes eat away at profits.

But governments, whose taxation of motor fuels often accounts for about 70 percent of the pump price, were determined to put the focus on oil firms and oil-producing countries.

British Finance Minister Gordon Brown called on the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on Tuesday to pump more oil although most OPEC members are already operating close to full capacity.

Only Saudi Arabia has significant spare capacity but its crude is not suitable for refiners to process into transport fuels and the closure of U.S. refineries by Katrina means OPEC is struggling to find buyers for more supplies on world markets.

European Union governments have agreed not to offer blanket reductions in fuel taxes to ease political pressure and have instead focused on localized palliative measures.

France announced tax breaks of 30 million euros a day for farmers after minor protests in the north by farmers on bicycles and truckers driving along motorways at snail's pace.

The Irish Road Haulage Association was awaiting talks on Thursday with the Irish government to seek a rebate scheme and Irish taxi drivers sought permission to add 50 euro cents to their fares to offset fuel costs.


Britain, itself an oil producer, has been particularly prone to protests as motorists pay more for their fuel than elsewhere in Europe because its fuel taxes are higher.

The cost of a liter of petrol climbed above 1 pound in some areas last week after world prices rose. The government takes three quarters of every pound spent on fuel in tax.

British protesters demonstrating on Wednesday want the government to cut taxes, but Britain has ruled that out.

But the absence of major protests on Wednesday did not stop panicked British drivers, still scarred from the turmoil caused by blockades in 2000, from lining up outside filling stations.

"We're in a process now of replenishing. We had coming up on a week's worth of buying in one day," said Chris Hunt, director general of the UK Petroleum Industry Association.

"The panic buying tends to be a blip. Once you've filled your tank you can't fill it up again."

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Bogus bomb alert clears out Paris hotel
September 14, 2005

PARIS - Some 300 foreign tourists, French customers and employees were evacuated from one of the top hotels in Paris on Wednesday after an anonymous caller made a bogus bomb warning, police said.

The Hôtel Lutetia, an elegant establishment in the upmarket 6th district in the centre of the city, was ordered emptied after the hotel's switchboard received the call.

A careful search by officers turned up no suspicious device.

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Who are the Real Terrorists?
Former Prime Minister of Malaysia

[Speech delivered on Friday, 9 September 2005 at the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam - "Malaysian Human Rights Day 2005 Conference: Human Rights and Globalization" in Le Meridien, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.]

( - I would like to thank Suhakam for this honor to address you on a subject that you have more knowledge and experience than I do.

You are concerned with Human Rights or Hak Asasi Manusia. And it is only right that as a civilized society and nation we should all be concerned with human rights in our country and in fact in the world.

But human rights should be upheld because they can contribute to a better quality of life. To kill 100,000 people because you suspect that the human rights of a few have been denied seems to be a contradiction. Yet the fanaticism of the champions of human rights have led to more people being deprived from their rights and many their lives than the number saved. It seems to me that we have lost our sense of proportion.

With civilizational advances it is only right that the human community try to distinguish itself more and more from those of the other creatures created by God which are unable to think, to reason and to overcome the influence of basic desires and feelings. Submission to the strong and the powerful was right in the animal world and in primitive human societies. But the more advance the society the greater should be the capacity to think, to recognize and evaluate between right and wrong and to choose between these based on higher reasoning power and not just basic feelings and desires.

The world today is, in the sense of the ability to make right choices, still very primitive. For example those who claim to be the most civilized still believe that the misfortune which befall them as a result of the actions by their enemies are wrong but the misfortune that they inflict on their enemies are right. This is seen from the concern and anger over the death of 1,700 U.S. soldiers in Iraq but the death of a hundred times more of Iraqis as a result of the military invasion and occupation of Iraq and the civil war precipitated by the imposition of democratic elections are not even mentioned. There is no tally of Iraqi deaths but every single death of a U.S. soldier is reported to the world. These are soldiers who must expect to be killed. But the Iraqis who die because of U.S. action or the civil war in Iraq that the U.S. has precipitated are innocent civilians who under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein would be alive.

You and I read reports of the death of Iraqis with equanimity as if it is right and just. You and I do not react with anger and horror over this injustice, this abuse of the rights of the Iraqis to live, to be free from terror including state-initiated-terror.

Prior to the invasion of Iraq on false pretences, 500,000 infants died because sanctions deprived them of medicine and food. Asked by the press, Madeleine Albright, the U.S. Secretary of State, whether she thought the price was not too high for stopping Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, she said it was difficult but the price (death of 500,000 children) was worth it.

At the time this was happening where were the people who are concerned with human rights? Did they expose the abuses of Britain and America? Did they protest against their own Governments? No. It is because they, the enemy are killed. That is acceptable. But their own people must not be killed. To kill them is to commit acts of terror.

Yet what is an act of terror. Isn't it any act that terrifies people? Are not the people terrified at the idea of being bombed and killed? Those who are to be killed by exploding bombs know they would have their bodies torn from their heads and limbs. Some will die instantly no doubt.

But many would not. They would feel their limbs being torn from their bodies, their guts spilled on the ground through their torned abdomen. They would wait in terrible pain for help which may not come. And they would again experience the terror, expecting the next bomb or rocket. And those who survive would know the terror of what would, what could happen to them personally when the bombers come again, tomorrow, the day after, the weak or month after. They would know that they could be next to have their heads torn off from their bodies, their limbs too.

They would know that they would die violently or they would survive in horrible pain, minus arms, minus legs, maimed forever. And yet the bombings would go on. In Iraq for ten years between the Gulf War and the Iraq invasion, the people lived in terrible fear. They were terrorized. Have they any rights? Did the people of the world care?

The British and American bomber pilots came, unopposed, safe and cosy in their state-of-the-art aircrafts, pressing buttons to drop bombs, to kill and maim real people who were their targets, just targets. And these murderers, for that is what they are, would go back to celebrate "Mission Accomplished".

Who are the terrorists? The people below who were bombed or the bombers? Whose rights have been snatched away?

I relate this because there are not just double standards where human rights are concerned, there are multiple standards. Rightly we should be concerned whether prisoners and detained foreign workers in this country are treated well or not. We should be concerned whether everyone can exercise his right to vote or not, whether the food given to detainees are wholesome or not, indeed whether detention without trial is a violation of human rights or not.

But the people whose hands are soaked in the blood of the innocents -- the blood of the Iraqis, the Afghans, the Panamanians, the Nicaraguans, the Chileans, the Ecuadorians; the people who assassinated the Presidents of Panama, Chile, Ecuador; the people who ignored international law and mounted military attacks, invading and killing hundreds of Panamanian in order to arrest Noriega and to try him not under Panamanian laws but under their own country's law -- have these people a right to question human rights in our country, to make a list and grade the human rights record of the countries of the world yearly, these people with blood-soaked hands?

They have not questioned the blatant abuses of human rights in countries which are friendly to them. In fact they provide the means for these countries to indulge in human rights abuses.

Israel is provided with weapons, helicopter gun ships, bullets coated with depleted uranium to wage war against people whose only way to retaliate is by committing suicide bombing. The Israeli soldiers were well-protected with body armor, operated from armored tanks and armored bull-dozers, to rocket and bomb the Palestinians and demolish their houses while the occupants were still inside.

Israel has nuclear weapons but it was provided with bombers to bomb so-called nuclear research facilities in other countries. And as with American and British actions, the Israeli bombs and rockets tore up the living Palestinians, Iraqis and soon Syrians and Iranians, without the slightest consideration that the people they killed have rights, have human rights to their lives, to security and peace.

Then there are other friends of these terrorist nations who abuse the rights of their own people, deny them even the simplest democratic rights, jailing and executing their people without fair trial but are not criticized or condemned.

But when countries are not friendly with these great powers, their governments claim they have a right to expend money to subvert the Government, to support the NGOs to overthrow the Government, to ensure only candidates willing to submit to them win. Already we are seeing elections in which candidates wanting to stay independent being rejected while only those ready to submit to these powers being allowed to contest and to win.

There was a time when nations pledged not to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. As a result many authoritarian regimes emerged which committed terrible atrocities. Cambodia and Pol Pot is a case in mind. Because of the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of countries, 2 million Cambodians died horrible deaths.

There is a case for interference. But who determines when there is a case? Is this right to be given to a particular super power? If so can we be assured the super power would act in the best interest of the country concerned, in order to uphold human rights?

Saddam Hussein was tried by the media and found guilty of oppressing his people. But that was not the excuse for invading Iraq. The excuse was that Iraq threatened the world with Weapons of Mass Destruction. Specifically, Britain was supposed to be threatened with WMD capable of hitting it within 15 minutes of the order being given by Saddam.

As we all know it was a lie. Every agency tasked with verifying the accusation that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction could not prove it. Even the intelligence agencies of the U.S. and Britain said that there was no weapon of mass destruction that Saddam could threaten the U.S. or Britain or the world with. And today after months of thorough search without Saddam and his people getting in the way, no WMD has been found.

Yet the U.S. and UK took it upon themselves to invade Iraq in order to remove an allegedly authoritarian Government. The result of the invasion is that many more people have been killed and injured than Saddam was ever accused of. Worse still, the powers which are supposed to save the Iraqi people have broken international laws on human rights, by detaining Iraqis and others and torturing them at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere.

So can we accept that these big powers alone have a right to determine when to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries to protect human rights?

Malaysia is concerned about human rights within its borders. It does not need the interference of foreign powers before it sets up Suhakam, a body dedicated to overseeing and ensuring that there are no abuses of human rights within its borders.

People in Malaysia seem to be quite happy. They can work and do business and make as much money as they like. There is no restriction on the freedom to move about, to go abroad even.

They have political parties which they are free to join, whether these are pro-Government or anti-Government. They can read newspapers which support or oppose the Government. While the local electronic media is supportive of the Government, no one is prevented from watching or listening to foreign broadcasts which are mostly critical of the Government. Foreign newspapers and magazines are freely available. In fact many foreign papers, like the Herald Tribune and Asian Wall Street Journal are printed in Malaysia and are freely available to Malaysians. Then there is the Internet which no one seems able to stop even if libelous lies are screened.

Periodically, without fail there would be elections in Malaysia. Anyone and everyone can participate in these elections. The campaigns by both sides are vigorous and hard-hitting. And the results show quite clearly that despite accusations against the Government of undemocratic practices, many opposition candidates would win. In fact several states were lost to the opposition parties. Not one of the winning opposition candidates has been charged in court and found guilty of some minor breaches of the election procedure and prevented from taking his seat in Parliament as happens in a certain country.

But all these notwithstanding, Malaysia is accused of having a totalitarian Government during the 22 years of my Premiership. That I had released detainees on assumption of office as Prime Minister and I had used the [Internal Security Act] ISA sparingly does not mitigate against the accusation that I was a dictator, an abuser of human rights.

And not using the ISA, not detaining a person without trial would not help either. And so when a former DPM [Anwar Ibrahim] was charged in courts, defended by 9 lawyers and found guilty through due process, all that was said was that there was a conspiracy, the court was influenced and manipulated and the trial was a sham. So you are damned if you use the ISA, and you are damned if you don't use the ISA.

In the eyes of these self-appointed judges of human behavior worldwide, you can never be right no matter what you do, if you are not liked by them. If you are liked by them a court decision in your favor, even on laughable grounds would be right.

Those are the people who now seem to appropriate to themselves the right to lay down the ground rules for human rights and who have appointed themselves as the overseers of human rights credentials of the world.

And now these same people have come up with what they call globalization. In the first place who has the right to propose and interpret globalization? It is certain that globalization was not conceived by the poor countries. It was conceived, interpreted and initiated by the rich.

The globalized world is to be without borders. But if countries have no borders surely the first thing that should happen is that people would be able to move from one country to another without any conditions, without papers and passports. The poor people in the poor countries should be able to migrate to the rich countries where there are jobs and opportunities.

But it has been made clear that globalization, borderlessness are not for people but for capital, for currency traders, for corporations, for banks, for NGOs concerned over so-called human rights abuses, over lack of democracy, etc. The flow is as you can see only in one direction. The border crossing will be done by the rich so as to be able to benefit their business, banks, currency traders, their NGOs, for human rights and for democracy.

There will be no flows in the opposite direction, from the poor countries to the rich, the flow of poor people in search of jobs, the NGOs concerned with human rights abuses in the rich and powerful countries where the media self-censors to promote certain parties, where dubious voting results are validated by tame courts. There will be no flow of colored people to white countries. If they succeed they would be apprehended and sent to isolated islands in the middle of the ocean or if they manage to land they would be accommodated behind razorwire fence. Is it all very democratic and caring for the rights of man?

If we care to look back we will recognize globalization for what it is. It is really not a new idea at all. Globalization of trade took place when the ethnic Europeans found the sea passages to the West and to the East. They wanted trade but they came as armed merchantmen with guns and invaded, conquered and colonized their trading partners.

If the indigenous people were weak, they would just be liquidated, shot on sight, their land taken and new ethnic European countries set up. Otherwise, they would be made a part of empires where the sun never sets, their resources exploited and their people treated with disdain.

The map of the world today shows the effect of globalization, as interpreted by the ethnic Europeans in history. There was no U.S., Canada, Australia, Latin America, New Zealand until the Europeans discovered the sea passages and started global trade.

Before the Europeans there were Arab, Indian, Chinese and Turkic traders. There was no conquest or colonization when these people sailed the seas to trade. Only when the Europeans carried out world trade were countries invaded, human rights abused, genocide committed, empires built and new ethnic European nations created on land belonging to others.

These are historical facts. Would today's globalization not result in weak countries being colonized again, new empires created and the world totally hegemonized. Would today's globalization not result in human rights abuses?

In today's world 20% of the people own 80% of the wealth. Almost 2 billion people live on 1 US Dollar a day. They don't have enough food or clothing or a proper roof over their heads. In winter many of these people would freeze to death. The people of the powerful countries are concerned about our abuses of human rights. But shouldn't we be concerned over the uneven distribution of wealth which deprived 2 billion people of their rights to a decent living, deprived by the avarice of those people who seem so concerned about us and the unintended occasional lapses that has resulted in abuse of human rights in our country?

We should condemn human rights abuses in our country but we must be wary of the people who want to destabilize us because we are too independent and we have largely succeeded in giving our people a good life, and despite all the criticism we are more democratic than most of the friends of the powerful nations of the world.

The globalization of concern for the poor and the oppressed is sheer hypocrisy. If these people who appear to be concerned are faced with the situation that we in Malaysia have to face sometimes, their reactions and responses are much worse than us. At Guantanamo detention camp the detainees, some of whom are not even remotely connected with terrorism, are tortured and humiliated. At Abu Gharib the most senior officers actually sanctioned the inhuman treatment of the detainees.

When forced by world opinion to take action against those responsible for these reprehensible acts, the culprits were either found not guilty or given light sentences. They were tried by their own courts under their own laws. Their victims were not represented. The countries where the crimes were committed were denied jurisdiction. Altogether the whole process was so much eye-wash. Yet these are the countries and the people who claim that Malaysian courts are manipulated by the Government, that abuses of rights are rampant in Malaysia. And Malaysian NGOs, media and others lapped it up.

We must fight against abuses of human rights. We must fight for human rights. But we must not take away the rights of others, the rights of the majority. We must not kill them, invade and destroy their countries in the name of human rights. Just as many wrong things are done in the name of Islam and also other religions, worse things are being done in the name of democracy and human rights. We must have a proper perspective of things. Two wrongs do not make one right. Remember the community have rights too, not just the individual or the minority.

We have gained political independence but for many the minds are still colonized.

Comment: In October 2003, Mahathir made a reasoned speech comparing the situation of the Islamic peoples with that of Jews, suggesting that there was something that they could learn from the power of the Jews in the world. The speech was denounced by the media as anti-Semitic.

Now he is calling a spade a spade when it comes to US and British crimes against the people of Iraq and their double standards in the domain of human rights. The reaction on the part of the criminals?

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Envoys walk out on Mahathir

Saturday September 10, 2005

KUALA LUMPUR: Three European diplomats walked out of the conference hall during Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's speech when he criticised US and British policies on Iraq.

His comments that the American and British-led invasion of Iraq was based on lies that the country possessed weapons of mass destruction did not go down well with British High Commissioner Bruce Cleghorn, Hungarian ambassador Tamas Toth and Dutch deputy ambassador Luc Schillings, who got up and left.

The former prime minister was speaking at a conference on human rights organised by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) which was attended by about 350 participants.

"The British and American bomber pilots came, unopposed, safe and cosy in their state-of-the-art aircraft, pressing buttons to drop bombs, to kill and maim real people who were their targets, just targets.

"And these murderers, for that is what they are, would go back to celebrate mission accomplished," Dr Mahathir said.

At a press conference later, when asked what he thought of the diplomats walking out, he said: "Well! I am sorry. As much as they have the right to criticise me, they should give me the right to criticise them.

"But if you don't want to hear my criticisms of them, then you are denying my right to speak up."

Dr Mahathir added that there was no tally of Iraqi deaths but every single death of an American was reported to the world.

"These are soldiers who must expect to be killed. But the Iraqis who died because of US action or the civil war in Iraq that the US precipitated were innocent civilians who under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein would have been alive.

"You and I read reports of the death of Iraqis with equanimity as if it is right and just. You and I do not react with anger and horror over this injustice, this abuse of the rights of the Iraqis to live, to be free from terror including state-initiated terror," he said.

When Cleghorn was asked to comment on his walkout, he issued a statement: "I was invited by Suhakam to attend the opening of their Human Rights Day conference.

"I accepted out of respect for Suhakam and for Tun Dr Mahathir.

"Unfortunately I found myself listening to abuse and misrepresentation about my country. I therefore left."

Suhakam commissioner Prof Datuk Hamdan Adnan said the walkout was "very, very distasteful."

"If they claim to subscribe to the democratic process, why can't they listen?" he asked.

Comment: Europeans and Americans have a long history of being unable to listen when the voices to be heard come from Asia, Africa, or Latin America. There is no real belief in the democratic process, as the political process in the United States so patently shows.

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Scores killed in Baghdad attacks

At least 81 people have been killed and more than 160 injured in a car bomb attack in the mainly Shia Kadhimiya area of Baghdad, Iraqi police say.

A suicide bomber reportedly targeted crowds of labourers in a public square.

During the night, gunmen killed 17 people in the nearby town of Taji after dragging them from their homes and shooting them in the street outside.

The violence occurred as a final draft of the Iraqi constitution was handed to the UN for printing and distribution.

After months of negotiations the draft is due to be distributed to Iraqis before a referendum on it in mid-October.

The deputy speaker of Iraq's national assembly, Hussein al-Shahristani, said the final version of the document contained some changes, including a statement that Iraq was committed to the charter of the Arab League and the provision of two, rather than three, deputy prime ministers.

Labourers targeted

The car bomb attack in Baghdad was the deadliest in Iraq for several weeks.

A suicide bomber drove his car at 0630 (0230 GMT) into queues of labourers who had gathered on Baghdad's Oruba Square, Iraqi police spokesman Maj Musa Abdel Kerim said.

The BBC's Richard Galpin in Baghdad says that every day large numbers of construction workers gather in the square in the north of the city, waiting to be picked up by their employers.

According to some reports the attacker lured the workers towards the vehicle before detonating the bomb, our correspondent adds.

"We gathered and suddenly a car blew up and turned the area into fire and dust and darkness," one of the workers, a man named Hadi, told Reuters news agency.

The many wounded were taken to at least four different hospitals. Officials have warned that many of them were so severely wounded that they are unlikely to survive.

About two hours later a car bomb hit a US military convoy in the east of the city, injuring two soldiers. Their condition is not yet known. [...]

Comment: The writing of the Iraqi Constitution is something of a joke. It is designed to secure the partitioning of Iraq into three regions dependent upon the US.

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Guest Editorial: Myerson on Iraqi Constitution

"Federalism and the Iraqi Constitution"
by Roger B. Myerson
Informed Comment
The draft Iraqi constitution deserves much more public discussion in America as well as in Iraq. As an economist who analyzes democratic constitutional structures, I'd like to offer a few comments.

In most of the text, the constitution seems to establish a reasonably standard parliamentary system, with a unicameral legislature, a Prime Minister who heads the cabinet, and a weak ceremonial President. But there are two nonstandard provisions in the constitution that deserve much more analysis: the provision for creating regional governments (Articles 113-121), and the amendment in Article 135 that establishes the Presidential Council.

The specific procedures for uniting provinces into larger regions are left to be defined by an act of the legislature in its first session. But the constitution encourages provinces to merge themselves into such regions by offering guarantees of greater constitutional autonomy to merged regional governments. Carried to America, these regional-merger provisions would allow the southern states, or the northern blue states, to combine themselves into a great regional mega-state.

Near the end of the draft constitution, Article 135 abruptly announces that the President previously described will be replaced by a three-person Presidential Council, which must be elected by a 2/3 majority of the legislature. Any legislation that is not unanimously approved by the Presidential Council will be effectively vetoed unless it gets 3/5 approval in the legislature. This extraordinary provision, presented at the end of the constitution almost as an afterthought, seems designed to create deadlock in the central government, perhaps to guarantee that the real business of government will be done only at the regional level.

In 2002, the Iraqi authors of the "Final Report on the Transition to Democracy in Iraq" argued persuasively that a successful establishment of democracy in Iraq would require some form of federalism. But I fear that the regional-government and presidential-council provisions of this draft constitution may be aimed at creating, not a federal balance of power between central and local governments, but a system of effectively unitary governments in the regions of Iraq.

When we evaluate the constitutional provisions for creating regional governments, we should compare them to the alternative of simply offering the same guarantees of constitutional autonomy to the 18 existing provinces of Iraq. Compared to such a provincial federalist system, it is hard to see who would benefit from the creation of these larger regional governments, except for the politicians who hope to lead them.

Merging provinces into larger regions cannot increase the ability of local governments to adapt to local conditions. In the American federal system with its 50 states, the leaders of southern and northern states already have the ability to adapt their local administrative practices to their local variations of our southern and northern subcultures. Merging our state governments into larger regional mega-states could only decrease local adaptability. But such mergers could also seriously increase the possibility of secession. The leader of a regional mega-state that included a large fraction of America's population and resources would perceive more benefits and fewer risks in contemplating secession from the Union than any state governor would today.

In a well-designed federal system, the existence of small autonomous local governments can improve the performance of national democracy, because politicians in a federal democracy can prove their credentials for national leadership by serving successfully as leaders of autonomous local governments. Americans have regularly found strong candidates for president among our state governors. This effect of federalism on national elections may be particularly important for new democracies, where candidates with good reputations for responsible democratic service are likely to be scarce. For example, the PRI's long grip on national power in Mexico was broken by an independent state governor.

From this perspective, an ideal federal system would grant substantial autonomous power to local governments that are relatively small but are just large enough that successful management of a local government can demonstrate strong qualifications for national leadership. Given provinces that have this minimal size, the effects of merging provinces would be to decrease the number of such independent local leaders and to increase the chances of regional secession. So the principal beneficiaries of such mergers would be the politicians who expect to become leaders of the separate regions.

Roger B. Myerson
W.C.Norby Professor of Economics
Department of Economics
University of Chicago
1126 East 59th Street Chicago, IL 60637

N.B. This discussion is based on the Associated Press's English translation of the draft Iraqi constitution, published by the New York Times on August 28, 2005.

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Army Officer, Soldiers Charged in Abuse
Associated Press
Tue Sep 13, 8:05 PM ET

FORT BLISS, Texas - An Army officer and two more of his soldiers from a reserve unit have been charged in a prisoner abuse investigation in Afghanistan, the Army announced Tuesday.

Capt. Christopher M. Beiring, who led the Cincinnati-based 377th Military Police Company, was charged with dereliction of duty and making a false official statement. He is the first officer to be charged in the investigation.

Investigators claim Beiring did not properly train or supervise soldiers under his command in legal uses of force, according to documents released by the Army.

He also is accused of failing to take steps to correct the soldiers' actions - as directed by his superior and a legal adviser - after a detainee died at a detention center at Bagram Airfield. In addition, Beiring allegedly lied about training his soldiers received.

Also charged were Staff Sgt. Brian L. Doyle and Sgt. Duane M. Grubb, both from the same reserve unit Beiring commanded.

A Fort Bliss spokesman said Tuesday he did not know whether the men had lawyers yet.

Doyle faces charges of dereliction of duty and maltreatment. Investigators said he did not properly provide use-of-force guidance to his soldiers and ordered two lower-ranking soldiers to hit a detainee known as Habibullah, who later died.

Grubb is accused of assault, maltreatment and making a false official statement for allegedly hitting a detainee known as Zarif Khan at least once in the leg and later lying about it.

All three soldiers are expected to be brought to Fort Bliss soon, a fort spokesman said Tuesday. Hearing dates have not been scheduled.

Nine other enlisted soldiers have also faced charges in the abuse cases, which primarily revolved around two detainees who died at the detention center.

Habibullah, the first prisoner to die at the Bagram detention center, was found in his cell just days after being taken into U.S. custody in December 2002. A second detainee, Dilawar, arrived at Bagram the day after Habibullah died. Dilawar died about a week later.

Pvt. Willie V. Brand, a reservist from the 377th MP Company who was convicted of a host of charges related to Dilawar's beating, was initially charged with the detainee's death, but that charge was dropped. A military jury spared Brand jail time, instead ordering a reduction in rank and pay.

Four soldiers, including two military intelligence interrogators from the 519th MI Battalion at Fort Bragg, N.C., pleaded guilty to abuse charges. All but Sgt. Selena M. Salcedo were sentenced to prison time and given bad-conduct discharges.

Salcedo was reduced in rank to specialist or corporal and fined $250 a month for four months. A third interrogator, Sgt. Joshua Claus, has announced his intention to plead guilty later this month.

Two soldiers, MP reservist sergeants Darin Broady and Christopher Greatorex, were acquitted last week of charges that they beat Habibullah and later lied about it.

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Japan, US finalizing Okinawa base move
Wednesday September 14, 2:18 PM

Japan and the United States are finalizing a new plan to relocate an air base on the southern island chain of Okinawa that has long been the target of local opposition, a newspaper reports.

The United States has already agreed to move the Futenma Air Base out of the crowded urban center of Ginowan, where residents complain it causes too much noise.

But the alternative location of building off the shore of the quiet Okinawan fishing town of Heneko has also faced protests, in part because environmentalists say the area is a habitat for an endangered sea cow.

The Yomiuri Shimbun paper, quoting unnamed government sources, said the two sides were close to agreement to build the airplane facilities at existing Camp Schwab, a major Marine base in the Okinawan city of Nago.

The plan could be carried out more quickly than the original idea of the offshore base in Heneko, which would take at least 12 years to build, meaning Japan could take over Futenma sooner, the Yomiuri said.

It said the plan would be included in an interim report on the realignment of US forces in Japan.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda, the Japanese government spokesman, denied an agreement has been reached, saying: "We are not in a position to propose a specific plan."

Defense Agency chief Yoshinori Ono said Tuesday that a realignment plan would likely be ready in October after being stalled for a month by Japan's snap general election.

Okinawa, which accounts for less than one percent of Japan's land mass, remains the base for 65 percent of the 40,500 US troops in the country, and is next to the potential conflict area of the Taiwan Strait.

Okinawa sees frequent protests against the US troops, who are stationed in officially pacifist Japan by treaty, blaming them for noise and crime.

Plans to shift troops out of Okinawa have made little headway with few other communities willing to host them.

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Israelis' "Blazing Synagogues" Fire Up Press Brigade
Monday, September 12, 2005
Predictably, the mainstream press featured screaming headlines of "blazing" synagogues set by rabid Pals: "Synagogues burned as Israel Exits Gaza," appeared as a head on Yahoo's Main News Page, while this lead appeared from Reuters: "Jubilant Palestinians planted flags on the rubble of Jewish settlements and set synagogues ablaze on Monday as Israeli troops pulled out of the Gaza Strip after 38 years of occupation." What a stroke of brilliance to leave the empty synagogues behind. It should be all too obvious to anyone with at least half of his/her functioning brain cells that the Zionists calculated a few "blazing synagogues" would result in groovy press for the retreating Israelis and the usual dehumanisation of the Pals. The western press never disappoints.

Unfortunately, one Palestinian was killed. And Palestine Center for Human Rights, Gaza, reports that six drowned at a Khan Yunis Beach.

Laila El-Haddad writes in Raising Yousuf that EU and PA officials reported "everything has been destroyed [by colonists], uprooted, ripped out, or looted."

She writes further, "Sabri Saidam, Minister of Telecommunications, compared it to the Katrina disaster zone."

There is more. "An European official I spoke with said even the greenhouses-for which the settlers were PAID something like $40 million to keep, were dismantled-only the tarp and wire was kept in tact, everything IN the greenhouses was destroyed or taken back.

" He told me some settlers came back in and offered to 're-sell' the machinery that kept the greenhouses going.Everything was taken out, even light sockets. Trees were uprooted, electricity lines were cut, and vegetation was not watered for 15 days leaving a 'scorched earth.' The official also told me how he saw so-called sewage treatment facilities: 'basically it was one big septic tank-the sewage was dumped onto gaza dunes, and filtered into the Coastal aquifer.'"

Imagine that. I guess that The Los Angeles Times must have been too busy checking out the blazing synagogues that no longer had their religious artifacts in them to bother to include some concrete details about the colonists' shenanigans. Their headline: "Gazans Burn Synagogues in Israelis' Soldiers Wake."

The AP's Ravi Nessman and Miriam Fam exert a bit of patience and wait until the second paragraph to wax about the blazing synagogues. In the ninth and tenth paragraphs they get around to the dead Palestinians. No matter, though; this is the way of the world as Hurricane Katrina so baldly shows; people are expendable, property is paramount.

As Israeli "disengages" the corporate press engages in its business as usual, offering little insight, serving up the usual dehumanised Palestinians, and ignoring the fact that Gaza remains a prison that no one may enter or leave without extreme difficulty.

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US-style forums 'to reform NHS'

Plans to reform NHS care outside of hospitals are being drawn up at a regional forum based on those which help shape health policy in the US.

The Department of Health consultation comes ahead of a white paper next year and allows the public to pitch ideas.

The first of four regional meetings is starting in Gateshead with 100 people being paid to come up with ideas for GP, pharmacy and sex health services.

Further forums will follow in London, Leicester, Plymouth and Birmingham.

But patient representatives questioned the need to pay people £75 a day to take part. [...]

The meetings are based on US-style "town hall" meetings which have been run for the last 10 years by a not-for-profit organisation called America Speaks.

An online consultation is also starting to allow anyone to contribute.

Simon Williams, director of policy at the Patients Association, said reform of primary care was need to make it more "patient focused".

But he said: "I am all for innovative ways of involving the public, but do we really need to be paying money to get people to have their say? Is this the best use of money?"

Comment: Somehow, the idea of using the same means that helped shape health policy in the United States seems doomed from the start - doomed, that is, if one is concerned with establishing free and good health care for all citizens regardless of race or income.

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Expert warns of likely worldwide flu outbreak 2005-09-14 16:37:24

BEIJING, Sept. 14 (Xinhuanet) -- Zhong Nanshan, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and a hero in fighting against SARS, warned that a large-scale global-wide outbreak of flu is likely to happen at any time given the current conditions.

"But we can't pin down a specific time for the outbreak so far," Zhong was quoted as saying by Wednesday's Information Time.

He said a global flu generally takes place every 20 to 50 years and now the time is more than 20 years after the flu outbreak last time.

"It's bird flu that renders the current situation so serious," said Zhong, fearing a mutated flu viruses might present a more dangerous threat.

"To date, we still can't tell whether bird flu viruses can join human flu viruses to create some viruses that could live easier inside humans," he said.

"The case could be still more terrible if one contracts both human and bird flu at the same time," he said.

"If there are some viruses that are able to jump from human to human, I'm afraid that could pose a catastrophic disaster for human beings."

He recommended people get inoculated against the flu during the September-October period, the time immediately before flu outbreak season.

The old, children, patients and medical workers, who have proved to be particularly vulnerable to infection, are strongly suggested to take inoculate bacterins as earlier as possible, he said.

According to Zhong, flu viruses mutate almost every year. This year, "the a type viruses would be H1N1 and H3N2 ones and the B type be Shanghai viruses."

Mutation means the antibodies created by bacterins taken in the past may not ward off new flu strains, he said.

"Inoculation is the most effective way to prevent flu contraction," he said.

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Groundbreaking Research Sheds Light on Ancient Mystery
September 01, 2005

A researcher at Rochester Institute of Technology is unraveling a mystery surrounding Easter Island. William Basener, assistant professor of mathematics, has created the first mathematical formula to accurately model the island's monumental societal collapse.

Between 1200 and 1500 A.D., the small, remote island, 2,000 miles off the coast of Chile, was inhabited by over 10,000 people and had a relatively sophisticated and technologically advanced society. During this time, inhabitants used large boats for fishing and navigation, constructed numerous buildings and built many of the large statues, known as Tiki Gods, for which the island is now best known. However, by the late 18th century, when European explorers first discovered the island, the population had dropped to 2,000 and islanders were living in near primitive conditions, with almost all elements of the previous society completely wiped out.

"The reasons behind the Easter Island population crash are complex but do stem from the fact that the inhabitants eventually ran out of finite resources, including food and building materials, causing a massive famine and the collapse of their society," Basener says. "Unfortunately, none of the current mathematical models used to study population development predict this sort of growth and quick decay in human communities."

Population scientists use differential equation models to mimic the development of a society and predict how that population will change over time. Since incidents like Easter Island do not follow the normal progression of most societies, entirely new equations were needed to model the outcome. Computer simulations using Basener's formula predict values very close to the actual archeological findings on Easter Island. His team's results were recently published in SIAM Journal of Applied Math.

Basener will next use his formula to analyze the collapse of the Mayan and Viking populations. He also hopes to modify his work to predict population changes in modern day societies.

"It is my hope this research can be used to create a better understanding of past societies," Basener adds. "It will also eventually help scientists and governments develop better population management skills to avert future famines and population collapses."

Basener's research was done in collaboration with David Ross, visiting professor of mathematics at the University of Virginia, mathematicians Bernie Brooks, Mike Radin and Tamas Wiandt and a group of RIT mathematics students.

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Hurricane Ophelia Edges Toward N.C.
Associated Press
September 14, 2005

NAGS HEAD, N.C. - Hurricane Ophelia edged toward North Carolina early Wednesday, but many in the storm's path shrugged at the threat of flooding rain and wind even as officials urged them to evacuate.

The National Hurricane Center upgraded the storm's status from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane Tuesday, saying maximum sustained winds had reached 75 mph, with higher gusts. Further strengthening was possible.

Unlike Hurricane Katrina, which made a head-on charge at the Gulf Coast two weeks ago, Ophelia has meandered since forming off the Florida coast last week. That makes landfall predictions difficult - and makes it harder for some to take the storm seriously.

"We're just having a grand time," said Diane Komorowski, a tourist from Philadelphia, as she walked through the choppy surf on the Outer Banks with her husband.

"They keep saying, 'It's coming,' - yet every day, it's great here," she said.

Some doubted that Ophelia could pack the same punch as Katrina.

"If it was that bad, we would leave," said Charlene Heroux, 46, a 30-year resident of Manteo.

At 5 a.m. EDT, Ophelia was centered about 70 miles south of Wilmington and about 125 miles east-northeast of Charleston, S.C., and was moving north at 5 mph. The storm's effects were already being felt as heavy rains fell on the coast near the border of the Carolinas.

A hurricane warning extended about 275 miles from the South Santee River in South Carolina to Oregon Inlet at Pamlico Sound in North Carolina, meaning hurricane conditions were expected within 24 hours.

The storm was moving slowly, so heavy rain could linger over land and cause serious flooding. The hurricane center said up to 15 inches of rain was possible in eastern North Carolina.

Early Wednesday, a bridge in Hanover County was closed because of wind with gusts in the mid-40s. County spokesman David Paynter said the latest forecasts suggested that hurricane-force winds will only scrape the county's coast because the center of the storm would pass 30 to 40 miles offshore.

State and local officials, determined not to be caught off-guard after Katrina, blanketed the coast with a mix of voluntary and mandatory evacuations, closing schools and opening shelters. Nearly 100 people had checked into a shelter in an elementary school near downtown Wilmington on Tuesday night.

Bruce McIlvaine of Logan Township, N.J., was among those who cleared out Tuesday, packing to leave Hatteras Island before his vacation ended.

"I don't really want to mess with it," he said. "You're on a spit of land a dozen miles into the ocean."

Along the exposed Outer Banks, all residents and visitors were ordered to evacuate Hatteras Island on Tuesday, visitors had been ordered off Ocracoke Island and the National Park Service closed the Cape Hatteras lighthouse and the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills.

Schools were closed in several coastal counties in the Carolinas, while classes were canceled at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and East Carolina University in Greenville, S.C.

A surfer was missing along the South Carolina coast, with the search suspended because of rough seas.

North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley said coastal residents should be prepared to go without power for two to three days.

"The beaches we expect to take a real beating," Easley said. "The bottom line is we're definitely going to get flooding, not just on the coast but in low-lying areas as the rivers swell from the storm surge itself."

Still, many people were taking a wait-and-see approach.

"We're levelheaded - we got common sense," said Nancy McKenzie, 57. She was shopping at a Nags Head candy shop that sold plastic bags filled with saltwater taffy and fudge for $4, with the label "Hurricane Ophelia official survival kit."

Ophelia is the 15th named storm and seventh hurricane in this year's busy Atlantic hurricane season, which began June 1 and ends Nov. 30.

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Moderate Earthquake In Nicobar Island
September 14, 2005 17:45 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 14 (Bernama) -- A moderate earthquake measuring 5.0 on the richter scale occurred at 4.17 pm Wednesday in Nicobar Island, 956km northeast of Penang, the Meteorological Services Department said.

It said the earthquake occurred at 7.8 degrees North and 92.0 degrees East of Nicobar Island.

Based on its location and magnitude, tremors may not be felt in the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia and no tsunami is expected, it added.

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Magnitude 5.5 Earthquake - NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION
2005 September 13 14:32:57 UTC

A moderate earthquake occurred at 14:32:57 (UTC) on Tuesday, September 13, 2005. The magnitude 5.5 event has been located in the NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)

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Magnitude 5.7 Quake - FIJI REGION
2005 September 12 21:15:05 UTC

A moderate earthquake occurred at 21:15:05 (UTC) on Monday, September 12, 2005. The magnitude 5.7 event has been located in the FIJI REGION. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)

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Another Paris squat fire; this time no casualties
September 14, 2005

PARIS - A fire in a Paris squat overnight resulted in minor damage and no injuries to the occupants, police said Wednesday, but it did draw attention to a spate of previous blazes in the capital that have taken a heavy toll on African immigrants.

The fire, whose origin was not yet determined, broke out on the ground floor of an abandoned building in the city's southeast 12th district. A couple and their child who were illegally residing at the address were not hurt.

Other more disastrous fires have hit the Paris area recently.

Last month, separate blazes in two dilapidated buildings killed 24 African immigrants, most of them children, while another -- allegedly started by a gang of teenaged girls -- killed 18 people, half of them of African origin, in a suburban highrise.

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UFO mystery leaves experts baffled
Louth Today
September 13, 2005

UK -- REPORTS of bright, orange orbs over Louth have left experts baffled.

The balls of multi-coloured light were seen by residents in St Bernard's Avenue around 10pm last Sunday.

Two weeks ago three similar sightings off the coast of Trusthorpe were explained as being made by afterburners from military aircraft on exercise.

But RAF bosses said this time there had been no fighter jets around the Louth area at that time last Sunday.

Steve Whittleton, 34, from St Bernard's Avenue, said: "I saw two UFOs - I'm certain of that.

"There were two massive orange balls right above me, moving slowly.

"I wanted to rub my eyes but I did not want to miss them. I told my wife, but she thought I was bonkers but I know what I saw."

A spokesman at The Coastguard HQ in Great Yarmouth said the strange lights seen over Trusthorpe, last week, were nothing to be concerned about – and were likely to have been made by military aircraft.

But an RAF spokesman said Sunday's orange balls were a mystery. They said: "We don't think there were any jets in the sky at the time. It's very unusual."

The spokesman said Air Traffic Control had been closed on Friday night, which meant private aircraft flights were likely to have gone unrecorded.

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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.

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