Friday, September 30, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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"You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you'll stop the terrorism." - Cindy Sheehan

P I C T U R E   O F  T H E  D A Y

Copyright 2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte
Meteor 'like a fireball' flies across Florida skies
September 29, 2005
By Akilah Johnson Staff Writer
September 30 2005


That's how fast witnesses said a glowing meteor streaked across Florida skies Thursday before disappearing. From Fort Lauderdale to Cape Canaveral people called the National Weather Service reporting the bright orange orb.

"We think it was a meteor that was falling through the sky and burning up," said Barry Baxter, a weather service meteorologist.

"We don't know if it was over the ocean or land. [People] just said it was over the sky, like a fireball ... with a smoke tail behind it."

That's how Bob Cooper, 48, of Dania Beach, described it, a flaming ball without the smoke tail. He was in the back yard throwing a Frisbee to Bill, his golden retriever, when something caught his attention.

"All of a sudden this thing shot from my right," said Cooper, describing the "thing" about the size of a baseball. "And it was super fast, so you know it was in a hurry."

A 911 caller reported a plane crash about 7 p.m. at the old Harris Ranch on Southeast River Lane, Martin County officials said. But air traffic controllers at Miami International Airport told Martin County authorities it was a meteor.

It was unclear what direction the glowing glob traveled or the size. Baxter said NASA would determine both.

"If it was determined by NASA not to be a piece of re-entering space debris, then it was most likely a sporadic fireball," said Jack Horkheimer, planetarium director at the Miami Museum of Science.

"It has all the determiners of a fireball."

Fireballs are extremely bright meteors about the size of a baseball or basketball that slam into the earth's atmosphere at high speeds, he said.

They are common, but often go unreported because most of the planet is uninhabited; water covers 70 percent.

Comment: Yes, water covers 70% of the planet's surface, that is why we normally never hear about these "sporadic" space rocks, but for some strange reason, there have been lots of these "wonderful phenomena" of late...we wonder why...

"They are nothing to worry about -- a wonderful phenomenon of nature," Horkheimer said.

Comment: So, yet another meteor splashes down. Hasn't "god" or "the universe" or whatever, figured out by now that most human beings just don't give a damn? Why continue to provide these Signs and warnings that the "big one" is coming if 99% of the population, like Mr Horkheimer in the above article, will ignore all evidence right up to the bitter end, and when it comes, they will surely have the gall to act surprised.

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Flashback: Meteor, not storm, blamed for Florida big waves
Florida Today
Milt Salamon - September 5 2000
"I'd be willing to bet that if you had the weather maps of the Atlantic Ocean on those days, you'd find no wave-generating storm off Africa," wrote Gene Floersch of Melbourne Beach. He was referring to a suggested cause of the mysterious huge waves we've been writing about.

They suddenly invaded the beach north of Fort Lauderdale on a clear, sunny, wind-free day in early March 1962 and frightened onlookers. One, Mary Swanson, now an Indialantic resident, said she'd moved to Arizona soon after the event and never knew what caused it.

She hoped our readers could tell her. We've been reporting their responses, which mostly blame the waves on far-off storms, as distant as Africa.

"Any storm powerful enough to send waves clear across the Atlantic would have affected the whole Florida coastline . . . and would also have first devastated the Bahama Islands," Gene said.

However, he added, "there was a more recent incident of 'mystery waves' that did hit Daytona Beach on an evening when the sea was flat, swamping beach-parked cars and scaring a lot of tourists at the boardwalk. Officials claimed these waves were generated by a 'sand slide' out on the continental shelf, but there was no geological activity registered by seismic sensors along the east coast.

"Some weeks later a local news channel ran a report about the operators of a shrimp boat off the coast witnessing a huge splash in the distance and then almost being swamped by massive swells.

"I believe the waves in both cases were caused by meteor impacts at sea. I also believe that safety officials play down these incidents, feeding the public any excuse but the truth.

"Why? Because we have no defense or warning systems to deal with meteor impacts. Our government justifies spending billions of tax dollars on missile defense systems, and yet a missile attack is less of a threat than the debris flying around in local space. The reality is that even if an imminent impact were predicted, there is nothing we could do about it."

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New flu pandemic could kill up to 150 million people

A top UN public health expert warned yesterday that a new flu pandemic is expected at any time and could kill anywhere between five million and 150 million people – depending on action taken now to control the bird flu epidemic sweeping through Asia.

Dr David Nabarro of the World Health Organisation called on governments to take immediate steps to address the threat at a news conference following his appointment as the new UN co-ordinator for avian and human influenza.

“We expect the next influenza pandemic to come at any time now, and it’s likely to be caused by a mutant of the virus that is currently causing bird flu in Asia,” he said.

The H5N1 strain of bird flu has swept through poultry populations in Asia since 2003, infecting humans and killing at least 65 people, mostly poultry workers, and resulting in the deaths of tens of millions of birds. The virus does not pass from person to person easily but experts believe this could change if the virus mutates.

Nabarro said with the almost certainty of another flu pandemic soon, and experts saying there is a high likelihood of the H5N1 virus mutating, it would be “extremely wrong” to ignore the serious possibility of a global outbreak.

“The avian flu epidemic has to be controlled if we are to prevent a human influenza pandemic,” Nabarro said.

The 1918 flu pandemic killed more than 40 million people, and there were subsequent pandemics in 1957 and 1968 which had lower death rates but caused great disruption, he said. [...]

Comment: Things (not the public though) are looking up, eh? See our Signs Flu Supplement for the real origins of the 1918 epidemic and evidence that the current bird flu threat is anything but "natural".

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US accused of protecting Cuban militant
Staff and agencies Friday September 30, 2005

The US is protecting the "Osama bin Laden of Latin America", the Venezuelan president said today.

Hugo Chavez made his remarks after a US judge ruled against deporting a Cuban militant who blew up a passenger jet in 1976.

Luis Posada Carriles - who is wanted in Venezuela for the bombing - this week told an extradition hearing that he faced torture if he was returned to the country.

An immigration judge in El Paso, Texas, upheld the claims, ruling that 77-year-old Mr Carriles could not be extradited.

Mr Chavez said the decision not to extradite Mr Carriles allowed the Bush administration to protect one of Latin America's most notorious terrorists.

"The United States is protecting the Osama bin Laden of Latin America," he said, accusing the US president, George Bush, of "double standards" in the fight against terror.

Earlier this month, Mr Bush told a UN summit that "terrorists must know that, wherever they go, they cannot escape justice".

Mr Carriles, a Cuban who also holds Venezuelan citizenship, is accused of masterminding the bombing of the Cuban passenger jet in 1976. He has denied any involvement in the attack, but has admitted to working against the Cuban president, Fidel Castro.

All 73 people on board the Cubana Airlines plane were killed when it exploded after takeoff from Barbados.

Mr Carriles escaped from a Venezuelan prison in 1985 while awaiting retrial after a military court acquitted him of the bombing. He has worked as CIA operative, and was in the US military for a year during the early 80s.

In May, he was arrested in Miami for being in the US illegally. The Venezuelan authorities then asked for his extradition to stand trial for the bombing.

Mr Carriles says he could not return to Venezuela because he would be tortured, and also alleges that Mr Castro attempted to have him assassinated in 1990 because of his former position in the Venezuelan security forces.

Venezuela has always denied that Mr Carriles would be tortured if he was returned. The country's constitution prohibits torture, and Venezuelan officials insist his rights would be respected.

Comment: Hmmm...a CIA agent involved in blowing up an airliner??? What's next? Israeli Mossad behind the 9/11 attacks? Obviously, the only reason that the Bush regime is holding on to Carriles is to ensure that the tales he would surely tell of American state-sponsored terror remain in the closet...for now.

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Incoming FDNY chaplain questions 9/11 story
September 30, 2005

An imam slated to be sworn in Friday as the second Muslim chaplain in Fire Department history said he questioned whether 19 hijackers were responsible for the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and suggested a broader conspiracy may have brought down the Twin Towers and killed more than 2,700 people.

In a telephone interview Thursday, Imam Intikab Habib, 30, a native of Guyana who studied Islam in Saudi Arabia, said he doubted the United States government's official story blaming 19 hijackers associated with al-Quaida and Osama bin Laden.

"I as an individual don't know who did the attacks," said Habib, 30, a soft-spoken man who immigrated to New York in July 2000 after spending six years in Saudi Arabia getting a degree in Islamic theology and law. "There are so many conflicting reports about it. I don't believe it was 19 ... hijackers who did those attacks."

Asked to elaborate on his reasons for doubting that story, he talked about video and news reports widely disseminated in the Muslim community.

"I've heard professionals say that nowhere ever in history did a steel building come down with fire alone," he said. "It takes two or three weeks to demolish a building like that. But it was pulled down in a couple of hours. Was it 19 hijackers who brought it down, or was it a conspiracy?"

Questioned about who he believed was responsible for the attacks, Habib said he didn't know. He said, however, that he did not expect to raise his doubts with rank-and-file firefighters -- nor did he share them two weeks ago when he participated in several Sept. 11 memorials on behalf of the Fire Department.

"My position as a chaplain is that whoever did it, it's a tragic incident," he said. "I feel sorrow for the families who lost loved ones and for the firefighters who died in it. Whoever did it, it was a very wrong thing. It's always wrong to take an innocent human life."

A spokesman for the Fire Department, Frank Gribbon, said that Habib was recommended by the department's Islamic Society and was hired "based on his credentials as a religious person. We don't ask new employees about their political views before we hire them."

Stephen Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, could not be reached for comment.

Habib's remarks about the attacks came in response to questions about whether he thought firefighters would accept a chaplain who had been educated in Saudi Arabia.

He said he did not expect that to be an issue because "I come from a country where you're accustomed to living with people of different ethnic, religious and racial backgrounds."

When pressed further about whether the hijackers' backgrounds -- 15 of whom were Saudi -- might make his training an issue for still-grieving firefighters, he went on to express his own doubts about the hijacker story.

Habib was one of several imams recommended for the chaplain's job by the Islamic Society for the Fire Department, as a result of his work teaching junior high students at Al-Ihsan Academy in Ozone Park, a private Islamic school, where he worked for about five years.

"He's a good man," said Hakim Braxton, president of the Islamic Society. "Any statements he's made, he's responsible for ... But I would ask that the citizens of this city give him a chance and judge him on his actions."

Braxton also stressed that neither he nor anyone in the Islamic Society would agree with anyone who tried to justify the terror attack in any way. "I lost friends, family, co-workers," he said.

Braxton described Habib as a "humble, grounded and family man, which is a good thing in this job, because he's trying to help everyone and he's representing a very diverse community."

Habib himself said he saw his role as ministering to every member of the Fire Department, not just to Muslims.

"Being a chaplain in the Fire Department, I serve the whole Fire Department," he said.

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Flashback: Fire Dept Tape Invalidates Key Points Official 911 Story
By Robert Anderson (c) 2003
TOP_VIEW Internet News Inc.

Most people -- or certainly many people, especially in the U.S. -- believe the complete structural failure and total collapse of the World Trade Center towers was caused by the combustion of large quantities of jet fuel, dispersed and ignited after "hijacked" jets crashed into each tower on Sept. 11, 2001. That is the scenario promulgated to the far corners of the globe by official U.S. government sources.

Interestingly, jet fuel -- somewhat similar to common kerosene and not much different than charcoal lighter fluid -- burns at roughly 875 degrees. Whether a little or a lot of fuel is burned, it still burns at roughly the same temperature. Now: Think about all the kerosene burning in all those kerosene heaters (and lanterns), constructed primarily of thin, low-grade, steel sheet metal. Think about all those kerosene heaters burning merrily away, with temperatures perhaps approaching 875 degrees at the hottest. Think about how parts of all those kerosene heaters would then turn into bubbling pools of melted steel before the horrified eyes of countless poor souls who had no idea the fuel used in their heaters would actually "MELT" the heaters themselves.

Of course, this does NOT happen -- which gives us a pretty good idea that what had been sold far and wide by the U.S. government and innumerable media outlets as the "cause" of the trade center towers' collapse is in fact absolute fiction and fantasy, without the slightest shred of scientific fact or collaborative evidence and testimony to support such monstrous and utter nonsense. Hardened steel such as that used in the WTC beams and girders needs temperatures of approximately TWENTY-EIGHT HUNDRED (2,800) degrees to actually melt, and temperatures approaching 2,000 degrees to turn bright red and soften,

The official version of the collapse of the WTC towers is -- again -- that burning jet fuel eventually melted or liquefied the massive and seriously hard steel beams of the WTC tower(s), to the point where the beams all gave way, unilaterally and simultaneously throughout both the gigantic structures and causing their total and nearly instantaneous collapse. Well, if such doesn't happen with kerosene heaters, you can bet it doesn't happen to huge steel-beamed buildings -- and indeed it never has; especially when the fires which supposedly "caused" such total structural failure had in fact long since largely burned themselves out.

In fact, nearly a year after the monumental and treacherous catastrophe which struck lower Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001, an audio tape of firefighter communications was finally released -- which proves that the actual conditions at and near the point of impact in the north WTC tower only moments before the building's collapse were totally inconsistent with the conditions which had to have existed for the official version to be even minimally correct.

Firefighters who had reached the eightieth floor of the north tower reported they were eyewitnesses to fact much of the fire caused by burning jet fuel had by then largely burned out, although some burning and smoldering areas still remained. Not once did firefighters on site at " ground zero" of ground zero indicate the slightest concern that fires were still burning at an intensity which threatened their own or others' safety -- certainly not that conditions were so severe that the very integrity of the entire structure itself was threatened! On the contrary: they indicated that conditions were controllable: that they planned to conduct survivors safely out of the building, and to then bring in equipment and personnel to extinguish any remaining burning/smoldering areas.

And what, exactly, does all this mean? It means that the total structural failure of the two massive, superbly-engineered/designed edifices known as the WTC towers did NOT result from jet fuel flash-fires burning at under 900 degrees Fahrenheit -- when steel used in WTC construction needed temperatures over THREE TIMES HIGHER to actually "MELT."

And THIS means that the towers were in fact toppled by use of BOMBS or similar methods.

And THIS means that a stupendously far-reaching conspiracy and cover-up -- involving the highest levels of US government -- lies behind the 9-11 "attacks on America".

by Robert Anderson

-- 'Nowhere on the tape is there any indication that firefighters had the slightest indication that the tower had become unstable or that it could fall.' --

-- ' "Just two hose lines to attack two isolated pockets of fire. "We should be able to knock it down with two lines," he tells the firefighters of Ladder Company 15 who were following him up the stairs of the doomed tower.' --

Fire Department Tape Reveals No Awareness of Imminent Doom


The voices, captured on a tape of Fire Department radio transmissions, betray no fear. The words are matter-of-fact.

Two hose lines are needed, Chief Orio Palmer says from an upper floor of the badly damaged south tower at the World Trade Center.

Lt. Joseph G. Leavey is heard responding: "Orio, we're on 78, but we're in the B stairway. Trapped in here. We got to put some fire out to get to you."

Ladder 15 had finally found the fire after an arduous climb to the 78th floor, according to the tape. They were in the B stairwell. On the other side of the fire were hundreds of people, blocked from fleeing by smoke and flame on the stairs. Chief Palmer was facing similar fires in the A stairwell, across the floor.

"We're gonna knock down some fire here in the B Stair," Lieutenant Leavey is heard telling one of his firefighters. "We'll meet up with you. You get over to the A Stair and help out Chief Palmer."

The time was 9:56 a.m. The firefighters had just arrived at a place where, 54 minutes earlier, many people had been waiting for elevators when the second plane came crashing through the building. Now Chief Palmer and Ladder 15 were surrounded by the wounded whom they hoped to evacuate.

Like the cockpit voice recorder from a downed jetliner, this tape, discovered in an adjacent building several weeks after Sept. 11, is providing a glimpse into unseen corners of the tragedy and the resolute advance of firefighters as they encountered the largest catastrophe of their lives.

The 78-minute tape, which was found in a room at 5 World Trade Center where radio transmissions were monitored, is the only known audiotape of firefighters at the scene. In recent months, officials of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which maintained the recording system, have allowed fire officials and family members to listen to it. It was not publicly released, however, until this week. The release came after federal prosecutors, responding to a court motion by The New York Times, said that making it public would not interfere with the prosecution of terrorists.

Officials from the Port Authority and the Fire Department are still debating what the tape tells them about the breakdowns in radio communication that day. There are several long stretches of silence on the tape. Transmissions from only a few of the companies that operated in the south tower are recorded. A few additional snippets of conversation can be heard from firefighters in the north tower, where radios using the same frequency were also monitored.

But sections of the tape provide vivid images of the firefighters: the breathless voice of Chief Palmer, a marathon runner, after dashing up dozens of flights; the assurances from firefighters to him that they are coming on his heels; the effort to create a medical staging area for the wounded on the 40th floor.

At several points in the tape, fire commanders can be heard speaking with urgency. A commander alerts a colleague that he needs more companies to handle what he is facing in the south tower. The chiefs discuss the need to get more elevators into service, to carry firefighters up and to transport the injured back down.

But nowhere on the tape is there any indication that firefighters had the slightest indication that the tower had become unstable or that it could fall.

"Chief, I'm going to stop on 44," Stephen Belson, an aide to Chief Palmer, tells him at 9:25 as he ascends.

"Take your time," the chief responds.

A half-hour later, the tape reveals, firefighters from Ladder 15 had loaded 10 injured people into an elevator and begun a descent to the lobby. Down below, fire commanders were waiting, hoping to use that elevator, the only working one in the building, to ferry additional firefighters back up to the heavily damaged floors. But suddenly the elevator stopped, according to the tape.

"You're going to have to get a different elevator," a firefighter from Ladder 15 says over the radio. "We're chopping through the wall to get out."

A few seconds later, at 9:58 a.m., Chief Palmer tries to raise someone from the ladder company. "Battalion 7 to Ladder 15," he calls.

But the tape remains silent.

For well over a year, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey refused to release the audiotape of firefighters' communications from the World Trade Center during the September 11 attacks. In early November 2002, the tape was released to the New York Times, then to other unspecified "news outlets" (according to the Associated Press). To my knowledge, the NYT is the only outlet to post excerpts from the tape; no one has yet posted the entire thing.

Below are transcripts of all portions that have been released. You can listen to them at the NYT's site by going to this page. In the right hand column is a box labeled "Multimedia." Inside it, click on "Interactive Feature: The Tale of the Tape."

[read "9/11 Tape Raised Added Questions on Radio Failures" and "Fire Department Tape Reveals No Awareness of Imminent Doom"]

9:25 a.m.

Ladder 15: "Go ahead, Irons."

Ladder 15 Irons: "Just got a report from the director of Morgan Stanley. Seventy-eight seems to have taken the brunt of this stuff, there's a lot of bodies, they say the stairway is clear all the way up, though."

Ladder 15: "Alright, ten-four Scott. What, what floor are you on?"

Ladder 15 Irons: "Forty-eight right now."

Ladder 15: "Alright, we're coming up behind you."

9:31 a.m.

Battalion Seven Aide: "Battalion Seven, you want me to relay?"

Ladder 15: "Yeah, Steve tell Chief Palmer they got reports that there's more planes in the area, we may have to back down here."

Battalion Seven Aide: "Ten-four."

"Seven Alpha to Seven."

Battalion Seven: "Steve. Seven to Seven Alpha."

Ladder 15: "Fifteen to 15 Roof."

"Fifteen Roof."

Ladder 15: "We got reports of another incoming plane. We may have to take cover. Stay in the stairwell."

Ladder 15 Roof: "Ten-four."

Ladder 15: "Fifteen to 15 Roof. That plane's ours. I repeat. It's ours. What floor are you on, Scotty?"

Ladder 15 Roof: "Fifty-four."

Ladder 15: "Alright. Keep making your way up. We're behind you."

Ladder 15 Roof: "Ten-four."

9:37 a.m.

Ladder 15 Lieutenant: "Tommy, listen carefully. I'm sending all the injured down to you on 40. You're going to have to get'em down to the elevator. There's about 10 to 15 people coming down to you."

Ladder 15 Firefighter: "Okay."

Ladder 15 Lieutenant: "Ten civilians coming down. Fifteen to OV."

Ladder 15 Firefighter: "Got that, I'm on 40 right now, Lieu."

9:39 a.m.

Ladder 15 Lieutenant: "Alright Tommy, when you take people down to the lobby, try to get an EMS crew back."

Ladder 15 Firefighter: "Definitely."

9:43 a.m.

Battalion Seven Chief: "Battalion Seven to Ladder 15 Roof, what's your progress?"

Ladder 15 Roof: "Sixty-three, Battalion."

Battalion Seven Chief: "Ten-four."

Battaltion Nine Chief: "Battalion Nine to Battalion Seven."

Battalion Seven Chief: "Go ahead Battaltion Nine."

Battalion Nine Chief: "Orio, I couldn't find a bank to bring you up any highter. I'm on the 40th floor, what can I do for you?"

Battalion Seven Chief: "We're going to have to hoof it. I'm on 69 now, but we need a higher bank, kay."

Battalion Nine Chief: "What stairway you in Orio?"

Battalion Seven Chief: "The center of the building, boy, boy."

"Tac One to Tac One Alpha."

Battalion Seven Chief: "Battalion Seven to Ladder 15 Roof, what floor?"

Battalion Nine Chief: "Battalion Nine to Battalion Seven."

Battalion Seven Chief: "...Battalion Nine."

Battalion Nine Chief: "Orio, I'm going to try and get a couple of CFRD engines on the 40th floor so send any victims down here, I'll start up a staging area."

Battalion Seven Chief: "...find a fireman service elevator close to 40, if we get some more cars in that bank, we'll be alright."

9:48 a.m.

Ladder 15: "Battalion Fifteen to Battalion Seven."

Battalion Seven: "Go Ladder 15."

Ladder 15: "What do you got up there, Chief?"

Battalion Seven Chief: "I'm still in boy stair 74th floor. No smoke or fire problems, walls are breached, so be careful."

Ladder 15: "Yeah Ten-Four, I saw that on 68. Alright, we're on 71 we're coming up behind you."

Battalion Seven Chief: "Ten-four. Six more to go."

Ladder 15: "Let me know when you see more fire."

Battalion Seven Chief: "I found a marshall on 75."

9:49 a.m.

Ladder 15: "Fifteen to 15 OV. Fifteen to 15 OV.

"Fifteen OV."

Ladder 15: "Tommy, have you made it back down to the lobbby yet?"

Ladder 15 OV: "The elevator's screwed up."

Ladder 15: "You can't move it?"

Ladder 15 OV: "I don't want to get stuck in the shaft."

9:50 a.m.

Ladder 15: "Alright Tommy. It's imperative that you go down to the lobby command post and get some people up to 40. We got injured people up here on 70. If you make it to the lobby command post see if they can somehow get elevators past the 40th floor. We got people injured all the way up here."

Battalion Seven Aide: "Battaltion Seven Alpha to Seven."

Battalion Seven Chief: "Go Steve."

Battalion Seven Aide: "Yeah Chief, I'm on 55, I got to rest. I'll try to get up there as soon as possible."

Battalion Seven Chief: "Ten-four."

9:50 a.m.

"Anybody see the highway one car? Highway one car we need it for an escort to the hospital for a fireman."

Battalion Seven Chief: "Battalion Seven to Ladder 15."

"15 Irons."

Ladder 15: "Fifteen to 15 Roof and Irons."

Battalion Six Chief: "Battalion Six to command post."

9:52 a.m.

Battalion Seven Chief: "Battalion Seven to Battalion Seven Alpha."

"Freddie, come on over. Freddie, come on over by us."

Battalion Seven Chief: "Battalion Seven ... Ladder 15, we've got two isolated pockets of fire. We should be able to knock it down with two lines. Radio that, 78th floor numerous 10-45 Code Ones."

Ladder 15: "What stair are you in, Orio?"

Battalion Seven Aide: "Seven Alpha to lobby command post."

Ladder Fifteen: "Fifteen to Battalion Seven."

Battalion Seven Chief: "... Ladder 15."

Ladder 15: "Chief, what stair you in?"

Battalion Seven Chief: "South stairway Adam, South Tower."

Ladder 15: "Floor 78?"

Battalion Seven Chief: "Ten-four, numerous civilians, we gonna need two engines up here."

Ladder 15: "Alright ten-four, we're on our way."

9:52 a.m.

Battalion Seven Aide: "Seven Alpha for Battalion Seven."

Battalion Seven Chief: "South tower, Steve, south tower, tell them...Tower one. Battalion Seven to Ladder 15.


Battalion Seven Chief: "I'm going to need two of your firefighters Adam stairway to knock down two fires. We have a house line stretched we could use some water on it, knock it down, kay."

Ladder 15: "Alright ten-four, we're coming up the stairs. We're on 77 now in the B stair, I'll be right to you."

Ladder 15 Roof: "Fifteen Roof to 15. We're on 71. We're coming right up."

9:57 a.m.

"Division 3 ... lobby command, to the Fieldcom command post."

Battalion Seven Chief: "Operations Tower One to floor above Battalion Nine."

Battalion Nine Chief: "Battalion Nine to command post."

Battalion Seven Operations Tower One: "Battalion Seven Operations Tower One to Battalion Nine, need you on floor above 79. We have access stairs going up to 79, kay."

Battalion Nine: "Alright, I'm on my way up Orio."

Ladder 15 OV: "Fifteen OV to Fifteen."

Ladder 15: "Go ahead Fifteen OV, Battalion Seven Operations Tower One."

Ladder 15 OV: "Stuck in the elevator, in the elevator shaft, you're going to have to get a difference elevator. We're chopping through the wall to get out."

Battalion Seven Chief: "Radio lobby command with that Tower One."

9:58 a.m.

Battalion Seven Chief: "Battalion Seven to Ladder 15."


Experts charge official obstruction/cover-up in WTC collapse probe; say threats received, KEY evidence destroyed New York Times

-- 'In calling for a new investigation, some structural engineers have said that one serious mistake has already been made in the chaotic aftermath of the collapses: the decision to rapidly recycle the steel columns, beams and trusses that held up the buildings. That may have cost investigators some of their most direct physical evidence with which to try to piece together an answer.' -- NY Times

-- '"I find the speed with which potentially important evidence has been removed and recycled to be appalling" -- Dr. Frederick W. Mowrer; fire protection engineering department, University of Maryland and WTC collapse probe member quoted in NY Times - The New York Times December 25, 2001


Experts Urging Broader Inquiry in Towers' Fall By JAMES GLANZ and ERIC LIPTON

Saying that the current investigation into how and why the twin towers fell on Sept. 11 is inadequate, some of the nation's leading structural engineers and fire-safety experts are calling for a new, independent and better-financed inquiry that could produce the kinds of conclusions vital for skyscrapers and future buildings nationwide.

Senator Charles E. Schumer and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, both of New York, have joined the call for a wider look into the collapses. In an interview on Friday, Mr. Schumer said he supported a new investigation "not so much to find blame" for the collapse of the buildings under extraordinary circumstances, "but rather so that we can prepare better for the future."

"It could affect building practices," he said. "It could affect evacuation practices. We live in a new world and everything has to be recalibrated."

Experts critical of the current effort, including some of those people who are actually conducting it, cite the lack of meaningful financial support and poor coordination with the agencies cleaning up the disaster site. They point out that the current team of 20 or so investigators has no subpoena power and little staff support and has even been unable to obtain basic information like detailed blueprints of the buildings that collapsed.

While agreeing that any building hit by a jetliner would suffer potentially devastating damage, experts want to examine whether the twin towers may have had hidden vulnerabilities that contributed to their collapse.

The lightweight steel trusses that supported the tower's individual floors, the connections between the trusses and the buildings' vertical structural columns, as well as possible flaws in the fireproofing have been drawing scrutiny from fire safety consultants and engineers in recent weeks.

"Two buildings came down," said Joseph F. Russo, director of the Center for Fire Safety Engineering at Polytechnic University in Brooklyn, referring to the twin towers. "That suggests some degree of predictability."

"And if it was predictable," Mr. Russo said, "was it preventable?"

Family members of some victims have added their voices to the calls for a wider investigation.

The exact scope of an expanded inquiry has not been defined. But the central desire is to learn any lessons that might be hidden in the rubble and to pinpoint the exact sequence and cause of the collapse, regardless of whether it was inevitable from the moment the planes struck, members of the investigative team and others said.

In calling for a new investigation, some structural engineers have said that one serious mistake has already been made in the chaotic aftermath of the collapses: the decision to rapidly recycle the steel columns, beams and trusses that held up the buildings. That may have cost investigators some of their most direct physical evidence with which to try to piece together an answer.

Officials in the mayor's office declined to reply to written and oral requests for comment over a three- day period about who decided to recycle the steel and the concern that the decision might be handicapping the investigation.

"The city considered it reasonable to have recovered structural steel recycled," said Matthew G. Monahan, a spokesman for the city's Department of Design and Construction, which is in charge of debris removal at the site.

"Hindsight is always 20-20, but this was a calamity like no other," said Mr. Monahan, who was designated by the mayor's office to respond to questions about the investigation. "And I'm not trying to backpedal from the decision."

Interviews with a handful of members of the team, which includes some of the nation's most respected engineers, also uncovered complaints that they had at various times been shackled with bureaucratic restrictions that prevented them from interviewing witnesses, examining the disaster site and requesting crucial information like recorded distress calls to the police and fire departments.

The investigation, organized immediately after Sept. 11 by the American Society of Civil Engineers, the field's leading professional organization, has been financed and administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. A mismatch between the federal agency and senior engineers accustomed to bypassing protocol in favor of quick answers has been identified as a clear point of friction.

"This is almost the dream team of engineers in the country working on this, and our hands are tied," said one team member who asked not to be identified. Members have been threatened with dismissal for speaking to the press.

"FEMA is controlling everything," the team member said. "It sounds funny, but just give us the money and let us do it, and get the politics out of it."

A spokesman for FEMA, John Czwartacki, said the agency's primary mission was to help victims, emergency workers and to speed the city's recovery, and added, "We are not an investigative agency."

But given the assignment to examine the structural failures at the World Trade Center, the agency has so far spent roughly $100,000 and Mr. Czwartacki said that more financing could be expected after the group produced what he called an "interim document" in the spring.

"I've heard the calls for the N.T.S.B.-style investigation," Mr. Czwartacki said, referring to appeals by engineers and some families of trade center victim for an exhaustive examination like those done by the National Transportation Safety Board when a plane crashes. "I don't think this study will do it for them."

Mr. Czwartacki added that it was premature to comment on whether team members were receiving necessary information because the study has not been completed. Regardless of what any investigation might find, it is unclear how many civilian lives would have been saved if the buildings had not collapsed, because so many died on the burning upper floors.

Despite the universe of unknowns, the calls for more extensive investigations of various kinds are coming from engineers, fire experts and professional organizations in New York and across the nation.

"What some of us are calling for is a probe or reassessment," said Loring A. Wyllie Jr., a member of the National Academy of Engineering and chairman emeritus and senior principal at Degenkolb Engineers in San Francisco. Mr. Wyllie, who has investigated many building collapses after earthquakes, said the work would involve "a critique of our building practices" in search of greater safety after Sept. 11.

He added that intensive studies of building failures in disasters like the Northridge earthquake near Los Angeles in 1994 had led to important structural advances.

Calling an intensive new investigation "absolutely necessary," Mr. Russo, of Polytechnic University in Brooklyn, said the expense could be justified by the payoff of better safety in high-rises of the future. Other experts take a still wider view, favoring a study that would look at the implications of the collapses -- a nearby, 47-story building, 7 World Trade Center, also fell on Sept. 11 after burning for most of the day -- for fire codes, building standards and engineering practices across the board.

National organizations charged with addressing building and fire safety issues have sent letters urging the federal government to invest as much as $15 million a year to study the vulnerability of buildings to terrorist attacks and possible changes to fire and safety standards.

"There is an urgent and critical need to determine the lessons to be learned from these events," reads a letter from the American Society of Civil Engineers, dated Nov. 15.

In other disasters, FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies have played a more central role in making decisions about cleanup and investigations. But from the start, they found that New York had a degree of engineering and construction expertise unlike any they had encountered.

"They wanted to do a lot of things on their own," said Charles Hess, who is in charge of civil emergency management for the Army Corps. "Which they're very capable of doing."

But during a recovery effort that received worldwide praise, the city made one decision that has been endlessly second-guessed. To deal with nearly 300,000 tons of crumpled steel, the city quickly decided to ship it to scrap recyclers.

Dr. Frederick W. Mowrer, an associate professor in the fire protection engineering department at the University of Maryland, said he believed the decision could ultimately compromise any investigation of the collapses. "I find the speed with which potentially important evidence has been removed and recycled to be appalling," Dr. Mowrer said.

But Mr. Monahan, the City Department of Design and Construction spokesman, pointed out that members of the investigation team were eventually allowed to visit the site and inspect steel at the scrapyards and continue doing so.

Some experts have suggested that the only way to definitively determine the sequence and cause of the collapse is to recover large amounts of steel from the areas near where the planes struck, and possibly reassemble sections of the towers.

Others say such a reconstruction of an entire section might be impractical, but also expressed discomfort with the impediments they said they have faced in their investigation.

For example, three months after the disaster, Ronald Hamburger, an expert in structural analysis at A.B.S. Consulting in Oakland, Calif., and a director of the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations, said he had not even been given access to basic blueprints describing where the steel and other structural elements had been when the World Trade Center was whole.

"I'd like to be able to have a set of the drawings for all of the affected buildings," Mr. Hamburger said. "I don't have that."

"Why are "America's Mayor" and FEMA obstructing the investigation of the WTC disaster? Why have they worked so hard to destroy the evidence? Why are they threatening the investigators and preventing them from talking to the media? If you read between the lines of the cautiously-worded NY Times article below and factor in the material at

You'll see yet another huge government cover-up unfolding.

"Not mentioned in the Times article below but previously reported on by the Times and other NYC media is that allegedly Mafia-connected demolition companies who were contracted by the Giuliani administration for the clean-up stole thousands of tons of the steel beams from the WTC disaster site. Did they really need to take such a risk to sell the steel as scrap or were they doing exactly what they'd been ordered to do? Also see NY TIMES 12/20/2001 "City Had Been Warned of Fuel Tank at 7 World Trade Center" for info on how 6,000 gallons of fuel illegally stored in the building to supply Giuliani's supposedly bomb-proof "bunker" was directly responsible for the collapse of WTC building #7.

Burning Jet Fuel 'NOT ENOUGH' to Have Crumbled WTC:


-- 'A growing number of fire protection engineers have theorized that "the structural damage from the planes and the explosive ignition of jet fuel in themselves were not enough to bring down the towers," the editorial stated.' --

Firefighter Mag Raps 9/11 Probe By Joe Calderone NY Daily News Chief of Investigations

A respected firefighting trade magazine with ties to the city Fire Department is calling for a "full-throttle, fully resourced" investigation into the collapse of the World Trade Center.

A signed editorial in the January issue of Fire Engineering magazine says the current investigation is "a half-baked farce."

The piece by Bill Manning, editor of the 125-year-old monthly that frequently publishes technical studies of major fires, also says the steel from the site should be preserved so investigators can examine what caused the collapse.

"Did they throw away the locked doors from the Triangle Shirtwaist fire? Did they throw away the gas can used at the Happy Land social club fire? ... That's what they're doing at the World Trade Center," the editorial says. "The destruction and removal of evidence must stop immediately."

Fire Engineering counted FDNY Deputy Chief Raymond Downey, the department's chief structural expert, among its senior advisers. Downey was killed in the Sept. 11 attack. John Jay College's fire engineering expert, Prof. Glenn Corbett, serves as the magazine's technical editor.

A group of engineers from the American Society of Civil Engineers, with backing from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has been studying some aspects of the collapse. But Manning and others say that probe has not looked at all aspects of the disaster and has had limited access to documents and other evidence.

A growing number of fire protection engineers have theorized that "the structural damage from the planes and the explosive ignition of jet fuel in themselves were not enough to bring down the towers," the editorial stated.

A FEMA spokesman, John Czwartacki, said agency officials had not yet seen the editorial and declined to comment. Norida Torriente, a spokeswoman for the American Society of Civil Engineers, described her group's study as a "beginning" and "not a definitive work."

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has joined a group of relatives of firefighters who died in the attack in calling for a blue-ribbon panel to study the collapse.

"We have to learn from incidents through investigation to determine what types of codes should be in place and what are the best practices for high-rise construction," Manning told the Daily News. "The World Trade Center is not the only lightweight, core construction high-rise in the U.S. It's a typical method of construction." - - - - NY TIMES December 25, 2001 THE TOWERS

Experts Urging Broader Inquiry in Towers' Fall

...In calling for a new investigation, some structural engineers have said that one serious mistake has already been made in the chaotic aftermath of the collapses: the decision to rapidly recycle the steel columns, beams and trusses that held up the buildings. That may have cost investigators some of their most direct physical evidence with which to try to piece together an answer.

Officials in the mayor's office declined to reply to written and oral requests for comment over a three-day period about who decided to recycle the steel and the concern that the decision might be handicapping the investigation...

Interviews with a handful of members of the team, which includes some of the nation's most respected engineers, also uncovered complaints that they had at various times been shackled with bureaucratic restrictions that prevented them from interviewing witnesses, examining the disaster site and requesting crucial information like recorded distress calls to the police and fire departments...

"This is almost the dream team of engineers in the country working on this, and our hands are tied," said one team member who asked not to be identified. Members have been threatened with dismissal for speaking to the press. "FEMA is controlling everything," the team member said...

Dr. Frederick W. Mowrer, an associate professor in the fire protection engineering department at the University of Maryland, said he believed the decision could ultimately compromise any investigation of the collapses. "I find the speed with which potentially important evidence has been removed and recycled to be appalling," Dr. Mowrer said.

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George Bush in Hell
by David Michael Green
2005-09-28 10:02

You would not want to be George W. Bush right now.

Not that you ever would anyhow, but especially not now. Indeed, there are indications that not even George W. Bush wants to be George W. Bush right now.

That second term in office, the one that just a year or two ago seemed so precious that he was willing to launch a war just to obtain it, now feels like a life sentence. Plans for four years spending political capital now look a lot more like endless months of capital punishment.

The Bush Administration has nowhere to go but down, and that is precisely where it is headed. Poll data show that even members of his solid-to-the-point-of-twelve-step-eligibility base are now deserting him as his job approval ratings plunge like so much Enron stock, lately crashing southward through the forty percent threshold. With almost his entire second term still in front of him, Bush is poised to set new records for presidential unpopularity. That scraping noise you hear? It's the sound of sheepish voters creeping out to the garage late at night, furtively removing "Bush-Cheney 2004" bumperstickers from the back of their SUVs when no one is looking.

Meanwhile, as the scales fall from the eyes of the hoi polloi, even the one constituency which could plausibly make the claim that Bush has been good for America (read: their wallets), is speaking the unspeakable as well. Robert Novak, of all people, wrote a column last week chronicling his experience watching rich Republicans at an Aspen retreat bash the idiocy of Bush administration policies on Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, stem-cell research and more. Perhaps these folks realized when they saw Trent Lott's house go under that Mother Nature doesn't care whether you're rich and well-connected any more than does al Qaeda. You may be on Karl Rove's Rolodex, but now Bush is taking you down and your yacht too, not just forgotten kids from the ghetto who enlisted in the Army as the only alternative to a life of poverty.

Even conservative columnists like David Brooks (though not Novak) are writing articles nowadays accurately describing the changed mood of the American public. Where those powerful currents are heading is unclear, but given the radical right experiment of the present as their point of departure, there would seem to be only two choices. We can either go completely off the deep-end and finally constitute the Fascist Republic of Cheney, or we can turn to the left, toward some semblance of rational policymaking. The latter seems far more likely, especially as America increasingly regains its senses after a long bout of temporary insanity. These are bad bits of news for poor George, but worse yet is that they are only the first signs of the coming apocalypse. The real fun stuff is just around the corner. I'll confess to more than a little schadenfreude as I contemplate the ugly situation staring Republicans officeholders in the face right now. They are tethered to a sinking ship, and have only two lousy options to choose from as November 2006 approaches. One is to stay the course and drown. The other is to start renouncing Bush and his policies, appear to voters as the complete hypocrites and political whores many will prove to be, and then still drown anyhow. Nobody could be more deserving of such a fate, with the possible exception of Democrats like Hillary Clinton and John Kerry who have been even more hypocritical yet in facilitating many of the president's disastrous policies.

Comment: From what we have seen of Bush lately - including the beginning of the end of the Supreme Court in terms of its ability to dispense impartial justice (see below) - it would seem that a turn to the left is the last thing that will happen in Washington.

The author hits the nail on the head when he comments that if lawmakers stay with Bush, they may drown, but they will surely be crucified politically if they turn against him. The assumption is that Bush will drown - but what if his political support could be convinced to stay the course? Elections for many US politicians are right around the corner. It is highly unlikely that they will all commit political suicide at this crucial time.

The problem is that Rove and the Bush gang are most certainly keenly aware of this rather unfortunate situation. There is one way that all such lawmakers can keep their jobs and expand their power: back Bush. Sure, they may be "complete hypocrites and political whores", but the fix in which they find themselves is perfect for Bush as reality begins to intrude upon his wishful thinking.

The fact is that in the aftermath of the twin hurricanes, Bush has hardly missed a beat even amidst all the harsh talk. At this point, it is all talk and no action - at least among the politicians. The people are another story entirely.

Bush's backers in the government fell into a trap. Once they started following him, they could never turn back. In true psychopathic fashion, we suspect most of them will continue to back the Bush administration, since their primary concern is not their constituents, but themselves and their lust for even more power. On the other hand, with broad support from the people, government leaders might take a stand together against Bush. But the question then is: would the people want such "fair weather fans" representing them? Thus, the president's lapdogs choose the easiest and best solution for themselves, and they continue to support him.

Watching these GOP opportunists jump ship will certainly be fun, but the greatest fun awaits the president himself. Bush has now lost everything that once sustained him. That includes 9/11, now safely in the rearview mirror for most Americans. That includes his wartime rally-around-the-flag free pass, as he has failed to capture America's real enemy, while lying about bogus ones to justify an invasion pinning our defense forces down in an endless quagmire. That includes, post-Katrina, the ridiculous frame of Bush as competent leader, and the former reality of the press as frightened presidential waterboys.

And that's the good news for W. The bad news is all the chickens coming home to roost. The economy is anemic and fragile, and yet Bush has played the one card in his deck ostensibly (but never really) intended to remedy the country's economic woes. (Remember during the 2000 campaign when times were flush and tax cuts were the prescription? Remember in 2001 when the economy was in a recession and tax cuts were still the prescription?). In any case, Bush's one-note economic symphony has succeeded in producing precisely the cacophony of disaster that progressive commentators have predicted all along: massive deficits, little or no economic boost, a hemorrhaging of jobs overseas, and a vastly more polarized America of rich, poor and a disappearing middle class. [...]

Comment: The economy is most definitely in dire straits. What remains to be seen is if the economic crash can be successfully spun into an event that ends up generating even more "patriotism" and support for the fearless Commander-in-Chief...

The other demons awaiting George W. Bush just around the bend are multiple and grim. One of these days (right?), Patrick Fitzgerald is actually going to move on the Treasongate story, and signs suggest that multiple heads will roll within the White House. The political damage will be even worse than the legal, though, as Bush's clean and patriotic image will be smashed beyond repair, as no one will believe that he himself didn't know all along who committed treason by outing an American spy, and as he will likely lose the key magicians who have kept him afloat for five years and more. Oh well. W's loss will be Leavenworth's gain.

And there is more. The Jack Abramoff investigation has now been tied to the White House. There are also presumably an infinite number of other scandals waiting to explode (can you say 'Halliburton'?) should the Democrats capture either branch of Congress next year, not least of which being those concerning the Downing Street Memo revelations. Gas prices are off the charts and home heating bills are supposed to soar this winter. Jobs are disappearing, along with pensions and healthcare coverage, inflation is likely to rise, and voters are surly already.

Comment: The Bush gang has mastered the art of rigging and stealing elections. Unless the Democrats learn some new tricks, it seems unlikely they will capture either branch of Congress next year, with or without the support of the people.

But, of course, the biggest cross for Bush to bear is the one he built for himself, and thus the most richly deserved. In Iraq, simply put, there are no good options. None for America, that is, but even fewer for George W. Bush.

What can he do?

He can't win. America (or, more accurately, America's oligarchy) is clearly losing the war as it is. It is a fantasy to imagine that, at this late date, more troops could pacify the resistance. But even if that were so the political consequences to Bush, especially given his promise of no draft on his watch, would be devastating and rapid. American public opinion has already turned decisively against the war. Imagine if there were a draft and all the bumper-sticker patriots across the land had to actually make a sacrifice for their president's transparent lies. All hell would break loose, and the Republican Party would be dead for a generation. [...]

Thus does a new possible ending to the Bush administration suddenly emerge as a real possibility. Previously, I had assumed that our long national nightmare would be over in one of three ways, either with Bush somehow managing to finish his term, with him being impeached, convicted and run out of Washington, or with him being impeached, convicted and then refusing to leave, precipitating a constitutional crisis and even, possibly, a civil war. Now I see a fourth very real possibility.

It was all fun and games when everybody loved him. When the guy who had failed at everything in life except having the right last name all of a sudden was showing those elitist snobs who was tops after all. When the man with a Texas size inferiority complex got to be adored by millions as if he were some kind of religious icon.

But what if that all changes? What if Diminutive George, just like LBJ before him, can't leave the completely scripted bubble his staff manufactures, just as such set-pieces become increasingly difficult to sustain? What if the Peevish President can't escape - even by going to Crawford or Camp David - the mothers of dead children, the baby-killer taunts, the stinging-because-they're-so-accurate chickenhawk accusations, the calls for his own daughters to go to Iraq, the possibility that everyone was right about him all along when they dismissed him as the family clown? What if all of a sudden, it sucks being president? Why bother, then?

Comment: Since their representatives obviously don't plan on making Georgie's life miserable, the US would need a lot more Cindy Sheehan's to bring this possibility into being...

It is clear now that one way the Bush administration might end would be with the president's resignation, in order for him to duck into more tranquil quarters. Who knows, maybe he could spend his days getting tanked in Crawford, not writing another book, or going into exile, perhaps in the south of France.

Of course, a pardon deal would have to be prearranged with Cheney, if they haven't convicted him yet, or with Hastert if they have. And, equally certainly, the resignation would be put down to "the president wanting to spend more time with his family", or some such ludicrous McClellanism, no more or less plausible than the rest of his daily fare. But the truth would be plain for all to see. The frat-boy party-time president who condemns kids less than half his age to the hell of futile battle in support of his lies would himself be deserting as commander-in-chief when the fun part ended. Kinda like he did last time he wore a uniform.

History, it would seem, all too rarely delivers justice. The privileged few go out of this life richer than they came into it, while the poor often leave even poorer, not to mention sooner. Those who commit unspeakable crimes sometimes become presidents or prime ministers, while those who dare speak truthfully of those deeds are crushed owing to the threat posed by their honesty. [...]

Comment: While many would like to see the downfall of George W. Bush, it seems unlikely at this point without a broad, peaceful mobilization among the people of the US. That is not to say that it cannot and will not ever happen, as Bush is most certainly just a puppet of the Powers that Be. Unfortunately, he is a very good puppet, and were he ever to be replaced, the PTB aren't just going to give up their plans for control of the population as the cycle of increasingly catastrophic climate and earth changes and meteor showers reaches its peak.

Still, the future is open. The butterfly wing effect can sometimes have interesting results.

From the October 23, 2004 Cassiopaean transcripts:

Q: Will there be another terrorist attack in the US soon?

A: Bush does not need one, so no.

Q: Will Bush continue on as President?

A: Until he dies.

Q: Will he be assassinated?

A: Not likely.

Q: Will he try to become a permanent leader, a Fuehrer?

A: Will try.

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Manipulating the Public Mind
By Charles Sullivan 
Information Clearing House

A sea of humanity descended upon the nation's capital yesterday to voice its opposition to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. My wife and I, along with a sizable contingent from West Virginia, were among the teeming throngs that flowed through the streets of the District of Columbia like a raging river in the aftermath of a storm.

The rally was about more than the shameful events orchestrated by our government in the Middle East, it was equally about U.S. imperialism on a global scale. It was also about the Bush regime's appalling lack of concern for the Gulf Coast's poor - particularly the inhabitants of New Orleans. It was about the complicity of Congress in the criminality of what passes for government in America these days. Demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience will continue throughout the weekend. 

The turnout was immense. Trying to estimate its size from within was like standing in the midst of a forest and trying to gage its extent. You have to wade through the crowd and take contingency samples; or get above it to gain an appreciation of its size and scale. I spoke to a friend on a cell phone while marching by the White House who was watching coverage of the event on C-span. He informed me that C-span estimated the size of the crowd at between two hundred thousand to a quarter million. When I got home I looked at coverage of the event on NBC and CBS which estimated the turnout as about half that of C-span. 

The major television networks will determine how most Americans view of the event will be shaped. This is what interested me--how coverage of the event would be presented to the world. The manipulation of images and information is frequently subtle but its effect on the public mind is often profound. 

None of the networks even carried excerpts from the many excellent speeches being given by the likes of Cynthia McKinney, Cindy Sheehan, Jesse Jackson, Ralph Nader and other social justice luminaries. Those speeches - an important component of the rally - laid bare the callous disregard the nation's power brokers have for life and habitat, especially the poor; and particularly the black poor. By choosing to omit them the corporate media once again failed to provide viewers with the information they need to make them free. They carefully steered the public mind away from any harsh criticism of the Bush regime and its corporate looters. 

The major networks have consistently underestimated the size of anti war protests. This has been the case with every march on Washington that I have participated in. By deliberately under estimating its size the media gives the impression that opposition to U.S. militarism and America's war on the poor and the working class is significantly smaller than they really are. 

CBS chose to highlight the three arrests that occurred at the anti war rally on Saturday, rather than the non violent protesters. The decision is disingenuous in that it plants the seeds of thought in the public mind that peaceful demonstrators are purveyors of violence. This is in fact rarely the case. When violence erupts in otherwise peaceful demonstrations it is virtually always the police and FBI plants in the crowd that causes the violence. Remember cointellpro? It remains with us today. 

Although I heard that there would be small pro Bush, pro war, counter demonstrations occurring simultaneously against the tide of the main event, I did not see any of them. However, CBS chose to play up these tiny, insignificant counter demonstrations by interviewing Bush supporters but not the Bush detractors. This is especially troubling because it gives the impression that the counter demonstration, which was virtually invisible to those of us in the streets, was much larger than it really was. By deliberately under reporting the anti war turnout and playing up the pro war side, reality was once again distorted into unrecognizable, fantastic, miasmic forms in the public mind. 

The vast majority of American citizens have their world view shaped by the corporate news media. Can there by any doubt why the public mind is so distorted - so disconnected from reality? 

More totalitarian nations control the masses through the use of brute force. We are seeing more and more of that in the cities of America, as witnessed in the streets of New Orleans recently. However, in comparatively free societies propaganda is the weapon of choice; and it is no less intimidating and effective than brute force. 

No one is more effectively enslaved by the power brokers in government than those who wear the chains of servitude but think they are free. Unfortunately, the average American has no conception of how effectively their perceptions are shaped and manipulated by the media propaganda they unwittingly feed into their unsuspecting minds. 

Indeed, so superb are the propagandists who control the flow of information in America that the average American enthusiastically supports polices that are detrimental to him. Thus we witness families that espouse political and fiscal conservatism supporting huge tax cuts for the wealthy, rampant corporate welfare, and the writing of blank checks for endless war waged against the world's working poor - and they are themselves the cannon fodder for those wars. We are witnessing a bizarre psychic phenomenon that is the physical and spiritual equivalent of mass hypnosis. We seem almost incapable of waking ourselves up; or looking away from the shining pendant that swings before our glazed, vacuous eyes. Better not drink the kool aid. 

Charles Sullivan is a furniture maker, photographer, and free lance writer living in geopolitical West Virginia. He welcomes your comments at Only the civil need respond.

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U.S. Envoy Denies Plan to Invade Venezuela

Friday September 30, 2005
Associated Press Writer

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - The United States is not planning to invade Venezuela, the U.S. ambassador to Venezuela said Thursday, disputing claims by President Hugo Chavez.

Chavez has said his government has documents showing Washington has a "Plan Balboa'' to invade his oil-producing countrywide aircraft carriers and planes. He said Venezuela is preparing to repel any attack.

"No 'Plan Balboa' exists,'' Ambassador William Brownfield said.

Brownfield told reporters that Spain, not the United States, had included Venezuela in a simulated military exercise titled "Operation Balboa'' more than four years ago.

Relations between Washington and Caracas have been tense in recent months. Chavez has accused the United States of meddling, while Washington has criticized Chavez's decision to buy 100,000 Russian-made Kalashnikov assault rifles.

Chavez, an ally of Cuban President Fidel Castro, has accused the governments of President Bush and former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar of playing roles in a short-lived coup against him in 2002. Both governments denied it.

Differences between Venezuela and the United States were exacerbated this week when a U.S. immigration judge ruled against the deportation of a Cuban militant wanted in Venezuela for a 1976 airliner bombing.

The judge in El Paso, Texas, cited conventions against sending a person to a country where he could face torture - a claim made by 77-year-old Luis Posada Carriles that Venezuela has strongly denies.

Chavez said during a visit to Brazil on Thursday that the U.S. ruling allows the Bush administration to protect one of Latin America's most notorious terrorists. He called Posada "the (Osama) bin Laden of Latin America - a torturer, an assassin.''

Brownfield denied that the U.S. government had a hand in Monday's court ruling, saying "it's the U.S. courts that decide.''

Comment: Of course! Why didn't we think of that! EVERYONE knows that the U.S. courts are completely impartial and are in no way associated with the Bush regime...

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First Bush Supreme Court pick Roberts sworn in as 17th US Chief Justice
Thu Sep 29, 6:06 PM ET

WASHINGTON - John Roberts, President George W. Bush's choice for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, won Senate approval and was sworn in to a post in which he will shape American life for years to come.

Roberts, 50, a conservative Catholic appellate judge, was approved as the 17th Chief Justice by 78 votes to 22, then sworn in later in the day by the longest-serving Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens at a White House ceremony.

"I, John Roberts, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the constitution of the United States ... ," Roberts said, his hand on a bible held by his wife, Jane, as seven chief justices and the wives of two late members of the high court looked on.

The youngest chief justice for 200 years, Roberts took office with many Bush supporters hoping he will emulate conservative predecessor William Rehnquist, who died of thyroid cancer earlier this month.

"I view the vote this morning as confirmation of what is, for me, a bedrock principle, that judging is different from politics," said Roberts.

Attention will now shift to Bush's imminent announcement on a replacement for retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a pick which could prove more controversial, as she is viewed as a crucial swing vote on the court.

Among the audience at Roberts' swearing in were White House counsel Harriet Miers and Alberto Gonzales, the Hispanic US Attorney General -- both of whom have been mentioned as possible nominees.

Bush praised Roberts as a man of modesty, integrity and rare intellect.

He said Roberts, the first new member of the Supreme Court since 1994, had a deep reverence for the constitution, placing his lifetime appointment in the context of more than 200 years of political continuity in the United States.

"When a president chooses a Supreme Court justice, he is placing in human hands, the full authority and majesty of the law," Bush said, before Roberts was sworn in below a crystal chandelier in the White House's ornate East Room.

"I submitted to the Senate a nominee of integrity, deep humility, and uncommon talent."

Many Democrats said Roberts' reputation as a brilliant and fair-minded jurist, who as a lawyer argued many cases before the Supreme Court, overrode their concerns about his conservative leanings.

Democrats who voted against him said they feared Roberts might turn out to be more conservative than he appeared, and could help overturn decades of hard-fought gains in civil rights and women's issues.

"Try as I might, I cannot find the evidence to conclude that John Roberts understands the real world impact of court decisions on civil rights and equal rights in this country," said Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy before the vote.

Democrats, split down the middle on the nomination and throughout weeks of hearings and internal debate, mustered only modest opposition to Roberts.

Democratic senator Chuck Schumer, who led the charge in the Senate against Roberts, said he hoped the new chief justice rules fairly and looks out for the "little guy ... that he will be a lawyer's lawyer without an ideological agenda."

Bush is under intense pressure from conservatives to make a historic pick to replace O'Connor that would shift the court to the right.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Thursday that the president was working from a very short list of possible candidates, after consulting around 70 senators on his pick, and could make an announcement at any time.

Liberal and conservative interest groups were gearing up for the new fight against a backdrop of a fiercely partisan political climate.

"If ever there was a time that cried out for consensus, the time is now," said Schumer.

"If the president nominates a consensus nominee, he will be embraced -- the president will be embraced and the nominee will be embraced -- with open arms by people on this side of the aisle," he said.

Comment: The process of hijacking the US judicial system is almost complete. Once a Bush-friendly replacement for O'Connor is installed, the Neocons will no longer have to put up with any legal resistance to their plans. The process worked well enough for Hitler and the Nazi party, so why not Bush and the Neocons?

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Bush May Wait to Nominate Next Justice
Associated Press Writer
Sep 29 5:58 PM US/Eastern

The White House has slowed the announcement of President Bush's next pick for the Supreme Court to bask - at least for a few days - in John Roberts' confirmation. Women and minorities remain atop what is said to be a narrowing list of candidates.

Bush initially was expected to name his second nominee to the nation's highest court soon after Roberts was sworn in as chief justice on Thursday. White House advisers now say the announcement probably won't come until next week.

Comment: The delay of a few days cannot mask the obvious rush to transform the Supreme Court into a tool that will be firmly planted in Bush's back pocket. It almost seems as if the final pieces are being set into place in preparation for a new phase of the "New American Century"...

Advocacy groups on the right are expecting Bush to name a rock-solid conservative to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Liberal groups are making a last-minute push for a moderate conservative. Senate Democrats, meanwhile, say if the president sends up any of the nominees they filibustered - including federal appellate judges Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown, William Pryor and Hispanic lawyer Miguel Estrada - they will fight to the bitter end.

And Bush's own "short list"?

"It's not that long," was all White House press secretary Scott McClellan would give up in the way of hints on Thursday.

Outside observers suggest the list has been narrowed to about five or six candidates, federal appellate judges and perhaps a few people who have never worn a judicial robe. [...]

Bush has a record of nominating individuals with conservative judicial philosophies for federal appeals court judgeships. And, despite opposition from Senate Democrats, many of Bush's conservative nominees eventually were confirmed, notes Wendy Long, counsel for the Judicial Confirmation Network, which is backing Bush's picks. [...]

"I'm hoping and expecting the president will stay on track as he has been in the past five years because it's succeeding now better than it ever has before," Long said. "Why in heaven's name would you reverse course?"

Gearing up for what Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said will probably be a more contentious confirmation process, the conservative Progress for America debuted a new television ad on Wednesday calling for fair treatment of the next nominee.

"Urge the Senate to continue putting partisan politics aside, hold fair hearings and give the next nominee a fair up or down vote," said the ad, which cost $275,000 to air for a week on two cable networks. [...]

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FBI to get veto power over PC software?
Declan McCullagh
September 27, 2005 11:37 AM PDT

The Federal Communications Commission thinks you have the right to use software on your computer only if the FBI approves.

No, really. In an obscure "policy" document released around 9 p.m. ET last Friday, the FCC announced this remarkable decision.

According to the three-page document, to preserve the openness that characterizes today's Internet, "consumers are entitled to run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement." Read the last seven words again.

The FCC didn't offer much in the way of clarification. But the clearest reading of the pronouncement is that some unelected bureaucrats at the commission have decreeed that Americans don't have the right to use software such as Skype or PGPfone if it doesn't support mandatory backdoors for wiretapping. (That interpretation was confirmed by an FCC spokesman on Monday, who asked not to be identified by name. Also, the announcement came at the same time as the FCC posted its wiretapping rules for Internet telephony.)

Nowhere does the commission say how it jibes this official pronouncement with, say, the First Amendment's right to speak freely, not to mention the limited powers granted the federal government by the U.S. Constitution.

What's also worth noting is that the FCC's pronunciamento almost tracks the language of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Almost.

But where federal law states that it is the policy of the United States to preserve a free market for Internet services "unfettered by federal or state regulation," the bureaucrats have adroitly interpreted that to mean precisely the opposite of Congress said. Ain't that clever?

Comment: Of course, there have always been back doors into software applications and telecommunications equipment. Now it seems that mandatory back doors will be the new standard. The question then becomes: why all of a sudden do the Powers that Be want their snooping and control to be in plain sight - and therefore in the back of everyone's mind? The simple answer is that they can get away with it now thanks to the War on Terror. But more than that, it appears that they want the people to willingly give up their rights, and that means the masses must be told at least enough that they understand - and accept of their own "free" will - what is going on. Why else would every technique and method to catch "terrorists" be so widely publicized? If the so-called terrorists really were so clever and evil, wouldn't it be better to covertly use the tools available as had previously been done?

Speaking of "terrorism" on the internet...

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U.S. insists on controlling Web
Friday, September 30, 2005

GENEVA, Switzerland (AP) -- The United States refuses to relinquish its role as the Internet's principal traffic policeman, rejecting calls in a United Nations meeting for a U.N. body to take over, a top U.S. official said.

But while the United States stuck to its position, other negotiators said there was a growing sense that a compromise had to be reached and that no single country ought to be the ultimate authority over such a vital part of the global economy.

"We will not agree to the U.N. taking over the management of the Internet," said Ambassador David Gross, the U.S. coordinator for international communications and information policy at the State Department. "Some countries want that. We think that's unacceptable."

Speaking Thursday on the sidelines of the last preparatory meeting before November's World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia, Gross said that progress was being made on several issues, but not on the question of Internet governance.

The stalemate over who should serve as the principal traffic cops for Internet routing and addressing could derail the summit -- which aims to ensure a fair sharing of the Internet for the benefit of the whole world.

Comment: With a few minor changes to the above article, we have produced the following article which provides the bigger picture...

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U.S. insists on controlling World
Friday, September 30, 2005

GENEVA, Switzerland (SOTT) -- The United States refuses to relinquish its role as the world's policeman, rejecting calls in a United Nations meeting for a U.N. body to take over, a top U.S. official said.

But while the United States stuck to its position, other negotiators said there was a growing sense that a compromise had to be reached and that no single country ought to be the ultimate authority over the entire globe.

"We will not agree to the U.N. taking over the management of the world," said Ambassador David Gross, the U.S. coordinator for international communications and world governance policy at the State Department. "Some countries want that. We think that's unacceptable."

Speaking Thursday on the sidelines of the last preparatory meeting before November's World Summit on Global governance in Tunisia, Gross said that progress was being made on several issues, but not on the question of world governance.

The stalemate over who should serve as the principal world cops could derail the summit -- which aims to ensure a fair sharing of the world for the benefit of the whole world.

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Newscast purports to be from Al Qaeda
By Daniel Williams
Washington Post
September 27, 2005

ROME -- An Internet newscast called the Voice of the Caliphate was broadcast yesterday, purporting to be a production of Al Qaeda.

The broadcast featured an anchorman who wore a ski mask and an ammunition belt.

The anchorman, who said the report would appear once a week, presented news about the Gaza Strip and Iraq, and expressed happiness about the recent hurricanes in the United States. A copy of the Koran was at his right hand, and a rifle affixed to a tripod was pointed at the camera.

The origins of the broadcast could not be verified. If the program was indeed an Al Qaeda production, it would mark a change in the group's use of the Internet to spread its messages. Direct dissemination would avoid editing or censorship by television networks, many of which usually air only excerpts of the group's statements, and avoid showing gruesome images of killings.

Comment: It's looking more and more like the Powers that Be are herding the people into accepting a tightly controlled internet - for their own good, of course...

The broadcast was first reported from Dubai by Adnkronos, an Italian news agency. The 16-minute production was available on Italian newspaper websites.

The lead segment recounted Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, which the narrator proclaimed a ''great victory," while showing the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, walking and talking among celebrating compatriots.

That was followed by a repetition of a pledge on Sept. 14 by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, to wage war on Iraq's Shi'ite Muslims, who now lead a government coalition.

An image of Zarqawi, a Jordanian-born Sunni Muslim, remained on the screen for about half of the broadcast.

The masked announcer also reported that a group called the Islamic Army in Iraq had claimed to have launched rockets armed with chemicals at US forces in Baghdad. A video clip showed five rockets fired in succession from behind a sand berm, as an off-screen voice yelled ''God is great" in Arabic. The Islamic Army asserted responsibility last year for the beheading of Enzo Baldoni, an Italian journalist kidnapped in Iraq.

A commercial break of sorts followed. It previewed a movie, ''Total Jihad."

The ad was in English, suggesting that the target audience might be Muslims living in Britain and the United States.

The final segment was about Hurricane Katrina. ''The whole Muslim world was filled with joy" at the disaster, the anchorman said, noting that President Bush was ''completely humiliated by his obvious incapacity to face the wrath of God, who battered New Orleans, city of homosexuals." Hurricane Ophelia's brush with North Carolina was also mentioned.

Caliphate refers to the 7th- and 8th-century Islamic empire that stretched from the Middle East to the Atlantic, an achievement that bin Laden has said Muslims should reestablish.

According to credits following the broadcast, it was produced by the Global Islamic Media Front.

Comment: The Islamic Army is back in the limelight. At the time Enzo Baldoni was killed, there were also two French journalists who were held - and later released. The following flashbacks hint at who is really behind the so-called Islamic Army - and therefore this latest internet broadcast:

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Flashback: Hopes raised for weekend release of French hostages
Sept 3, 2005

BAGHDAD - Hopes grew Friday that two French journalists kidnapped two weeks ago in Iraq would be released by their Islamist captors.

"They are out of danger as was declared yesterday by Sheikh Hareth al-Dhari, their release could just be a matter of time," said Sheikh Abdel Salam al-Kubeisi, an influential cleric on the Committee of Muslim Scholars.

Kubeisi's organisation has privileged contacts with the Sunni militant groups operating in Iraq. One expert on the militants said the two Frenchmen were being held in the Sunni insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, west of Baghdad, and suggested that recent US strikes on the town risked complicating the negotiations.

Another source with close links to the insurgency told AFP on condition of anonymity that journalists Georges Malbrunot and Christian Chesnot were still in the hands of the Islamic Army in Iraq and being detained in the Baghdad region.

But French diplomatic sources in Baghdad said Friday afternoon they had no fresh information on the whereabouts of the two reporters and expressed irritation at the "completely groundless" speculation on their fates of recent days.

The pair abducted August 20 on the perilous road between Baghdad and Najaf are "alive, in good health and being well treated" but still captive, one diplomat said, on condition of anonymity.

"There is hope and a great chance of a happy outcome. When will this happen? No one can tell. Maybe today, tomorrow or the day after that, but the situation in Iraq is such that it could not take much to scupper the whole process."

The Islamic Army in Iraq follows the strict Wahabist school of Islam and has already claimed responsibility for several abductions and executions in Iraq, including the killing of Italian reporter Enzo Baldoni last week.

The militant group thought to be based mainly in Fallujah has demanded Paris lift a controversial ban on headscarves in state schools to secure the release of the hostages.

But the law came into effect regardless on Thursday as the French school year began. The ultimatum from the captors was the first time kidnappers here had made demands external to Iraq.

However the targeting of a country which vigorously opposed last year's US-led invasion apparently backfired as France managed to muster broad international support for its efforts to free the journalists and united the vast majority of Muslim institutions behind its cause.

Messages of support continued to flow in Friday, with Shiite radical leader Moqtada Sadr calling for the reporters' release in recognition of France's anti-war stance through a sermon read by one of his aides.

Another member of Sadr's organisation accused America of masterminding the kidnappings during a vitriolic sermon in Baghdad.

"We have concrete information confirming that it is the Americans who are behind the abduction. The aim is to turn the people and government of France against us," Sheikh Nasser al-Assadi told worshippers at al-Hikma mosque in Sadr City.

Hardline Sunni cleric Sheikh Mahdi Al-Sumaidaie urged the kidnappers to spare the pair and lavishly praised France in his Friday sermon, applauding the country's opposition to the US-led invasion of Iraq and hailing French media coverage.

Abdullah Zekri, who represented the Paris Mosque in a delegation which travelled to Baghdad for talks on Thursday, cited "fear of the Americans" and pressure from some groups wishing to involve France in the conflict as the main reasons delaying the release.

The delegation of the French Council for the Muslim Faith had travelled to Iraq to issue a fresh appeal for the journalists' freedom.

Though it did not reveal its sources, members of the delegation had voiced optimism that Malbrunot and Chesnot could be released very soon following a meeting with the Committee of Muslim Scholars.

The delegation left Iraq on Thursday night and was Friday back in the Jordanian capital with French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier awaiting new developments.

"We are still in Amman waiting for news. We hope it will all happen today," said Mohammed Beshari, who heads the French Federation of French Muslims.

Meanwhile Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawar, who was due in Paris on Sunday to start a European tour, postponed his visit in the light of the continuing hostage crisis.

Comment: What is intriguing in this report is that an aid to Muqtada Sadr says it is the Americans who masterminded the kidnappings. We think it likely that more than one country was involved.

The situation has been confusing this week, with the "kidnappers" giving a deadline of what was thought to be Tuesday night, and then Wednesday. Jacques Chirac was obliged to set back a meeting with his Minister of Finance, Nicolas Sarkozy, until Wednesday because he was personally involved in trying to settle the dispute. Obviously something clicked and by Wednesday evening, the situation was looking more and more hopeful.

However, we find it funny that it was French journalists that were targeted. Moreover, it is curious that it was two French journalists who have been sympathetic to the Palestinians, as this next article notes:

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Flashback: Free the French Journalists in Iraq
Randa Takieddine Al-Hayat

A French Muslim woman, who protested in France against the law of banning the headscarf, said that she does not want her veil to be tainted with innocent blood.

The kidnapping of the two French colleagues, Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, is a crime that defiles the image of Islam and the Arabs; not only in France but around the world. What is the meaning in this horrid blackmail of innocent lives who did their job with great loyalty and professionalism? Malbrunot was covering the news of the Middle East and the Palestinian issue with great balance, in addition to recording the Israeli practices inside the Palestinian territories, to portray the daily Israeli violations of Palestinian rights to the public opinion in France. As for Christian Chesnot, he too is a professional who wrote a book on the Palestinian crisis under the Israeli occupation. Do the kidnappers wish to deprive the world of knowing the truth simply because of some awful blackmail?

Blackmail is cowardly. It is a crime when used in the name of Islam with a country such as France; Jacques Chirac is the most fervent defender of real Islam, the Arabs, and their issues.

France opposed the war on Iraq. France is the most persistent country from the European Union in demanding respect of the Palestinians' rights, the necessity to dismantle the Israeli settlements, and ending the Israeli occupation. France passed the headscarf law only in public schools, because the state is secular and respects all religions outside the government's range. Moreover, France continuously objected to sending troops or foreign forces to Iraq because its president is aware of the tragedies of occupation.

How can it be possible for these organizations, which claim to be Islamic, to threaten killing innocent people and silencing voices that report bitter realities in an Arab world that has never sunk so low? How can it be possible for the Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi to criticize a country like France for its neutralism? Does Mr. Allawi want to lure the French armies into the swamp of the American armies and their allies, in an Iraq which the American forces with its modernized military arsenal and technologically advanced weapons were not capable of securing stability; where innocent people are kidnapped by gangs, and mafias whose mushrooming was reinforced by the American occupation?

Using the lives of Georges Malbrunot and Christian Chesnot has united the French because the French public opinion refuses blackmail. However, God forbid, if the two colleagues are murdered, it would greatly damage the image of Islam and the French Muslims who are united in their demand for the release of the two journalists.

What is required is the prompt release of Georges Malbrunot and Christian Chesnot and putting an end to their psychological torture, and sending them home to their families and jobs. They are soldiers of freedom and justice. Let the crime against them and against all the detained journalists around the world be stopped in the name of freedom and justice.

Comment: While we imagine there may be some deluded Islamic fighters who are against anyone and everyone Western, and that such people might kidnap the French journalists in spite of the wise words of this writer, given the well-known connections between the CIA and Mossad and "Islamic terrorists", we consider it far more likely that these acts are being done in the name of Islam in order to soil that name. These kidnappings and beheadings then go straight into the homes of millions of Americans and only confirm the idea they have that Islam is a blood thirsty religion and that Arabs are a crazy and violent people.

Who benefits from cultivating that image?

Israel and its "best friend" the US.

(Please note, all those who think we are talking about all Israelis and all Americans: we consider that our readers are intelligent, that you will understand that these are shorthand terms referring to the governments of these countries, their military-industrial complexes.)

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Air travellers face biometric screening
Thursday Sep 29 16:09 AEST

AUSTRALIA - Selected visitors and refugees arriving in Australia will have their fingerprints taken and eyes scanned in a trial the federal government says could help improve border security and reduce identity fraud.

The trial of the biometric technology has been unveiled by Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone at Sydney Airport.

Under the trial, refugees from Africa and some overseas visitors will be selected for further checking including having their fingerprints and facial information taken and irises scanned.

Senator Vanstone said the trial, which would be voluntary, would determine the technology's effectiveness, with a view to rolling it out for more travellers.

"We've started doing this work in a laboratory-type setting in Canberra and now we're shifting to a live setting to continue our trial," Senator Vanstone told reporters.

"What the trials are doing is testing our capacity to capture, store, retrieve and match a range of biometric data."

"This is an exercise in making sure that when we do switch to the use of biometric (details) in a live context ... that we will know what we're doing and we'll be very good at it."

Senator Vanstone said the trial was not aimed at preventing a situation such as that of Cornelia Rau, the German born Australian resident who was wrongfully detained as an illegal immigrant for 10 months.

But biometric details used as part of a national identity card could reduce the chances of similar bungles, she said.

Senator Vanstone also said Australia would join the US in establishing a Regional Movement Alert List aimed at catching the people who travel on fake, stolen or otherwise invalid documents.

Visitors checking in for Australia-bound flights using US travel documents would be matched against records of lost, stolen or invalid papers.

Comment: You see, biometric ID cards, iris scans, and fingerprinting are all for your own good. You wouldn't want to end up wrongfully detained as an illegal immigrant for ten months, would you?

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Brain imaging ready to detect terrorists, say neuroscientists

MRI scans can pick up lies, but raise ethical issues
Jennifer Wild
Published online: 21 September 2005

Brain-imaging techniques that reveal when a person is lying are now reliable enough to identify criminals, claim researchers.

Critics maintain that the technique will never be useful for such investigations, arguing that, as with traditional polygraph detectors, liars could learn to fool the tests. And researchers in the field have previously admitted that the approach needs more work. But neuroscientists from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia have now told Nature that they believe their test is ready for real-life scenarios.

Daniel Langleben and his colleagues use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to track people's brains when they lie and tell the truth. By analysing brain activity during both scenarios, they have developed an algorithm that can detect lies from truth with 99% accuracy.

Team member Ruben Gur points out that, unlike the polygraph, fMRI does not rely on controllable symptoms such as sweating or a fast heartbeat. Instead it monitors the central nervous system. When someone lies, their brain inhibits them from telling the truth, and this makes the frontal lobes more active. "A lie is always more complicated than the truth," says Gur. "You think a bit more and fMRI picks that up."

In the latest study (C. Davatzikos et al. Neuroimage, in the press) the team gave volunteers an envelope with two cards and $20; subjects could keep the cash if they lied convincingly in the tests. Once they were inside the fMRI scanner, each person had to press a button to indicate whether a card flashed on the screen matched one of theirs. They were asked to be honest about having one of the cards and to lie about having the other.

Langleben has previously warned that fMRI is a research tool, not a way to spot liars. But the latest research has changed his tune. "We can't say whether this person will one day use a bomb," he says. "But we can use fMRI to find concealed information. We can ask: is X involved in terrorist organization Y?"

The main advance is being able to distinguish lies from truthful statements in a given individual. Although previously scientists could see how the brain lit up when people lied, results were based on the averaged brain activity of a group of people and did not look at individual fibs for each person. "Now we can tell when an individual lies on a specific question," says Gur. "This is a major step forward."

Critics argue that lab experiments do not equate to real-life situations. Getting a reward for concealing a lie is not the same thing as losing your job or getting a criminal conviction for being found out, which is a far more likely consequence, says Jennifer Vendemia, an expert in lie-detection research at the University of South Carolina, Columbia. "There is nothing you can do in the lab that would mimic job loss, the death penalty, or public humiliation."

But the biggest concerns about using fMRI to detect lies, says Vendemia, are over ethical issues, such as whether individuals have the right to keep their thoughts private.

Critics and researchers agree that more funding is needed to standardize the method and iron out ethical concerns before the approach is used routinely. The team's next step is to expand its studies to include women, people of different cultures, and psychopaths.

Comment: A QFS member writes:

I am waiting for the results with psychopaths. This should be interesting. My guess is that the differences they will observe between psychopaths saying the truth and lying will be less distinct than the differences observed with "normal" people.

Wouldn't it be convenient to have a terrorist/lie detector test that a psychopath can pass with flying colors?

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Anti-yob powers trigger police state gibe
By David Charter, Chief Political Correspondent

TONY BLAIR denied that he was creating a police state atmosphere in Britain after pledging to give officers any extra summary powers they needed to crack down on yobs.

Mr Blair argued that traditional law was failing to protect the elderly from the fear of violence and intimidation. The Prime Minister also gave his strongest warning yet that “traditional civil liberties” would not stand in the way of new anti-terrorism laws.

Civil rights groups said that Mr Blair was eroding several centuries of British legal practice because of his impatience with the justice system. He is also keen to find new ways to tackle antisocial behaviour to include in a White Paper on his pet project of “respect” later in the autumn.

Mr Blair denied that new summary powers already announced for the police to deal with problems such as crack houses could create a “police state”. Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Mr Blair said: “When you talk about the ‘midnight knock on the door’, that is one way of looking at it.

Comment: What would we do without the likes of Blair and Bush as they move mountains to ensure that traditional civil liberties will not stand in the way of ensuring that evil Arab terrorists do not succeed in removing our traditional civil liberties. Welcome to the bizarro world of Bush and Blair, left is right, right is wrong and terrorism is not a military tactic but a shadowy group of fanatic Muslims hiding in caves around the world.

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Triple car bomb attack kills at least 85
September 30, 2005 - 6:08AM

At least 85 people were killed and more than 110 wounded today when three car bombs exploded within minutes of each other in the mainly Shi'ite central Iraqi town of Balad, police said.

Two pick-up trucks blew up in a central shopping street at 6.30pm and 6.40pm local time, with a third pick-up exploding in another neighbourhood 10 minutes later, local police Lieutenant-Colonel Adel Abdallah told AFP.

A fourth car bomb exploded an hour later in northern Baghdad, targeting an army patrol, although no casualties were immediately reported.

Abdallah said at least 85 people were killed and more than 110 wounded in the blasts.

A doctor at Baghdad's Khadimiyah hospital said 40 ambulances were dispatched to Balad, but none had yet returned.

A suicide car bombing in Balad, some 70 kilometres north of the capital, in June killed 10 Iraqis while another targeting Iraqi security forces in the town in January killed 19.

While Ramadi is predominantly Shi'ite, its province of Salaheddin is mainly Sunni, and the triple bombing appeared to be the latest bid by Sunni extremists to spark a sectarian war.

Earlier this month, Al-Qaeda's frontman in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, declared "all-out war" on the majority Shi'ite population.

Some 130 people, most of them Shi'ites, were killed in car bombings in Baghdad on the day of the announcement.

At least nine people were killed in other violence today in the country, including four policemen in two separate attacks in Baghdad, and the mayor of Al-Khalis, a town 80 kilometres north of the capital.

The US military said that five of its soldiers had been killed in a bombing in the restive western town of Ramadi yesterday, without providing further details. [...]

In a further sign of the lawlessness plaguing the country, the Anglican Church said the entire lay leadership of its Baghdad church, including three members of one family, were feared dead after disappearing on the road back from Jordan.

"They are almost certainly dead," said the Nicosia-based Reverend Clive Handford, president bishop of the Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East.

Maher Dakel, the lay pastor, his wife, Mona, who led women's activities, their son Yehiya, deputy lay pastor Firas Raad, along with the church pianist and a driver were last heard of on September 13 after they were attacked on the road between Ramadi and Fallujah, west of the capital, a notoriously dangerous area.

The upsurge in violence comes amid preparations for the referendum and the trial of former president Saddam Hussein, which Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari Thursday insisted be kept on schedule for next month.

"Saddam's trial date is scheduled for October 19 and it is not possible to postpone this case which has already been pending for too long," an official statement quoted him as telling tribal sheikhs in Baghdad.

In Washington, the top US commander in Iraq said that the insurgency may worsen even if the constitution is approved.

General George Casey said plans to reduce US forces over the next year will depend heavily on the outcome of the political process and insurgents were expected to pull out all stops to defeat it. [...]

"As we've looked at this, we've looked for the constitution to be a national compact. The perception now is that it's not," he said.

Comment: Given that the "insurgency" is nothing more than Iraqis fighting for freedom from US occupation - while at the same time being turned against one another by the ever-popular "false flag" operation - it is a near certainty that the approval of the constitution will worsen the fighting. What Iraqi would want a constitution written by a US puppet government?

He also disclosed that only a single Iraqi battalion is capable of independent operations.

The International Crisis Group think-tank earlier this week warned that the rushed drafting of the constitution has deepened sectarian rifts and was likely to fuel the Sunni-led insurgency and hasten the country's violent break-up.

Comment: Perhaps a violent break-up is the whole idea. When we consider that the Bush administration believes it can "create reality", it would not be the least bit surprising that when US troops were not greeted as liberators and the Iraqi people saw the true face of the US war machine, something had to be done by the Neocons. The next best solution - and one that has been used frequently by the US in other countries - is to foment internal conflict and strife that will lead to a civil war. Eventually, a new dictator comes to power - only this time, he will be completely backed by - and loyal to - the US. Sure, Saddam was once backed by the US, but he fell out of favor.

After all, democracy in the US is clearly giving way to fascism, so we shouldn't expect anything less for the "liberated" Iraqi people...

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Judge Orders Release of Abu Ghraib Photos
Associated Press
Thu Sep 29,12:43 PM ET

NEW YORK - Saying the United States "does not surrender to blackmail," a judge ruled Thursday that pictures of detainee abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison must be released over government claims that they could damage America's image.

U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein ordered the release of certain pictures in a 50-page decision that said terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan have proven they "do not need pretexts for their barbarism."

Comment: While the "terrorists" in Iraq and Afghanistan are just plain old barbarians who kill for fun, US forces are far more civilised: first some lies about WMD's are spread, and then the barbarism begins. Apparently, the US method is the proper way to be a barbarian.

The ACLU has sought the release of 87 photographs and four videotapes taken at the prison as part of an October 2003 lawsuit demanding information on the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody and the transfer of prisoners to countries known to use torture. The ACLU contends that prisoner abuse is systemic.

The judge said: "Our nation does not surrender to blackmail, and fear of blackmail is not a legally sufficient argument to prevent us from performing a statutory command. Indeed, the freedoms that we champion are as important to our success in Iraq and Afghanistan as the guns and missiles with which our troops are armed."

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US forces 'out of control', says Reuters chief
Julia Day Wednesday September 28, 2005

Reuters has told the US government that American forces' conduct towards journalists in Iraq is "spiralling out of control" and preventing full coverage of the war reaching the public.

The detention and accidental shootings of journalists is limiting how journalists can operate, wrote David Schlesinger, the Reuters global managing editor, in a letter to Senator John Warner, head of the armed services committee.

The Reuters news service chief referred to "a long parade of disturbing incidents whereby professional journalists have been killed, wrongfully detained, and/or illegally abused by US forces in Iraq".

Mr Schlesinger urged the senator to raise the concerns with Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who is due to testify to the committee this Thursday.

He asked Mr Warner to demand that Mr Rumsfeld resolve these issues "in a way that best balances the legitimate security interests of the US forces in Iraq and the equally legitimate rights of journalists in conflict zones under international law".

At least 66 journalists and media workers, most of them Iraqis, have been killed in the country since March 2003.

US forces admitted killing three Reuters journalists, most recently soundman Waleed Khaled, who was shot by American soldiers on August 28 while on assignment in Baghdad. But the military said the soldiers were justified in opening fire. Reuters believes a fourth journalist working for the agency, who died in Ramadi last year, was killed by a US sniper. [...]

Earlier this week Reuters demanded the release of a freelance Iraqi cameraman after a secret tribunal ordered that he be detained indefinitely.

Samir Mohammed Noor, a freelance cameraman working for Reuters, was arrested by Iraqi troops at his home in the northern town of Tal Afar four months ago.

A US military spokesman has told the agency that a secret hearing held last week had found him to be "an imperative threat to the coalition forces and the security of Iraq".

The news agency has demanded that he be released or given a chance to defend himself in open court.

The US network CBS has raised concerns over the arrest of its cameraman, Abdul Amir Younes, who was arrested in hospital in April after he was shot by US troops.

CBS said it is concerned that he had no legal representation at the hearing and has had no chance to see the evidence against him.

Comment: So let's see, the US military is killing journalists in Iraq and "preventing full coverage of the war reaching the public" - coverage that includes evidence that the Bush regime is lying about what it is really doing in Iraq, and we are asked to believe that these killings are "accidental"?? PLEASE!

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Bush waives some arms export restrictions on Libya
Wed Sep 28, 6:38 PM ET

WASHINGTON - President George W. Bush on Wednesday waived some defense export restrictions on Libya to allow U.S. companies to participate in destroying Tripoli's chemical weapons and to refurbish eight transport planes.

It was another step in improving ties after Libya decided in December 2003 to abandon its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs.

In a memorandum to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Bush said he was waiving some restrictions under the U.S. Arms Export Control Act because it was in the national security interest of the United States. The law restricts defense exports to Libya because the State Department has designated it a state sponsor of terrorism.

Bush waived defense export restrictions "to permit U.S. companies to possibly participate in Libya's program to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile," a White House national security council spokesman said.

It also would allow for the refurbishment of eight C-130H transport planes purchased by Libya in the 1970s that never ended up in Tripoli's possession, but have been held in storage in the United States, the spokesman said.

"No decision on the disposition of the aircraft, when refurbished, has been made," he said.

It was the latest move in improving ties between the United States and Libya. Earlier this year, the United States ended a restriction barring Libyan diplomats in the United States from traveling more than 25 miles from Washington and New York.

Last year, the United States ended its trade embargo against Libya as a reward for giving up weapons of mass destruction.

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Israelis urge U.S. to stop Iran's nuke goals
By David R. Sands
September 30, 2005

The United States and its allies must act to stop Iran's nuclear programs -- by force if necessary -- because conventional diplomacy will not work, three senior Israeli lawmakers from across the political spectrum warned yesterday.

As a last resort, they said, Israel itself would act unilaterally to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear arms.

Iran will not be deterred "by anything short of a threat of force," said Arieh Eldad, a member of Israel's right-wing National Union Party, part of a delegation of Knesset members visiting Washington this week.

"They won't be stopped unless they are convinced their programs will be destroyed if they continue," he said.

Yuval Steinitz, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said the best hope was for the United States and other major powers to make it clear to Iranian leaders now there was "no chance they will ever see the fruits of a nuclear program."

"Threats of sanctions and isolation alone will not do it," said Mr. Steinitz.

Yosef Lapid, head of the centrist opposition Shinui Party in the Knesset, added that Israel "will not live under the threat of an Iranian nuclear bomb."

"We feel we are obliged to warn our friends that Israel should not be pushed into a situation where we see no other solution but to act unilaterally" against Iran, he said.

Mr. Steinitz, a member of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's ruling Likud Party, stopped just short of a direct threat to bomb suspect Iranian nuclear sites.

Mr. Steinitz said Israeli officials estimate that Tehran is only two to three years away from developing a nuclear bomb and that time was running out for the world to act.

"We see an Iranian bomb as a devastating, existential threat to Israel, to the entire Middle East, to all Western interests in the region," he said.

"Despite all the different circumstances, we see similarities to what happened in the 1930s, when people underestimated the real problem or focused on other dangers. For us, either the world will tackle Iran in advance or all of us will face the consequences."

Comment: The Zionists have decided that Iran must go. After 9/11 and the dancing Israelis, we shudder to think what will happen if the US doesn't jump up and take care of Iran as soon as possible...

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Army Faces Worst Recruiting Slump in Years
AP Military Writer
Fri Sep 30, 6:59 AM ET

WASHINGTON - The Army is closing the books on one of the leanest recruiting years since it became an all-volunteer service three decades ago, missing its enlistment target by the largest margin since 1979 and raising questions about its plans for growth.

Many in Congress believe the Army needs to get bigger - perhaps by 50,000 soldiers over its current 1 million - in order to meet its many overseas commitments, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army already is on a path to add 30,000 soldiers, but even that will be hard to achieve if recruiters cannot persuade more to join the service.

Officials insist the slump is not a crisis.

Michael O'Hanlon, a defense analyst at the Brookings Institution think tank, said the recruiting shortfall this year does not matter greatly - for now.

"The bad news is that any shortfall shows how hard it would be to increase the Army's size by 50,000 or more as many of us think appropriate," O'Hanlon said. "We appear to have waited too long to try."

The Army has not published official figures yet, but it apparently finished the 12-month counting period that ends Friday with about 73,000 recruits. Its goal was 80,000. A gap of 7,000 enlistees would be the largest - in absolute number as well as in percentage terms - since 1979, according to Army records.

The Army National Guard and the Army Reserve, which are smaller than the regular Army, had even worse results.

The active-duty Army had not missed its target since 1999, when it was 6,290 recruits short; in 1998 it fell short by 801, and in 1995 it was off by 33. Prior to that the last shortfall was in 1979 when the Army missed by 17,054 during a period when the Army was much bigger and its recruiting goals were double today's.

Army officials knew at the outset that 2005 would be a tough year to snag new recruits. By May it was obvious that after four consecutive months of coming up short there was little chance of meeting the full-year goal.

A summertime surge of signups offered some hope the slump may be ending. An Army spokesman, Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, said that despite the difficulties, recruiters were going full speed as the end of fiscal year 2005, Sept. 30, arrived.

"We have met the active Army's monthly recruiting goals since June, and we expect to meet it for September, which sends us into fiscal year 2006 on a winning streak," Hilferty said. He also noted that the Army has managed to meet its re-enlistment goals, even among units that have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But there are compelling reasons to think that Army recruiters are heading into a second consecutive year of recruiting shortfalls.

The outlook is dimmed by several key factors, including:

  • The daily reports of American deaths in Iraq and the uncertain nature of the struggle against the insurgency have put a damper on young people's enthusiasm for joining the military, according to opinion surveys.
  • The Army has a smaller-then-usual reservoir of enlistees as it begins the new recruiting year on Saturday. This pool comes from what the Army calls its delayed-entry program in which recruits commit to join the Army on condition that they ship to boot camp some months later.

Normally that pool is large enough at the start of the recruiting year to fill one-quarter of the Army's full-year need. But it has dwindled so low that the Army is starting its new recruiting year with perhaps only 5 percent "in the bank." The official figure on delayed entry recruits has not been released publicly, although Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, has said it is the smallest in history.

The factors working against the Army, Hilferty said, are a strong national economy that offers young people other choices, and "continued negative news from the Middle East." To offset that the Army has vastly increased the number of recruiters on the street, offered bigger signup bonuses and boosted advertising.

Charles Moskos, a military sociologist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., said in an interview that the Army would attract more recruits if it could offer shorter enlistments than the current three-year norm.

As it stands, the Army faces a tough challenge for the foreseeable future.

"The future looks even grimmer. Recruiting is going to get harder and harder," Moskos said.

Comment: The future enlistment prospects do look rather dim, unless there is some event in the near future that causes enough financial hardship that people will want to join up again...

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Natural gas prices to climb in B.C. area

Stacy Hanna
The Battle Creek Enquirer

MICHIGAN - Natural gas prices this winter will be at least double - and possibly triple - what they were last year in Battle Creek, thanks to the thawing of a rate freeze and recent hurricanes in the Gulf states.

State officials this week predicted 40 percent increases for Michigan's natural gas customers because of hurricane-related supply problems.

That projection comes as Battle Creek customers already are seeing prices 14 percent above the state average and nearly double what they were under a three-year locked rate that expired March 31. Battle Creek's rates are regulated by the city commission.

Residential bills for Semco customers in other parts of Michigan, where the rates are regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission, are equal to the state average.

In April, local residential Semco customers who benefited from the 2002 rate freeze of $4.89 per dekatherm saw that number jump to $7 per dekatherm. It since has skyrocketed to $9.32 in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and is expected to rise as high as $13.05 per dekatherm by winter.

"One fundamental issue we want people to understand is that the cost of natural gas is passed through to customers," said George Schreiber, Semco Energy's president and chief executive officer. "We don't make a dime on this."

And that's the good news. The bad news is that officials agree that prices will continue to increase for the foreseeable future.

"Indications are that, especially in the immediate aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, natural gas prices will continue to climb," said Timothy J. Lubbers, Semco's director of marketing and corporate communications.

Before winter gas bills start hitting Battle Creek mail boxes, Semco is giving consumers a heads-up, alerting them to higher prices in their October billing statements and suggesting ways to keep costs down.

"We are encouraging customers to take steps to minimize the impact of the projected gas cost increases by enrolling in the budget payment plan and by conserving."

According to an MPSC report, hurricane-damaged natural gas facilities along the Gulf of Mexico will continue to struggle to get back to full strength, resulting in a significant price increase.

"The commission is expecting average increases for natural gas of at least 40 percent this winter, assuming normal weather," MPSC spokeswoman Judy Palnau said Tuesday. "What we're doing now is gearing up to let people know about the alarming increase."

Semco officials agree with the commission's projected estimate.

"That's not an unreasonable number," Lubbers said, referring to the 40 percent figure. "It could be higher or lower, though. We'll just have to wait and see."

How does that figure translate to consumers' bottom line?

Michigan residents who now pay an average of $140 each winter month to heat their homes with natural gas, for example, could end up paying at least $56 more a month.

To combat those costs, Semco is encouraging customers to take advantage of its flexible budget plan, which regulates monthly billing statements based on an individual's usage history and the projected cost of natural gas.

Customers should be aware, however, that at the end of the 12-month billing period, if the company's original estimate was low, they will be responsible for paying the difference in one lump sum.

"We are trying to monitor those costs regularly," Lubbers said. "To avoid someone ending up with a $600 gas bill at the end ... customers should know that the estimated monthly cost might be adjusted throughout the year."

Semco also suggested that natural gas consumers winterize their homes.

"Making their homes more energy efficient is one way customers can counter the increasing cost of natural gas this year," Lubbers said, explaining that weather-stripping, closing vents in unused rooms and dialing down the thermostat could make a big difference.

Schreiber said he doesn't expect natural gas costs to decrease any time soon.

"I don't see any immediate relief in sight," he said. "Two things - very stringent environmental regulations and failed environmental policy - have put us in this position."

"There is a huge increase in demand for natural gas, but we can't increase the supply because environmentalists have taken drilling options off the table," he continued, referring to drilling possibilities in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Lake Michigan.

Schreiber said that while he believes the price of natural gas will remain high for some time, he hopes the energy market is in the midst of a fundamental shift.

"I think the market is finally realizing the true cost of stringent environmental policies that have been enforced," he said. "You'd have to be crazy not to be for clean air and clean water, but there's got to be a balance."

Comment: Why, those darned environmentalists are almost like terrorists!

Other states are also warning of high natural gas prices this winter. In Washington state, the Seattle Times reports:

The companies blamed the increases on higher wholesale prices, which Meehan said are due to increased demand and limited supply.

Other parts of the country face dramatic increases in the aftermath of two Gulf Coast hurricanes, but the Washington increases aren't related to the storms, Meehan said. Because companies here buy natural gas in advance and on contracts, any effect of the hurricanes wouldn't be felt until next year.

When coupled with increased gasoline prices, this could be a very interesting winter for the US economy.

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Red flag raised over gas price floor repeal
St. Paul Pioneer Press
Posted on Fri, Sep. 30, 2005

Gov. Tim Pawlenty and some lawmakers want to save Minnesotans money at the pump by repealing a state law that sets a minimum gasoline price. However, a new, one-of-a-kind study shows a repeal would send prices higher.

Pawlenty sent letters to lawmakers this week seeking their interest in a special session. Among the topics to be considered would be repealing a section of the Minnesota restraint of trade law that requires retail gasoline stations to charge 8 cents per gallon above the wholesale cost of the gas and all taxes.

A repeal would save consumers money and increase competition, repeal supporters argue.

But three professors completed studies this year comparing, for the first time, gas prices in states that have minimum-price laws with prices in those that don't. The studies examine monthly gas prices from 1983 through 2002 throughout the United States.

The states with minimum-price laws like Minnesota's had lower gas prices than states without the law, said Jimmy Peltier, a marketing professor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, who co-authored the study that was released in a peer-reviewed economics journal this year.

Another study coming out next month shows the states with the law have fewer stations going out of business than the national average, Peltier said.

"It's true it's counterintuitive,'' he said, "but it's preservation of competition. All over the world, it has been shown that the more competition, the lower the price.''

This wasn't the first time this group had taken a closer look at Minnesota gas prices. An earlier study singled out Minnesota because it already had gone through repealing and reinstating the minimum-price law. So it was a natural test subject.

When Minnesota and Wisconsin had the minimum-price laws before 1995, Wisconsin's gasoline was slightly cheaper than Minnesota's. After Minnesota repealed, the gap widened but then shrunk when the law was reinstated, Peltier said.

While the studies were sponsored by the Wisconsin gasoline station association, Peltier said the sponsorship did not skew the results.

Minnesota had the minimum-price law for years before its repeal in 1995. Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, led the charge to bring it back in 2001. He did it because Wal-Mart wanted to sell gasoline at its stores below its costs to lure customers into the store, Murphy said.

"A lot of people are grousing right now because the price of gas is so high,'' Murphy said. "But it's not the minimum-price law that is doing it.''

State Sen. Chuck Wiger, DFL-North St. Paul, got a bill passed in the Senate last spring to repeal the law, but it failed in the house.

"The station owners were pretty upset,'' he said. "I made the point that we don't regulate how much stores charge for lawnmowers or snowblowers. There are other tools for monopoly and price fixing that the attorney general can use.''

Rep. Joyce Peppin, a Rogers Republican, said she couldn't get the bill to repeal through the state House but would like to try again either in a possible special session or when the Legislature returns. It would help not only consumers but also the state fleet, which purchases more than 8 million gallons of fuel a year, she said.

"(The minimum-price law) is anti-competitive, and it hurts consumers,'' Peppin said.

Wiger and Peppin point to an academically disputed Federal Trade Commission letter to a Wisconsin State Assembly member in 2003 in which the commission said Wisconsin's minimum-price law was unnecessary because other laws would protect consumers against predatory pricing. The letter stated the law "most likely'' raises costs to consumers and "many vendors likely avoid pro-competitive price-cutting altogether'' with the law in place.

Murphy and Michael Noble, executive director of Minnesotans for an Energy-Efficient Economy, said it is more important to push the federal government to enact tougher fuel-efficiency standards on all vehicles and to put more money into alternative fuels such as ethanol and hydrogen. Murphy said the Bush Administration should also go after the oil companies for price gouging.

"Changing this law that's been on the books to protect consumers from monopoly concentrations doesn't seem like it addresses any of the energy problems that face us,'' Noble said. "It's really unbelievable.''

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China seen world leader in clean energy
By Ed Stoddard
Wed Sep 28, 9:02 AM ET

JOHANNESBURG - Smog, soot and an insatiable thirst for oil: that's one image of China.

But the Asian colossus is also seen leading the way in the use of "green" energies as alternatives to fossil fuels, the head of a leading environmental watchdog said on Wednesday.

"China is already big in renewables. In 5 years time we see them as a world leader in this department," Chistopher Flavin, president of the U.S.-based Worldwatch Institute, told Reuters on the sidelines of an energy conference in Johannesburg.

"Already, 35 million homes in China get their hot water from solar collectors. That is more than the rest of the world combined," he said.

Renewable energy is derived from sources that are continually replaced, unlike fossil fuels of which there is a finite supply. Most renewables are non-polluting.

"There are prospects for real take-offs in solar and wind power in China, and not just hot water for homes but in industry," said Flavin.

"State-owned industries and private companies there are investing heavily in renewables," he said.

Sky-high world oil prices have partly been attributed to surging demand from China and the country's overall record on the environment has many greens seeing red.

But Flavin said the rapid growth in oil imports and related costs was making China look for alternatives. [...]

He said that wind power had an annual average growth rate of about 30 percent from 1994 to 2004, while solar energy had seen yearly growth of close to 25 percent over the same period.

He also said that the costs from such energy sources were falling fast, noting that wind power in 1980 cost 46 cents a kilowatt hour but now cost less than 6 cents.

But he said that much of the oil industry was missing the boat and the message it was sending was that: "Real energy men don't do renewable energy."

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Hyperactive disorder drug 'raises risk of suicidal thoughts in children'
By Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor Published: 30 September 2005

A drug taken by 15,000 children in the UK has been found to increase the risk of suicidal thoughts, the Government's medicines safety watchdog says.

Strattera, which is manufactured by Lilly and is used to treat attention deficit and hyperactive disorder (ADHD), was licensed in the UK in July 2004.

Yesterday's warning was issued by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which said it would re-examine the risks and benefits of the drug. It follows the finding of an increased risk of suicide in children and young people taking antidepressants called Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). All SSRIs except Prozac were banned in children by the MHRA in December 2003.

June Raine, the director of medicines post-licensing at the MHRA, said: "We are advising healthcare professionals that patients should be carefully monitored for signs of depression, suicidal thoughts or suicidal behaviour and referred for alternative treatment if necessary. [...]

Comment: Ah yes, our benevolent rulers and their philanthropic corporate buddies. Where else would you rather be...

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Flashback: Glaxo may face prosecution over antidepressant

Sun 6 June, 2004 12:49

LONDON (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline may face prosecution for allegedly not informing health authorities about suicide risks associated with its antidepressant Seroxat, The Sunday Times has reported.

Europe's largest drugmaker is already facing charges by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer over the use of the drug, sold in the United States as Paxil, on children.

The Sunday Times said the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) had begun an investigation because of fears that Glaxo held back important information from clinical trials.

The information indicated that Seroxat may cause a greater risk of suicide and "self-harm" if given to depressed teenagers, the paper said. [...]

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Flashback: Glaxo chief: Our drugs do not work on most patients

By Steve Connor, Science Editor
08 December 2003

A senior executive with Britain's biggest drugs company has admitted that most prescription medicines do not work on most people who take them.

Allen Roses, worldwide vice-president of genetics at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), said fewer than half of the patients prescribed some of the most expensive drugs actually derived any benefit from them.

It is an open secret within the drugs industry that most of its products are ineffective in most patients but this is the first time that such a senior drugs boss has gone public. His comments come days after it emerged that the NHS drugs bill has soared by nearly 50 per cent in three years, rising by £2.3bn a year to an annual cost to the taxpayer of £7.2bn. GSK announced last week that it had 20 or more new drugs under development that could each earn the company up to $1bn (£600m) a year.

Dr Roses, an academic geneticist from Duke University in North Carolina, spoke at a recent scientific meeting in London where he cited figures on how well different classes of drugs work in real patients.

Drugs for Alzheimer's disease work in fewer than one in three patients, whereas those for cancer are only effective in a quarter of patients. Drugs for migraines, for osteoporosis, and arthritis work in about half the patients, Dr Roses said. Most drugs work in fewer than one in two patients mainly because the recipients carry genes that interfere in some way with the medicine, he said.

"The vast majority of drugs - more than 90 per cent - only work in 30 or 50 per cent of the people," Dr Roses said. "I wouldn't say that most drugs don't work. I would say that most drugs work in 30 to 50 per cent of people. Drugs out there on the market work, but they don't work in everybody." [...]

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Flashback: Revealed: how drug firms 'hoodwink' medical journals

Antony Barnett, public affairs editor
Sunday December 7, 2003
The Observer

Pharmaceutical giants hire ghostwriters to produce articles - then put doctors' names on them

Hundreds of articles in medical journals claiming to be written by academics or doctors have been penned by ghostwriters in the pay of drug companies, an Observer inquiry reveals.

The journals, bibles of the profession, have huge influence on which drugs doctors prescribe and the treatment hospitals provide. But The Observer has uncovered evidence that many articles written by so-called independent academics may have been penned by writers working for agencies which receive huge sums from drug companies to plug their products.

Estimates suggest that almost half of all articles published in journals are by ghostwriters. While doctors who have put their names to the papers can be paid handsomely for 'lending' their reputations, the ghostwriters remain hidden. They, and the involvement of the pharmaceutical firms, are rarely revealed. [...]

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Study Reveals How Your Brain Sleeps
Robert Roy Britt, LiveScience Managing Editor
Thu Sep 29, 3:00 PM ET

Your brain never stops working. But it does cease talking to itself when you lose consciousness, a new study shows.

Scientists have long wondered what the brain does and doesn't do during deep sleep. It remains active, they know. So what's the difference between consciousness and the lack of it?

When we're awake, different parts of the brain use chemicals and nerve cells to communicate constantly across the entire network, similar to the perpetual flow of data between all the different computers, routers and servers that make up the Internet.

In the deepest part of sleep, however, the various nodes of your cranial Internet all lose their connections.

"The brain breaks down into little islands that can't talk to one another," said study leader Giulio Tononi of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Tononi's team used a non-invasive procedure to activate select parts of the brain. Subjects had electrodes attached to their heads to monitor how each stimulation triggered reactions elsewhere.

In the early morning, when subjects were dreaming, signals careened around the noggin similarly to when they were awake. But at night, during deeper sleep, the picture was much different.

"During deep sleep early in the night," Tononi said, "the response is short-lived and doesn't propagate at all."

Consciousness has long mystified scientists. The new finding suggests that it depends on the brain's ability to integrate information, Tononi says.

The compartmentalization might also help the brain's synapses, which make all the connections that give us thought, to take a break, according to Tononi's colleague, Marcello Massimini.

"This process would allow cortical circuits to eliminate noisy synapses and renormalize in order to be ready for the next day," Massimini told LiveScience. The reduced activity might also help explain why performance in various tasks improves after sleep, he said.

The machine used to conduct the experiments is new. It generates a magnetic field to provide stimulation, and Tononi's team expects this to be the first of many similar studies that will help researchers better understand the mind and specific disorders of the brain.

The study is detailed in the Sept. 30 issue of the journal Science.

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Florida tourists warned that locals could shoot them
The Scotsman
Fri 30 Sep 2005

IT IS Britain's most popular transatlantic holiday destination, attracting more than 1.5 million visitors a year with its sun-drenched beaches, theme parks and wildlife.

But Florida's £30 billion tourism industry is under threat from a campaign launched by a gun-control group which warns visitors they could be killed.

A series of alarming adverts, to be placed in British newspapers, warns potential tourists about a new law allowing gun owners to shoot anyone they believe threatens their safety.

It means thousands of British families who travel to the Sunshine State are now caught up in the ongoing political row over gun control in the United States.

The Florida law, supported by the National Rifle Association, was approved by the state legislature in April.

The state's governor, Jeb Bush - whose brother is the US president - described it as a "good, commonsense, anti-crime issue".

Critics call it the "shoot first" law and say it allows gun owners to shoot if they engage in a simple argument in public. Supporters call it the "stand your ground" law and say criminals will think twice before attacking someone.

Previously, gun owners could only use their weapons if they first attempted to withdraw and avoid a confrontation, and were permitted to shoot threatening individuals only inside their home or property.

Now they can use "deadly force" if they "reasonably believe" that firing their gun is necessary to prevent a crime or serious injury. The law also effectively prevents civil legal action by victims of such shootings.

The Brady Campaign to Control Gun Violence, based in Washington DC, has pledged to "educate" tourists by placing adverts in US cities, and in key overseas markets such as Britain.

"Warning: Florida residents can use deadly force," says one of the adverts. Another reads: "Thinking about a Florida vacation? Please ensure your family is safe. In Florida, avoid disputes. Use special caution in arguing with motorists on Florida roads."

The Brady Campaign - named after Jim Brady, the spokesman for Ronald Reagan who was paralysed by a gunshot during the 1981 assassination attempt on the then-president - promises to also run adverts in French, German and Japanese newspapers. The campaign officers also plan to hand out leaflets on roads leading into the state.

Peter Hamm, the communications director of the Brady Campaign, said: "It's a particular risk faced by travellers coming to Florida for a vacation because they have no idea it's going to be the law of the land. If they get into a road rage argument, the other person may feel he has the right to use deadly force." [...]

Comment: Florida should be promoted as THE US state that embodies the essence of "American freedom": If you have a problem with another person (or country) shoot (or invade) them.

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Small earthquake hits Northern Mississippi

A minor earthquake centered on northern Mississippi County apparently went unfelt Thursday afternoon, officials said. Geologists with the Center for Earthquake Research and Information in Memphis recorded a temblor registering 2.2 in magnitude at 2:42 p.m. about one mile east of Manila near the Big Lake Wildlife Management Area.

A dispatcher at the Mississippi County sheriff’s office said no one called about the quake. Thursday’s tremor was the seventh of a magnitude 2 or greater recorded in the area this year. Four earthquakes registering 4.0 or greater have been reported since February.

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4.4-strong earthquake jolts Northern Islands
By John Ravelo
Friday, September 30, 2005

A regional earthquake with a magnitude of 4.4 occurred in the Northern Islands, while Anatahan's volcano continued to show signs of reawakened activity.

In a joint report, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Emergency Management Office said the regional quake was located between Agrigan and Pagan. It occurred on Sept. 20, two days after a 4.7-intensity temblor occurred south-southwest of Guam. [...]

The volcano first erupted on May 10, 2003 after centuries of dormancy, with ash plume rising to an altitude of over 30,000 feet and covering over 1 million square kilometers of airspace above the Pacific Ocean.

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Double trouble brews in tropics
September 30, 2005

Waves near Cuba, in deep Atlantic build

Hurricane forecasters today are tracking two systems that may build into tropical depressions over the weekend.

One of the waves has been drifting near Cuba for several days. The second system is in the deep Atlantic near the Cape Verde Islands.

In a statement today, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said the large low pressure area located over the northwestern Caribbean Sea has become better organized - even though upper-level winds have become less favorable.

"Shower and thunderstorm activity has increased and this system still has the potential to become a tropical depression during the next day or so as it moves slowly west-northwestward," forecasters said.

Heavy rainfall is forecast for Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and portions of central and western Cuba over the next couple of days.

Meanwhile, a low pressure center about 575 miles west-southwest of the southwesternmost Cape Verde Islands has become much better defined today.

"Thunderstorm activity has increased and become better organized and upper-level winds are favorable for a tropical depression to form later today or on Saturday," forecasters said.

If sustained winds hit 39 mph or more, the next system would be named Stan - the 18th tropical storm of the 2005 Atlantic season.

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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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