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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

Copyright 2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Oil dips as Rita shifts path

Prices fall amid signs storm may avoid Houston refining hub; 30% of Gulf refining capacity off-line.
September 23, 2005: 6:18 AM EDT
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Oil fell below $66 a barrel and gasoline prices slid Friday as Hurricane Rita lost some intensity, while its direction may avert a direct hit on the heart of the Texas refining hub near Houston.

But with almost 30 percent of U.S. refining capacity shut down across the Gulf Coast and gasoline inventories already running low, many dealers took a cautious approach, waiting to see whether Rita wreaks as much havoc as last month's Katrina.

U.S. light crude was down 86 cents to $65.64 a barrel, extending overnight losses of 30 cents. London Brent crude fell 89 cents to $63.71 a barrel.

The storm, still a Category 4 and equivalent in ferocity to Hurricane Katrina, is expected to hit by Saturday the upper Texas and southwest Louisiana coast, just to the east of main production and population centers in Galveston, Houston and Corpus Christi.

Estimated windspeeds have eased to 140 miles per hour from 175 mph over the past day.

"The market is now taking a pause to assess just what Rita will do," said Jarrod Kerr, economist at JP Morgan in Sydney. "It won't fully digest Rita until Monday, although the forecasts are looking a little better than yesterday at present.

"There's plenty of oil out there drums-wise, the problem remains converting that into product, with more damage no doubt translating into a negative for the global consumer," he added.

Gasoline futures which surged Thursday, led the early retreat, falling 6.93 cents to $2.0701 a gallon. Heating oil was off 4.72cents to $1.9986 a gallon.

Oil traders said the upside for prices was limited by the possibility that members of the International Energy Agency (IEA) could extend their post-Katrina emergency oil reserve release, which includes refined fuels such as gasoline and diesel.

The Department of Energy is ready to loan oil from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) as it did after Katrina, but it has little resource to deal with a shortfall in refined products.

"If there is a supply disruption, which there is a good chance there will be, they may not hesitate to release the SPR and we already have crude oil and products coming from Europe after Katrina," said John Brady, broker at ABN Amro in New York.

Production halt

In addition to four refineries still out of action after Katrina, 13 Texan and two Louisiana plants have been closed as a precaution against Rita. Four others have reduced operations.

Exxon Mobil Corp. announced the closure of the country's largest refinery at Baytown, Texas and its Beaumont facility, the two disabling more than 900,000 barrels per day (bpd) alone.

Rita's onslaught has brought to a halt recovery efforts after Katrina churned through the Gulf of Mexico in late August, damaging oil and gas platforms, flooding the Louisiana refining center and sending crude prices to a record $70.85 a barrel.

Almost 92 percent of offshore oil output, or 1.379 million bpd, is out of action in the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. Minerals Management Service said. Almost 66 percent of gas output, or 6.594 billion cubic feet is also down.

But with U.S. crude supplies almost 12 percent above last year's levels, most concern is focused on sky-high gasoline prices and heating oil as the U.S. winter approaches.

Analysts warned that any damage to natural gas facilities could boost prices because reduced supplies would be far more difficult to replace than lost crude and could spur additional demand for heating oil and utility fuel oil.

The threat of further supply outages also hung over Nigeria, where more than 100 armed militants stormed an oil platform on Thursday, shutting down only a small volume of output but raising the specter of further disruptions from local groups.

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Increase in Major Hurricanes Linked to Warmer Seas
By Bjorn Carey
LiveScience Staff Writer
15 September 2005

The number of severe hurricanes has doubled worldwide even though the total number of hurricanes has dropped over the last 35 years, a new study finds.

The increase in major storms like Katrina coincides with a global increase of sea surface temperatures, which scientists say is an effect of global warming.

The possible relationship between global warming and hurricane strength has been a topic of controversy for years.

The new study supports another one released in July, in which climatologist Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology showed for the first time that major storms in both the Atlantic and the Pacific since the 1970s have increased in duration and intensity by about 50 percent.

The new reearch finds that total number of hurricanes worldwide – except for in the North Atlantic – decreased during during the period from 1970 to 2004 compared to years prior.

Yet in the same period, the global number of intense Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has nearly doubled in number, jumping from 50 per five years during the 1970's to 90 per five years in the last decade.

This increase is most evident in the North Atlantic basin, where from 1975 to 1989 there were 16 such hurricanes, but from 1990-2004 there were 25, a 56 percent increase.

Warmer seas

Using satellite data, the scientists link the increase in major storms to rising sea surface temperatures, which they believe have been influenced by global warming. [...]

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Flashback: Earth Trembles As Big Winds Move In

Hurricanes can trigger swarms of weak earthquakes and even set the Earth vibrating, according to the first study of such effects.

When Hurricane Charley slammed into Florida in August 2004, physicist Randall Peters of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, had a seismometer ready to monitor any vibrations in the Earth's crust. He did so for over 36 hours as Charley travelled briefly over Florida, then slid back out into the Atlantic.

As the hurricane reached land, the seismometer recorded a series of "micro-tremors" from the Earth's crust. This happened again as the storm moved back out to sea. Then, as Charley grazed the continental shelf on its way out, it caused a sharp seismic spike. "I suspect the storm triggered a subterranean landslide," says Peters.

More surprisingly, the storm also caused the Earth to vibrate. The planet's surface in the vicinity of the hurricane started moving up and down at several frequencies ranging from 0.9 to 3 millihertz. Such low-frequency vibrations have been detected following large earthquakes, but this is the first time a storm has been found to be the cause.

Comment: For many months we have been predicting that tehe American economy will collapse before the end of 2005. Given the available signs and evidence we are now of the opinion that the current severe hurricane season, triggering a major earthqake and volcano on the US mainland, may well be the precursor to just such a collapse and it's dire consequences for millions of American people. In essence, the scenes at the end of last month in New Orleans will soon be common throughout large areas of the North American continent.

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Evacuees stranded again

Traffic, lack of money force many to stay put
Friday, September 23, 2005 (16:19 GMT)

HOUSTON, Texas (AP) -- Wilma Skinner would like to scream at the officials of this city. If only they would pick up their phones.

"I done called for a shelter, I done called for help. There ain't none. No one answers," she said, standing in blistering heat outside a check-cashing store that had just run out of its main commodity. "Everyone just says, 'Get out, get out.' I've got no way of getting out. And now I've got no money."

With Hurricane Rita breathing down Houston's neck, those with cars were stuck in gridlock trying to get out. Those like Skinner -- poor, and with a broken-down car -- were simply stuck and fuming at being abandoned, they say.

"All the banks are closed, and I just got off work," said Thomas Visor, holding his sweaty paycheck as he, too, tried to get inside the store, where more than 100 people, all of them black or Hispanic, fretted in line. "This is crazy. How are you supposed to evacuate a hurricane if you don't have money? Answer me that?"

Some of those who did have money, and did try to get out, didn't get very far.

Judie Anderson of La Porte, Texas, covered just 45 miles in 12 hours. She had been on the road since 10 p.m. Wednesday, headed toward Oklahoma, which by Thursday was still very far away.

"This is the worst planning I've ever seen," she said. "They say, 'We've learned a lot from Hurricane Katrina.' Well, you couldn't prove it by me." [...]

Comment: The Bush administration certainly is consistent in its prosecution of the "war on terror", the reduction of civil liberties, and its complete disregard for the "little people"...

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Evacuee bus explodes as Rita closes in
Friday, September 23, 2005

HOUSTON, Texas -- A bus caught fire and exploded early Friday on a crowded Texas interstate, killing as many as 24 people who were fleeing ahead of Hurricane Rita.

The bus, carrying about 45 elderly evacuees, burst into flames on Interstate 45 south of Dallas. It pulled over and people were getting off when a series of explosions ripped through the bus.

Dallas County Sheriff's Sgt. Don Peritz said 14 or 15 people got off the bus and said as many as 24 people may have died.

Peritz said the fire was believed to have started in the bus's brake system and may have caused oxygen canisters on the bus to explode.

Authorities blocked all lanes of the interstate, complicating the already grueling exodus from the Texas coast. [...]

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Poll: Storm Changed Americans' Attitudes
AP National Writer
September 23, 2005

A 64-year-old Alabamian frets about frayed race relations. A Utah software programmer ponders the slow government response to Hurricane Katrina and decides he'll turn to his church first in a disaster created by nature or terrorists.

A woman scraping by on disability pay in northern Virginia puts her house on the market because of surging post-storm gas and food prices. Cheaper to live in Pennsylvania, she figures.

As the Gulf Coast braces for another monster storm, a new Associated Press-Ipsos poll shows Katrina prompted a rethinking of some signature issues in American life - changing the way we view race and our safety, how we spend our money, even where we live.

The poll shows that issues swirling around Katrina trump other national concerns.

Asked to rank eight topics that should be priorities for President Bush and Congress, respondents placed the economy, gas prices and Iraq high.

Comment: Despite the Bush administration's assurances that the economy is doing so well, it is quite obvious that for the average American, nothing could be further from the truth.

But when Katrina recovery was added to the list, it swamped everything else.

Like bands of the storm itself, Katrina's reach in American life is vast: 1 in 3 Americans believes the slow response will harm race relations. Two-thirds say surging gas prices will cause hardship for their families. Half say the same of higher food prices.

Comment: For the power elite, high food and fuel prices are no big deal. The problem is that the majority of Americans are not rich. When two thirds of Americans say that gas and food prices are causing them financial difficulties, we might suspect that the economic bubble will pop rather soon. Even if Rita completely fizzles out and causes no damage at all, Katrina's wallop seems to have had effects that are more far-reaching than the administration would like to admit. Even if Bush's "Plunge Protection Team" can keep the illusion of a healthy economy going for a little while longer, the contrast between Bush's positive words on the US economic outlook and the reality of an ever-growing lower class will be hard to bury.

In Las Cruces, N.M., Ariana Darley relies on carpools to get to parenting classes, or to make doctor's appointments with her 1-year-old son, Jesse. Before, she chipped in $5 for gas. Now, she pays $10 to $15.

"I didn't think it would affect me," she says by telephone, with Jesse crying in the background. "But it costs a lot of money now. I have to go places, and now it adds up."

After a crisis with indisputable elements of race and class - searing images of mostly poor, mostly black New Orleans residents huddled on rooftops or waiting in lines for buses - some Americans worry about strains in the nation's social fabric. [...]

The poll underscores the literal reach of Katrina as well: 55 percent of Americans say evacuees from Katrina have turned up in their cities or communities, raising concerns about living conditions for the refugees, vanishing jobs for locals and - among 1 in 4 respondents - increased crime.

Among respondents with incomes under $25,000 per year, 56 percent were concerned about living conditions for refugees in shelters; that was higher than among those who make more money. And the poll indicates people in the South, which has absorbed huge masses of evacuees, are most concerned about the costs to their local governments.

Ann McMullen, 52, of Killeen, Texas, who works as a school administrator at Fort Hood, says she worries about gang violence, simply because of the prodigious numbers of people flowing into Texas communities.

"They can't even locate the sex offenders," she says. "And every population has gang members. It's theft, it's murder, it's more chaotic crimes in the community. Hopefully we'll be able to put these people back to work."

The poll also exposes a divide among Americans in how the government should respond when disasters strike areas particularly prone to catastrophe - landslides, earthquakes, hurricanes. Half say the government should give people in those zones money for recovery, but almost as many say those people should live there at their own risk.

About 4 in 10 say the government should prohibit people from building new homes in those endangered areas in the first place. As McMullen puts it: "You're asking for another disaster to happen."

Katrina has also raised grave doubts among Americans about just who will protect them in the aftermath of a natural disaster or a terrorist attack.

Only about a quarter of Americans believe the federal government was as prepared as it should have been to cope with a disaster of Katrina's magnitude. Only slightly more than half, 54 percent, are confident in the federal government's ability to handle a future major disaster. [...]

For Pam Koren, the storm's impact has been more immediate - and more drastic.

Suffering from low blood sugar, spasms of the esophagus and nerve damage, she exists now on disability pay and contributions from her daughter, who attends college and works as an assistant youth minister.

With gas and food prices rising after the storm, she says, she was forced to put her house in Burke, Va., on the market. She is considering east-central Pennsylvania, and a less expensive home.

"I'm a wreck because I'm not sure I'm making the right decision," she says. "I didn't want to have to do this, but things have become so tight I have not had a choice. I did not expect things were going to get this bad."

The poll of 1,000 adults conducted by Ipsos, an international polling company, had a margin of potential sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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Man held in airport terror alert
Friday, 23 September 2005
BBC News

Police have used a Taser gun to arrest a man under the Terrorism Act and carried out a controlled explosion on a suspect package at Manchester Airport.

Officers were called at about 0830 BST and arrested the man after a struggle on the apron, where planes are parked.

The BBC understands a man had been seen with a package underneath a plane.

Parts of terminals one and two were evacuated and closed, but the airport later reopened and advised passengers to report as normal.

Car recovered

The arrested man, who is of Asian appearance and is understood to speak little English, was taken to a police station in Greater Manchester.

Army bomb disposal units carried out a controlled explosion on the package, reportedly a briefcase or suitcase, with a 600 metre police cordon set up around the area.

BBC correspondent Kevin Bocquet watched the controlled explosion from the 11th floor of the airport's car park.

He said: "I could see the suspect suitcase - it was on the middle of a taxi-way surrounded by red cones, on a very, very large area of tarmac. The nearest plane was probably a good 60 or 70 yards away.

"They moved one of those remote-controlled devices on top of this suspect suitcase, and then there was a very minor explosion - it was bit like a damp firework going off.

"Then the remote-controlled device was moved to one side.

"I saw a man in army uniform - he went out to the suspect suitcase, he bent down, he examined it and then he came back into the terminal building. He didn't appear to be in any particular hurry," he said.

"It looked to me as though it was not something they were particularly concerned about at that stage."

Comment: It would appear then that there was no bomb in the "suspect package". As we see it, this event has one of two likely explanations:

It was an MI5 directed operation to keep the "Islamic terror" ball rolling or the arrested man was a simply a deranged individual who wandered onto the runway and the incident is now being spun to support Bush and Blair's phony war on terror.

Of course, there is the possibility that this was a real "terrorist" determined to do his utmost to kill and maim British civilians, but if that is the case, then it is very useful in providing an excellent insight into the REAL extent of the "Islamic terror threat" in the UK and US, despite the fear mongering of messers Bush and Blair. To quote the above report " a damp firework". We should not, however, lose sight of the very real danger that the psychopathic personalities in the Bush and Blair government and their respective intelligence agencies pose to us all in their role as the real masterminds of Global terror.

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Pentagon blocking September 11 inquiry: Senator
By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Republican chairman of the Senate judiciary committee accused the Pentagon on Wednesday of stonewalling an inquiry into claims that the U.S. military identified four September 11 hijackers more than a year before the 2001 attacks.

The Defense Department barred several witnesses from testifying at a judiciary committee hearing and instead sent a top-level official who could provide little information on al Qaeda-related intelligence uncovered by a secret military team code-named Able Danger.

"That looks to me like it may be obstruction of the committee's activities, something we will have to determine," said the panel's chairman, Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

Specter also complained that the Pentagon delivered hundreds of pages of documents related to Able Danger late on the eve of the hearing, giving his committee staff no time to review the material.

"The American people are entitled to some answers," Specter said. "It is not a matter of attaching blame. It is a matter of correcting errors so that we don't have a repetition of 9/11."

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the Pentagon considered Able Danger to be a classified matter and declined to participate when the judiciary committee chose to hold an open hearing.

"We have to obey the laws with respect to security classifications," Rumsfeld told reporters.

Witnesses barred from testifying included military intelligence officers and analysts involved in Able Danger, a now defunct operation that used powerful computers to sift through public data in search of intelligence clues.

People involved with the operation have said that Able Danger identified September 11 ringleader Mohamed Atta and three other hijackers as being members of an al Qaeda cell in the early months of 2000.

A Pentagon review of the operation turned up no documents to support the assertion that Able Danger had been able to identify Atta as an al Qaeda member.

But one official, Army Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, has also said publicly that Able Danger members tried to pass the information along to the FBI three times in September 2000 but were forced by Pentagon lawyers to cancel the meetings.

Comment: The Pentagon is blocking much more than evidence that the FBI was fully aware of the alleged 9/11 "hijackers" long before 9/11. It is also blocking any real investigation into the events of that day and refuses to release video evidence which would prove exactly what hit the Pentagon at 9:38 a.m. that morning.

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US Immigration Officials Bar Robert Fisk
The New Mexican – September 22, 2005

U.S. immigration officials refused Tuesday to allow Robert Fisk, longtime Middle East correspondent for the London newspaper, The Independent, to board a plane from Toronto to Denver. Fisk was on his way to Santa Fe for a sold-out appearance in the Lannan Foundation’s readings-and-conversations series Wednesday night.

According to Christie Mazuera Davis, a Lannan program officer, Fisk was told that his papers were not in order.

Davis made last-minute arrangements Wednesday for Amy Goodman, host of Pacifica Radio’s daily news show, Democracy Now!, to interview Fisk via satellite from a television station in Toronto. He appeared on a large screen onstage at the Lensic Performing Arts Center.

The controversial British journalist, who is based in Beirut, filed many eyewitness reports on the U.S. invasion of Iraq and criticized Western reporters for “hotel journalism ,” a phrase he coined to describe correspondents who covered the war from heavily fortified hotel suites and offices.

Comment: Censorship was rampant throughout Nazi Germany. Censorship ensured that Germans could only see what the Nazi hierarchy wanted people to see, hear what they wanted them to hear and read only what the Nazis deemed acceptable. The Nazi police dealt with anyone who went outside of these boundaries. Censorship dominated the lives of the ordinary citizen in Nazi Germany.

The prime mover in censorship was the Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels.

It was his responsibility to see that the German people were fed with material acceptable to the Nazi state. Newspapers, radio and all forms of media were put under the control of the Nazis. Even the film industry became controlled by the Nazis where the leading light was Leni Riefenstahl - who, though favoured by Hitler, did not enjoy a good relationship with Goebbels. Even telling jokes about Hitler became a serious offence - one to send you to the concentration camps and potentially death.

Flashback: Couple in anti-Bush T-shirts were arrested at president’s speech

Police took Nicole and Jeff Rank away in handcuffs from the event, which was billed as a presidential appearance, not a campaign rally. They were wearing T-shirts that read, “Love America, Hate Bush.”

People in general were expected to report anything unacceptable to their local party chief. Those who knew something but did not report it were deemed as guilty as those who went against the system.

Flashback: Universities asked to inform on students

Carin Pettersson
22.06.04 10:04

The Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) has asked the employees at the universities to keep track of all suspicious students and researchers.

PST called in all employees at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at University of Oslo for a meeting. Similar meetings are planned at several other institutions of education, according to the Norwegian paper VG.

During the meeting, the PST presented a list of 15 points they should be looking for, and at several occasions the employees were reminded that students in several instances had been aiders and abettors in the production of weapons used in terror attacks.

"It’s disgraceful that professors are going to be informers because this is nothing, but informing," said Bjorn Niklas Sjøstrøm, leader of the student parliament. "This reminds me of the methods which are used by countries which we are trying to protect ourselves against."

Ågot Valle, member of the Socialist Left party, who is heading the Norwegian parliament’s control and constitution committee, is also reacting to the request made by the PST.

"This reminds me of Eastern Germany in the old days," Valle stated.

Censorship ensured that the Nazis had the German public in their grip as they bombarded them on a daily basis on how their lives had been improved from the day Hitler became Germany's leader.

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Goss Plans To Expand CIA Spying And Analysis
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 23, 2005; Page A0

Facing criticism both inside his agency and from Capitol Hill for a lack of vision and leadership, CIA Director Porter J. Goss yesterday outlined his plans for expanding CIA's spying and analytical operations overseas while cutting back on the bureaucracy at headquarters.

In an unusual town hall meeting for his staff, Goss said he is going to send more case officers and analysts abroad and put "a refreshed emphasis on the CIA as a global agency," according to a prepared text of his remarks. That would mean, he said, locating agency personnel not only "in places that [policymakers] need us to be today but where they may need us to be tomorrow." [...]

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America Is Bankrupt
by Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers
September 12, 2005

A recent trip to the United States – after a three-year absence – showed me how far the country and its people have deteriorated in a short period of time. Americans are bankrupt. They are bankrupt at every possible level: spiritually, morally, educationally. The country's economy has deteriorated to the level of a Philippines or a Thailand (and I mean no disrespect to the Philippines or Thailand – I love those places).

Human-to-human communication in the United States has also faltered greatly. People who would rank as the vilest of trolls on any Internet chat room are now on the air as TV and radio hosts, spewing forth hatred and even barefaced lies. These talking heads do this, of course, to make money, but the effect it has on the average listener is nothing short of devastating. It is devastating to a population not educated to think analytically; it is devastating to a people who – above all – need to open up communication with each other, not close it.

Intelligent discussion on American TV and radio has now taken a back seat to a sort of childish one-upmanship. It's no longer a question of who can thrust and parry their opponent into a corner through the use of beautiful English phrasing and logic; it's now a question of who can belittle the other with snappy (but rude) one-liners. This has affected the mainstream population in its daily affairs, in that the ordinary people come to believe that this is the way to win an argument. Substance and logic all take a back seat to name-calling.

The worst culprits are the talk radio show hosts. Average America doesn't know what is involved in becoming a talk show host, but trust me, just about all of these people are no more or less intelligent than you or I. Of course, they keep up on current events better than you or I could: It's their job. While we are putting in a good eight or ten hours of work each day, these guys are brushing up on current affairs. As a result, it is very difficult to challenge and defeat them in an on-air discussion – especially when they have control of what goes on air. So to call up a talk show host and try to argue a point and win is akin to pushing water up a hill: It can't be done. I know. I worked as a talk show host for many years. [...]

Thus, in modern America, talk show radio and TV is not about debating the issues of the day. It is a forum for a megalomaniac to make himself or herself look better to an audience that doesn't know any better, and to belittle opponents in front of other people. This never happens in Japan. It doesn't happen because the structure of the Japanese language does not lend itself well to interruption when someone is speaking, and also because the Japanese are polite. But I suspect that it never happens in any other country excepting the United States.

This childish behavior is especially damaging to the psyche of the American male – although women seem to be affected by it also (witness so-called "soccer moms"). It seems that winning is everything. Whatever happened to the saying, "It's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game"? I know that this phrase does not apply to today's American male. The verbal one-upmanship is insidious as it begins to creep into other areas of the American psyche. It becomes contagious and is damaging to civil discourse and civil behavior all around.

Infantile machismo is a definitive trait of today's American. During my recent visit I witnessed a TV commercial for some sports car. The sales point of the commercial boiled down to this: If you buy this car, then that tells your friends, 'I'm just a little better than you are.' How childish American men have become. What kind of man needs to show off his car, and to feel superior to his friends?

Imagine a guy with an average vocabulary and no gift for repartee. What does he do when he has been belittled in public for no real reason? He probably holds it in, until one day when he raises his fists.

In Japan, I have never seen a sports game – especially so-called "pick-up games" – break down into fisticuffs. Have I seen this in America? Have you folks in America seen this? Yes, far too many times (do I even need to ask?). The last time I witnessed it was in California, when a so-called friendly basketball game turned into a hockey game and a bunch of guys started punching it out over some foul. You would have thought their lives depended on the outcome of that game. It was embarrassing. I was out on the court to get some exercise. I didn't care if we won or lost. I certainly wasn't interested in getting hurt, or injured, or hit. I walked off.

Americans today have become some of the most childish, self-centered adults I have ever seen.

A recent trip to Crawford, to visit Camp Casey before it really got into full swing, allowed me to see for myself another slice of American life. I had brought my video camera and eight hours of tape. I was going to make a documentary to try to explain to the Japanese public what was going on there in Texas. (Japanese news will rarely show anything critical of a foreign government – especially the government of the United States). I wanted to capture the sights and sounds; the atmosphere of a real American-style anti-war demonstration. I had really hoped that I could make a documentary that would show the Japanese just what the average American is thinking.

When I came back to Japan, I transferred the video tapes to the editing machine and I watched in increasing despair. I'm sure I can get the average Japanese to understand what Americans are all about and what they are thinking. I'm sure that if I ever do finish this documentary (and I'm wondering now if I want to), the Japanese will understand more than they want to understand about America. They will watch it and think: "Americans have gone completely nuts." I would have to agree.

Cindy Sheehan and her movement are quite understandable. Cindy seems like a level-headed woman with plenty of common sense. It's the others who have jumped on the bandwagon who seem crazy. Not all of them, of course, but it did seem a bit like a circus full of freaks. And those freaks were fully represented on both sides of the fence.

Even worse than (some of) the anti-war group were the pro-war people – they seemed like they were really crazy. (I only saw six at most – even though the next day's newspaper reported 250.) I talked to one woman who claimed to have "just arrived from Baghdad." She was lying. I could pick that out in a second of talking to her. Her English level was that of someone who had been in the United States for ten years. Yet there she was, claiming to have "just arrived." (Well, okay, I suppose everything is relative, especially in a country where it is now acceptable to out-and-out lie to get what you want.) [...]

The entire scene, from the anti-war group to the pro-war group to George W. Bush taking a helicopter to avoid those groups to visit a little league game, seemed like a Lewis Carroll story. And I was standing there watching Alice, the Mad Hatter, the Red Queen (played by George) and the rest of them scurrying about their business but actually going nowhere.

On top of all that, throw in the local TV news reporters with their perfect teeth, slicked-back blonde hair and make-up caked on thick to cover their wrinkles, who think they are all hot stuff because they report for some local in-the-sticks TV station, and you have a real life horror-show on the Comedy Channel.

But the real-life horrors in today's America don't end there. Today's American is poor, both monetarily and in common sense. In many ways, these two are related. The Japanese save money. Americans don't. Of course it is common sense to save money. The Japanese save for all the right reasons, but they also save money for special reasons. It's those special, just-in-case reasons for which the Japanese would always have a nest egg saved.

When I went to the United States this time, I visited a good friend. I'd consider him one of my best friends. I am glad I could visit his place because then I could truly see for myself just how far America has gone downhill. Even though he had little, he was gracious enough to let me stay with him. I was thankful for this as, without his help, I had no way to get around and knew no one else who could help me to do so. But within two minutes of entering his abode, I could see just how poor Middle America has become.

My friend had no money – none. He asked me for twenty dollars for gas. I gave him a hundred. [...]

In Japan, a guest is a guest. A guest in your home – especially one from far away – is to be treated with reverence. It would be completely unthinkable to ask a guest for money (although it is also common sense, in Japan, for the guest to offer to pay – an offer which will certainly be refused).

I know it used to be this way in America. In Japan, honor and respect are much more valuable than money. If you had a guest come to stay in your house in Japan and you had no money, you would borrow money – you would do something – in order to treat your guest with the utmost respect. It is absolutely unheard of to ask a guest for money.

It reminds me of that Chevy Chase movie Vegas Vacation where he and his family visit his wife's broke family and the brother-in-law says to Chevy, "Would you like a cold one?"

Chevy answers, "Sure!"

To which the brother-in-law replies, "Me too. Got any money?"

That was a joke in a movie released in 1997. It's not a joke any more in today's America.

From what I've seen, the average 30-year-old college-educated guy in America today is getting paid less than I was paid in 1975 as a part-time commission salesman at Sears Roebuck department store. I have friends who tell me that they are getting six or eight dollars an hour right now. At 40 hours a week, that works out to about $320, less taxes. In 1975 I was getting paid over $1,000 per month after taxes – and those were 1975 dollars. I'm no economist, but it sure comes as no surprise that today's young American has no money left to save after receiving this paltry income.

When my friend took me around, driving through the city and out to Camp Casey, we stopped at a gasoline stand. Of course I volunteered to pay. He was complaining about the sudden rise in the price of gasoline. Here was where I witnessed just another small item that made me sure that America is headed for third world status, if it is not already there. He was complaining about gasoline at $3 a gallon. I hear that in Atlanta, after Hurricane Katrina, it hit $6 a gallon.

I shook my head and thought, When are these crazy people going to wake up? Apparently it's good that the USA invaded Iraq to secure oil. Japan has no natural resources. America does. America even has its own oil. Guess what? About seven years ago, the price for a liter of gasoline in Japan was 100 yen (3.78 liters per gallon). The price today is about 125 yen per liter. That means today's price for a gallon of gasoline in Japan, a nation that produces no oil, is about $4.58 – an increase of 25% over the last seven years. Now, it doesn't take much of a math whiz to figure out that if the prices at the pumps in America – a nation that produces oil – have doubled in the last few years, there's something strange going on. How is it possible that Japan's gasoline prices have just barely inched up over these past few years, at about 3% per year, while USA prices have doubled or more?

Is it just the Iraq war? Or is it the decline of the dollar? Probably a bit of both, but you can definitely be sure of one thing, it is the US government taking advantage of you – regardless of whether you are a Democrat or Republican. And the average American still cheers on the federal monster.

After filling up, we headed back onto the freeway. I looked at the scenery and had a feeling of déjà vu. I thought to myself, Hey! I've seen this before. Now where did I see it? Then it came back to me: The road leading to Crawford looked an awful lot like the road leading from Phuket International Airport towards Patong Beach – a nice place, but definitely not a road leading through a world power.

Every once in a while we would pass through some small town – the buildings decayed and shuttered, a shadow of what it once was. And besides the rundown buildings and the empty streets, there was the filth. It was everywhere – everything seemed broken down. Public restrooms reeked as if they'd never been cleaned. Every once in a while I would see a solitary homeless figure – dazed and disheveled – walking by the side of the road. It looked just like some third world nation. You'd never see such poverty in Japan. But that's today's United States.

Americans are always boasting about how they are the richest and the freest, etc., etc. But from the eyes of this American son, America's twilight has fallen. It is getting dark. I cannot see any way out of the disaster you folks are headed for. The problems are too numerous, the needed debate unheard, and the psyche already destroyed.

Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers [send him mail] was born and raised in the USA and moved to Japan in 1984. He has the distinction of being fired from every FM radio station in Tokyo – one of them three times. His first book, Schizophrenic in Japan, is now on sale.

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Why Is George W. Bush Above the Law?
A Query by

No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we ask him to obey it. - Theodore Roosevelt


Once again, a massive failure of leaderships has been displayed in Washington. And, once again, George Bush has escaped an independent inquiry into his irresponsible actions. For the fourth time in less than five years, the President of the United States and his cohorts been placed above the law. That, in itself, is a major American disaster.

When, if ever, could this have happened before? When else could one administration have pulled off four major scandals; four devastating, potentially impeachable screw-ups, and never have to answer for them? When else, in the United States of America, could so many crimes of an elected president and his cadre remain unexplained, unchallenged, and unpunished? When? Probably never. When in history have the media sat silent through criminal scandal at highest levels of government?

We're not talking mistakes, here. We're not talking poor judgment or failed policies. We're not talking politics as usual, with its underhanded array of pork and perks. But we are talking about very serious violations of the public trust, and very possibly the law, perpetrated by the elected leader of this nation and his handlers.

Even more amazingly, we are talking about the shameful reality that not a single one of these offenses has been investigated by a truly independent, non-political, neutral commission, armed with subpoena powers and adequate funding, and answerable ONLY to the people of the United States of America. Not a single one.

In every one of the scandals in question, calls for a nonpartisan, independent commission were thwarted by the very people accused of misdeeds and crimes. Something is really wrong when an American president who is accused of misconduct can determine who will delve into the facts behind his own actions? Something also is really wrong when incriminating evidence can be redacted and withheld from the public by the very people incriminated by that evidence.

Something is even more seriously wrong when cover up after cover up goes unreported and unchallenged by the same corporate media that spent eight years in relentless pursuit of scandals related to Whitewater, Travelgate, Filegate, Paula Jones and that awful threat to national security, Monica Lewinsky.

Of course, the targets of the media, and ultimately a Special Prosecutor, were Bill and Hillary Clinton, not George W. Bush, and accountability was not yet a dirty word. And of course, in that far more innocent time, challenging the president was not considered to be an act of treason. Tragically, today, it is. [...]

The Karl Rove strategy to cover up the crimes of this administration has been put into play with the skill that only years of practice can hone. And yet, the plan was so simple that even George Bush has had no difficulty in carrying it out. To this day, these two men and their cabal have been able to avert a single authentic investigation into their nefarious activities. They have managed to put themselves above the law by following a game plan that goes something like this:

First, claim to be concerned with uncovering the truth. Repeat that claim over and over whenever anyone asks, but do nothing at all for as long as possible. Arrange for the media to corroborate your abject dedication to a full and open investigation of the facts. Make certain there is no independent inquiry by any overambitious journalist.

Next, attack the integrity and character of anyone who raises legitimate questions about anyone in the White House. Have the media echo widely distributed talking points that discredit anyone and everyone who attempt to uncover the truth about the events in question. Subtly suggest that the real responsibility for any of the scandals belongs to Bill Clinton.

Third, agree to an inquiry by a committee or commission whose members are appointed by the President, and then limit its ability to investigate. Refuse to surrender revealing documents to any investigation and discredit any members of who ask pertinent questions. Stonewall the investigation by refusing adequate funding or any extension of time to continue a probe. Refuse to allow WH aides to testify before any group of inquiry. Have key members of the administration refuse to testify under oath and insist that Dick Cheney accompany the President to all hearings.

Fourth, delay the disclosure of any damaging findings until after any important election. In addition, declare all incriminating results in a final report to be classified and have all harmful information blackened out.

And finally, when all else fails, pass the buck. Find someone willing to fall on his sword and take the full blame for whatever went wrong so that George Bush and his cabal appears to be totally innocent of any wrongdoing. Rest assured that many Americans will be comforted to hear that the President of the United States did not know, was not told, or had no possible knowledge of anything that was going on around him. He is, after all, above the law. [...]

The Attacks of 9/11:

  • George Bush refused for FOURTEEN MONTHS to allow any inquiry into the events leading up to 9/11, the worst attack on American soil in history.
  • More than a year later, in November of 2002, under pressure from victims' families, he relented and allowed the formation of a 9/11 Commission, naming Pentagon advisor Henry Kissinger as co-chair. After one month, Kissinger resigned after strong objections from the families of 9/11 victims.
  • The Bush Administration granted the 9/11 Commission only 3 million dollars to do its work. In contrast, $50 million had been given to the commission that investigated the Columbia space shuttle crash.
  • George Bush stonewalled the investigation at every turn. For a detailed summary of the obstacles the Commission was forced to overcome, check out the information here. In the end, the Kean Commission left a wide range of vital questions unexplored and unanswered. Requests to reopen the hearings to address the many discrepancies and fallacies in the report have gone unheeded.
  • At the end of the day, none of the outstanding questions about what the President knew and when he knew it has been answered. To this day, George Bush openly blames the FBI for the failures that led to 9/11. He continues to deny the evidence that has been uncovered and insists that no one in the WH had any prior knowledge of warnings about possible attacks. He is above the law.

The WMD claims against Iraq:

In January of 2004, former chief weapons inspector David Kay called for an independent inquiry into Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. In response, the White House immediately turned aside the calls from Kay and many Democrats, and refused to allow an immediate outside investigation. In February of that year, President Bush relented and personally appointed people to serve on the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the US Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction. The Commission was to issue two reports: the first would reveal the role of the intelligence community in the WMD claims. The second, to be issued AFTER THE 2004 ELECTION, would look into whether Bush and his aides overstated and misrepresented the flawed intelligence they received from the intelligence agencies. The second part of the investigation was never even attempted. After the 2004 elections, Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts concluded that such an inquiry would be pointless. The matter was dropped and no one in the Bush administration has had to explain the repeated claims that Iraq's WMD's were a sure thing, and that they posed a serious threat to both Iraq's neighbors and to the US. They are all above the law.

The Plame leak:

Bob Novak's article identifying Valerie Plame as a CIA operative appeared in July of 2003. Novak claimed that his sources for this information were two senior Bush administration officials. Despite knowing that a serious crime had originated from inside the White House, George Bush did NOTHING at all to investigate the leak. At the end of September, 2003, CIA Director George J. Tenet called on the Justice Department to investigate the leak of one of his operatives. Days later, the Justice Department, led by John Ashcroft, a man close to the WH, opened an investigation into the leak. At that time, President Bush made the following statement to reporters:

"If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated the law, the person will be taken care of..."

On December 30, 2003, five months after the Novak article appeared, Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself from the leak investigation and U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald took over the probe. As honorable as Fitzgerald may be, he is NOT an independent prosecutor. Rather, he is an employee who reports only to the Justice Department of this administration. In July of 2005, TWO YEARS after the original leak, Karl Rove was named as a source of Valerie Plame's identity by Time reporter Matthew Cooper. To date, George Bush has done absolutely nothing at about removing the criminals in his own WH. The Fitzgerald investigation is winding down, and in a few weeks we will see what we will see. Don't hold your breath that justice will be done. George Bush, Karl Rove, and all the rest are above the law. On the other hand, without word one from the media, Bush as continued to appoint criminals to sensitive government positions. Do a web search for the felons that Bush has appointed to his government. Criminals are welcomed in the Bush White House.

The Aftermath of Katrina:

  • Everyone knows what happened, so it is unnecessary to recap the events of the hurricane and its aftermath. Suffice it to say that the Katrina fiasco was a disastrous failure by people who were entrusted with the job of planning and carrying out major emergency relief efforts wherever they occur.
  • It was a disastrous failure by a president who talked incessantly about security, but who appointed totally inadequate and unqualified cronies to head the agencies that failed the nation in crucial emergency.
  • Almost immediately, George Bush said that he wanted to get to the bottom of what went wrong with the response to Hurricane Katrina. Therefore, he planned to personally oversee an investigation. Did you get that? He planned to investigate himself!
  • So, in case that didn't go over too well, on September 17th the Republican leadership in the Senate stepped to protect George Bush from anyone who would question his shameful response to the hurricane. Only days after the storm, and in true lemming style, the GOP killed a proposal for an independent investigation of what had happened in New Orleans.
  • Instead, GOP members of Congress organized an inquiry committee without consulting a single Democrat. This "impartial group" is composed of senior members of Congress, with Republicans in the majority. How comforting to know that GOP loyalists plan to conduct a full and unbiased investigation of George Bush, Michael Brown and Michael Chertoff and their collective failures after Katrina.. How comforting, indeed, to know that - once again – there are those who remain above the law.


What's left to be said? Not very much. George Bush has had a free pass to do as he pleased for nearly five years now. He and his henchmen have not been held accountable for any crime against the people of this country or the world. He is above the law.

George Bush and his entire band of brigands have perfected their sting. They use it because it works. They use it because they can. They use it because we allow them to. George Bush walks freely while so many of his victims no longer can. After all he has done, George Bush still can laugh up his sleeve at a nation that is utterly powerless to stop him.

And that's because George W. Bush is a man above the law.

EDITOR'S NOTE: While criminals have occupied many a public office in our nation, our media, in the past, have at least tried to inform the public and expose the criminals. The severity of the crimes being conducted by our current administration combined with the level of blatant deception by our media has created a surreal disconnect between reality and publicly perceived reality. While I have deep concerns about the seemingly endless list of anti-American, anti-life, anti-peace and anti-humanity acts by the Bush administration, my focus remains on the people who are perpetuating the false cover that distracts the people from seeing the truth; thus permitting the crimes to continue. These people are the members of the corporate media and we can not forgive them for what they have permitted and we must not permit them to continue to provide cover for the criminals in charge of our nation.

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Roberts nomination advances

Senate Judiciary Committee votes 13-5 in favor
Thursday, September 22, 2005 (21:01 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved John Roberts' nomination as the next Supreme Court chief justice, virtually assuring the conservative judge confirmation by the Senate next week.

Three Democrats joined the committee's 10 majority Republicans in a 13-5 vote to advance the nomination to the full Senate.

Five Democrats -- Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California, Joseph Biden of Delaware, Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, Charles Schumer of New York and Dick Durbin of Illinois -- opposed Roberts.

At times, the arguments over whether Roberts is an appropriate successor to the late William H. Rehnquist merged with senators' worries about whom President Bush will choose to be his next nominee to the court, as the replacement for the retiring Sandra Day O'Connor.

The Senate's 44 Democrats seem to be split on whether they can, or should, mount even symbolic opposition to Roberts.

Confirmation assured

His confirmation as the 109th Supreme Court justice is assured because most of the Senate's 55 Republicans are supporting him and Democrats have decided not to filibuster his nomination.

But Democrats who oppose his nomination said they can't take the risk that Roberts will prove a conservative ideologue on the court.

Feinstein told a packed Judiciary Committee hearing room that her vote was decided after Roberts refused to fully answer questions from her and other Democrats in his confirmation hearing last week.

"I knew as little about what Judge Roberts really thought about issues after the hearings as I did before the hearing. This makes it very hard for me," said Feinstein, an abortion rights supporter.

"I cannot in good conscience cast a 'yea' vote," she said. "I will cast a 'no' vote."

Biden 'a close call'

Biden said his vote was a close call, but Roberts "does not appear to share the same expansive view of fundamental rights of previous nominees I have supported. I'm unwilling to take the constitutional risk at this moment in the court's history."

Sen. Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold, both Wisconsin Democrats, and the committee's top Democrat, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, decided to support making the conservative judge the nation's 17th chief justice.

"I will vote my hopes today and not my fears," Kohl said.

Kohl said Roberts made it clear to him that he will be a modest judge, not an activist, and will approach arguments with an open mind.

"I take him at his word that he will steer the court to serve as an appropriate check on potential abuses of presidential power," Leahy told the committee and former Sen. Fred Thompson -- Roberts' escort through the confirmation process -- who watched from the crowd.

Message to Bush

Those statements likely are directed at the president, who is expected to soon make public his choice to replace O'Connor, who has been a swing vote on issues including affirmative action, abortion, discrimination and death penalty cases.

Replacing her could give the president a chance to swing the court to the right on many issues.

Widely mentioned candidates include federal appellate judges Janice Rogers Brown, Edith Brown Clement, Edith Hollan Jones, Emilio Garza, Alice Batchelder, Karen Williams, J. Michael Luttig, J. Harvie Wilkinson, Michael McConnell and Samuel Alito.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former deputy attorney general Larry Thompson, lawyer Miguel Estrada and Maura Corrigan, a member of the Michigan Supreme Court, are also considered possibilities. [...]

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U.S. deploys warfare unit to jam enemy satellites
By Bill Gertz
September 22, 2005

The U.S. military is bracing for future attacks in space, and the Air Force has deployed an electronic-warfare unit capable of jamming enemy satellites, the general in charge of space defenses says.

"You can't go to war and win without space," said Gen. Lance Lord, the four-star general in charge of the Colorado-based Air Force Space Command.

Gen. Lord said in an interview with The Washington Times that his command plays a key role in monitoring space, protecting satellites from attack or disruption and preparing to carry out strikes on enemy spacecraft.

Gen. Lord said the United States has a major strategic advantage over other nations' militaries because of its satellite communications and intelligence capabilities. "So we've got to protect that advantage," he said.

"We're not talking about weaponizing space. We're not talking about massive satellite attacks coming over the horizon or anything like that. This is really a way to understand space situational awareness, who's out there, who's operating. We understand that," Gen. Lord said.

The top priorities of the space command are monitoring space and knowing the threats. Two other missions are defending satellites and conducting offensive operations against enemy spacecraft or ground signals that threaten U.S. satellites.

"We understand that jamming has gone on and other things have occurred, and we watch that very closely," Gen. Lord said.

He declined to identify specific nations that are working on anti-satellite weapons.

Other defense officials said China is a key worry as far as space warfare, partly because it has tested electronic signal jamming against satellites.

"We watch China," one official said. "They've had 45 successful launches since 1996. They will be a very robust and potent competitor in the future, and we want to make sure we understand who they are and how they're emerging in this business. They look at us; we look at them."

Russia also in the past has deployed anti-satellite weapons and is developing anti-satellite jamming weapons.

Gen. Lord dismissed assertions by critics that the Air Force's plans to use small spacecraft for maintenance could include using the craft as anti-satellite ramming devices.

"Anytime you have a satellite out there, if you run it into something else, you've got that kind of capability. That is not what we're doing," he said.

Instead, offensive anti-satellite weapons currently are limited to "countercommunications" operations -- interrupting the signals sent from the ground to satellites that try to disrupt U.S. military or civilian spacecraft, Gen. Lord said.

The 76th Space Control Squadron, based at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., last year deployed the first offensive countercommunications system that uses mobile teams that can fire electronic jamming gear capable of knocking out enemy satellite communications.

"If somebody is trying to use space against us, we could interrupt, in a reversible kind of way, those kind of capabilities as needed and as directed by U.S. policy," Gen. Lord said.

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Three Palestinian militants killed by Israeli troops in W. Bank city 2005-09-23 20:51:01

GAZA, Sept. 23 (Xinhuanet) -- Israeli forces shot dead three Palestinian militants of the radical Islamic Jihad (Holy War) were killed in a village north of the West Bank city of Tulkarm at dawn Friday, Palestinian medical sources said.

They said that the three men wer e identified as Ra'id Ajaj, 30,Nazeeh Abu Saadah, 25, and Saeed al-Ashkar, 22.

Two of them were militants of the radical Islamic Jihad (Holy War) movement while the third was an element of the Palestinian preventive security forces, they added.

According to the sources, the Israeli forces with scores of military vehicles forced their way into Alar village and besieged a house in which two of the men had taken refuge.

The troops also stormed the area between Alar and Sidon, north of Tulkarm,A Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed that the three Palestinian militants were killed during clashes which erupted during a routine arrest operation in a village near the northern city of Tulkarem.

"During an exchange of fire, the two terrorists were killed. Next to their bodies, the force found two bullet proof vests, two AK-47 machineguns and several rifle clips," she said, adding the third Jihad militant came out towards the troops slightly later and during another exchange of fire he was also killed.

It was the first deadly army raid since Israel completed its withdrawal of settlers and soldiers from all 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip and four in northern West Bank in recent weeks. 

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Typhoon sweeps through north Philippines, 16 dead
Fri Sep 23, 4:00 AM ET

MANILA - Typhoon Damrey swept away from the northern Philippines on Friday after killing at least 16 people across the main island of Luzon, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) said.

Damage to property and agriculture appeared to be low after the typhoon hit the east coast of Luzon on Tuesday but most areas in the northern provinces of Ilocos Norte, Cagayan and Isabela were under knee-deep water, said Anthony Golez, an OCD spokesman.

"Most of the casualties were drowning victims," he said, adding about 20,000 people were still in temporary shelters in the northern provinces.

Damrey had moved into the South China Sea and was heading toward southern China and Hong Kong with wind speeds up to 120 kph (75 mph).

"All public storm warning signals are now lowered but occasional rains with moderate to strong winds may still be expected over western Luzon," Golez said, citing a report from the weather bureau.

Local agriculture officials had reported very minimal impact to rice and corn farms, he said, estimating crop damage would reach about 60 million pesos.

Soldiers and civilian engineers had started repairing roads, bridges and power lines in the affected areas.

Typhoons and tropical storms regularly hit the Philippines, an archipelago of some 7,000 islands. In the worst disaster in recent years, more than 5,000 people died in floods triggered by a typhoon in southern Leyte island in 1991.

Last year, a series of storms left about 1,800 people dead or missing, including 480 who were killed when heavy rains triggered mudslides that buried three towns in Quezon, an eastern province on Luzon.

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Indian downpour, floods kill 56
Wednesday, September 21, 2005 (23:42 GMT)
HYDERABAD, India (AP) -- Heavy downpours sent rivers over their embankments, killing at least 56 people and forcing the evacuation of thousands in southern India, officials said Wednesday.

Helicopters plucked people from danger in the worst hit areas of Andhra Pradesh state and delivered thousands of tons of food, medicine and blankets to camps for the displaced. Boats rescued hundreds of others.

The rains flooded railroad tracks and major highways along the coast, marooning hundreds of trucks, buses and cars, said disaster relief official Shashank Goel in Hyderabad, capital of Andhra Pradesh.

Relief workers evacuated more than 140,000 residents of low-lying villages to 465 relief camps set up in government buildings and schools located on higher ground, Goel said.

Officials said at least 50 people were killed by rain and strong winds, which flattened homes, knocked down power lines and uprooted trees. Six people were killed when their homes in coastal districts collapsed.

The Godavari and Krishna rivers breached their banks at several places, flooding farms. Floods demolished more than 77,000 homes and damaged another 7,800 homes, Goel said.

The surging waters washed away or damaged 254,000 acres of tobacco, rice and vegetable fields, said Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, the state's top elected official.

In Bangladesh, a tropical depression churned through the Bay of Bengal and pushed walls of water onto the country's coast, forcing thousands to flee.

At least 16 fishermen were killed when three boats capsized, the Janakantha newspaper said, quoting fishermen who returned to shore.

Anxious relatives of fishermen gathered at beaches waiting for loved ones, local reporters said. ATN Bangla TV said that 200 fishing boats were missing.

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Earthquakes Up to 4.9 Strike Near L.A.
September 22, 2005

METTLER, Calif. - A series of earthquakes ranging up to magnitude 4.9 shook an area north of Los Angeles on Thursday. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The temblors in the San Joaquin Valley about 70 miles northwest of Los Angeles began with a magnitude-4.0 jolt that was quickly followed by the 4.9 at 1:24 p.m., according to the U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena.

Seismologists recorded at least five aftershocks ranging between magnitudes 3 and 3.7.

"The only things we're getting reported is that some items toppled over on shelves, but we've gotten no reports of damages or injuries," said Kern County fire Capt. Doug Johnston.

Johnston said the area contains mostly dairies and farmlands.

Comment: As of this morning, another 3.6 magnitude quake has hit the L.A. area.

Look at this map of one of the North American fault lines:

Then re-read the article about hurricanes causing earthquakes. Then imagine a massive subduction quake in the pacific North West, and Mount Rainier blowing its top for real this time. 500 foot Tsunami in Puget Sound anyone?

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Earthquake jolts Firoozabad in Fars province
Tehran, Sept 23, IRNA
An earthquake measuring 3.9 degrees on Richter scale jolted Firoozabad town in southern province of Fars, on Friday afternoon.

According to the report of seismographic center affiliated to Tehran University Geophysics Institute, the tremor occurred at 13:30 local time (10:00 GMT) and its epicenter was at 28:83 altitude and 52:44 longitude.

There was another earthquake on Friday in Dehdasht town on southwestern province of Kohkilooyeh and Boyer Ahmad measuring 4 degrees on Richter scale.

There is no immediate report on possible damage of the tremors.

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Fires rage in Brazil's rainforest
Thursday, 22 September 2005, 14:38 GMT

A state of emergency has been declared in Brazil's western state of Acre as fires continue to rage across the country's vast Amazon region.

Thousands of hectares of the world's largest rainforest have already been destroyed by the blazes.

Acre's Governor Jorge Viana urged the federal government in Brasilia to act swiftly, expressing particular concerns about pollution caused by the smoke.

Hundreds of soldiers, rescuers and also local residents are battling the fires.

Correspondents say it is not known what caused the blazes, some of which broke out nearly two weeks ago.

Some 500 people have been evacuated from the area, officials said earlier this week.

In the past, authorities have blamed farmers who burned forested areas in the dry season to make space for their crops.

The blazes have often raged out of control in recent years.

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Study: 'Superbug' Germ Kills 3 in Chicago

Resistant 'Superbug' Staph Germ Kills Three Children in Chicago-Area Community
The Associated Press
Sep 21, 2005

Three Chicago-area children have died of a toxic shock syndrome-like illness caused by a superbug they caught in the community and not in the hospital, where the germ is usually found.

The cases show that this already worrisome staph germ has become even more dangerous by acquiring the ability to cause this shock-like condition.

"There's a new kid on the block," said Dr. John Bartlett of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, referring to the added strength of the superbug known as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

"The fact that there are three community-acquired staph aureus cases is really scary," continued Bartlett, an infectious disease specialist.

The Chicago deaths were described in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.

Health officials do not yet know how the drug-resistant staph causes this new syndrome, but it appears to be rare, said Dr. Clifford McDonald, an epidemiologist with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, doctors should be on the lookout for shock-like cases caused by MRSA, said Dr. Robert Daum, a pediatrician at the University of Chicago who co-authored the study.

In 1999, drug-resistant staph infections killed four healthy children ranging in age from 1 to 13 years old in Minnesota and North Dakota. Since then, doctors have actively looked for such infections in their community.

In the cases reported in Thursday's medical journal, the baby and two toddlers who died were otherwise healthy before they were separately admitted to a Chicago hospital with pneumonia-like symptoms between 2000 and 2004. Doctors believe the children probably inhaled the germ.

The children died within a week of being hospitalized and autopsies showed they suffered from shock and bleeding in the adrenal gland. The infections were caused by MRSA, which is usually not associated with the syndrome.

Until recently, drug-resistant staph infections were limited to hospitals and other health care settings where they can spread to patients with open wounds and cause serious complications.

But infectious disease specialists say a growing number of community-acquired resistant staph infections have struck healthy people outside of hospitals in recent years.

Doctors in Los Angeles treated 14 people with necrotizing fasciitis, informally known as flesh-eating bacteria, caused by the resistant germ.

And in Corpus Christi, Texas, doctors have seen community-acquired resistant staph cases jump from 10 cases a year in the 1990s to more than 400 in 2003.

The first Chicago death occurred in 2000 when a 15-month-old girl was diagnosed with severe pneumonia. She died eight hours later. In 2003, a 9-month-old girl was hospitalized with fever and breathing problems. Her condition deteriorated and she died six days later. A year later, a 17-month-old boy was admitted with respiratory problems and died the next day.

In all three cases, the victims' conditions progressed from pneumonia to shock.

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Flu outbreak may 'overwhelm' NHS
Friday, 23 September 2005
BBC News

Experts warn there are too few NHS critical care beds in England to cope with an outbreak of avian flu.

Scientists say it is only a matter of time before bird flu becomes readily transmissible between humans, which could cause a pandemic.

For their work in Anaesthesia, the Intensive Care Society team created a model to estimate the impact of an outbreak on critical care services.

The government said it was aware of the threat and was working to address it.


The study authors estimate a doubling to tripling of current capacity is needed.

Their work assumes that an epidemic would last eight weeks and would affect one in four people in England.

With this level of infection, they estimate there would be 37,548 people hospitalised for avian flu, occupying a third of all available acute hospital beds in the country.

These patients would be very sick and need access to expert care and ventilators to help their breathing.

This demand would represent 208% of the current bed capacity, they say, which would completely overwhelm hospitals.

Dr Bruce Taylor, one of the study's authors and consultant in intensive care and anaesthesia at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "It would overwhelm the system." [...]

Comment: Doesn't that just give you a warm and cosy feeling? How proud we all are of our hi-tech society, yet, as time will surely show, humanity lives each day on a knife edge where a single event (whether "natural" or manufactured by our benevolent "leaders") could (and very soon will) provoke a series of events that will humble us as a species and turn the clock on humanities wonderful "progress" back to "zero".

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Indonesia says bird flu outbreak may become epidemic
Wed Sep 21, 2005
By Telly Nathalia and Dan Eaton

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia said on Wednesday an outbreak of bird flu in its teeming capital could become an epidemic as health and agricultural experts from around the world converged on Jakarta to help control the virus.

Health Minister Siti Fadillah Supari said the emergence of sporadic human cases of bird flu in recent months in and around different parts of Jakarta, home to 12 million people, might become an epidemic if the number of cases continued to increase.

She was speaking after announcing that an initial local test on a five-year-old girl who died on Wednesday after suffering from bird flu symptoms was negative for the virus.

"It's not an epidemic yet, but sporadic cases in parts of Jakarta ... if (cases) are increasing it is possible that an epidemic may occur," the minister told Reuters when contacted by telephone.

She had earlier told reporters the situation had reached the epidemic stage, but later retracted the comments in phone calls to some news agencies.

Four Indonesians are already confirmed to have died since July from the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of bird flu, which has killed 64 people in four Asian countries since late 2003 and has been found in birds in Russia and Europe.

Six other patients are still in a government-designated hospital in Jakarta suspected of having avian flu.

The U.N. World Health Organization last week warned bird flu was moving toward a form that could be passed between humans and the world had no time to waste to prevent a pandemic. [...]

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Researchers Predict Infinite Genomes
The Institute for Genomic Research

Rockville, MD -- Ever since the genomics revolution took off, scientists have been busily deciphering vast numbers of genomes. Cataloging. Analyzing. Comparing. Public databases hold 239 complete bacterial genomes alone.

But scientists at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) have come to a startling conclusion. Armed with the powerful tools of comparative genomics and mathematics, TIGR scientists have concluded that researchers might never fully describe some bacteria and viruses--because their genomes are infinite. Sequence one strain of the species, and scientists will find significant new genes. Sequence another strain, and they will find more. And so on, infinitely.

"Many scientists study multiple strains of an organism," says TIGR President Claire Fraser. "But at TIGR, we're now going a step further, to actually quantify how many genes are associated with a given species. How many genomes do you need to fully describe a bacterial species?"

In pursuit of that question, TIGR scientist Hervé Tettelin and colleagues published a study in this week's (September 19-23) early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). In the study, TIGR scientists, with collaborators at Chiron Corporation, Harvard Medical School and Seattle Children's Hospital, compared the genomic sequence of eight isolates of the same bacterial species: Streptococcus agalactiae, also known as Group B Strep (GBS), which can cause infection in newborns and immuno-compromised individuals.

Analyzing the eight GBS genomes, the researchers discovered a surprisingly continual stream of diversity. Each GBS strain contained an average of 1806 genes present in every strain (thus constituting the GBS core genome) plus 439 genes absent in one or more strains. Moreover, mathematical modeling showed that unique genes will continue to emerge, even after thousands of genomes are sequenced. The GBS pan-genome is expected to grow by an average of 33 new genes every time a new strain is sequenced.

"We were surprised to find that we haven't cornered this species yet," says Tettelin, lead author of the PNAS paper. "We still don't know--and apparently, we'll never know--the extent of its diversity." [...]

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Mystery animal eludes deputies
Springfield News-Sun
September 22, 2005

A kangaroo, a big rat, a large rabbit or a South American cavy.

The Clark County Sheriff's Office searched for what was reported to them as a kangaroo near Fletcher-Chapel and Newlove roads Wednesday evening.

"It looks like it's part rabbit on the bottom and part deer on top," said Pat Wal, of 2061 Newlove Road, who spotted the animal twice near her home. "It hopped just like a rabbit. I didn't know what it was."

She described the animal she saw hop across the road and drink from the creek as having big feet, no tail, a long face and big ears.

Wal and neighbors spent hours outside with binoculars speculating what the creature could be.

Deputy Scott Elliott said the animal now is thought to be a cavy, a South American animal that hops like a rabbit and can run at least 20 miles per hour.

A witness called the Sheriff's Office at about 6 p.m. and sent Elliott on a search of field in the area for about two hours. Elliott said the animal was reported to be about 3 feet tall and weigh about 30 pounds.

Wal said a farm farther north on New Love Road has peacocks and llamas, but she had not seen anything similar to the animal she saw jump across the road living at the farm.

A few day's ago a resident reported a missing cavy to the Sheriff's Office, but Elliott said no one in the area will claim ownership of a cavy or any animals that match the witness descriptions.

Deputies were told cavies can have bad tempers and be violent but have no way of capturing the animal until it is seen again.

"We've chased llamas, peacocks - Clark County has a lot of exotic animals," Elliott said.

No information was available Wednesday night about specifications or laws for owning cavies in Ohio.

Wal is the only witness who made a statement to deputies. Anyone with information about this animal is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 328-2560.

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Gov. Bush & his mystical buddy
September 18. 2005

After more than an hour of solemn ceremony naming Rep. Marco Rubio, R-West Miami, as the 2007-08 House speaker, Gov. Jeb Bush stepped to the podium in the House chamber last week and told a short story about "unleashing Chang," his "mystical warrior" friend.

Here are Bush's words, spoken before hundreds of lawmakers and politicians:

''Chang is a mystical warrior. Chang is somebody who believes in conservative principles, believes in entrepreneurial capitalism, believes in moral values that underpin a free society.

''I rely on Chang with great regularity in my public life. He has been by my side and sometimes I let him down. But Chang, this mystical warrior, has never let me down.''

Bush then unsheathed a golden sword and gave it to Rubio as a gift.

''I'm going to bestow to you the sword of a great conservative warrior,'' he said, as the crowd roared.

The crowd, however, could be excused for not understanding Bush's enigmatic foray into the realm of Eastern mysticism.

We're here to help.

In a 1989 Washington Post article on the politics of tennis, former President George Bush was quoted as threatening to ''unleash Chang'' as a means of intimidating other players.

The saying was apparently quite popular with Gov. Bush's father, and referred to a legendary warrior named Chang who was called upon to settle political disputes in Chinese dynasties of yore.

The phrase has evolved, under Gov. Jeb Bush's use, to mean the need to fix conflicts or disagreements over an issue. Faced with a stalemate, the governor apparently "unleashes Chang" as a rhetorical device, signaling it's time to stop arguing and start agreeing.

No word on if Rubio will unleash Chang, or the sword, as he faces squabbles in the future. [...]

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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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