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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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Winter Still-Life With Dog

22 dec 2005
Live Vote

Do you believe President Bush's actions justify impeachment?

* 80248 responses

Yes, between the secret spying, the deceptions leading to war and more, there is plenty to justify putting him on trial. 87%

No, like any president, he has made a few missteps, but nothing approaching "high crimes and misdemeanors." 4%

No, the man has done absolutely nothing wrong. Impeachment would just be a political lynching. 7%

I don't know. 1%

Video provided by CanOFun
A MUST WATCH video of George Bush declaring, unequivocally, when trying to promote Patriot Act, that NO wiretaps would ever be authorized without a court order. This is followed by his most recent dissimulation regarding wiretaps that were illegally executed under his orders. Watch Bush fumble for words on that one, and then how he rejects the implication that he is after unchecked power. Finally, you will see Sen. Russ Feingold pointing out the obvious: there is NO reason for Bush to have done what he has done. It takes a few minutes to download, but it is worth it.

By Manuel Valenzuela
21 Dec 2005
Part Two of Two -Part One Here

There is purpose behind having enemies, for their existence is the backbone of the corporatists. Indeed, there is a method behind their madness. Having enemies means having control both of fear and hatred of the people, as well as having control of the masses along with their animalistic emotions. Psychology can be manipulated at the push of a few buttons; an entire nation can be mobilized toward war in the time it takes two skyscrapers to be imploded. Nationalism and xenophobia make blind rational thought; ignorance makes deaf the sounds of wisdom.

The use of enemies distracts the minds of the people from their daily lives and chains truth to the dungeons of corporatists and neocons. The silhouette of the enemy helps supply the armies of invasion and occupation, it assists in mobilizing the nation’s economy into perpetual war readiness, and it distracts the people as their treasure is pillaged, just as it demands patience of the citizenry in the face of utter debacle.

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By Christopher Schwarzen
Times Snohomish County Bureau
21 Dec 2005
After working for months on a 10-year comprehensive-plan update, Snohomish County Council members say they're ready for newer topics.

But they'll return to an old issue first: all-mail elections.

With control of the council switching from the Republicans to the Democrats next year, what has been rejected more than once — most recently by a 3-2 vote Monday — is now almost a sure thing.

Currently, 32 of the state's 39 counties have moved to all-mail voting. By January, about 60 percent of Snohomish County's registered voters will have chosen to vote by mail, according to the county Auditor's Office. It's expected that figure will rise to 80 percent by fall 2008 if the council doesn't make a change.

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December 20, 2005
Think Progress
President Bush claimed at yesterday’s press conference that he did not have to secure warrants because “after September the 11th, the United States Congress also granted me additional authority to use military force against al Qaeda.”

And Attorney General Alberto Gonzales gave a lengthier legal explanation:
Our position is, is that the authorization to use force, which was passed by the Congress in the days following September 11th, constitutes that other authorization, that other statute by Congress, to engage in this kind of signals intelligence.

It might be news to Congress that they authorized the President to carry out what might be illegal spying on American citizens. Many members of Congress specifically said the resolution did not expand Presidential powers...

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National Security Archive
George Washington University
Washington, D.C., December 19, 2005 - In the wake of revelations that the Bush administration authorized the warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens in 2002, the National Security Archive reposted its "National Security Agency Declassified" electronic briefing book, first published in January 2000 and updated as recently as this year.

President Bush's recent admission that he authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to eavesdrop on U.S. persons without obtaining a warrant has focused the nation's attention on the authorities and regulations governing this sensitive issue. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) specifically prohibits domestic surveillance by the NSA, the nation's largest intelligence agency, unless it gets permission to do so from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Specific guidance for adhering to FISA policies is spelled out in United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18, the most recent known version of which was issued by the NSA director in July 1993. The directive "prescribes policies and procedures and assigns responsibilities to ensure that the missions and functions of the United States SIGINT System (USSS) are conducted in a manner that safeguards the constitutional rights of U.S. persons."

Also included in "The National Security Agency Declassified" are warnings given by the NSA to the incoming Bush administration in January 2001 that the Information Age required rethinking the policies and authorities that kept the NSA in compliance with the Constitution's 4th Amendment prohibition on "unreasonable searches and seizures" without warrant and "probable cause."

Click here for "The National Security Agency Declassified"

Go to original article to follow active hyperlinks. Archiving is encouraged.

Ramzy Baroud
Al-Ahram Weekly
15-21 Dec 2005
US President George W Bush once again blamed Arab media for his country's image problem. "I recognise we've got an image issue, particularly when you have television stations, Arabic television stations that are constantly just pounding America -- saying America is fighting Islam, Americans can't stand Muslims, this is a war against a religion," Bush commented following a speech in Philadelphia on Monday.

It's disturbing to think that the president truly believes that Arab and Muslim contempt for his government stems from Arab media detractors, rather than his administration's misguided policies. Simply put, Arab and Muslim nations' disdain for the Bush administration is a natural human response to colonisation, military oppression and the degrading regimes they bring about. Before offering his impulsive remarks, President Bush should have consulted the history of the Middle East -- of which his clique often claims mastery -- a region whose past has been marred with utter contempt for foreign occupiers and unyielding struggle to force them out.

Indeed, the US image problem has little to do with newspapers and 24-hours news channels, and more to do with the dangerous insistence on ignoring the roots of the West's falling out with Muslims, not always as a religious group, but as colonised and exploited nations.

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By Francis A. Boyle
18 Sept 2005
It is now a matter of public record that immediately after the terrible tragedy of 11 September 2001, U.S. Secretary of War Donald Rumsfeld and his pro-Israeli "Neoconservative" Deputy Paul Wolfowitz began to plot, plan, scheme and conspire to wage a war of aggression against Iraq by manipulating the tragic events of September 11th in order to provide a pretext for doing so.(1)

Of course Iraq had nothing at all to do with September 11th or supporting Al-Qaeda. But that made no difference to Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, their Undersecretary of War Douglas Feith, Undersecretary of State John Bolton, and the numerous other pro-Israeli Neo-Cons inhabiting the Bush Jr. administration.

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31 January 2003
Adolf Hitler would be proud that an American President is emulating him in so many ways. Hitler, it will be remembered, routinely ignored his military, other world leaders, and the clergy. Bush seems to think that this policy, which ultimately failed for Hitler, will work for him.

First, we should consider what Christian leaders are saying about Bush.

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in America, Frank T. Griswold III, says "I'd like to be able to go somewhere in the world and not have to apologize for being from the United States" and blasts George W. Bush for his saber rattling. Apparently, poppy Bush, an Episcopalian, believes that the head of his church is wrong and his wayward son is right.

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Stephen Kaus
Huffington Post
Accusing the Bush Administration of being disingenuous is no longer a liberal pursuit. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, a bastion of Right-Wing fundamentalism, today called out the Administration for duplicity. Led by former (very former now) Supreme Court candidate Michael Luttig, a three judge panel refused to transfer Jose Padilla to civilian custody and refused to vacate its previous opinion.

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By Bernard Weiner
Co-Editor, The Crisis Papers
December 20, 2005
"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just as long as I'm the dictator." [George W. Bush, December 18, 2000 during his first trip to Washington as President-Elect]

It's clear that Bush violated the law by ordering the National Security Agency to engage in warrantless domestic spying on U.S. citizens. So, once again, I have a question for those who, perhaps somewhat reluctantly, voted for George Bush: NOW do you get it?

I posed that same question several months ago, in the wake of the stupendous Bush Administration incompetency that left thousands dead and homeless after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. Now more and more facts are being revealed (about spying, torturing, lying) that should make it obvious that those residing in the White House are not only bunglers on a grand scale but dangerous to the current and future health of our democratic republic. They should be impeached and removed ASAP before they take us all down with them.

We already knew how they lied and deceived the citizenry into supporting a war against a country that was weak, contained, posing little or no imminent threat to any of its neighbors, and certainly not to the United States. (Recent polls indicate that nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the war was a mistake and the figures are steadily rising for those who think the troops should be brought home as soon as possible.) We already knew how the Bush Administration had effectively turned over environmental and public-health regulation to the polluting industries and drug companies.

But these new revelations about secretly ordering warrantless domestic spying is, as one senator said, an "astounding" violation of how America works as a country of laws.

How could this have happened in a free society? ...

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Comment: Bernard Weiner seems to think that Bush can be gotten rid of via Impeachment or pressure to resign, or some other peaceful, legal method. Not very likely. Can anyone imagine impeachment of Hitler or anyone pressuring him to resign "for the good of the country"?

As Thomas Jefferson said: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure."

So, ya'll don't hold your breath for Impeachment. It would be nice if we could all get together and pull it off, but people won't wake up and take action until their slavery and misery is so complete that the prospect of death is preferable.

Dec 22, 5:41 AM (ET)
WASHINGTON - The terror-fighting USA Patriot Act may have a new lease on life. The GOP-controlled Senate on Wednesday approved a six-month extension of the USA Patriot Act to keep the anti-terror law from expiring on Dec. 31. President Bush gave it his grudging blessing.

The Republican-controlled House is now expected to come back and consider the legislation keeping the 16 provisions of the law passed after the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington from expiring.

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Irish News
21 Dec 2005
Ireland: The CIA is using Baldonnel airport as a stop-over for planes carrying terror suspects, it was claimed today.

Independent Senator David Norris also told an Oireachtas Committee that the Defence Department was sending fuel bills from the Air Corps headquarters in west Dublin to CIA shadow companies in central Africa.

Mr Norris also branded US president George Bush and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice as liars on the issue.

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By Pete Yost
The Associated Press
21 Dec 2005
The Seattle Times
WASHINGTON – A Republican lobbyist at the center of a Capitol Hill bribery probe could cooperate with prosecutors if ongoing plea bargaining negotiations proceed smoothly in coming days, says a person involved in the investigation.

Jack Abramoff might plead guilty under an arrangement that would settle a criminal case against him in Florida as well as potential charges in Washington, said the person close to the probe.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of discussions between prosecutors and Abramoff's lawyers.

Asked how many members of Congress Abramoff could implicate, the person said only that "cooperation is cooperation; it's full cooperation."

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By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
22 December 2005
The ruling Republican establishment in Washington is bracing for a major scandal after indications that an indicted top lobbyist linked to the party is about to tell all to investigators under a plea deal with prosecutors.

Lawyers close to the investigation said yesterday that they expected the lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, to reach the deal within a fortnight, before he faces trial in Miami in a separate case in which he is charged with fraud relating to his purchase of Florida casino boats in 2000.

But this could become a sideshow if a plea bargain agreement is reached. Under it, Mr Abramoff would receive a reduced sentence in Miami, in return for testifying against his business and political associates in Washington - possibly including his ex-patron Tom DeLay, the former Republican majority leader in the House. Mr DeLay denies all wrongdoing.

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Texas Observer
Four months after he took the oath of office in 2001, President George W. Bush was the attraction, and the White House the venue, for a fundraiser organized by the alleged perpetrator of the largest billing fraud in the history of corporate lobbying.

In May 2001, Jack Abramoff’s lobbying client book was worth $4.1 million in annual billing for the Greenberg Traurig law firm. He was a friend of Bush advisor Karl Rove. He was a Bush “Pioneer,” delivering at least $100,000 in bundled contributions to the 2000 campaign. He had just concluded his work on the Bush Transition Team as an advisor to the Department of the Interior. He had sent his personal assistant Susan Ralston to the White House to work as Rove’s personal assistant. He was a close friend, advisor, and high-dollar fundraiser for the most powerful man in Congress, Tom DeLay.

Abramoff was so closely tied to the Bush Administration that he could, and did, charge two of his clients $25,000 for a White House lunch date and a meeting with the President.

From the same two clients he took to the White House in May 2001, Abramoff also obtained $2.5 million in contributions for a non-profit foundation he and his wife operated.

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21 Dec 2005
U.S. President George W. Bush calls indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff ``an equal money dispenser'' who helped politicians of both parties. Campaign donation records show Republicans were a lot more equal than Democrats.

Between 2001 and 2004, Abramoff gave more than $127,000 to Republican candidates and committees and nothing to Democrats, federal records show. At the same time, his Indian clients were the only ones among the top 10 tribal donors in the U.S. to donate more money to Republicans than Democrats.

Bush's comment about Abramoff in a Dec. 14 Fox News interview was aimed at countering Democratic accusations that Republicans have brought a ``culture of corruption'' to Washington. Even so, the numbers show that ``Abramoff's big connections were with the Republicans,'' said Larry Noble, the former top lawyer for the Federal Election Commission, who directs the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics.

``It is somewhat unusual in that most lobbyists try to work with both Republicans and Democrats, but we're already seeing that Jack Abramoff doesn't seem to be a usual lobbyist,'' Noble said.

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Dec. 22, 2005
CBS News
The Senate passed a six-month extension of the USA Patriot Act, hoping to avoid the expiration of law enforcement powers deemed vital in the war on terror.

Approval came on a voice vote late Wednesday night, and cleared the way for a final vote in the House.

President Bush gave the agreement his grudging blessing and indicated he would sign it. "The work of Congress on the Patriot Act is not finished," Mr. Bush said. "The act will expire next summer, but the terrorist threat to America will not expire on that schedule."

The agreement capped several days of back-room negotiation conducted against the backdrop of presidential attacks on critics of the legislation. The Patriot Act provisions will expire Dec. 31 if the House and Senate do not act.

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By Julie Stahl Jerusalem Bureau Chief
December 21, 2005
Jerusalem - The top Roman Catholic clergyman in Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority areas blamed the policies of President Bush for an increase in the popularity among Palestinians of the terrorist group Hamas.

Meanwhile, Israel said on Wednesday that it is not obliged to allow Palestinians to hold parliamentary elections in Jerusalem in January following threats by the Palestinian Authority to cancel the elections.

Hamas won stunning victories in municipal elections in the West Bank last week, raising expectations that the militant group would win big in parliamentary elections.

Hamas' participation in the upcoming January 25 parliamentary elections has upset Israeli officials, who say they will not help the P.A. logistically with their elections as long as Hamas is involved.

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Dec 22, 2005
WARNING LABEL: This column is about to make two points that may cause sudden shock to faithful readers.

One: President Bush is right when he says that in today's age of global terrorism, a president needs to move quickly and decisively (or as he recently put it, "faster and quicker") to protect America's homeland after receiving intelligence about a suspected terrorist in our midst.

Two: Knee-jerk liberalism is again running rampant (see also: amok) in Washington, threatening our dearest democratic values. It must be stopped if we are to safeguard America and preserve America's distinctive democratic greatness.

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Dec 21, 2005
Franz Kafka and George Orwell would have gotten a grim laugh out of President Bush's radio address on Saturday, in which the president assured the nation that he had ordered Americans to be spied on, in direct defiance of a federal law that specifically prohibits such spying, because he is dedicated to protecting our "civil liberties."

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Dec 21, 2005
Doug Thompson
A shrill mantra you hear from the keyboard commandos who fill the partisan bulletin boards and blogs is that nothing, repeat nothing, which appears on Capitol Hill Blue ever ends up in the so-called “mainstream media.”

Nah. Those who are who are long on judgment and short on research can't let facts stand in the way of their bias. The Democrats hate us because they remember how we questioned the actions of Bill Clinton. The Republicans hate us because we give the same treatment to George W. Bush.

They conveniently forget our many stories before the Iraq war that questioned the credibility of intelligence claims of weapons of mass destruction (two years ahead of other media) or the stories last year that talked of concerns by White House staff about Bush’s temper tantrums (and reported this year by Newsweek and the New York Daily News, among others) or our stories last year about Bush using the Pentagon and National Security Agency to spy on Americans (and finally reported this year by The New York Times).

“Old news,” claim the detractors. “Give us something more recent.”

You want recent? You can’t handle recent.

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By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 22, 2005
A federal appeals court yesterday refused to authorize the transfer of "enemy combatant" Jose Padilla to face new criminal charges, issuing a strongly worded opinion rebuking the Bush administration and its handling of the high-profile terrorism case.

The same court that had granted the administration wide latitude in holding Padilla without charges or a court appearance now is suggesting that the detention was a mistake. As a result, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit said prosecutors could not take custody of Padilla from the military and take him to Miami, where he now faces indictment on terrorism charges.

In issuing its denial, the court cited the government's changing rationale for Padilla's detention, questioning why it used one set of arguments before federal judges deciding whether it was legal for the military to hold Padilla and another set before the Miami grand jury.

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By Howard Fineman
Dec. 21, 2005
WASHINGTON - In the first weeks and months after 9/11, I am told by a very good source, there was a lot of wishing out loud in the White House Situation Room about expanding the National Security Agency’s ability to instantly monitor phone calls and e-mails between American callers and possible terror suspects abroad. “We talked a lot about how useful that would be,” said this source, who was “in the room” in the critical period after the attacks.

Well, as the world now knows, the NSA — at the prompting of Vice President Cheney and on official (secret) orders from President Bush — was doing just that. And yet, as I understand it, many of the people in the White House’s own Situation Room — including leaders of the national security adviser’s top staff and officials of the FBI — had no idea that it was happening.

As best I can tell — and this really isn’t my beat — the only people who knew about the NSA’s new (and now so controversial) warrant-less eavesdropping program early on were Bush, Cheney, NSA chief Michael Hayden, his top deputies, top leaders of the CIA, and lawyers at the Justice Department and the White House counsel’s office hurriedly called in to sprinkle holy water on it.

Which presents the disturbing image of the White House as a series of nesting dolls, with Cheney-Bush at the tiny secret center, sifting information that most of the rest of the people around them didn’t even know existed. And that image, in turn, will dominate and define the year 2006 — and, I predict, make it the angriest, most divisive season of political theater since the days of Richard Nixon.

We are entering a dark time in which the central argument advanced by each party is going to involve accusing the other party of committing what amounts to treason. Democrats will accuse the Bush administration of destroying the Constitution; Republicans will accuse the Dems of destroying our security.

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By Arlene Getz
Dec. 21, 2005
Bush’s defense of his phone-spying program has disturbing echoes of arguments once used by South Africa’s apartheid regime. Why Americans should examine the parallels.

Back in the 1980s, when I was living in Johannesburg and reporting on apartheid South Africa, a white neighbor proffered a tasteless confession. She was "quite relieved," she told me, that new media restrictions prohibited our reporting on government repression. No matter that Pretoria was detaining tens of thousands of people without real evidence of wrongdoing. No matter that many of them, including children, were being tortured—sometimes to death. No matter that government hit squads were killing political opponents. No matter that police were shooting into crowds of black civilians protesting against their disenfranchisement. "It's so nice," confided my neighbor, "not to open the papers and read all that bad news."

I thought about that neighbor this week, as reports dribbled out about President George W. Bush's sanctioning of warrantless eavesdropping on American conversations. For anyone who has lived under an authoritarian regime, phone tapping—or at least the threat of it—is always a given. But U.S. citizens have always been lucky enough to believe themselves protected from such government intrusion. So why have they reacted so insipidly to yet another post-9/11 erosion of U.S. civil liberties?

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by James Ridgeway
December 21st, 2005
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Even as President Bush accuses the Democrats of imperiling national security by revealing his secret spying program both he and Vice President Cheney move closer to a serious confrontation with Congress over constitutional power. For the first time since their election in 2000, both face open rebuke in Congress. Impeachment may not be as far-fetched as it might at first seem.

Georgia Democratic congressman John Lewis said Bush should be impeached if he broke the law in authorizing spying on Americans. “It's a very serious charge, but he violated the law,” said Lewis. “The president should abide by the law. He deliberately, systematically violated the law. He is not king, he is president.”

Cheney already is likely to face serious questioning and possible indictment for his role in the Plame leak case. He appears to have been the official who ordered his top aide, Scooter Libby, and possibly others to initiate the plot. Speculation is that the vice president may have to retire from office, perhaps citing health problems.

Tuesday, in a stopover in Pakistan, Cheney argued Bush administration was seeking broader executive powers in an era following Vietnam and Watergate—a period he described as “the nadir of the modern presidency in terms of authority and legitimacy.”

(Of course Cheney and other conservatives now in power long have argued for a return of all federal power to the states, and have vigorously opposed measures aimed at extending the reach of the presidency and federal government.So, his arguments now seem a bit bizarre.)

John E. Sununu, the Republican senator, from New Hampshire told the Washington Post, “The vice president may be the only person I know of that believes the executive has somehow lost power over the last 30 years.”

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by John Kelley
21 Dec 2005
“The price good people pay for their indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” Plato

“People can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. All you have to do is tell them they’re being attacked and denounce the pacifists for a lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.” Herman Goering, Nazi leader who created the Gestapo, sentenced to death at Nuremberg for war crimes.

We should not be talking just of impeachment, that is not strong enough action to send a message to tyrants in the world. Given the Downing Street Memo showing that the current administration knowingly constructed intelligence to create justification for going to war it is appropriate for the world to examine whether officials of the United States and Great Britain should be tried for war crimes.

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Dec. 21, 2005
WASHINGTON—U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney has upped the ante in a burgeoning scandal over the use of unauthorized wiretaps in the United States, touting the Bush administration's success in restoring presidential powers that were stripped during the Richard Nixon era.

Cheney said the Watergate scandal and the Vietnam War wrongly eroded the executive power of the White House, something he and U.S. President George W. Bush have remedied during their war on terror.

The U.S. vice-president spoke on a day when some moderate Republicans joined Democratic calls for a congressional inquiry into whether Bush broke the law by authorizing wiretaps without court permission.

At least two Democrats suggested Bush could be impeached for his alleged crimes and the White House scrambled late in the day to try to counter the perception that Bush had deliberately misled the nation when he spoke about wiretaps in April 2004.

"Watergate and a lot of things around Watergate and Vietnam, both during the '70s served, I think, to erode the authority ... the president needs to be effective, especially in the national security area," Cheney told reporters aboard the Air Force Two aircraft after a visit to Pakistan.

But the vice-president said he thought the Bush administration has been able to restore some of "the legitimate authority of the presidency."

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Comment: I hope everybody reads this one. Took our breath away! The U.S. barely escaped that Crook, Nixon, and Cheney wants to hold him up as an example?

December 19, 2005
By Brian Livingston
With everything I've learned in my life about computers, I don't want any votes disappearing into a shiny metal box or an ephemeral memory card. The only way an election can be fair is when tangible, paper ballots are marked by hand by actual voters (with alternate provisions for disabled voters). You can tabulate the votes using any machine you want, as long as the paper ballots can be recounted as the final word.
Two counties in Florida have terminated their use of Diebold computerized voting equipment after computer experts showed that vote totals could be changed by a single individual in a way that would be undetectable later.

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By Jan Tromp
Translated By Meta Mertens
December 20, 2005
Can President Bush restore credibility while maintaining the same course? A flurry of speeches delivered over the past few weeks has included something new: the admission of error. But this op-ed article from de Volkskrant of The Netherlands asks the question: 'Is it too late for humility?'

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By Fawaz Turki
December 14, 2005
The Bush Administration has taken a page out of Bill Clinton's playbook – but this time the stakes are far greater than a sexual indiscretion. According to this op-ed article from Saudi Arabia's Arab News, 'the U.S. is not only in violation of the International Convention Against Torture but of American law as well.'

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Comment: This is priceless:
Rice was able to weather protests in Europe over the black sites and torture of prisoners by resorting to double-speak. She told reporters in Ukraine, for example, that, "as a matter of policy, the United States' obligation under the International Convention Against Torture, which prohibits cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment - those obligations extend to U.S. personnel wherever they are." Contestants at beauty pageants have given better answers.

By Andrew Mitrovica
Toronto Star
December 20, 2005
Intelligence services running rampant is also at issue in Canada. According to this op-ed article from Canada's Toronto Star, the Americans should at least be complemented for having a debate that Canadians sorely need.

In the so-called war on terror, it's disturbingly clear that the ends justify the means.

It is also evident that for George Bush and the cadre of intelligence "experts" north and south of the border, civil liberties, human rights and the rule of law are minor irritants that can be dismissed with an arbitrary wave of the hand.

More evidence of this emerged this past week when The New York Times revealed that days after Sept. 11, 2001, Bush secretly ordered his spy services to eavesdrop on an untold number of Americans without a court order.

News of the possibly illegal domestic espionage authorized by the president has unleashed a firestorm of criticism. There will undoubtedly be Congressional hearings and a possible criminal investigation into the type of spying reminiscent of Richard Nixon's notorious dirty tricks.

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Stephen Farrell in Baghdad
UK Times
21 Dec 2005
SUNNI politicians in Iraq launched a fierce attack yesterday on the credibility of last week’s watershed general election, in what could be the first step towards their rejection of the eventual outcome.

As a religious Shia coalition swept the board the newly engaged Sunni leaders issued barely concealed warnings of trouble ahead, prompting fears that insurgents will take it as a signal to renew violence.

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by: Jenell Walton, Liz Foreman
Local religious, political and law enforcement leaders held a press conference Wednesday morning concerning Tuesday night's pipe bombing at a Clifton mosque.

The FBI says the incident has not been classified as a hate crime, but it will be looked at as such.

"No group has claimed responsibility for this act," said Stanley Borgia of the FBI, adding that law enforcement will not stop until the suspect or suspects are identified and brought to justice.

Karen Dabdoub from the Council on American Islamic Relations says the crime had one clear goal.

"This kind of hate crime is intended to divide our community along lines of religion," Dabdoub said.

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22 December 2005
Saddam Hussein has accused the White House of lying about his alleged stockpiles of chemical weapons as well as the claim that he was tortured in US custody.

Speaking on Thursday at the start of the seventh session of his trial on charges of crimes against humanity, the former Iraqi president rekindled his battle of words with Washington.

"Zionists and Americans, I mean officials, hate Saddam Hussein," Saddam said. "The man in the White House is a liar. He said there are chemical weapons in Iraq.

"He later said that, 'We did not find anything in Iraq'."

Referring to a White House statement that his claims that he had been tortured were preposterous, Saddam said: "They lied again when they said that what Saddam said was wrong."

On Wednesday, Saddam accused the Americans of beating him in custody and said he had the bruises to prove it.

Saddam said: "I had my injuries documented by three American [medical] teams." He did not say where or when he was allegedly beaten.

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Comment: What a CIRCUS! Of course, we are curious as to how Dubya would behave in similar circumstances...

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times
23 Dec 2005
Bush has opened a Pandora's box with his shock and awe tactics. The ultimate quagmire will keep mutating and unleashing its deadly new powers for years on end. And there is nothing anyone - not even the "indispensable nation" - can do about it. We have all been, and will remain, shocked and awed.
Iraq is a giant, messy albatross hanging from President George W Bush's neck. The faith-based American president believes "we are winning the war in Iraq". The reality-based global public opinion - not to mention 59% of Americans, and counting - know this is not true.

Bush felt that "God put me here" so he could conduct a "war on terror". Somebody up there must have a tremendous sense of humor - once again manifested in the way He allotted winners and losers in Iraq's December 15 parliamentary elections.

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By Knight Ridder Newspapers and Chicago Tribune
21 Dec 2005
Seattle Times
BAGHDAD, Iraq — Sunni Muslim political leaders claimed Tuesday that Iraq's preliminary election results were rigged, raising fears that they'll reject the new government as illegitimate.

If that happens, many fear that Sunnis will depend on the insurgency and not the parliament to achieve their political aims. That could push the nation toward civil war and threaten U.S. plans to withdraw some troops.

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Robert Scheer
21 Dec 2005
For the Bush White House, the good news from Iraq just never stops. But the joy that President Bush has expressed over the country's latest election, though more restrained than his infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech, will similarly come back to haunt him.

Soon after Bush spoke of the Iraqi election as "a landmark day in the history of liberty," early returns representing 90 percent of the ballots cast in the Iraq election established that the clear winners were Shiite and Sunni religious parties not the least bit interested in Western-style democracy or individual freedom -- including such extremists as Muqtada al-Sadr, whose fanatical followers have fought pitched battles with U.S. troops.

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20 Dec 2005
WASHINGTON -- An Iranian dissident group that the U.S. State Department considers a "foreign terrorist organization" continues to enjoy support in Congress while being protected by the American military in Iraq.

The Mujahedin-e-Khalq organization, sometimes called the People's Mujahedin of Iran, or PMOI, has been on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist groups since 1997 -- even as it enjoys widespread support on Capitol Hill. In addition, the U.S. military has allowed the MeK to maintain an operational training facility in Iraq, said Gregg Sullivan, a State Department spokesman.

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Irish News
21 Dec 2005
The Irish Government's support for the war in Iraq is putting Dublin at risk of a terrorist attack, an Oireachtas Committee heard today.

Peace activists protesting at the use of Shannon Airport by US military planes said the capital could be a retaliation target by victims of the conflict.

The Mid West Alliance against the War today called on the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee to carry out a full investigation into the stop-over of CIA planes carrying terror suspects en route to alleged torture camps.

Spokesman Edward Horgan said: "The decision by the Irish Government to support the war being waged by the US puts the Irish people as a whole, and the people of Dublin city in particular, at risk of retaliation by those who perceive themselves to be the victims of the US-led war.

"The transit of very dangerous military cargoes and munitions through Shannon is also putting members of the public and Shannon airport employees at grave risk."

Mr Horgan said that by assisting the US-led war in Iraq, Ireland was currently in breach of the UN Charter, the Hague Convention on Neutrality and the Geneva Conventions on War.

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21 December 2005
Pensito Review
Absolutely astounding. Dumbfounding. Just too much for words.

The recent comments by Secretary of Defense Donald Dimwit Rumsfeld about Osama bin Forgotten defy credulity.
“I think it is interesting that we haven’t heard from him for close to a year,” Rumsfeld told reporters en route to Islamabad.

“I don’t know what it means, but I suspect in any event if he is alive and functioning that he is spending a major fraction of his time trying to avoid being caught,” Rumsfeld said.
So Donnie just finds it “interesting” that bin Laden hasn’t bombed us lately. And he doesn’t know if bin Laden is dead or alive. Doesn’t sound like he cares too much, either. Is it me, or is this guy just begging for something really bad to happen?

Wait, it gets worse.

Rumsfeld’s comments echoed earlier assessments by the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Ryan Crocker, but contradicted the assertion of al Qaeda’s deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahri in a video interview earlier this month that bin Laden’s battle against the West was only just beginning.

Said Rumsfeld, “We just don’t know.”

That’s a big “Duh!” there, good buddy. We don’t know squat and you’re making it sound like you have as much control over that as the weather; like you’re not the frickin’ defense secretary and the war we’re in has so little to do with this guy that we can’t even be roused to find out if the so-called target has passed away from natural causes while waiting on us to get it together enough to find him.

Noah Schachtman
It's been talked about for years. But the Pentagon's microwave-like pain ray may finally be headed to Iraq, Inside the Army reports.

Developed by the Air Force, the so-called "Active Denial System" (ADS) fires out milimeter waves -- a sort of cousin of microwaves, in the 95 GHz range. The invisible beams penetrate just a 64th of inch beneath the skin. But that's deep enough to heat up the water inside a person. Which is enough to cause excruciating pain.

Seconds later, people have to run away. And that causes mobs to break up in a hurry. It's no wonder, then, why less-lethal weapon guru Charles "Sid" Heal calls the ray the "Holy Grail of crowd control."

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The New York Times
December 22, 2005
For a day, maybe, it felt like a communal challenge, a dare to New Yorkers to demonstrate their pluck and ingenuity. But by yesterday, the reality of a transit strike had wiped away any sense that this was an adventure. It was an annoyance, a hardship, a source of suffering.

Every apartment block, office, store or sidewalk had its tales of people who were unable to get to work, of businesses that had trouble functioning or were able to operate only at a daunting cost, of workers and employers who reached their jobs and found there had been little point in trying because the customers were missing.

The economic burden was felt citywide, but there were other costs, too - hundreds of thousands of children missing school, commuters spending extra hours shuttling to work and back, and pervasive fear of how long this will go on.

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By Corinne Lesnes, New York, Correspondent
Translated By Kate Brumback
December 21, 2005
Le Figaro
Paris transit strikes generally take place annually, or bi-annually, or even tri-annually - so observing New York's first such event in 25 years is no doubt interesting on the other side of the Atlantic. In this article from France's Le Figaro newspaper, at least one New Yorker is sure that the novelty of the strike is not likely to survive long.

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by Bob Nichols
Project Censored Award Winner
21 Dec 2005
“Out of the 580,400 soldiers who served in GW1 (the first Gulf War), of them, 11,000 are now dead! By the year 2000, there were 325,000 on Permanent Medical Disability. This astounding number of ‘Disabled Vets’ means that a decade later, 56% of those soldiers who served have some form of permanent medical problems!”

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December 22, 2005
New York Times
Undercover New York City police officers have conducted covert surveillance in the last 16 months of people protesting the Iraq war, bicycle riders taking part in mass rallies and even mourners at a street vigil for a cyclist killed in an accident, a series of videotapes show.

In glimpses and in glaring detail, the videotape images reveal the robust presence of disguised officers or others working with them at seven public gatherings since August 2004.

The officers hoist protest signs. They hold flowers with mourners. They ride in bicycle events. At the vigil for the cyclist, an officer in biking gear wore a button that said, 'I am a shameless agitator.' She also carried a camera and videotaped the roughly 15 people present.

Beyond collecting information, some of the undercover officers or their associates are seen on the tape having influence on events. At a demonstration last year during the Republican National Convention, the sham arrest of a man secretly working with the police led to a bruising confrontation between officers in riot gear and bystanders.

Until Sept. 11, the secret monitoring of events where people expressed their opinions was among the most tightly limited of police powers.

Provided with images from the tape, the Police Department's chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne, did not dispute that they showed officers at work but said that disguised officers had always attended such gatherings - not to investigate political activities but to keep order and protect free speech. Activists, however, say that police officers masquerading as protesters and bicycle riders distort their messages and provoke trouble.

Comment: While the movie industry has been successful in convincing the public that government surveillance of citizens is a matter of fiction, for the government it is standard policy. The first and most important step in effecting control of the population is to convince them that it does not happen and consign any suggestions to the contrary to the realm of "conspiracy theory."

Note the comment by the Police Dept's Chief spokesman that officers go undercover only to "keep order and protect free speech". But why would they need to go undercover to protect free speech? Clearly an overt police presence would be much more effective in attempting to dissuade anyone from infringing on the free speech of the demonstrators. Obviously, the only reason to go undercover is to keep tabs on the people who are attempting to exercise their right to free speech and to make sure that they do not go so far as to threaten the positions of power of the unelected "elite".

Associated Press Writer
Dec 21 7:46 PM US/Eastern
NEW YORK - The war of words over the transit strike took an ugly turn after Mayor Michael Bloomberg described union heads as "thuggish," a remark some said was racist in the context of a predominantly black union. During his first briefing on the strike Tuesday at City Hall, Bloomberg complained that union leaders had "thuggishly turned their backs on New York City and disgraced the noble concept of public service."

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Associated Press Writer
Dec 21, 2005
WASHINGTON - A quarter-century long fight over the nation's most divisive environmental issue rages on after the Senate on Wednesday rejected opening an Alaska wildlife refuge to oil drilling — even though that provision was included in a must-pass bill that funds U.S. troops overseas and hurricane victims.

It was a stinging defeat for Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, one of the Senate's most powerful members, who had hoped to garner more votes by forcing senators to choose between supporting the drilling measure, or risking the political fallout from voting against money for the troops and hurricane victims.

Instead, Stevens found himself a few votes shy of getting his wish.

Republican leaders could not break a Democratic filibuster threat over the drilling issue, falling three votes short of the 60 votes need to advance the defense spending bill to a final vote. Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., left the bill in limbo as he, Stevens and other GOP leaders gauged their next move.

The measure was widely expected to be withdrawn and reworked without the refuge language, although Stevens warned he was ready to stay until New Year's if necessary to fight for the drilling, a cause he has pursued for 25 of his 37 years in the Senate.

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Minneapolis Star Tribune
20 Dec 2005
Jim Ramstad tends toward moderation in his comments, as well as in his politics, and so it is worth taking note when this Minnesota Republican spotlights "the most outrageous abuse of power I've seen in my 15 years as a member of Congress."

In a spectacular display of reckless, end-of-session thuggery, Ramstad's GOP colleagues have taken language that would allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and handcuffed it to funding for U.S. troops in Iraq.

As usual, the chief perpetrator is Sen. Ted Stevens, the Alaska Republican who has made a minor art of inserting ANWR provisions into critical, high-stakes legislation where they don't belong.

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By John Stanton
Roll Call Staff
December 20, 2005
In a late-night move that could be worth billions of dollars to a small group of major drug manufacturers, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) inserted language into the fiscal year 2006 Defense Department spending conference report.

Sarah Boseley, health editor
The Guardian
Thursday December 22, 2005
Serious questions are raised today about the ability to combat an anticipated bird flu pandemic following the deaths of two people who were being treated with the drug the world is stockpiling as a safeguard against the virus.

To the dismay of medical experts and concern among those responsible for the worldwide efforts to fight a pandemic, the H5N1 bird flu virus in the bloodstream of the two patients in Vietnam rapidly developed resistance to the drug, Tamiflu. One, a 13 year-old girl, appeared to be stable at first and then rapidly worsened as the virus mutated, became more aggressive, and eventually killed her.

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Last Updated Wed, 21 Dec 2005 18:19:34 EST
CBC News
Two people infected with avian flu have died despite being treated with Tamiflu, a drug many consider to be the best defence against a flu pandemic, doctors say.

Physicians in Vietnam say they found evidence the H5N1 avian influenza virus can quickly mutate into a form that resists the effects of the frontline drug.

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Comment: There is something screwy in the way the avian flu story has been reported over the months. Earlier this year, we had daily reports as the virus moved from Asia westward into Europe. Bush was reading up on the post WWI flu epidemic during his vacation in August.

Speculation began on the timetable for the inevitable mutation of the virus into one that was communicable between humans.

There were calls for massive stockpiling of Tamiflu, which surely pleases Roche Pharmaceuticals.

Then the westward progress of the flu seemed to slow down or stop.

A trial run? A little social experiment? The time to allow someone to perfect the real thing, the virus that will be fitted to a target population?

If we speculate a bit, beginning with the premise that the pathocracy is self-aware, and our knowledge that many pathological traits are genetic, could we imagine a virus aimed at non-pathological genetics?

For background on the possibility, see our supplement on ethnic specific weapons.

By Scott Carney
India has been the focus of medical research since the time when sunburned men with pith helmets and degrees from prestigious European medical schools came to catalog tropical illnesses.

The days of the Raj are long gone, but multinational corporations are riding high on the trend toward globalization by taking advantage of India's educated work force and deep poverty to turn South Asia into the world's largest clinical-testing petri dish.

The sudden influx of drug companies to India resembles the gold rush frontier, according to Sean Philpott, managing editor of The American Journal of Bioethics.

"Not only are research costs low, but there is a skilled work force to conduct the trials," he said.

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Dec 22, 2005
Hurricanes displaced political storms as the stories that dominated the nation's agenda in 2005. The year went into the record books as the stormiest since the government began collecting data in the 19th century and established a new record for hurricanes.

But while Katrina wrought the greatest destruction, other storm clouds darkened the American landscape: Two Supreme Court vacancies whipped up a storm of hot air and controversy on Capitol Hill and beyond, the Bush administration was lashed by plummeting public confidence and _ perhaps the darkest cloud of all _ the American death toll in Iraq reached 2,000.

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Associated Press
21 Dec 2005
TOKYO - A disc-shaped piece of ice of unknown origin plummeted from the sky onto a golf course near Tokyo Wednesday, narrowly missing players on the fairway but causing no injuries, police said.

Authorities were investigating the bizarre incident, said Saitama prefectural (state) police spokesman Masahiko Kuwashima.

Four players at the Heisei Club golf course in Saitama, just outside Tokyo, heard a loud thud and found a disc-shaped hunk of ice - about 50 centimeters (20 inches) in diameter and 15 centimeters (6 inches) thick - broken into several pieces, Kuwashima said.

He said police investigators have asked the Transport Ministry to check a possibility that ice stuck on an airplane might have fallen, and are waiting for the ministry's response.

There have been several past reports of ice falling in Chiba prefecture (state) near Tokyo's Narita International Airport, Kuwashima said.

But there is no airport in Saitama, and the golf course involved Wednesday is not known to be beneath a flight route, he said.

No one has claimed responsibility for the mysterious incident, Kuwashima said.

"It's puzzling," he said, adding that the ice, which weighs 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds), was being kept in a police department freezer.

04:49:50 EST Dec 22, 2005
TOKYO (AP) - Hundreds of thousands of homes were without power in central and western Japan Thursday after a record snowfall that also forced the suspension of train services and closed an international airport, officials said.

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By F William Engdahl
Asia Times
21 Dec 2005
On December 15, the state-owned China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) inaugurated an oil pipeline running from Kazakhstan to northwest China. The pipeline will undercut the geopolitical significance of the Washington-backed Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC)oil pipeline which opened this past summer amid big fanfare and support from Washington.

The geopolitical chess game for the control of the energy flows of Central Asia and overall of Eurasia from the Atlantic to the China Sea is sharply evident in the latest developments.

Making the Kazakh-China oil pipeline link even more politically interesting, from the standpoint of an emerging Eurasian move towards some form of greater energy independence from Washington, is the fact that China is reportedly considering asking Russian companies to help it fill the pipeline with oil, until Kazakh supply is sufficient.

Initially, half the oil pumped through the new 200,000 barrel-a-day pipeline will come from Russia because of insufficient output from nearby Kazakh fields, Kazakhstan's Vice Energy Minister Musabek Isayev said on November 30 in Beijing. That means closer China-Kazakhstan-Russia energy cooperation - the nightmare scenario of Washington.

Simply put, the United States stands to lose major leverage over the entire strategic Eurasian region with the latest developments. The Kazakh developments also have more than a little to do with the fact that the Washington war drums are beating loudly against Iran.

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December 21, 2005
According to the Jewish Telegraph, when an aide to Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, John Kennedy said that Zionism was a religious issue and refused to take a position on an "Old Testament Mandate," Raanan Gissin, an aide to Sharon got really mad.

Whenever I see Raanan Gissin on television, my children inevitably get the opportunity to gloat, "Mommy said the "f" word. Since Gissin hasn't been successful in controlling the thought of the Irish, he compared them to Iran's president.

Gissin is pissed that the Irish government won't acknowledge that Jews have an "historical" claim to the land. ...

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06:47:48 EST Dec 22, 2005
KHABAROVSK, Russia (AP) - A toxic spill from China reached Khabarovsk on Thursday, and the region's governor appealed for calm in the far eastern Russian city, where residents have crammed their apartments with bottles, pails, pans and even bathtubs full of fresh water.

The dreaded slick, which extends for 180 kilometres, entered the city limits five weeks after a chemical plant explosion in China's northeast spewed more than 90 tonnes of benzene, nitrobenzene and other toxins into the Songhua River. The Nov. 13 accident shut off running water to the city of Harbin's 3.8 million people for five days.

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By Steve Connor, Science Editor
The Independent
22 December 2005
From 2006 Britain will be the first country where every journey by every car will be monitored

Britain is to become the first country in the world where the movements of all vehicles on the roads are recorded. A new national surveillance system will hold the records for at least two years.

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By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Published: 22 December 2005
The new national surveillance network for tracking car journeys, which has taken more than 25 years to develop, is only the beginning of plans to monitor the movements of all British citizens. The Home Office Scientific Development Branch in Hertfordshire is already working on ways of automatically recognising human faces by computer, which many people would see as truly introducing the prospect of Orwellian street surveillance, where our every move is recorded and stored by machines.

Although the problems of facial recognition by computer are far more formidable than for car number plates, experts believe it is only a matter of time before machines can reliably pull a face out of a crowd of moving people.

If the police and security services can show that a national surveillance operation based on recording car movements can protect the public against criminals and terrorists, there will be a strong political will to do the same with street cameras designed to monitor the flow of human traffic.

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Mark Tran
December 22, 2005
The European commission today threatened to impose daily fines of €2m (£1.3m) on Microsoft unless the software giant complied fully with a landmark anti-trust decision.

In an escalation of a longstanding dispute, the commission said Microsoft would have to pay the fines - backdated to December 15 - unless it met conditions laid out in last year's ruling.

The former EU competition commissioner, Mario Monti, fined the group founded by Bill Gates 30 years ago a record €497m in March 2004 for abusing its monopoly position.

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Comment: Couldn't happen to a "nicer" bunch. We speculate that when he dies, all Bill Gates will see is the "Blue Screen of Death."

22 Dec 2005
ROME - Italian magistrates have placed a U.S. marine under official investigation for murder over the killing of an Italian agent in Iraq earlier this year, judicial sources said on Thursday.

Intelligence officer Nicola Calipari was shot dead at an improvised U.S. checkpoint on a road near Baghdad in March as he was accompanying an Italian hostage to safety.

Italy and the United States held a joint inquiry into the incident, but they failed to agree joint conclusions and instead issued conflicting reports.

While the U.S. military exonerated its troops of any blame, Rome said nervous, inexperienced American soldiers and a badly executed road block were at the root of the shooting.

In the meantime, Italy's independent judiciary have pushed ahead with their own probe and have carried out forensic tests on the car Calipari was travelling in when he came under fire.

Placing someone under official investigation for an alleged crime does not imply guilt and does not mean the person will necessarily be charged.

22 Dec 2005
PARIS - French investigators are checking the identity of an Ivory Coast man killed by French peacekeeping troops, after reports he may not have been the highway bandit they had been targeting, the Defence Ministry said on Thursday.

An Ivorian believed to head a gang accused of a string of murders and rapes was suffocated to death in the back of a French military vehicle in May during an attempt to arrest him.

France suspended the former commander of French peacekeepers in Ivory Coast, General Henri Poncet, for an alleged cover up of the killing.

On Tuesday, the satirical weekly newspaper Le Canard Enchaine alleged the French peacekeepers had confused Firmin Mahe, the gang leader, with someone else of the same surname.

The scandal, besides dividing the French military and public opinion, has served to aggravate relations between France and its former colony, already at a low ebb because of a political crisis gripping the world's top cocoa producer.

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by Joanne Leyland
10 December 2005
Tomorrow's Sunday Express newspaper is splashing with a front page headline on their favourite subject, the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

In what is a longrunning investigation and source of front page headlines by the paper, the Express is claiming they have new forensic evidence that proves Henri Paul, the French chauffeur who drove himself and Diana and Dodi to their deaths, was NOT drunk.

The story is based on the claims of a leading forensic scientist who claims that the blood test results which purported to prove Henri Paul was drunk could be wrong as the possibly small amount of alcohol Paul had in his system may have fermented and caused the blood result to falsely show a higher reading.

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December 22, 2005
PARIS - The French parliament has adopted a tough new anti-terrorist law inspired by British measures used to identify the bombers who carried out the July bomb attacks in London.

Deputies voted 202 to 122 in favour of the law on Thursday, which will increase video surveillance of railways stations, airports and other public areas, permit official snooping of Internet and mobile telephone records, and lengthen the period of detention for terrorist suspects.

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Dec 22 2005
LONDON (Reuters) - The best dancers have the most symmetrical bodies and a head start in being chosen as the most promising mate, according to new research.

Comment: Why is it that, when official culture refers to the habits of human beings, we get the distinct impression that what is being observed is not a human being but rather an animal? For example, a few minor changes to the above paragraph from Reuters gives us:

"The primates with the most symmetrical bodies have a head start in being chosen as the most promising mate, according to new research."

Is it that someone, somewhere in authority either sees human beings as little more than animals or wants human beings to see themselves as little more than animals? Or perhaps we ARE little more than animals? Albeit animals with the ability to utterly destroy their habitat and each other... bush sharon monkey

Wed Dec 21, 5:21 PM ET
LINCOLN, Neb. - This fish didn't have a chance. A rainbow trout pulled out of Holmes Lake last weekend had double the chance to get hooked: It had two mouths.

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By Lisa Anderson
Chicago Tribune national correspondent
December 21, 2005
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- In a broad and blistering landmark decision, a federal district court judge Tuesday ruled it unconstitutional to teach intelligent design, a concept critical of modern Darwinian evolutionary theory, in public-school science classrooms.

Using scathing language that described the defendants as liars and their actions as "breathtaking inanity," Judge John Jones III rendered what many consider a watershed decision in the culture wars over the teaching of evolution, also ruling that intelligent design, or ID, is not a scientific theory but a religious belief.

"In fact, one unfortunate theme in this case is the striking ignorance concerning the concept of ID amongst board members. Conspicuously, board members who voted for the curriculum change testified at trial that they had utterly no grasp of ID," wrote Jones in his 139-page decision. It came 46 days after the close of Kitzmiller et al. vs. Dover Area School District, a six-week bench trial heard in Pennsylvania's Middle District Court in Harrisburg.

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Comment: Judge Jones writes: "It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy."

That's becoming Standard Operating Procedure for folks who "staunchly and proudly" tout their religious convictions these days.

We can only conjecture that believing in lies makes liars all the way through...

By Jean Eaglesham
December 22 2005
Financial Times
The release of secret papers about Black Wednesday was the most politically explosive disclosure secured using the Freedom of Information Act in its first year, writes Jean Eaglesham.

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George Knapp, Investigative Reporter
Dec 22, 2005, 04:24 AM
A team of scientists based in Las Vegas has been conducting a study that may be different from anything that's ever been tried. The research is focused on a ranch in rural Utah where, for 50 years or more, paranormal activity has been reported, including UFOs, Bigfoot, mutilated animals and poltergeists. Some call the place Skinwalker Ranch, and George Knapp of the I-Team is the only journalist allowed to visit the property.

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By Tracy Staedter
Discovery News
Dec. 21, 2005
A new robot can recognize the difference between a mirror image of itself and another robot that looks just like it.

This so-called mirror image cognition is based on artificial nerve cell groups built into the robot's computer brain that give it the ability to recognize itself and acknowledge others.

The ground-breaking technology could eventually lead to robots able to express emotions.

Under development by Junichi Takeno and a team of researchers at Meiji University in Japan, the robot represents a big step toward developing self-aware robots and in understanding and modeling human self-consciousness.

"In humans, consciousness is basically a state in which the behavior of the self and another is understood," said Takeno.

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By Sam Scott
Staff Writer
Wilmington Star
Tim McKinney knows for sure what caused the blasts – the Seneca Guns, he said.

He’s heard the mysterious coastal rumblings a thousand times, but never with the intensity he did Tuesday while working on the set of One Tree Hill in downtown Wilmington.

“That’s the strongest I’ve ever felt it in my life,” he said.

Something certainly caused a series of thunderous booms about 4 p.m. that sent some hurrying to call 911 and others looking skyward for answers. Curtis Reeves, who lives near Belville, said he initially feared an explosion at the Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point, near Southport.

“It felt like an earthquake,” he said. “It shook every house in this neighborhood.”

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Comment: Check the Signs pages over the past week to find other stories about these now frequent, strange, booming noises in the U.S. The experts don't have any answers, and the speculations among non-experts range from the imminent break-up of the North American plate to UFOs moving in and out of hyperdimensional space. Who knows? Any readers with better ideas?

by DAvid Highfield
KDKA - Pittsburgh
21 Dec 2005
The mystery of ‘blue ice’ in western Pennsylvania is ongoing.

Part of the mystery is that the ‘blue ice’ that has been reported is actually purple.

KDKA’ David Highfield reported the purple splotches in the snow on Monday night. The report sparked phone calls and e-mails from several other people claiming to also have ‘blue ice’ in their yards.

The FAA doesn't have the people to investigate each claim, but they are investigating the original case in Butler County.

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Dec 20, 2005
The physical constants of the Universe are thought to have remained unchanged since the Big Bang; many predictions made by cosmologists depend on it. An international team of researchers are using the National Science Foundation's Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) to see if things really have gone on unchanged for billions of years. They're looking to measure two universal constants: the ratio of mass between protons and electrons, and something called the fine structure constant.

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By Massimo Polidoro
20 December 2005
Did you know that Paul McCartney, the ex-Beatle, never actually left the band because . . . he died in 1966 and was then replaced by a lookalike? It sounds bizarre, and it is. The "Paul is dead" myth is one of the most popular myths set in the world of rock music and perhaps the most fun to follow up.

It all began on October 12, 1969, when Russ Gibb, a DJ for Detroit's underground station WKNR-FM, received a phone call by a man named "Tom," who claimed that some Beatles records contained hidden clues suggesting that Paul McCartney had actually died.

The evidence for a conspiracy revolved around the theory that Paul had been decapitated in an automobile wreck after he left Abbey Road studios in London, where the Beatles recorded their music. Paul had apparently left upset over an argument with the other Beatles, took his Aston Martin sportscar, and perished in a horrible accident that killed him.

This accident supposedly took place at 5 a.m. on November 9, 1966, and was caused by a hitchhiker named Rita who Paul had picked up along the road.

With Paul's death, however, a big problem arose: the Beatles were at the peak of their career and the loss of one of their members would mean the end of the show for them and for the industry behind them. Thus, somebody had the idea of never revealing Paul's death and hiring an impostor in his place, somebody who looked like him and could play music. Some sources claimed that the imposter was an actor named William Campbell, the winner of a Paul McCartney lookalike contest and, conveniently, an orphan from Edinburgh. Of course, it didn't hurt to assume that Campbell could write the same type of songs as McCartney and just happened to have the same voice.

The arrival of an impostor in November 1966, then, could have explained why the Beatles stopped touring that same year (it would have been too easy to spot a fake McCartney performance on stage) and started to grow moustaches (the face was almost identical, but not perfect: it needed some disguise).

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Comment: We aren't inclined to debunk every myth and rumor! In fact, after doing an internet search and examining the evidence, we really can't make up our minds.

19 Dec 2005
CBC News
Many young girls like to mutilate and "torture" Barbie dolls, including popping off their heads and microwaving them, a British study suggests.

Researchers at the University of Bath have been analyzing the effects of product branding and marketing on more than 100 children aged seven to 11.

They found that, of all the products tested, Barbie provoked the most violent emotions.

"The doll provoked rejection, hatred and violence," said Agnes Nairn, who teaches marketing in the university's school of management.

She said that regardless of age or school, children "gleefully" reported maiming the dolls.

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By Barnaby Feder
The New York Times
DECEMBER 21, 2005
Silver, one of humankind's first weapons against bacteria, is receiving new respect for its antiseptic powers thanks to the growing ability of researchers to tinker with its molecular structure.

Doctors prescribed silver to fight infections at least as far back as the days of ancient Greece and Egypt. Their knowledge was absorbed by Rome, where historians like Pliny the Elder reported that silver plasters caused wounds to close rapidly. More recently, in 1884, a German doctor named C.S.F. Crede demonstrated that putting a few drops of silver nitrate into the eyes of babies born to women with venereal disease virtually eliminated the high rates of blindness among such infants.

But silver's time-tested if poorly understood versatility as a disinfectant was overshadowed in the latter half of the 20th century by the rise of antibiotics.

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December 22, 2005

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