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"You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you'll stop the terrorism." - Cindy Sheehan
November 1st
P I C T U R E   O F   T H E   N I G H T
Picture of the Day
Oops I bit it again...

Signs Economic Commentary
Donald Hunt
November 01, 2005

Gold closed at 475.20 dollars an ounce on Friday, up 1.4% from $468.80 the week before. The dollar closed at 0.8287 euros on Friday, down 1.0% from 0.8369 a week ago. The euro closed at 1.2066 dollars compared to $1.1950 at the end of the previous week. Gold in euros would be 393.83 an ounce, up 0.4% from 392.30. Oil closed at 61.22 dollars a barrel, up 1.0% from $60.63 at the previous Friday’s close. Oil in euros would be 50.74 euros a barrel, unchanged from a week earlier. The gold/oil ratio closed at 7.76, up 0.4% compared to 7.73 the week before. U.S. interest rates, represented by the yield on the ten-year U.S. Treasury note, closed at 4.57% on Friday, up 19 basis points from 4.38 the week before. In the U.S. stock market, the Dow closed at 10,402.77, up 1.8% from 10,215.22 at the previous Friday’s close. The NASDAQ closed at 2,089.88 up 0.4% from 2,082.21 the week before.

The rise in U.S. stocks was attributed to the increase in political stability that may have come from the fact that only Scooter Libby was indicted by Patrick Fitzgerald on Friday, keeping Bush insulated for the moment. Also, economic growth numbers were released on Friday, indicating an annualized growth rate of 3.8% in the third quarter of 2005, in spite of the natural disasters. According to George Ure, those growth numbers indicated inflation more than they did a healthy economy:

Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- increased at an annual rate of 3.8 percent in the third quarter of 2005, according to advance estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the second quarter, real GDP increased 3.3 percent.

The Bureau emphasized that the third-quarter "advance" estimates are based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency (see the box on page 3). The third- quarter "preliminary" estimates, based on more comprehensive data, will be released on November 30, 2005.

The major contributors to the increase in real GDP in the third quarter were personal consumption expenditures (PCE), equipment and software, federal government spending, and residential fixed investment. The contributions of these components were partly offset by a negative contribution from private inventory investment.

...The price index for gross domestic purchases, which measures prices paid by U.S. residents, increased 4.0 percent in the third quarter, compared with an increase of 3.3 percent in the second. Excluding food and energy prices, the price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.2 percent in the third quarter, compared with an increase of 2.1 percent in the second.

Real personal consumption expenditures increased 3.9 percent in the third quarter, compared with an increase of 3.4 percent in the second. Durable goods purchases increased 10.8 percent, compared with an increase of 7.9 percent. Nondurable goods purchases increased 2.6 percent, compared with an increase of 3.6 percent. Services expenditures increased 3.2 percent, compared with an increase of 2.3 percent.

...Real federal government consumption expenditures and gross investment increased 7.7 percent in the third quarter, compared with an increase of 2.4 percent in the second. National defense increased 10.2 percent, compared with an increase of 3.7 percent. Nondefense increased 2.6 percent, in contrast to a decrease of 0.2 percent. Real state and local government consumption expenditures and gross investment increased 0.7 percent, compared with an increase of 2.6 percent.

...Now, let's run through some of the important meanings ... so you will see the problems.

  • First the annual rate is going up 3.8% - which is sure as hell evidence not of anything fine and wonderful (remember half a million people are on unemployment, not counting all those who have fallen off the back end of the count) but instead I think it's a sign of INFLATION!
  • Point two, wild consumer spending, trying to keep software current, war and hurricane spending and a housing bubble is what is keeping the economy going.
  • Point three: Price index up 4% in the quarter but then they turn around with happy talk about price index readings ex food and ex energy.  Show me people who can live without food and energy and I'll read you a fairytale, too.  Who dreams up this crap?
  • Real estate bubble was up 6.2% in the third quarter.

Here are two more warning signals:  consumer confidence was down and the housing bubble has ended.  First the latter:

Suddenly, area's housing market favors the buyers
Cooling of sales to crimp economy

By Robert Gavin, Globe Staff  |  October 28, 2005

Greater Boston's once-sizzling home sales have cooled so much this fall that realtors are reverting to a description not heard in a decade: ''Buyer's market."

From the South End to the South Shore to Cape Ann, the list of unsold properties is growing, and so are reductions in asking prices. Attractive houses in good locations with seemingly appropriate pricetags are getting scant interest. Real estate agents, who six months ago played host to streams of buyers, are now presiding over open houses that draw few if any lookers.

For the last two Sundays, John Ford, of Ford Realty Inc., held open houses at a two-bedroom South End condo on a strong residential block of Columbus Avenue with parking, patio, and hardly outrageous asking price of $570,000. Not a single person showed up. In Weymouth, a four-bedroom raised-ranch with a view of the Fore River, priced at $445,000, attracted just one couple in the first hour and 15 minutes of an open house last weekend, prompting realtor Bonnie Goodstein to exult, ''O yay! Customers!"

In Jamaica Plain, even a $70,000 price cut -- to $399,000 -- hasn't generated much interest in a two-bedroom, bi-level condo in a 19th century mansion that has been on the market for about a month. Sunday, only four people, including two curious neighbors, came to an open house.

''My seller is willing" to consider a lower price, said the broker, Anne Connolly, ''but there's no buyers to deal with."

The fall slowdown not only represents a sea change for sellers, who for years have enjoyed multiple offers and higher prices, but also indicates the region's bull housing market is at an end. Real estate agents say a long-predicted market correction appears underway as the gap between the price of housing and peoples' incomes -- now even wider than at peak of the 1980s housing boom -- has become too great to sustain the recent pace of sales and appreciation.

Certainly, few expect an '80s-style collapse, when home values plunged 25 percent or more. Today, the economy and lenders are far stronger, and mortgage rates, which topped 10 percent when the last boom went bust, are far lower -- currently about 6 percent. In the 1980s, overbuilding, unsound lending practices, and intense speculation by investors, along with higher interest rates, sparked a real-estate crash.

Still, real estate agents today increasingly are telling sellers to expect lower prices than comparable sellers received six months ago. Linda O'Koniewski, owner of Re/Max Heritage in Melrose, said her brokerage is still selling houses, but at prices 5-to-10 percent lower than what comparable homes sold for in spring.
''All trends point to a correction period," she said.

While this may be good news for buyers, a slowing housing market will add a drag to Massachusetts' already sluggish economy. Real estate has been one of the state's few bright spots, generating not only jobs when most other sectors declined, but also wealth, in the form of rapidly appreciating home equity.

Homeowners, by refinancing mortgages, can tap into equity gained through appreciation as a source of cash. In Massachusetts, cash taken from home equity rose to 14 percent of peoples' disposable income in 2004 from 4 percent in 2001, according to, a West Chester, Pa. forecasting firm.

Real estate-related employment in Massachusetts has risen about 5 percent since 2001, compared to a decline of about 5 percent in overall employment.

''A weakening housing market will be a significant weight on economies that have benefited from the real estate boom," said Mark Zandi,'s chief economist. ''It means fewer jobs in sectors such as construction. It short circuits equity withdrawals that supported household spending on home improvements, restaurants and vacations."

Analysts said it likely will take until spring, the main home selling season, to gauge the extent of the correction.

Maggie Tomkiewicz, president of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, agreed that the market has cooled recently, but rather than a correction, it represents a return to normalcy. She doesn't expect prices to decline year-over-year.

''The market was overheated," she said. ''A seller now needs to be more realistic" in pricing.

The realtors association reported this week that the number of Massachusetts home sales rose in September from a year ago. Median prices increased about 4 percent over the prior year but fell from August. That data, however, lags the market since it includes only sales that have closed. It can take two-to-three months from purchase-and-sale agreement to closing.

Data from listing services, which better capture current conditions, suggest a weaker market. In Boston, for example, the number of condominiums listed for sale is up 50 percent from a year ago, while the number of price cuts has more than doubled, according to Listing Information Service Inc., which tracks the Boston condo market.

Analysts say a number of factors are contributing to this weakness, including rising interest rates, slow job growth, and soaring energy costs. Widespread speculation that prices eventually could fall rapidly is exacerbating the slowdown. As these factors have depressed buying interest, they also may have pushed sellers, sensing that the market may be at the beginning of a decline, to put properties up for sale, brokers said.

The result: more supply, less demand, and sellers searching for buyers. Last Sunday, Globe reporters visited about a dozen open houses in different Boston neighborhoods and suburban communities.

In Rockport, only four potential buyers visited a three-bedroom
Cape, on the market since July despite three price reductions to $369,000 from $384,000.

''People are being very choosy," said the broker, Michelle Allison.

With growing choices, buyer psychology has changed, brokers said. In recent years, buyers raced to make offers, convinced prices would only go higher, or even bid against each other, pushing prices up. Now, many are prepared to wait, believing that prices are coming down.

At an open house in Braintree last Sunday, Jeff Brown, a 30-year-old health care professional, said he and his wife, Julie, have a price in their head, and they plan to stick to it as they shop. Last spring, Brown added, they were outbid on five homes, all sold above asking price.

Recently, after viewing a home in Norwell, listed at $645,000, Brown was told as he walked out, ''We'll take $535,000."

Regarding consumer sentiment:

Consumer sentiment falls further

Fri Oct 28,10:03 AM ET

Consumer sentiment dropped in October, falling short of economists' expectations for only a slight decline, a report showed on Friday.

The University of Michigan's final October index of consumer sentiment fell to 74.2 from September's final reading of 76.9 and from a preliminary reading of 75.4 in early October, according to sources who saw the subscription-only report.

A Reuters poll had shown Wall Street economists were projecting a slight fall to 76.4.

The survey's expectations component nudged lower to 63.2 from 63.3 in late September and 62.4 in early October.

The index of current conditions fell sharply to 91.2 from 98.1 in September and 95.7 in the early part of this month.

Confidence measures are often used as a gauge of future spending patterns. Consumer spending makes up roughly two-thirds of overall U.S. economic activity, and is seen as an indication of strength or weakness in economic growth.

So far we have inflation up, confidence down, and housing starting to fall. Next comes falling wages:

Fastest Decline in Real Wages on Record

Inflation Up; Wages Down


Employers' wage costs grew 2.3% over the past year, the slowest growth rate on record, according to today's report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Factoring in the recent energy-driven increase in inflation, the real wage is down 2.3%, also the largest real loss on record for this series that began in 1981.

With hourly wages falling in real terms, the only way working families can raise their incomes is by working more hours-certainly not the path to improving living standards that we would expect in an economy posting strong productivity gains.

This 2.3% rate is a slight tick down from the 2.4%--the previous historical low--that prevailed for the last four quarters. Compensation-wages plus benefits-also grew more slowly in the third quarter of this year, up 3.1% over the same quarter last year, the slowest yearly growth in six years.

For the first time in this employers' costs report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics presented these values adjusted for inflation. Both wages and compensation are losing growth in real terms, down 2.3% and 1.5%, respectively, as slower nominal wage growth is colliding with faster inflation. In both cases, these are the largest yearly real losses on record.

This is a broad measure of earnings, including all civilian workers. It thus reveals an ongoing, important imbalance in this economic expansion. Overall measures of economic performance, such as gross domestic product, continue to perform well. For example, real GDP grew by 3.8% in the third quarter, above expectations and an acceleration over the 3.3% GDP growth rate of last quarter.

Yet the wage and compensation results show that this growth is failing to show up in hourly earnings. This has two implications. First, the view that increasing labor costs are pushing up prices is clearly not supported by these data. There is no evidence of an over-heating labor market that needs to be cooled by Federal Reserve rate hikes. Second, the resulting stagnant hourly wages will make it hard for working families to truly get ahead.

Jared Bernstein is an economist at the Economic Policy Institute

Higher prices now are fueled by higher energy prices which can only by cooled in the short run by lower demand, which it seems is what the Federal Reserve Board will continue to push for with rising interest rates.  Coming, however, at a time of already stagnant employment and wages, as well as record consumer debt driven by an aging housing bubble and we have a recipe for collapse. There will be no way to gently reduce demand in the U.S. economy; it will either keep rising or come crashing down rapidly.

Comment: To make matters worse, US officials came up with a few more treats for the average US resident:

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US poor set to lose food stamps
October 29, 2005 - 10:43AM

With more than 38 million Americans too poor to buy adequate food, the US Congress has begun to take away the food stamps many of them receive.

The Republican majority on the House Agriculture Committee has approved budget cuts that will take "food stamps" away from an estimated 300,000 people and could cut off school lunches and breakfasts for 40,000 children.

The action came as the US Government reported that the number of people who are hungry because they can't afford to buy enough food rose to 38.2 million in 2004, an increase of seven million in five years.

The number represents nearly 12 per cent of US households.

Food stamps are coupons distributed to low-income people and redeemable at grocery stories for food.

The cuts, approved by the Republican-controlled committee on a party-line vote, are part of an effort by Republicans to curb federal spending by $US50 billion ($65.7 billion).

The food and agriculture cuts would reduce spending by $US3.7 billion, including $US844 million on nutrition, $US760 million on conservation and $US212 million on payments to US farmers.

The $US574 million reduction in food stamp spending is estimated to shut up to 300,000 people out of the program. [...]

The White House proposed the restriction earlier this year. [...]

Comment: Meanwhile, US senators shot down a proposal to increase the minimum wage:

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Rich Senators Defeat Minimum-Wage Hike

Congressional Pay Rises While Minimum Stays Same
Helen Thomas
Hearst White House columnist
6:12 pm EDT October 26, 2005

U.S. senators -- who draw salaries of $162,100 a year and enjoy a raft of perks -- have rejected a minimum wage hike from $5.15 an hour to $6.25 for blue-collar workers.

Can you believe it?

The proposed increase was sponsored by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and turned down in the Senate by a vote of 51 against the boost and 49 in favor. Under a Senate agreement, it needed 60 votes to pass.

All the Democrats voted for the wage boost. All the negative votes were cast by Republicans.

Four Republicans voted for it. Three of the four are running for reelection and were probably worried about how voters would react if they knew that their well-heeled senators had turned down a pittance of an increase in the salaries of the lowest paid workers in the country.

The minimum wage was last increased in 1997.

Kennedy called the vote "absolutely unconscionable." [...]

The Senate also killed an amendment proposed by Sen. Michael Enzi, R-Wyo., which also would have increased the minimum wage by $1.10 but included drastic measures such as wiping out the 40-hour work week, cutting overtime pay and weakening job safety and health protection. [...]

The Senate's action comes at a worrisome time when motorists are paying much more for gasoline and heating bills are expected to rise by 56 percent this winter, according to Kennedy. [...]

"It is shameful that in America today, the richest and most powerful nation on earth, nearly a fifth of all children go to bed hungry at night because their parents, many of whom are working full time at the minimum wage, still can't make ends meet," Kennedy said. [...]

Comment: Yes indeed, it's all about compassionate conservatism. Take, for example, Bush's speech on Social Security earlier this year, where he fielded questions from the (planted) audience.

Mary is with us. Mary Mornin. How are you, Mary?

MS. MORNIN: I'm fine.

THE PRESIDENT: Good. Okay, Mary, tell us about yourself.

MS. MORNIN: Okay, I'm a divorced, single mother with three grown, adult children. I have one child, Robbie, who is mentally challenged, and I have two daughters.

THE PRESIDENT: Fantastic. First of all, you've got the hardest job in America, being a single mom.

MS. MORNIN: Thank you. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: You and I are baby boomers.

MS. MORNIN: Yes, and I am concerned about -- that the system stays the same for me.


MS. MORNIN: But I do want to see change and reform for my children because I realize that we will be in trouble down the road.

THE PRESIDENT: It's an interesting point, and I hear this a lot -- will the system be the same for me? And the answer is, absolutely. One of the things we have to continue to clarify to people who have retired or near retirement -- you fall in the near retirement.

MS. MORNIN: Yes, unfortunately, yes. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I don't know. I'm not going to tell your age, but you're one year younger than me, and I'm just getting started. (Laughter.)

MS. MORNIN: Okay, okay.

THE PRESIDENT: I feel great, don't you?

MS. MORNIN: Yes, I do.

THE PRESIDENT: I remember when I turned 50, I used to think 50 was really old. Now I think it's young, and getting ready to turn 60 here in a couple of years, and I still feel young. I mean, we are living longer, and people are working longer, and the truth of the matter is, elderly baby boomers have got a lot to offer to our society, and we shouldn't think about giving up our responsibilities in society. (Applause.) Isn't that right?

MS. MORNIN: That's right.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, but nevertheless, there's a certain comfort to know that the promises made will be kept by the government.


THE PRESIDENT: And so thank you for asking that. You don't have to worry.

MS. MORNIN: That's good, because I work three jobs and I feel like I contribute.

THE PRESIDENT: You work three jobs?

MS. MORNIN: Three jobs, yes.

THE PRESIDENT: Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that. (Applause.) Get any sleep? (Laughter.)

MS. MORNIN: Not much. Not much.

Even with scripted questions, Bush couldn't avoid exposing his complete and utter lack of understanding or empathy for the plight of another human being. With a President like this, who needs "evil terrorists".

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Facing Deficit, Senate Eyes Cuts, U.S. Oil
Associated Press
Mon Oct 31, 5:10 PM ET

WASHINGTON - The Senate is digging into a budget plan that would bundle mostly modest Medicare and Medicaid spending cuts with a controversial plan to open an Alaskan wilderness area to oil drilling.

Republicans are seeking to burnish their budget-cutting credentials but face unanimous opposition from Democrats who contend it is part of an overall plan that will actually increase the deficit once a companion $70 billion tax cut bill is passed. [...]

The bill is estimated to trim $39 billion from budget deficits totaling $1.6 trillion over five years - just 2 percent. For the budget plan's first year, which began Oct. 1, the cuts total $6 billion. [...]

The long-planned budget measure, slated for a final vote Thursday, would make the first cuts to so-called mandatory programs since 1997. These account for 55 percent of the budget and include Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies and student loan subsidies. Without changes, the rapid growth in Medicare and Medicaid threatens to swamp the budget after the baby boom generation retires. [...]

There also is restiveness on the right, where conservatives are unhappy because the bill contains more than $30 billion in new spending to go along with the cuts. [...]

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Poll results: Eliminating poverty should be No. 1 U.S. priority
Associated Press Writer
Friday, October 28, 2005

Eliminating poverty in America is more important than fighting terrorism, U.S. troops should be pulled out of Iraq, and money saved on war should be used to rebuild hurricane-scarred New Orleans, according to a national poll. [...]

"I don't remember poverty ever finishing as the No. 1 priority on any kind of list," said Sergio Bendixen, whose firm Bendixen & Associates conducted the poll. "The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the images of poverty have clearly made a large impact on many Americans."

The poll was commissioned by New California Media, a nonprofit San Francisco- based umbrella organization for ethnic media. [...]

A point of divergence between whites and blacks centered on interpretations of television images showing people in New Orleans breaking into supermarkets and other stores in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Respondents were asked, "Do you think they were looters and criminals or do you think they were people trying to take care of their families and their needs?"

Fifty-seven percent of blacks answered "trying to take care of their families." Only 31 percent of whites chose that answer, while 46 percent of whites said the people "were looters and criminals."

Hispanics and Asians were almost evenly split on their interpretations.

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Mars Attacks!

This past weekend was rather action-packed - especially Saturday, when Mars made its closest approach to Earth in quite some time. The indictment of I. Lewis Libby on Friday was just the start of the madness that followed on Saturday:

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Caped Teen Kills Two, Then Self in Calif.
Sat Oct 29, 7:58 PM ET

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. - A 19-year-old in a black cape and helmet went on a shooting rampage Saturday in his upscale Southern California neighborhood, killing a man and his daughter before committing suicide, authorities said.

William Freund also fired shots into another house and confronted a neighbor outside, said Orange County Sheriff's Department spokesman Jim Amormino.

There was no known link between the teen and his victims, police said. "It may have been random," Amormino said.

Freund left his home about 9 a.m. and drove less than 100 yards to a house where he killed Vernon Smith, 45, and daughter Christina Smith, 22, with a shotgun, Amormino said. A 20-year-old son escaped after hearing shots.

Freund then walked across the street and fired into another house, Amormino said. A person inside suffered cuts from broken glass.

Another neighbor heard the commotion, came outside and was confronted by the teen, who tried to fire his weapon. When it misfired, Freund went back to his own house and committed suicide, Amormino said.

Police tape blocked off much of the large subdivision in the hills above Aliso Viejo, a wealthy section of south Orange County.

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Youths riot for second night in Paris suburb
By Laure Bretton
Sat Oct 29, 9:42 AM ET

PARIS - Hundreds of French youths fought with police and set cars ablaze in a Paris suburb on Saturday in a second night of rioting which media said was triggered when two teenagers were electrocuted while fleeing police.

The teenagers were killed and a third seriously injured on Thursday night when they were electrocuted in an electricity sub station as they ran away from police investigating a break-in, media reported.

Firefighters intervened around 40 times on Friday night in the northeastern suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois where many of the 28,000 residents are immigrants, mainly from Africa, police and fire officers said.

Unidentified youths fired a shot at police but no one was hurt, police said. [...]

Television pictures showed youths lobbing stones at police officers while cars burned on the streets of the suburb. Police in riot gear chased some youths down an alleyway.

Around 19 people were detained and 15 police officers and one journalist injured, police said. They were unable to give figures for the number of protesters hurt.

An officer from police trade union Action Police CFTC called for help from the army to support police officers.

"There's a civil war under way in Clichy-Sous-Bois at the moment," Michel Thooris from Action Police CFTC, said. "My colleagues neither have the equipment nor the practical nor theoretical training for street fighting."

However, Joaquin Masanet from the UNSA-Police union, which represents the majority of riot police, did not agree.

"We're not at war," he said. "The police are capable of restoring order if we are given the material and human means."

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said on Friday the youths who fled the scene of the suspected break-in and climbed into an electricity sub station were not being pursued by police when they were electrocuted. [...]

Sarkozy, whose law and order policies have been criticized by human rights groups, launched a new offensive against crime this month, ordering specially trained police to tackle 25 tough neighborhoods in cities across France. [...]

Comment: It sounds like Bush - oh, sorry, we meant Sarkozy - really wants to get the military involved in "fighting crime"...

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Fourth night of riots hit Paris suburb
By Anna Willard
October 31, 2005

PARIS - Police and youths clashed in a fourth night of rioting in a northeastern suburb of Paris ahead of a Monday morning visit by Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. [...]

The latest riots come just days after Sarkozy launched a new crime offensive, ordering specially trained police to tackle 25 neighbourhoods in cities throughout France.

Sarkozy was due to visit the prefecture of Seine-Saint-Denis, which also oversees Clichy-sous-Bois, on Monday morning amid criticism that his policies have increased tensions in tough neighbourhoods. [...]

Laurent Fabius, a former Socialist prime minister and potential presidential candidate in 2007, said the violence marked a failure for Sarkozy's policies and mocked his frequent visits to violent areas.

"When he announces that he's going to visit such and such a commune or suburb every week, that's not how we resolve those problems," Fabius said on Europe 1 radio.

"We need to act at the same time on prevention, repression, education, housing, jobs ... and not play the cowboy." [...]

Comment: It is not surprising that Sarkozy is playing the cowboy, since his idol seems to be G.W. Bush. To be fair, though, it was Hallowe'en, so maybe we should cut him some slack...

A fifth night of unrest - last night - seemed to be less violent than previous nights.

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Train Derails in India; at Least 100 Dead
Associated Press
Sat Oct 29, 4:40 PM ET

VELIGONDA, India - A passenger train derailed on flooded tracks in southern India on Saturday and plunged into a rain-swollen river, killing at least 100 people and trapping scores inside submerged cars, officials said.

About 100 injured passengers were rescued from the train, which derailed after floods washed away the tracks in the town of Veligonda in Andhra Pradesh state. [...]

Scores of people were still trapped inside the cars, at least five of which were lying on their side, partially submerged. One of the cars was resting on top of another.

"We have recovered 100 bodies so far. And some bodies may have been washed away" by the fast moving flood waters of the river, said Thomas Verghese, general manager of India's southern railway. [...]

Rains also washed away many roads in the area, making it difficult for rescuers and ambulances to reach the accident site. Traffic jams stretched for miles on roads leading to Veligonda.

Three days of downpours caused at least three water reservoirs to breach their banks, triggering the flash floods, said R. Velu, a federal junior minister for railways who visited the accident site. [...]

Comment: India was also struck by terrorism on Saturday:

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3 New Delhi Explosions Kill at Least 58
Associated Press Writer
Sat Oct 29, 7:48 PM ET

NEW DELHI - Near-simultaneous explosions rocked the Indian capital Saturday evening, tearing through a bus and two markets crowded with people shopping for gifts for a Hindu festival. At least 58 people were killed and dozens wounded in the blasts, which the government blamed on terrorists.

Police declared a state of emergency and closed all city markets. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urged calm while denouncing the apparently coordinated bombings, which did not prevent an unprecedented India-Pakistan agreement to open the Kashmir border to facilitate aid for survivors of the region's devastating Oct. 8 earthquake.

"These are dastardly acts of terrorism," Singh said in a brief televised statement. "We shall defeat their nefarious designs and will not allow them to succeed. We are resolute in our commitment to fighting terrorism in all forms."

Asked who was responsible, he would only say "there are several clues." The Indian government faces opposition from dozens of militant groups - particularly Kashmiri separatists, some of whom also oppose the peace process between Pakistan and India. [...]

The attacks targeted the many people shopping just days before the festival of Diwali, a major Hindu holiday during which families exchange gifts, light candles and celebrate with fireworks. The markets where the blasts occurred often sell fireworks that are elaborate and potentially dangerous. [...]

Comment: Those nefarious terrorists are up to their old false flag tricks again. Speaking of nefarious terrorists:

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US forces bomb houses in western Iraq, killing 10 suspected rebels
Sat Oct 29,11:48 AM ET

BAGHDAD - US forces bombed three buildings in the western Iraqi town of Husaybah, killing an estimated 10 suspected rebels.

The air strikes took place after US forces on the ground came under fire while conducting simultaneously raids on two rebel houses in different parts of the town, located next to the Syrian border, the US military said Saturday.

"The houses were used as launch points to conduct attacks against local Iraqi citizens, Iraqi security and coalition forces," according to a military statement.

A third air strike was later carried out against another suspected terrorist house with fortified fighting positions.

On Friday, US forces bombed another two adjoining houses in the town where a senior Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader, identified as Abu Mahmud and believed to be a Saudi, was holding a meeting with other senior members of the organisation.

The military gave no details on the result of that attack.

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25 dead as suicide car bomb rips through Iraqi market
Sat Oct 29, 4:30 PM ET

BAQUBA, Iraq - At least 25 people died and 45 were wounded when a suicide car bomb ripped through a village market near Baquba, north of Baghdad, police and medical sources said.

The attack in the Shiite village of Huwaider came minutes before the start of evening prayers at a nearby mosque and the breaking of the day-long Ramadan fast.

An AFP photographer at Baquba general hospital described scenes of chaos and anguish as families sought news of loved ones and ambulances kept bringing in bodies, some blown to bits.

Many of the wounded lay on the floor because there were not enough beds. [...]

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Aziz denies naming British MP in graft probe: lawyer
By Dina al-Wakeel Sat Oct 29, 5:18 PM ET

AMMAN (Reuters) - Former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz has denied telling investigators that maverick British politician George Galloway profited from the U.N. oil-for-food program for Iraq, Aziz's lawyer said on Saturday.

U.S. congressional investigators said this week they had evidence that Galloway profited from the defunct U.N. program created to protect Iraqis from the harsh effects of sanctions against their government.

The U.N.-established Independent Inquiry Committee, led by former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, also named Galloway in a report issued this week as one of several politicians who were given favors by Saddam.

Congressional investigators said that, under questioning Aziz, said he had discussed oil allocations with Galloway and confirmed the authenticity of a letter in which the British member of parliament requested a bigger oil allocation.

"These are lies...he (Aziz) denied this," Aziz's lawyer Badia Aref told Reuters.

"It is part of a media campaign aimed at smearing Galloway's reputation," said the lawyer, who last saw Aziz on Tuesday.

Aref said Aziz confirmed that Iraq had participated with some $45,000 in the Mariam Appeal cancer charity set up by Galloway, but only to help sick Iraqi children.

However, Tom Steward, spokesman for U.S. Senator Norm Coleman who chairs the Senate subcommittee on investigations, said Aziz's retraction was suspect.

"Chairman Volcker believes Tareq Aziz changed his testimony because Iraqi prosecutors were breathing down his neck and concluded Aziz's retraction is not credible," he said in a statement. He said there was "a solid bedrock of evidence" suggesting Galloway received oil-for-food money.

Galloway himself told the subcommittee earlier this year that he was not an oil trader and had never spoken to Aziz about Iraq providing financial support for the Mariam Appeal.

He has also rejected the latest U.S. accusations that he profited from the oil-for-food program.

Congressional investigators say Galloway personally solicited and was granted oil allocations from the Iraqi government for 23 million barrels from 1999 to 2003. They say Galloway's wife received about $150,000 in connection with the allocations and the Mariam fund received at least $446,000.

Aziz, a Christian who was the public face of Saddam's government abroad, was arrested after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. No formal charges have been brought against him yet.

"Nothing is clear yet...the man cannot remain in these conditions...his health is deteriorating," Aref said.

Comment: Armed only with the truth, Galloway so infuriated the U.S. ruling class at the Senate hearing in May this year that they will stop at nothing to have their revenge. Of course, we shouldn't be surprised that the Bush regime would deliberately fabricate evidence in order to further their political and personal goals, after all, look at the last 5 years.

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Israeli air raids strike northern Gaza
Sat Oct 29, 4:40 PM ET

GAZA CITY - Israeli jets carried out further attacks aimed at halting militant activity in the northern Gaza Strip, as the Palestinian authority called on Washington to press for an Israeli ceasefire.

Despite the Israeli offensive, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket toward Israel on Saturday afternoon, which exploded in the town of Sderot in southern Israel but caused no casualties, an Israeli military source said.

Israeli artillery then opened fire "toward an uninhabited area from which the rocket was fired," a spokesman said.

Earlier, Israel launched two other attacks and targeted uninhabited areas, one near Jabaliya, the other near Beit Lahya. There were no reports of any casualties.

The Israeli army confirmed the attacks, which it said were part of five similar air strikes launched in the area since Friday aimed at trying to stop Palestinian groups firing rockets on southern Israel. [...]

Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz had ordered a resumption of targeted killing operations after a Palestinian suicide bomber killed five Israelis outside a falafel stand in the town of Hadera on Wednesday. [...]

Comment: Saturday was, indeed, a very busy day. Coincidence? We think not.

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Palestinians killed in shootout
BBC News

Israeli soldiers have killed three Palestinian militants in operations near the West Bank city of Jenin.

The incidents occurred late on Sunday and overnight on Monday, hours after Islamic Jihad said it would end an exchange of fire in the Gaza Strip if Israel did the same.

The shootings took place in Qabatiya, the home town of a suicide bomber who killed five Israelis on Wednesday.

A week of violence has now also left 12 Palestinians dead.

Early on Monday, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired missiles into Israel, though no casualties or damage are reported. [...]

Comment: Yet again, "Islamic Jihad" fail to see the folly in firing impotent rockets at Israel and thereby providing Sharon with a plausible excuse to retaliate and murder innocent Palestinian citizens. One would almost think that they were working for Sharon.

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France warns Israel on murders; urges Palestinians to improve security
October 28, 2005

PARIS (KUNA) -- Amid growing concern with the resumption of suicide attacks and retaliatory murders between Palestinians and Israelis, France called Friday on both sides to be careful not to succumb to the temptation of violence and to do everything to stop it.

"After the odious attack committed Wednesday in Israel (when five were killed in a bombing), everything must be put in place to put an end to the escalation in the violence which is taking root again today," Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei said Friday.

"In this context," he added "we recall that the practice of targeted assassinations is contrary to international law," a blunt reminder to Israel that the murder of Palestinian militants, and often nearby innocent bystanders, is not helping the situation. [...]

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Syria accuses US of military raids
The Australian
October 31, 2005

SYRIA has accused the US of launching lethal military raids into its territory from Iraq, escalating the diplomatic crisis between the two countries as the Bush administration seeks to step up pressure on President Bashar Assad's regime.

Syrian army officer Amid Suleiman told Britain's Sunday Telegraph newspaper that US cross-border attacks into Syria had killed at least two border guards.

The charge follows leaks in Washington that the US has already engaged in military raids into Syria and is contemplating launching special forces operations on Syrian soil to eliminate insurgent networks before they reach Iraq, the report said.

Edward Walker, a former US ambassador to Egypt and Israel, who is now head of the Middle East Institute think tank, told the paper: "No one in the administration has any problem with acting tough on Syria; it is the one thing they all agree on.

"I've heard there have been some cross-border activities, and it certainly makes sense as a warning to Syria that if they don't take care of the problem the US will step up itself."

The increased blurring of battle lines between Iraq and Syria came as reports said Syria could face far tougher demands than expected today to compel its regime to co-operate with a UN investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, who had opposed the presence of Syrian troops in his country.

Under the terms of a resolution being hammered out this weekend at UN headquarters, Syria would be required to turn over suspects to international justice or face the possible use of force.

Tape recordings of Syrian and Lebanese officials discussing the car bomb attack that killed Hariri were being cited by diplomats this weekend to put teeth into the draft resolution.

Last week, Russia and China, two of the five permanent members of the 15-member Security Council, said they would vote against sanctions. As permanent members hold veto powers, that could have put paid to a punitive resolution, but their opposition appeared to be crumbling.

Discussions were under way about whether any people identified in the inquiry by Detlev Mehlis, the UN prosecutor investigating the affair, should be subject to a travel ban and should have their assets seized. The tough stance will put Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who inherited a closed, paranoid regime from his father, further on the defensive. He is already under pressure from Washington to stop Islamic fighters crossing from Syria into Iraq.

Mr Assad will now have to weigh the UN demands against the pressures on him in a country that his father ruled with an iron fist but whose inner circle of power he has not managed to dominate. Two of the President's immediate family, Assef Shawkat, his brother-in-law and head of military intelligence, and Mahar Assad, his younger brother and head of the powerful Republican Guards, were named in a leaked version of the report as having planned Hariri's assassination. [...]

Comment: Syria is being set up, that much is clear. Hariri was murdered by the Mossad because he was set to regain the position of Prime Minister of Lebanon and, as a moderate, it would have been much more difficult to corrupt or demonise him as a supporter of "terrorism." Israel is currently maneuvering on many fronts in an attempt to create the right conditions for a full-scale war in the Middle East, which it believes will rid it of any threat to its existence and the establishment of "Greater Israel" on Muslim lands.

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Russia's Putin Won't Seek Third Term
Oct 31 1:41 PM US/Eastern

MOSCOW -- President Vladimir Putin said Monday he won't seek a third term in but vowed not to allow "destabilization" in Russia following the vote, leaving the door open for drastic action in the event of a crisis.

In an interview with Dutch media on the eve of a visit to the Netherlands, Putin reiterated that he opposes changing the constitution to prolong his time in power - a possibility that has been widely discussed because his popularity and control over parliament.

But Putin said that the 2008 presidential election will be a "serious, difficult test for Russia" and stressed that full power and responsibility for the fate of the country will remain in his hands until the new president is sworn in.

"I will not allow any destabilization in Russia, in the interests of the ... peoples of the Russian Federation," Putin said in the interview with Dutch broadcaster Netwerk and financial newspaper NRC Handelsblad.

He did not elaborate, but the statement raised the possibility that Putin could take unpredictable measures in the name of stability in the event of unrest or a political crisis in the weeks between the election and the new president's inauguration. [...]

Comment: Hint hint...

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Russia, China call for U.S. troops to go
Oct. 28, 2005

MOSCOW -- A security bloc led by China and Russia has called on the United States to set a deadline for the withdrawal of its troops from Central Asia.

Members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization concluded their meeting in Moscow with the call for a U.S. withdrawal, the South China Morning Post reported Friday.

The newspaper described Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's participation in the meeting as "another step to cement Beijing's influence in the Central Asian region."

During his two-day stay in Moscow, Wen met Russian President Vladimir Putin and leaders of the group's other member states -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan -- as well as India, Iran and Pakistan, who hold observer status in the group.

The group's executive secretary, Zhang Deguang, said the organization was focused on fighting terrorism and drug trafficking and was not a military alliance. He said the call for a U.S. withdrawal was "only a matter of deadlines ... not an ultimatum."

In July, the group requested a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, reflecting growing Russian and Chinese unease over the U.S. military presence in the resource-rich region, the newspaper said.

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Half of U.S. Marines to leave Okinawa

Withdrawal follows years of complaints from local residents
Saturday, October 29, 2005

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon has yielded to demands from residents on the Japanese island of Okinawa and committed to cut the number of U.S. Marines in the country by nearly half.

The announcement from the Pentagon came Saturday and stated that the United States and Japan had agreed to shift 7,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam during the next six years. There are 14,460 U.S. Marines in Japan, and almost all of them are stationed in Okinawa.

About 47,000 troops from all U.S. military branches are in Japan, and most of those also are in Okinawa.

Earlier in the week, Japan and the United States agreed to close the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in the crowded southern part of Okinawa and move its functions to Camp Schwab in the north, according to The Associated Press. [...]

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Bush and Hitler: What The 'Torture Memos' Reveal
by Edward Spannaus

In the Spring of 1941, as Nazi Germany was preparing to invade the Soviet Union, Adolf Hitler issued an infamous edict which has become known as the "Commissar Order," to govern the conduct of German armed forces on the Eastern Front. This order provides a largely-unnoticed precedent for the "legal" rationalizations found in a number of hitherto-secret Bush Administration legal memoranda, which have recently come to light.

As is documented in William L. Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Hitler outlined this policy during a meeting with the heads of the three armed services and key army field commanders early in March 1941: "The war against Russia will be such that it cannot be conducted in a knightly fashion. This struggle is one of ideologies and racial differences and will have to be conducted with unprecedented, unmerciful, and unrelenting harshness. All officers will have to rid themselves of obsolete ideologies.... German soldiers guilty of breaking international law will be excused. Russia has not participated in the Hague Convention and therefore has no rights under it."

On May 13, 1941, Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, the head of the Armed Forces High Command, issued an order in Hitler's name, severely limiting functions of the military courts martial system, and virtually giving immunity to German forces for war crimes against Russians: "With regard to offenses committed against enemy civilians by members of the Wehrmacht, prosecution is not obligatory, even where the deed is at the same time a military crime or offense." Yhe army was explicitly instructed to go easy on any such German offenders, "remembering in each case all the harm done to Germany since 1918 by the 'Bolsheviki.'"

Underlying such orders was the legal philosophy set forward by the "Crown Jurist of the Third Reich," Carl Schmitt, whose writings have unfortunately undergone a revival in the United States in recent years. Schmitt contended that, in times of emergency and crisis, the actions of the Leader were not subordinate to justice, but constituted the "highest justice." In passages which remind one of the legal defenses of "necessity" and "self-defense" posed by John Ashcroft's Justice Department (DOJ) today, Schmitt wrote: "All law is derived from the people's right to existence. Every state law, every judgment of the courts, contains only so much justice, as it derives from this source. The content and the scope of his action, is determined only by the Leader himself." [...]

Comment: Click here to read the rest of the article, which includes a thorough history of the steps taken by the Bush administration to legalise torture. The parallels between the US today and Nazi Germany are undeniable.

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The Police State Is Closer Than You Think
By Paul Craig Roberts
Police states are easier to acquire than Americans appreciate.

The hysterical aftermath of September 11 has put into place the main components of a police state.

Habeas corpus is the greatest protection Americans have against a police state. Habeas corpus ensures that Americans can only be detained by law. They must be charged with offenses, given access to attorneys, and brought to trial. Habeas corpus prevents the despotic practice of picking up a person and holding him indefinitely.

President Bush claims the power to set aside habeas corpus and to dispense with warrants for arrest and with procedures that guarantee court appearance and trial without undue delay. Today in the US, the executive branch claims the power to arrest a citizen on its own initiative and hold the citizen indefinitely. Thus, Americans are no longer protected from arbitrary arrest and indefinite detention.

These new "seize and hold" powers strip the accused of the protective aspects of law and give rein to selectivity and arbitrariness. No warrant is required for arrest, no charges have to be presented before a judge, and no case has to be put before a jury. As the police are unaccountable, whoever is selected for arrest is at the mercy of arbitrariness.

The judiciary has to some extent defended habeas corpus against Bush’s attack, but the protection that the principle offers against arbitrary seizure and detention has been breeched. Whether courts can fully restore habeas corpus or whether it continues in weakened form or passes by the wayside remains to be determined.

Americans may be unaware of what it means to be stripped of the protection of habeas corpus, or they may think police authorities would never make a mistake or ever use their unbridled power against the innocent. Americans might think that the police state will only use its powers against terrorists or "enemy combatants".

But "terrorist" is an elastic and legally undefined category. When the President of the United States declares: "You are with us or against us," the police may perceive a terrorist in a dissenter from the government’s policies. Political opponents may be regarded as "against us" and thereby fall in the suspect category. Or a police officer may simply have his eye on another man’s attractive wife or wish to settle some old score. An enemy combatant might simply be an American who happens to be in a foreign country when the US invades. In times before our own when people were properly educated, they understood the injustices that caused the English Parliament to pass the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 prohibiting the arbitrary powers that are now being claimed for the executive branch in the US.

The PATRIOT Act has given the police autonomous surveillance powers. These powers were not achieved without opposition. Civil libertarians opposed it. Bob Barr, the former US Representative who led the impeachment of President Clinton, fought to limit some of the worst features of the act. But the act still bristles with unconstitutional violations of the rights of citizens, and the newly created powers of government to spy on citizens have brought an end to privacy.

The prohibition against self-incrimination protects the accused from being tortured into confession. The innocent are no more immune to pain than the guilty. As Stalin’s show trials demonstrated, even the most committed leaders of the Bolshevik revolution could be tortured into confessing to be counter-revolutionaries.

The prohibition against torture has been breached by the practice of plea bargaining, which replaces jury trials with negotiated self-incrimination, and by sentencing guidelines, which transfer sentencing discretion from judge to prosecutor. Plea bargaining is a form of psychological torture in which innocent and guilty alike give up their right to jury trial in order to reduce the number and severity of the charges that the prosecutor brings.

The prohibition against physical torture, however, held until the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. As video, photographic, and testimonial evidence make clear, the US military has been torturing large numbers of people in its Iraq prisons and in its prison compound at Guantanamo, Cuba. Most of the detainees were people picked up in the equivalent of KGB Stalin-era street sweeps. Having no idea who the detainees are and pressured to produce results, torture was applied to coerce confessions.

Everyone is disturbed about this barbaric and illegal practice except the Bush administration. In an amendment to a $440 billion defense budget bill last Wednesday, the US Senate voted 90 to 9 to ban "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" of anyone in US government custody. President Bush responded to the Senate’s will by repeating his earlier threat to veto the bill. Allow me to torture, demands Bush of the Senate, or you will be guilty of delaying the military’s budget during wartime. Bush is threatening the Senate with blame for the deaths of US soldiers who will die because they don’t get their body armor or Humvee armor in time.

It will be a short step from torturing detainees abroad to torturing the accused in US jails and prisons.

The attorney-client privilege, another great achievement, has been breached by the Lynne Stewart case. As the attorney for a terrorist, Stewart represented her client in ways disapproved by prosecutors. Stewart was indicted, tried, and convicted of providing material support to terrorists.

Stewart’s indictment sends a message to attorneys not to represent too dutifully or aggressively clients who are unpopular or demonized. Initially, this category may be limited to terrorists. However, once the attorney-client privilege is breeched, any attorney who gets too much in the way of a prosecutor’s case may experience retribution. The intimidation factor can result in an attorney presenting a weak defense. It can even result in attorneys doing as the Benthamite US Department of Justice (sic) desires and helping to convict their client.

In the Anglo-American legal tradition, law is a shield of the accused. This is necessary in order to protect the innocent. The accused is innocent until he is proven guilty in an open court. There are no secret tribunals, no torture, and no show trials.

Outside the Anglo-American legal tradition, law is a weapon of the state. It may be used with careful restraint, as in Europe today, or it may be used to destroy opponents or rivals as in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

When the protective features of the law are removed, law becomes a weapon. Habeas corpus, due process, the attorney-client privilege, no crime without intent, and prohibitions against torture and ex post facto laws are the protective features that shield the accused. These protective features are being removed by zealotry in the "war against terrorism."

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Vice President lied as White House sought to defuse leak inquiry
Jason Leopold

Did Vice President Dick Cheney help cover-up the outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson in the months after conservative columnist Robert Novak first disclosed her identity?

That’s one of the questions Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is likely trying to figure out. It’s unclear what Cheney said to investigators back in 2004 when he was questioned—not under oath—about the leak, particularly what he knew and when he knew it.

Friday’s grand jury indictment sheds new light on a pattern of strategic deception by the Vice President and the White House to defuse an inquiry into who leaked the name of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson to the press. Months after Plame’s identity was disclosed by conservative columnist Robert Novak, Cheney continued to hide the fact that he and his aides were intimately involved in disseminating classified information about her to journalists.

Comment: So is Cheney a liar? Should he be indicted as the ringleader? The Washington Post tells us:

"the grand jury's 22-page indictment fleshes out a saga that has been largely shrouded for almost two years by grand jury secrecy. While Friday's disclosures allege no wrongdoing by Cheney, they place the vice president closer than has been known before to events at the heart of the case.

One notable disclosure is that Libby and Cheney made separate inquiries to the CIA about Wilson's wife, and each confirmed independently that she worked there. It was Cheney, the indictment states, who supplied Libby the detail "that Wilson's wife the Counterproliferation Division" - an unambiguous declaration that her position was among the case officers of the operations directorate. That conversation took place on June 12, 2003, a month before the Norfolk flight and nearly two weeks before Libby first told a reporter about Plame's CIA affiliation."

Case closed. Lock him up and throw away the key.

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A Grave Indictment, but Grave Questions Remain
David Corn
Fri Oct 28, 9:03 PM ET

[...] Fitzgerald did not share much beyond the information he had to disclose in order to indict Libby. He did declare that "the fact that Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer was classified...but it was not widely known outside the intelligence community" and that "her cover was blown" by the Novak column. [...]

Fitzgerald indicated he had considered the possibility of charging leakers with violating the Espionage Act, which makes it a crime for government officials to disseminate classified information--to unauthorized individuals. Using the Espionage Act in this manner, some media and legal experts have claimed, would lead to an Official Secrets Act, but Fitzgerald said he didn't accept that analysis. Still, he called this act "a difficult statue to interpret." And he chose not to indict anyone--yet--for violating it. He also defended his choice to pursue Miller and Cooper and to seek Miller's imprisonment, citing a special need for their testimony. ("I do not think that a reporter should be subpoenaed anything close to routinely," he said.) When asked about detractors who have accused him of being partisan, he replied, "for which party?"

Fitzgerald knows far more than what is in the Libby indictment. But the American public may never learn what he has uncovered. There might be no further indictments, and Fitzgerald dismissed the idea of writing a final report. He said that he does not have the authority to issue such a document--and that he does not believe a special counsel should have that authority. Independent counsels used to have the obligation to craft a final report that detailed their investigation and findings and explained decisions to prosecute and not prosecute. But the independent counsel law expired, and Fitzgerald is operating as a special counsel pursuant to Justice Department rules that do not provide for the production of a final report and that do compel prosecutors to keep grand jury material that is not used for an indictment or trial confidential. Feeling the reporter's pain, Fitzgerald remarked, "I know that people want to know whatever it is we know....We just can't do that....We either charge someone or we don't talk about them."

Which means that after the government has paid for a two-year investigation, the public may be left in the dark about much of what happened in the leak case. The leakers may never be held accountable. Rove's role, Bush's knowledge, Cheney's potential involvement--all of that could remain a secret, even though Fitzgerald has apparently dug deep and unearthed much of the tale.

When a reporter asked Fitzgerald if he had learned how Washington works, he replied, "Yes," and said no more. [...]

Comment: If there are no more indictments, then it seems highly probable that all the fuss was intended by the Powers that Be to get the Bush gang moving on the next phase of the "anti-terror" operation. Sure, Bush's popularity is still rock bottom - but if the Bush administration is "playing ball" again now after the recent reminder as to just who is calling the shots, you can bet that the mainstream media will ease off the anti-Bush polls and stories.

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Bush Picks Alito for Supreme Court
AP Political Writer
October 31, 2005

WASHINGTON - President Bush, stung by the collapse of his previous choice, nominated veteran judge Samuel Alito on Monday in a bid to reshape the Supreme Court and mollify his conservative allies. Ready-to-rumble Democrats warned that Alito may be an extremist who would curb abortion rights.

"Judge Alito .... has more prior judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in more than 70 years," Bush said, drawing an unspoken contrast to his recent choice, Harriet Miers. [...]

Unlike Miers' nomination, which was derailed Thursday by Bush's conservative allies, Alito faces vocal opposition from Democrats.

"The Senate needs to find out if the man replacing Miers is too radical for the American people," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada. He chided Bush for not nominating the first Hispanic to the court. [...]

Comment: Notice that Bush has nominated a nice, conservative judge. No doubt the Powers that Be are now quite happy. Perhaps Bush got the message that he needs to do what he is told...

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Bush Mostly Greeted Warmly in Norfolk, Va.
Associated Press
Sat Oct 29,12:10 AM ET

NORFOLK, Va. - It was President Bush's kind of crowd. Well, mostly. The president spoke Friday morning to about 2,000 invited supporters in Norfolk, home to the world's largest navy base and numerous service members. About half the crowd was in uniform, and more than 70 military members sat on risers on the stage.

Comment: After the stress of last week's indictment craze, Bush was no doubt looking forward to giving a speech to a couple of thousand people who would cheer him and agree with every single word he uttered.

"People here I think understand this fact, that America is engaged in the first war of the 21st century and the stakes could not be higher," Bush said. The audience cheered, applauded and whistled approvingly throughout the president's speech seeking to bolster public support for his Iraq war policies.

But outside downtown's Chrysler Hall, a small group of anti-war protesters chanted "Bush lies."

Inside the performance hall, shortly after the president began speaking, a man in a balcony shouted, "War is terrorism! War is terrorism! Step down now, Mr. President. Torture is terrorism."

Many in the audience turned toward the upper levels and booed. The president continued speaking as security officials escorted the man out. [...]

Comment: Given the tightly controlled nature of Bush's appearances, it is rather peculiar that this man was able to sneak inside and heckle Bush - especially since security would have been extra-tight given Bush's low popularity ratings. Even though Bush was rumored to have been going nuts in the White House, he just calmly continued speaking...

About 25 protesters remained across the street from the hall after the speech, a white Norfolk police van parked nearby.

"We wanted to raise awareness about hypocrisy and corruption and cronyism" in the Bush administration, said Jonathan Hammond, 23, of Norfolk.

Some motorists honked horns and waved in support as they drove by. One man, though, rolled down his car window and shouted "Go home!" [...]

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Bush to Unveil Super-Flu Strategy Tuesday
AP Medical Writer
Sat Oct 29, 7:00 PM ET

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration's long-awaited plan on how to fight the next super-flu will likely include beefed-up attempts to spot human infections early, both here and abroad.

Expect recommendations on how to isolate the sick. Governors and mayors are on notice to figure out who will actually inject stockpiled vaccines into the arms of panicked people.

Bush on Tuesday is visiting the National Institutes of Health to announce his administration's strategy on how to prepare for the next flu pandemic, whether it's caused by the bird flu in Asia or some other super strain of influenza. Federal health officials have spent the last year updating a national plan on how to do that.

The president will ask Congress for unspecified new money, not just for a vaccine against bird flu but to fund a buildup of infrastructure ready to deal with any pandemic, said a senior administration official, who spoke Saturday on condition of anonymity.

Stockpiling drugs and vaccines is just one component. [...]

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Texas Pastor Electrocuted During Baptism
Mon Oct 31,12:42 AM ET

WACO, Texas - A pastor performing a baptism was electrocuted inside his church Sunday morning after adjusting a nearby microphone while standing in water, a church employee said.

The Rev. Kyle Lake, 33, was stepping into the baptistery as he reached out for the microphone, which produced an electric shock, said University Baptist Church community pastor Ben Dudley.

Water in a baptistery usually reaches above the waist, said Byron Weathersbee, interim university chaplain at Baylor University.

Lake was pronounced dead at Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center, nursing supervisor Pat Mahl said. The woman being baptized apparently had not stepped into the water and was not seriously injured.

Pastors at University Baptist Church routinely use a microphone during baptisms, said Jamie Dudley, the wife of Ben Dudley and a business administrator at the church. [...]

Comment: In horror movies, people are electrocuted by microphones. In real life, the chances of being electrocuted by a low-voltage microphone are pretty small. Talk about a freak accident - and in Texas, no less...

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Nano visionary Richard Smalley dies
By Michael Kanellos
Staff Writer, CNET
October 28, 2005, 3:45 PM PDT

Richard Smalley, a Rice University professor who helped jump-start the field of nanotechnology, died Friday after a long bout with cancer.

Smalley, 62, is mostly known for discovering a form of carbon called a fullerene, or informally known as a buckyball. It is a soccer-shaped molecule that consists of 60 carbon atoms, which some believe will one day be used to transport drugs in the human body or strengthen aircraft parts and other equipment.

The discovery of fullerene helped put the then-emerging field of nanotechnology, which involves making products from designer molecules, into the limelight. Smalley's profile grew as well. He founded Carbon Nanotechnologies, which makes carbon nanotubes, a tube-shaped form of pure carbon that some believe will ferry electrons inside chips.

Besides the 1996 Nobel in Chemistry, Smalley was awarded the Irving Langmuir Prize, the Franklin Medal, and the Ernest O. Lawrence Memorial Award. (Rice students also crowned him homecoming queen in 1996.)

In the past few years, Smalley became an outspoken advocate for dedicating research to alternative energy technologies.

"It may be a greater challenge for us than the Cold make it possible for 10 billion people to live the lifestyle you are used to in a way that doesn't cause unacceptable impacts on the environment," he told an audience of scientists at the International Electron Devices Meeting in San Francisco last December. "There is no escaping the problem. The consequences will be terrorism, pestilence, famine." [...]

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Live speech-translation technology unveiled
October 2005 New Scientist

Technology that provides live translation of speech from one language to another has been revealed by scientists from the US and Europe.

This and other translation technologies were demonstrated publicly for the first time at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, US, last Thursday. They were developed by researchers from the International Center for Advanced Communication Technologies (InterACT), a collaboration between Carnegie Mellon and the University of Karlsruhe in Germany.

Alex Waibel, a professor at both universities, demonstrated the system that almost instantly translates speech from one language to another by giving a talk in English that was converted simultaneously into German and Spanish. "We want everyone working together but to maintain our individuality," Waibel told reporters.

The researchers also revealed a directional speaker system that delivers a translated audio feed to just one person in a room, removing the need for them to wear headphones. And another concept device projected translated subtitles along the bottom of one lens of a modified pair of glasses. Silent speech

One of Waibel's doctoral students, Stan Jou, revealed an even more futuristic idea. By attaching 11 electrodes to a subject's face and throat, a computer was able to generate speech from mouthed gestures alone. The researchers suggest the system might be used to place cellphone calls in situations where they are normally banned. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is looking at a related system.

The speech translation software developed by the InterACT researchers backs up its use of speech recognition and voice synthesis with statistical techniques to speed up the selection of words and phrases. These techniques are based on scans of a vast number of previously translated documents in order to build probabilistic rules for translation.

Other research groups and companies are also focusing on a statistical approach to translation. In August 2005, internet giant Google won a machine translation competition organised by the US government. One reason for Google's success is the vast quantity of translated information that it has collated for analysis.

In the past, translation researchers have sought to provide computers with an understanding of the syntactic rules underlying different languages. But this has often failed when faced with exceptions to those rules.

Comment: Kind of makes ya wonder about how easy it might be to fake cell phone calls from an airborne aircraft.

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The mystery of the eye
NBC2 News
10/27/2005 10:24:25 AM

LEE COUNTY - While watching NBC2 coverage of Hurricane Wilma about two dozen residents called the station reporting an unusual sighting. While watching a Doppler loop of Hurricane Wilma coming ashore, a number two appeared in the eye of the storm.

In going back through the recorded Doppler loop, we found exactly what viewers were talking about.

The image below was not altered in any way - it's a screen capture from the Doppler system. You can click 'play' ... to watch the actual Doppler loop.

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October Sets Rainfall Records in Northeast
Mon Oct 31, 8:36 PM ET

ITHACA, N.Y. - With a month of widespread flooding from Maine to Maryland, it should come as no surprise that it was the wettest October on record in 15 cities throughout the Northeast, Cornell University meteorologists reported Monday.

Five of those cities - Allentown, Pa.; Concord, N.H.; Islip, N.Y.; Newark, N.J.; and Providence, R.I. - all recorded the wettest month ever, said Kathryn Vreeland, a meteorologist at Cornell's Northeast Regional Climate Center.

Portland, Maine, had 14.37 inches, but that fell short of the record 16.86 inches in October 1996. Still, it was the city's second-wettest October and third-wettest month ever.

The hurricanes that rolled over the Gulf Coast in late September and October weren't necessarily to blame for the wetness.

"Blame the jet stream," said Ross Dickson of the National Weather Service's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"There was a strong blocking mechanism in the North Atlantic that allowed the tropical moisture from the remnants of those storms to flow northward in the upper atmosphere, where it got caught in a pattern of weak troughs and cold fronts," Dickson said. "That was the problem, it just sat there and didn't go anywhere for a while." [...]

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Canada discovers H5 avian flu virus in wild birds
Oct 31 4:08 PM US/Eastern

The H5 avian influenza virus has been found in wild migratory birds in Canada, officials said, but it is unlikely the deadly H5N1 strain threatening Asia and Europe and there is no threat to human health.

The virus, whose subtype must still be determined, was detected in 28 ducks in the eastern province of Quebec and five in Manitoba in central Canada out of approximately 4,800 samples, said Jim Clark of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

"These findings do not indicate that we are dealing with a virus strain capable of causing significant illness. The evidence we've observed strongly indicates that these healthy birds were not infected with the same virus that is currently present in Asia," Clark said during a press conference.

The H5N1 bird flu virus has killed more than 60 people and prompted the culling of 140 million birds in Asia in the past two years. [...]

Tests continue to determine the N type of the virus.

More results are expected in the coming weeks. However, it may not be possible to definitively identify the virus subtype because researchers were not able to isolate a live virus from the samples, Clark said. [...]

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Scientists prove blind people can 'see' with sixth sense
The Scotsman
Tue 1 Nov 2005

THE uncanny ability of blind people to "sense" unseen objects has been demonstrated for the first time in sighted volunteers whose vision was blanked out by scientists.

The findings suggest "blindsight", which has been observed in blind people whose eyes function normally but who have suffered damage to the brain's visual centre, is a real and not imagined phenomenon.

In tests, the blind have been able to distinguish basic shapes of objects they cannot see, as well as their orientation and direction of motion. On other occasions a blind person has reported experiencing a "feeling" that an object is present, while not being able to see it.

A number of theories have been proposed to explain "blindsight". Generally, it is suggested that other parts of the brain besides the primary visual cortex respond to nerve messages from the eyes at an unconscious level.

Scientists from the University of Houston in Texas, temporarily blinded a group of 12 volunteers by using an electromagnetic field to shut down the primary visual cortex. Images were then flashed in front of them on a screen. [...]

The researchers wrote in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: "Despite unawareness of these 'targets', performance on forced-choice discrimination tasks for orientation and colour were both significantly above chance."

They said the findings suggested that a visual pathway bypassing the primary visual cortex must be responsible for "blindsight".

Comment: Just shut down the primary visual cortex with an electromagnetic field! Sure, no problem! It makes us wonder what new and amazing "nonlethal weaponry" will appear in the near future...

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Pumpkin decoration appears to bear the face of Christ
The Jersey Journal
Monday, October 31, 2005

It's a miracle!

At least that's what employees at a printing plant in Jersey City are saying about an imprint on a decorated pumpkin they say bears an eerie resemblance to the visage of Jesus Christ.

"My whole department, about 25 people, said it looks like the face of Jesus Christ," said Kathy St. Clair, a printing billing specialist for the company. "It's a sign that he (Jesus Christ) is in the midst of everything."

The pumpkin was decorated by St. Clair as part of a contest. St. Clair said she splattered it with yellow, green, red and blue wax paint, inspired by the horror movie "Hellraiser."

Comment: She was inspired by the movie Hellraiser, and Jesus appeared on the pumpkin?! Praise the Lord!!

St. Clair lost the contest, which was held on Wednesday, but on Friday, co-workers began to notice that some settled wax on the gourd formed a likeness of Jesus Christ. [...]

St. Clair said she planned to keep her "Jesus-faced" pumpkin on display in her office a little while longer.

"I'm going to put it on eBay," she chuckled.

Comment: God bless eBay...

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And Finally...

123 Schwarzenegger Street

Comment: Happy Hallowe'en!!

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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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