- Signs of the Times Archive for Mon, 19 Mar 2007 -

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SOTT Focus
Signs Economic Commentary for 19 March 2007

Donald Hunt
Signs of the Times
2007-03-19 05:26:00

Fears of a serious recession sparked by the bursting of the housing bubble drove down the dollar, oil and stocks last week. The problems of the sub-prime mortgage market were all over the news. For oil prices to drop so sharply, over 5% last week, in the face of extreme instability in the Middle East, it must mean that the housing problem in the United States is even worse then they are letting on.

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Best of the Web
Some Questions about 911 for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed

by Nila Sagadevan
2007-03-18 18:14:00

KSM - The Funniest Stand-up Comedian since Osama bin Underthebed

According to the headline article on BBC's front page, KSM is claimed to have admitted to the kangaroo court that tried him:

" I was responsible for the 9/11 operation, from A to Z."

KSM's confession was announced to the world by the very people who routinely torture prisoners, hold secret military trials behind closed doors, and bar all lawyers and reporters from being anywhere near the courtroom.

But you do believe them, don't you?

(Boy, is this going to confound the millions of FoxNews- and Limbaugh-trained Bushie buffoons who still believe Saddam did it!)

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U.S. News
James Yee: Inside Guantanamo

The Talking Dog
2007-03-19 16:45:00

James Yee is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. In 2002 and 2003, he served as the Muslim Chaplain at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, with the rank of Captain in the United States Army.

After ten months of deployment at Guantanamo, while traveling home for a two week leave, Captain Yee was arrested, and accused of espionage and spying, charges which carried the death penalty. He was then placed in solitary confinement in the Naval Brig in Charleston, South Carolina, under conditions resembling those in which Guantanamo detainees were kept, for 76 days.

As the case against Yee fell apart, the military instead added criminal charges of adultery and having pornography on his computer, charges that were also eventually dropped. Captain Yee left the Army with an honorable discharge and service commendations.

He is the author of For God and Country: Faith and Patriotism Under Fire. On March 8, 2007, I had the privilege of interviewing James Yee by telephone. What follows are my interview notes corrected as appropriate by Mr. Yee.

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Paralysis Sets In as DOJ Faces Prosecutor Purge Crisis

by Chitra Ragavan
US News & World Report
2007-03-19 15:37:00

The Justice Department is expected to release more than 400 pages of E-mails and documents by close of business today to comply with a demand from Democrats in Congress over the growing crisis regarding the firing of eight U.S. attorneys last year. The crisis has engulfed the department and threatens to cut short Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's tenure.

"You have no idea," said one Justice official, "how bad it is here."

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Sen. Leahy to Subpoena Bush Officials on Prosecutor Firings - "I want testimony under oath. I am sick and tired of getting half-truths on this"

2007-03-19 15:22:00

The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman said Sunday he intends to subpoena White House officials involved in ousting federal prosecutors and is dismissing anything short of their testimony in public.

The Bush White House was expected to announce early this week whether it will let political strategist Karl Rove, former White House counsel Harriet Miers and other officials testify or will seek to assert executive privilege in preventing their appearance.

The chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., last week delayed a vote on the subpoenas until Thursday as the president's counsel, Fred Fielding, sought to negotiate terms. But on Sunday, Leahy said he had not met Fielding nor was he particularly open to any compromises, such as a private briefing by the administration officials.

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Bush Pleads for Patience in Iraq War

Associated Press
2007-03-19 14:54:00

With Democrats pushing for an end to the Iraq war now entering its fifth year, President Bush pleaded for more patience Monday, saying success is possible but "will take months, not days or weeks."

The war has stretched longer, with higher costs, than the White House ever predicted. On the fourth anniversary of the day Bush directed the invasion to begin, the president made a televised statement from the White House Roosevelt Room to defend continued U.S. involvement.

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Uh Oh, the President's Reading Again

Jim Lobe
2007-03-19 14:08:00

Accounts of a Feb. 28 "literary luncheon" at the White House suggest that President George W. Bush's reading tastes - until now a remarkably good predictor of his policy views - are moving ever rightward, even apocalyptic, despite his administration's recent suggestions that it is more disposed to engage Washington's foes, even in the Middle East.

The luncheon, attended as well by Vice President Dick Cheney and a dozen hard-line neoconservatives, was held in honor of visiting British historian Andrew Roberts, whose latest work, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900, Bush reportedly read late last year and subsequently sent to Prime Minister Tony Blair. Cheney took the book with him on his recent trip to Pakistan.

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"Elaborate dirty tricks of Kennedy haters"? Marilyn: The case for 'assisted suicide'

Belfast Telegraph
2007-03-19 11:27:00

The star was fooled into killing herself, says a newly released FBI file. Did her friends deliberately let her die? Kathy Marks reports

Marilyn Monroe may have been tricked into killing herself as part of a plot hatched with the knowledge of the former US attorney general, Robert Kennedy, according to a secret FBI file.

The document, uncovered by an Australian film director, Philippe Mora, suggests Monroe was "induced" to make a suicide attempt, in the belief she would be found in time, and her stomach pumped. Instead, it suggests, she was left to die by staff and friends, including the actor Peter Lawford, who was married to Kennedy's sister, Patricia.

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UK & Euro-Asian News
Czech village 'vetoes' US Missile shield

2007-03-19 15:51:00

The residents of a village in the Czech Republic have voted overwhelmingly to reject a radar station that would form part of the US missile defence shield.

Only one of the residents voted yes, while 71 of the 90 eligible voters were opposed, said the mayor of Trokavec, 70km (44 miles) from Prague.

Villagers fear the area will become a military target. The vote was largely symbolic and has no legal power.

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What the E.U. Is All About

by Per Bylund
Lew Rockwell
2007-03-19 15:41:00

The European Union is about peace, freedom, and greatness. At least according to the official statements of representatives of the union as well as the declarations made by the councils and parliament.

It is about peace, originally, through offering a framework within which formerly warring European nations are made partners in a great project on which they are dependent.

It is about freedom through the EU's Four Freedoms: the ability of goods, services, capital, and labor to move freely within the internal market. It is about greatness because the EU, at least to many Europeans, is a way of making Europe a counter-weight to the only remaining super-power USA.

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Russian envoy storms out of Security Council on Kosovo

2007-03-19 15:33:00

Russia's UN envoy stormed out of a Security Council meeting on Kosovo here Monday and accused the UN special envoy for the Albanian-majority Serbian province of "preaching for independence."

"His remarks have been extremely one-sided and unhelpful," Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters, referring to the UN special representative for Kosovo Joachim Rucker, who is based in the province.

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Suicide attack on US embassy convoy in Kabul

2007-03-19 15:26:00

KABUL - A suicide attacker rammed an explosives-filled car into a US embassy convoy in the Afghan capital Kabul Monday, wounding some embassy staff and guards and at least three Afghan passers-by, officials said.

The attack on the road to the eastern city of Jalalabad was the first suicide bombing inside Kabul this year, after several deadly blasts last year blamed on Taliban insurgents.

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Russia, Greece, Bulgaria in pipeline deal

Cyprus Weekly
2007-03-19 14:40:00

ATHENS (AP) RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin presided over a three-nation pipeline deal yesterday to bring Russia's fast expanding energy network to the Mediterranean Sea by 2011.
Development and energy ministers from Russia, Greece and Bulgaria signed an agreement authorising construction of a 280km Russian oil pipeline from Bulgaria's Black Sea port of Burgas to Alexandroupolis, in northern Greece.

While it may mollify European worries over oil supply, the project could increase Europe's dependency on Russia at a time when emerging central Asian producers are still heavily reliant on the Russian network for delivery to energy-hungry Western consumers.

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Quarter of Europeans think EU has made life better

2007-03-19 11:00:00

Just a quarter of people in the five biggest European Union countries think that their lives have got better since their country joined the EU, according to a poll published on Monday.

The Financial Times/Harris survey, which queried citizens of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and also the United States, found that just 25 percent of respondents thought their lives had improved since their country became a member of the EU.

Some 44 percent said their lives had got worse.

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Around the World
Prison Zimbabwe: Opposition leaders held as they try to leave the country

By Basildon Peta and Daniel Howden
UK Independent
2007-03-19 15:53:00

Robert Mugabe's regime has launched a desperate attempt to shut off the country from the outside world, arresting and assaulting key opposition leaders as they attempted to leave Zimbabwe and stealing the body of a murdered activist to prevent his funeral from taking place.

Nelson Chamisa, the national spokesman for the main opposition party Movement for Democratic Change, was fighting for his life last night in a Harare hospital after being ambushed in an airport departure lounge by plain-clothes agents wielding iron bars.

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Inquiry into torture of three Canadians to begin

Canadian Press
2007-03-18 14:16:00

OTTAWA -- Canadians will finally get a glimpse of how former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci plans to proceed in his investigation into the detention and torture abroad of three Canadians accused of terrorist ties.

It can't come soon enough for supporters of Abdullah Almalki, Ahmed El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin, all of whom believe the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the RCMP played a part in their mistreatment in Syria and Egypt.

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Zimbabwe stops activists leaving

2007-03-18 17:07:00

Four leading Zimbabwean opposition members have been prevented from going abroad and one of them was attacked at the airport, the opposition says.

MP Nelson Chamisa said he was beaten as he tried to leave. The government denied its forces were involved.

Earlier two women activists were stopped as they tried to leave to get treatment for injuries sustained in police custody, their lawyer said.

And Arthur Mutambara was re-arrested as he was about to leave the country.

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Hugo Chavez Steps Up for Native Americans and the Poor that Bush Ignores

Tim Giago
2007-03-18 17:59:00

Native American journalist Jodi Lee Rave of Lee Enterprise Newspapers was recently lambasted in a letter to the editor to our local daily for having the temerity to laud the donation of funds for heating fuel for the very poor Indian nations of the Northern Plains.

The criticism was initiated by the fact that the donor was the Citgo Petroleum Corporation based in Houston, Texas and headed by the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, the man reviled by many Americans for referring to President George W. Bush on the floor of the United Nations as the "Devil."

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Big Brother
Official Alerted F.B.I. to Rules Abuse 2 Years Ago, Lawyer Says

Edmund L. Andrews
New York Times
2007-03-19 14:25:00

Almost two years before the Federal Bureau of Investigation publicly admitted this month that it had ignored its own rules when demanding telephone and financial records about private citizens, a top official in that program warned the bureau about widespread lapses, his lawyer said on Sunday.

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Public to shape smart tag policy (60% of whom don't know what they do)

Mark Ward
2007-03-15 12:50:00

European citizens are getting the chance to shape policy on smart tags.

The European Commission is setting up a group made up of citizens, scientists, data protection experts and businesses to discuss how the tags should be used.

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Axis of Evil
Another damning admission from the New York Times: whitewashing Iraq war

By Bill Van Auken
2007-03-19 15:56:00

The New York Times public editor is portrayed by this so-called paper of record as the "readers' representative." In reality, the institution serves as a clearinghouse for sharper critiques of the paper's right-wing editorial policy, where readers' accusations are aired, in order better to dismiss them.

With remarkable frequency, the public editor, Byron Calame, finds himself compelled to deal with mounting anger from the Times' readership over the newspaper's tailoring of its editorial decisions to meet the political needs of the Bush administration in general and its prosecution of the war in Iraq in particular.

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Bush-Rove Attorney Purge may be connected to CIA corruption probe

By Margaret Talev and Marisa Taylor
McClatchy Newspapers
2007-03-19 15:47:00

WASHINGTON - Fired San Diego U.S. attorney Carol Lam notified the Justice Department that she intended to execute search warrants on a high-ranking CIA official as part of a corruption probe the day before a Justice Department official sent an e-mail that said Lam needed to be fired, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Sunday.

Feinstein, D-Calif., said the timing of the e-mail suggested that Lam's dismissal may have been connected to the corruption probe.

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More Lies - Guantanamo Detainee Confesses to USS Cole bombing

2007-03-19 12:54:00

[Torture victim]Waleed Mohammed bin Attash, long suspected of plotting the bombing of the USS Cole, confessed to planning the attack during a hearing at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to a Pentagon transcript released Monday.

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Israel seeks boycott of Palestinian gov't

2007-03-19 10:50:00

With a firm position against the newly-born Palestinian national unity government, Israel is seeking a united front within the international community on abroad boycott of the Palestinian coalition.

Israel will not pursue contacts with the Palestinian coalition in its entirety, including non-Hamas ministers, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vowed on Sunday.

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Israeli ministerial panel defines Israel-Hezbollah conflict as "war"

2007-03-19 10:39:00

An Israeli ministerial committee decided on Monday that the Israel-Hezbollah conflict last summer in southern Lebanon will be officially defined as a war, the Yediaoth Ahronoth daily reported.

According to the report, the Ministerial Committee for Symbols and Ceremonies has not yet chosen a name for the war, and proposals currently in place for the official name of the conflict include "War of the North," "Northern Shield War" and "The Second War in Lebanon."

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Middle East Madness
Iran to retaliate for US 'kidnaps'

Uzi Mahnaimi, Tel Aviv
Times, London
2007-03-19 15:28:00

IRAN is threatening to retaliate in Europe for what it claims is a daring undercover operation by western intelligence services to kidnap senior officers in its Revolutionary Guard.

According to Iranian sources, several officers have been abducted in the past three months and the United States has drawn up a list of other targets to be seized with the aim of destabilising Tehran's military command.

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Robert Fisk: Lebanon, America's new puppet regime

Robert Fisk
The Independent
2007-03-19 12:58:00

US power games in the Middle East

As the West looks anxiously at Iraq and Afghanistan, dangerous cracks are opening up in Lebanon and the White House is determined to prop up Fouad Siniora's government

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The Loan Gunmen

No new articles.

The Living Planet
Sun storms expected to worsen in 5 years

2007-03-13 20:40:00

Solar storms, which are expected to get worse over the next five years, could threaten China's national defence and communications satellite systems, said the National Satellite Meteorological Center (NSMC) on Tuesday.

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Sun's pulse 'pointing to rain'

Matthew Warren
The Australian
2007-03-19 00:00:00

DROUGHT-BREAKING rains across eastern Australia have been predicted in new modelling by a scientist who believes massive pulses in the sun's magnetic field are helping to drive the Earth's climate systems.

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Ex-CIA chief says U.S. must act on climate

By Paul Taylor
2007-03-19 15:34:00

BRUSSELS - The United States must act to cap its emissions of greenhouse gases and join the fight against climate change or risk losing global leadership, a former CIA director said in a report released on Monday.

"The United States must adopt a carbon emission control policy," John Deutch, head of the Central Intelligence Agency in 1995-96, said in a report to the Trilateral Commission, a grouping of business and opinion leaders from Europe, the United States and Asia.

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Phoenix Heatwave: Another Day, Another Record High

2007-03-19 10:14:00

PHOENIX -- For the fifth consecutive day, the mercury sweated out another record high temperature.

It was 94 degrees Sunday, breaking the old record for the date of 91 degrees set in 2004.

Sunday morning's low of 65 degrees also established a record for the warmest minimum temperature for the date, breaking the old mark of 62 set in 2004.

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EU site to offer extreme weather data

Associated Press
2007-03-19 06:49:00

VIENNA, Austria - It looks like a color-coded terror alert scale - and meteorologically speaking, that's exactly what it is. With climate change making conditions more unpredictable, national weather services from across the European Union have joined forces to create http://www.meteoalarm.eu - a new Web site providing up-to-the-minute information on "extreme weather" across the continent.

The initiative, managed by Austria's Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics, is designed to give Europeans a single source for details on flash floods, severe thunderstorms, gale-force winds, heat waves, blizzards and other violent weather that poses a threat to life or property.

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Health & Wellness
Flashback: Intentional Imitation : How to play the president

Dave Denison
Boston News
2004-09-12 11:51:00

Is John Kerry a good enough actor to become president? As the campaign enters its final leg, with the first of the proposed televised debates approaching on Sept. 30 and a stark political choice facing the voters, the question may sound cynical, disrespectful, even uncivic. After all, an actor is an illusionist, whereas a political leader is supposed to be, as Kerry himself has put it, "the real deal."

Yet as anyone who follows modern politics knows, it takes a great deal of talent, practice, and discipline -- not to mention the combined efforts of numerous image consultants and communications experts -- for a politician to appear appealingly authentic, especially on television. As the playwright Arthur Miller wrote in a 2001 essay, "On Politics and the Art of Acting," "Political leaders everywhere have come to understand that to govern they must learn how to act."

The elaborately staged political conventions were the easy part, with everything scripted and well rehearsed. It only gets tougher from here. For the fall ad campaign, John Kerry's leading "image maker" is Robert Shrum, who has written speeches, produced ads, and developed strategies for a long list of Democratic politicians, including Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Bush's consultant of choice is Stuart Stevens, who produced the Bush campaign's television advertising in 2000. (Stevens also worked for Massachusetts governors William Weld and Paul Cellucci, and wrote early episodes of the television series "Northern Exposure.")

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Killers' faces provide new truths on lying: Can you really conceal your intentions?

2007-03-19 11:47:00

While studying the faces of convicted killers, a Halifax psychologist says the truth about lies can be found in facial expressions.

Dr. Steve Porter, a forensic psychologist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S., studies micro expressions and says the face of someone telling a lie is different from someone experiencing true emotion.

"People manifest particular concealed emotions, so how does that express itself on your face?" he told CTV.

Porter looks at emotions frame-by-frame and says it's nearly impossible for someone to mimic the complex muscle movements of such emotions as sadness, stress or despair.

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Peering Into The Soul - What is your intent?

William Saletan
2007-03-19 11:37:00

Years ago, Woody Allen used to joke that he'd been thrown out of college as a freshman for cheating on his metaphysics final. "I looked within the soul of the boy sitting next to me," he confessed.

Today, the joke is on us. Cameras follow your car, global-positioning systems track your cellphone, software monitors your Web surfing, X-rays explore your purse, and airport scanners see through your clothes. Now comes the final indignity: machines that can look into your soul.

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Science & Technology
Scientists develop emotional robots that bond with humans

John von Radowitz
The Independent
2007-03-19 13:12:00

Robots that bond like human children and display emotion are being developed at a British university.

The £1.68m Feelix Growing Project, a global partnership of robotic experts, psychologists and neuroscientists, aims to produce machines that can engage emotionally with humans. Like children, they will form attachments with their human handlers.

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Tiny organisms remember the way to food

Greg Huang
New Scientist
2007-03-19 11:32:00

Some of the most basic organisms are smarter than we thought. Rather than moving about randomly, amoebas and plankton employ sophisticated strategies to look for food and might travel in a way that optimises their foraging.

Biophysicists have long tried to explain how creatures of all sizes search for food. However, single-celled organisms such as bacteria seem to move in no particular direction in their search.

To investigate, Liang Li and Edward Cox at Princeton University studied the movements of amoebas (Dictyostelium) in a Petri dish, recording the paths travelled by 12 amoebas, including every turn and movement straight ahead, for 8 to 10 hours per amoeba.

Immediately after an amoeba turned right, it was twice as likely to turn left as right again, and vice versa, they told a meeting of the American Physical Society meeting in Denver, Colorado, last week. This suggests that the cells have a rudimentary memory, being able to remember the last direction they had just turned in, says Robert Austin, a biophysicist at Princeton who was not involved in the study.

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Gun-firing video games improve eyesight

2007-03-19 10:52:00

New research suggests playing action video games that involve firing guns such as "Gears of War," Lost Planet," and "Halo" can improve your eyesight.

Most aspects of vision are physical and depend on the the size of one's eye and the thickness and shape of the cornea and lens. But some visual defects are neural in nature, said Daphne Bevelier of the University of Rochester and author of the new study on vision and video games published in the journal Psychological Science.

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'Cave entrances' spotted on Mars

Paul Rincon
2007-03-18 04:57:00

Scientists studying pictures from Nasa's Odyssey spacecraft have spotted what they think may be seven caves on the surface of Mars.

The candidate caves are on the flanks of the Arsia Mons volcano and are of sufficient depth their floors mostly cannot be seen through the opening.

Details were presented here at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston, Texas.

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Our Haunted Planet
Former Arizona governor says he saw 'Phoenix Lights' UFO

Steve Hammons
American Chronicle
2007-03-19 10:53:00

Former Arizona Governor Fife Symington now states that he witnessed the huge "Phoenix Lights" UFO ten years ago, according to a published report by respected investigative journalist Leslie Kean.

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Don't Panic! Lighten Up!
Explicit Love Letters of Russian czar on sale in Germany

dpa German Press Agency
2007-03-19 15:31:00

Cologne- Seven hand-written letters in which Czar
Alexander II of Russia and his mistress, Princess Ekaterina
Dolgorukaya, explicitly describe sex are to be auctioned this Friday in the German city of Cologne.

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BA apologises for First Class corpse

Daily Mail
2007-03-19 11:12:00

British Airways has apologised after First Class passengers on a flight from Delhi awoke to find crew had placed a corpse in their cabin.

Businessman Paul Trinder, 54, had dozed off in his £3000 First Class seat on the flight from Delhi to Heathrow, but awoke to a "commotion" in the darkened cabin.

He told how crew were moving what he later established was a person "like a sack of potatoes", positioning her in a seat on the other side of the cabin and seatbelting her in.

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