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November 13, 2003

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The Bush doctors spin another story about making Iraqis more responsible for their own country. "Here, you clean up." No mention of who or how they will be chosen, but we are confident the Yanks will find the best people money can buy.

Berlusconi, while saddened at the loss of Italian life in Iraq, obviously believes more young Italians need to make the ultimate sacrifice.

With a new Palestinian cabinet in place, talks are scheduled with Sharon. However, with ten days before they happen, this leaves the Israeli butcher with plenty of time to arrange the necessary "incidents" to prevent peace from breaking out.

New York brings in legislation to turn environment activists into "terrorists" while the good state of Massachusetts will be taking DNA samples of convicted felons.

A "freaky" storm hits California, but it is unable to wash away the stench of the recall election. And Gore Vidal has some things to say about the state of the American democracy.

Italy vows to stay course in Iraq

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said his country will not be deterred by a bomb in Iraq which claimed the lives of 18 Italians.

It remained committed, he said, to helping Iraq rebuild and form a government in "security and freedom".

But Japan has said it will postpone sending its troops to Iraq until next year because of the security situation.

At the bomb site in Nasiriya, rescuers worked through the night in the hope of finding survivors under the rubble.

Italian officials confirmed on Wednesday evening the deaths of 16 Italian military and police personnel, two Italian civilians and nine Iraqis.

A further 20 Italians and 59 Iraqis were wounded in the attack in which a suicide squad driving a petrol tanker rammed Italian police headquarters in Nasiriya, a Shia Muslim town in the south of the country.

It was the single biggest loss of life for a member of the US-led coalition since the start of the war in Iraq in March.

Bush: Iraqis to Get More Responsibility

By BARRY SCHWEID, AP Diplomatic Writer

WASHINGTON - Under the pressure of increasing U.S. deaths in battle, President Bush (news - web sites) said Thursday the United States wants Iraqis to take more responsibility for governing their troubled country and said coalition forces are determined to prevail over terrorists.

Bush said he was sending L. Paul Bremer, the top U.S. administrator in Baghdad, back to the country to work with Iraqis on developing a plan to speed up estabishment of an Iraqi government.

He said Bremer, in two days of urgent talks at the White House, said the Iraqis want to be more involved. "That's a positive development. That's what we want. We want the Iraqis to be more involved in the governance of their country."

Bremer told to move quicker to transfer power to Iraqis

Last Updated Wed, 12 Nov 2003 21:58:37

WASHINGTON - U.S. President George W. Bush has directed Iraq's civilian administrator Paul Bremer to speed the transfer of postwar authority to the Iraqi people.

Bremer ended two days of urgent consultations with Bush and his top national security advisers on Wednesday. They discussed the security situation in Iraq and how best to accelerate the transfer of power.

It's reported Bush is growing increasingly frustrated with the slow progress of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council to write a new constitution, which would set the rules for an election.

[...] Few details of Bremer's meetings have been made public. Sources say the White House is considering appointing a single interim Iraqi leader with increased authority to lead the transition efforts and establish better security conditions.

In spite of the frustration, members of the Iraqi Governing Council insist it still has the support of the United States.

"There is no doubt about that. Ambassador Bremer himself confirmed it two days ago, that the Council has achieved legitimacy - has local support as well as international support. And we don't believe the administration is about to abandon the Council," said Hamid al-Kifaey, spokesman for the Iraqi Governing Council.

Comment: "A single interim Iraqi leader..."? How about Saddam?

The Corporate Media abandons the sinking Ship-of-Fools in Washington

by Les Blough

The real story in the New York Times article about Paul Bremer's complaints about the media is not just about a political bum moaning about a great media-watchdog - as the NYT would have us believe.

Quite the contrary. Lest we forget, - this same media about which Paul Bremer bitterly complains - is the media that supported the war on Iraq until the destruction was complete. The Neocons in Zionist "think-tanks" who served as advisors to the Bush regime - engineered the war. The corporate media garnered and maintained the support of the flag-waving U.S. population for the war.

Wolfowitz Suggests "Iraqi Ruling Council" To Al Jazeera!

Khaled Al Haroub Al-Hayat 2003/11/11

These days, Wolfowitz is displeased with Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya and most of the Arab media, because they are not telling the "truth" about Iraq. Wolfowitz, who almost got killed in Baghdad, wants the Arab media to invent another Iraq, where security prevails and the occupation administration has everything under control, and where the Iraqi people are enjoying their lives, expressing only love and friendship to this administration. Wolfowitz wants Al Jazeera network, which he was furious at recently, to come up with an innovative way of shooting and broadcasting news, by removing the symptoms of fear and trembling he showed when his place of residence in Baghdad was targeted.

Bush's Middle Eastern Quagmire and Apocalypse Future

12-11-2003,09 :33
Mark Dankof for Al Bawaba

One trusts that an American electorate mesmerized by Reality TV and the NFL/NBA regular season schedules will stop long enough to contemplate the apocalyptic implications of Gordon Thomas's October 27th exclusive for the American Free Press: that George Bush's neo-conservative regime has secretly flown 100 Harpoon cruise missiles tipped with nuclear warheads to the joint American-UK military base stationed on the remote Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia. Thomas informs us that it is now known where 72 of these Harpoons have been subsequently assigned--to three Israeli Dolphin-class submarines (24 apiece) that have subsequently left Diego for the Gulf of Oman. The purpose? To target Iranian nuclear facilities well within the range of the Dolphins and their collective nuclear-tipped payload supplied by the United States. Most ominously, these instruments of mass death and destruction are under the command-and-launch decision making authority of one Ariel Sharon, whose moral, political, and military mindset is best revealed by his pivotal role in the Sabra and Shatila massacres in southern Lebanon in1982 , along with occupational policies on the West Bank and Gaza that have recently included the deliberate IDF bulldozing to death of Olympia, Washington's Rachel Corrie, an unarmed peace activist protesting Palestinian house demolitions sanctioned by the Sharon government.

It gets worse. The Thomas story has subsequently been confirmed by a senior aide to Bush National Security Advisor Condolezza Rice for both the Los Angeles Times and London's Guardian newspaper.

Japan to delay troop deployment to Iraq

Japan says conditions are not right for an immediate dispatch of troops to Iraq following the suicide bomb attack on an Italian base which killed at least 26 people.

Eighteen Italians and eight Iraqis were killed on Wednesday when suicide bombers rammed two vehicles into a police base in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah.

The Japanese law on helping rebuild Iraq, enacted in July, prohibits the government from sending troops to combat zones.

CIA warns US losing control in Iraq

By Washington correspondent John Shovelan

A leaked, top-secret CIA report has warned there is growing popular support for the insurgents in Iraq and that the US military's failure to crush the rebellion has led to a view the coalition forces in Iraq can be defeated.

The CIA has also warned that if action is not taken, US efforts at building a democracy in Iraq will fail.

The report suggests an escalation in the US military campaign against guerrillas could cause new civilian casualties and drive more Iraqis to the side of the insurgents.

The US's civilian administrator, Paul Bremer, is reported to have privately endorsed the assessment.

"We have a war on terrorism going on and a low-intensity conflict in Iraq," he said.

The analysis was only handed to senior government figures two days ago.

France promises aid for Iraq once sovereignty restored 2003-11-13 17:30:34

PARIS, Nov. 13 (Xinhuanet) -- French Foreign Minister Dominique deVillepin said Thursday that his country would offer assistance to Iraq's reconstruction once sovereignty was returned to an Iraqi government.

Former CIA agent was hung out to dry

By ERIC MARGOLIS -- Contributing Foreign Editor

The case of former Central Intelligence Agency officer Edwin P. Wilson recalls the words of the great American thinker, H.L. Mencken: "Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under."

The Wilson case has outraged me for 20 years.

In 1982 and 1983, the federal court in northern Virginia - the same hang-'em-high court the feds now use to try terrorism cases - along with courts in New York and Texas, sentenced Wilson to a total of 52 years in prison for selling arms, including 22 tons of explosives, to Libya. He was also convicted on shaky charges of attempted murder.

Wilson, now 75 years old, has served 20 years in a maximum security prison.

I always believed Wilson innocent and spoke to him many times in prison.

"I was framed by the government," Wilson told me. "They want me to disappear. I know too much."

His words shake me to this day.

"They buried him alive in prison," a former CIA official confided to me.

Last week, Houston Federal District Judge Lynn Hughes threw out Wilson's two-decades old conviction. She wrote: "Government knowingly used false evidence against him," concluding "honesty comes hard to government."

Wilson, a veteran, tough-as-nails CIA field agent who specialized in running arms and mounting coups, was one of the agency's old-time "cowboys." In 1971, Wilson officially "retired" from the CIA and went into business on his own. In reality, the CIA used Wilson for potentially explosive clandestine deals it wanted to keep "deniable."

I first heard of Wilson and his partner, Frank Terpil, while covering the war in Angola between Soviet and Cuban-backed Marxist forces and Jonas Savimbi's anti-communist UNITA guerrilla army. UNITA was secretly armed by South Africa and the U.S., but Washington did not want to be seen as an ally of the apartheid regime. So the CIA used Wilson and Terpil to channel arms to Savimbi, using CIA front firms and banks in Asia and Europe.

In the late 1970s, the CIA sent Wilson and Terpil to Libya to covertly strengthen the regime of Moammar Khadafy. Washington planned to use the fiery Libyan leader as its strongman in North Africa, just as it was using longtime CIA "asset" Anwar Sadat in Egypt.

Wilson sold Libya C-4 explosives and arms, and sent teams of ex-Green Berets to train Libyan commandos and "terminate" some of Khadafy's many enemies abroad. But while the CIA was backing Khadafy, the new Ronald Reagan administration sought to distance itself from the soft policies of the Jimmy Carter administration by denouncing Khadafy as the world's leading terrorist and a threat to America.

The CIA was ordered to overthrow Khadafy, putting the agency in a frightfully embarrassing dilemma. Bureaucratic panic erupted in Langley,Va. The Libyan operation was ordered immediately shut down and all records destroyed. As word of secret U.S. backing of Khadafy leaked out, Wilson and Terpil were cut adrift and proclaimed outlaws. They fled to the Mideast. In 1982, Wilson was lured by American agents to the Dominican Republic, kidnapped to the USA, and charged with gun-running.

During numerous trials, Wilson maintained he had been working for the CIA. But he was not allowed to cross-examine CIA witnesses for "security reasons" - shades of today's terrorism trials.

A high-ranking CIA official provided a false affidavit to U.S. Justice Department prosecutors that the agency "had no knowledge of Edwin P. Wilson."

This was a lie, a fact discovered by Wilson's tenacious lawyer, David Adler, by poring through 300,000 documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. A lie prosecutors were aware of, found Judge Hughes, who said the jury would have acquitted Wilson had the government told the truth.

In the early 1980s, an old friend, Ed G., an Iranian-born American accountant with no intelligence experience, was convinced by the CIA it was his "patriotic duty" to go to Iran and build a new agent network in Tehran to replace the one rolled up by the Khomeni revolution.

After three years of amateurish spying, Ed's cover was blown. He fled for his life. On returning to the U.S., Ed called his CIA controller and was told, "There is no one here by that name, and we have no record of you." Another disaster was simply erased by throwing agents to the wolves. Penniless, Ed was reduced to begging money from friends and finally working as a shoe salesman. Compared to Wilson, he was lucky.

It is terrifying to see government's massive weight crush an innocent man. Wilson became America's "Man in the Iron Mask." Judge Hughes called the case "double-crossing a part-time, informal government agent." She aptly used the term "framed" to qualify this disgusting legal outrage.

High Justice Department officials involved in this crime are today serving judges. They, and the retired CIA official, should be prosecuted.

The Wilson case should remind us of all the Justice Department's recent and ongoing "terrorism" prosecutions, where individuals, mostly foreign-born, poor, and uneducated, have the book thrown at them and are threatened with life terms if they do not confess to crimes. While truth is the first victim of nationalist hysteria, justice is always the second.

In spite of Judge Hughes' ruling, the U.S. government refuses to release Wilson and is now considering an appeal. For shame.

Arafat swears in new cabinet

Thursday 13 November 2003, 5:06 Makka Time, 2:06 GMT

The Palestinian president has sworn in a long-awaited cabinet in a step towards a resumption of US-backed peace talks with Israel.

[...] "We do not deny the right of the Israeli people to live in security side by side with the Palestinian people also living in their own independent state," he said.

The 74-year-old leader accused Israel of "a criminal war" of incursions and blockades to crush his people's aspirations, then switched gear and extended an olive branch.

"The time has come for us to get out of this spiral, this destructive war, that will not bring security to you or us."

But Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz, speaking later in Washington, said it would take years to reach a permanent agreement with the Palestinians.

66 percent of Palestinians support ceasefire with Israel: poll 2003-11-13 19:42:50

GAZA, Nov. 13 (Xinhuanet) -- Sixty-six percent of Palestinians support a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to end more than three years of violence, according to a poll published Thursday.

The survey showed that 67.7 percent of Palestinians favored Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei's statements about rebuilding trust between Israel and the Palestinians, 27.1 percent opposed them with 5.2 percent refusing to answer the question.

Sharon, Qurei to meet in 10 days: Israeli FM 2003-11-13 17:52:22

JERUSALEM, Nov. 13 (Xinhuanet) -- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will meet his Palestinian counterpart Ahmed Qurei in 10 days, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told Israel Army Radioon Thursday.

"The first thing that will happen is a meeting between Prime Minister Sharon and Abu Ala (Qurei). This is expected within 10 days in my opinion," Shalom was quoted as saying.

The Sharonists And Terror

Randa Takieddine 2003/11/12

The terrorist bombing that occurred in Riyadh and targeted innocent Arab and foreign civilians, including Lebanese children who were killed in their beds, is another crime that has come to confirm that the terrorist parties share common interests with the Sharonist Likud. These extremist groups that kill innocents and children under the banner of an Islam they profane, and this ever since they destroyed the World Trade Center in New York, have made one major victim, and that is the Middle East.

The September 11 attacks pushed the extremist right-wing U.S. administration to take blind action, inspired by the Pentagon's conservatives, and launch a war on Iraq and change the Middle East map.

Comment: Coincidence? We think not.

Hillside Heartbreak
Palestinian Harvest Protected by Rabbis, Attacked by Jewish Settlers

By Courtney Kealy

A I N A B B U S, West Bank, Nov. 13 — It was meant to be a fruitful day. Rabbis for Human Rights had organized police protection and a group of determined volunteers to hike up a West Bank hillside and help local Palestinians harvest their olives.

Radical Jewish settlers claim the the hilltops above the Arab village of Ain Abbus as their own. Palestinians say the settlers have resorted to both threats and violence to prevent them from picking their olives. The settlers say God has called on them to settle there.

[...] Arriving at the top of the hillside on this day, the rabbis and their group of volunteers were greeted by a shocking, unexpected scene. Hundreds of olive trees had been hacked apart. There was nothing left to pick.

All of Fawzi Houssein's trees had been destroyed. "Look at this!" he cried. "This is all my land. It's the end of the world."

Europe's changing attitude towards anti-semitism

John Munro
12-11-2003,11 :48

The screams of outrage that greeted the results of a recent survey conducted in 15 European countries indicating that59 % of the respondents believed Israel was a greater threat to peace than North Korea, Iran and the US, was predictable. Prominent among the critics was Israel’s Minister for Diaspora Affairs, Natan Scharansky, who complained that the EU would do well to stop “the demonizing of Israel before Europe deteriorates once again to dark sections of its past.” He also said that under these circumstances the EU could hardly claim to be an honest broker in the peace process. Founder of the Wiesenthal Center, Rabbi Mervin Hier went further. He declared that the poll was “an indicator that Europeans have bought in ’hook, line and sinker’ to the vilification and demonisation campaign directed against Israel and her supporters by European leaders and media.”

No doubt anticipating the barrage, the EU at first wavered over publicising the results of the poll; eventually they were leaked to the Spanish newspaper, El Pais and the International Herald Tribune. When the storm broke, the EU’s Romano Prodi, tried to smooth things over. He suggested rather lamely that the results “pointed to the continued existence of a bias that must be condemned out of hand.” Once again, we have witnessed the Jewish lobby waving the flag of anti-Semitism in the face of those who dare question Israel’s policies. It is not enough to describe their opponents as misguided or wrong. They are “enemies,” anti-Semites, people whose moral vision is distorted by bigotry and prejudice.

As one who also opposed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s ham-fisted policy, I nonetheless deeply resent being described as anti-Semitic.[...]

US attacks nuclear report on Iran

Washington has dismissed a United Nations report that finds no evidence Iran has been seeking atomic weapons.

John Bolton, the top US arms control official, said the International Atomic Energy Agency assessment was "impossible to believe".

He said Iranian efforts to acquire nuclear capabilities only made sense as part of a weapons programme.

The IAEA report leaked this week said Iran had admitted to producing high-grade plutonium, but not weapons.

[...] The tone of Mr Bolton's statement, our correspondent adds, indicates the US is prepared to take on the UN's nuclear body and state contrary conclusions.

Mr Bolton had wanted to confront Iran in the UN Security Council, while others, including the Europeans, have sought quiet diplomacy to resolve the issue.

[...] The Iranian ambassador at the IAEA, Ali Akbar Salehi, said the facts in the report made it "very difficult to refer the issue to the Security Council".

"Every logical person knows that Iran has never intended to pursue the path of weapons of mass destruction," he told the BBC's World Today programme.

He added: "We cannot convince somebody who doesn't want to be convinced."

UK refuses to extradite Iranian

Britain has rejected Argentina's request for the extradition of a former Iranian diplomat accused in the bombing of a Jewish centre.

The Home Office said there was not enough prima facie evidence for the extradition of Hade Soleimanpour to proceed at this stage.

The case has strained ties between Britain and Iran, which said it was politically motivated.

The 1994 attack on the Buenos Aires Jewish centre killed 85 people.

Lahoud sees ‘anti-Syrian Zionist lobby’ at work
American pressure ‘will not serve mideast peace’

Nafez Kawas and Khalil Fleihan
Daily Star correspondents

President Emile Lahoud said Wednesday that the ratification of the Syria Accountability and Lebanon Sovereignty Restoration Act by the US Senate the day before was a move that did not serve peace in the Middle East.
Speaking to a delegation from Luxembourg headed by Foreign Minister Lidyie Polfer, Lahoud said that the ratification was the result of “pressures exercised by the Zionist lobby against Syria in order to force it to back down from its traditional and consistent stance regarding the Arab issues.”

Global Eye -- Logical Conclusions

By Chris Floyd
Thursday, Nov. 6, 2003. Page XII

"The more successful we are on the ground, the more these killers will react," said U.S. General George Custer, in a battlefield interview during a brief lull in what he termed "a light skirmish" with Indian forces at Little Big Horn. "The more progress we make, liberating these poor people from their oppression by unelected chiefs, bringing them all the benefits of democracy, freedom and open markets, the more desperate these 'dead-enders' like Sitting Bull become. Sure, we're losing a few boys here today," said Custer, pausing to pull a arrow from the bleeding eye socket of his adjutant, "but that's necessary. It's all part of a war that's difficult and complicated."

Terrorist Tactics: A State Law Would Pin the T-Word on Animal-Rights and Eco Protesters

by Ginger Adams Otis November 12 - 18, 2003

More than fur would fly when animal rights activists and, perhaps, environmental groups mount protests in New York, under a new law proposed by an upstate legislator: Protesters would be considered "terrorists."

[...] For activists, the danger lies in how A4884 defines "terrorist" organizations, as "any association, organization, entity, coalition, or combination of two or more persons with the primary or incidental purpose of supporting any politically motivated activity through intimidation, coercion, fear, or other means." Activist groups fear that lawful dissent, such as demonstrations, letter-writing campaigns, and leafleting, might fall into any one of those categories, particularly the catchall phrase "other means." The bill also seeks to prohibit people from gathering photographic or videotaped evidence of illegal or harmful activities, effectively shutting down the camcorders and other tools used by 21st-century protesters. Additionally, the bill calls for the creation of a state-run website where people convicted of "eco-terrorism or animal-rights terrorism" would be identified with photographs and stigmatized, much as states do with child molesters.

Romney to sign DNA bill today
Measure to cover all felons in state

By Raphael Lewis, Globe Staff, 11/12/2003

All convicted felons in Massachusetts, from those who commit murder to those who steal live poultry, will be required to submit DNA samples to the State Police under a controversial bill being signed today by Governor Mitt Romney.

The legislation, which will expand the state's DNA database from 20,000 samples to nearly 100,000, has enjoyed bipartisan support on Beacon Hill and has been lauded by law enforcement authorities and the relatives of crime victims. John and Magdalen Bish, whose 16-year-old daughter was abducted from her Warren lifeguard post and murdered in June 2000, will be on hand for the signing ceremony today in Sudbury, home of the State Police crime laboratory, where the forensic data and samples are kept.

Uncensored Gore: The take-no-prisoners social critic skewers Bush, Ashcroft and the whole damn lot of us for letting despots rule.

by Marc Cooper

MARC COOPER: Your new book focuses on Washington, Adams and Jefferson, but it seems from reading closely that it was actually Ben Franklin who turned out to be the most prescient regarding the future of the republic.

GORE VIDAL: Franklin understood the American people better than the other three. Washington and Jefferson were nobles — slaveholders and plantation owners. Alexander Hamilton married into a rich and powerful family and joined the upper classes. Benjamin Franklin was pure middle class. In fact, he may have invented it for Americans. Franklin saw danger everywhere. They all did. Not one of them liked the Constitution. James Madison, known as the father of it, was full of complaints about the power of the presidency. But they were in a hurry to get the country going. Hence the great speech, which I quote at length in the book, that Franklin, old and dying, had someone read for him. He said, I am in favor of this Constitution, as flawed as it is, because we need good government and we need it fast. And this, properly enacted, will give us, for a space of years, such government.

But then, Franklin said, it will fail, as all such constitutions have in the past, because of the essential corruption of the people. He pointed his finger at all the American people. And when the people become so corrupt, he said, we will find it is not a republic that they want but rather despotism — the only form of government suitable for such a people.

But Jefferson had the most radical view, didn’t he? He argued that the Constitution should be seen only as a transitional document.

Oh yeah. Jefferson said that once a generation we must have another Constitutional Convention and revise all that isn’t working. Like taking a car in to get the carburetor checked. He said you cannot expect a man to wear a boy’s jacket. It must be revised, because the Earth belongs to the living. He was the first that I know who ever said that. And to each generation is the right to change every law they wish. Or even the form of government. You know, bring in the Dalai Lama if you want! Jefferson didn’t care.

Jefferson was the only pure democrat among the founders, and he thought the only way his idea of democracy could be achieved would be to give the people a chance to change the laws. Madison was very eloquent in his answer to Jefferson. He said you cannot [have] any government of any weight if you think it is only going to last a year.

This was the quarrel between Madison and Jefferson. And it would probably still be going on if there were at least one statesman around who said we have to start changing this damn thing.[...]

Hating Bush? Or just the horse he rode in on?

by Mark Gisleson

[...] The only real constant is this: whenever the state pushes religion, it's a sure bet that money is flowing from the poor to the rich. That's why religion is important. If you didn't think you were getting yours in the afterlife (where the rich burn in hell for all eternity), you wouldn't put up with this crap on earth.

Commander-in-chief blasted on Rockford air waves

Friday, November 07, 2003
David Hale, Rockford correspondent

ROCKFORD -- An Illinois National Guardsman at home on leave blasted the President today on a Rockford area radio show, saying the President lied about his reasons for American military going to Iraq.

Vajpayee and Putin Take a Swipe at U.S.

By Mara Bellaby
The Associated Press

Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and President Vladimir Putin exchanging documents at a signing ceremony Wednesday.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday signed a wide-ranging declaration on international problems that made apparent swipes at U.S. policy.

The statement, signed during a second day of talks between the leaders, said that "no one country or group of countries should appropriate for itself a monopoly on the right to control the fate of the world through 'humanitarian' or other interventions."

The language echoed Russia's longtime foreign policy aim of creating a "multipolar world" to balance what the Kremlin regards as the United States' penchant for unilateral actions. India has been a supporter of that policy.

The statement also called for "a consistent and uncompromised approach to terrorism, eradicating the practice of exchange and improving economic and technological cooperation."

Penguins for President?

As we swing into the thick of the 2004 electoral playoffs, it's interesting to see what kinds of platforms are running under the candidates' official campaign Web sites. Netcraft has a handy feature called "What's that site running?" that lets us see combinations of Web servers and OS platforms. So here's a quick rundown, in alphabetical order:

* George W. Bush: Microsoft IIS on Windows 2000

* Wesley Clark: Apache on Linux

* Howard Dean: Apache on FreeBSD

* John Edwards: Microsoft IIS "behind a computer running NetWare"

* Richard Gephardt: Microsoft IIS on Windows 2000

* John Kerry: Apache on Linux

* Dennis Kucinich Apache on Linux

* Carol Mosely-Braun: Apache on FreeBSD

* Al Sharpton: Apache on Solaris 8

* Joe Lieberman: Apache on FreeBSD

For what it's worth, the Republican National Committee is running Microsoft IIS on Windows 2000, while the Democratic National Committee is running Apache on Linux.

As of this writing, November 5, 2003, the RNC has an uptime of 4.26 days (maximum of 39.04) and a 90-day moving average of 16.91. The DNC has an uptime of 445.02 days (also the maximum) and a 90-day moving average of 395.38 days.

Draw your own conclusions.

Top French oil executives jailed

Wednesday 12 November 2003, 20:01 Makka Time, 17:01 GMT

Three top former executives of French oil giant Elf have been sentenced to jail and ordered to pay huge fines in the biggest corporate graft scandal in French history.

After a marathon inquiry and trial peppered with tales of sleaze, political graft and high living, the Paris Criminal Court sentenced ex-Elf chairman Loik Le Floch-Prigent and his deputy Alfred Sirven to five years jail each.

China embarks on US buying spree

China is opening its market to US planes and cars in a move which could ease growing trade tensions.

Beijing has signed $1.7bn in aircraft and engine deals for 30 Boeing 737s with General Electric engines.

At the same time, pacts with the Big Three US carmakers will allow thousands more US-made vehicles into the fast-growing Chinese auto market.

The US has criticised China for an under-valued currency and a swelling trade surplus.

Gold hits 7-year high; Dow rises 110 points

Last Updated Wed, 12 Nov 2003 20:01:00

TORONTO - The Canadian dollar briefly poked its head above the 77-cent US level Wednesday and gold prices hit new seven-year highs as the U.S. dollar buckled in international currency markets.

European trade war gives Bush jitters

Wednesday 12 November 2003, 6:34 Makka Time, 3:34 GMT

Combat-weary US President George Bush looks as though he's running scared of a trade war with Europe.

Under pressure from many of his top advisers to lift tariffs on steel imports, Bush is also looking to avoid a confrontation with Europe, Republican sources and analysts said on Tuesday.

The European Union has threatened to retaliate by mid-December on a range of US products including Florida oranges and Carolina textiles if the duties are not lifted.

[...] Bush could face a backlash whatever the decision. If he bows to pressure from the European Union to lift the tariffs, he stands to lose support in next year's presidential election in the pivotal steel-producing states of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Keeping them in place would hurt small and medium-sized Midwestern manufacturers in states like Illinois and Michigan - another important constituency - and clear the way for the EU to retaliate against exports from key states.

Some members of Bush's own Republican party, including Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, have urged him to back down.

They say it would be inconsistent for the United States to flout the WTO's decision while pushing forward with a series of free trade negotiations around the world and chiding China to meet its WTO obligations.

Comment: This is not new. The US has long practiced a policy of free trade for American investments while placing tariffs on foreign goods imported into the USA. Ask Canada about tariffs on soft-wood lumber.

Germany and France return to growth

By Tony Major in Frankfurt
Published: November 13 2003 10:16 | Last Updated: November 13 2003 10:16

Signs of a modest upturn in the eurozone's economic fortunes strengthened on Thursday when the region's two heavy weight economies, Germany and France, returned to growth.

Germany, the eurozone's largest economy, shook off recession in the third quarter, expanding by 0.2 per cent in the three months, the first growth since the same period of last year.

France, the eurozone's second biggest economy, rebounded strongly in the third quarter, reporting growth of 0.4 per cent after contracting by 0.3 per cent in the previous quarter

US presidential contender boosted by endorsement of two major unions 2003-11-13 12:35:02

WASHINGTON, Nov. 12 (Xinhuanet) -- Former Vermont governor Howard Dean, one of the nine Democratic presidential contenders, got a strong boost for his campaign Wednesday when two major unions formally announced their endorsements for him.

The heads of the 1.6 million-member Service Employees International Union and the 1.4 million-member American Federationof State, County and Municipal Employees announced their decisionat a joint news conference with Dean.

Tokyo Stocks End Higher, U.S. Dollar Down Against Japanese Yen

One Sniper Murder Case May Go to Jury Thursday

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (Reuters) - The murder trial of sniper suspect John Muhammad, accused of being behind a series of deadly shootings that gripped the Washington, D.C., area last year, could go to the jury Thursday, even as opening statements were expected in the trial of his teen-age companion.

Wildfires could worsen with global warming

Wednesday, November 12, 2003 Posted: 7:52 AM EST (1252 GMT)

LAKE ARROWHEAD, California (AP) -- Drought- and beetle-ravaged trees in this mountain community stick up like matchsticks in the San Bernardino National Forest, bypassed by the fires still smoldering, but left like kindling for the next big blaze.

Welcome to the future.

Fires that charred nearly three-quarters of a million acres could presage increasingly severe fire danger as global warming weakens more forests through disease and drought, experts warn.

Freakish storm hits Southern California

Thursday, November 13, 2003 Posted: 7:00 AM EST (1200 GMT)

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- A freak storm pummeled parts of Southern California with up to five inches of rain and hail, forcing motorists to abandon swamped cars at the height of rush hour and leaving thousands of residents without power.

Lightning lit up the region as fast-flowing water turned some streets to rivers Wednesday night. Water swept trash and other debris to the doorsteps of homes and stores.

"It was just unbelievable," said National Weather Service meteorologist Curt Kaplan. He said five inches of rain was recorded in just two hours in southern Los Angeles, nearing the previous record for the area of 5.9 inches -- "but that was in an entire day." Skies mostly cleared overnight.

[...] The Los Angeles County Fire Department responded to blazes caused by lightning strikes and rescued people trapped in elevators that lost power, said fire Capt. Mark Savage.

"It's been freaky," he said.

Huge Storm Brings Argentina Damage, Death

November 12, 2003

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -Thunderstorms swept across Argentina on Wednesday, causing widespread damage and at least 12 deaths from accidents, falling trees and electrocutions.

Hundreds of people were evacuated from flooded areas after the storms unleashed heavy rain, hail and high winds across a wide swath of central Argentina.[...]

More hurricanes predicted for Atlantic Canada

Broadcast News
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Environment Canada's senior climatologist says Hurricane Juan should serve as a wake-up call for Atlantic Canada.

David Phillips says higher sea temperatures will make hurricanes more commonplace in the region in coming years.

[...] Phillips says it's too early to tell if the extreme weather in Canada this year can be attributed to global warming.

But he says even the slightest rise in average temperature or sea level can have devastating effects.

Houses toppled in China earthquake

An earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale has rattled northwest China's Gansu province, injuring at least eight people and toppling houses.

French report damning of Spanish action over Prestige disaster

PARIS (AFP) Nov 12, 2003

An official French report on the disastrous break-up of the oil tanker Prestige off the coast of Spain a year ago has severly criticised the Spanish authorities, saying their actions during the crisis made matters worse rather than better.

[...] The Spanish government prevented emergency crews from going aboard the stricken tanker to try to prevent the disaster until they agreed in writing to tow it out to sea, "whereas good sense should have told them to bring it into the port of La Coruna," according to the report.

The EU last month adopted rules banning single-hull tankers carrying heavy fuel oil from EU ports.

The ban brings the EU in line with the United States, which restricted single-hull tankers carrying heavy-grade fuel from its waters three years after the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska.

But despite the European legislation, nothing can in principle prevent an old tanker passing through the English Channel between Britain and France, as long as it does not dock.

Protests fail to spark as nuclear waste reaches German dump

GORLEBEN, Germany (AFP) Nov 12, 2003

Highly radioactive nuclear waste arrived Wednesday at a German storage dump safely but marginally behind schedule after a vocal but dwindling band of protestors failed to halt the convoy.

A massive security operation involving up to 13,000 police paid off as the low-loaders carrying the 12 containers of waste rumbled without incident into the facility at Gorleben, northern Germany, before dawn.

Germany opens first power plant using the earth's warmth

NEUSTADT-GLEWE, Germany (AFP) Nov 12, 2003

Germany's first geo-thermic power plant started operations Wednesday, using warmth from deep inside the earth's core to produce electricity.

The plant at Neustadt-Glewe in northeast Germany taps into water from 2000 metres (6600 feet)) underground, where its temperature reaches 97 degrees Celsius (206 degrees Fahrenheit).

The energy produced by the high temperature is converted into steam, which in turn drives a turbine on the surface to produce electricity.

Chinese couple kills 12 women


Nov 12: Police say a couple robbed and killed 12 women in southern China over a five-month period, preying on job seekers in the boomtown of Shenzhen, state media reported.

Wife wins payout for husband's death from overwork

Mainichi Shimbun, Japan
Nov. 13, 2003

KOBE -- A local labor inspection office has recognized the death of a Kyoto company employee as the result of overwork and decided to grant his bereaved family work accident compensation.

"The victim worked overtime exceeding 200 hours over a two-month period up to his death. His death was caused by his excessive labor that lasted over a long period of time," the Kobe Labor Standards Inspection Office said as it handed down the decision.

Scandal prompts calls for British monarchy to change


LONDON: Unspecified allegations surrounding king-in-waiting Prince Charles have sparked a national debate on the future of the British monarchy, with even supporters conceding the royal family needs to change.

“The royal family, it must surely be clear, is in serious trouble. Every upset leaves it weaker and Prince Charles more depressed,” commentator Stephen Glover wrote in the Daily Mail whose sister Sunday paper triggered the latest crisis.

“The policy of no change to the monarchy is therefore a policy of certain death... Adapt or die,” he added.

Double Leonid shower threatens satellites

The first of two Leonid meteor showers in 2003 is set to peak on November 13th and 14th. Dozens of Leonids per hour are expected over Alaska, Hawaii, Japan, and parts of China. A further peak over the Atlantic side of North America is due on November 19th. The annual Leonid shower poses a threat to satellites and therefore telecoms systems, amongst other satellite dependant business functions.

Get free weekly news by e-mailBill Cooke of the Space Environments Group at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center explains: "Normally there's just one Leonid meteor shower each year, but this year we're going to have two: one on Nov. 13th and another on Nov. 19th."

"Both are caused by comet Tempel-Tuttle, which swings through the inner solar system every 33 years. With each visit the comet leaves behind a trail of dusty debris - the stuff of meteor showers. Lots of the comet's old dusty trails litter the mid-November part of Earth's orbit.”

Not-Yet-Turned-On Star is Forming Jupiter-like Planet

November 12, 2003
University of Arizona

University of Arizona astronomers have used a new technique called nulling interferometry to probe a dust disk around a young nearby star for the first time. They not only confirmed that the young star does have a protoplanetary disk -- the stuff from which solar systems are born -- but discovered a gap in the disk, which is strong evidence of a forming planet.

Less water than expected on moon

Thursday November 13, 2003
The Guardian

If there is water on the moon, there's probably much less than some have forecast, say planetary scientists who have just completed a radar survey of the lunar poles. Permanently shadowed regions of the satellite lack the telltale signature of thick ice deposits, they report in this week's Nature.

Climate Linked to Extinction of Alaskan Horses

Wed Nov 12, 1:05 PM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - Climate change, rather than hunting, may have triggered the extinction of Alaska's native horses about 12,500 years ago, researchers said on Wednesday.

The cause of the disappearance of about 70 percent of North American large mammals, including all horse species, has been hotly debated by scientists.

Some think hunting contributed to their disappearance but R. Dale Guthrie, of the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, said climate change and a shift in vegetation from grasslands to tundra was probably to blame.

"Horses underwent a rapid decline in body size before extinction and I propose that the size decline and subsequent regional extinction...are best attributed to a coincident climate/vegetation shift," he said in a report in the science journal Nature.

Comment: Because official science rejects cataclysms as a recurring force in earth history, we get these vague concepts such as "coincident climate/vegetation shift". That would explain why freeze-dried mammals have been found with food in their mouths and undigested food in their bellies. A gradual "coincident climate/vegetation shift" caught up with them....

Will global warming trigger a new ice age?

Thursday November 13, 2003
The Guardian

If climate change disrupts ocean currents, things could get very chilly round here, reports Bill McGuire

If you can remember back to the bitter winters of the late 1970s and early 80s you might also recall that there was much discussion in scientific circles at the time about whether or not the freezing winter conditions were a portent of a new ice age.

Over the past couple of decades such warnings have been drowned out by the great global warming debate and by consideration of how society might cope in future with a sweltering planet rather than an icebound one. Seemingly, the fact that we are still within an interglacial period, during which the ice has largely retreated to its polar fastnesses, has been forgotten - and replaced with the commonly-held view that one good thing you can say about global warming is that it will at least stave off the return of the glaciers.

Is this really true, or could the rapidly accelerating warming that we are experiencing actually hasten the onset of a new ice age?

Parents charged after girl chained to bed dies in fire

Wednesday, November 12, 2003 Posted: 9:44 PM EST (0244 GMT)

(CNN) -- A couple was charged with manslaughter Wednesday in Clarksville, Arkansas, after their 10-year-old daughter died in a fire in their house. The girl was unable to escape because she was chained to her bed, authorities said.

U.N. Sanctions Against Taliban and Al-Qaida Need "more Teeth," Official Says

By Edith M. Lederer Associated Press Writer
Published: Nov 13, 2003

U.N. sanctions against the al-Qaida terror network and Afghanistan's ousted Taliban regime are often circumvented and need more teeth," the chairman of the committee overseeing sanctions said.

Comment : UN sanctions on Iraq lead to deaths of 500,000 children

China police smash major child trafficking ring

A major child trafficking ring has reportedly been uncovered in southern China.

Police in China's southern province of Guangdong say it is the biggest child trafficking ring ever uncovered in the area.


By Lorraine Fisher

COMPACT discs could be history within five years after scientists made a fingertip-sized replacement.

Experts say the paper-thin memory tab is faster and easier to use than a CD. And it can store more than a gigabyte of information - equivalent to 1,000 high quality images or around 12 hours of music - in just one cubic centimetre.

Comment: LP's, cassettes, CDs, and now this. Remember the mini-CD? The 8-track? How many ways can they find to separate a consumer from his money...

Three Arrested in IBM Bribes Bust

Associated Press
04:47 PM Nov. 12, 2003 PT

Trouble's brewing for Big Blue as three South Korean military and company officials are arrested on charges of accepting bribes from a South Korean affiliate of the computer giant.

Police: Woman Has Hair Done After Killing Husband

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A woman poisoned her husband and put his body in the garage while she went about getting her hair done and handing out Halloween candy, police alleged on Tuesday.

Keep in mind...

E-Vote Software Leaked Online

05:00 PM Oct. 29, 2003 PT

For the second time this year, software used in an electronic voting system has turned up on the Internet.



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