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September 24, 2003

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Diary reveals 'steamed up' Campbell(UK)

Chris Tryhorn
Monday September 22, 2003

Alastair Campbell wrote in his diary that it would "fuck Gilligan" if David Kelly turned out to be source for the BBC reporter's allegations that the government "sexed up" its claims about Iraq weapons.

Mr Campbell - writing on July 4, when he knew an MoD worker had come forward to deny being part of Gilligan's story - recorded a conversation with defence secretary Geoff Hoon in which they discussed the emergence of Dr Kelly.

"Says that he'd come forward and he was saying yes to speak to AG [Andrew Gilligan], yes he said intel went in late, but he never said the other stuff [that Downing Street intervened over the 45-minute claim].

"It was double-edged but GH [Geoff Hoon] and I agreed it would fuck Gilligan if that was his source."[...]

Comment: Gilligan was the journalist who has a 'source' high up in the MOD (British Ministry Of Defence) that could prove that Blair lied when he said that Iraq had WMDs. Campbell was the press secretary and Hoon is the minister of defence. Dr. Kelly was the 'source'

Essentially the situation was that Blair, Campbell and Hoon etc. wanted to 'out' Dr. Kelly as Gilligan's source because once 'out' Dr. Kelly could be subjected to all sorts of media scrutiny and finally fully discredited by murdering him and making it look like a suicide. The conclusion among the public (the government hopes) being that he was "suicidal" and therefore his testimony is suspect.

Of course the added benefit is that the man is dead and dead men don't talk. Apparently from the government's point of view Kelly had said too much as it was. Democracy is great ain't it? Don't y'all feel so lucky to be living in the wonderful 'free' 'democratic' west? Those poor Arabs just don't know what they are missing, eh? Is that coffee I smell?? Shhhhshh, go back to sleeeeep.

MI6 chief: 45-minute claim was 'misinterpreted'(UK)

Julia Day and Owen Gibson
Monday September 15, 2003

Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of MI6 and one of the two most senior intelligence officers in the country, today told the Hutton inquiry the controversial 45-minute claim was given undue prominence.
In one of the most surprising admissions of the inquiry so far, Sir Richard said the 45-minute intelligence had been misinterpreted.

He attacked what he described as David Kelly's "serious breach of discipline" in discussing the Iraq dossier with reporters. [...]

Sir Richard was damning in his judgment of the the government scientist's conversation with BBC Newsnight journalist Susan Watts.

He said: "Can I just say I'm shocked to see someone discussing one of our CX [a phrase used to describe a top secret MI6 report] reports with a journalist without authorisation."

Mr Dingeman asked Sir Richard what he had to say about the discussion between Watts and Dr Kelly.

"It's a serious breach of discipline," he replied, hinting Dr Kelly would have been hauled over the coals had he been an MI6 employee.

Comment: So the information that Dr. Kelly had was part of a "CX" or top secret report, that made it clear that Saddam was not a threat in the way Blair was attempting to convince the public. Essentially then Dr. Kelly was merely attempting to inform the public of the truth. The head of MI6 (of whom no pictures exist in the public domain) is therefore rejecting the idea that the British public should be made aware when their elected officials are lying to them. Also we wonder what the penalty for a "serious breach of discipline" in the MOD is? Wouldn't have anything to do with being murdered would it?

Ya know, the more we learn about this 'democracy' business the more we thank our lucky stars that we live in the 'free west'...

Kelly suicide does not add up (UK)

UK Telegraph opinion
By Mary Kenny

Mrs Kelly's compelling and dignified statements do not, either, convince me that David Kelly was "driven" to his death. I don't believe that anyone who commits suicide is "driven" to do so. It is their own choice and their own responsibility. People have been in the most hellish situations, with no visible hope before them, and still they have not taken their own lives.

And indeed, despite Rachel Kelly's distressing description of the way in which her father's spirits had declined, I still find much to puzzle over in David Kelly's demise. It is statistically very unusual for a man in mid-life to take his own life because of outside circumstances alone. Someone who does this is nearly always suffering from a serious depressive illness.

The other facts do not add up either: Dr Kelly was a fond family man, but he chose to depart from his family, apparently, just before a big family wedding. He had quite recently been converted to the Ba'hai faith which quite specifically forbids suicide, as most religions do.

Unless they are suffering from an illness, people of sane mind don't kill themselves when circumstances get unpleasant or troublesome. Dr Kelly was going through a nasty time, but it was not so hopeless that he needed to die.

Privately, Janice Kelly must feel some of the anger, and even the self-reproach that those bereaved by suicide commonly feel. Even with cases of accidental death, or death by natural causes, the survivors feel guilt and regret - "Was there anything we could have done more, or better?"

With suicide, these feelings are magnified. Suicide can be an aggressive act, and the survivor may also feel punished. It is also an act of abandonment.

If David Kelly was of sane mind, how could he have abandoned a semi-invalid wife and a loving family? No rational answer here.

Perhaps it is, in a way, something of a comfort to be able to point the finger of blame at those who seem to have "driven" a decent man to his death. And I think that is the overwhelming, popular view, and it will remain so: that David Kelly was killed by the powers that be, that they were so awful to him that they drove him to it. To me, it cannot be the whole story, but it will remain the legend.

Comment: The circumstantial evidence point to the most likely situation being that Kelly was murdered by the Blair government.

PM's aide doctored dossier(UK)

The Scotsman
Alison Hardie political correspondent
24 Sept 2003

TONY Blair’s top aide told Britain’s senior intelligence officer to doctor the Iraq dossier at the eleventh hour to heighten the threat from Saddam Hussein, it was disclosed yesterday.

The admission that the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, overruled John Scarlett, the chairman of the joint intelligence committee, made a mockery of the government’s denial that it had "sexed up" the evidence used to convince MPs to vote in favour of war.

Mr Powell ordered Mr Scarlett to drop a significant passage which said the Iraqi dictator was prepared to use chemical and biological weapons "if he believes his regime is under attack" and, instead, to imply he was an offensive threat already planning the use of such lethal munitions. [...]

Blow to Blair as majority say war not justified

Alan Travis, home affairs editor
Tuesday September 23, 2003
The Guardian

Tony Blair has decisively lost the debate over Iraq with a clear majority of voters now saying that the war was unjustified, according to the results of this month's Guardian/ICM poll published today.

The survey shows that British public opinion on Iraq has moved sharply over the summer in the face of the Hutton inquiry, the failure to find weapons of mass destruction and the continuing instability in Baghdad. [...]

Israeli supreme court says Torture OK in Israel

The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI)

Four years after the High Court of Justice ruling prohibiting torture in interrogation there is considerable use of means of torture and ill treatment in GSS interrogation

The Attorney General grants - wholesale, and with no exception – the ‘necessity defense’ approval for every single case of torture.

Hannah Friedman, Executive Director of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) states that as of the beginning of 2003 there has been a sharp rise in the torture, ill treatment, humiliation and incarceration in inhuman conditions of Palestinian detainees undergoing interrogation by the GSS.

According to Friedman, during first half of 2003, hundreds of Palestinians were subjected to one degree or another of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment at the hands of the GSS. By way of comparison – in September 2001 PCATI estimated that the total number of detainees being subjected to torture and other forms of ill treatment reached ‘only’ dozens

PCATI’s findings reveal that 58% of the interogees were exposed to direct violence, including beatings, slapping, kicking, bending and placing in other painful positions, intentional tightening of shackles, and shaking, that 52% of interrogees were deprived of sleep and that 79% were subject to cursing, threats and humiliation.

PCATI estimates that a considerable portion of all interrogees, if not most, were exposed to interrogation methods which included “severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental.” In other words methods that constitute torture as defined in international law and violate the High Court of Justice ruling prohibiting the use of torture in interrogation. [...]

IDF officer gets community service for abusing Palestinian

Haaretz Daily
By Amos Harel

An Israel Defense Forces officer convicted of abusing a Palestinian youth has been sentenced to several weeks of community service and been demoted one rank, despite the military court defining his behavior as "ugly and wrong."

During the trial, Sagi confessed to behavior unworthy of an officer. He was sentenced to just two months in military prison - and the military court agreed to convert this brief prison term into two months of army-related public service.

Sagi was convicted on charges related mostly to an incident in the Bethlehem area during Operation Protective Shield in April 2002. During a house search, Sagi decided to interrogate the son of a terror suspect; the army was looking for a rifle it believed was hidden in the home. Sagi questioned the youth at gunpoint, and forced him to undress; he lit a candle and put it near the Palestinian's genitalia. He also threatened to abuse the youth using a bottle.

In another incident, Sagi used a woman from Senegal who worked in a Palestinian home as a "human shield" while he conducted a search. Sagi was removed as battalion commander after this incident.

The court heard a series of character witnesses testify on Sagi's behalf. They alluded to his contribution to the IDF and described him as a "decent, moral" person. Sagi himself admitted that he had "crossed the line between the permitted and the prohibited" in his interrogation of the youth.

Though the military court described Sagi's behavior as "ugly, wrong and forbidden," it concluded that his actions were counter-balanced by his contributions as a "dedicated, professional" officer in the reserves. The court demoted Sagi to the rank of major.

Knesset: 3,000 women a year caught in modern slavery

By Gideon Alon, Ha'aretz Knesset Correspondent

A special Knesset committee finds that "3,000 women are sold each year in Israel's sex industry, in transactions with an annual volume of $1 billion." Exploitation of sex workers includes imprisonment, and other forms of rank coercion."

The special Knesset committee's interim report is to be released Sunday. It describes the sex industry as a "modern form of slavery."

The report's authors charge that current law enforcement efforts against pimps and sex worker traders are inadequate. The laws provide for jail terms of up to 16 years for trafficking in humans. The courts, however, have made a travesty of these laws, the report alleges. Its authors propose two new bills which would, they believe, send a clear message indicating that pimps who traffic in sex workers will not get light punishments.

Testimony provided by sex workers and minors who appeared before the Knesset committee detailed the abusive, criminal aspects of trafficking. After the women are purchased, they have to "buy back" their freedom, and face constant threats, coercion and rape. Among other abuses, their passports are taken from them. A sex worker, the report reveals, has ten to fifteen clients a day, and earns NIS 120 from each client, with pimps taking a comparable sum for each client.

Committee chairperson Zahave Gal-On, MK (Meretz) said the panel's two proposed bills are designed both to reduce abuses in Israel, and to ensure that Israel is removed from the U.S. State Department's list of the second worst group of trafficking offenders.

In a July 2001 report, the State Department included Israel on a black list of states that fail to comply with the minimum criteria enforced by U.S. law to prevent human trafficking. Israel faced a threat of economic sanctions as a result of this ranking.

Israel Troops Kill Gaza Youth After Bush UN Speech

By Nidal al-Mughrabi
September 24, 2003

GAZA (Reuters) - Israeli troops killed a Palestinian youth in a raid in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, hours after President Bush singled out Yasser Arafat's leadership for condemnation at the United Nations.

Witnesses said the unarmed 15-year-old was killed by a tank shell. Israeli forces also wounded 11 people, including gunmen who fired on soldiers who entered the Rafah refugee camp in the latest violence to batter a stalled U.S.-backed peace plan. [...]

House demolition as terror

By Khalid Amayreh
Wednesday 24 September 2003, 9:30 Makka Time, 6:30 GMT

When eight-year-old Mamdouh Nassar returned home from school one day last week, he found just a pile of rubble where the family house once stood.

[...] Mamdouh's family had been accused of harbouring a member of Islamic Jihad, Majed Abu Doash. The Israeli army assassinated Doash as he left the family’s house unarmed.

On fire

Following Majed’s death, Israeli forces began pounding the three-storey home with artillery shells and short-range rockets, setting the premise on fire.

The tragedy of the Nassar family epitomises the plight of thousands of Palestinian families that have fallen victim to one of the most devastating aspects of the Israeli occupation.

Since the outbreak of the Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, against Israel’s occupation three years ago, the Israeli army has destroyed as many as 3000 Palestinian homes. Not a day passes without the Israeli army demolishing another home and dooming another family to homelessness, misery and poverty.

From the very beginning of the Intifada, the wanton destruction of Palestinians’ homes and possessions became one of Israel’s chief means of tormenting the civilian population.

[...] Hasan Ajlouni, who also lost his apartment [when Israeli soldiers dynamited and then levelled an apartment building] , lashes out at the international community for allowing Israel to “gang up like this on a defenceless people".

“Israel is not the only criminal party. The whole world, including the Arab world, is accomplice to this holocaust against a helpless people whose only crime is its enduring determination to keep living in its ancestral homeland."


He had especially harsh words for Arab governments who he said “are playing deaf and dumb and looking the other way while this Zio-Nazi entity is killing us and destroying our homes.”

[...] There is a calculated cruelty to the Israeli policy of home demolitions.

Normally, Israeli troops storm the doomed house or apartment building shortly before dawn, terrorising the still-sleeping occupants with gunfire and stun grenades before herding them out at gunpoint.

Then in a matter of minutes, the premise is dynamited or bulldozed, while shocked women and children are made to look on.

Before the Palestinian Intifada, the Israeli army used to give occupants a 20-minute grace period to remove some of their belongings from the doomed building.


Now, demolitions take place without warning and occupants are not allowed to save anything. The aim is to torment, inflict pain, and wreak as much havoc as possible.

“They wouldn’t allow us to take the children’s books, or even a baby diaper, or a pair of shoes,” said Fatima Nassar, whose home was destroyed last week.

In some instances, Israeli bulldozers have demolished homes and buildings right on top of their occupants as happened during battles in Jenin, Rafah and Khan Yunis.

Home demolitions are considered a war crime under international law and the fourth Geneva Convention. However, since 1967, Israel has consistently ignored all legal, ethical and human norms.

Zionists aim for ethnically pure Palestine

By Khalid Amayreh
Thursday 18 September 2003, 17:18 Makka Time, 14:18 GMT

[...] Like all religious Zionists, Marzel is schooled in the ideology of messianic Zionism which teaches that the Jewish Messiah or Redeemer will not appear until Palestine is “cleansed” of non-Jews.


As a result, Marzel and his friends, such as Baruch Goldstein, the perpetrator of the Hebron massacre in 1994, is trying to expedite the coming of the Redeemer.

His means to do that is violence and terror against Palestinian civilians, including his own neighbours, the Abu Haikal family - a continuous target of his harassment.

A few years ago, he shot and killed a 15-year-Palestinian boy, Ibrahim Idris, who was visiting from Amman. Marzel claimed the boy threw a stone at him and he had to defend himself.

Israel defiant over settlers and wall

Tuesday 23 September 2003, 23:29 Makka Time, 20:29 GMT

The number of illegal Jewish settlers in the Palestinian territories has continued to rise in defiance of international criticism.

And Israeli officials have insisted nothing will stop them forging ahead with another controversial issue – the much-criticised wall cutting through those Israeli-occupied territories.

[...] All settlements on occupied land are considered illegal by the international community but Israel disputes this.

Comment: Why is it that Israel can violate international law with impunity while other countries get bombed and invaded based on false accusations of violating the same law?

Proportion of Jews in Israel drops in 2002: statistics 2003-09-24

JERUSALEM, Sept. 24 (Xinhuanet) -- The proportion of Jews in Israeli population declined in 2002, according to the figures published by Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS) on Wednesday.

Jews accounted for 76.8 percent of Israel's total population of 6,631,000 at the end of 2002 while the proportion at the end of 2001 was 77.2 percent, the statistics said.

Israeli official touts UAE as model for Arabs

‘I am totally surprised’ at economic development

Meir Sheetrit says emirates’ government ‘has succeeded in doing the unbelievable, to create so much out of such a small place’

“I am totally surprised that in the middle of this desert, in the middle of nowhere, there is an Arab government that has succeeded in doing the unbelievable, to create so much out of such a very small place,” Sheetrit, a minister without portfolio in Netanyahu’s office, told Reuters.

Comment: It appears Israel is trying to sow discord between the Arab states by handing out praise to the UAE. Notice the condescension in his statement, "an Arab government". Of course the Israeli minister obviously thinks that the 'westernisation' (or rather 'Americanisation') of Arab countries, such as exemplified by the UAE, is something to be applauded.

The real obstacle to peace is Sharon, not Arafat

Avi Shlaim IHT

[...] To the historian of the Arab-Israeli conflict, outrageous behavior by Israel's leaders, and American complicity in such behavior, are nothing new. British resentment toward the United States still smolders in the files of the Public Record Office. In a memorandum to Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin dated June 2, 1948, Sir John Troutbeck held the Americans responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by "an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders."

[...] Arafat is not a paragon of virtue. He has made serious mistakes and, like Sharon, he has the blood of countless innocent civilians on his hands. Yet Arafat has a fairly consistent record of political moderation going back to 1988, when he persuaded the Palestinian National Council to recognize Israel's legitimacy, to accept all relevant United Nations resolutions and to opt for a two-state solution.

Israeli Ex-PM Barak Urges Sharon Quit Over Scandal

Wed September 24, 2003 05:51 AM ET
By Gwen Ackerman

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Former Israeli leader Ehud Barak urged Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in an interview published on Wednesday to resign over a police investigation into two political funding scandals.

Sharon has denied any wrongdoing and commentators say that while his image has been tarnished he faces no imminent risk of being forced from office as he commands widespread public support for his tough approach to a Palestinian uprising. [...]

"In properly run countries around the world, the prime minister would have resigned long ago. Here, that is not the norm, and it is a pity," Barak, 61, told the mass-circulation daily Yedioth Ahronoth. [...]

Tehran Threatens Israelis of Devastating Strike

Mohamad Noun
Al-Hayat 2003/09/23

Iran exhibited six 'Shahab-3' missiles that can reach Israel, while the Chief of the Iranian Air Force, General Reza Bardis delivered a strongly worded warning to Tel Aviv, warning Israel against attacking the Iranian nuclear reactors.

Answering Al-Hayat's question yesterday about the possibility of Israel bombing Bushahr's nuclear reactor in Southern Iran, he said: "We are aware that Israel will not commit such mistake or set out to this adventure, because the response it will get from the Air Force and the Iranian armed forces will be strong and harsh, to the point that it will not be able to rise again for a long time." He added: "Israel knows the extent of our power, and if it sets out on such an adventure, we have a ready plan which we will execute in response to any attack."

Four dead in Saudi Arabian standoff

Associated Press
7:20 PM EDT Tuesday, Sep. 23, 2003

Jiddah, Saudi Arabia — Security forces exchanged fire for hours on Tuesday with “terrorists” apparently holed up in an apartment in southern Saudi Arabia, killing three suspected militants and arresting two others, the Interior Ministry said. [...]

The early morning raid was intended to capture militants planning an attack, according to an official statement on Saudi state television earlier Tuesday. [...]

Annan Trounces Bush at UN

By Ian Williams, AlterNet
September 23, 2003

While the U.S. media will most likely play up George Bush's boring speech to the UN, the day clearly belonged to Kofi Annan.

In his distinctively quiet-spoken manner, Annan trounced the Bush administration's foreign policy doctrine of unilateral preemptive strikes at the United Nations General Assembly. Saying the world had "come to a fork in the road," at what "may be a moment no less decisive than 1945 itself, when the United Nations was founded," Annan spelt out explicitly and in the most public way possible the position he has until now reserved for quiet off-the-cuff sessions with the media. Drawing on the power of his office, he ripped apart the U.S. policy of hot preemption – though without pointing specifically at the Bush administration:

"Until now it has been understood that when states go beyond (self-defense), and decide to use force to deal with broader threats to international peace and security, they need the unique legitimacy provided by the United Nations.

"Now, some say this understanding is no longer tenable, since an 'armed attack' with weapons of mass destruction could be launched at any time, without warning, or by a clandestine group. Rather than wait for that to happen, they argue, states have the right and obligation to use force pre-emptively, even on the territory of other states, and even while weapons systems that might be used to attack them are still being developed.

"According to this argument, states are not obliged to wait until there is agreement in the Security Council. Instead, they reserve the right to act unilaterally, or in ad hoc coalitions.

"This logic represents a fundamental challenge to the principles on which, however imperfectly, world peace and stability have rested for the last fifty-eight years ... if it were to be adopted, it could set precedents that resulted in a proliferation of the unilateral and lawless use of force, with or without justification."

By UN standards, it was an unprecedented, if justly deserved, rebuff to the United States.

George Bush's speech that followed displayed the usual tone-deaf rhetoric that has become a hallmark of his foreign policy. While there were no outright lies, he was, as a British Cabinet Minister once said, "economical with the truth." Indeed, the president was positively miserly with the truth this time around.

His speech barely acknowledged the fact that the vast majority of UN members disagreed with the invasion being conducted in their name. Being the president of the United States means never having to say you're sorry. But even so, an occasional hands-on contact with reality would be useful.

While Bush admitted last week that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and the Sept. 11 attacks, he declared once again today, "The regime of Saddam Hussein cultivated ties to terror while it built weapons of mass destruction." The phrase "ties to terror" is seemingly the ambiguous phrase of choice, carefully crafted to reinforce the mistaken beliefs of the 70 percent of Americans are convinced that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 without having to actually say so. [...]

Time to move on, Bush tells U.N. Says Iraq war has made world safer

Annan, Chirac slam U.S. action


UNITED NATIONS—U.S. President George W. Bush returned to the United Nations yesterday, showing no contrition for shunning the world body with his unilateral invasion of Iraq and telling the world that self-government will come to the occupied country when he decides.

[...] He gave no hint that he felt he had won anything but a great military victory in Iraq, and made no mention of the mounting American casualties, the drain of billions of dollars from the U.S. treasury or the fruitless search for weapons of mass destruction.

"Across the world, nations are more secure because an ally of terror has fallen," Bush said.

He spoke on a day when his personal approval and Americans' approval of the war in Iraq sank to new lows, according to a newly released poll.

Although he was appealing for international money and help in Iraq, he was also speaking to a domestic audience and he cannot show any sign of weakness in his resolve to forge ahead on his Iraq plan for fear of eroding his support among Americans.

Cracks appear as anti-war European troika meets on Iraq

Wednesday September 24, 4:22 PM

The leaders of Germany, Russia and France will meet at the sidelines of the United Nations to thrash out a common stance on Iraq amid signs of a split in the anti-war European troika.

The talks between German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Jacques Chirac come as Washington seeks UN backing for a resolution to share the burden of rebuilding post-war Iraq.

The three countries led opposition to the US-led war but while Paris and to a lesser extent Berlin have maintained demands for a rapid transfer of power to an Iraqi government, Moscow appears more flexible. [...]

But according to observers in Moscow, Russia is negotiating behind the scenes for a share of lucrative oil contracts in Iraq -- which has the world's second largest oil reserves -- in return for backing the US resolution. [...]

CIA created fake mullahs

Tuesday 23 September 2003

The CIA installed phoney Muslim leaders and bribed existing ones to counter the anti-American sentiment in mosques across the Arab world after the 11 September attacks.

[...] "In Islam, as in many other religions, anyone can call himself a religious leader," he said in the book. "So, besides paying mullahs, the CIA created fake mullahs - recruited agents who would proclaim themselves clerics and take a more moderate position about nonbelievers."

"We are taking over radio stations and supporting clerics," a CIA source was quoted as saying. "It's back to propaganda. We are creating moderate Muslims."

Kessler said the CIA also paid for mullahs to issue fatwas, or religious edicts, urging Iraqis not to resist American forces. He did not specify the countries this took place in.

PM misled public on Iraq war: poll (Australia)

Almost 70 per cent of Australians believe Prime Minister John Howard misled them over the reasons for going to war in Iraq, a new poll reveals. But two-thirds of those who felt deceived about the war believed Mr Howard had misled them unintentionally, the ACNielsen AgePoll found, The Age newspaper reported.

The poll, taken over the weekend of September 19-21, found 51 per cent of Australians believe the war in Iraq was not justified. A total of 68 per cent thought Mr Howard had misled the Australian public about the reasons for going to war. But 42 per cent thought Mr Howard had unintentionally misled the Australian people, because he had been misled by others. Only 26 per cent said Mr Howard had deliberately misled people on the issue.[..]

Howard blasts French Iraq policy (Australia)

NEWS Corp: September 24, 2003

[Australian] PRIME Minister John Howard today lashed out at France following French President Jacques Chirac's stinging criticism of the United States over the war against Iraq. "The French have been utterly opportunistic from the very beginning on this issue," Mr Howard told reporters in Sydney today, following a speech by Mr Chirac to the United Nations.

Mr Chirac told the UN the US-led war had "shaken the multilateral system" and that there was no justification for a superpower to act alone, without UN backing. But Mr Howard defended the US, saying: "If America and her allies had not acted, then Iraq would still be run by Saddam Hussein.

"Those that advocated another course have to accept that if their advice had been followed Saddam Hussein would still be in power in Iraq, with all of the torture and the human rights abuses that is involved in that.

Comment: Hmmmm and yesterday the Chicago Sun-Times was writing of how Chirac had "caved in" to the "power" of the USA. This damn French president just won't play by the rules!

Aljazeera barred from covering Iraqi council

Wednesday 24 September 2003, 2:31 Makka Time, 23:31 GMT

Aljazeera has been banned from covering the US-installed Iraqi Governing Council’s activities – for allegedly inciting violence against US occupation forces and its supporters.

Aljazeera and Dubai-based al-Arabiya were issued two-week bans for breaking so-called ‘rules’.

Other media organisations were served notices that action would be taken without warning against any future infractions.

Al-Jazeera spokesman: 'We don't deal in politics'

Wednesday, September 24, 2003 Posted: 12:12 AM EDT (0412 GMT)

(CNN) -- The U.S.-backed Iraqi Governing Council temporarily banned the Arabic-language networks Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya from government buildings and news conferences Tuesday, saying the networks promote violence. Al-Jazeera spokesman Jihad Ballout spoke to CNN anchor Kyra Phillips from Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday.

PHILLIPS: What you have been told with regard to access in Iraq?

BALLOUT: There has been a decision by the Governing Council that Al-Jazeera should refrain from covering -- quote -- "official activities" -- unquote -- of the Governing Council for the duration of two weeks. [..]

FLASHBACK! Al-Jazeera Airs Scoops Despite Criticism

Thu, Sep. 11, 2003 SARAH EL DEEB Associated Press DUBAI, United Arab Emirates

Al-Jazeera has come under criticism and even military attack, and now one of its star reporters is charged with being an al-Qaida member. But instead of taking a low profile, the Arab television station aired another controversial scoop: what appears to be new footage of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

Adnan al-Sharif, the station's manager, said in an interview Thursday that criticism - from Arab governments unused to having their points of view challenged, as well as from U.S. officials who accuse the station of giving terrorists a platform - will not force Al-Jazeera to change. Al-Jazeera is willing to pay "the price of success," he said.

On Wednesday, the eve of the Sept. 11 attacks, Al-Jazeera aired exclusive videotape showing bin Laden clambering over rocky mountain terrain with a rifle slung over his shoulder - the first video images of the al-Qaida leader in nearly two years.[..]

Poll: Baghdad residents glad Saddam gone

Most Baghdad residents who answered the poll say that ousting Saddam was worth the hardships endured.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003 Posted: 5:06 AM EDT (0906 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- While most residents of Baghdad say that ousting Saddam Hussein was worth the hardships they've endured since then, they are divided on whether the country is worse off or better off than before the U.S. invasion, according to a Gallup poll.

Two-thirds, 67 percent, say they think that Iraq will be in better condition five years from now than it was before the U.S.-led invasion. Only 8 percent say they think it will be worse off.

But they're not convinced that Iraq is better off now -- 47 percent said the country is worse off than before the invasion and 33 percent said it is better off.

Americans Grow More Doubtful About Iraq War

Bush approval also drops to term low

Comment: The link takes you to Gallop Poll. No questions asked if Americans are upset regarding over 10,000 Iraqi deaths. No questions asked if Americans have any awareness what so ever how the murder of Arafat would affect them and the entire world.

Poll shows Bush may lose next elections

By Our Correspondent

NEW YORK, Sept 23: A new opinion poll shows that President George W. Bush may lose to a Democratic contender if attacks on American troops in Iraq did not stop and the US economy continued to fall.

A USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll on Tuesday shows that Gen (retd) Wesley Clark would narrowly defeat Mr Bush if the elections were held now.

Comment: This is, of course, ignoring the "problem" of Republican programmable voting machines and rigged elections....

The Revision Thing

The history of the Iraq War told entirely in lies

by Sam Smith

All text is verbatim from senior Bush Administration officials and advisers. In places, tenses have been changed for clarity.

It's TGIF for the White House when it has bad news

By Judy Keen and Haya El Nasser

The Bush administration seems to be following an axiom that guided many of its predecessors: To keep negative headlines to a minimum, release bad news on a Friday. [...]

Bush: 'I Don't Read Newspapers'

KYW News Radio 1060

President Bush says his primary news sources are his aides.

The president says he scans headlines -- but admits to rarely reading the stories.

Mr. Bush told Fox Television he feels he gets the most objective information from his own staff.

As for the upcoming presidential election, the president says he's paying no attention to the ten Democrats trying to unseat him.

On the topic of Iraq, Mr. Bush says progress is good -- and he insists he did not underestimate the post-war violence.

U.S. troops detain two media staffers in Iraq

Associated Press

BAGHDAD, Iraq -U.S. soldiers detained an Associated Press photographer and driver on Tuesday, handcuffing them, forcing them to stand in the sun for three hours and denying them water or use of a telephone. [...]

US wipes out family in missile attack

Tuesday 23 September 2003

Three Iraqis were killed and four others seriously wounded in a US air strike on homes north of Fallujah, hospital officials and witnesses said.

All six victims were members of the same family from the village of al-Jisr, according to Falljuah Hospital’s Dr Ayman al-Ani on Tuesday.

Iraqis Skeptical Bush Speech Means Brighter Future

By Suleiman al-Khalidi
Tue September 23, 2003 10:08 PM ET

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqis reacted with skepticism Tuesday to a call from President Bush for more international help in rebuilding Iraq, saying the United States was looking after its own interests at their expense.

"Bush is afraid for the future of his forces inside Iraq because of the resistance, and in the end what he wants is to get international troops to protect his interests," said Hadi Hassan, a laborer in Baghdad. [...]

Many Iraqis said more foreign troops -- even if they were part of a multinational force -- were not the answer. [...]

"This will only make it clearer it is an occupation, without offering us anything in return," he said.

Despite Protests, U.S. Soldiers Detain Photographer and Driver

Associated Press
Wednesday, September 24, 2003

BAGHDAD -- U.S. soldiers detained an Associated Press photographer and driver today, handcuffing them, forcing them to stand in the sun for three hours and denying them water and use of a telephone.

Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 70th Armored Regiment, 1st Armored Division detained photographer Karim Kadim and driver Mohammed Abbas near Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, and kept guns trained on the two Iraqis despite their repeated attempts to explain they were journalists. [...]

Families protest Iraq deployment extension for reservists

WASHINGTON (AFP) Sep 24, 2003

Hundreds of families of US reservists and National Guard soldiers are protesting against an order extending their stay in Iraq to a year or more as casualties mount.

Six month overseas tours were the norm before the Iraq war and the new order only applies to reservists sent to Iraq.

Discontent about the extended deployments is spreading across Florida, Kansas, Minnesota and other states, family members said, with protest websites set up and lawmakers lobbied to get a change. [...]

Cronkite: The new Inquisition

By Walter Cronkite
Denver Post

President Bush's televised answer to the growing concerns of many - including some Republicans - about the powers granted to him in the USA Patriot Act was to ask for even stronger measures, particularly the expanded use of "nonjudicial subpoenas." That means a federal agency such as the FBI can write its own subpoenas to conduct a search - no judges needed.

Unfortunately, security and liberty form a zero-sum equation. The inevitable trade-off: To increase security is to decrease liberty and vice versa. In the past, such trade-offs have been temporary - for the duration of the crisis of the moment. But today, we cannot see an end to the War on Terrorism, and that forces us to decide how secure we have to be and how free we want to be. [...]

In his 2 1/2 years in office, Attorney General John Ashcroft has earned himself a remarkable distinction as the Torquemada of American law. Tomas de Torquemada was the 15th century Dominican friar who became the grand inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition. He was largely responsible for its methods, including torture and the burning of heretics - Muslims in particular.

Now, of course, I am not accusing the attorney general of pulling out anyone's fingernails or burning people at the stake (at least I don't know of any such cases). But one does get the sense these days that the old Spaniard's spirit is comfortably at home in Ashcroft's Department of Justice.

What makes this administration's legal bloodthirstiness particularly alarming is the almost religious zeal that seems to drive it. So, what we are seeing now is a confluence of two streams of American thought. One of those streams represents those who believe security must have priority over civil rights. The other stream represents those who believe that civil rights must be preserved even as we prosecute to the hilt the war on terrorism.

Our liberty could drown in the resultant turbulence of these colliding currents.

ACLU Chief Assails Patriot Spin 

By Kim Zetter  
Wired News

Coming on the heels of Attorney General John Ashcroft's summer tour to promote the Patriot Act, President Bush is pushing to expand government powers with Patriot Act II. But experts say the government's assertions about what the first Patriot covers constitute outright deception of the public.

Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, speaking Friday at a conference on information technology and homeland security at the University of California at Berkeley, said the government has "repeatedly made false statements about the Patriot Act, presumably to deceive listeners into thinking the act gives the government less unilateral power than it actually does." [...]

Anti-Bush protesters sue Secret Service

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The American Civil Liberties Union asked the federal courts Tuesday to prevent the U.S. Secret Service from keeping anti-Bush protesters far away from presidential appearances while allowing supporters to display their messages up close. [...]

U.S. officials say airman who worked at Guantanamo was spying for Syria

Sep 24

WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. military officials have charged an air force translator at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp for terror suspects with espionage and aiding the enemy for allgedly trying to send information about detainees to Syria.

Uzbek police state represses Muslims

Tuesday 23 September 2003,

Uzbekistan's mahallas or neighbourhood committees have become tools of a repressive regime that brooks no opposition, a human rights watchdog has said.

The millennium-old system is no longer a benign form of self-administration in close-knit Uzbek neighbourhoods, but a "national system of surveillance," Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report.

Hijab gets Montreal student expelled

Wednesday 24 September 2003, 7:07 Makka Time, 4:07 GMT

A Muslim teenager in the Canadian province of Quebec has been expelled from a private school for wearing the hijab.

Irene Waseem, 16, was expelled from the French-speaking school of College Charlemagne since the start of the school year, her family told La Presse newspaper.

Waseem’s family say she was prevented from attending any of her classes because the hijab is not part of the dress code. But Waseem says she wore a blue hijab so that it would match the colour of her school uniform.

Negroponte: Human rights free zone

By Roshan Muhammed Salih
Wednesday 17 September 2003, 23:09 Makka Time, 20:09 GMT

Preventing the world from condemning Israeli brutality is par for the course for top US official John Negroponte.

The American ambassador to the UN, who vetoed a resolution on Tuesday demanding Israel not harm the Palestinian president, is well-known for his callous disregard for human rights.

[...] this is the man who stands accused of overseeing the funding of gruesome death squads during his tenure as American ambassador to Honduras.

How a regular guy gets homeless

By Les Gapay, Special for USA TODAY

I pull into a campground, pay my fee and pitch my green, two-person tent beneath the trees in the hills above California's southern coast. Someone has left some firewood, and I split it with my ax and chop some kindling. Within minutes a nice fire is going. I heat up some chunky canned soup on my propane stove and eat it out of a coffee mug along with crackers while sitting in my canvas chair.

For dessert I have a small can of fruit. I look out over a lake and watch the sun set and the fire crackle. It is a relaxing way to end the day. Nearby are families and couples doing much the same thing. Later, I crawl into my sleeping bag and doze off until the sun wakes me in the morning.

I could be one of many vacationers or weekend campers traveling in my clean, red, 5-year-old truck with pickup shell. But this has been my daily routine for 15 months now. On June 2, 2002, I gave up my $750-a-month apartment in Palm Springs, Calif., and put most of my belongings in storage to save money by living out of my truck. I thought it would be for the summer until the economy rebounded and I got public relations consulting and freelance writing work or a full-time job in the field. I never realized then that summer camping would go into fall and then the chill of winter, even in Southern California, then spring, then summer again.

MSN shuts down its chatrooms

Microsoft's internet service MSN is to cut back drastically its chatroom services because of concerns about child safety.

MSN is closing all its chatrooms in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and most of Asia from 14 October, and changing the way others are operated globally.

[...] Chatrooms on MSN's other global sites will either be supervised - or moderated - by an adult 24 hours a day, or will be on a credit card subscription-basis only.

It means no free, unmoderated chatrooms will exist anymore on any of MSN's global network of sites.

There has been growing concern among experts that the anonymity of net chat means young people are being targeted by adults pretending to be children.

[...] He added that, although most messages in chatrooms were not inappropriate, a "small minority" had spoilt chat for people of all ages.

People have also been increasingly targeted by spammers posting hundreds of messages and inappropriate web addresses to chatrooms.

Many have been "mining" rooms for data, finding out users' e-mail addresses to build spam lists.

Comment: Ah, yes. The consequences of psychopathy. One bad apple can spoil the barrel. We see that psychopathy can take different forms, from the adult stalker of adolescents or children to the stalker of email addresses for spam. Same mindset, different targets. But the results are the same, restrictions on the others.

Rival attacks Microsoft decision to close chatrooms

Owen Gibson
Wednesday September 24, 2003

Freeserve, the UK's largest internet service provider, has hit out at rival Microsoft for pulling the plug on its UK chatrooms, accusing the US giant of cloaking a commercial decision in concern for children's welfare.

[...] "We know about the potential dangers of chatrooms and that's why we believe all responsible portals should invest in them. Chat is one of the most popular tools on the internet and it's not going to go away," said a Freeserve spokeswoman.

"All MSN is doing is forcing users to go elsewhere, potentially to non-moderated chatrooms with little or no protection," she added.

Freeserve said it would not be following MSN's lead, pointing out that it required all its chatroom users to register with the site so they could be traced.

"On top of this, we invest in proper moderation of our chatrooms for younger users so users always know there is someone in the chatroom watching out for them and their safety," it added.

"It sounds to us like MSN simply doesn't want to make this investment and we are not sure how this move sits with their web-based messenger tool which of course is a chat based service."

Gangs Growing in Numbers, Bravado Across Area(USA)

By Neely Tucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
September 18, 2003

Violent, highly structured gangs are spreading across metropolitan Washington in a steady arc, law enforcement officials say, recruiting young members in urban and suburban neighborhoods and leaving graffiti-scrawled signs in a demonstration of their growing presence.

The rise of these gangs, which are finding a place alongside the region's neighborhood-based, drug-dealing crews, presents a troubling picture on the streets and a worrisome projection for the future, officials say.

The estimated number of gang members in the region has risen to more than 3,000, officials say, with much of the growth driven by gangs with formal rules of membership and specific tattoos, hand signs, bandannas or colors that display loyalties. These groups emphasize Latino pride or machismo, roots to El Salvador, or connections to more established gangs that dominate the barrios and poorer neighborhoods in Los Angeles, federal officials say. [...]

Big Three to shed 50,000 jobs in next four years

Tue Sep 23

NEW YORK (AFP) - The Big Three domestic automakers could shed 50,000 jobs over the next four years under the terms of new labour contracts, according to an analysis by Goldman Sachs.

Analysts with the Wall Street investment bank calculated that the closure or divestitures of 10-13 parts and assembly plants provided for under new labour contracts, plus regular attrition, could result in the loss of 50,000 hourly jobs in the United States.

"The UAW is resigned to declining Big Three membership as the cost of Big Three viability in the face of intense import-brand competition," wrote Goldman Sachs analyst Gary Lapidus in a note issued Monday. [...]

Dollar selloff defies Japan's warning

Charlotte Denny
Wednesday September 24, 2003
The Guardian

The dollar was hit by a second day of relentless selling yesterday as traders shrugged off warnings from Japan that it would intervene to prevent excessive moves in foreign exchange markets.
With Tokyo's markets closed for a public holiday, traders pushed the yen to a three-year high against the dollar, testing the Japanese government's commitment to the policy of capping its currency.

Japan's senior financial diplomat, Zembei Mizoguchi, repeated last night that Tokyo stood ready to act if currency market swings were excessive. "If markets cannot self-correct and there are wide fluctuations, we are always ready to take appropriate action as needed." The weekend call by finance ministers from the seven leading industrialised nations for more "flexibility" in exchange rates did not represent a change of stance.

The G7 statement was widely interpreted as a victory for the United States, which wants Japan and other Asian governments to stop intervening in the markets and allow their currencies to rise. Washington is hoping a cheaper dollar will help close America's billion dollar a day trading gap with the rest of the world.

US treasury secretary John Snow said yesterday the rest of the world could not continue to rely on American consumers buying their goods to drive growth in their economies. "While export growth can serve a useful purpose, you can't have a successful world economy if everybody relies on the export sector," he said. "Then, you build in imbalances."

So far, the Bank of Japan appears not to have made any attempt to stem the yen's latest surge, and the markets are now speculating that ¥110 to the dollar might be Japan's new threshold. In US morning trade, the dollar was down 0.44% at ¥111.76.

"Until the Japanese actually intervene, dollar/yen is going to continue to see the downside," said Greg Anderson, a senior foreign exchange strategist at ABN Amro in Chicago.

Asian countries account for about 40% of US trade, so any rise in their currencies' value makes American exports more competitive. With fears rising in the White House that a sluggish economy could cripple President Bush's re-election chances, policymakers are blaming Asia for America's stubbornly high unemployment and slow growth.

Global Markets: Dollar Weakens

By Jeremy Gaunt, European Investment Correspondent
September 24, 2003 05:53 AM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - Calls by leading industrial nations for flexibility in exchange rate policies continued to echo across financial markets on Wednesday, but with some signs that the fury of the past few days was running out of steam. [...]

The dollar was down against both the euro and yen from late Tuesday levels, but slightly above its post-G7 lows. "There is a corrective mood on the market," said Shahab Jalinoos, senior currency strategist at ABN Amro in London. [...]

Halliburton Creating Iraqi Secret Police At Your Expense

To explain to the American people why the U.S. is spending more on the “war on terrorism”—some $215 million a day—than it does on education, Congress should audit the profiteers that service the military, starting with the company Dick Cheney headed before he became vice president.

Freshmen lawmakers raise cash from industries they watch over

Associated Press

WASHINGTON--The banking, insurance and real estate industries didn't pay much attention to Ginny Brown-Waite when she ran for the House last year. But once the Florida Republican was elected and named to the committee overseeing those industries, their interest -- and donations -- picked up. [...]

Forensic experts say Friday's missile attack on the Casa Militar could have been cataclysmic (Venezuala)

Police investigators in Caracas say that it was only a stroke of good fortune that limited damage done by Friday morning's bomb blast at the Casa Militar to superficial damage to the roof of an office and windows broken in the blast ... "it could have been worse ... much much worse!" sources reveal that the missile launched from a vehicle on Avenida Urdaneta missed the Casa Militar fuel tanks by just 40 meters (44 yards) and was a hair's breadth from reaching a central munitions store containing army supplies of light and heavy caliber ammunition and explosives ... "if it had been fired at a slightly different angle the whole place might well have gone up!"

"What we are dealing with here is person or persons who are intent on committing an act of terrorism against the military establishment and the Head of State.  A big explosion at the Casa Militar would undoubtedly have caused substantial damage to the Presidential Palace which is only 200 meters away."

Security around President Hugo Chavez Frias has been stepped up this weekend ... a Secret Service aide says "we don't want a repeat performance of what happened to Chilean President Salvador Allende 30 years ago ... there is still a way to go, dreams to be realized and the revolution must continue."

Comment: Hmm, the U.S.A. was behind the death of President Salvador Allende 30 years ago, actually on September 11th. Our report on it is here if you missed our September 11th edition of the Signs, which discusses how the CIA was involved.

Spanish oil company signs deal for Iraqi oil 2003-09-23

MADRID, (Xinhuanet) -- The Spanish oil company, Cepsa, signed a new contract with the Iraqi State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) to buy two million barrels of crude oil from Iraq, the local press reported Monday.

Comment: Aznar and friends are profiting from their complete submission to the Bush Reich.

Russian president hosts Gov. Gen. Clarkson for landmark talks in Moscow

Sep 24

MOSCOW (CP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson in the Kremlin's ornate Winter Garden on Tuesday morning, where the two held an hour-long discussion about northern development, fragile Arctic ecosystems, native rights and flagging Canadian-Russian trade figures.

Assassin secretly deported after JFK killed

September 24, 2003 1:00 a.m. EST

Just two days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, a suspected killer and known foreign terrorist was captured in Dallas, Texas. [...]

Amazingly, according to the authors of an explosive new book promising to unravel the 40-year mystery of who killed JFK, there is no evidence to show he ever even was questioned about his presence in Dallas so soon after Kennedy's murder.

Instead, say co-authors Brad O'Leary and L.E. Seymour in the upcoming WND Books release "Triangle of Death," the man was picked up and quickly and quietly flown out of the United States under a cloak of secrecy. [...]

The story of the mysterious assassin is revealed in a CIA document backing the authors' compelling argument that President Kennedy was killed Nov. 22, 1963, as the result of a massive conspiracy between the CIA-installed government of South Vietnam, the French global heroin syndicate and the New Orleans Mafia. [...]

O'Leary and Seymour note investigative bodies of the U.S. government have made numerous claims, including that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin; that only two shots hit their target, that the bullets fired that day all came from the sixth floor of the Texas Schoolbook Depository; and that Kennedy was killed because he was preparing to pull all U.S. troops out of Vietnam. [...]

The authors insist all of these claims are false and are designed to placate the American public and distract them from the facts of the case. They acknowledge most readers will find it difficult to accept that Kennedy authorized the overthrow of the Catholic government of South Vietnam and the assassination of Diem, South Vietnam's democratically elected, constitutional president. [...]

Death toll from southeastern China flooding rises to 10

BEIJING (AFP) Sep 23, 2003

Ten people have been confirmed dead and nine were still missing after heavy flooding caused by torrential rains in a mountainous county of southeastern China's Fujian province, state press said Tuesday.

The floods have killed at least 10 people in Yongtai county since late Saturday, Xinhua news agency reported.

[...] Floods, droughts, earthquakes and storms have caused more than 18 billion dollars in direct losses to the economy this year, with a total of 6.31 million people evacuated from disaster zones, according to the Civil Affairs Ministry.

French woman survives after being trapped in flooded sewers during storms

LUNEL, France (AFP) Sep 23, 2003

A 32-year-old woman declared dead after falling into a manhole and spending several hours in flooded sewer pipes during violent storms in southern France said Tuesday she was thrilled to be alive.

[...] The woman, who is married and the mother of a 10-year-old daughter, lives in a small village northeast of Montpellier called Lunel, which was completely cut off Monday when high water levels sparked by violent storms flooded roads.

[...] The storms that lashed southern and southeastern France damaged hundreds of homes, forced the evacuation of several dozen elderly and handicapped people and left 3,000 rail passengers temporarily stranded in train stations.

Time, money, local cooperation can halt deforestation: experts

QUEBEC CITY (AFP) Sep 23, 2003

Though it is spiraling out of control, tropical deforestation can be stopped with time, money and local involvement, experts told the World Forestry Congress here.

Since the early 1990s, rainforests have been shrinking at a rate of about 12.3 million hectares (30.4 million acres) per year, with the leading cause of deforestation being the clearing of land to feed an ever-growing population.

[...] In Africa alone, rainforests -- which cover some 528 million hectaresbillion acres) of land -- are in danger of dwindling by "a third or half" between now and 2025, according to Matti Palo and Erkki Lehto, professors at the Finnish Forest Research Institute in Helsinki.

Europe had hottest summer for at least 500 years: Swiss researchers

GENEVA (AFP) Sep 23, 2003

Europe this year experienced its hottest summer for at least 500 years, providing further evidence of man-made global warming, Swiss university researchers said on Tuesday.

During the crushing heat wave between June and August this year, which triggered several thousand more deaths than usual, average temperatures eclipsed the previous record set in 1757, according to a study by the University of Bern's geography department.

The average temperature in Europe was 19.5 degrees Celsius (67 degrees Fahrenheit), two degrees higher than the average summer temperatures recorded on the continent between 1901 and 1995.

Central Europe and the Alps region were the worst affected by the heat wave, with temperatures up to five degrees higher than average, the study said.

[...] The overall rise in summer temperatures in Europe has picked up over the last 26 years, with an average rise of 2.8 degrees Celsius between 1998 and 2003. The last decade was the hottest of all, the study said.

In 1757, which set the previous European record, Scandinavia, eastern Europe and Russia experienced a record heat wave, the study added.

France's 2003 wine harvest the weakest in a decade after heat wave

PARIS (AFP) Sep 23, 2003

France's wine harvest for 2003 will be the lowest in a decade at 47.1 million hectoliters, or about 6.3 billion bottles, due to the severe summer heat and lack of rainfall, the national wine office said Tuesday.

"For this vintage unlike any other, the quality of the wines will depend on the technical prowess of the winemakers and the complementary nature of the production process," Onivins said upon releasing its figures.

Thousands flee flooded houses in N. Sumatra

Apriadi Gunawan,
The Jakarta Post,
Medan, North Sumatra

Thousands of people in Medan, North Sumatra, were forced to flee their homes after the Deli River breached its banks overnight Monday.

'We're used to floods, ready to be evacuated'

Leo Wahyudi S.

The onset of the rainy season brings relief to those who have suffered from water shortages. But people are now concerned about the floods that seem likely to occur in prone areas in the capital. Some citizens share the methods they use to safeguard their houses against floods with The Jakarta Post.

Double hex: first Isabel, then tornado

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The East Coast's recovery from Isabel was dealt a setback Tuesday by another round of storms that caused renewed flooding, flattened trees that had withstood the hurricane and knocked out power to thousands of customers, some for the second time.

A tornado with winds of nearly 70 mph touched down along a four-county path that crossed Richmond.

Another storm strikes

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

RICHMOND, Virginia A fierce storm struck the Richmond area on Tuesday and torrential rain flooded parts of the Baltimore area, adding to the power failures and other problems the region already faces from the hurricane designated Isabel.

Beth Steel facility shut after plant floods
Storm surge causes costly repairs, lost work

By Meredith Cohn
Sun Staff
Originally published September 23, 2003

The Bethlehem Steel Sparrows Point mill has not made any steel since Hurricane Isabel sent an unprecedented 10-foot storm surge into its power plant last week - possibly the longest unplanned outage in the plant's history.

The repairs and lost productively could cost millions of dollars once everything is counted and the mill is ramped back up, beginning tonight, according to International Steel Group of Cleveland, which bought Beth Steel's assets in May.

Some 1.2 Million Customers Lack Power After Isabel

USA: September 24, 2003

NEW YORK - About 1.2 million homes and businesses in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia were still without electricity Monday after Hurricane Isabel ravaged parts of the East Coast, utilities said.

At its peak the powerful storm, blamed for the deaths of more than 30 people, left more than 6.2 million customers in the dark from the Carolinas to Canada.

Earthquake Shakes Algeria

Date :23/09/2003 01:15:14

Algiers, Sep 23, SPA -- An earthquake measuring 4.4 on the Richter scale hit the earthquake-torn region of eastern Algeria on Tuesday, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries, official media said.

The state news agency APS quoted experts as saying the earthquake struck at 0757 GMT near the coastal town of Zemmouri, epicenter of a May 21 earthquake that killed 2,300 people and injured more than 10,000.

A previous earthquake measuring 4.8 on the Richter scale shook eastern Algeria on Saturday.


An earthquake in the Dominican Republic left two people dead and at least 20 injured. The quake's epicentre was near the north coast, close to Santiago, about 150km northwest of the capital Santo Domingo, and had a magnitude of 6,5 on the Richer scale. Multiple aftershocks continued for eight hours, the strongest of which had a magnitude of 5.1 on the Richter scale, according to the Santo Domingo Autonomous University seismology institute.

Earthquake kills 2, injures 4

Posted September 23 2003

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic · An earthquake in the Dominican Republic before dawn Monday left two people dead and four injured, knocked down a building, and damaged dozens of homes, emergency officials said.

The quake's epicenter was near the north coast, about 10 miles north of Santiago and 95 miles northwest of the capital, Santo Domingo, and had a magnitude of 6.5, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center in Denver.

Myanmar struck by strong earthquake

YANGON (AFP) Sep 22, 2003

An earthquake measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale shook central Myanmar early Monday, causing tremors as far away as in the Thai capital Bangkok, meteorological authorities said.

Three dead after ferry sinks in Zambezi river

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2003 07:09:03 PM

LUSAKA: Three people died and at least 18 were missing Thursday after a truck loaded with copper forced its way onto a ferry and caused it to sink in the Zambezi River.

Buzz forces couple out of home

The noise was likened to the sound of power cables

A mystery buzzing noise has forced an elderly couple to spend their lifesavings on a camper van in an attempt to get a good night's sleep [...]

'Boom' a mystery for Watseka officials

September 23, 2003

WATSEKA -- Watseka police are looking for the origins of the big booms that have been heard around town for a couple of weeks.

Police Chief Donny King said Monday at the Public Safety Committee meeting that some loud booms happened late Sunday night and over the weekend. Alderman Ron Price reported three in his neighborhood in West Watseka Monday afternoon.

There were six booms Sunday and two Monday on the east side of town, King said.

"Have you checked the absentee list at school?" asked Alderman Silas Light.

"That's an idea," King said.

Captain Roger Lebeck said he doesn't think the booms are firearms but are probably fireworks. He opined they will probably find out who the culprit is when someone turns up with fingers missing.

Sonic boom causes panic in edgy Gujarat

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2003 01:28:59 AM

AHMEDABAD: A mysterious blast, that was later attributed to a sonic boom caused by a fighter jet breaking the sound barrier, rocked Ahmedabad and other parts of the state on Monday around 10.20 am, unleashing a wave of panic and a string of rumours.

[...] However, defence spokesperson Wing Commander Tarun Kumar Singha said — two hours after the incident — that the blast was due to a sonic boom caused by a MiG-21 fighter jet.

It was a "planned profile" by the IAF, asserted Singha, adding: "There is nothing to worry about."

"The aircraft was flying between 13 to 15 km above sea level and it entered the rarer atmospheric field where the pressure is much lower," he said.

Director of the Indian Meteorological Department, AK Shukla, reassured: "No significant earthquake activity has taken place in the region. We are constantly monitoring the situation."

However, speculation that the blast may have been triggered by tectonic activity, on the lines of similar blasts which were heard in some parts of Jamnagar last month, could not be put to rest.

Hi, In The three weeks following the U.S. [power] outage things were very 'active':

by D

14 Aug - North East U.S/Canada - largest ever.

18 Aug - Georgia (former Soviet Union) - 4.5 million people affected.

23 Aug - Helsinki - largest for 25 years.

28 Aug - London - 500,000 affected.

01 Sep - Malaysia - largest for 7 years.

02 Sep - Mexico - Hundreds of thousands affected.

03 Sep - Shanghai - 200,000 affected

06 Sep - Power Failure Hits BA Flights

"BA's initial assessment was that computer systems were disrupted after a problem within the hub of their setup,
near Heathrow, which led to a power outage at 0645 BST. Things were back up and running at 0850 BST."

23 Sep - Copenhagen and parts of Sweden

24 Sep - Sydney

Victims of Capgras syndrome often cannot recognize their own image

Comment: A fascinating article that states that probably thousands in the United States suffer from this syndrome, and proceeds to explain that most people experience slight aspects of Capgras Syndrome.

New theory on 'mass hysteria'

The children collapsed during a brass band competition

Pesticide spraying may hold the key to an unsolved mystery involving the collapse of hundreds of children more than 20 years ago.

In July 1980, almost 300 children who were competing in a brass band competition in a field near Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, were hit by vomiting, runny noses and sore eyes.

The cause of the children's symptoms was never pinpointed, however health authorities at the time suggested it was a result of mass hysteria.

But an investigation by BBC's Inside Out documentary team has discovered that the pesticide tridemorph - which was sprayed near the fields at the time of the incident but later banned in 2000 - may have caused the reaction. [...]

Comment: The moral of the story? Never trust health 'authorities'.

Teacher promised girl a miracle, lawsuit says


ALBANY, Ore. -- An Albany family has filed suit against the city's school district, alleging that a middle school substitute teacher told their daughter that Jesus would miraculously cure her. [...]

Richmond Cops Arrests Man With Weapons Arsenal

POSTED: 8:10 a.m. PDT September 23, 2003

RICHMOND, Calif. -- Police Tuesday morning were trying to figure out why a motorist they stopped was armed to the teeth.

Richmond Police Sgt. Enos Johnson said that police in Richmond stopped the man, whose name has not been released, based on a suspicious person call, around 11:30 p.m. Monday night at the intersection of 23rd Street and Visalia Avenue at a doughnut shop.

Johnson said that when officers tried to talk to the man, he fought with them and was arrested. He said that after police arrested the man they found a cache of weapons and explosives on the man's body and in his car.

Johnson said officers found a total of about nine pipe-bomb type explosive devices and three full automatic weapons. [...]

Chemicals taint U.S. breast milk

Sep. 24, 2003. 01:00 AM

WASHINGTON — Several American mothers nursing their infants had high levels of potentially toxic flame retardant chemicals in their breast milk, a U.S. environmental group said yesterday.

While the study by the Environmental Working Group was small and did not show any health effects in the babies, the group said it showed just how widespread the chemicals are.

The chemicals are bromine-based fire retardants and are used in a wide range of products including furniture, computers, television sets, automobiles, copy machines and hair dryers to make them less likely to catch fire. They can build up in the body over years.

"Brominated fire retardants impair attention, learning, memory, and behaviour in laboratory animals at surprisingly low levels," the EWG report reads.

"The most sensitive time for toxic effects is during periods of rapid brain development."

The EWG, a non-profit group that has publicized the presence of many different chemicals in products and the environment, tested the breast milk of 20 first-time mothers across the country, including Washington, D.C., Evergreen, Colorado, and Los Angeles.

"The average level of bromine-based fire retardants in the milk of 20 first-time mothers was 75 times the average found in recent European studies," the report reads.

"Milk from two study participants contained the highest levels of fire retardants ever reported in the United States, and milk from several of the mothers in EWG's study had among the highest levels of these chemicals yet detected worldwide.

Potent virus brings warnings to get your flu shot

By Steve Sternberg, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — Public health experts, worried that the coming flu season could bring an especially nasty virus and thousands of deaths, Tuesday urged Americans to get flu shots.

A rare abundance of 85.5 million doses of flu vaccine has enabled the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to suspend its usual recommendation that doctors vaccinate only those in the high-risk groups before giving the vaccine to others.

"We have no reason to wait," CDC Director Julie Gerberding said at a briefing. "We want everyone to go out and get their vaccine now."

Anti-flu pill given NHS approval

Wednesday, 24 September, 2003, 09:24 GMT

Doctors have been told they can prescribe a pill which can prevent people catching flu on the NHS.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has ruled that Tamiflu should be made available to people aged 65 and over, and younger patients with serious health problems. [...]

State Dept. Says Computers Hit by Virus

By TED BRIDIS, AP Technology Writer
Tue Sep 23,11:32 PM ET

WASHINGTON - The State Department's electronic system for checking every visa applicant for terrorist or criminal history failed worldwide for several hours late Tuesday because of a computer virus, leaving the U.S. government briefly unable to issue visas.

The virus crippled the department's Consular Lookout and Support System, known as CLASS, which contains more than 12.8 million records from the FBI, the State Department and U.S. immigration, drug-enforcement and intelligence agencies. Among the names are those of at least 78,000 suspected terrorists. [...]

African-Americans offered gene breakthrough to trace roots

A US company is offering to trace black people's family bloodlines to specific geographic areas on the African continent.

African Ancestry, with its growing databank of African DNA samples, offers two types of DNA tests and has compiled a DNA database of 10,000 people representing 85 ethnic groups from Africa.

Each of those groups have tell-tale genetic markers not found in other people. Those markers were passed on generationally and appear in African Americans' cells today.

The company's most common test tracks mitochondrial DNA, a mysterious strand of genetic material found outside the cell nucleus and apart from regular genes.

Evolutionary biologists believe each person's mitochondrial DNA is a copy of their mother's, their grandmother's and so on - a maternal thread that reaches back to the dawn of the species.

This led to the theory that all humans descended from an African Eve - though that theory was tested a little last year when Danish scientists documented a case in which a man's muscle cells contained mitochondria descended from his father.

Gates donates $168 mn to fight malaria

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2003 06:37:11 PM

MANHICA, MOZAMBIQUE: The world's richest man donated $168 million to fight malaria on Sunday, and urged the world to intensify its battle against a disease which kills more than one million people a year, mainly in Africa.

"It's time to treat Africa's malaria epidemic like the crisis it is," said Microsoft chairman Bill Gates during a visit to the southern African country of Mozambique.

[...] Medical experts say malaria - which also accounts for about 40 per cent of public health spending in Africa - is making a comeback on the continent for the first time in 20 years, because of an increase in strains resistant to drugs.

Alzheimer's abnormal brain proteins glow

Brain scan reveals amyloid deposits in live mice.

23 September 2003

A new test takes a step towards diagnosing Alzheimer's disease in living patients. In mice it reveals amyloid plaques - a telltale sign of this type of dementia.

Court: No 'Jesus' Pencils in School

By Stuart Shepard, correspondent

Appeals court rules that young children don't have the right to hand out religious gifts to their classmates.

It seems like every day brings another bizarre court ruling. Here's the latest, from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals: Young students do not have a right to share gifts bearing religious messages with their classmates. [..]

Vatican reportedly split over altar girls, dancing

VATICAN CITY (AP) — A proposed crackdown on some practices during mass such as dancing, the use of altar girls and serving wine at communion has reportedly split top Vatican officials.

Woman accidentally shot with James Bond-style secret gun
11:53 Wednesday 24th September 2003

An Australian woman has been accidentally shot by a friend with a James Bond-style gun designed to look like a pen.

Police said a woman picked up what she believed was a normal pen from the floor of the Canberra nightclub and unintentionally fired a projectile at her friend, hitting her in the chest. [...]

Waiting For A Supernova

Paris - Sep 24, 2003

A team of European astronomers is using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to look back in time. They have imaged the spiral galaxy NGC 3982 and hundreds of other galaxies in the hope that one of the millions of stars in these images will some day explode as a supernova. They can then look back and pinpoint the exact star that has exploded. Only two such supernova "mother stars" have ever been identified.[...]

When a star of more than 10 t

imes the mass of our Sun reaches the end of its nuclear fuel reserve, it can no longer produce enough energy to keep it from collapsing under its own immense weight. The core of the star collapses, and the outer layers are ejected in a fast-moving shock wave. [...]

Smelly mess not from plane

Sep 23, 2003

Tests done by the Civil Aviation Authority have found there is no connection between splatters of foul-smelling waste that fell on a house near Tawa, near Wellington, and chemicals normally in an aircraft toilet system.

Owners of the property say the mess that appeared on the roof and sides of their house just over a week ago looked and smelled like human waste, and they believed it had been dumped by a plane.

Meanwhile, another case of the mysterious splatter has occurred, this time in Blenheim, where a family say their car and driveway were hit on Sunday night with a smelly brown substance.

Comment: Blaming ducks.

'Extinct' mammal found in Cuba

Man caught smuggling snakes on legs

Australian medical alert: 'Don't put ice cubes up bottoms'
11:40 Wednesday 24th September 2003

Australian medical experts are warning would-be first aiders of the dangers of using ice cube "enemas" to revive friends from drug overdoses.

Government officials say putting ice cubes up the rectums of unconscious people has no physiological benefit and can even lead to seizures and stroke. [...]

Speeding campaign caught 12 police officers
10:42 Wednesday 24th September 2003

A police operation to tackle speeding drivers caught 12 of the force's own officers.

North Wales Police's Arrive Alive Campaign captured 102 force vehicles breaking the speed limit over the last year. [...]

But in 12 cases the driver had no excuse for speeding and was given the standard punishment of a £60 fine and three penalty points.

The figures could be an embarrassment to the force as Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom has previously described speeding motorists as "anti-social" and "criminals". [...]

Lawnmower men catch cross-dressing bank robber
11:39 Wednesday 24th September 2003

Two Austrian men managed to catch a cross-dressing bank robber by following him on a lawn mower.

The man, aged 52, had walked into the Attnang-Puchheim branch of Bawag Bank dressed as a woman. Threatening staff with a gun, he managed to escape with about £7,000, reports the Kronenzeitung newspaper.

However, a town employee, who happened to be passing on his lawn mower, and a pensioner saw what happened and gave chase. Both on the lawn mower, they eventually caught up with the robber who may have been hindered by his choice of clothing.

The stunned robber was handed over to police and arrested. He told officers he had robbed the bank to pay his debts and also confessed to an earlier robbery in which he'd escaped with £11,500.

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