Today's conditions brought to you by the Bush Junta - marionettes of their hyperdimensional puppet masters - Produced and Directed by the CIA, based on an original script by Henry Kissinger, with a cast of billions.... The "Greatest Shew on Earth," no doubt, and if you don't have a good sense of humor, don't read this page! It is designed to reveal the "unseen."
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November 6, 2003

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"Disasters involve cycles in the human experiential cycle [...] Human cycle mirrors cycle of catastrophe. Earth benefits in form of periodic cleansing. Time to start paying attention to the signs. They are escalating. They can even be 'felt' by you and others, if you pay attention."

There are some people who ponder Philosophical Implications of Inflationary Cosmology:

Recent developments in cosmology indicate that every history having a nonzero probability is realized in infinitely many distinct regions of spacetime. Thus, it appears that the universe contains infinitely many civilizations exactly like our own, as well as infinitely many civilizations that differ from our own in any way permitted by physical laws. [Ken D. Olum and Alexander Vilenkin, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155]

The implications of such are huge. Due to the dumbing down of America, it seems that most do not or can not think on such a grand scale. Instead, many obsess over whose god is best, or various entertainment spectacles. Or if individuals do question and seek, many are still hindered by belief, assumption and obsession. We can't think our way out of the box, and that's the way the power structure likes it. Every day we uncover more of how that box has been consciously and deliberately engineered and maintained.

Due to these constraints, that we have embraced as our own, we can easily fool ourselves that we are thinking. The state propaganda and our identities have inter-married, and we are no longer aware of where we begin and where the propaganda ends. Perhaps it is time for a divorce. And as the usual case, such things can be messy and painful. But, really, what else are you going to do? What is life for? Certainly life can be for something other than embracing an agenda that was introduced from some outside source, for that outside source's own benefit and your detriment. Such a course of action requires steady and persistent effort.

We have to become seers of the world as it is, before we can know ourselves. We have to question everything, particularly ourselves.

In that spirit we proceeded to gather the daily news and reports.

In U.S. news: Oliver North and Poindexter laid the foundations for concentration camps for activists in the eighties, rumors of preparations for air strikes, terrorism laws are being used for everything except catching terrorists, the Senate gives a helping hand to war profiteering.

The companies that donated big to the republican party see their investment pay off handsomely with billion dollar Iraq blood money.

A major American media outlet reported today that Iraqi intelligence offered a peace deal to the U.S., including free access to their country, but the offer was rejected by Washington in favor of a military invasion.

U.S. troops are shuffled around, and there are even rumors of an eventual reduction in the number of soldiers by early summer. Whatever happens, it apparently makes no difference to Americans - a majority of those surveyed couldn't even name one federal department.

In the event of a civilian airliner going off course, the German airforce can have fighter planes in the air within 8 minutes, so where was the US Airforce on 9/11?

Dont trust the media - the NYT is caught manufacturing stories and Time magazine gets handy with the airbrush.

Updates on the Indian and Arkansas meteor strikes,

Perle lashes out at Germany for agreeing with France on the Iraq issue. Allegations of torture surface in the Khodorkovsky affair.

Do you read the Signs page at work? According to a new study, you and your employer may benefit.

Excerpt from the book: Break-ins, Death Threats and the FBI

by Ross Gelbspan
South End Press, 1991

p13
Perhaps the most troubling legacy of the administration's war on citizen activists was the embrace by the FBI, CIA, National Security Council and State Department of a doctrine called "active measures," under which political dissenters can be labeled as "communist proxies" and investigated as "terrorists" simply because some of their opinions may conform to some positions held by the Soviet Union or another government which is considered hostile to the United States.

p. 184, The FBI and Oliver North's "Private Network"

Around the same time that the Office of Public Diplomacy was geared-up for its CIA-inspired covert disinformation and propaganda campaign, Lt. Col. Oliver North was working with officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency-an obscure agency which had traditionally overseen relief planning for disasters-to draw up a secret contingency plan to surveil political dissenters and to arrange for the detention of hundreds of thousands of undocumented aliens in case of an unspecified national emergency. The plan, part of which was code-named Rex 84, called for the suspension of the Constitution under a number of scenarios, including a U.S. invasion of Nicaragua.

The strongest objection to the plan within the administration came from William French Smith, at the time President Reagan's Attorney General. In a strongly worded letter to National Security Adviser Robert MacFarlane in August 1984, Smith wrote: "I believe the role assigned to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the revised Executive Order exceeds its proper function as a coordinating agency for emergency preparedness." According to Miami Herald reporter Alfonso Chardy, Smith's letter added: "The [Justice] Department and others have repeatedly raised serious policy and legal objections to the creation of an 'emergency czar' role for FEMA."

The plan, which was modeled after a plan that Reagan and Edwin Meese had developed in California to deal with black activists, anti-war protesters and members of the student Free Speech Movement, involved the cooperation of a number of agencies, including the Immigration and Naturalization Service which took steps to establish a network of detention centers capable of holding thousands of undocumented aliens.

The number of U.S. activists targeted by the preliminary plans for Rex 84 was never disclosed. But in addition to groups opposing United States policies in Central America, the FEMA plan reportedly included environmental activists, opponents of nuclear energy and refugee assistance activists. In addition, the plan reportedly called for the establishment of 50 State Defense Forces, to be composed of members of local law enforcement and military reserve agencies, who would implement the plan at a local level.

The fate of Rex 84 has never been definitively explained. Nor has the plan's development been thoroughly explored. During the Iran-Contra hearings in the summer of 1987, Rep. Jack Brooks (D-Tex.) attempted to raise the issue during an open session of the committee during the appearance of Oliver North.

Brooks: "Col. North, in your work at the NSC, were you not assigned, at one time, to work on plans for the continuity of government in the event of a major disaster?"

Sen. Daniel Inouye (Co-chair): "I believe that question touches upon a highly sensitive and classified area so may I request that you not touch upon that."

Brooks: "I was particularly concerned, Mr. Chairman, because I read in the Miami papers and several others that there had been a plan developed, by that same agency, a contingency plan in the event of an emergency that would suspend the American Constitution. And I was deeply concerned about it and wondered if that was the area in which [North] had worked. I believe that it was, and I wanted to get his confirmation."

Inouye: "May I most respectfully request that that matter not be touched upon at this stage. If we wish to get into this, I'm certain arrangements can be made for an executive session."

That was the beginning and the end of any Congressional discussion of the plan. Apparently, there was no follow-up executive session in which committee members tried to learn just how extensive and well-developed was this plan to surveil and imprison large numbers of citizens and refugees who might object to the United States invading Nicaragua or becoming embroiled in armed hostilities in other parts of the world. But, as researcher Diana Reynolds and others have noted, "It ) is clear that the FEMA contingency plans to round up political dissenters was related to the FBI's investigation of political dissidents."

p228
In the spring of 1990, Adm. John Poindexter, the former National Security Adviser to whom Oliver North reported, was sentenced to six months in prison for lying to Congress. At Poindexter's sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge Harold Greene said that, had Poindexter not served time in jaiI, it would be tantamount to a statement that a scheme to lie to and obstruct Congress is of no great moment, and that even if the perpetrators are found out, the courts will treat their criminal acts as no more than minor infractions." Judge Greene held that Poindexter and North had acted "in violation of a principle fundamental to this constitutional republic-that those elected by and responsible to the people shall make the important policy decisions, and that their decisions may not be nullified by appointed officials who happen to be in positions _ that give them the ability to operate programs prohibited by law."

It is perplexing that the appropriate officials of the FBI-Ronald Davenport, Oliver Revell, and William Webster-have not been held to the same standards as Poindexter and other federal employees who have been convicted of Iying to Congress. The message inherent in the lack of such convictions is that the very agency empowered to enforce the the federal laws of the country is, itself, beyond the reach of those laws.

Comment: Poindexter then went on to become head of the Information Awareness Office. The IFO then was disbanded and Poindexter resigned, due to public outcry, and became part of the "black" budgets so there would be no public over sight.

FBI used anti-terrorism law

ACLU say inquiry outside the purview of USA Patriot Act

The FBI used the USA Patriot Act to obtain financial information about key figures in its ongoing political corruption probe centered on strip club magnate Michael Galardi, federal authorities confirmed Monday.

Investigators "used a section of the Patriot Act to get subpoenas for financial documents," said Special Agent Jim Stern, a spokesman for the Las Vegas field office of the FBI. "It was used appropriately by the FBI and was clearly within the legal parameters of the statute." [...]

Comment: No one cares about strip club magnates, but it is obvious that it is only a matter of time before the jack boot is heard throughout America's streets much louder than it already is.

Possible Deal Aborted?

Claim: U.S. Government Spurned Peace Talks Before the War With Iraq

By Brian Ross and Chris Vlasto
ABCNEWS.com

Nov. 5 — A possible negotiated peace deal was laid out in a heavily guarded compound in Baghdad in the days before the war, ABCNEWS has been told, but a top former Pentagon adviser says he was ordered not to pursue the deal.

A prominent Lebanese-American businessman said he secretly met with Iraqi intelligence officials just days after Secretary of State Colin Powell laid out the U.S. case for war at the United Nations in February.

Imad Hage, the president of the American Underwriters Group insurance company and known in the region as having contacts at the Pentagon, told ABCNEWS he was first approached by an Iraqi intelligence official who arrived unannounced at his office in Beirut.

A week later, according to Hage, he and an associate were asked to come to Baghdad, when Hage says he met with Saddam Hussein's chief of intelligence, Gen. Tahir Habbush, later labeled the Jack of Diamonds in the deck of cards depicting the most-wanted members of Saddam Hussein's regime. Habbush is still at large.

"He was conveying a message," said Hage. "He was conveying an offer." Hage said Habbush laid out terms of a negotiated peace during a four-hour session beginning at midnight at a compound in Baghdad.

Hage said Habbush repeated public denials by the regime that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction but offered to allow several thousand U.S. agents or scientists free rein in the country to carry out inspections. "Based on my meeting with his man," said Hage, "I think an effort was there to avert war. They were prepared to meet with high-ranking U.S. officials."

Hage said Habbush also offered U.N.-supervised free elections, oil concessions to U.S. companies and was prepared to turn over a top al Qaeda terrorist, Abdul Rahman Yasin, who Haboush said had been in Iraqi custody since 1994.

Yasin is one of the FBI's most wanted terrorists, indicted in connection with the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Hage says Habbush claimed the United States had refused earlier offers to turn him over. "He said we want to show good faith," Hage told ABCNEWS.

Yasin remains at large and is now thought to be one of the people behind the recent wave of attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq.

Throughout the period of the negotiations claimed by Hage, the Bush administration publicly maintained it would not conduct negotiations with Baghdad to avoid a war that did not first involve the unconditional departure of Saddam Hussein from Iraq or his surrender.

But Richard Perle, the then chairman of the Defense Policy Advisory Board, said in the weeks leading up to war with Iraq, he told the CIA but they refused the plan to meet with Iraqi officials to discuss a possible peace deal along the lines of the plan outlined by Hage to ABCNEWS.

"Although I was not enthusiastic about the offer, I was willing to meet with the Iraqis," Perle told ABCNEWS. "The United States government told me not to." Perle would not disclose which official or arm of the government rejected the talks. [...]

A senior U.S. official said the government was unaware of anyone who was in a position to offer a deal that was acceptable to Washington at the time. [...]

And a senior White House official said the United States exhausted every legitimate opportunity to resolve it peacefully and it was "Saddam Hussein's unwillingness to comply after 12 years and some 17 United Nations Security Council resolutions, including one final opportunity, that forced the coalition to act to ensure compliance."

The official also added that Saddam was given 48 hours notice to leave before the United States initiated military action.

Comment: The mainstream American press is now reporting that the people were fed a bunch of lies. Of course, Perle is made out to be some kind of hero who was not allowed to deal with the Iraqis because the "United States government" held him back. Given Perle's history, this is most likely yet another lie - but we wonder who is being set up to take the fall. It is also interesting that a "White House official" claims Saddam was given two days to get out of dodge before the U.S. invasion. The whole affair appears to be a deadly game to those in power.

House Nixes Anti-Profiteering Penalties in Iraq Spending Bill

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The final version of the $87 billion spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan is missing provisions the Senate had passed to penalize war profiteers who defraud American taxpayers. House negotiators on the package refused to accept the Senate provisions. [...]

Comment: Yes, that's right. The Senate actually went out of their way to make the $87 billion dollars available for the drooling psychopathic wolves who are feasting in the latest hell on earth that Bush created. Who wrote us into the plot of this horror movie?

U.S. Contractors Reap the Windfalls of Post-War Reconstruction

October 30, 2003 by the Center for Public Integrity

WASHINGTON, — More than 70 American companies and individuals have won up to $8 billion in contracts for work in postwar Iraq and Afghanistan over the last two years, according to a new study by the Center for Public Integrity. Those companies donated more money to the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush—a little over $500,000—than to any other politician over the last dozen years, the Center found.

Kellogg, Brown & Root, the subsidiary of Halliburton—which Vice President Dick Cheney led prior to being chosen as Bush's running mate in August 2000—was the top recipient of federal contracts for the two countries, with more than $2.3 billion awarded to the company. Bechtel Group, a major government contractor with similarly high-ranking ties, was second at around $1.03 billion.

However, dozens of lower-profile, but well-connected, companies shared in the reconstruction bounty. Their tasks ranged from rebuilding Iraq's government, police, military and media to providing translators for use in interrogations and psychological operations. There are even contractors to evaluate the contractors. (See company list.)

Nearly 60 percent of the companies had employees or board members who either served in or had close ties to the executive branch for Republican and Democratic administrations, for members of Congress of both parties, or at the highest levels of the military.

The results of the Center's six-month investigation provide the most comprehensive list to date of American contractors in the two nations that were attacked in Washington's war on terror. Based on the findings, it did not appear that any one government agency knew the total number of contractors or what they were doing. Congressional sources said they hoped such a full picture would emerge from the General Accounting Office, which has begun investigating the postwar contracting process amid allegations of fraud and cronyism.

The Center's investigation focused on the three agencies that awarded most of the Iraq and Afghanistan contracts in 2002 and 2003—the Pentagon, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. It found that nearly every one of the 10 largest contracts awarded for Iraq and Afghanistan went to companies employing former high-ranking government officials or individuals with close ties to those agencies or Congress.

In addition, those top 10 contractors were established political donors, contributing nearly $11 million to national political parties, candidates and political action committees since 1990, according to an analysis of campaign finance records.

Indeed, most of the companies that won contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan were political players. According to the Center's analysis, the companies, their political action committees and their employees contributed a total of nearly $49 million to national political campaigns and parties since 1990. Donations to Republican Party committees—the Republican National Committee, the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee—outpaced those to Democratic committees, $12.7 million to $7.1 million. Among individual candidates, President George Bush received more money from these companies than any other, a little over $500,000.

The Center's investigation found that 14 of the contractors were awarded U.S. government work in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Combined, those companies gave nearly $23 million in political contributions since 1990, and 13 employ former government officials or have close ties to various agencies and departments. [...]

Comment: The real reason for the Iraq invasion - Power, Money, Control.

Ex-generals arrested in Iraq

Ananova.com
09:56 Thursday 6th November 2003

The US military says American paratroopers have captured two former Iraqi army generals in Fallujah.

The military said they were suspected of financing and organising anti-coalition fighters west of Baghdad. [...]

Carson soldier faces charge of cowardice

By JOHN DIEDRICH - THE GAZETTE

A soldier with Fort Carson’s 10th Special Forces Group has been charged with cowardice for allegedly refusing to do his duty in Iraq. Staff Sgt. Georg Pogany, 32, a Special Forces interrogator, is charged with showing "cowardly conduct as a result of fear, in that he refused to perform his duties," according to his charge sheet.

If convicted in a court-martial, the soldier faces prison time and a dishonorable discharge. He was charged Oct. 14. His first court appearance is Nov. 7 at Fort Carson.

A cowardice charge is extremely rare, military law experts say. Army officials couldn’t say Wednesday the last time it had been filed. Pogany said he is wrongly charged. The soldier said he experienced a "panic attack" after seeing the mangled body of an Iraqi man and told his superior he was heading for a "nervous breakdown."

After that, Pogany said he didn’t request to go on missions nor did the unit ask him to go. Pogany said he asked for help but was denied the care soldiers with "combat stress" are supposed to receive.

Instead of help, Pogany said, one of his superiors told him to "get his head out of his ass and get with the program." [...]

World Banks Says Iraq Still Too Risky for Staff

Are we preparing a big airstrike very soon?

Since Saturday, people in the Highlands of Scotland have been witnessing large movements of US warplanes overhead. Experienced observers say the large numbers are reminiscent of those that preceded the bombing of Iraq in 1998 and military strikes on Libyai in the1980s as well as the first Gulf War.

At the weekend warplanes were flying over at a rate of roughly one every 15 minutes. As well as watching them from the ground the plane spotters have also been able to overhear pilots talking by listening to their radio frequencies.

It is thought that the planes have flown on a route from the US over the north pole to bases in Europe and the Mediterranean. The size and scale of the movement suggests that the US may be preparing to strike at a country in the Middle East in the next week to ten days.

Comment: Yes it is a rumor, based on eyewitness accounts. We cannot verify this on "official" news sites. We have all been conditioned to not believe something unless we have been told by someone who is getting paid to be an authority. Actually, there is no need to believe one way or the other. We can just add items like these to our observations and continue to search. Do we have any readers in the Highlands?

US seeks 30,000 cut in Iraq troops by May

By Marianne Brun-Rovet in Washington
November 6 2003 4:00


The Pentagon last night called up more troops, including thousands of reserves, to prepare for service in Iraq but said it planned to cut overall forces by 30,000 by next May.

General Peter Pace, vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said yesterday that US forces in Iraq would be reduced to 100,000 by May. Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, had previously shied away from giving precise figures for troop deployment in Iraq.

The new rotation reflects the contradictory pressures on the Bush administration as it seeks to bring American soldiers home while fighting an increasingly deadly insurgency in Iraq. [...]

43,000 Alerted for Duty in Iraq

By ERIC SCHMITT and THOM SHANKER
Published: November 6, 2003

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 — The Pentagon began alerting 43,000 Reserve and National Guard troops late Wednesday for the possibility of yearlong duty in Iraq or Kuwait as part of a force-rotation plan that would reduce the overall American military presence in Iraq by next spring, senior Pentagon officials said. [...]

6,000 Sailors Come Home From Persian Gulf

"Invisible hands"

Time Magazine runs an airbrushed version of `three stooges' photo of Warren, Arnie and lord Jacob Rothschild

Those interested in a good, street-smart pedagogical on how the oligarchy likes to obliterate their spoor "Soviet-style" may want to locate the Aug. 25 Time article, showing that same, retouched photo with Lord Jacob Rothschild airbrushed out of the picture.

Talk about "invisible hands" in the marketplace!

Is the NYT Inventing Quotes Again?

November 5, 2003
A BuzzFlash reader commentary

The internationally renowned French Paper Le Monde charges the New York Times with misquoting a French judge in order to write an "alarmist story," claiming that dozens of French Muslims have left to fight the Americans in Iraq. It should be noted by BuzzFlash that the NYT, in writing such a story, is following the Bush line that foreign terrorists are behind the attacks on American forces [LINK]. Of course, then there are U.S. military commanders that say this is not true.

In fact, different Bush administration officials, on any given day, emphatically attribute the attacks to each of several different sources, then the next day change their minds. The Pentagon even refutes Bush's "foreign fighter" theory. [LINK] It's kind of like watching a dark comedy of a musical chairs blame game. It is a sign of the Bush Cartel's incompetence and ineptness that they don't seem to have a clue as to who is attacking our troops. [...]

US Military in Iraq learning Israeli "tricks of the trade"

"The complex,which was constructed for the Ba ’ath Party, was demolished as part of a plan to bring the level of safety at Rifles Base to a new high. [...] Spc. Rafael Moya-Epimentel, a member of the 94th Engineering Company and D9-R operator, said, “We ’re taking the buildings down so that the enemy can not fire from this location into the compound.”

The D9-R,a large armored bulldozer, was brought to Rifles Base from Camp Doha, Kuwait, to assist in the demolition project."

Comment: The US made - Israel modified "large armoured bulldozer" he is talking about?

And the result of it's work in Palestine:

Remember, it is mainly AMERICAN tax dollars that are funding the destruction of Palestine and the genocide of it's people.

Jewish settlers destroy olive groves

By Amal Hamdan
Wednesday 05 November 2003

Livelihood of many Palestinian families depends on harvest

Jewish settlers have gone on a rampage in occupied West Bank towns and villages, hacking down hundreds of olive orchards just as they were about to be harvested.

Settlers uprooted, chopped and burned trees overnight in the villages of Sawia, Beta, Yitma, Bait Furik, Hawwara and Tal, said Palestinian witnesses on Wednesday.

One witness said Israeli soldiers in Tal, about six kilometres southwest of Nablus, fired into orchards, sparking a fire and leaving 200 trees charred.

Olive crops amount to up to 50% of the livelihood of Palestinians in some of these towns. [...]

Comment: Again, this is US tax dollars at work. Over $343 billion spent in the year 2001-2002 on "defence". It is however a special kind of defence, that involves aggressively and unjustifiably attacking other nations, it is the kind of "defence" that Israel and the US have been engaged in for years.

Israeli MK Calls to Destroying Palestinian Radio Stations

TEL AVIV, November 4, 2003 (IPC + Agencies) -- An Israeli Knesset member suggested yesterday to destroy all the Palestinian radio stations, and giving their frequencies to Israeli pirate stations instead.

Arieh Eldad, Knesset member from the rightist "Ha-ichud Ha-leumi" (the National Union) party, presented on Monday a proposition to the Knesset's agenda that Israel demolish Palestinian radio stations, take their broadcasting equipment and give their air frequencies to Israeli stations. Eldad also proposed giving the frequencies to the extremist "Arutz 7" (channel 7), a former pirate station run by Jewish settlers, Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported.

Eldad claimed that Palestinian radio stations instigate hate and urge on the killing of Jews, a claim he did not present a solid proof to back. He added that it would be better to give the air frequencies and broadcasting equipment of these stations to rightist Israeli radio stations, which are run mostly by Jewish settlers and extremist religious activists in Israel.

Eldad's proposal was approved by 19 votes against nine objections. The proposal will be passed on to the Knesset's committee to discuss it.

Israeli Army Accused of Brit Murder

Roshan Muhammed Salih - Al Jazeera 03 November 2003

British journalists have uncovered fresh evidence that Israeli soldiers may have murdered a British cameraman in the occupied territories.

James Miller, 34, was killed in Rafah while making a documentary for an American cable channel.

An autopsy confirmed he was almost certainly killed by an Israeli soldier, despite the army's assertions to the contrary.

But revealing new video evidence clearly shows Miller and his team were carrying white flags and shouting to Israeli soldiers that they were British journalists.

Miller's death was preceded by the killing of American peace activist Rachel Corrie, and the shooting of British volunteer Tom Hurndall.

Israeli Occupation

The two International Solidarity Movement activists were protesting against the Israeli occupation in Gaza.

John Sweeney, whose documentary “When Killing is Easy” was shown on the BBC on Sunday, said a serving Israeli soldier had no doubt Miller’s death was “murder” after watching the video tape.

Sweeney said: “James was the best operator in war zones that I have ever come across. When he was killed he was waving a white flag and pointing a torch towards it.

"A white flag is the most internationally recognised symbol of peace and surrender so he was clearly posing no threat.

“The Israelis have got the best night vision equipment in the world thanks to the Americans, and they knew that James was a journalist because they had been calling out to him earlier in the day. Simple rules simply weren’t followed.”

He added: “I don’t think it is for me to say that the Israelis have a deliberate policy of killing impartial observers but that is exactly what the father of Tom Hurndall says in our documentary. But I do think the regiment that shot James is without doubt trigger happy.” [...]

Israeli Pipeline to Move Russian Oil

By PETER ENAV
Associated Press Writer
Wednesday November 5, 2003 4:31 PM

JERUSALEM (AP) - Russian oil will begin flowing through an Israeli pipeline in late November, the pipeline's director said Wednesday, signaling a new chapter in rapidly improving relations with Moscow.

The announcement came on the same day Prime Minister Ariel Sharon returned from a three day visit to Moscow, where he discussed political and trade ties, and the Middle East peace process with President Vladimir Putin. [...]

Fighting for the pipeline to Kiev's heart

Geoffrey Berlin and Raymond Albright IHT
Wednesday, November 5, 2003


The United States and Russia are engaged in a post-cold war standoff over an oil pipeline in Ukraine, which for all practical purposes should not have been built.

The 415-mile Odessa-Brody pipeline was commissioned over a year ago, in May 2002, but to this day it remains idle. That's not surprising. In a feasibility study that our firms completed with Gulf Interstate Engineering of Houston in 1999, we concluded that the pipeline would not be a competitive transit route for Caspian crude to central Europe, as originally envisioned.

Yet in a recent meeting with Ukraine's Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, Vice President Dick Cheney sought assurances for just that — that the Odessa-Brody pipeline be used to transport Caspian oil northward through Ukraine, from the Black Sea port of Yuzhniy to refineries in southern Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland.

In the meantime, a consortium of five Russian oil companies, led by TNK-BP, is pressing the Ukrainian government to reverse the pipeline and use it as an export route for Russian crude oil through Yuzhniy.

The standoff reached a crescendo in the weeks leading up to Yanukovych's meeting with Cheney.

On Sept. 9, the Ukrainian pipeline company, Ukrtransnafta, issued a request for 420,000 metric tons of crude to fill the pipeline for about $70 million - purportedly to protect the pipes from corrosion. TNK-BP submitted the sole proposal to supply and finance the fill, effectively requiring Ukraine to cede control over the terms and use of the pipeline to a Russian company.

On Oct. 3, Ukrtransnafta accepted this offer - though it was revealed that the pipeline is already protected by an anti-corrosive fluid. Then Ukraine's Minister of Energy and Fuel, Serhiy Yermilov, postponed any decision on the use of the pipeline, and the fill, until January 2004.

At the heart of the dispute is a tug-of-war between Russia and the United States over the future orientation of Ukraine. With the enlargement of the European Union, the United States and the EU are focusing renewed attention on Ukraine's prospects for integration into Europe. At the same time, Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma met with the presidents of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan in Yalta in September to establish a "Common Economic Space." Kuchma justified this as a way to improve Ukraine's economic position and to advance the country toward European integration. [...]

Perle warns Germany: stop backing France

BERLIN, Nov 4 (AFP) - Senior US defence adviser Richard Perle urged Germany Tuesday to stop following France on the international political stage and said that the Franco-German relationship is harming ties with the United States.

"The idea that Germany must submit to French ideas has to be looked at," Perle told about 200 defence experts gathered in Berlin for a two-day security conference.

Perle said the depth of the Franco-German partnership was, at times, further damaging the European Union's already strained relations with Washington.

"There is such a strong tendency for France and Germany on every occasion to express solidarity, I think in the mistaken belief that somehow that is what is essential to peace in Europe..., that it can obscure the really very difficult issue of Europe and the Atlantic," he said.

In a heated exchange, former French chief of staff, Admiral Jacques Lanxade, accused Perle of trying to divide Paris and Berlin and blamed the Pentagon adviser for inciting public ill-feeling in Europe towards Washington.

German plan to down hijack planes

The German cabinet has approved plans to allow hijacked aircraft to be shot down in order to prevent a terror attack.

Germany's ruling coalition agreed that the power could only be used if a plane had failed to respond to other attempts to halt it.

The federal government, not the military, will make the decision to act under the terms of the bill, which still needs parliamentary approval.

The move follows the 11 September 2001 attacks in the US involving four hijacked airliners.

Germany had its own air attack scare in January when a disturbed student stole a small plane and flew around Frankfurt for two hours threatening to crash into the European Central Bank.

Last resort

The coalition of Social Democrats and Greens is expected to begin developing a new draft of the country's air security laws based on the agreement between the parties.

Defence Minister Peter Struck explained that an aircraft considered to be a possible threat should first be forced off course and made to land.

I'm thankful that the cabinet has created the necessary clarity empowering me if necessary to order an airplane to be shot down

Peter Struck
German Defence Minister
Warning shots could then be fired and if that failed, the aircraft could be shot down as a last resort.

Volker Beck of the Greens said: "Weapons may only be used in cases in which nothing else works and it is clear that the plane will be used against people.

"The appropriateness of the means is the key criterion."

The defence minister said the law would prevent a fighter pilot from facing lawsuits for shooting down a civilian plane.

Mr Struck said fighter aircraft could be airborne within eight minutes of an alarm being raised, and could reach any point in German airspace within 10 to 15 minutes.

He said that, as in the United States, fighter pilots received special psychological training in case they were required to destroy a civilian plane in order to avert an 11 September-style attack.

Suspicious aircraft

Last month, US Air Force General Ralph Eberhart told reporters pilots practised shooting down civilian airliners "several times a week" in case they were called upon to act against a suspicious civilian aircraft.

Comment: So if the German airforce can have fighter planes in the air in 8 minutes, and anywhere in Germany airspace in 15 minutes, we can assume that the US airforce has similar capabilities? What happened then on September 11th 2001? Why were NO jets scrambled at all? Complicity? It would appear so.

FBI Probes Taping Outside Jewish School By Saudi National

November 5, 2003

BALTIMORE -- The FBI is investigating suspicious activity outside a Jewish girls' middle school in Mount Washington.

The president of Bais Yaakov School for Girls, Shlomo Spetner, sent a letter to parents Friday that a parent had spotted a man and woman videotaping the entrance to the campus and some pupils.

The parent reported that the couple appeared to be Middle Eastern and fled when the parent approached them.

Spetner's letter says the parent took down the license plate and the driver has been questioned by the FBI. The man is said to be a Saudi national who attends a local college.

Russia torturing jailed oil executives, lawyers claim

By Saeed Shah
06 November 2003

Allegations of human rights abuses have been made by the legal team representing the executives of the Yukos oil giant imprisoned in Russia.

Defence lawyers say Alexei Pichugin, the former head of security at Yukos, has been injected with mind-altering drugs to force him to testify against Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former chief executive of Yukos, arrested last month on charges of fraud and tax evasion.

The charge is in a dossier prepared by the international defence team working for Mr Khodorkovsky, Mr Pichugin and Platon Lebedev, the former president of Yukos. The document, compiled by Amsterdam and Peroff, a Toronto-based law firm, called the case "a watershed event that has taken on universal significance".

The document included an appeal to the international community to support Mr Khodorkovsky, and claimed that the case is part of an attack on civil liberties in Russia which could affect other businessmen and foreign investors. It also accused the prosecution of violating human rights guaranteed by the Russian constitution "in its rush to prepare a series of political show trials" ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections. [...]

Former US leader Clinton calls on Bush to give NKorea non-aggression pact

HONG KONG (AFP) Nov 06, 2003

Former US president Bill Clinton said Thursday his successor George W. Bush should do "one last mega-deal" with North Korea and offer a non-aggression pact in return for unlimited access to nuclear laboratories in the Stalinist state.

Speaking during a question and answer session after delivering a keynote speech at a CEO forum here, Clinton said despite the determination of North Korea to pursue its nuclear weapons programme "I don't believe they want to drop a nuclear bomb on Japan or South Korea. They want to eat and stay warm."

"They don't want to disappear from history like East Germany and they don't want to be disrespected and that's why they want the non-aggression treaty," he said.

"I think we (the US) should offer them a mega deal; help with food, help with energy, help with becoming a self-sustaining economy... in return for total access to all the labs and all the sites and taking the plutonium rods out of (North) Korea altogether and giving them a non-aggression pact. [...]

NKorea threatens to seize US-led consortium's assets

SEOUL (AFP) Nov 06, 2003

North Korea on Thursday threatened to seize an international consortium's assets if the US-led group suspends a nuclear power project in the communist state without compensation. [...]

U.S. frees Taliban leader to join Karzai

By Shaun Waterman and Anwar Iqbal
United Press International

Published 11/5/2003: (UPI) The United States, in a move at odds with its publicly declared policy, has released from custody in Afghanistan the former Taliban foreign minister as part of a strategy to recruit elements of the former regime into the U.S.-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.

Afghan and Pakistani officials told United Press International the Karzai government has been negotiating with the minister, Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, to entice elements of the Taliban to join the government, which faces widespread security problems in the Pashtun-dominated areas of the country that formed the heartland of the fundamentalist movement. [...]

'What I went through is beyond human imagination'

Globe and Mail
11:50 AM EST Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2003

Montrealer Maher Arar said Tuesday that his year-long imprisonment in Syria was a nightmarish series of beatings, threats and included more than 10 months in a cell the size of "a grave."

Mr. Arar, a Syrian-born man who came to North America as a teen and took Canadian citizenship, is calling for a public inquiry that will explain what role, if any, Canadian intelligence officials played in his arrest in New York and his subsequent deportation and imprisonment without charge in Syria. [...]

Shocking Poll: Majority Of Americans Cannot Name A Single Department In The President's Cabinet

Tuesday, November 4, 2003
Pollingcompany.com
Contact: Kellyanne Conway


Washington, DC – Most Americans are unable to identify even a single department in the United States Cabinet, according to a recent national poll of 800 adults. Specifically, the survey found that a majority (58%) could not provide any department names whatsoever; 41% could. Only 4% of those surveyed specified at least five of the 19 executive-level departments, a figure comparable to the poll’s overall margin of error (+/-3.5%). [...]

Comment: How can Americans possibly be aware of what their government is doing when the majority can't even name one executive-level department? We have been assured by some that the Signs page is just a bunch of paranoid conspiracy theories, even though we are simply reporting the news. We are often asked how it is possible that the U.S. government could get away with the things we report each day on the Signs page. It seems that this poll is the answer to that question.

Government extends its secrecy shield

By Declan McCullagh
CNET News.com
November 5, 2003, 5:36 AM PT


Nobody likes to be criticized in public, especially all those politicians in Washington, D.C., who fervently hope to be re-elected.

But the Bush administration has taken the desire to avoid critical commentary to an extreme. In incident after troubling incident, federal agencies have been quietly censoring information that previously had been available on their Web sites and otherwise curbing public oversight.

About a week ago, the U.S. Army surreptitiously pulled the plug on one of its more popular Web sites, call.army.mil, after The Washington Post wrote about a report that had been posted on it.

The Post's October 25 article said "the U.S. military intelligence gathering operation in Iraq is being undercut by a series of problems in using technology, training intelligence specialists and managing them in the field," citing the report prepared by the Center for Army Lessons Learned at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. The report, which the Post had the foresight to mirror on its own Web site, talked about the "poor quality" of mission planning and "marginally effective" training for certain reserve troops.

The report was not classified. It was merely a sober analysis of the Army's problems in Iraq. It had the ring of truth to it, unlike Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, which he used to blandly reassure viewers. "We can win this war. We will win this war," he said.

This is not an isolated example. In the two years since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Bush administration has systematically reduced the amount of information available to the public, which in turn has made government officials less accountable to taxpayers.

Attorney General John Ashcroft set the tone in an Oct. 12, 2001, memo that urged agencies to withhold information from requests that were made under the Freedom of Information Act. Then, in January, Rumsfeld claimed that too much data was popping up on military Web sites. Citing al-Qaida, Rumsfeld warned that "one must conclude our enemies' access (to Department of Defense) Web sites on a regular basis." [...]

Secret 9/11 case before high court

The justices consider a petition for a case with no public record.

By Warren Richey Staff writer
The Christian Science Monitor
October 30, 2003 edition

MIAMI – It's the case that doesn't exist. Even though two different federal courts have conducted hearings and issued rulings, there has been no public record of any action. No documents are available. No files. No lawyer is allowed to speak about it. Period.

Yet this seemingly phantom case does exist - and is now headed to the US Supreme Court in what could produce a significant test of a question as old as the Star Chamber, abolished in 17th-century England: How far should a policy of total secrecy extend into a system of justice?

Secrecy has been a key Bush administration weapon in the war on terrorism. Attorney General John Ashcroft warns that mere tidbits of information that seem innocuous about the massive Sept. 11 investigation could help Al Qaeda carry out new attacks.

Yet this highly unusual petition to the high court arising from a Miami case brings into sharp focus the tension between America's long tradition of open courts and the need for security in times of national peril. At issue is whether certain cases may be conducted entirely behind closed doors under a secret arrangement among prosecutors, judges, and docket clerks.

While secret trial tactics have reportedly been used by federal prosecutors to shield cooperating drug dealers, it's unclear whether the high court has ever directly confronted the issue. But that may change if they take up MKB v. Warden (No. 03-6747).

What's known about the case

This is among the first of the post-Sept. 11 terrorism cases to wend its way to the nation's highest tribunal. There was no public record of its existence, however, until the appeal was filed with the clerk of the US Supreme Court.

A federal judge and a three-judge federal appeals-court panel have conducted hearings and issued rulings. Yet lawyers and court personnel have been ordered to remain silent.

"The entire dockets for this case and appeal, every entry on them, are maintained privately, under seal, unavailable to the public," says a partially censored 27-page petition asking the high court to hear the case. "In the court of appeals, not just the filed documents and docket sheet are sealed from public view, but also hidden is the essential fact that a legal proceeding exists."

Despite the heavy secrecy, a brief docketing error led to a newspaper report identifying MKB by name in March. The report said MKB is an Algerian waiter in south Florida who was detained by immigration authorities and questioned by the FBI.

MKB's legal status remains unclear, but it appears unlikely from court documents that he is connected in any way to terrorism. He has been free since March 2002 on a $10,000 bond.

The case is significant because it could force a close examination of secret tactics that are apparently becoming increasingly common under Attorney General Ashcroft. In September 2001, he ordered that all deportation hearings with links to the Sept. 11 investigation be conducted secretly. In addition, the Justice Department has acknowledged that at least nine criminal cases related to the Sept. 11 investigation were being cloaked in total secrecy.

MKB v. Warden is the first indication that the Justice Department is extending its total secrecy policy to proceedings in federal courts dealing with habeas corpus - that is, an individual's right to force the government to justify his or her detention.

The case offers the Supreme Court an opportunity for the first time to spell out whether such secret judicial proceedings violate constitutional protections. It may also offer the first insight into how much deference a majority of justices is willing to grant the government in areas where the war on terrorism may tread upon fundamental American freedoms. [...]

Wall Mart Buys Votes and Cheats Employees

IMAGINE THAT you earn $8 an hour working for Wal-Mart. Then, you learn that the store is recruiting workers, at $10 an hour, to convince neighbors and shoppers to vote against a law that would limit the size of "big- box'' stores in unincorporated areas of Contra Costa County.

Great, you think. I'll apply. But Wal-Mart won't hire its own workers because the corporation isn't sure it's legal to use them to promote a political campaign.

When you realize that Wal-Mart will pay higher wages to those campaigning to keep your wages low, you get angry -- which is how I've learned about the Arkansas retailer's countywide plans to repeal the ordinance. [...]

Comment: Welcome to the "land of the free, and the home of the brave." The predators at America's multi-billion dollar companies are too stupid to realize that the more you pay employees the more they have to spend, and they manage to force people to quibble and fight over $2 an hour. They must enjoy watching the rest of us at the bottom of the pyramid flail about in so called "third world" conditions. They have worked so hard to create them. More Wal-Mart reports with Bill Moyers here.

Long queue at drive-in soup kitchen

George Bush's America, the wealthiest nation in history, faces a growing poverty crisis. In the first of a three-part series Julian Borger takes the pulse of the US with elections just a year away

Julian Borger
Monday November 3, 2003
The Guardian

The free food is handed out at nine, but the queue starts forming hours earlier. By dawn, there is a line of cars stretching half a mile back. In Logan, it is what passes for rush hour - a traffic jam driven by poverty and hunger.

The cars come out of the Ohio hills in all shapes and sizes, from the old jalopies of the chronically poor, to the newer, sleeker models of the new members of the club, who only months ago considered themselves middle class, before jobs and their retirement funds evaporated.

Dan Larkin is sitting in his middle-of-the-range pick-up truck. Since the glassware company he worked for closed its doors this time last year, he has found it hard to pay his bills. His unemployment benefits ran out six months ago and his groceries bill is the only part of his budget that has some give. He and his wife sometimes skip meals or eat less to make sure their six-year-old daughter has enough.

"I would have a real problem putting food on the table if it wasn't for this," Mr Larkin said, his car inching towards Logan's church-run food pantry. As the queue rolled forward, he reflected on the ironies of being a citizen of the world's sole superpower.

"They're sending $87bn to the second richest oil nation in the world but can't afford to feed their own here in the States."

George Bush's America is the wealthiest and most powerful nation the world has ever known, but at home it is being gnawed away from the inside by persistent and rising poverty. The three million Americans who have lost their jobs since Mr Bush took office in January 2001 have yet to find new work in a largely jobless recovery, and they are finding that the safety net they assumed was beneath them has long since unravelled. There is not much left to stop them falling.

Last year alone, another 1.7 million Americans slipped below the poverty line, bringing the total to 34.6 million, one in eight of the population. Over 13 million of them are children. In fact, the US has the worst child poverty rate and the worst life expectancy of all the world's industrialised countries, and the plight of its poor is worsening.

Microsoft Puts $500,000 on Virus Writers' Heads

By Andy Sullivan
Wed Nov 5, 9:18 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp., beset by widespread criticism of security flaws in its software, on Wednesday put up a bounty to track down the authors of two computer bugs that choked the Internet earlier this year.

Microsoft offered two $250,000 rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the Blaster worm and the SoBig.F e-mail virus, which infected more than half a million computers, crashed thousands of systems, and snarled Internet traffic across the globe in August and September.

The world's largest software company -- which last month admitted that security concerns have begun to affect its bottom line -- also said it had earmarked an additional $4.5 million for future rewards. [...]

Sun's storm heads towards the Earth

By David Derbyshire, Science Correspondent
The Telegraph

The solar storms that have buffeted the Earth over the past two weeks showed no signs of abating yesterday after the most powerful flare ever recorded was unleashed. [...]

In 1859, a geomagnetic storm was so powerful that it melted telegraph wires across Europe and America.

Although the eruptions last week knocked out satellites and brought the aurora to southern England, their magnetic fields were aligned in the same direction as the Earth's, limiting their impact.

Voyager 'at edge of solar system'

Scientists say the Voyager 1 spacecraft is near the outer limit of the solar system, 26 years after its US launch.

The boundary is a region called "termination shock" where particles from the sun begin to slow down and clash with atomic matter from deep space.

Nasa says Voyager 1 is about 13.5bn kilometres from Earth and will not reach another system for 40,000 years. [...]

China hopes to have own space station within 10 years

'Dark matter' forms dense clumps in ghost universe

Wednesday November 5, 2003

The "dark matter" that comprises a still-undetected one-quarter of the universe is not a uniform cosmic fog, says a University of California, Berkeley, astrophysicist, but instead forms dense clumps that move about like dust motes dancing in a shaft of light.

In a paper submitted this week to Physical Review D, Chung-Pei Ma, an associate professor of astronomy at UC Berkeley, and Edmund Bertschinger of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), prove that the motion of dark matter clumps can be modeled in a way similar to the Brownian motion of air-borne dust or pollen.

Their findings should provide astrophysicists with a new way to calculate the evolution of this ghost universe of dark matter and reconcile it with the observable universe, Ma said. [...]

Rosetta Ready to Land on Larger Comet

Allied Signal -- Developed and planned over many years, the pioneering Rosetta mission is one of the most challenging ever undertaken in the history of space exploration.

In May 2003, however, engineers were presented with a new challenge when ESA's Science Programme Committee announced that comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko would replace comet 46P/Wirtanen as Rosetta's objective. [...]

The historic touchdown on the pristine surface of comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko is expected to take place in November 2014. "We anticipate a landing on the 'summer' side of the nucleus, where there is maximum illumination," said Philippe Kletzkine.

Comment: Philippe Kletzkine is ESA manager for the Rosetta Lander.

See also: Why Rosetta?

Comment: Added July 16, 2004: Today we received email from P. Kletzkine stating, in essence, that it was NOT a sudden whim of the Science Program Committee that changed the
target comet.

Object that fell from the sky was a meteorite: Scientists

Scientists on Wednesday said the object that fell from the sky in Kasauli village in Muzaffarnagar on November 2 is a meteorite. [...]

Gupta and his colleague Kamaudi Joshi examined the 17.9 kg black-coloured meteorite at Muzaffarnagar said a preliminary investigation suggested it is made of iron and some other elements. Its surface was burnt due to the friction generated when it entered the Earth's atmosphere. The chiselled portion inside is grey in colour.

The meteorite is 29cm in diameter and 11cm thick. It had created a 15-inch deep crater when it landed in Kasauli village. [...]

Comment: You can check out more of the most recent meteorite reports on page five of our Signs Supplement: Meteors, Asteroids, Comets, and NEO

A mystery in Monday night's sky

Mysterious "night lights" lit up the skies over the Mid-South Monday night. Reports of a huge fireball and a loud explosion that shook houses came flooding into police all around the Mid-South. Scientists have an idea what it was, but there was no evidence left behind to prove it.

A mystery in Monday night's sky was the hot topic over dinner in Wynne, Arkansas. "The sky lit up, it was like lightening." Teriann Dildane saw it from her car around 10 o'clock Monday night. "It looked like an airplane was on fire, I thought an airplane had crashed and it went over the trees." And Dildane wasn't alone.

At the same time the sky lit up, Detective Larry Jones says the phones lit up at the Cross County Sheriff's Department. "Quite a few at one time it was overwhelming." Action News 5 knows of calls from more than a half a dozen counties where people not only saw something, they heard something.

Dispatcher: 911 do you have an emergency?
Caller: I was calling about a big explosion
Then another call.
Dispatcher: 911 do you have an emergency?
Caller: I'm not sure it sounded like a large explosion here in town.
"For the next 20 minutes or so we continuously got those phone calls."

Whatever was falling was never found.

Jim Greenhouse from the Sharpe Planetarium suspects it was a variety of meteor called a bolide. "Meteors are objects in space that are burning up in the earth's atmosphere, and bolides enter the atmosphere at a steep angle and explode in the air above us." But since most objects from space are so small, they disintegrate before they ever hit the ground. [...]

Ulawun Volcano (Papua New Guinea)

Wednesday 5th November 2003

An eruption of Ulawun Volcano has been reported on Wednesday 5th November. A faint ash plume was visible on satellite images 10,000 ft high extending 15 nm towards WSW.

NW Albuquerque residents report feeling small earthquake

Kurt Christopher
11/05/2003

Several northwest Albuquerque residents felt an earthquake Monday night, but the event was so small it was not felt anywhere else.

Residents reported feeling shakes around 10:15 p.m. Monday. Its epicenter was located roughly in the area of Interstate 40 and Unser Boulevard.

The Albuquerque Seismological Laboratory, located northwest of the city, reported the quake at 1.6 on the Richter scale.

The shallow quake was so small that it could not be felt even two miles away.

Geologists: Magnitude of 1700 quake probably 9.0

By JIM COUR, Associated Press Writer

SEATTLE (AP) - A great earthquake that ripped the seafloor off the Washington coast more than 300 years ago and created a tsunami in Japan that is believed to have crested at about 10 feet (3 meters) probably had a magnitude of about 9.0, geologists say. The huge Jan. 26, 1700, Pacific temblor was comparable to the biggest quakes of the 20th century, geologists told the annual conference of the Geological Society of America on Tuesday.

"The 1700 earthquake tells us about our present earthquake hazards and we use the past as a guide to the future," U.S. Geological Survey geologist Brian Atwater told The Associated Press.

Scientists didn't know about the quake off the Washington coast until 20 years ago, when a newly authenticated record of a fatal shipwreck in Japan added a major clue. [...]

Earthquake drill to be conducted

Wednesday, November 5th, 2003

The Beaufort County Emergency Management Department will take part in a statewide earthquake drill at 9 a.m. today as part of Earthquake Awareness Week. The drill will be announced over National Weather Service tone-alert weather radio and over Emergency Alert System radio and television stations statewide.

The South Carolina Emergency Management Division and the Earthquake Education Center at Charleston Southern University are jointly sponsoring the week. The theme of this year's Earthquake Awareness Week is "Every Season is Earthquake Season," which reminds people that earthquakes pose a significant, year-round threat to South Carolina, and citizens should take proper precautions. [...]

Earthquake warning for New Zealand

November 6, 2003

AUSTRALIA has put out its first-ever travel advice for its close neighbour New Zealand, warning travellers to watch out for earthquakes and not to leave their belongings unattended. [...]

Biodioversity: The cost of corruption

Nature.com
November 6, 2003

Anecdotal evidence suggests that political corruption is a major factor limiting the success of biodiversity conservation projects. Many threatened species are found in developing countries that need donor support to undertake conservation measures, and these countries can be fertile ground for corrupt government. A study published this week shows that corruption — the abuse of public office for private gain — has been a significant factor explaining the loss of elephants and black rhinos. Conversely, improvements in stocks of these animals were related to improved governance in the countries concerned.

GM crop jumps fence, flowers

06nov03

TRIALS of the nation's first commercial genetically modified food crop have been found to be in breach of their licence conditions.

The Network of Concerned Farmers today released internal NSW Agriculture documents showing concerns over the trials of GM canola near the city of Wagga Wagga.

The documents show the canola, created by BayerCropscience to be resistant to a new type of herbicide, had spread from its small trial plot into a neighbouring wheat field. [...]

"If the GM industry can't even control a small strictly managed trial plot under one hectare, how do they expect to control 5,000 hectares of GM canola spread over 60 to 100 sites throughout NSW?" she told AAP. [...]

The ‘abominable mystery’ of flowers

Comment: No one knows how or when they first appeared.

Microbes Replacing Wolves In Culling Herds

by Dan Whipple
UPI

Recent research suggests that as more and more predatory animals are eliminated from ecosystems, nature is providing dangerous replacements to perform their evolutionary function of culling herds.

In recent years, previously unknown diseases have begun taking an alarming toll on species. West Nile virus, mad cow disease and chronic wasting disease (CWD) are just a few names on a long and growing list of wildlife parasites and diseases that have been making headlines as they threaten to ravage animal populations - and infect humans, often with tragic consequences.

They have become substitute predators - natural adaptations that help regulate animals in areas where predators and other 'keystone species' have been eliminated. [...]

Personal Web Surfing Can Benifit Workers

Associated Press -- A new book argues that, contrary to employers' beliefs, letting workers surf on the Web can yield some beneficial side effects.

"Personal Web usage in the workplace has a negative perception, especially among administrators who often see it as inefficient and creating a decrease in work productivity," said Claire Simmers, an associate professor of management at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia and co-author of a human resources guide to worker Web use.

According to research, doing personal Web surfing while on the job can lead to better time management, stress reduction, improvement of skill sets and helping to achieve a balance between work and personal life.

Simmers and co-author Murugan Anandarajan of Drexel University based their book on an analysis of employees who had Internet access at work.

France builds world's tallest bridge

By Chris Bockman BBC, Millau
Tuesday, 4 November, 2003

In principle France's Tarn river shouldn't be very difficult to cross.
It is neither very wide nor very deep, but it has provided an opportunity for France to launch another costly and bold "Grande Projet".

Five-hundred workers are busy putting up the world's tallest bridge in the backyard of anti-globalisation protester Jose Bove.

It will stretch across a 2.5km wide valley on the southern edge of the Massif Central mountain range.

The highest pillar will stand at just over 340 metres (1,115ft) tall. The carriageway itself will be 245 metres off the ground.

The bridge will eventually form part of the A75 motorway linking northern Europe to the south. It is due to open early 2005. [...]

Stick a finger in your ear and answer that call

By Robert Uhlig, Technology Correspondent
06/11/2003

Making a mobile phone call could soon be as simple as clicking your fingers and putting your forefinger in your ear.

Japan's largest mobile telecoms company, NTT DoCoMo, is developing a wearable mobile phone that uses the human body to make calls. Called Finger Whisper, the device is built into a narrow strap worn on the wrist like a watch.

To answer a ringing Finger Whisper phone, or to initiate and end phone calls, the user simply touches forefinger to thumb and then puts their forefinger in their ear.

Electronics in the wristband convert sound waves into vibrations, which are carried through the bones of the hand to the ear so that the Finger Whisper user can hear the other caller.

With bones transmitting sound vibrations better than air, the sound quality is expected to surpass a conventional cellphone and should easily drown out noisy surroundings.

A microphone in the wristband replaces the cellphone's usual mouthpiece, and instead of dialling a number, the user says it out loud. Voice recognition technology turns the command into a dialled number. [...]

University project to teach seals how to talk

Lucy Ward and Donald MacLeod
The Guardian

St Andrew's University has acquired its very own Dr Dolittle, with the arrival of a Harvard academic on a mission to teach seals to talk.

Tecumseh Fitch, a specialist in language evolution, plans to recruit undergraduates to "hang out" with young seals in the hope that the seals will pick up human speech patterns.

The experiment may have echoes of Hugh Lofting's creation, but it is inspired by the bizarre but entirely genuine example of a talking seal called Hoover, who entertained visitors at an aquarium in Boston, Massachusetts, with entire phrases delivered in gravelly male tones. [...]


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