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"You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you'll stop the terrorism." - Cindy Sheehan
P I C T U R E   O F  T H E  D A Y
©Pierre-Paul Feyte

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The QFG 2006 Agenda

This leatherbound pocket agenda includes a handy notepad as well as a double-page weekly view of all of the important events you need to remember. Moreover, it's in French, a subtle way to show your disapproval of the Bush Reich.

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Donald Hunt
January 2, 2006
Gold closed at 519.70 dollars an ounce on Friday, up 2.7% from $505.90 the Friday before. The dollar closed at 0.8440 euros on Friday, up 0.2% from 0.8425 at the end of the previous week. The euro closed at 1.1849 dollars, down from 1.1869 the week before. Gold in euros would be 438.60 an ounce at Friday's close, up 2.9% for the week. Oil closed at 61.04 dollars a barrel, up 4.5% from $58.43 the week before. Oil in euros would be 51.43 euros a barrel, up 4.5% from 49.23 euros at the end of the previous week. The gold/oil ratio closed at 8.51, down 1.8% from 8.66 the week before. In U.S. stocks, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 10,717.50 for the week, down 1.5% from 10,883.27 at the previous week's close. The NASDAQ closed at 2,205.32, down 2.0% from 2,249.42 the week before. The yield on the ten-year U.S. Treasury note closed at 4.39%, up one basis point from 4.38 the week before.

Since Friday was the last market day of the year, let's look at how the numbers we have been following came out for the year.

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By William Neikirk
Chicago Tribune
WASHINGTON -- They call them the PEP and Pease provisions of tax law, and they are on their way out. If you are wealthy, this should make you smile. You could be a little richer.

PEP and Pease refer to two tax increases adopted in 1990 when President George H.W. Bush broke his "read my lips" promise against boosting taxes in order to cut the deficit, angering many in the Republican Party.

But on Sunday, thanks to a law quietly passed in 2001 when his son, George W. Bush, was in the White House, the PEP and Pease provisions--essentially limitations on tax exemptions--will begin a five-year phaseout at a cost of $27 billion.

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Comment: We’re not a democracy. It’s a terrible misunderstanding and a slander to the idea of democracy to call us that. In reality, we’re a plutocracy: a government by the wealthy.” Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General

Robert Worcester and Heather Stewart
Sunday January 1, 2006
The Observer
BRITAIN'S business leaders are bracing themselves for a tough 2006, with two thirds expecting the economy to deteriorate over the next 12 months, according to a recent MORI survey.

Chancellor Gordon Brown has promised a recovery in Britain's fortunes after the weakest year since the recession of the early Nineties - but few business leaders have confidence in his optimistic projections.

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Frank Kane
Sunday January 1, 2006
The Observer
First, the good news. If you are a multi-million pound lottery winner, or a member of that small band of City executives and senior business people who get to write their own salary and bonus cheques, 2006 will be a very good year indeed. Another small group of professionals - the insolvency accountants - can also look forward to the New Year with a rosy glow, but that is all part of the problem.

The bad news is that the rest of us - say 99.99 per cent of the population - can only look forward to a year of financial belt-tightening and uncertainty. The economic omens for 2006 are more depressing than at the start of any year so far this century.

This is especially the case in Britain, though in the age of globalisation, no country is an island in the great economic ocean, and our prospects have to be seen against the background of world economic forces. Here, too, the auguries are not favourable.

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By Eric Lichtblau and James Risen
The New York Times
WASHINGTON A top Justice Department official objected in 2004 to aspects of the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program and refused to sign on to its continued use amid concerns about its legality and oversight, according to officials with knowledge of the tense internal debate.

The concerns appear to have played a part in the temporary suspension of the secret program.

The concerns prompted two of President George W. Bush's most senior aides to make an emergency visit to a Washington hospital in March 2004 to discuss the program's future and try to win the needed approval from Attorney General John Ashcroft.

The senior officials were Andrew Card Jr., Bush's chief of staff, and Alberto Gonzales, then White House counsel and now attorney general.

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The Bulldog Manifesto
(I feel a rant coming on......)

So what if the Bush administration wants to conduct illegal wiretaps, they are fighting the terrorists!

So what if the Bush administration wants to attack a country that has never attacked us and was not a threat to us, they are fighting the terrorists!

So what if the Bush administration wants to take away all my liberties, they are fighting the terrorists!

So what if the Bush administration outs a CIA operative in order to smear a political opponent, they are fighting the terrorists!

So what if the Bush administration has encumbered more foreign debt in the past five years then all of the preceding administrations did combined, they are fighting the terrorists!

So what if the Bush administration paid American journalists to write deceptive and administration-friendly news stories, they are fighting the terrorists!

So what if the Bush administration hasn't enacted an exit plan in Iraq, they are fighting the terrorists!

So what if the Bush administration has destroyed the United States' reputation overseas, they are fighting the terrorists!

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1 Jan 2006
US President George W. Bush is ringing in the New Year with a less ambitious political agenda planned for 2006 ahead of key congressional elections in which his Republican Party hopes to retain its grip over Congress.

Sobered by a bruising 2005 that included ongoing unrest in Iraq, the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, a probe into whether his White House outed a CIA agent and sliding poll ratings, Bush is expected to play it safe in the year ahead, according to political analyst Larry J. Sabato.

"Although he does not like backing down, Bush has realised that he was too ambitious," said Sabato, a professor at the University of Virginia.

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31 Dec 2005
This was the year in which the US admitted it was not going to defeat the insurgency. It was the ebb tide of American and British power in Iraq. By the end of the year both countries were urgently looking to withdraw their troops in circumstances not too humiliating to themselves and without precipitating the complete collapse of the Iraqi state.

The failure of the US and Britain to win the war does not mean that the two-and-a-half year uprising among the Sunni Arabs has achieved all its aims. The beneficiaries from President George W Bush's invasion of Iraq in 2003 are not the Sunni but the Iraqi Shia and the Kurds. Outside Iraq, the country which has gained most from the fall of Saddam Hussein is Iran.

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By Charles Sullivan
31 Dec 2005
"[T]here are terrorists lurking in high places. They are in the Whitehouse. They are the enablers in Congress who serve the corporate interest, rather than justice. They are hidden behind the beckoning smiles of news anchor men and anchor women. They operate in the dark smoky recesses of corporate board rooms, out of public view. Their tentacles reach into every aspect of our lives. They lie concealed in the stinking breath of the Rush Limbaughs of this world in their awful ability to persuade. They are not on our side.

"We must resist them at all cost. We must inform ourselves. Speak truth to power. Let them know that we see through their masks. Do not accept this."

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Seattle PI
Increasing numbers of men and women in uniform are seeking honorable discharges as conscientious objectors. Others are suing the military, claiming their obligation has been wrongfully extended. Many have simply deserted, refusing to appear for duty.

"As this war continues, we're going to see more refusals, disobeying of orders, stop-loss lawsuits," said Marti Hiken, who co-chairs the National Lawyers Guild Military Law Task Force. "There's going to be more and more resistance."

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January 1, 2006
The Public Editor
NY Times
THE New York Times's explanation of its decision to report, after what it said was a one-year delay, that the National Security Agency is eavesdropping domestically without court-approved warrants was woefully inadequate. And I have had unusual difficulty getting a better explanation for readers, despite the paper's repeated pledges of greater transparency.

For the first time since I became public editor, the executive editor and the publisher have declined to respond to my requests for information about news-related decision-making. My queries concerned the timing of the exclusive Dec. 16 article about President Bush's secret decision in the months after 9/11 to authorize the warrantless eavesdropping on Americans in the United States.

I e-mailed a list of 28 questions to Bill Keller, the executive editor, on Dec. 19, three days after the article appeared. He promptly declined to respond to them. I then sent the same questions to Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher, who also declined to respond. They held out no hope for a fuller explanation in the future.

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Last Updated Sun, 01 Jan 2006 23:08:38 EST
CBC News
U.S. President George W. Bush defended his domestic spying program on Sunday, saying it was a "limited" program aimed at ensuring the safety of Americans.

Bush spoke to reporters following a New Year's Day visit with wounded troops at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.

"This is a limited program designed to prevent attacks on the United States of America and, I repeat, limited," said the president.

Comment: "Limited"? Well, limited could mean that it doesn't include every American. Obviously an oversight!

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Martin Garbus
28 Dec 2005
An hour after the New York Times described Bush’s illegal surveillance program, I wrote on the Huffington Post that Bush had committed a crime, a “High Crime,” and should be impeached.

Was there then enough evidence to justify the beginning of an attempt to impeach the President?


Did the President have a good defense that he relied on Gonzalez, Ashcroft and the best lawyers in the country (in the Solicitor General’s and Department of Justice’s offices)?


Would any significant number of Americans of Congressmen then support such a process?


Given all that, would the turmoil and consequential turmoil have justified the start of that brutal process?


But that has all changed.

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Comment: Again we perceive that a misunderstanding of the nature of the Bush Beast is prevailing in the ivory towers of political discourse. Don't they get it? If "illegal surveillance" violates the 4th amendment and thereby puts America at risk, it won't be hard to convince the people (or to SEEM to convince them) that the 4th amendment must be eliminated.

David Wallechinsky
2 Jan 2006
President George W. Bush began the new year by telling the American people that his NSA domestic surveillance program was only used to monitor communications between members of al-Qaeda and people in the United States. He did not address the issue of why he deemed it necessary to bypass the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) that had, for 24 years, been reviewing and approving such surveillance programs.

When the story first broke, President Bush and his staff claimed to have done so because it took too long to obtain a warrant. This lame excuse fell apart within hours when it was revealed that the law already gave them the right to engage in surveillance for 72 hours without a warrant. So the question remains: what is the real reason George Bush and his team chose to bypass the FISC?

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Comment: Hmmm... a clue in the above article was given by our good buddy Ted "The Sky is Falling" Olson. "Olson argued that a FISC-approved surveillance could uncover information about a suspect that, although totally unrelated to terrorism, might indicate illegal or illicit activities that could then be used to blackmail or intimidate a terrorism-related suspect into cooperating with the authorities."

We wonder if this is exactly what has already been done to journalists, members of Congress, judges, and if that is why Bush is so certain he can get away with anything? After all, if you have spent a couple years collecting all the dirt you can on everybody who might oppose you, its a pretty powerful tool.

Maybe that's the real thing Bush has to hide: just WHO has he been spying on??? I hardly think that it was just "ordinary Americans" or "ordinary terrorists." If you think about it from Bush's point of view, the only terrorists out there are the ones who disagree with him and have the power to take him down.

by Larry C. Johnson
No Quarter
31 December 2005
The Bush Administration's new offensive against leakers just reminds us that when the President's political standing is at stake all is fair if the purpose is to protect the Pres...., er I mean the nation. Too bad George Bush did not express the same outrage when Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, and others in his employ, told eager journalists that Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA operative.

I guess divulging secrets is okay if the White House needs to discredit Joe Wilson and his claim (subsequently proved true) that the President had misled the nation during his January 2004 State of the Union address. Plus, it offers the added benefit of warning the rest of the intelligence community--shut up or else. You can't have whistle blowers coming out that would tarnish the President's image as a tough guy waging war on the terrorists.

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By Marie Woolf, Political Editor
01 January 2006
John Prescott has told tax inspectors to use satellites to snoop on householders' attempts to improve their homes.

Images of new conservatories and garages taken from space will be used to hike up council taxes and other property levies, official guidance obtained by The Independent on Sunday reveals.

Mr Prescott's department is overseeing the creation of a database containing the details of every house in Britain to help tax inspectors to assess new charges.

Even minor improvements, invisible from the road, will be caught by "spy in the sky" technology that uses a mix of aerial and satellite images taken over time to spot changes.

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Comment: We've already mentioned that the UK seems to be the Petrie Dish where the NWO is being grown to full potency. Brits, if you don't do something now, it will soon be too late!

By Mike Whitney
1 Jan 06
There are only two weapons in the imperial tool-chest; force and deception. The brutal colonial occupation of Iraq has provided us with a lavish example of the former, but the twin-axel of deception is more abstruse and difficult to pin down. Sure, there’s the flagrant propaganda that floods right-wing radio and political talk shows, but that tells us little about the state-sponsored disinformation-programs that permeate every area of American life.

We now know that the Bush administration authorized massive illegal spying operations and is actively engaged in planting pro-American stories in the foreign press. These suggest that the administration’s overall theory of information management is much more extensive then originally imagined. In fact, news and information manipulation is at the forefront of Bush’s war on terror, a comprehensive strategy to control of every bit of information a citizen hears, sees or reads from cradle to grave. It is information warfare on a scale that would make George Orwell cringe.

It is only in this context that we can see that the threats made by George Bush to bomb Al Jazeera are completely consistent with the administration’s overall approach.

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By Avi Beker
1 Jan 06
The attack by AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby in the U.S., on the Bush administration over its handling of the Iranian nuclear question, is unprecedented. It took the shape of a broad media campaign that included press releases and targeted members of Congress.

Last week the Washington Post, which is read by the top political echelon in the capital, noted that this is the first time that AIPAC has issued broad and open criticism of the Bush administration.

In a background paper that AIPAC officials distributed among members of Congress, the pro-Israel lobby describes Bush's recent policy decisions on Iran as "dangerous" and "disturbing," and even claims that they are actually helping Iran to achieve nuclear capability.

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by James Ridgeway
December 30th, 2005
Village Voice
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The 9-11 attacks provided the rationale for what amounts to a Bush family coup against the Constitution.

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By Sheila Samples
31 Dec 2005
Folks at the White House stay pretty busy these days just trying to untangle the lies George Bush keeps telling every time he opens his mouth. For example, back in April 2004, Bush explained to a cheering audience and an unchallenging press corps in Buffalo about "eavesdropping" on Americans -- "When you think 'Patriot Act,' constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because," he said earnestly while leaning over the podium, his hand on his heart "--because we value the Constitution."

Bush? Value that (insert Lord's name in vain) piece of worthless paper? I think not. From his actions and manner of speech, it is doubtful that Bush has read either the US Constitution or the holy book upon which he placed his hand twice and swore to preserve, protect and defend it.

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By Guardian Newspapers
Elaina Morton is not listed as one of the 2,000 Americans now confirmed killed in Iraq since the start of the war, but she might as well be. In US military parlance the 23-year-old lab technician from Kansas would have been referred to as a "surviving spouse". But three months after her husband, Staff Sergeant Benjamin Morton, was killed by insurgents in Mosul, Elaina picked up a gun and shot herself.

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Comment: War--after all, what is it that the people get? Why--widows, taxes, wooden legs and debt. – Samuel B. Pettengill

By Lt. Col. Grant Doty
Washington Post
December 30, 2005
As Americans take stock of the news that the government has been involved in domestic warrantless eavesdropping as well as surveillance of "potentially threatening people or organizations inside the United States," many people are troubled, including me.

Although the government may be interested in my ACLU membership, my wife's participation in war protests or my affiliation with the liberal United Church of Christ, my real anxiety stems from the fact that I am a soldier and may now be under suspicion from my friends and neighbors.

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by Charley Reese
31 Dec 2005
Now that President Bush has launched a new propaganda campaign to convince Americans that we are winning the war in Iraq, it's a good idea to go back to the basics and look at the pluses and minuses of this war.

The minuses we all know. The war was sold on false pretenses, there being neither weapons of mass destruction nor ties to al-Qaeda, which after all, was responsible for the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Saddam Hussein's government was secular, and the majority of people in Iraq are Shi'ites. Al-Qaeda is a fanatical religious movement that is Sunni, which is why you need never fear that al-Qaeda will take over Iraq.

The other minuses are the loss of American prestige, nearly 2,200 dead, about 16,000 wounded, and $221 billion and counting in money. So, that's the downside of the Iraq War. What's the upside?

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Comment: If there is one principle more deeply rooted in the mind of every American, it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest. – Thomas Jefferson

by James Ridgeway
December 30th, 2005
Village Voice
WASHINGTON, D.C.—President Bush’s announcement Friday, that the Justice Department would begin an investigation into the leak that brought forth his probably illegal domestic spying project, is clearly political and meant to insulate the White House and intelligence agencies from further public scrutiny by saying they are the subject of a criminal investigation.

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Dec 31, 2005
Federal prosecutors and lawyers for lobbyist Jack Abramoff are putting the finishing touches on a plea deal that could be announced early next week, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

The plea agreement would secure the Republican lobbyist's testimony against several members of Congress who received favors from him or his clients.

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By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Los Angeles Times
August 8, 2005
WASHINGTON -- A US grand jury in Guam opened an investigation of controversial lobbyist Jack Abramoff more than two years ago, but President Bush removed the supervising federal prosecutor, and the probe ended soon after.

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7 May 2005
USA Today/AP
WASHINGTON — In President Bush's first 10 months, GOP fundraiser Jack Abramoff and his lobbying team logged nearly 200 contacts with the new administration as they pressed for friendly hires at federal agencies and sought to keep the Northern Mariana Islands exempt from the minimum wage and other laws, records show.

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By R. Jeffrey Smith
The Washington Post
31 Dec 2005
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Family Network, a public-advocacy group that operated in the 1990s with close ties to Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, was funded almost entirely by corporations linked to embattled lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to tax records and former associates of the group.

During its five-year existence, the U.S. Family Network raised $2.5 million but kept its donor list secret. The list, obtained by The Washington Post, shows that $1 million came in a single 1998 check from a now-defunct London law firm whose former partners will not identify the money's origins.

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By Bonnie Henthorn
31 Dec 2005
With the rash of corporate bankruptcies, labor disputes and the unprecedented increases in corporate management salaries, bonuses and fringes, profitable corporations are using the same unfair, disrespectful and discriminatory practices to increase their ever growing profits at the expense of the working class.

In a small town in West Virginia, PPG Industries, Inc., a multi-million dollar, global corporation, has offered a two-tier pay system to their 470 union employees, asking them to ratify a contract that knowingly creates a second “class” of worker with different pay rates and benefits for all new employees. How is a union to represent two classes of workers? They cannot and that is what the company is banking on, the beginning of the end of this local union.

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Comment: The Nazification of America continues with the gathering of all money and power into the hands of corporate psychopaths, and the reducing of everyone else to a class of peasants.

30 Dec 2005
On Friday, December 16, the New York Times published a major scoop by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau: They reported that Bush authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on Americans without warrants, ignoring the procedures of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

It was a long story loaded with astonishing information of lawbreaking at the White House. It reported that sometime in 2002, Bush issued an executive order authorizing NSA to track and intercept international telephone and/or email exchanges coming into, or out of, the U.S. - when one party was believed to have direct or indirect ties with al Qaeda.
Click here to find out more!

Initially, Bush and the White House stonewalled, neither confirming nor denying the president had ignored the law. Bush refused to discuss it in his interview with Jim Lehrer.

Then, on Saturday, December 17, in his radio broadcast, Bush admitted that the New York Times was correct - and thus conceded he had committed an impeachable offense.

There can be no serious question that warrantless wiretapping, in violation of the law, is impeachable. After all, Nixon was charged in Article II of his bill of impeachment with illegal wiretapping for what he, too, claimed were national security reasons.

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The New York Times
DECEMBER 30, 2005
The open government law that guaranteed greater freedom of information to the American public will soon be 40 years old and desperately in need of legislative overhaul, thanks to the Bush administration. The White House's sweeping enlargement of agency powers has nearly doubled the rate of newly classified documents to 15 million a year. At the same time, the administration has choked back the annual volume of documents declassified for public access, from 200 million in 1998 to 44 million lately.

At the heart of this thickening veil are direct presidential orders and former Attorney General John Ashcroft's blanket assurance of legal defense to any agency erring on the side of secrecy.

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Comment: Only evildoers seek the darkness to hide their crimes...

December 30, 2005
Another year over, and we still haven't seen the widely-predicted U.S. (or U.S.-Israeli) attacks on Syria and Iran.

But keep paying attention.

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By: Jack Dalton
Jack's Straight Speak
“Military men are just dumb stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.” Henry Kissinger

Just when was it we in this nation lost our ability to choose if and when we would be willing to kill another human being, or be killed ourselves? When was it that following the “rules” became more important than following what is right? Case in point: Jerry Texiero; who as an active duty Marine in 1965 refused to deploy to Vietnam and took off (For details see: Marine Refuser From 40 Years Ago Faces Court Martial). 40 years later the Marine Corps has Jerry incarcerated at the Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Why would the Marine Corps take so much interest in Jerry Texiero and want to court-martial him 40 years later, when we all know for absolute fact the ‘American War On Vietnam’ was contrived, a war crime on a grand scale, and a war in some ways that has never ended? After all, the Agent Orange we “salted” the earth with in Vietnam is still killing large numbers of people there, as well as here with veterans of that mess; thousands have been and still are being killed by all the unexploded ordinance and land mines all over the country, especially in Quang Tri Province.

The Marines want to court-martial Jerry to send a message to the growing number of active duty military, who are becoming resistive to their participation in this new war of choice in Iraq, that if they are unwilling to deploy to Iraq, they will suffer the same fate as Sgt Kevin Benderman, who is doing 15 months at the RCF (or Gulag if you prefer as do I); If they take off, they will be hunted for the rest of their lives, like Jerry Texiero.

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by Rob Kall
31 Dec 2005
As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be aware of change in the air however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness. Justice William O. Douglas

The horrific fall of the most basic rights and strengths of America-- democracy, privacy, truth and trust in government, transparency-- did not happen at once. But 2005 was the year when we the people, and the rest of the world were finally able to see clearly that the Bush Administration and its rubber stamp republican sycophants were not just a little, but outrageously, historically corrupt, brazenly breaking laws and flaunting their criminal actions.

2005 was the year when Bush decided he could declare his illegal actions. Perhaps he's appointed enough judges to make him feel safe that they will rule in his favor.

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Andy Ostroy
The Ostroy Report
31 Dec 2005
Here's the scenario: our over-zealous, corrupt president flicks the switch some three-dozen times since 2001, authorizing the National Security Agency to use illegal wiretaps and other surveillance tactics on American citizens to supposedly intercept terrorist chatter and protect the nation from acts of terrorism. And when news of this flagrant violation of Congressional law finds its way to the front pages, as it did Dec. 16 in the NY Times, Bush's ire is raised and a special prosecutor is soon named to investigate the leak. Why? Because as we all know, Bush hates leaks and the leakers who leak them. Except of course when they're card-carrying Busheviks, in which case leaks are just fine.

The hypocrisy is mind-blowing.

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by Mick Youther
31 December 2005
In the mid 1970’s, Congress learned that both Democratic and Republican Presidents had been using “national security” concerns as an excuse to tap the phones of celebrities, war protesters and political activists. In response to these abuses of power, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) which made it illegal to conduct electronic surveillance on Americans without a warrant or statutory authorization. President Bush explained:

“… any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so.” -- April 2004

You can’t say it much clearer than that. So, it came as quite a shock to Bush-believers when the New York Times (12/16/05) revealed that, for the past four years, President Bush has been secretly authorizing the National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on American citizens without a warrant.

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by Paul Krugman
The New York Times
December 30, 2005
"A year ago we didn't know..."

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2 January 2006
A former top official at the US Justice Department objected in 2004 to aspects of the National Security Agency's domestic spying program and refused to back it amid concerns about the program's legality and oversight.

The revelation of the secret spy program, under which US President George W. Bush authorized a covert wiretap program targetting domestic telephone and Internet communications, has sparked a political firestorm in the United States.

The New York Times reported Sunday that a refusal by James Comey, who in 2004 was the deputy attorney general of the United States, to back aspects of the program appears to have led to its temporary suspension.

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30 Dec 2005
Der Speigel
Recent reports in the German media suggest that the United States may be preparing its allies for an imminent military strike against facilities that are part of Iran's suspected clandestine nuclear weapons program.

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30 Dec 2005
TEHRAN -- A member of the German parliament’s foreign policy committee, Ruprecht Polenz, has said that Iran presently complies with the NPT regulations, U.S. media reported Thursday.

Polenz said Iran allows the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to visit and control its nuclear installations but the United States, the European Union, and Russia are trying to prevent Iran from achieving the full nuclear fuel cycle.

“That is why the Russians have proposed to create a joint Iranian-Russian facility to enrich uranium in Russia,” he noted.

The German official also said the United States should clarify when and under what circumstances it is going to improve its ties with Iran.

The MP added that the United States has had military action against Iran in mind for a long time but such action would have detrimental consequences.

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Jan. 1, 2006
BAGHDAD—Bombings and shootings killed at least 20 people across Iraq on the final day of the year, while U.S. troops shivered in the cold during a performance by an American Idol singer as part of New Year's Eve celebrations.

The U.S. military also reported the death of an American soldier from wounds, bringing its death toll in Iraq for 2005 near the previous year's record level.

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Jan. 1, 2006 6:38
The United States government reportedly began coordinating with NATO its plans for a possible military attack against Iran.

The German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel collected various reports from the German media indicating that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are examining the prospects of such a strike.

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Jerusalem Post
30 Dec 2005
The Palestinian Authority and Palestinian farmers are accusing Israel of trying to force Palestinians out of the Jordan Valley through economic pressure and physical barriers. Israel denies the charge, saying that new restrictions derive solely from security considerations.

"Israel has been systematically making life difficult in the Jordan Valley in order to reduce the number of Palestinians living there," Ghassan Khateeb, Minister of Planning of the Palestinian Authority, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

The IDF's recent decision to prevent Palestinian agricultural produce from crossing the Beka'ot checkpoint into Israel is putting Palestinian farmers in debt and threatening their ability to farm their land next year, he added. The IDF has also closed checkpoints west of the valley, barring entry to Palestinians not from the area. As a consequence, hundreds of Palestinian families from outside the valley are now squatting in tents inside the valley, so as to able to stay at their jobs there.

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By Ze'ev Sternhell
29 Dec 2005
"Abusive practices," the repeated chopping down of olive trees, the theft of lands near the settlement of Modi'in Illit and the regular pogrom that is the daily lot of Hebron's Arabs (and these are examples only from the news of recent days) can surprise only those who never wanted to know. Among them, unfortunately, are many of those who work in the mass media.

The actions of the Border Police, as well as other units that operate in the service of the settlements, have long been known. For over 25 years, from the Karp Report to the recently issued Sasson Report, everyone knows the law is not enforced in the territories, and therefore the police are not required to make an effort to deal with violators. There is no longer talk of basic norms of universal morality: In a colonial society, there are different types of human beings, and therefore, different rights and different values, as well.

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Comment: Israel seems to be a psychopath magnet, just like the Old West was in the U.S. The difference is that Israel runs a very good risk of being obliterated in a nuclear war... hmmm...

By Sharon Sadeh
30 Dec 2005
LONDON - Israel is considering lodging a vehement protest after the BBC airs a national program Sunday about the country's nuclear program, dubbed "Israel's secret weapon."

The program reportedly examines the "double standard" of the international community with regard to Israel's and Iraq's unconventional weapons.

The program allegedly claims the army used some form of unidentified chemical weapons against Palestinians in February 2001. It focuses on efforts made by Israel to cover up its development of unconventional weapons, among other things referring to Mordechai Vanunu, serving an 18-year term for passing information about Israel's nuclear program in Dimona to a British newspaper...

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Ilan Marciano
1 Jan 06
In conference organized Saturday night by Minister Yisrael Katz, 400 Likud members vote to 'bomb nuclear reactor before it is too late'; party's central committee expected to convene Sunday to approve change in constitution initiated by Likud Chairman Netanyahu

Click to Expand Article 2006-01-02 18:36:59
GAZA, Jan. 2 (Xinhuanet) -- Israeli army is planning to deploy a large number of forces along the borders with Egypt later Monday, Israeli daily Yedioth Ahranoth reported.

The army is expected to deploy its forces starting from the Kerem Shalom crossing to the Nitzana salient entrances in the Negev on the borders with Egypt, the paper said.

A large number of soldiers are expected to arrive at the borders on Monday afternoon, south of the Philadelphia route, it added.

Several covered guarding towers will be built and armored personnel carriers and other various means will be placed in the area, said the report.

Click to Expand Article 2006-01-02 18:34:26
RAMALLAH, Jan. 2 (Xinhuanet) -- Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat accused Israel on Monday of obstructing Palestinian legislative elections due on Jan. 25.

Erekat told Palestinian radio Voice of Palestine that the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) hasn't get any Israeli response on allowing Palestinians to vote in East Jerusalem as the election campaigns will start on Tuesday.

"We didn't get responses on forming a Palestinian-Israeli joint committee to follow up and observe the operation of distributing ballots, voting and the movement of voters as well as candidates," Erekat said.

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1 Jan 2006
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will undergo a heart operation on Thursday, the Haaretz newspaper reported.

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Simon Jenkins
The London Times
1 January 2006
The good news is that 2006 will see the effective end of the western occupation of Iraq. It will end because everyone will be exhausted: the Americans, the British, the Iraqis and their neighbours. It will end because all justification for its continuance will have evaporated.

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Monday, January 2, 2006 (Baghdad)
An American teenager, who secretly entered the Iraqi capital Baghdad around Christmas time, has returned to his home in Florida.

Sixteen-year-old Farris Hassan, son of Iraqi immigrants, was sent home by the US military.

The teenager skipped school and left the United States on December 11. He first landed in Kuwait and planned to take a cab to Baghdad.

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John Kerin
December 31, 2005
VOTER support for John Howard's decision to go to war in Iraq is in freefall, with even Coalition supporters who backed the 2003 invasion now questioning the value of the protracted conflict.

Fewer than half of Coalition supporters now believe the Iraq war was worth it, according to a Newspoll conducted exclusively for The Weekend Australian.

In total, two-thirds of Australians, about 66 per cent, now believe it was not worth going to war, up from 58 per cent a year ago. Just 27 per cent believe it was worth it, compared with 32per cent a year ago.

Among Coalition voters, only 43 per cent believe it was worth going to war, a sharp drop from 50 per cent last December and 63 per cent early last year.

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Azmi Bishara
Al-Ahram Weekly
29 December 2005 - 4 January 2006
Issue No. 775
Democracy talk was a sham, and realists in Washington are getting worried as the vacant character of the neo-cons is exposed for what it is: adolescent, dangerous bravado.

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Last Updated Sun, 01 Jan 2006 18:37:37 EST
CBC News
Russia's state-controlled natural gas monopoly has halted sales to Ukraine after Kiev refused its latest offer on natural gas prices for 2006.

Gazprom started reducing pressure in the pipelines to Ukraine even before the Sunday morning deadline to accept a new pricing deal.

The proposals would see the cost of importing Russian gas more than quadruple to between $220 and $230 US per 1,000 cubic metres.

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Monday, 2 January 2006, 10:43 GMT
BBC News
Russia has accused Ukraine of taking $25m of gas exports destined for Europe after it cut off supplies to the country on Sunday.

Some European states say supplies from a pipeline running through Ukraine have fallen by up to 40%.

Ukraine denied taking the gas, but said it would indeed siphon off a share if temperatures fell below freezing.

Kiev has accused Russia of resorting to "blackmail" after the two countries failed to agree on higher gas prices.

Click to Expand Article 2006-01-02 19:02:14
BUDAPEST, Jan. 2 (Xinhuanet) -- Hungary on Monday noted a 25-percent drop in gas pressure at its border with Ukraine, as Russia had cut off gas supplies to Ukraine over a price dispute.

"Twenty-five percent less natural gas is coming in," said Szabolcs Ferenc, spokesman for the leading Hungarian energy group Mol.

"It is impossible to tell whether this drop is caused by the Ukrainians or the Russians but this is a question concerning not just Hungary, but also Austria, Italy, the Czech Republic," Ferenc told the commercial radio station Klubradio.

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1 Jan 2006
Russia began lowering the pressure of natural gas entering Ukraine's pipeline system, a spokesman for the Gazprom energy company said, assuring supplies to the rest of Europe were not at risk.

"We have been forced to start the operation to lower the pressure in Ukraine's gas pipeline system," state-controlled Gazprom's spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov told AFP.

"Export gas will be delivered in its totality," Kupriyanov continued, referring to deliveries to the rest of Europe, amid European Union fears that Gazprom's move could disrupt supplies during the cold winter months.

"We were ready to come to an agreement with the Ukrainian people... Our offer was rejected," Kupriyanov said.

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Associated Press
31 Dec 2005
LONDON - A former British ambassador has published government documents he says prove that Britain knowingly received intelligence extracted under torture from prisoners in Uzbekistan.

Craig Murray, who was removed as ambassador to Uzbekistan after going public about his concerns, defied a Foreign Office ban to publish the internal memos on his Web site Friday. The documents include memos to Foreign Office chiefs in which Murray expressed his concern over the use of "torture material."

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By Jim Kouri, CPP
American Chronicle
December 31, 2005
With the United States being harangued by liberal-left organizations throughout the world over allegations of "secret CIA prisons" and torture, it now appears that it will be Britain's turn to become the recipent of torture allegations. And wouldn't you know it? A newspaper story is the instrument by which these allegations are gaining traction.

According to a report appearing in Scottish newspaper The Scotsman, several Greek and British intelligence agents may be subpoenaed to appear in court in Greece to testify in a lawsuit alleging that almost 30 Pakistanis were abducted, transported to Greece, and were beaten and tortured. It's alleged that this occurred right after the July terrorist bombings in London.

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Last Updated Sun, 01 Jan 2006 19:48:36 EST
CBC News
Cigarette-loving Spaniards had to head outdoors Sunday as the first day of the new year ushered in a nation-wide ban on smoking in public places.

As of Jan. 1, it's against the law to smoke in offices, hospitals, schools and shopping centres. Large bars and restaurants must provide separate smoking areas, while smaller ones can choose whether to uphold the ban or not.

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Comment: Another great victory in the anti-smoking crusade. The lemmings are being conditioned to accept an authoritarian environment.

1 January 2006
Europeans rang in the New Year with traditional firework displays and festive street gatherings, but the celebratory mood was punctuated by violence and injury in Britain and across the continent.

On Paris's most famous avenue, the Champs-Elysees, half a million revellers, many with champagne bottles in hand, welcomed the arrival of 2006, according to police estimates.

But outside the city center in the tough suburbs that erupted into violence two months ago, more than 150 cars went up in smoke. Throughout France, 425 vehicles were torched despite a massive police presence, according to an official tally.

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1 Jan 2006
Britain handed over the European Union's leadership to Austria, trumpeting success after six months at the helm, but Vienna faces an uphill battle to help get the embattled bloc back on track.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair can claim credit notably for clinching a budget deal at an EU summit last month, as well launching entry negotiations with Turkey after overcoming fierce divisions within the 25-nation club.

But Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, while relieved that the EU's 2007-2013 funding plans are finally agreed, faces a much bigger problem before handing the EU reins to Finland in July: the all-but-dead EU constitution.

Click to Expand Article 2006-01-02 14:16:55
LIMA, Jan. 1 (Xinhuanet) -- Bolivia's President-elect Evo Morales will head for Venezuela on Tuesday to meet with President Hugo Chavez as part of his world tour, his spokesman said on Sunday.

Morales' Venezuelan visit follows a Dec. 31 visit to Cuba, where he and Cuban leader Fidel Castro discussed ways to strengthen their countries' bilateral relations.

Morales plans a brief six-hour stop in Venezuela's capital before starting a tour of several countries including European countries, South Africa and Brazil, said his spokesman Alex Contreras.

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Britain's wartime prime minister Winston Churchill was prepared to have French resistance leader General Charles de Gaulle arrested if he tried to leave Britain, new documents released from British archives showed Sunday.

The animosity between the pair, both revered in their homelands as heroes of the Second World War, is revealed in the first detailed records of British wartime Cabinet meetings to be made public.

Describing the French resistance leader as having "insensate ambition", Churchill also said De Gaulle was a barrier to "trustworthy" relations between the two countries.

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Comment: When we look at the modern EU, seems like de Gaulle had the right idea. The Brits are still the shill for the US.

1 Jan 06
Egypt's independent and opposition press has criticised police for forcibly breaking up a three-month protest by Sudanese refugees that left as many as 25 people dead.

"Shame on Egypt," thundered the headline in the Al-Arabi newspaper on Sunday, as relatives held funerals across Cairo for the dead, who included women and children.

"Prosecute the murderers and dismiss the minister of interior," the paper demanded.

Thousands of riot police wielding sticks and water cannon forcibly removed hundreds of Sudanese demonstrators, in an operation that began at dawn on Friday.

The independent Al-Isboa newspaper called it "the night the human conscience was lost".

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Washington Post
Posted on Sun, Jan. 01, 2006
Scientists disagree over how to account for the minute discrepancy between atomic and astronomical time.

Time marches on, but Earth is falling behind. The solution again this year is to add a "leap second" as 2006 arrives, so Earth can catch up with the atomic clocks that have defined time since their unerring accuracy trumped the heavens three decades ago.

This will be the first leap second in seven years, and its arrival will be closely watched by physicists and astronomers enmeshed in a prolonged debate over the future of time in a world increasingly dominated by technology.

Some experts think the leap second should be abolished because the periodic, but random, adjustment of time imposes unreasonable and perhaps dangerous disruptions on precision software applications including cell phones, air traffic control and power grids.

Others, however, argue that it would be expensive to adjust satellites, telescopes and other astronomical systems that are hard-wired for the leap second, and besides, people want their watches to be in sync with the heavens.

Nobody knows how disruptive the leap second really is, but researchers hope to find out soon.

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By Cole Moreton
01 January 2006
What did you do with the extra second last night? Take another cup of kindness? Let a New Year kiss linger on the lips? Wonder why the radio was playing an extra pip?

If you didn't even notice the leap second being added to all our lives at midnight then that's a shame, because it may be the last. Time, the universal notion that underpins everything we do, is changing: becoming ever more accurate and powerful, it may also be about to split apart.

The trouble is that the experts who are supposed to tell us what time it is cannot agree how to do so. The time lords are falling out, as one group argues for the world to abandon ancient methods of timekeeping and rely solely on super-accurate atomic clocks instead.

Systems such as the new Galileo satellite, launched last week, use atomic time to keep planes in the air and cities moving. American scientists believe it is time to measure out our lives only according to the rate at which the atoms of caesium-133 vibrate. They are opposed by equally passionate astronomers who are keen that we should all continue to measure time by using the movement of the sun in the sky to define a day.

These two versions of time have drifted 32 seconds apart, because the rotation of the Earth is irregular and slowing down.

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Comment: It's odd that this "time" issue keeps coming up. As we have reported before, the subject was brought up in the Cassiopaean Transmissions as early as 22 Feb 1997, but in a very particular context:

A: Climate is being influenced by three factors, and soon a fourth. 1) Wave approach. 2) Chloroflorocarbon increase in atmosphere, thus affecting ozone layer. 3) Change in the planet's axis rotation, orientation. 4) Artificial tampering by 3rd and 4th density STS forces in a number of different ways. Be vigilant. Be observant. [...]
Q: (Laura) All right, were those given in the order in which they are occurring? The fourth being the one that's coming later?
A: Maybe, but remember this: a change in the speed of the rotation may not be reported while it is imperceptible except by instrumentation. Equator is slightly "wider" than the polar zones. But, this discrepancy is decreasing slowly currently. One change to occur in 21st Century is sudden glacial rebound, over Eurasia first, then North America. Ice ages develop much, much, much faster than thought.
Q: (Terry) Is the Earth expanding?...(Ark) Yes, that's the
theory: the idea is that the continents move away because the Earth is expanding, and this is much faster than you know, than geologists were thinking.
A: Continental "drift" is caused by the continual though variable, propelling of gases from the interior to the surface, mainly at points of magnetic significance.
Q: (Jan) What causes the change in the axis?
A: By slow down of rotation, Earth alternately heats up and cools down in interior.
Q: (Laura) Why does it do that? What's the cause of this?
A: Part of cycle related to energy exerted upon surface by
the frequency resonance vibrational profile of humans and others.

And then, on 31 October 2001:

Q: (L) Now according to these guys who are writing this web page about pole shift, they say it can be predicted where the poles will shift to. Is this in fact the case?
A: No.
Q: (L) Why can't pole shifts be predicted? Can't we know where the new pole will end up?
A: Chaotic function here.
Q: (A) There are three possible things that would come under the name pole shift. Only one of them may come, or two, or three, okay? And these are the following - the axis of rotation with respect to stars is changing, straightening out for instance; this is one thing; while all the rest goes with the axis, the lithosphere and the magnetic field. Second, the axis stays where it is, maybe it shifts a little bit; the lithosphere stays where it is - maybe it wobbles - but the magnetic field changes: for instance reverses. Third, axis stays, magnetic field stays, but the lithosphere is moving. So that's three ways a pole shift can happen. And of course there are things that come together. The most dramatic one which is seen from outside is when the axis of rotation changes. The next dramatic one is probably when the lithosphere changes. And the third of unknown consequences is when the magnetic pole changes, okay? So, we want to have an understanding what will be the main change. (A) Are we looking at a pole shift during the next ten or so years with a high degree of probability?
A: Yes.
Q: (A) In this concept of pole shift, what would be the main feature of this pole shift, of all those which we were discussing?
A: New axial orientation, and magnetic reversal.
Q: (L) That's fairly dramatic. (A) Alright, now, change of axis or orientation of axis of rotation: can we say we would straighten up, getting almost perpendicular to the ecliptic? Or the other possibility is that it will fall down being almost parallel to the ecliptic. The third is that we'll flip completely by 180 degrees. We know it's highly unpredictable, but can we have a clue from which one is, so to say, dominate?
A: Perpendicularity will be restored.
Q: (A) You didn't mention a change or shift of the lithosphere alone. Can we...
A: Lithospheric shift will feature to some extent.
Q: (A) But, that means eventually that the equator will almost not change because...
A: Correct.
Q: (A) So it will just shift a little bit, but its not going to go to Hawaii? What about changes in the lithosphere: can we predict a little bit of change in geography, coming from motions in lithosphere and changes in water level?
A: Chaotic features predominate but in general it will be safer inland and in mountainous areas since less folding occurs in such locations.
Q: (A) Now, the change of the orientation of the axis, what would be the main trigger, force, or activity, or what kind of event will trigger this change of the axis?
A: Cometary bodies.
Q: (L) Are the planets of the solar system going to kind of shift out of their orbits and run amok [as some are theorizing]? Is that a possibility?
A: Yes.
Q: (A) Due to cometary orbits alone?
A: Yes. Twin sun also.
Q: (A) When we speak about these cometary bodies, are we speaking about impacts?
A: Some will hit.
Q: (A) What would be - if any - the role played by electric phenomena? [The Electric Universe]
A: Twin sun grounds current flow through entire system setting the "motor" running.
Q: (L) Does this mean that all of the different bodies of the solar system are like parts of some kind of giant machine, and once this electric current flows through them, depending on their positions relative to one another at the time this current flows, that it has some influence on the way the machine runs?
A: Yes, more or less.

Smithsonian Magazine |
January 1, 2006
Archaeologists call it the Persian carpet effect.

Imagine you're a mouse running across an elaborately decorated rug. The ground would merely be a blur of shapes and colors. You could spend your life going back and forth, studying an inch at a time, and never see the patterns.

Like a mouse on a carpet, an archaeologist painstakingly excavating a site might easily miss the whole for the parts. That's where the work of aerial photographers such as Georg Gerster comes in.

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The Associated Press
HAVANA — Fidel Castro and Bolivian President-elect Evo Morales say cooperation between their countries will bloom despite U.S. worries about more nations allying with communist Cuba and a growing leftward tilt in Latin American politics.

The two men late Friday announced a 30-month plan to erase illiteracy in Bolivia, the latest move by left-leaning South American leaders calling for increased cooperation among nations in the region without U.S. influence.

Cuba also agreed to offer free eye operations to up to 50,000 needy Bolivians as well as 5,000 full scholarships for young Bolivians to study medicine on the island.

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By Gary Marx
Tribune foreign correspondent
Published December 30, 2005
HAVANA -- After months of relative calm on the U.S.-Cuba diplomat front, the two nations have returned to the caustic rhetoric that has often characterized their relationship since Fidel Castro took power in 1959.

The brief period of calm coincided with the replacement of James Cason, the tough-talking former top U.S. diplomat in Havana, with Michael Parmly, an experienced career diplomat who spent his first three months in Cuba quietly meeting with fellow diplomats, opposition figures and others.

But that changed when 54-year-old Parmly delivered a blistering speech in which he criticized Cuba for being out of step with the global shift toward democracy.

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Comment: When Parmly says "The Cuban regime does not represent the people, nor does it have any interest in bettering their lives. Rather, the regime is obsessed with self-preservation." it sure sounds like he is talking about George Bush and the Neocons. Which is not to say that Castro is squeaky clean. No single individual can be a dictator for that many years without imposing some serious rights violating draconian measures on large segments of his population. But, relatively speaking, Castro is the "Diet Coke of evil, (just one calorie)" compared to Stalin, Hitler and Bush & the Neocons. (Never forget that Bush is just the puppet, not the master.)

By W.T. Whitney Jr
29 Dec 2005
The Bush administration has sent troops into Paraguay. They are there ostensibly for humanitarian and counterterrorism purposes. The action coincides with growing left unity in South America, military buildup in the region and burgeoning independent trade relationships.

In a speech on July 26 in Havana, Fidel Castro took note of the incursion and called upon North American activists to oppose it. In that vein, an inquiry is in order as to why the US government has inserted Paraguay into its strategic plan for South America. In addition, we should look at factors that favor Bush administration schemes for the region and others that work against US plans.

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31 Dec 2005
Toronto Star
LA GARRUCHA, Mexico — Mexico's Zapatista rebels are emerging from their jungle hideout for a six-month campaign tour of Mexico designed to be an "alternative" to this year's already contentious presidential race.

The tour begins Sunday, on New Year's Day, to coincide with the anniversary of a brief Zapatista uprising in the name of Indian rights 12 years ago. This time, however, the Zapatistas are not expected to wield Kalashnikov rifles and declare war when they march into the main Chiapas city of San Cristobal de las Casas, about 75 miles southwest of this village.

Instead, the ski mask-wearing Zapatista leader Subcomandante Marcos has promised to build a nationalist leftist movement that will "shake this country up from below" during a visit to Mexico's 31 states.

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Jan. 1, 2006
Lying on his cot in the steel container where he lives with seven other migrant workers, Farukh Montzarov's thoughts turn to his home in the mountains of southern Tajikistan.

"I would rather be there, but I have no choice," says Montzarov, 26. "There's no work there; life is very hard. At least here I can earn some money and send it to my parents."

In his impoverished Central Asian homeland, Montzarov would have been lucky to land a job paying the equivalent of $20 a month. In Moscow, he's earning $520 monthly as a labourer at a Moscow construction site.

But in exchange for the chance to support himself and his family, Montzarov joined the desperate world of Russia's illegal migrant workers. He works at least 11 hours a day as a loader and brick-hauler in the deep cold of the Moscow winter.

At night, he sleeps in the cramped storage container, thankful that it has electricity and a small heater.

His last employer fired him after he complained about not being paid for two months' work. In his three years in Russia, he estimates he has paid more than $2,500 in bribes to police who threatened to deport him.

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Comment: Ah! The joyful Capitalist Life!

1 January 2006
Austria should provide a "vitamin boost for Europe", Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik has said as her nation took over the 6-month rotating presidency of the European Union from Britain.

Plassnik said the priorities of the Austrian EU presidency would include jobs, growth and improved confidence in the EU. She also emphasised Austria's role in bridging Eastern and Western Europe, the Austrian press agency reported.

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1 January 2006
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki has declared food shortages ravaging parts of the east African country a "national disaster" and for the first time used the word "famine" to describe the crisis.

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USGS 2006-01-02
USGS 2006-01-02 -- A major earthquake occurred at 06:10:49 (UTC) on Monday, January 2, 2006. The magnitude 7.3 event has been located EAST OF THE SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)

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First posted 12:01pm (Mla time) Jan 02, 2006
Associated Press
HONG KONG -- A moderate earthquake struck under the sea near the island of Guam in the Pacific Ocean, Hong Kong seismologists said Monday. It was not immediately clear whether there were casualties or damage.

The magnitude-5.7 quake was recorded at 0108 GMT Monday, the Hong Kong Observatory said in a brief statement. The epicenter was about 90 kilometers (60 miles) south of the city of Agana, Guam, it said.

The small island of Guam is a US territory about 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) east of the Philippine capital, Manila.

January 02, 2006 11:52 AM
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 2 (Bernama) -- A moderate earthquake measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale occurred in the Banda Sea, Indonesia, at 3.33am Monday, according to the Malaysian Meteorological Services Department.

The centre of the earthquake was located 1,180km southeast of Tawau, at co-ordinates 2.9 South, 125.9 East, it said in a statement here.

Based on its location and magnitude, the earthquake was not expected to generate a tsunami, it added.

31 Dec 2005
NAPA, Calif. (AP) - A powerful storm sent rivers and creeks over their banks and into cities and set off mudslides that blocked major highways across Northern California on Saturday. At least a dozen people had to be rescued from the rushing water, and forecasters were warning of another storm on Sunday.

California officials urged residents along the Napa and Russian rivers and on hillsides to collect their valuables, gather emergency supplies and get out.

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30 Dec 2005
SEATTLE, Washington -- Roughly every three seconds, the equivalent of a large dump truck load of lava -- 10 cubic yards -- oozes into the crater of Mount St. Helens, and with the molten rock comes a steady drumfire of small earthquakes.

The unremitting pace, going on for 15 months now, is uncommon, said U.S. Geological Survey geologist Dave Sherrod. Experts say it is unclear what the activity signifies or how much longer it will continue.

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1 January 2006
Raging bushfires have destroyed at least 10 homes and threatened scores more in southeast Australia as a scorching heatwave hit Sydney with its hottest New Year's Day on record.

Temperatures soared up to 47 degrees Celsius (116 degrees Fahrenheit) as hundreds of firefighters backed by aircraft battled the blazes and sweltering residents of coastal cities flocked to the beaches.

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Monday January 2, 2006 10:32 AM
Associated Press Writer
CARBON, Texas (AP) - Bill Sandlin and his wife saw smoke on the horizon as they returned home from church and started watering their yard.

But as flames approached, they packed clothes, pictures and his gun collection. They drove off just as flames started to engulf their house and three barns, located about 125 miles west of Dallas.

``We hate losing our stuff, but at least everybody's OK,'' Sandlin said.

Wildfires raged across Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico on Sunday, burning homes and sparking a patchwork of flames across the region as gusting winds blew flaming embers into the dry grass.

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Monday January 2, 2006 9:17 AM
MIAMI (AP) - Tropical Storm Zeta was expected to weaken Monday as it drifted westward over the central Atlantic, forecasters said.

The 27th named storm of a record-breaking hurricane season, Zeta had top sustained winds near 50 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Forecasters said Zeta was not expected to become a hurricane or threaten land.

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