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"You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you'll stop the terrorism." - Cindy Sheehan

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©2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte

EU experts meet as avian flu spreads
Last Updated Fri, 14 Oct 2005 06:15:57 EDT CBC News

European experts on avian influenza and bird migration are holding an emergency meeting in Brussels Friday, a day after health officials confirmed the deadly H5N1 virus has spread from Asia to Europe.

Tests confirmed Thursday that the strain has shown up in dead birds on a farm in northwestern Turkey. Farmers in the village of Kiziksa have since slaughtered more than 8,000 chickens, turkeys and ducks.

Infected migrating birds have taken the virus from southeast Asia to poultry populations in Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and now Eastern Europe, but human cases remain limited to four southeast Asian countries.

The World Health Organization points out that the H5N1 virus does not spread easily from birds to humans, but the United Nations body is nonetheless calling for increased vigilance and precautions.

Later this month, Canada is scheduled to host a meeting of international health ministers on preparations for a flu pandemic.

Public Health Minister Carolyn Bennett says Canada's first line of defence will be taking care of farm workers who come into contact with chickens and turkeys - specifically, trying to keep them from falling ill with human strains of influenza that could combine with the avian form to spark a dangerous mutant form.

"Poultry workers move to the top of the list for this upcoming flu shot campaign," said Bennett, who is a medical doctor as well as a politician. "Poultry workers are there and I don't think we would have seen that before."

Bush steps up bird flu preparations

Such preparations are high on the list of priorities for U.S. President George W. Bush, who has sent his Health Secretary to Asia to assess efforts there to halt the spread of avian flu.

Bush has also met with vaccine makers to encourage increased production, and set up an International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza.

The American president warns that if a pandemic breaks out, he'll use the military to enforce quarantines.

"The best way to deal with a pandemic is to isolate it and keep it isolated in the region in which it begins," Bush said earlier this week.

Dr. Todd Hatchette, a virologist in Halifax who worked with the American researchers who developed the first avian flu vaccine, thinks Bush's newfound interest in the problem is a good thing.

"When [Americans have been] faced with a new threat, bioterrorism being the benchmark, a tremendous amount of funding went into that area.

"I can only expect that with renewed interest from the States, we'll see a lot more money being pumped into influenza research."

Comment: Quarantines are an effective way to control the movement of populations. Can you imagine a situation where flu shots become compulsory? Where one needs a certificate attesting to your vaccination to be able to board an airplane or a train?

What are the odds?

You think it is improbable? What would happen if a pandemic broke out and thousands of people starting dying from the bird flu?

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Greece proposes to host meeting on bird flu threat 2005-10-14 09:53:18

ATHENS, Oct. 13 (Xinhuanet) -- Greece has proposed to host a conference of health ministers from Balkan and Black Sea countries next month to coordinate response measures to the avian flu threat, Greek Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis said on Thursday.

"The prime minister has approved plans for a conference of health ministers from the Balkans and the Black Sea early in November," Kaklamanis told reporters after meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

"The conference is designed to draft a common plan of action in the case of an avian flu pandemic," he added.

The initiative came hours after the European Commission announced that bird samples from Romania tested positive for avian flu, though adding that it is not yet clear whether the particular virus is the Asian strain that is deadly to human beings.

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Britain responds to bird flu threat 2005-10-14 10:54:09

BEIJING, Oct. 14 (Xinhuanet) -- A deadly bird flu strain in Turkey and Romania could spread to Britain, the country's chief veterinary officer warns.

"Confirmation that highly pathogenic avian influenza has been found in Turkey and that avian influenza is now also in Romania is of concern," Debby Reynolds, chief veterinary officer at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said at a news conference Thursday.

"It shows that there is a risk to the UK."

The government said it's doing everything possible to prevent imported birds from bringing avian flu into Britain.

Earlier Thursday, The European Union confirmed that the bird flu virus found in Turkey is the dangerous H5N1 strain that might spark a pandemic.

The H5N1 bird flu strain does not easily infect humans. No one in Europe so far has died from it. But over the last two years, 117 people in Asia, mostly poultry workers, have caught it -- and 60 of them have died.

The EU has banned the import of live birds, poultry and feathers from Romania after the discovery of bird flu there. It has also banned the export of live birds and feathers from Turkey since Monday after the virus was discovered there. It announced on Wednesday the ban would be extended until April.

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Venezuela to partly close border with Colombia to avoid bird flu 2005-10-14 13:13:15

CARACASE, Oct. 13 (Xinhuanet) -- Venezuela's Ministry of Agriculture announced Thursday that the country will close its border with Colombia in three states to avoid the spread of bird flu virus.

The announcement was made after cases of bird flu were found in some of Colombian poultry farms.

The Venezuelan government decided to close border in Tachira, Zulia and Apure until the Colombian government formally announces a total control of the disease.

Other preventive measures taken in Venezuela include a nationwide poultry monitoring system which monitors poultry viruses and keeps the track of migratory birds entering the country, and a ban on import of poultry products from Colombia.

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'Losing race against the clock' to help quake survivors, UN official says
Last Updated Thu, 13 Oct 2005 22:29:23 EDT CBC News

Time is running out for many survivors of South Asia's massive earthquake, as millions of people are in desperate need of food, medicine, shelter and blankets.

"I've never seen such devastation before. We are in the sixth day of operation, and every day the scale of devastation is getting wider," said the UN undersecretary general and emergency relief co-ordinator, Jan Egeland.

The UN estimates two million people have been left homeless from the quake that killed about 35,000 people and levelled hundreds of villages.

Relief supplies are pouring into Pakistan, but terrain and confusion are conspiring to hamper efforts to move them to where they are most needed. The UN warns that the relief bottleneck must be eliminated soon or tens of thousands more may die.

"They will now have their sixth, seventh night out in the cold. Perhaps even without a tent. They will also not have water because their spring is gone," Egeland said.

"They are in a desperate situation. We need more helicopters to reach them. We need more helicopters soon. Those who have given helicopters, thank you. Others, give us more."

Time is also running out for people buried under the rubble.

An officer with Pakistan's Army Corps of Engineers admits the few hundred earthquake victims in the capital city of Islamabad are luckier than most because there's an abundance of expertise and equipment.

"Yes, we use the dogs, we use the sensors, we use the other instruments which can detect the breathing, the heartbeat," he said.

Move outside Islamabad and the situation grows more desperate by the hour. Relief supplies are making it to Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, but a critical problem has developed moving aid beyond that point, into hundreds of isolated mountain villages.

"With no roads in the beginning, with very little international presence, and I think it is going as it could the first week, but I fear we are losing the race against the clock in these small villages around these centres," Egeland said.

The smell of dead bodies lingers over many ruins, as the risk grows of a serious outbreaks of disease.

"For the time being our worry is the spread of infection, infectious diseases like cholera, measles, meningitis, also malaria we have to think about," said Sami Ullah, a World Health Organization official.

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Fun with Dick and George: The biggest story of 2005 is hiding in plain sight
Posted on October 11, 2005 10:34 AM

No one in the mainstream media seems to be working on this, but the big story -- the one that could dramatically change the course of the next three years -- is right under their collective noses.

Dick Cheney and George W. Bush don't like each other anymore.

And a war between these two superpowers could be the political version of MAD: Mutually assured destruction. But this time, the fallout could make America better in the long-run.

Or not.

What hard, inside information do we have? None. The evidence is circumstantial, but it is getting stronger by the day. And you don't need the National Weather Service to know which way the wind's blowin'.

Sometime this summer, the vice president all but disappeared off the face of the earth. This time, not to his undisclosed location, but mainly to his retreat in Wyomng. You may recall that even when Hurricane Katrina caused the biggest crisis in Washington since the start of the invasion of Iraq, Cheney was not seen for days.

At first, there was just speculation. Earlier in September, Nora Ephron wondered aloud on the Huffington Post why Cheney had been absent from the initial days of the Katrina fiasco. She speculated there was lingering resentment from the incident in May of this year when a private plane strayed too close to the White House: Cheney was rushed to a bunker while a bicycling Bush wasn't informed, even though his wife was in the White House at the time, Ephron compared Cheney to "the dog that did not bark" and wrote:

So I can only suppose that something has gone wrong. Could the President be irritated that Cheney helped con him into Iraq? Oh, all right, probably not. Could Cheney – and not just his aides -- possibly be involved in the Valerie Plame episode? Is Cheney not speaking to Karl Rove? Does the airplane/bicycle incident figure into this in any way?

A few days later, Jeralyn Merritt over at TalkLeft moved the story from the land of speculation into the arena of gossip. Cheney had told a friend that he was tired of Bush's screw-ups:

A few months ago, I heard of a lunch conversation that Cheney had with a political type in Wyoming. I have no idea if it's true or not, but it makes some sense. Here's the tale:

Cheney has been getting tired of being called upon to fix Bush's mistakes. Cheney said Bush is almost incapable of making any decision. He waffles and waffles. Then, once he makes a decision, he refuses to change it. Because of his born-again faith, he says "It's in the hands of G-d now" and washes his hands of it. Then Cheney is called in to repair the damage.

If this story is even remotely true, this may have been the final straw for Cheney, and he decided to let Bush try to wiggle his way out of his Katrina inaction on his own.

Perhaps. We believe the two have fallen out, and the issue involved is a much more pressing one: Who's to blame for the Valerie Plame CIA-outing scandal, which is threatening right now to topple either Bush's closest aide, Karl Rove, or Cheney's closest aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, or both.

Here's the best history and timeline of the Plame scandal that we have read so far. It points to a 2004 article by Joe Wilson that lays out the origins of the tension between POTUS and the veep:

Apparently, according to two journalist sources of mine, when Rove learned that he might have violated the law, he turned on Cheney and Libby and made it clear that he held them responsible for the problem they had created for the administration. The protracted silence on this topic from the White House masks considerable tension between the Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President.

And that was a year ago. Now, it's starting to remind us of Watergate, and that famous Time cover with all the president's men in the Nixon White House pointing fingers at each other. The latest report is that the Bush administration is becoming more balkanized, with Rove on the outs and chief of staff Andrew Card and communications chief Dan Bartlett -- not one of the sharpest tools in the political shed -- guiding Bush.

And where in the world is Dick Cheney? His location is more undisclosed than ever. Raw Story has the latest:

Vice President Dick Cheney was noticeably absent from a landmark dinner held last Thursday for the 50th anniversary of the conservative National Review magazine, Roll Call will report in Tuesday editions, RAW STORY can reveal...

While guests raved about the gourmet food served at the National Review's 50th anniversary party Thursday night, they couldn't take their minds off who wasn't there: Vice President Cheney. His absence dredged up the question that dominated the blogosphere in recent months: Where's Dick?

"Not here," was the short answer. "Scheduling conflict," the party line.

What does it all mean? Well, the good news is that the information monolith that is the White House may fall apart as the different factions duke it out. Remember, Valerie Plame isn't the only secret this administration holds, and it isn't the biggest one, either. Where will an aggressive prosecutor take all the finger pointing? Who knows?

The downside is the White House isn't the place where you want a power vacuum, either. With anything from North Korea to the avian flu to the next hurricane ready to break out at any moment, you don't want two hands on the same button.

Hopefully, some news organization that covers the White House will get to the bottom of this. Maybe the New York Times, as soon as they finish their Judy Miller opus -- any day now.

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The True Miller's Tale?
Robert A. George
Ragged Thots
Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Now that Judith Miller has been sprung – and reportedly about to cash in big time for her difficult time in jail, let's revisit those "Two Tense Weeks in July." When I posted this extended timeline a few weeks ago, it produced some perplexity. So, open up the timeline in another window and compare and contrast as we take another trip down memory lane in July, 2003.

Well, the reports on what Miller has told Patrick Fitzgerald helps fill in some more of the dots of this interesting intergovernmental/international/judicial flap. The Washington Post says:

Libby had a second conversation with Miller on July 12 or July 13, the source said, in which he said he had learned that Wilson's wife had a role in sending him on the trip and that she worked for the CIA. Libby never knew Plame's name or that she was a covert operative, the source said.

This is interesting, because if we go back to our timeline tracking the furious developments that were going on in both the U.S. and the U.K., we note that July 12, 2003, was the one of the two days not really accounted for in previous news stories. In between the first and second times Miller and Libby spoke, the following things occurred:

  • On July 9, in the UK, Blair's government has orchestrated the outing of scientist David Kelly as the source of BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan's explosive report that the Blair government "sexed-up" its Iraq intelligence dossier. In the U.S., Robert Novak talks with Karl Rove (Wilson's op-ed had appeared three days before).
  • On July 11, George Tenet releases a statement asserting that the "16 words" about yellowcake uranium shouldn't have been in the president's State of the Union address. The same day, Karl Rove talks to Matt Cooper about, among other things, Joseph Wilson and his wife.

Which makes The Post's conclusion somewhat odd. In the original story posted on the Web, Friday, September 30, the paper's final paragraph reads:

"Miller's role had been one of the great mysteries in the leak probe. It is unclear why she emerged as a central figure in the probe despite not writing a story about the case."

In the full story in Saturday's paper, that passage is no longer there. Instead, there is the less speculative: "Miller never wrote an article on the matter."

Yet, even editing out the earlier passage, the question hangs in the air: Why was Miller behind bars for three months concerning sources to a story which that she never wrote about?

The answer is obvious: Judith Miller emerged as a central figure because she MADE herself a central figure and, arguably, BECAUSE she didn't "writ[e] a story about the case." This is the Judith Miller who, four days later, wrote words of encouragement to British scientist David Kelly: "David, I heard from another member of your fan club that things went well for you today. Hope it's true, J."

These don't seem like the words of a disinterested journalist. These are the words of someone who has some sort of interest in how a witness performs in a parliamentary hearing.

How is it that – two years later and after Judith Miller has spent 90 days in jail for refusing to cooperate with a criminal investigation – not one media organization has deemed it important to wonder: Who is the other "member of [Kelly's] fan club"? Is it Scooter Libby? Is it John Bolton (who visited Miller in jail and we know was questioned by the State Department Inspector General the same day Kelly's body was found)? Is it someone else? If it is indeed an American, exactly what is that person's interest in a British Parliamentary inquiry?

Judith Miller is the missing link between two different investigations. She's not a mere reporter. How do we know? Because, she has "reported" none of this.

Despite these multiple conversations with Libby, Miller never wrote about Joseph Wilson.

Despite the fact that she revealed the content of her e-mail to her Times editors – and one of her colleagues wrote about her receiving the "dark actors" e-mail – she never was inclined to pursue what drove a major source of hers to suicide.

Despite the fact that both Wilson and Kelly were critical actors in twin transatlantic challenges to the integrity of government assertions in the run-up to the Iraq War, Miller never offered even an analysis of what was occurring – even though it is clear that she was in close contact with individuals close to both controversies.

Despite the fact, that the challenges were about validity of intelligence related to weapons of mass destruction – journalistic turf that she had made her own in The New York Times.

And Miller wrote nothing about this in the days following either the Wilson op-ed (published in her own newspaper) or the suicide of an individual with whom her e-mail indicates she shares a familial intimacy that goes beyond the usual reporter-source relationship ("Hope it's true, J.")

Isn't this peculiar?

And, again: WHO is the "member of [David Kelly's] fan club" in a position to tell Judy Miller that "things went well for" him in his testimony on July 16th?

Upon which side of the Atlantic was that person?

The question is, will the true story ever come out?

If what Miller says is true in terms of the concession that Patrick Fitzgerald made to get Miller's testimony, the answer may be – probably not.

According to the transcript of her press conference after being released, Miller states:

Once I got a personal voluntary waiver [from my source], my lawyer...approached the special counsel to see if my grand jury testimony could be limited to the communications with the source from whom I had received that personal and voluntary waiver. The special counsel agreed to this, and that was very important to me...

...I know what my conscience would allow. And I was -- I stood fast to that.

Well isn't that interesting? Given that we know that her source (Lewis Libby) had essentially given her a full waiver a year before, the only thing that was different was that Fitzgerald finally allowed Miller to dictate the scope of the investigation! Wow!

A Washington observer with a keen sense of history told me, "That's like when Woodward and Bernstein expected Hugh Sloan, Treasurer for CREEP and former Halderman aide, to name names to the initial Watergate grand jury but he didn't. "Woodstein" were stunned and pissed off at Sloan until they learned the initial prosecutor never dreamed to inquire about anything beyond the the seven burglars."

If Fitzgerald made this major concession to Miller, he may have made it impossible to get a clear picture as to the full motives of the White House with respect to Joseph Wilson.

If that interest extended across the Atlantic into the BBC/Blair contretemps (and given Miller's role in both of them, that is not too wide a leap), Miller may have succeeded in shutting down that particular avenue.

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The Nexus of Politics and Terror
Keith Olbermann
October 12, 2005 | 8:35 p.m. ET

Secaucus - Last Thursday on Countdown, I referred to the latest terror threat - the reported bomb plot against the New York City subway system - in terms of its timing. President Bush's speech about the war on terror had come earlier the same day, as had the breaking news of the possible indictment of Karl Rove in the CIA leak investigation.

I suggested that in the last three years there had been about 13 similar coincidences - a political downturn for the administration, followed by a "terror event" - a change in alert status, an arrest, a warning.

We figured we'd better put that list of coincidences on the public record. We did so this evening on the television program, with ten of these examples. The other three are listed at the end of the main list, out of chronological order. The contraction was made purely for the sake of television timing considerations, and permitted us to get the live reaction of the former Undersecretary of Homeland Security, Asa Hutchinson.

We bring you these coincidences, reminding you, and ourselves here, that perhaps the simplest piece of wisdom in the world is called "the logical fallacy." Just because Event "A" occurs, and then Event "B" occurs, that does not automatically mean that Event "A" caused Event "B."

Comment: Sure. But if it happens at least thirteen times??

But one set of comments from an informed observer seems particularly relevant as we examine these coincidences.

On May 10th of this year, after his resignation, former Secretary of Homeland Security Ridge looked back on the terror alert level changes, issued on his watch.

Mr. Ridge said: "More often than not we were the least inclined to raise it. Sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence assessment. Sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good, you don't necessarily put the country on (alert)… there were times when some people were really aggressive about raising it, and we said 'for that?'"

Please, judge for yourself.

Number One:

May 18th, 2002. The first details of the President's Daily Briefing of August 6th, 2001, are revealed, including its title - "Bin Laden Determined To Strike In U.S."  The same day another memo is discovered - revealing the FBI knew of men with links to Al Qaeda training at an Arizona flight school. The memo was never acted upon. Questions about 9/11 Intelligence failures are swirling.

May 20th, 2002. Two days later, FBI Director Mueller declares another terrorist attack "inevitable." The next day, the Department of Homeland Security issues warnings of attacks against railroads nationwide, and against New York City landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty.

Number Two:

June 6th, 2002. Colleen Rowley, the FBI agent who tried to alert her superiors to the specialized flight training taken by Zacarias Moussaoui, whose information suggests the government missed a chance to break up the 9/11 plot, testifies before Congress. Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Graham says Rowley's testimony has inspired similar pre-9/11 whistle-blowers.

June 10th, 2002. Four days later, speaking from Russia, Attorney General John Ashcroft reveals that an American named Jose Padilla is under arrest, accused of plotting a radiation bomb attack in this country. Padilla had, by this time, already been detained for more than a month.

Number Three:

February 5th, 2003. Secretary of State Powell tells the United Nations Security Council of Iraq's concealment of weapons, including 18 mobile biological weapons laboratories, justifying a U.N. or U.S. first strike. Many in the UN are doubtful. Months later, much of the information proves untrue.

February 7th, 2003. Two days later, as anti-war demonstrations continue to take place around the globe, Homeland Security Secretary Ridge cites "credible threats" by Al Qaeda, and raises the terror alert level to orange. Three days after that, Fire Administrator David Paulison - who would become the acting head of FEMA after the Hurricane Katrina disaster - advises Americans to stock up on plastic sheeting and duct tape to protect themselves against radiological or biological attack.

Number Four:

July 23rd, 2003: The White House admits the CIA -- months before the President's State of the Union Address -- expressed "strong doubts" about the claim that Iraq had attempted to buy uranium from Niger. On the 24th, the Congressional report on the 9/11 attacks is issued; it criticizes government at all levels; it reveals an FBI informant had been living with two of the future hijackers; and it concludes that Iraq had no link to Al-Qaeda. 28 pages of the report are redacted. On the 26th, American troops are accused of beating Iraqi prisoners.

July 29th, 2003. Three days later, amid all of those negative headlines, Homeland Security issues warnings of further terrorist attempts to use airplanes for suicide attacks.

Number Five:

December 17th, 2003. 9/11 Commission Co-Chair Thomas Kean says the attacks were preventable. The next day, a Federal Appeals Court says the government cannot detain suspected radiation-bomber Jose Padilla indefinitely without charges, and the chief U.S. Weapons inspector in Iraq, Dr. David Kay, who has previously announced he has found no Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, announces he will resign his post.

December 21st, 2003. Three days later, just before Christmas, Homeland Security again raises the threat level to Orange, claiming "credible intelligence" of further plots to crash airliners into U.S. cities. Subsequently, six international flights into this country are cancelled after some passenger names purportedly produce matches on government no-fly lists. The French later identify those matched names: one belongs to an insurance salesman from Wales, another to an elderly Chinese woman, a third to a five-year old boy.

Number Six:

March 30th, 2004. The new chief weapons inspector in Iraq, Charles Duelfer tells Congress we have still not found any WMD there. On the 31st, after weeks of refusing to appear before the 9/11 Commission, Condoleezza Rice finally relents and agrees to testify. On April 1st:  Four Blackwater-USA contractors working in Iraq are murdered, their mutilated bodies dragged through the streets and left on public display in Fallujah. The role of civilian contractors in Iraq is widely questioned.

April 2nd, 2004. The next day, Homeland Security issues a bulletin warning that terrorists may try to blow up buses and trains, using fertilizer and fuel bombs - like the one detonated in Oklahoma City - stuffed into satchels or duffel bags.

Number Seven:

May 16th, 2004. Secretary of State Powell appears on "Meet The Press." Moderator Tim Russert closes by asking him about the "enormous personal credibility" Powell had placed before the U.N. in laying out a case against Saddam Hussein. An aide to Powell interrupts the question, saying the interview is over. Powell finishes his answer, admitting that much of the information he had been given about Weapons of Mass Destruction was "inaccurate and wrong, and, in some cases, deliberately misleading."

May 21st, 2004, new photos showing mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib Prison are released. On the 24th - Associated Press video from Iraq confirms U.S. forces mistakenly bombed a wedding party - killing more than 40.

Wednesday the 26th. Two days later, Attorney General Ashcroft and FBI Director Mueller warn that intelligence from multiple sources, in Ashcroft's words, "indicates Al-Qaeda's specific intention to hit the United States hard," and that "90 percent of the arrangements for an attack on the United States were complete." The color-coded warning system is not raised, and Homeland Security Secretary Ridge does not attend the announcement.

Number Eight:

July 6th, 2004. Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry selects Senator John Edwards as his vice presidential running mate, producing a small bump in the election opinion polls, and a huge swing in media attention towards the Democratic campaign.

July 8th, 2004. Two days later, Homeland Secretary Ridge warns of information about Al-Qaeda attacks during the summer or autumn. Four days after that, the head of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, DeForest B. Soaries, Junior, confirms he has written to Ridge about the prospect of postponing the upcoming Presidential election in the event it is interrupted by terrorist acts.

Number Nine:

July 29th, 2004. At their party convention in Boston, the Democrats formally nominate John Kerry as their candidate for President. As in the wake of any convention, the Democrats dominate the media attention over the ensuing weekend.

Monday, August 1st, 2004. The Department of Homeland Security raises the alert status for financial centers in New York, New Jersey, and Washington to orange. The evidence supporting the warning - reconnaissance data, left in a home in Iraq - later proves to be roughly four years old and largely out-of-date.

Number Ten:

Last Thursday. At 10 AM Eastern Time, the President addresses the National Endowment for Democracy, once again emphasizing the importance of the war on terror and insisting his government has broken up at least 10 terrorist plots since 9/11.

At 3 PM Eastern Time, five hours after the President's speech has begun, the Associated Press reports that Karl Rove will testify again to the CIA Leak Grand Jury, and that Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald has told Rove he cannot guarantee that he will not be indicted.

At 5:17 PM Eastern Time, seven hours after the President's speech has begun, New York officials disclose a bomb threat to the city's subway system - based on information supplied by the Federal Government. A Homeland Security spokesman says the intelligence upon which the disclosure is based is "of doubtful credibility." And it later proves that New York City had known of the threat for at least three days, and had increased police presence in the subways long before making the announcement at that particular time. Local New York television station, WNBC, reports it had the story of the threat days in advance, but was asked by "high ranking federal officials" in New York and Washington to hold off its story.

Less than four days after revealing the threat, Mayor Michael Bloomberg says "Since the period of the threat now seems to be passing, I think over the immediate future, we'll slowly be winding down the enhanced security."

While news organizations ranging from the New York Post to NBC News quote sources who say there was reason to believe that informant who triggered the warning simply 'made it up', a Senior U.S. Counter-terrorism official tells the New York Times: "There was no there, there."

The list of three additional examples follows.

Number Eleven:

October 22nd, 2004. After weeks of Administration insistence that there are terrorist plans to disrupt the elections, FBI, Law Enforcement, and other U.S. Intelligence agencies report they have found no direct evidence of any plot. More over, they say, a key CIA source who had claimed knowledge of the plot, has been discredited.

October 29, 2004. Seven days later - four days before the Presidential election - the first supposedly new, datable tape of Osama Bin Laden since December 2001 is aired on the Al-Jazeera Network. A Bush-Cheney campaign official anonymously tells the New York Daily News that from his campaign's point of view, the tape is quote "a little gift."

Number Twelve:

May 5th, 2005. 88 members of the United States House of Representatives send a letter to President Bush demanding an investigation of the so-called "Downing Street Memo" - a British document which describes purported American desire dating to 2002 to "fix" the evidence to fit the charges against Iraq. In Iraq over the following weekend, car bombings escalate. On the 11th, more than 75 Iraqis are killed in one.

May 11th, 2005. Later that day, an instructor and student pilot violate restricted airspace in Washington D.C. It is an event that happens hundreds of times a year, but this time the plane gets to within three miles of the White House. The Capitol is evacuated; Vice President Cheney, the First Lady, and Nancy Reagan are all rushed to secure locations. The President, biking through woods, is not immediately notified.

Number Thirteen:

June 26th, 2005. A Gallup poll suggests that 61 percent of the American public believes the President does not have a plan in Iraq. On the 28th, Mr. Bush speaks to the nation from Fort Bragg: "We fight today because terrorists want to attack our country and kill our citizens, and Iraq is where they are making their stand. So we'll fight them there, we'll fight them across the world, and we will stay in the fight until the fight is won."

June 29th 2005. The next day, another private pilot veers into restricted airspace, the Capitol is again evacuated, and this time, so is the President.


To summarize, coincidences are coincidences.

We could probably construct a similar time line of terror events and warnings, and their relationship to - the opening of new Walmarts around the country.

Are these coincidences signs that the government's approach has worked because none of the announced threats ever materialized? Are they signs that the government has not yet mastered how and when to inform the public?

Is there, in addition to the "fog of war" a simple, benign, "fog of intelligence"?

But, if merely a reasonable case can be made that any of these juxtapositions of events are more than just coincidences, it underscores the need for questions to be asked in this country - questions about what is prudence, and what is fear-mongering; questions about which is the threat of death by terror, and which is the terror of threat.

Comment: We are certainly not surprised that the author includes the little disclaimer at the end to reassure everyone that the "terrorist" events are probably just coincidences. The problem is that he doesn't try to examine the bigger picture of the war on terror. Regular readers of Signs of the Times will no doubt recognize the pattern of negative press for the ruling elite - or a development that favors the "bad guys" - followed quickly by a terrorist threat or event. The Bush gang aren't the only ones who use this obviously useful technique; see our Suicide Bombing Cycle Signs supplement for details.

Then, factor in the clear use of false flag operations to maintain the threat level:

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Iraqis apprehend two Americans disguised as Arabs trying to detonate a car bomb
Iraqi Resistance Report
Wednesday, 12 October 2005

Iraqis apprehend two Americans disguised as Arabs trying to detonate a car bomb in a residential neighborhood of western Baghdad's al-Ghazaliyah district on Tuesday.

A number of Iraqis apprehended two Americans disguised in Arab dress as they tried to blow up a booby-trapped car in the middle of a residential area in western Baghdad on Tuesday.

Residents of western Baghdad's al-Ghazaliyah district told Quds Press that the people had apprehended the Americans as they left their Caprice car near a residential neighborhood in al-Ghazaliyah on Tuesday afternoon (11 October 2005). Local people found they looked suspicious so they detained the men before they could get away. That was when they discovered that they were Americans and called the Iraqi puppet police.

Five minutes after the arrival of the Iraqi puppet police on the scene a large force of US troops showed up and surrounded the area. They put the two Americans in one of their Humvees and drove away at high speed to the astonishment of the residents of the area.

Quds Press spoke by telephone with a member of the al-Ghazaliyah puppet police who confirmed the incident, saying that the two men were non-Arab foreigners but declined to be more precise about their nationality.

Quds Press pointed out that about a month ago, the Iraqi puppet police in the southern Iraqi city of al-Basrah arrested two Britons whom they accused of attempting to cause an explosion in the city. The Britons were taken into custody by the Iraqi puppet police only to be broken out of prison by an assault of British occupation troops. That incident has created a tense relationship between the British and the local puppet authorities in al- Basrah, Quds Press noted.

Comment: Do you get the impression that the whole "War on Terror" is just one big lie?

But wait, there's more!

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Zawahiri Letter to Zarqawi: A Shiite Forgery?
Juan Cole
Inforled Comment

The Arabic text of the recently released letter alleged to be by Zawahiri (al-Qaeda's number two man) to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq raises questions for me as to its authenticity.

The very first element of the letter is the blessing on the Prophet. It says:

al-salah wa al-salam `ala rasuli'llahi wa a-lihi wa suhubihi . . .

(peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of God and his family and his companions . . .)

the phrase "salla Allahu `alayhi wa alihi wa sallam" (the blessings and peace of God be upon him and his family) is a Shiite form of the salutation, because of the emphasis of the Shiites on the House or descendants of the Prophet. Because of the cultural influence of Shiism in South Asia, one does find that form of the salutation in Pakistan and India among Sunni Muslims.

But before I went to Pakistan I had never, ever heard a Sunni Muslim add "wa alihi" (and his family) to the salutation. I associated it strongly with Iran and Shiism, and was taken aback to hear Sunnis say it on Pakistani television. Certainly, I never heard that form of it all the time I lived in Egypt.

I just put "salla Allahu `alayhi wa alihi wa sallam" into google in English transliteration and *all* the sites that came up on the first page were either Shiite or Pakistani Sunni (Chishti, Barelvi, etc.) I tried adding Misr (Egypt) to the phrase and got a Shiite attack on the medieval Sunni hardline thinker, Ibn Taymiya. I tried adding Qaida and got a Shiite attack on Sunni extremism.

I do not believe that an Egyptian like al-Zawahiri would use this phraseology at all. But he certainly would not use it to open a letter to a Salafi. Sunni hardliners deeply object to what they see as Shiite idolatry of the imams or descendants of the Prophet Muhammad, for whom they made shrines such as Ali's at Najaf and Husayn's at Karbala. In fact, hard line Wahhabis from Saudi Arabia attacked and sacked Karbala in 1803.

Adding to the salutation "the peace and blessings of God be upon him [Muhammad]" the phrase "and his family" would be an insult to Zarqawi and to the hardline Sunnis in Iraq.

Later he refers to Husain, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, as al-Imam al-sibt, "the Imam, the grandson". I do not believe that a hard line Sunni such as Zawahiri would call Husain an Imam. That is Shiite terminology.

The letter then says how much Zawahiri misses meeting with Zarqawi. Zarqawi was not part of al-Qaeda when he was in Afghanistan. He had a rivalry with it. And when he went back to Jordan he did not allow the Jordanian and German chapters of his Tawhid wa Jihad group to send money to Bin Laden. If Zawahiri was going to bring up old times, he would have had to find a way to get past this troubled history, not just pretend that the two used to pal around.

My gut tells me that the letter is a forgery. Most likely it is a black psy-ops operation of the US. But it could also come from Iran, since the mistakes are those a Shiite might make when pretending to be a Sunni. Or it could come from an Iraqi Shiite group attempting to manipulate the United States. Hmmm.

The authenticity of the letter has also been questioned by al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Comment: It was easy to see that this letter was a fake. It's timing was so convenient, coming as it did at the time Bush was making another of his "important speeches on Iraq": you remember those, "We'll stay until we win..." blah blah blah.

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Al-Qaida says letter from its No.2 leader to al-Zarqawi is a U.S. fake
07:46 AM EDT Oct 14

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - A posting on an Islamic website Thursday accused the United States of fabricating a letter in which al-Qaida's No. 2 leader asked for money and laid out the terrorist group's plans for expanding the insurgency in the Middle East.

"We in al-Qaida declare that there is no truth to these claims, and they are baseless, except in the imagination of the politicians of the Black (White) House," according to the statement on a website known as a clearing house for al-Qaida material.

The statement was signed Abu Maysara, who claims to be spokesman for al-Qaida in Iraq. It could not immediately be authenticated.

"We call on Muslims not to pay attention to this cheap propaganda and to remember that the media will always be the infidels' sole weapon until the end of the battle," the statement said.

U.S. officials said the letter dated July 9 to al-Qaida-linked Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, first disclosed by the Pentagon on Friday and released in full on Tuesday, was acquired during American operations in Iraq.

In the letter, taking up 13 typed pages in its English translation, al-Qaida deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahri recommends a four-stage expansion of the war in Iraq that would take the fighting to neighbouring Muslim countries.

"It has always been my belief that the victory of Islam will never take place until a Muslim state is established . . . in the heart of the Islamic world," al-Zawahri wrote.

The letter laid out his long-term plan: the expulsion of American troops from Iraq, the establishment of an Islamic authority and the expansion of the war to Iraq's secular neighbours, including Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

The final stage, al-Zawahri wrote, would be a clash with Israel, which he said was established to challenge "any new Islamic entity."

The letter, translated by the U.S. government, also asked al-Zarqawi to provide financial support and urged him to avoid bombings mosques or slaughtering hostages to avoid alienating the masses.

Comment: So the letter from al-Zawahri to a dead man is a fake. No surprise there, right? The long-term plan laid out by the author is exactly the plan that the neocons claim is at the heart of al Qaeda's strategy, that of taking over the Middle East, which gives a convenient excuse for the Americans and the Israelis to do the same thing as a "preventative" measure.

However, when it comes to Iraq, the letter is not the only thing that is faked...or should we say "stage managed" for the American public.

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Bush Teleconference With Soldiers Staged
Associated Press Writer
Oct 13 11:14 PM US/Eastern

WASHINGTON - It was billed as a conversation with U.S. troops, but the questions President Bush asked on a teleconference call Thursday were choreographed to match his goals for the war in Iraq and Saturday's vote on a new Iraqi constitution.

"This is an important time," Allison Barber, deputy assistant defense secretary, said, coaching the soldiers before Bush arrived. "The president is looking forward to having just a conversation with you."

Barber said the president was interested in three topics: the overall security situation in Iraq, security preparations for the weekend vote and efforts to train Iraqi troops.

As she spoke in Washington, a live shot of 10 soldiers from the Army's 42nd Infantry Division and one Iraqi soldier was beamed into the Eisenhower Executive Office Building from Tikrit - the birthplace of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

"I'm going to ask somebody to grab those two water bottles against the wall and move them out of the camera shot for me," Barber said.

A brief rehearsal ensued.

"OK, so let's just walk through this," Barber said. "Captain Kennedy, you answer the first question and you hand the mike to whom?"

"Captain Smith," Kennedy said.

"Captain. Smith? You take the mike and you hand it to whom?" she asked.

"Captain Kennedy," the soldier replied.

And so it went.

"If the question comes up about partnering - how often do we train with the Iraqi military - who does he go to?" Barber asked.

"That's going to go to Captain Pratt," one of the soldiers said.

"And then if we're going to talk a little bit about the folks in Tikrit - the hometown - and how they're handling the political process, who are we going to give that to?" she asked.

Before he took questions, Bush thanked the soldiers for serving and reassured them that the U.S. would not pull out of Iraq until the mission was complete.

"So long as I'm the president, we're never going to back down, we're never going to give in, we'll never accept anything less than total victory," Bush said.

The president told them twice that the American people were behind them.

"You've got tremendous support here at home," Bush said.

Less than 40 percent in an AP-Ipsos poll taken in October said they approved of the way Bush was handling Iraq. Just over half of the public now say the Iraq war was a mistake.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Thursday's event was coordinated with the Defense Department but that the troops were expressing their own thoughts. With satellite feeds, coordination often is needed to overcome technological challenges, such as delays, he said.

"I think all they were doing was talking to the troops and letting them know what to expect," he said, adding that the president wanted to talk with troops on the ground who have firsthand knowledge about the situation.

The soldiers all gave Bush an upbeat view of the situation.

The president also got praise from the Iraqi soldier who was part of the chat.

"Thank you very much for everything," he gushed. "I like you."

On preparations for the vote, 1st Lt. Gregg Murphy of Tennessee said: "Sir, we are prepared to do whatever it takes to make this thing a success. ... Back in January, when we were preparing for that election, we had to lead the way. We set up the coordination, we made the plan. We're really happy to see, during the preparation for this one, sir, they're doing everything."

On the training of Iraqi security forces, Master Sgt. Corine Lombardo from Scotia, N.Y., said to Bush: "I can tell you over the past 10 months, we've seen a tremendous increase in the capabilities and the confidences of our Iraqi security force partners. ... Over the next month, we anticipate seeing at least one-third of those Iraqi forces conducting independent operations."

Comment: It's strange how the Iraqi security forces have been just one month away from taking over for at least a year now...

Lombardo told the president that she was in New York City on Nov. 11, when Bush attended an event recognizing soldiers for their recovery and rescue efforts at Ground Zero. She said the troops began the fight against terrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and were proud to continue it in Iraq.

"I thought you looked familiar," Bush said, and then joked: "I probably look familiar to you, too."

Paul Rieckhoff, director of the New York-based Operation Truth, an advocacy group for U.S. veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, denounced the event as a "carefully scripted publicity stunt." Five of the 10 U.S. troops involved were officers, he said.

"If he wants the real opinions of the troops, he can't do it in a nationally televised teleconference," Rieckhoff said. "He needs to be talking to the boots on the ground and that's not a bunch of captains."

Comment: Well, Rove must really be worried about a possible indictment, because he is really slipping on the propaganda front. Obviously, it would have been far better to have some little Iraqi children on camera with the officers singing a nice song for their American saviour...

While the conversations with soldiers may be staged for home consumption, and the letters from evil al Qaeda masterminds faked, as is the entire Iraqi "democracy", not to mention the lies about the existence of al Zarqawi, the deaths of Iraqi citizens are very real, and they continue apace. Robert Fisk, the journalist for the Middle East for The Independent, as quoted by Juan Cole, has a very different take on the situation in Iraq. It has deteriorated severely since his last trip:

' He said that the portrayal of Iraq by Western leaders ­ of efforts to introduce democracy, including Saturday's national vote on the country's proposed constitution ­ was "unreal" to most of its citizens. In Baghdad, children and women were kept at home to prevent them from being kidnapped for money or sold into slavery. They faced a desperate struggle to find the money to keep generators running to provide themselves with electricity. "They aren't sitting in their front rooms discussing the referendum on the constitution."

That sums up the situation, and it is far removed from the fantasy land in which Bush lives.

At home, Rome burns, and Bush is fiddling around with staged chats with US soldiers in Iraq. The ship is so close to sinking that even the sycophants of the press have started pointing out the obvious.

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Bush: Miers' Religion Key Part of Her Life
Associated Press Writer
Oct 12, 2005

WASHINGTON -- President Bush said Wednesday his advisers were telling conservatives about Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers' religious beliefs because they are interested in her background and "part of Harriet Miers' life is her religion."

"People are interested to know why I picked Harriet Miers," Bush told reporters at the White House. "They want to know Harriet Miers' background. They want to know as much as they possibly can before they form opinions. And part of Harriet Miers' life is her religion."

Bush, speaking at the conclusion of an Oval Office meeting with visiting Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, said that his advisers were reaching out to conservatives who oppose her nomination "just to explain the facts."

He spoke on a day in which conservative James Dobson, founder of Focus on Family, said he had discussed the nominee's religious views with presidential aide Karl Rove.

Not even a congressional recess nor Bush's preoccupation with hurricane recovery and affairs of state have shrouded the continuing controversy surrounding his selection of Miers to replace the retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Debate about Miers' credentials was prominent on the Sunday television talk shows and has continued to occupy considerable attention on the Internet.

Some of Bush's conservative critics say Miers has no judicial record that proves she will strictly interpret the Constitution and not - as Busy says - "legislate from the bench." They argue that Bush passed up other more qualified candidates to nominate someone from his inner circle.

On a radio show being broadcast Wednesday, Dobson said he discussed Miers with Rove on Oct. 1, two days before her nomination was announced. Dobson said Rove told him "she is from a very conservative church, which is almost universally pro-life," but denied he had gotten any assurances from the White House that she would vote to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said: "The rest of America, including the Senate, deserves to know what he and the White House know."

"We don't confirm Justices of the Supreme Court on a wink and a nod. And a litmus test is no less a litmus test by using whispers and signals," the Vermont senator said. "No political faction should be given a monopoly of relevant knowledge about a nomination, just as no faction should be permitted to hound a nominee to withdraw, before the hearing process has even begun." [...]

Also, presidential spokesman Scott McClellan acknowledged there were some prospective candidates who told the White House that they preferred not to be considered, citing the ordeal of the confirmation process. [...]

"What we have seen so far," Leahy said, "is more of a commentary on the litmus tests and narrow motivations of vocal factions on the Republican right than it is a commentary on the qualifications of Harriet Miers."

Comment: Considering the fact that Fundies are generally operating at minimal intellectual levels, what the U.S. needs now is NOT a Fundie Supreme Court Judge...

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Calls for Miers to withdraw get louder

Moves to mollify critics aren't working

Carolyn Lochhead,
SF Chronicle Washington Bureau
Friday, October 14, 2005

Washington -- Calls by conservatives for Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers to withdraw her nomination intensified Thursday as White House efforts to reassure critics continued to backfire.

"The calls to withdraw are serious, and they're going to increase," said Manuel Miranda, chairman of the Third Branch Conference, a conservative alliance of groups interested in judicial nominations. "The more that we heard from the nomination's defenders, the more people became convinced that there was no substance in the nomination and that her friends were her worst enemies."

In the less than two weeks since President Bush announced he had chosen his White House counsel and former personal lawyer to fill the pivotal seat of retiring centrist Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, conservative charges of cronyism and questions about Miers' qualifications have escalated daily, threatening the nomination.

Miranda, a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., predicted that a critical point will arrive next week when the Senate returns to Washington from a recess.

By then, Republicans "will have gauged the feeling out in their constituencies, and at that point they will be able to determine whether the White House is delusional or not."

White House spokesman Scott McClellan, in a testy exchange with reporters, denied that Miers would withdraw. "No one that knows her would make such a suggestion," McClellan said. "And no one that knows her record and her qualifications would make such a suggestion."

Behind the scenes, party activists in Iowa and New Hampshire say the administration has been asking them to pressure Republican senators and others harboring presidential ambitions to support Miers.

Senate Democrats are watching and waiting as Bush's conservative base roils.

"If ever there was a wait-and-see nomination, this is it," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat who has close ties to the Senate Democratic leadership. "Anything can happen."

Boxer agreed that Miers' nomination is in trouble. Even a handful of pro-choice Republicans worried about Miers' stance on abortion -- or anti-abortion Republicans worried about the same thing -- could ally with Democrats to defeat the nomination in the Judiciary Committee or on the Senate floor.

"Just look at the Judiciary Committee," Boxer said. "You have some people on the Judiciary Committee who may well decide not to send the nomination to the floor, and now it all depends on what Democrats do."

Every White House effort to cool conservative opposition to Miers seems to backfire, including Bush's explanation of why the White House is stressing Miers' evangelical Christianity.

"People are interested to know why I picked Harriet Miers," Bush said Wednesday. "They want to know Harriet Miers' background ... And part of Harriet Miers' life is her religion."

On Thursday, Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, called the administration's efforts to woo religious conservatives by stressing Miers' religion "out of bounds."

"We are the last people on Earth to object to the news that she is a committed Christian," Perkins said in a statement. "By the same token, this fact is not grounds for certifying her to us or to the public. ... Inferences drawn from an individual's religious affiliation have no place in decisions to nominate or confirm a judicial appointee."

Comment: This comment is priceless! An evangelical Christian pronouncing that a person's religion doesn't matter! They're starting to get all holy on us! "All we want is a good judge" they say with a straight face!

Jan LaRue, chief counsel of the conservative Concerned Women for America, issued an extensive position statement Monday, saying, "We find it patronizing and hypocritical to focus on her faith in order to gain support for Miss Miers."

LaRue also presented a list of 17 questions that may offer a preview of the questioning Miers will undergo -- from Republicans -- in her confirmation hearings, which have not yet been scheduled.

"Was Miss Miers' corporate practice primarily transactions (contract writing and negotiations), or was it primarily litigation? How many of her cases involved constitutional issues? What were the issues? Did Miss Miers do most of the research and writing herself? Has she argued constitutional issues before a court? How many times? In what courts? In how many did she prevail? Are there any published opinions?"

White House efforts to sell Miers to conservatives by emphasizing her religion and her loyalty to Bush only provide ammunition to Democrats when they choose to use it, Miranda warned.

"So let's say they want to attack," he asked. "Who will defend her?"

A call by Frist to Republican senators last week to praise Miers on the Senate floor brought one lone voice: Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. If Miers does not withdraw, Miranda predicted the confirmation hearings will become a "dog killing" if she "does not appear braver and bolder than John Roberts, and as brilliant."

Far from providing political cover, the dearth of writings by Miers of any sort is feeding doubt on both sides and throwing an unflattering spotlight on what little does exist.

"Here's what I know about Harriet Miers," Boxer said. "I know that she's a crony of the president. I know she thinks he's the most brilliant man she's ever met. I know that she was head of the search committee and wound up being the nominee, and I know that she is personally anti-choice. Those are things I know."

Although Miers has never said she opposes abortion, allies speaking for her have intimated that she probably is. "She's had every chance to say they're misrepresenting me, and she hasn't ... nor has she refuted it," Boxer said.

Democrats complained that Chief Justice John Roberts, confirmed last month to fill the vacancy left by the late William Rehnquist, had a short paper trail, but roughly 65,000 pages of memos, court opinions and other documents provided a treasure trove compared to Miers' newsletter columns for the Texas State Bar, Texas Lottery Commission documents and personal missives to Bush.

"I'm tempted to call my friendly adversaries on the right and ask them whether we can make some joint recommendations to the Senate on document requests of the White House and the line of questioning during the hearings," said Ralph Neas, president of the liberal People for the American Way.

Several of Miers' writings have been lampooned, such as a 1997 letter to Bush in which she declared that "Texas is blessed" because Bush was governor, and a column she wrote for the Texas Bar Journal in the early 1990s that conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks called a "relentless march of vapid abstractions" whose "quality of thought and writing doesn't even rise to the level of pedestrian."

Among the many conservatives calling for Miers to withdraw is Peggy Noonan, former speechwriter for the late President Ronald Reagan. Noonan said that by jettisoning Miers, Bush could force conservatives to accept the next nominee and Bush "could even shove Alberto Gonzales down their throats."

Even veterans of Supreme Court nomination battles say they have never seen anything quite like this one.

"This one so far is in a class by itself," Neas said. "I'm not sure what's going to happen ... In my three decades plus, I've never seen such immediate and widespread disrespect for a president's decision by activists in his own party. It really is quite extraordinary."

Joseph Kobylka, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University, said Democrats are smart to lay low.

"For right now, the wisest strategy for someone who is unsure about Miers is to stay in the background," he said. "Stuff is going to come out."

As long as Republicans "keep cannibalizing one another," he said, "Democrats can sit back and watch it happen and then pick among the rubble afterward."

Comment: The right wingers are a funny bunch. If it had been Democrats mounting the campaign against Bush's choice, we'd have heard that they were blocking democracy, they they were poor losers and god knows what other cries and slanders. When they don't get their way, it's a different thing altogether. All this sound and fury may have to do with Miers' liberal attitudes towards homosexuals, a sore issue with the freedom-loving tyrants on the right.

As Noonan points out, a successful fight against Miers could pave the way for a hard-core fascist such as Gonzales.

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Gore: America Would Have Been a Different Country...
Oct 12, 2005

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Former Vice President Al Gore said Wednesday he had no intention of ever running for president again, but he said the United States would be "a different country" if he had won the 2000 election, launching into a scathing attack of the Bush administration.

"I have absolutely no plans and no expectations of ever being a candidate again," Gore told reporters after giving a speech at an economic forum in Sweden.

When asked how the United States would have been different if he had become president, though, he had harsh criticism for Bush's policies.

"We would not have invaded a country that didn't attack us," he said, referring to Iraq. "We would not have taken money from the working families and given it to the most wealthy families."

"We would not be trying to control and intimidate the news media. We would not be routinely torturing people," Gore said. "We would be a different country."

Gore did not elaborate. But last year, he blamed Bush administration policies for the inmate abuse scandal at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Mike Feldman, Gore's spokesman, did not immediately comment on Gore's remark when reached by phone in Washington.

Tracey Schmitt, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, called Gore's comments "fictitious rants that border on dangerous."

"To accuse Americans of participating in 'routine torture' is absurd and reveals that while Al Gore may no longer be a leader in his party, he still embodies the maniacal anger that guides Democrat leaders in Washington today," Schmitt wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

Gore also reiterated his criticism that the Bush administration was too slow in responding to the crisis in New Orleans after the city's levees failed during Hurricane Katrina. He said that should have been predicted.

"There were specific warnings that the levees might break," he said. "But for whatever reason those warnings were not acted upon in a timely way."

He said the United States and other countries are similarly ignoring the threats that global warning pose to the environment.

"My country is extremely attentive to the slightest increase in a risk from terror, and that's appropriate," he said. "But why should we be so tolerant of risk where the future habitability of our planet is concerned?"

Gore, who now runs a cable TV channel and is the chairman of an investment company, did not completely shut the door to future political endeavors.

"I don't completely rule out some future interest, but I don't expect to have that," Gore said.

He declined to comment on New York Sen. Hillary Clinton's possible run for the White House in 2008, but he said he believes the country is ready for a female president.

"Of course a woman could get elected president," he said. "I am not going to make any comment on individual candidates. It's quite premature."

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Israel citing 'security' to limit Palestinian rights: UN
Tue Oct 11, 2:26 PM ET

JERUSALEM - A top United Nations official accused Israel of depriving Palestinians of their basic human rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the name of security.

Hina Jilani, special representative of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Human Rights Defenders, said that Israel was blocking lawyers, journalists and rights activists from monitoring potential rights abuses.

"'Security imperatives' have been allowed to deprive a vast population of their very basic rights and these measures need deeper scrutiny by all concerned if any respect for norms of international human rights and humanitarian law is to be preserved," Jilani told reporters in Jerusalem.

"I would remind the government of Israel that ... the absence of peace and security does not excuse non-compliance with international human rights norms and international humanitarian law."

The envoy accused Israel of presiding over an "environment that is totally non-conducive for human rights defenders to conduct their work with facility or safety" by hampering access of lawyers, journalists and health professionals.

She also accused the Palestinian Authority of hampering the work of human rights monitors in areas under its control.

"Human rights defenders who have exposed abuses of power, conditions and treatment of persons under detention, and corruption in the security apparatus, have been threatened and intimidated or have suffered serious harm," she said.

"Lack of access to places of detention in areas under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian National Authority have also been reported and need to be urgently addressed."

Jilani was addressing reporters at the end of a visit to the region and ahead of the publication of a more detailed report. [...]

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Rice, French official warn Iran on nukes
Friday, October 14, 2005 · Last updated 4:44 a.m. PT

PARIS -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her French counterpart warned Iran on Friday that Tehran faces referral to the powerful U.N. Security Council unless it backs away from its defiant stance on nuclear energy.

France and two other European powers have tried to persuade Iran to drop what the United States insists is a covert drive for nuclear weapons, but Iran walked away from talks and has resumed nuclear activities it suspended during negotiations.

"There's also the option of the Security Council. It is a course that is available to the international community, so it's important that the Iranians negotiate in good faith," Rice said at a news conference after meetings with French President Jacques Chirac and French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy.

"We must make the Security Council option credible," Doust-Blazy said.

The upcoming constitutional vote in Iraq, Lebanese politics and the potential spread of bird flu were also on Rice's agenda. She called for complete transparency between nations to avoid a flu pandemic.

"We believe firmly that there has to be complete transparency about what is going on with avian flu. The world should not be caught unawares by a very dangerous pandemic because countries refuse to share information, and so that is our very strong concern," she said at the Paris news conference with French leaders.

France and the United States cooperated last year on a United Nations resolution calling on Syria to pull troops and intelligence agents out of Lebanon, where Syria dominated for nearly 30 years.

Although Syrian troops did depart during a spring of political upheaval in Lebanon, the United States and its allies say there is no doubt Syria is still trying to influence politics under a newly elected government.

Rice will see Russian President Vladimir Putin and the country's foreign minister in Moscow for talks on several Middle East issues, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Thursday. The stop comes as Rice nears the close of an eight-nation zigzag across Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, France, Russia and Britain.

Russia handed the United States and European partners a subtle diplomatic victory last month when it abstained rather than vote no on a measure setting up possible United Nations punishment over a nuclear energy program in Iran the United States insists is a cover for bomb making.

Russia is an Iranian ally and is helping the Tehran regime set up part of its declared nuclear energy program. The United States is not trying to shut down that partnership, but does want Russia's cooperation ahead of another meeting of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency in November.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday dismissed speculation that Moscow might join talks between Iran and European negotiators Britain, France and Germany on Tehran's disputed nuclear program.

"As for relations between the European trio and Russia, we are not expecting any change in these relations. There is no need for that," Lavrov told reporters.

On Iraq, Rice's Russia visit coincides with the crucial national referendum vote on a democratic constitution. Iraqi lawmakers this week approved a set of last-minute amendments to the constitution without a vote, sealing a compromise designed to win minority Sunni Arab support for the charter. Even so, it is not clear whether the charter will pass.

U.S. and Iraqi forces increased security across the country Thursday and prepared to impose an overnight curfew to try to reduce insurgent attacks aimed at wrecking the voting.

In Washington, President Bush sought to rally U.S. troops in Iraq ahead of the vote and to brace them for an expected surge in violence around the time of the vote.

"The enemy understands that a free Iraq would be a blow to their vision," Bush said in a video conference with soldiers from the Army's 42nd Infantry Division, based in Tikrit.

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Penn. woman tries to steal neighbor's unborn baby 2005-10-14 15:21:28

BEIJING, Oct. 14 (Xinhuanet) -- An American woman has been charged with cutting open her pregnant neighbour's abdomen with a razor knife in an attempt to steal her baby.

Peggy Jo Conner, 38, attacked her eight-month pregnant neighbor Valerie Oskin, 30, at her Ford City, Pennsylvania, home late Tuesday or early Wednesday, according to Armstrong County District Attorney Scott Andreassi, who describes Oskin's injuries as "severe."

Oskin, 30, was then taken to a hospital, where an emergency C-section was performed. Her baby -- a boy -- "appears healthy at this time," Andreassi said.

But hospital officials declined to release any information about Oskin or her baby.

Connor hit Oskin over the head with a baseball bat, then drove her about 25km to a wooded area in Armstrong County, about 80km northeast of Pittsburgh, and cut open her abdomen, Jonathan Bayer, a state trooper, said. "She was sliced over an old Caesarean scar and severely bleeding," he added.

A teenager on an all-terrain vehicle came across the two women and sought help despite Conner's insistence that Oskin, who was bleeding from the head and abdomen, was fine. The boy called his father, who contacted the police.

Conner was arraigned Thursday on charges of attempted homicide, aggravated assault and aggravated assault of an unborn child. She was being held without bail in Armstrong County Jail.

Thomas Wilks told The Associated Press he is Conner's estranged husband and said the allegations were "impossible." He had seen evidence that Conner was pregnant, he told the AP.

Wilks also said Conner and Oskin were close friends, the AP reported.

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EU out of line in WTO trade talks: France


PARIS, Oct 13 (AFP) - France contacted Britain -- the current holder of the EU presidency -- to express its "concern" at the European Commission's negotiating style at current world trade talks, the French foreign ministry said Thursday.

Foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy telephoned his British counterpart, Jack Straw, on Wednesday to complain that the Commission had made offers on opening access to the EU agriculture market "without prior consultation with member states," according to a spokesman.

France, one of the biggest beneficiaries of EU farm subsidies, has been taken aback by an offer made by European trade commissioner Peter Mandelson -- a former British minister close to prime minister Tony Blair -- at the talks at the World Trade Organisation's Geneva headquarters this week to slash EU agriculture subsidies and tariffs.

In the view of Paris, Mandelson overstepped his brief in make the offer, which it believes violates a memorandum signed by EU states that demanded consultations before any significant concessions on the issue.

French foreign ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei told journalists that Douste-Blazy insisted to Straw that the EU presidency should "ensure that the Commission respects its mandate."

France on Tuesday slammed a counter proposal by the United States that would call for even deeper subsidy cuts by the EU as "unrealistic".

Douste-Blazy also said that Mandelson should "abide" by the restriction set by the governments of the EU member states.

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Four children in Minnesota contract polio
Associated Press
Thursday, October 13, 2005

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Four children in an Amish community in Minnesota have contracted the polio virus - the first known infections in the U.S. in five years, state health officials said Thursday.

Dr. Harry Hull, the state epidemiologist, said the cases do not pose a threat to the general public because most people have been vaccinated against polio and are unlikely to have contact with Amish people. But he said he expects to find more infections within the Amish community because some of its members refuse immunizations on religious grounds.

None of the children have shown any symptoms of the paralyzing disease. About one in 200 people who contract the polio virus suffer paralysis because of it; others typically rid themselves the virus after weeks or months.

None of the four children had been vaccinated. Three are siblings; the fourth is a baby from another family.

The infection came to light when the baby was hospitalized for various health problems and underwent tests. Authorities then began testing other members of the community for the virus.

Officials would not identify the Amish community but said it consisted of 100 to 200 people.

Hull said the infections were traced to an oral vaccine that was administered in another country, probably within the past three years.

The use of oral polio vaccine containing the live virus was stopped in the United States in 2000. The live-virus vaccine caused an average of eight cases of polio a year in the United States. The U.S. and Canada now use an injected vaccine made from the killed virus.

State and federal officials are investigating how an infection from a vaccine given in another country reached Minnesota. Stool or saliva from an infected person can transmit the virus.

Health officials said they are working with the Amish community to determine who may have been exposed to the virus, and to encourage immunizations.

"We have been going house to house, talking with them about the risk, offering the vaccine and attempting to collect specimens to see if the virus has been spreading," Hull said. "Some families have said, `No, thank you, we do not want to interact with you at all.' Other families have said, `Sure, we'll get vaccinated. We'll provide specimens.'"

Without the community's cooperation, Hull said, there is a chance of an outbreak similar to one that occurred in 1979 in Amish communities in Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri and Pennsylvania. Ten people were left paralyzed by the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The last naturally occurring case of polio in the United States was in 1979, and health officials consider the disease eliminated in the Western Hemisphere. It persists in other parts of the world, with the vast majority of cases concentrated in India, Nigeria and Pakistan, according to the World Health Organization.

According to the CDC, more than 95 percent of U.S. children are vaccinated against polio by the time they enter school.

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'I saw a fireball!'

A SUDDEN, intense fireball exploded on the A16 in Louth, a motorist has claimed.

Louth Leader

Returning from a long journey, pensioner Michael Nixon was three hundred yards short of the A16 roundabout near Kenwick tip.

The former serviceman, from Walmsgate, near Louth, has no explanation for what happened next.

Mr Nixon, 74, said: "I experienced what I can only describe as a fireball.

"Directly in front of my windscreen, an explosive flash of red light occurred, appearing to be the size of a football but filling my field of vision."

The phenomenon, which the pensioner said lasted a second, was witnessed on Tuesday, September 13.

Mr Nixon said: "The intensity and suddenness caused me to flinch; my eyes hurt. There was no noise, no sign of smoke and my car was unmarked. Was this seen by anyone else?"

He added two years ago he was the victim of another bizarre phenomenon when he was traveling along the same spot

Mr Nixon said: "I had a SAAB car which never missed a beat. It was very reliable, but its engine stopped completely.

"I saw a motorist at the roadside, bonnet raised, peering at his engine. I suppose he had experienced the same engine failure. I wish I would have spoken to him now.

"Are we the possessors of a Kenwick Triangle?"

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Networking Sex, lies and video goggles
The Times October 13, 2005

NETWORKING is a bore. All that smiling, small talk and swapping business cards. We all know that networking is an inevitable part of shinning up the greasy pole, although few people really enjoy it, if they’re honest. But don’t worry, it is about to get a whole lot easier.

Ian Pearson, BT’s futurologist, says that in just a few years’ time we will have digital egos. These could be in the form of badges which would be encoded to radiate personal information including our work skills, business interests, social and even sexual preferences. You could then tailor the information available to your circumstances. During a conference, for example, your badge could radiate information on your business interests and the type of deals you are hoping to make. As you come close to people with compatable interests then you will be alerted to each others’ presence. “Simple embryonic versions of these devices are available now but they are very expensive. They will become much more mainstream in the next couple of years and could cost just a couple of pounds each,” Pearson says. Digital egos could be developed so that you could see each other’s information displayed like a personal website on a handheld computer or goggles.

We will all be wearing goggles — à la Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible rather than geeky science wear. As well as reading digital egos we will be able to watch movies, play video games and see “actuated reality”. Pearson explains that companies will be able to tailor how the world is viewed, with the aid of the goggles, to personal consumer profiles. For instance, if I like modern buildings and you like old ones and we both visit the same architect’s office, you could see a Victorian version of reality while I see lots of chrome and glass. The position of the doors, people, etc, will all remain “true” otherwise we’d be falling all over the place.

“In three or four years from now it will be quite common to see people wearing these goggles,” Pearson says.

At home we will all have large screens — plasma, LCD or polymer — capable of beaming life-size images into our front rooms or studies, linked to webcams, broadband and voice over IP. Teleworkers will be able to have “meetings” with life-sized, high quality images of colleagues and clients.

In 15 to 20 years we will be able to link these systems to our own nervous systems, enabling us to virtually shake hands with the people on screen “. . . or kiss and cuddle, whatever you like. Imagine how much more fun sex is going to be with this technology: you will be able to feel what your partner is feeling,” Pearson says. In 30 to 40 years our entire brains will be wired up to our communications systems and we will communicate by telepathy. “Socially it will be so much nicer. You will have a really deep connection with your friends’ minds,” Pearson says excitedly — clearly he hasn’t met my friends.

Comment: Talk about the primacy of subjectivity! Hey, don't like the world, put on the rose coloured glasses! New Age ideas in a frame!

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First day of school for aspiring Vatican exorcists
By Philip Pullella
Thursday, October 13, 2005 8:00 a.m. ET

ROME (Reuters) - It was the first day of school, so some students were understandably nervous. But then again, they were not taking just any course, but one run by a Vatican university to teach aspiring demonologists and exorcists.

"There is no doubt that the devil is intervening more in the life of man these days," Father Paolo Scarafoni told the students, most of them priests who want to learn how to tackle the demon if they should ever encounter him.

"Not all of you will become exorcists but it is indispensable that every priest knows how to discern between demonic possession and psychological problems," he said.

The four-month course, called "Exorcism and the Prayer of Liberation," is being offered for the second year by Pontifical Regina Apostolorum University on Rome's outskirts.

The about 120 students from around the world will hear lectures on topics such as the pastoral, spiritual, theological, liturgical, medical, legal and criminological aspects of Satanism and demonic possession.

One planned lecture is called: "Problems related to exorcism and correlated issues."

One priest, who asked not to be identified, said he decided to take the course after a "very unsettling experience" while hearing the confession of one young member of his parish.

"Her voice changed, her face was transformed and she started speaking in a language that she did not know," he said. "I've met people who are suffering from this problem and it is not as rare as we might imagine."

So, will he be ready to wrestle with demons of the kind who may have possessed his parishioner in the confessional box?

"If, after this course, my superiors decide that it will be useful for me to become an exorcist, I will do it," he said.


Interest in the devil and the occult has been boosted by films such as this year's "The Exorcism of Emily Rose," and last year's "Exorcist: The Beginning," which was the sequel to the original "The Exorcist" in 1973.

But forget the films. The students will have several real-life and well known exorcists to teach them.

One is Father Gabriele Nanni, who attended Thursday's opening class and spoke to Reuters during a break.

"First thing is the priest has to know if the devil is at work in a person or if the problem is somewhere else," he said.

Nanni said there are four sure signs that pointed to demonic possession rather than psychological problems.

He listed them as:

"When someone speaks or understands languages they normally do not; when their physical strength is disproportionate to their body size or age; when they are suddenly knowledgeable about occult practices; when they have a physical aversion to sacred things, such as the communion host or prayers."

According to some estimates, as many as 5,000 people are thought to be members of Satanic cults in Italy with 17-to 25-year-olds making up three quarters of them.

In 1999, the Vatican updated its ritual for exorcism.

It starts with prayers, a blessing and sprinkling of holy water, the laying on of hands on the possessed, and the making of the sign of the cross.

The formula begins: "I order you, Satan..." It goes on to denounce Satan as "prince of this world" and "enemy of human salvation." It ends: "Go back, Satan."

Comment: Before dismissing this stuff as poppycock, read Malachi Martin's Hostage to the Devil, an account of a number of exorcisms he carried out in the US. Yes, there is some stuff in there to take with a grain of salt, such as the ability of the name of Jesus to cast out the demon. Might not the power of Jesus's name be a way to ingrain within people a subservience to the Church?

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Apocalyptic anxiety runs high in disasters' wake
October 13, 2005

Every morning, the Rev. Micheal Mitchell prays that if today is the beginning of the end of the world as we know it, he will be ready.

"Ever since the terrorist attacks four years ago, I try to live every day as if it will be the last day," said Mitchell, 46, senior pastor of New Life Tabernacle United Pentecostal Church in East Flatbush.

Mitchell's belief that he is watching biblical prophecy unfold in the form of modern day famines, floods and earthquakes has grown increasingly urgent. What with a cataclysmic earthquake swallowing whole villages in South Asia, coming on the heels of a killer tsunami and hurricanes that flooded the Gulf Coast and brought lethal mud slides to Guatemala, apocalyptic anxiety is running extraordinarily high -- among believers and nonbelievers alike.

Set against a backdrop of terror threats and worries that avian flu may morph into a pandemic, it's no wonder that talk of a biblical-scale reckoning is cropping up in all sorts of conversations.

"A lot of people are watching the Rapture Index very carefully right now," said Stephen O'Leary, an expert on apocalypticism at the University of Southern California, referring to a Web site that purports to offer a statistical gauge of the approach of the moment that Christians believe Jesus will remove the faithful from Earth.

The Web site -- -- currently registers 161. Anything higher than 145 means "fasten your seatbelts," according to the legend.

Comment: We would like to reassure our readers that the Rapture index has gone down two points to 159 since this article was written. Phew!

Apocalyptic beliefs have long been an American staple. A June 2001 survey by the Barna Research Group, for instance, found that 40 percent of adults in the United States believe the physical world will end as a result of supernatural intervention. Fifty percent disagreed, and 10 percent didn't know.

Comment: You gotta wonder why the Americans have be subjected to such heavy end of the world programming. Because they needed to internalise their special mission in the world?

Mitchell, like many Pentecostals and Charismatics, believes the seven years of calamities leading to Armageddon -- the battle in which Jesus will defeat the Anti-Christ -- may already have begun. Now, he said, he gets almost daily questions from congregants about how current events may reflect those prophecies.

"Someone in our men's group asked whether I thought the earthquake in Asia was a sign of the coming of the Lord," he said. "I told him that I believe that that is exactly what's taking place."

Social scientists say that such preoccupations reflect an increasingly apocalyptic mood in America, expressed not just in Christian fundamentalism, but also in secular doom-and-gloom scenarios that forecast widespread flooding as a result of global warming, or worldwide depression caused by oil shortages.

Nonbelievers tend to express their anxieties in terms of manmade ecological disasters or, more simply, an indifferent and often, hostile nature. If the recent storms and quakes portend anything, it's climactic change, not biblical reckoning, said Oliver Haker, 28, an East Village lawyer.

Others search for a deeper, redemptive meaning behind so much suffering and despair.

"When I heard about the quake in Pakistan, I thought, 'Wow, this could be it -- we could be entering the final seven years,'" said Irwin Baxter, president and founder of Endtime Ministries in Richmond, Ind., who does a radio show about biblical prophecy (broadcast locally at 11 p.m. on WMCA/970 AM) and who lectured at Queens College last month.

Naysayers note that such predictions are a constant in human history -- and have always been proven wrong.

"We have an acute need to find an explanation for suffering, pain and death," O'Leary said.

Certainly, it is a sign of the times that book sellers report an uptick in sales for books not just about biblical prophecy, but also that explain disasters in scientific terms.

Besides the steady popularity of apocalyptic titles, like the bestselling Left Behind series, "what we have seen recently is marked interest in books that help readers understand the issues of the day," said Bill Tipper, bestsellers editor for Barnes&

Rabbi Irwin Kula, president of the Manhattan-based National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, said that for Jews, as well as Christians, millenial thinking offers purpose to life. But he warns that it can also be used to "escape from real world ethical obligations."

He stresses a Jewish teaching that if one is planting a tree, and hears the messiah is coming, one should continue planting. "It's our life-affirming actions that produce the reality of a messianic future," Kula said.

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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 in October 2005, readers can pre-order the book today at our bookstore.

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