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December 4, 2003

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Lies are the trademark of the US government, its military and institutions, if you cannot see this, you are either blind or are suffering from a severe case of wishful thinking.

To make the point, on yesterday's Signs page we made this comment:

"The concept that most people find so difficult to even entertain is that their "leaders" could or would ever lie to them. It seems that their whole comfortable world view depends entirely on the morality of their elected officials. Perhaps at some level they are aware of how vulnerable they are, of just how much free will they have all given up, and the idea that they might have given it up to a psychopath that would snuff out their lives without thinking twice if the need arose, secretly terrifies them. As such they have no choice but to argue to the last that "they wouldn't do that", regardless of the clear and mounting evidence that they would and have done "that" and are planning to do it again very soon."

And a reader responded:

"This is one of the most concise, poetic statements regarding the global state of cognitive dissonance that I've read so far. Great work team, keep it up."

In other news today: Wolfowitz is set to meet with the authors of the Geneva peace deal, while Israel admits to dragging its feet on the removal of Jewish settlements. The Israeli pilots who spoke out against army terrorism, and for their troubles were denounced as traitors, tell the world that they are pilots, and "not a mafia."

More testimony of Iraqi POWs who were apparently abused and tortured for no reason. The Guantanamo defense team has been fired, because they dared speak out against how trials are to be conducted. The new hires are still grumbling. It is just a matter of time before the same tactics are used on US citizens, since not many "patriots" are standing up for the rights of others. It appears that these may be the times where all of humanity's souls are tested. Choices are being made now that will determine the future.

Part of a 1996 anti-terror law is overturned. Not that it will matter much with John Ashcroft and the Patriot Act I and II... Bush has made sure Israel knows that there are "three red lines" it cannot cross in dealing with the Palestinians, yet these have already been crossed by Israel numerous times.

A US official warns five countries that they are on the "We know you have WMD's, but we have absolutely no proof" list. The national missile defense system marches forward. The US started the nuclear arms race, and now plans to use their own WMD to finish it. We have a mad man at the trigger.

Exploding black holes rain down on earth, a rampaging bear in Moscow kills two, African elephants flourish, crop circle research revelations, a host of new archaeological finds, more "mystery" booms, more scientists speak out about global warming.

"If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival."

Geneva architects to meet Wolfowitz

Thursday 04 December 2003, 10:21 Makka Time, 7:21 GMT

The co-authors of a symbolic Palestinian-Israeli peace accord are scheduled to meet US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz in Washington, a move likely to deepen a spat between the United States and its ally Israel.

Uri Zaki, a spokesman for former Israeli justice minister Yossi Beilin, one of the pact's authors, confirmed on Wednesday the scheduled meetings to include Beilin and former Palestinian information minister Yasir Abd Rabbu.

The meeting with Wolfowitz, one of Bush administration's staunchest advocates of Israel, would likely raise tensions between Washington and Israel's right-wing government, already angry over a meeting planned for the same day between the co-authors and US Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Israel has rebuked Washington for the Powell meeting, but the prime minister's office declined immediate comment on the session with Wolfowitz.

Comment: If Wolfie is going to a meeting, then he has something up his sleeve. We doubt this means that there is a split between Washington and Israel. Wolfie has the same vision as his buddy Sharon. He is going either to sow discord and try to set the two sides one against the other, or give lip service to the plan to appear as a "peacemaker" and then sink it at a later date.

Bush warns Israel to tread carefully

By Justin Huggler in Jerusalem
04 December 2003

The United States has privately told Israel ofthree "red lines" it must not cross in its dealing with the Palestinians and the wider Middle East, according to the Israeli press.

According to the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, the three red lines are: not to harm the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat; not to "shock the region"; and not to create "facts on the ground" that could jeopardise the Palestinian state promised in the US-backed "road-map" for peace.

If the reports are true, much less is being asked of Israel than in June, when the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, and his then Palestinian counterpart, Abu Mazen, agreed to the road-map.

But Israel has either crossed or come close to crossing all three red lines in recent months. In September, after a series of suicide bombings by Palestinian militants, the Israeli cabinet decided to expel Mr Arafat, only to back away from the decision. In October, Israel risked destabilising the region when it carried out an air strike on a disused Palestinian militant base in Syria.

Mr Sharon's government continues to establish new facts on the ground that could prejudice a Palestinian state. Despite US opposition, it is continuing to build a "separation fence" in the West Bank instead of along the internationally recognised Green Line border. Mr Sharon's government is also building hundreds of homes in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The "road-map" calls for a halt to settlement expansion.

In Jerusalem yesterday protesters tried to stop bulldozers working on a new Jewish settlement in Arab East Jerusalem. Palestinians want East Jerusalem, which was occupied by Israel in 1967, to be capital of a Palestinian state. Israel claims it has annexed occupied East Jerusalem, and that new Jewish "neighbourhoods" are not settlements. But that is not recognised internationally, and a US official said yesterday that the new construction was "settlement activity" and "inconsistent with the road-map".

Comment: This is purely for the newspapers. It has been a common tactic of the US administration to speak "sternly" to Israel in an attempt to distance itself from the Israel's brutal acts towards Palestinians, for which the US is nonetheless 100% responsible. The lies and hypocrisy are simply nauseating.

'We're air force pilots, not mafia. We don't take revenge'

Israel's F-16 and Black Hawk refuseniks say why they could not obey illegal orders and kill innocent Palestinians

Chris McGreal in Tel Aviv
The Guardian

For two months, a rebel group of Israeli Black Hawk helicopter and F-16 fighter pilots has been denounced as traitors for saying they will no longer bomb Palestinian cities.

Until now they have maintained a resolute silence on their motives, preferring to limit their criticism of Ariel Sharon's war to a letter signed by 27 reserve and active duty pilots refusing to carry out what they described as illegal orders, and denouncing the occupation as eating at the moral fabric of Israel.

Now, having been thrown out of the air force, they are talking publicly about what brought members of the most revered branch of the Israeli military to make an unprecedented challenge to the handling of the conflict with the Palestinians.

"I served more than seven years as a pilot," said Captain Alon R, who, like all the younger pilots, hopes to return to combat flying and so declines to use his full name in order to retain his security clearance. "In the beginning, we were pilots who believed our country would do all it could to achieve peace. We believed in the purity of our arms and that we did all we could to prevent unnecessary loss of life.

"Somewhere in the last few years it became harder and harder to believe that is the case."

The line was crossed for most of the pilots with the dropping of the one-tonne bomb last year on the home of a Hamas military leader, Salah Shehade, killing him and 14 of his family, mostly children.

One captain described the bombing as deliberate killing, murder even. Another called it state terrorism, though some colleagues swiftly stomped on that interpretation. But they all agreed that the attack sowed the doubts that resulted a year later in the letter that sent shockwaves through the Israeli military.

"The Shehade incident was a red light for us, a final warning," said Capt Alon R. "With Shehade I began to re-evaluate my beliefs. We killed 14 innocent people, nine of them children. After my commander gave an interview in which he said he sleeps well at night and his men can do the same. Well, I can't. We refused to see it as an innocent mistake."

Capt Assaf L, who served as a pilot for 15 years until sacked for signing the letter, had similar doubts.

"You don't have to be a genius to know that the destruction from a one-tonne bomb is massive, so someone up there made a decision to drop it knowing it would destroy buildings," he said. "Someone took the decision to kill innocent people. This is us being terrorists. This is vengeance."

Lieutenant-Colonel Avner Raanan is among the most respected pilots to have signed the letter. He served for 27 years and was awarded one of Israel's highest military decorations in 1994. "If you look at the past three years, you see that, if we had a suicide bombing, the Israeli air force made a big operation in which civilians were killed, and that looks to innocent eyes like revenge," he said.

"You hear it in the streets of Israel; people want revenge. But we should not behave like that. We are not a mafia."

More than 30 pilots have now endorsed the letter refusing to fly bombing raids on Palestinian cities, although four retracted, one an El Al pilot threatened with dismissal, and another a reserve pilot who lost his civilian job.

At its core, the letter questions the legality of the "targeted assassinations" that have claimed the lives of more civilian bystanders than their Hamas, Islamic Jihad and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade targets. In October, 14 civilians were killed when the air force fired missiles at a car in Gaza's Nuseirat refugee camp.

"Is it legitimate to take F-15's and helicopters designed to destroy enemy tanks, and use them against cars and houses in one of the most heavily populated places in the world?" Capt Alon R asked.

"Because of the terrorism, we have become blinded by the blood on our own faces. We cannot see that on the other side, beside the terrorists, is a whole nation of innocent people. It's important that we recognise that, and that, as military people, we say that."

The pilots' stand shook Israeli society. There is no shortage of critics of the prime minister's militarist tactics but those of the peace camp are widely viewed as pacifists and marginal. Doubts raised by the army chief of staff, Moshe Ya'alon, and four former heads of the Shin Bet intelligence service alarmed many Israelis, but the criticisms were focused solely on whether Mr Sharon's tactics were fuelling terrorism.

The pilots straddle both issues, raising moral and legal questions on the conduct of the war and challenging the government's claim its strategy is about defending Israel.

"Our government's policy is to maintain fear in the public," Capt Assaf L said. "We're not weak. It's not 1967 or 1973, with the Syrian army on the border waiting to attack us. This is maintaining a war to maintain the occupation.

"We've the strongest nation in the Middle East. The terrorists are bastards, but we must fight to not become terrorists ourselves."

Many who poured scorn on the pilots accused them of wading into politics for going beyond questions about the legality of their orders and challenging the occupation. "We cannot separate the two," Capt Jonathon S said. "We are not pacifists. We don't think we should sit back and let suicide bombers attack us. But all this is a direct result of our being in the [occupied] territories.

"Our fight to keep the settlements and suppress the Palestinian people is killing us. It is killing our right to live safely in the country of Israel. A very small group of radical Israelis is leading the sane majority to catastrophe."

Col Raanan scoffs at the accusation that the pilots have denigrated their uniforms by wading into political issues.

"The air force commander spoke in favour of the [Jewish] settlements while sitting in uniform next to Sharon at a Likud party convention," he said. "That is political. This country has a defence minister who, as army chief of staff, was the most political ever. It is hypocritical to say lower ranking officers cannot express an opinion. What they mean is, we can be political so long as we agree with the government. Well that's not democracy."

The pilots say they have received more than 500 letters of support, including one from a Holocaust survivor, and numerous calls from fellow pilots. Several leftwing former cabinet ministers praised the pilots' stand, saying it proved the armed forces were moral.

Concern in the air force prompted its commander, Major-General Dan Halutz, to meet groups of pilots to tell them that "targeted assassinations" were not a war crime. [...]

Israel admits slowdown in settlement removal

Thursday 04 December 2003

An Israeli defence official has admitted that the army has slowed down the pace of dismantling Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli Deputy Defence Minister Zeev Boim made the acknowledgement on Thursday in an interview with public radio.

Boim said dismantling settlements, illegal under international law, had been made “difficult” because the Palestinian Authority had not cracked down on resistance groups.

The defence official claimed that the Israeli army had dismantled 43 settlements in a year, saying two of them were removed on Wednesday.

But these consisted of removing an empty storage house and the abandoned carcass of a bus, according to Israeli military radio.

Comment: See below.

Israel Approves Construction Of More Homes At Settlements

By John Ward Anderson
Washington Post Foreign Service
December 3, 2003

JERUSALEM -- The government of Israel has approved the construction of more than 1,720 new houses in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip this year, according to critics of the settlements who say they undercut a U.S.-backed peace plan that mandates a freeze on settlement expansion.

The planned building is in addition to at least 1,000 homes and other infrastructure projects under construction in the West Bank, which Israel is also encircling with a massive fence complex, according to groups and officials that monitor settlement activity.

Two weeks ago, Israeli soldiers began expanding the boundary of Beitar Ilit, a community of more than 20,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews about five miles southwest of Jerusalem. Beitar Ilit is one of the fastest-growing settlements in the West Bank; it added 2,900 residents last year.

Last week, Deputy Defense Minister Zeev Boim announced that several unauthorized settlement outposts -- many of them just a trailer on a remote hilltop between existing settlements -- would soon be categorized as legitimate settlements.

"I've never seen settlement expansion at such a rate, ever," said Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian political analyst, who claimed that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is pushing ahead with settlements while the peace process drags on. "He's stealing time to impose his own facts on the ground by practically annexing more than half the West Bank" with the fence project, Barghouti added, "and imposing ghettoization on Palestinian villages that will mean the destruction of a two-state solution."

The Jewish settlers acknowledge their goal is to add more housing. "Our target is to grow and expand as much as possible," said Yehoshua Mor-Yosef, a spokesman for the Yesha Council, the settlement umbrella organization. [...]

Comment: Take note. ALL of the settlements in the Gaza strip or the West bank and the incursions into these by the IDF are ILLEGAL according to international law and the Geneva convention. Are Palestinians not within their rights to fight back? Would YOU fight back? Would YOU feel oppressed or victimised? Yet the US continues to funnel billions of US taxpayers money each year into perpetuating the illegal actions of Israel. The US is aiding and abetting what amounts to Israeli crimes against humanity and US taxpayers, for the most part, are financing it.

Ayoon wa Azan (Islamic Resistance Unenthusiastic About Second Ceasefire)

Jihad Al Khazen Al-Hayat 2003/12/3

I learned that Hamas is not enthusiastic about a new ceasefire, nor is the Islamic Jihad. The Islamic resistance is saying that while George Bush is facing a crisis, and Ariel Sharon is facing one too, the resistance is facing distress. And at such a time of acute suffering, the leaders of the Islamic resistance believe that their options are greater than those of the Americans and Israelis.

The American president wishes to calm the situation down until after the elections, because of the occupation's tribulations in Iraq. And without promising anything, he is saying "come back in 2005." As for Sharon, he is under security and economic pressures, not to mention the peace initiatives that are being presented by the opposition, highlighting his own lack of suggestions for a settlement with the Palestinians.

Hamas politburo head Khaled Mishaal told me that the Egyptians suggested for Palestinian leaders to examine the political program and the required action in Cairo, and to contribute in the decision-making. And while talk about a ceasefire is expected, Hamas has no anticipated decision on this matter, but is counting on contributing to the dialogue's success.

As for the leader of the Islamic Jihad, Dr. Ramadan Shalah, he reminded me of the previous ceasefire that was destroyed by Sharon, and told me that I had heard Mahmoud Abbas saying that the brothers (he meant Hamas and the Jihad) have "milked well," but that the Sharon government had committed daily violations until the truce completely collapsed after 59 days.

Today, the Islamic resistance no longer trusts Sharon's promises and intentions, and is no longer willing to help him get out of the critical position he has put himself in. His policy is in fact stirring the objections and rebellion of generals, soldiers and former security officials, and Israelis feel that the opposition is trying to find a solution, while Sharon is still being obstinate about a military solution that will never succeed. In the beginning of 2003, chief of staff Yaalon said that this year would be the year of military decisiveness; but the year is over without any resolution, and without any security for Israel.

Hamas and the Islamic Jihad say they are not considering ceasefire at this time, since a ceasefire would be a first step towards implementing the Roadmap, which the Islamic Resistance opposes, just as it opposes the Beilin treaty. I heard members of the Islamic resistance complain how the Geneva convention does not mention a Palestinian sovereignty; instead, it plays around with the status of the settlements, talks about the Israeli military presence at the Jordan river, and about the checkpoints when necessary, and that this treaty gives the Jews rights over the Haram As-Sharif, which is something the Islamic groups can never accept.

[...] The resistance did not exclude suicide operations as part of the armed resistance, even though I have repeatedly implored them, and still do, to stop such operations. They replied that when they ceased all military operations as it was mandated by the first ceasefire, Sharon responded with assassinations, invasions and daily violations that forced the resistance to retaliate.

[...] Nevertheless, I would like to conclude with something I heard from members of the resistance: it is that the Bush administration knows where Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar and Saddam Hussein are, and that it is planning on killing one of them a few weeks before the U.S presidential elections, which are scheduled for the first Tuesday of November 2004. According to them, it is planning on having a massive media coverage of this event, in a bid to enable Bush to win his second term.

Police arrest 11, including 2 Israelis, for human organ trafficking

06:52 AM EST Dec 04

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) - Police in northeastern Brazil have arrested two Israelis and nine Brazilians suspected of participation in an international human organ trafficking racket stretching from South America to South Africa.

The group, allegedly led by the Israelis, is believed to have scoured the cities of Pernambuco state over the past year searching for candidates willing to sell their kidneys, authorities said.

"In all, they managed to talk 30 men into selling one of their kidneys," Wilson Damazio, head of the local Federal Police office, said from his office in the state capital of Recife, 2,150 kilometres northeast of Sao Paulo. "Each one received between $6,000 and $10,000 (US)."

Damazio said an investigation was being conducted to determine the extent of the trafficking.

"Those that passed a thorough medical checkup were sent to Durban, South Africa where their kidney was extracted," Damazio said. "After a brief recovery period they were flown back to Brazil."

The case also was being investigated in South Africa, where two other Israelis were arrested in Durban, said a spokeswoman for police there, Mary Martins-Engelbrecht.

The Israelis arrested in Durban were identified as Agania Robel, 42, who allegedly received a kidney, and Meir Shushan, 50, who allegedly acted as a middleman.

US grilled over Samarra claims

Wednesday 03 December 2003

US officials on Wednesday were badgered by the media about their claim that 54 fighters were killed in clashes in the Iraqi town of Samarra.

"We have no reason to believe that these were inaccurate figures," said the occupation forces' deputy director of operations Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, in response to repeated questions from journalists about the reported death toll.

"We stand by these numbers that were reported by the soldiers involved," he said at a news conference in Baghdad.

Growing doubts have been expressed about the figures in the light of the insistence of the town's hospital that it received just eight bodies, including a child and at least one elderly Iranian woman who were clearly not fighters.

Raised eyebrows

At an earlier briefing on Monday, Kimmitt had suggested that the fighters’ corpses must have been carried away by their comrades.

But his theory raised eyebrows as he also reported 22 fighters were wounded and one captured in what he described as "coordinated" attacks on three separate convoys.

Lieutenant Colonel Ryan Gonsalves, who commands the 166th Armoured Battalion in Samarra, which was involved in Sunday's clashes had only explicitly referred to two groups of 30 ambushers each and another four attackers in a car.

That raised questions about how such a small number of mainly injured survivors carried off so many bodies.

Comment: So there you have it, "Truth Justice and the American way". Of the 60 "Iraqi insurgents" 54 were killed according to the US military, their bodies "carried away" by the remaining six, yet 22 of the killed were also wounded and one was captured, alive supposedly, after first being killed. In the words of Mark Kimmitt, Brigadier-General, Deputy director of operations of the US forces: "It is important to understand that many of these questions will never be answered" - Perhaps he should have said that at the start rather than concocting an elaborate and unfeasible lie to cover the truth that they simply killed 8 civilians.

A soldier allegedly involved in the Samarra firefight had this to say, taken from the Soldiers for the Truth website:

"Hack, most of the casualties were civilians, not insurgents or criminals as being reported. During the ambushes the tanks, brads and armored HUMVEES hosed down houses, buildings, and cars while using reflexive fire against the attackers. One of the precepts of "Iron Hammer" is to use an Iron Fist when dealing with the insurgents. As the division spokesman is telling the press, we are responding with overwhelming firepower and are taking the fight to the enemy. The response to these well coordinated ambushes was as a one would expect. The convoy continued to move, shooting at ANY target that appeared to be a threat. RPG fire from a house, the tank destroys the house with main gun fire and hoses the area down with 7.62 and 50cal MG fire. Rifle fire from an alley, the brads fire up the alley and fire up the surrounding buildings with 7.62mm and 25mm HE rounds. This was actually a rolling firefight through the entire town.

As one would expect from using our overwhelming firepower, much of Samarra is fairly well shot up. The tanks and brads rolled over parked cars and fired up buildings where we believed the enemy was. This must be expected considering the field of vision is limited in an armored vehicle and while the crews are protected, they also will use recon by fire to suppress the enemy. Not all the people in this town were hostile, but we did see many people firing from rooftops or alleys that looked like average civilians, not the Feddayeen reported in the press. I even saw Iraqi people throwing stones at us, I told my soldiers to hold their fire unless they could indentfy a real weapon, but I still can't understand why somebody would throw a stone at a tank, in the middle of a firefight.

Since we did not stick around to find out, I am very concerned in the coming days we will find we killed many civilians as well as Iraqi irregular fighters. I would feel great if all the people we killed were all enemy guerrillas, but I can't say that. We are probably turning many Iraqi against us and I am afraid instead of climbing out of the hole, we are digging ourselves in deeper."

Are we to assume that the US military command really does not know what it is doing? Or do we assume that this is a deliberate tactic designed to incite the Iraqi people to take up arms and embroil the country in further war death and destruction...

Massacre in Samarra: US lies and self-delusion

David Walsh

The US military’s initial account of Sunday’s firefight in the central Iraqi city of Samarra, uncritically relayed to the American people by a servile media, has proven to be a tissue of lies. It turns out that the “major victory” over the Iraqi resistance consisted of American forces blasting away indiscriminately in Samarra’s city center, killing innocent men, women and children, damaging property and buildings—including a mosque and a kindergarten—and further enraging the local population.

The Samarra incident in its various aspects—the battle itself, the military’s claims, the media’s role—is a microcosm of the US occupation of Iraq.

American military spokesmen first declared that US forces had defeated a “massive attack,” inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy. The Pentagon claimed that 46 Iraqi guerrillas had been killed, and later increased that figure to 54.

The US media passed on the “good news,” repeating the military’s assertion that dozens of Iraqi fighters had been slain. As Editor & Publisher Online noted December 2: “Neither the New York Times, New York Post, the Boston Globe, USA Today, the Washington Post, or Knight Ridder included any civilian witnesses or Iraqi hospital accounts in their initial reports Monday. Many flatly reported the death tally and account of the battle without noting this was ‘according to military officials.’ The Times topped its front page with the declarative headline: ‘46 Iraqis Die in Fierce Fight Between Rebels and GIs,’ and this was common treatment.”

Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post predictably ran the most depraved headline: “GIs Blow Away 46 Saddam Fanatics.”

The story, however, evaporated almost as soon as it was told. On-the-scene reporting by journalists made clear that the claim of dozens of guerrilla fatalities was absurd, an invention of the US military command in Iraq. Local residents told reporters that eight to ten people had been killed—most, if not all of them, civilians.

On Tuesday, the military’s version of events continued to unravel, as even major US media outlets acknowledged widespread doubts about a major American military triumph and provided certain information about civilian casualties.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Vivienne Walt reported from Samarra’s hospital: “In a mix of rage and grief, residents lashed out at the brigade’s soldiers, accusing them of firing randomly into crowded market areas in the center of the city, killing civilians, including two Iranians believed to be pilgrims visiting a Shiite mosque in town. ‘All the people in town today are asking for revenge,’ said Majid Fadel al-Samarai, 50, an emergency-room worker at the Samarra General Hospital. ‘They want to kill the Americans like they killed our civilians. Give me a gun, and I will also fight.’

Residents also charged that American soldiers showed little regard for the safety of civilians during the gun battle. ‘I saw a man running across the street to get his small son, who was stuck in the middle,’ said Abdul Satar, 47, who owns a bakery a block from one of the two banks to which the convoys had driven.‘So the Americans shot the man,’ he said.”

Similar reports and comments from Samarra residents appeared in other major newspapers and even on US television. The New York Times cited the comments of a 52-year-old ambulance driver at the city’s morgue, Adnan Sahib Dafar, who pointed to a dead woman and demanded, “Is this woman shooting a rocket-propelled grenade?... Is she fighting?” The Times also quoted a shopkeeper, Satar Nasiaf, 47, who had watched two Iraqi civilians die at the hands of US troops, “If I had a gun, I would have attacked the Americans myself.... The Americans were shooting in every direction.”

New York Newsday correspondent Mohammed Bazzi commented: “Some witnesses said US forces began firing at random after they were attacked. ‘They just started shooting in all directions,’ said Akil al-Janabi, 43, who said his brother was wounded in the crossfire. ‘They have no regard for civilians. We were not the ones attacking them, but now we want revenge for our dead and injured.” [...]

The Samarra battle is a small foretaste of the disaster the Bush administration is preparing for the Iraqi people, the American population and the population of the entire world.

Comment: In response to the Samarra incident Rumsfeld stated:

"the continuing insurgency was being conducted by "a limited number of people who are determined to kill innocent men, women and children.” According to Rumsfeld, they are "being rounded up, captured, killed, wounded and interrogated."

We wonder if Rumsfeld means in that order? It would certainly fit with the US forces' general MO of shooting first and asking questions later.

Testimony of an Iraqi Minor Detained and Mistreated by US Forces

The following statement was recorded by CPT members Le Anne Clausen and David Milne in a neighborhood heavily affected by US house raids in Baghdad. The family has asked that the 16 year old youth who gave the testimony not be identified because his relatives are still detained.

"At 2:30am, US troops came to our house, and ordered our entire family outside. They ransacked the house searching for something, but they didn't tell us what they wanted. They broke the locks to our cabinet [a large storage chest and display case along one wall of the front room] and threw the contents onto the floor, even though our father gave them the cabinet key so they wouldn't have to do this. They took our money and a gold wedding necklace belonging to my mother. My father, cousin, older brother, and I were tied and taken away. We were not told why we were being taken."

"We were taken to the soldiers' military base at a palace within this district and kept in a small dark room. We were tied at our wrists with plastic ties behind our backs the entire night. In the morning, we were put out into the sunlight, as a type of punishment. The soldiers were verbally abusive towards us. We asked for shade, but the soldiers refused. We were squatting in the sun all day. [Temperatures at the time were 110-120F]. When I was taken, I was only wearing my underwear because I was sleeping. I was embarrassed. These were my only clothes during the time I was in custody."

"The first day, our hands were still tied behind our back with the plastic ties. Because of this, we were unable to drink any water. We explained this to the soldiers, and they refused to re-tie us so we could drink. We asked if just one of us could be re-tied with his hands in front of him so that he could help the rest of us to drink. The soldiers refused. The soldiers re-tied us with the plastic ties in front of us on the next day."

"The water they gave us for drinking was also kept out in the sun with us. This way it was too hot to drink. Another day I asked a soldier for water, because I hadn't had anything to drink for the entire day in the sun. He beat me on my back and chest, while another soldier kicked me in the back. Both were verbally abusive towards me during the beating."

"I was forced once to drink a strange kind of juice. I didn't like it, so I said, no, thank you. The soldiers then put the bottle in my mouth and forced me to swallow all of it."

"We were treated like animals. The soldiers would grab us by the head and shove us in the direction they wanted us to move. When we were beaten, I couldn't distinguish when it was from a baton and when it was with fists. We were forced to squat much of the time."

"One night my 18-year-old brother and I were kept in an open-air passageway, but we didn't know how large it was because we were blindfolded. We heard a tank approaching us. It was so close, the ground was shaking beneath us. The sound was deafening. We were screaming to each other and the guards, we were sure we would be run over and executed. Then the tank passed."

[The son asked his mother to leave the room so he can tell the CPTers something privately].

"My brother asked for some water. The guard gagged him and began beating him around his mouth until blood started flowing from his mouth. My brother screamed in pain. We also screamed in protest, and to encourage him to scream so they would stop this abuse. We were then beaten also, for advising him to scream. We were beaten in the neck, back, and behind." [The boy demonstrated how and where he was beaten. He indicated that his buttocks were held apart and he was kicked in the anus]. "It is because of this beating that my father is now suffering from a heart condition."

"I was released wearing only my underwear and forced to walk back to my home in broad daylight. I was humiliated. Also, everyone thought from my dress that I had been caught stealing. I was also badly sunburned from my time in detention without shade."

"The officers told me upon my release, Don't tell anyone about what happened here, or we'll come pick you up again. I was released at 3pm, and told to come back at 4pm to care for the other detainees - if they wanted clothes or food, I was to get these things for them. I protested, saying, 'This is not my duty.' A woman soldier screamed at me, 'Shut up! Shut up!' I left, and didn't return until the next day. At that time, the soldiers refused to let me into the base. I returned home."

"I am in shock now from this treatment, and I can never forget it until I die. When I got out, I behaved as though I was crazy, like I was lost."

The boys mother told the CPT workers, "When my son first came home, he was abnormal. We couldn't control him, he was completely changed. He has nightmares every night, and wakes up shaking and screaming."

A friend of the family, who was present during CPT's interview with the family, is a local human rights activist and attended a human rights conference organized by the Coalition Provisional Authority one month earlier. He said he raised this case with the sponsoring officials. The CPA sponsoring officials warned him not to discuss cases like these when the conference was over. The officials did not give any reason for their order.

The mother said, "The US has a hypocritical policy. They speak all the time about human rights, but they don't believe in it themselves. Since this happened, I am lost now. I don't know what I can do."

The family feels that the detentions were arbitrary. No soldier has returned to their home to tell them why they have been arrested or what they were searching for on the night the soldiers broke into their home. No receipts were issued for the money and jewelry confiscated and it is unlikely they will ever get these back, or receive compensation for the broken furniture. The family was only able to get information about their relatives' locations through lists provided by Christian Peacemaker Teams working with the mosque in their district. The three detained relatives still remain incarcerated at various prison camps throughout Iraq.

As White House Changes Story, British Airways Refutes Bush Story of Pilot Sighting

December 3, 2003

In his trip to Baghdad, President Bush said he would have immediately turned around had his cover been blown. In trying to play up the secrecy and dangerous nature of the trip, Bush's aides said that a British Airways pilot spotted the president's plane, radioing, "Did I just see Air Force One?" The White House said Air Force One responded: "Gulfstream 5" - a code word to disguise the plane - and the British Airways pilot "seemed to sense he was in on a secret and replied 'Oh.'"

But now it appears the story was a complete fabrication, designed only to hype the story. According to Reuters, "British Airways said yesterday that none of its pilots made contact with President Bush's plane during its secret flight to Baghdad on Thanksgiving, contradicting White House reports of a midair exchange that nearly prompted Bush to call off his trip."

Making things worse, the White House revised its story after revelations of the distortion. The White House now says "it had left the wrong impression" and that actually the conversation took place between Air Force One and the airport tower in London. But again, British Airways refuted this tale, with a spokesman for the company telling media "that none of its pilots has come forward to acknowledge either making or overhearing the purported conversation."

Comment: Lies are to the tongues of White House spokespeople what water is to a duck's (or fake turkey's) back.

In Iraq Picture, Bush Is Holding the Centerpiece

The Bird Was Perfect But Not For Dinner

By Mike Allen
Washington Post

President Bush's Baghdad turkey was for looking, not for eating.

In the most widely published image from his Thanksgiving day trip to Baghdad, the beaming president is wearing an Army workout jacket and surrounded by soldiers as he cradles a huge platter laden with a golden-brown turkey.

The bird is so perfect it looks as if it came from a food magazine, with bunches of grapes and other trimmings completing a Norman Rockwell image that evokes bounty and security in one of the most dangerous parts of the world.

But as a small sign of the many ways the White House maximized the impact of the 21/2-hour stop at the Baghdad airport, administration officials said yesterday that Bush picked up a decoration, not a serving plate. [...]

Comment: Yet another planned publicity stunt by Rove, the master deceiver. The press was full of the usual stories of polls proving that it worked.

Powell Sends Russia Warning About Georgia

December 3, 2003

MAASTRICHT, Netherlands, Dec. 2 -- The United States issued an indirect warning to Russia on Tuesday not to back Georgia's breakaway regions and exploit instability in the former Soviet republic after last month's bloodless change of government.

Georgia, which has three restive regions, plans to hold presidential elections Jan. 4 to replace Eduard Shevardnadze, who was toppled during mass protests last month triggered by allegations of fraud in parliamentary elections.

"The international community should do everything possible to support Georgia's territorial integrity throughout and beyond the election process," Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

"No support should be given to breakaway elements seeking to weaken Georgia's territorial integrity," he told OSCE members gathered for the meeting in Maastricht.

Officials in Tbilisi, Georgia's capital, were angered last week when Russian officials met leaders from South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which broke free of Georgian control more than a decade ago and want to join Russia -- and from Adzharia, which has not stated a desire for secession but is hostile to Georgia's interim rulers.

Later Tuesday, Powell flew to Tunisia, where he met with President Zine Abidine Ben Ali and urged the government to pursue political reforms. It was the first stop on a rapid swing through North Africa aimed in part at promoting democracy in a region marred by human rights abuses.

Comment: And just what is the US going to do if Russia decides to push ahead with their talks with Georgia's leaders? Call Russia an "axis of evil"?

Washington warns five countries over weapons of mass destruction
December 3, 2003

(Washington) -- A high-ranking U S official has directly warned five countries that pursuit of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) will bring "adverse consequences" including seizures of illicit materials.

"Rogue states such as Iran, North Korea, Syria, Libya and Cuba, whose pursuit of weapons of mass destruction makes them hostile to US interests, will learn that their covert programmes will not escape either detection or consequences," said John Bolton, US undersecretary of state for arms control and international security yesterday. [...]

Military practices a mock tribunal

By Rowan Scarborough
December 3, 2003

The U.S. military has held a dress rehearsal of planned tribunals for al Qaeda and Taliban combatants, complete with a defendant who acted up and had to be restrained and ejected.

The mock trial was conducted in early November at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the Pentagon is holding 660 "enemy combatants" captured during the conflict in Afghanistan. A building near the detention center has been converted into a courthouse for the expected trials. [...]

Despite the selection of detainees and the dress rehearsal, sources say the first trial is months away.

First foreign Guantanamo detainee gets lawyer

By Virginia Marsh in Sydney
December 4 2003 9:39

David Hicks, one of two Australians being held at Guantanamo Bay, became the first foreigner at the US detention camp in Cuba to be allocated a US lawyer.

The Pentagon said late on Wednesday that Mr Hicks would be represented by Major Michael Mori, a military lawyer, if he was sent to trial.

The move followed an intense diplomatic campaign by Canberra. Last week, the Australian government said it had reached an agreement with the US and was satisfied Mr Hicks would get a fair trial and that he would not face the death penalty. The Bush administration also agreed to allow civilian lawyers to act as advisers to prisoners.

But it still remains unclear whether Mr Hicks and other prisoners will indeed face trial. The Pentagon claims that Paul Wolfowitz, the US deputy defense secretary, will soon come to a final decision.

US fires Guantanamo defence team

James Meek
The Guardian

A team of military lawyers recruited to defend alleged terrorists held by the US at Guantanamo Bay was dismissed by the Pentagon after some of its members rebelled against the unfair way the trials have been designed, the Guardian has learned.

And some members of the new legal defence team remain deeply unhappy with the trials - known as "military commissions" - believing them to be slanted towards the prosecution and an affront to modern US military justice. [...]

Part of 1996 Anti-Terror Law Overturned

By DAVID KRAVETS, Associated Press Writer
December 4, 2003

SAN FRANCISCO - In a potential blow to the Bush administration's legal strategy in the war on terror, a federal appeals court overturned part of a sweeping law the government has increasingly used to arrest or prosecute suspected terrorists.

The decision Wednesday by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals involves a 1996 terrorism law that outlaws financial assistance or "material support" to organizations classified as terrorist by the State Department.

The San Francisco-based appeals court struck down part of the law, ruling that it is unconstitutional to punish people — sometimes with life in prison — for providing "training" or "personnel" to a terror group. [...]

The ruling also requires the government to prove that defendants knew their activities, such as donating money to outlawed groups, were actually contributing to acts of terror.

"According to the government's interpretation... a woman who buys cookies from a bake sale outside of her grocery store to support displaced Kurdish refugees to find new homes could be held liable," Judge Harry Pregerson wrote in the 2-1 decision. [...]

High-profile Toronto lawyer dropping national security cases

Last Updated Thu, 04 Dec 2003 5:47:34

TORONTO - A Toronto lawyer will announce Thursday he is resigning from all national security cases because of a death threat.

Rocco Galati has been representing 20-year-old Abdurahman Khadr, a Canadian man recently released from a U.S. military holding centre in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He had been held on suspicion of terrorist links.

A day after Monday's news conference with Khadr, Galati says he discovered a message on his phone answering machine. The speaker threatened to kill him, said Galati.

"It's a frightening call. It's not the run-of-the-mill, usual sort of ranting and raving sort of lunatic hate call that you might expect or usually get," said Galati. "It's obviously a direct cold or professional call."

Galati says he believes the call originated from a U.S. intelligence agency and is a serious message to back off national security cases. He didn't offer any further explanation.

Fischer warns of constitution power struggle

By Bertrand Benoit in Berlin
Published: December 3 2003 20:35 | Last Updated: December 3 2003 20:35

Joschka Fischer, Germany's foreign minister, has warned Poland and Spain that they risk splitting the European Union unless they back down in the power struggle over the new EU constitution.

Mr Fischer warned that the constitution, due to be finalised next week, would be a failure unless member states agreed a new voting system, giving big countries such as Germany more power.

Mr Fischer believes the "double majority" voting system, opposed by smaller countries such as Spain and Poland, is vital to stop the EU decision-making process from seizing up.

He warned that if other member states tried to slow down the process of EU integration, "avant garde" countries such as France and Germany would press ahead regardless.

Comment: Now let's see. Poland and Spain are two of Bush's strongest allies in Iraq, a war shunned by France and Germany. Hmmmm.

Australia to join U.S. missile defence plan

Thu, 04 Dec 2003 6:13:19

CANBERRA - Australia will join Washington's missile defence program, its Foreign Minister announced Thursday.

The proposed missile defence plan would consist of land-based weapons and sophisticated radar systems to intercept ballistic missiles from rogue states.

"We believe that taking part in the U.S. program will serve our strategic interest, help us defend Australia and allow us to make an important contribution to global and regional security," said Alexander Downer in a statement.

First person charged in Australia under new anti-terror laws

A 20-year-old Muslim man has appeared in a Sydney court accused of preparing a terrorist attack, the first charges filed under Australia's new counter-terrorism legislation.

Zak Mallah was arrested late Wednesday during a raid on his suburban Sydney home, where police said they seized several items, including a video recording which will be used as evidence against him. [...]

No further details of the charges against Mallah were revealed and prosecutor Gabrielle Drennan said the brief against him would not be ready until later in the month.

Mallah lived in Condell Park in Sydney's southwest, an area with a large Muslim population that has been a target of counter-terror investigations in recent months. [...]

The article recounted Mallah's reaction to learning in May 2002 that the foreign ministry had rejected his application for a passport so he could marry his fiancee in Lebanon on the grounds he "could prejudice the security of Australia or a foreign country". [...]

Northrop Grumman chosen for missile defense contract

WASHINGTON (AFP) Dec 04, 2003

Northrop Grumman Corporation has won a 4.5-billion-dollar contract to develop and test a key component of a future US national missile defense system, as the administration of President George W. Bush prepares to begin deploying parts of the system next year, the Defense Department announced Wednesday. [...]

Hateful words a war crime

By Betsy Pisik
December 4, 2003

NEW YORK — With a trio of guilty verdicts yesterday, the U.N. tribunal for Rwanda has established that men armed only with words can commit genocide.

Three Rwandan media executives were convicted by the international tribunal of committing and inciting genocide, war crimes and persecution in a case that will set a precedent for the new International Criminal Court.

Their weapons: the government-sponsored radio station known as "Radio Machete" and "Hate Radio" and a weekly newspaper whose agenda was the extermination of the country's Tutsi majority.

The "media trials" marked the first time since Nuremburg that hate speech has been prosecuted as a war crime. It has been one of the most closely watched cases before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), seated in the northern Tanzanian city of Arusha. [...]

More than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered in a three-month killing spree carried out by thousands of Rwandans against their neighbors. The seeds of the genocide, prosecutors say, were sown by news outlets like Kangura and Radio Machete.

Human rights advocates praised the verdict, even as some legal and media analysts warned that repressive regimes could use the verdict for their own purposes. [...]

Saudi prince killed in ambush

December 02, 2003

A Saudi prince was ambushed and killed by suspected Islamic extremists while hunting gazelles in the Algerian desert, newspaper reports say.

The reports said the prince, identified as Talal ben Abdelaziz Arrashid, was shot and killed during the night of Thursday to Friday in a confrontation in which nine people were killed and several injured.

He was described as a wealthy businessman and the editor of the Saudi illustrated magazine Fawasel.

The Algerian newspapers said he was part of a group of several Saudis accompanied by Algerian security forces that had been hunting rare desert species such as gazelles and great bustards for several weeks.

The hunters' convoy of four-wheel drive vehicles was ambushed in the Djelfa region, 250km south of Algiers, the reports said. Three Saudis and four Algerians were taken hostage and later rescued unharmed about 40km away in an operation by security forces, the daily El Khabar said.

Officials neither confirmed nor denied the reports.

Le Soir d'Algerie said the Saudi government sent a special aircraft to Algiers on Friday to take back the prince's body.

The newspapers said the attack was probably carried out by members of the largest Islamic extremist movement in Algeria, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), which in September claimed its allegiance to al-Qaeda.

Comment: Case solved, it was Mossad or the CIA

Chinese military ready for "necessary" casualties over Taiwan

Dec 3, 2003

Senior Chinese military officers warned Taiwan it was staring into the abyss of war and the mainland was ready for "necessary" casualties if the island pursued its independence drive.

The comments in the state-run Outlook Weekly magazine, carried by the Xinhua news agency and major websites, followed Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian's plan to hold a referendum on the island's future.

Two People's Liberation Army (PLA) officers quoted by the magazine said Chen would be held responsible if war breaks out and said separatists "will be treated the same way war criminals are dealt with elsewhere in the world".

"Chen has touched on the mainland's bottomline on the Taiwan question," said Luo Yuan, a senior colonel with the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences.

"He is actually playing with fire. It is very dangerous -- and immoral as well -- for Chen and his predecessor Lee Teng-hui to take the restraints and tolerance of the mainland as signs of weakness.

"If they refuse to come to their senses and continue to use referenda as an excuse to seek Taiwan independence, they will push Taiwan compatriots into the abyss of war," he said.

Premier Wen Jiabao has indicated China was willing to "pay any price" to deter Taiwan independence, and these prices were outlined by Major General Peng Guangqian, also with the Academy.

They include boycotts of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, decreasing foreign investment, worsening foreign relations, economic recession, and "necessary" casualties of the PLA, he said in the magazine.

"All these prices are bearable when compared with the Taiwan issue, which is of the highest interest for the Chinese nation," he said.

"If Taiwan separatists want to gamble on it (by pushing for independence), they will pay a heavy price and be defeated with shame. We will definitely intervene."

Chen, from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, said at the weekend that China's deployment of 496 ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan had prompted him to push for a vote to safeguard the country's sovereignty.

He argued a referendum law passed last week by parliament allowed him to stage a "defensive" vote on "issues of national security concern" in the event of a foreign threat.

China, which regards Taiwan as part of Chinese territory awaiting reunification, has repeatedly threatened to attack the island should it declare formal independence.

Outside View: On-Star online to U.S. gov.

By Bob Barr
A UPI Outside View commentary

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Every time my wife urges me to look into getting OnStar, the digital, computerized communications device installed in many newer-model General Motors vehicles, I have resisted. [...]

Even though the federal court decision -- rendered by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers several western states, including California -- concluded that the FBI could no longer surreptitiously listen in via computerized communications systems like OnStar, it did so only for a tangential reason and therefore left the door wide open for continued invasions of privacy.

This tends to get a bit technical, but let me see if I can describe it accurately in a way that makes sense to us non-techno-geeks.

The manner in which the FBI has been worming its way into individual vehicles equipped with one of these "emergency" communications systems requires them to temporarily disable the particular system in the "target vehicle." The targeted vehicle therefore cannot send an outgoing "emergency" signal while the eavesdroppers are "dropping in."

Let's assume John or Jane Doe is proudly tooling around New York City in their late-model Cadillac equipped with OnStar. Unbeknownst to them, an FBI snoop believes they are discussing matters of gravest national security interest during their jaunt. The agent has therefore directed the Bureau's computer to reverse-engineer OnStar so it becomes a listening device instead of a transmitting device.

Unfortunately, if during the time the FBI is thus listening in, John or Jane suffers a real emergency, their expensive computer communications device cannot send out a distress signal.

This scenario is what the federal court seized on as the basis for slapping the FBI's hand. The customer has paid for an emergency communications device, and because the FBI snooping renders it potentially incapable of providing that service, the FBI has improperly disrupted a service the customer has paid for. This it cannot do, sayeth the Court.

Of course, what the Court should have focused on is the gross and unconstitutional invasion of privacy represented by this new manner of electronic snooping. Instead the Court essentially told the government, go back to the engineering room, and if you can come up with a way to use OnStar to listen in to what's going on inside private vehicles without hampering the other, legitimate functions of the system, then boys, go right ahead with our blessing.

The implications of this opinion are not exactly reassuring.

What's even more frightening, however, is that this latest peek into the sub rosa world of high-tech government snooping is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. For the past 10 years, the government has used a little-known provision of the federal law, known as the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act, to browbeat the telecommunications industry into spending billions of dollars to make its technology eavesdrop-friendly, requiring technology advances to include built-in ways for the government to use that technology to listen in to whoever is using it.

The government's efforts to thus enhance its ability to listen in to our conversations have moved into high gear in the aftermath of 9/11.

Cell phones already will be required to have tracking devices installed therein, for the convenience of government employees who wish to track us and listen in on our cell phone conversations. Now we find out that automobile emergency communications systems can serve as one-way, secret phone lines directly to the FBI. We've all heard the stories that our home phones and computers serve the same purpose. As more information emerges such as the one concerning the OnStar court decision, it's getting harder and harder to dismiss these stories as "black helicopter" fantasies. [...]

Internet royalty case lands in Supreme Court

Wed, 03 Dec 2003 23:02:54

OTTAWA - A landmark copyright case opened Wednesday in the Supreme Court of Canada - and at the core is the well-known practice of international royalty payments.

Every time a radio or television station plays a song or video musicians, composers and artists are paid a royalty. It is a system that has protected copyright for years. In Canada alone, $160 million worth of royalties are collected each year.

But the problem isn't TV and radio - it's the internet, where music and videos are downloaded for free. No royalties are paid for the millions of songs, and there is no copyright protection.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court of Canada began hearing arguments over whether Internet Service Providers (ISPs), both here and abroad, should start paying tariffs for Canadian music downloaded by the public.

Queen acknowledges Acadian deportation

Wed, 03 Dec 2003 21:52:58

MONCTON - The Queen is acknowledging the wrongs caused by the deportation of Acadians from the Maritimes nearly two and a half centuries ago.

In what was likely its final meeting, the federal cabinet endorsed the proclamation earlier this week, said Euclide Chiasson, head of the Societe Nationale des Acadiens.

After decades of asking for an apology from the British Crown, the society wrote to Queen Elizabeth several months ago looking for an acknowledgement of what happened.

Beginning in 1755 and ending about eight years later, Acadians were forced to leave what would later become Atlantic Canada. Some went to France, but most were scattered throughout the Americas.


Who are they?
Acadians are the original French people who settled Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and P.E.I. In 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht made them British subjects.

What was the Grand Dérangement?
At the beginning of the French and Indian War (1754), the British government demanded that Acadians take an oath of allegiance to the Crown. Most of them refused.

British Governor Charles Lawrence retaliated by deporting the Acadians from the area and dispersing them among the 13 colonies. Many colonies refused to take refugees and deported the Acadians back to Europe. This was referred to as the Grand Dérangement (or Great Expulsion) of 1755.

The Acadians were allowed to return to Nova Scotia in 1764. Most of today's Acadians live in New Brunswick, P.E.I. and Nova Scotia with some in parts of Maine and Quebec. Some deported Acadians settled in Louisiana, where their Cajun descendents have become a major cultural influence.

Protests against seismic tests off Cape Breton

Thu, 04 Dec 2003 4:43:36

HALIFAX - Some environmental groups are trying to stop a company in Nova Scotia from conducting seismic tests in the Atlantic Ocean.

Corridor Resources of Halifax is an oil and gas exploration company. It has permission from the Offshore Petroleum Board to begin six days of undersea testing over 500 kilometres, starting as early as Dec. 4.

Storms ease in southern France

Associated Press
09:12 Thursday 4th December 2003

Forecasters have predicted better weather as southern France reels from storms that killed five people, forced thousands to evacuate their homes and crippled transport.

Just eight regions, down from 19 at the height of the flooding on Tuesday, were covered by storm warnings early today from the national weather service.

It forecast a "clear improvement in meteorological conditions" for later in the day. [...]

France on war footing ready for 'flood of the century'

By Philip Delves Broughton in Paris
The Telegraph

France was warned yesterday that it faced the "flood of the century" as thousands of people abandoned their homes. The rising waters also forced the shutdown of nuclear reactors and closed roads and railways.

Flooding along the Rhone River from Lyons to Marseilles was due to reach its peak yesterday, as winds of up to 90mph were forecast to strike the Mediterranean coast.

Several towns along the river and its tributaries were evacuated and schools closed. When the Rhone reaches a depth of 5.5 metres, it triggers an alert. It is now at 6.42 metres,its highest recorded level.

Christian Fremont, the prefect of the Bouches-du-Rhone department, said the authorities were on a "war footing" and braced for a long crisis. [...]

Canadian environmentalist Maurice Strong wins U.S. science medal

Wed, 03 Dec 2003 21:53:59

WASHINGTON - Canadian businessman and UN adviser Maurice Strong has become the first non-American winner of a U.S. National Academy medal awarded to people who use science to improve public welfare.

Strong won the award because he displays international leadership on environmental concerns by linking scientific and technological resources, said academy spokeswoman Barbara Rice.

The medal has been issued since 1914.

Strong, a long-time confidant and adviser to incoming prime minister Paul Martin, first hired Martin as an executive assistant when Strong ran Montreal's Power Corp.

Strong has also headed Petro-Canada and Ontario Hydro.

The Manitoba-born environmentalist organized the first UN Earth Summit in Stockholm in 1972 and the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

Canadian Maurice Strong 1st non-American to win academy of sciences medal

06:52 AM EST Dec 04

WASHINGTON (CP) - Canadian environmental guru Maurice Strong, a primary force behind the Kyoto Protocol to curb global warming, has won a prestigious U.S. award.

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences announced Wednesday that Strong, 74, will receive this year's Public Welfare Medal awarded annually since 1914 to people who best use science to advance public welfare.

Comment: It is interesting how many international "philanthropists" and "do-gooders" like Strong with extremely shady backgronds are presented with international awards, take the Nobel Peace prize winner and mass murderer Kissinger for example.

U.S experts convinced on global warming

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - There can be no doubt that global warming is real and is being caused by people, two top U.S. government climate experts say.

Industrial emissions are a leading cause, they say -- contradicting critics, already in the minority, who argue that climate change could be caused by mostly natural forces. [...]

"The likely result is more frequent heat waves, droughts, extreme precipitation events, and related impacts, e.g., wildfires, heat stress, vegetation changes, and sea-level rise," they added in a commentary to be published in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

Karl and Trenberth estimate that, between 1990 and 2100, there is a 90 percent probability that average global temperatures will rise by between 3.1 and 8.9 degrees Fahrenheit (1.7 and 4.9 degrees Celsius) because of human influences on climate.

Such dramatic warming will further melt already crumbling glaciers, inundating coastal areas. Many other groups have already shown that ice in Greenland, the Arctic and Antarctica is melting quickly.

Karl and Trenberth noted that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have risen by 31 percent since preindustrial times. [...]

Huge storm leaves trail of damage in Melbourne

By Jamie Berry, Andrea Petrie
December 4, 2003

A once-in-a-lifetime storm that hit Melbourne early yesterday has left a multimillion-dollar trail of devastation, with hundreds of homes, shops, schools and other properties sustaining serious flood damage.

Large areas of the city's north and east were under water after a spectacular electrical storm dumped more than 100 millimetres of rain - almost twice the entire December average - in just two hours.

Emergency services were overwhelmed with calls for help from people who woke in the middle of the night to find their homes awash and from motorists left stranded by floodwaters blocking major roads and freeways.

Among the worst-hit areas were Coburg, Northcote, Fitzroy and Fairfield in the city's inner north, and Doncaster in the east, where 107 millimetres of rain was recorded.

"In terms of the amount of rain that fell in a very short period of time, it's a one-in-a-100-year type of event," the Bureau of Meteorology's Jon Gill said. "For some people it's certainly the worst they are likely to experience in their lifetime."

Ski industry not snowed under in years to come, predicts report

Environmental Data Interactive Exchange

With cheap flights to top ski destinations readily available, having a week on the slopes is a trend now common for winter vacationers across the world. Shame then, that one of the biggest contributors to climate change, aviation, could be shooting itself in the ski-clad foot, as hotter temperatures mean less snow, and the winter sports industry is likely to be hit hard by developing weather patterns, according to a UNEP report out this week.

The report predicts that a warmer climate could in the future present between 37-56% of ski destinations with such low levels of snow that places such as the Swiss resorts of Wildhaus and Unterwasser, will have acute difficulties in attracting tourists. [...]

Environment Agency issues drought warning

England and Wales could face water shortages and drought in 2004 unless there is much higher than the winter average rainfall, the Environment Agency has warned.

Despite the recent rain, England and Wales has experienced one of the driest periods on record - the second driest since 1921 - putting water supplies under immense pressure and draining existing reserves. The Agency estimates that it will take another four weeks of persistent rainfall for river flows and groundwater levels to begin a sustained recovery. [...]

Cape Town faces earthquake threat

Cape Town on Thursday marked the anniversary of the last major earthquake that shook the city, in 1809, as authorities warned it should prepare for a repeat.

"Earthquakes are rare but a very real threat for Cape Town," the city's disaster management services said in a statement issued for the occasion. [...]

Consumers' Association changes course on GM labelling

Last Updated Wed, 03 Dec 2003 16:52:25

CALGARY - The Consumers' Association of Canada says Canadians want mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods and that it will ask the federal government to introduce legislation making labelling of genetically modified foods mandatory.

The association says a new poll conducted by Decima Research in October found that 91 per cent of Canadians want food labels to reflect whether the prodct contains genetically modified organisms.

[...] "It all sounds so wonderfully simple, 'oh, let's label everything.' But most people believe that genetically modified products are in the fruit and vegetable aisle. They're not. They're not single-ingredient products. Most of them are showing up in your cereals, your flours, your cake mixes, your pancake mixes?So labelling is not simple," then CAC vice-president Jenny Hilliard told Marketplace.

Chicago High School To Require All Students Get Drug Tested

By Bob Roberts
WBBM Newsradio 780
Wednesday, December 03, 2003, 5:21 p.m.

(Chicago) -- Beginning next fall, St. Patrick's High School, on the northwest side, will become the first in Illinois to require drug tests of ALL its students.

A number of public schools require students who participate in extra-curricular activities to undergo drug testing, but are barred by Supreme Court ruling from extending such tests to all students. Principal Joseph Schmidt said he considers the all-boys school, at 5900 W. Belmont Av., the "catalyst" in Illinois for universal testing. [...]

U.S. Exporting 'Tools of Torture,' Charges Amnesty

Jim Lobe
OneWorld US

WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec 3 (OneWorld) - The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush ( news -web sites ) is violating the spirit of its own export policy by approving the sale of tools to countries known to use them to torture detainees, according to new report released here Tuesday by Amnesty International.

In 2002, U.S. exports of electro-shock weapons and restraints that can be used for torture amounted to some US$14.7 dollars and $4.4 million, respectively, according to the report, titled "The Pain Merchants."

Along with the sales of such equipment, Washington is also reported to have handed over suspects in the ''war on terror'' to the same countries, the 85-page report said.

"Although torture is endemic in Saudi Arabia, Smith & Wesson had no qualms about exporting approximately 10,000 leg-irons to Riyadh, and, apparently sharing this lack of concern, the Bush administration approved the sale," said William Schulz, executive director of Amnesty's U.S. branch, AIUSA. [...]

Jail population doubles since '92 (Wisconsin , USA)

11 counties in state are building more capacity, despite tight budgets [...]

  • Between 1992 and 2002, total jail admissions increased 63%, from 160,785 to 261,684.
    In 2003, there was one jail admission for every 151/2 adults living in Wisconsin.
  • Forty-five county jails were deemed crowded last year because they were at 80% capacity; 22 jails were at more than 100% capacity and forced to ship prisoners to other counties.
  • Since 1996, 17-year-olds have been treated as adults and not juveniles. As a result, 8,786 were admitted to county jails last year.

AFL-CIO Seeking Probes of Miami Police

[...] A letter to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and Gov. Jeb Bush also asked them to prosecute anyone who abused civil liberties and called for the resignation of Miami Police Chief John Timoney. [...]

Deadly rites spark Indian action

By Scott Baldauf
The Christian Science Monitor

DEHRI, INDIA –Since the disappearance and death of his 6-year-old son Monu in October, Narendra Kumar has learned that he was kidnapped and killed in a ritual human sacrifice. The perpetrators were childless neighbors who were desperate to have a son of their own.

It was the 25th killing this year linked to Tantric practices - an ancient Indian form of witchcraft that many Indians use to solve problems like unemployment and infertility - and it has local people like Mr. Kumar calling for strong police action to stamp out such horrific crimes. [...]

Boy testifies in beating case (Texas, USA)

12-year-old says he was hit 100 times with sticks


A 12-year-old boy testified Wednesday that a South Austin pastor beat him a hundred times with two sticks — until the boy's shirt was bloody — because the child was goofing off in Bible class. [...]

Church sells mansion to pay sex abuse victims

Congo sex slaves freed

By Dino Mahtani

Kinshasa - United Nations troops freed dozens of young girls and women used as sex slaves during raids on camps run by ethnic militiamen in north-eastern Congo, officials said on Wednesday. [...]

Baiting conmen new internet sport

Computer buffs in New Zealand are "baiting" Nigerian fraudsters in a game dubbed the new internet bloodsport, a report said today.

The ultimate goal is to turn the fraud back on the Nigerians, but authorities warn the game is dangerous and are urging people not to play. [...]

Air space not as safe: controllers (Australia)

People travelling on flights over the Christmas-New Year break will not be as safe as they used to be, air traffic controllers said. [...]

'Lost' Avebury stones discovered

An arc of buried megaliths that once formed part of the great stone circle at Avebury in Wiltshire has been discovered.

A map of Avebury drawn up by William Stukely in the 1720s showed that many of the stones in the south east and north east quadrants of the circle were missing.

A survey of these areas by the National Trust has revealed that at least 15 of the megaliths lie buried in the circle itself.

The stones show up clearly on computer images and the National Trust has been able to identify their sizes, the direction in which they are lying and where they fit in the circle. [...]

Workers unearth ancient chariot

Wednesday, 3 December, 2003, 06:55 GMT

An Iron Age chariot from about 500 BC has been discovered by engineers working on the new A1 motorway in West Yorkshire.

The site near Ferrybridge is said to hold articles of great significance.

In what seems to be a burial chamber, there are the remains of a man aged about 40 and the bones of 250 cattle, as well as the chariot. [...]

Neanderthal 'face' found in Loire

By Jonathan Amos
BBC News Online science staff

A flint object with a striking likeness to a human face may be one of the best examples of art by Neanderthal man ever found, the journal Antiquity reports. [...]

Six New Species of Prehistoric Mammals Discovered in Africa

By Guy Gugliotta
Washington Post

Scientists in Africa have unearthed the remains of six new species of large prehistoric mammals, including an ancestor of elephants and a 5,000-pound rhinoceros-like beast that roamed Ethiopia's highlands 27 million years ago.

The discoveries offer new clues to the fate of Africa's mammals during the "dark period" in the interval between 32 million years ago and the time 8 million years later when the prehistoric continent known as Afro-Arabia began to connect with Eurasia. [...]

Five of the new species are Proboscidea , or "trunked animals," the report said. These included three species of Palaeomastodon , four-foot-tall one-ton mammals with short trunks and tusks on the upper and lower jaws [...]

African elephant numbers puzzle

By Alex Kirby
BBC News Online environment correspondent

A study of African elephants suggests they may be more numerous than they were four years ago, scientists say.

They think there are from 400,000 to 660,000 elephants across the continent, with large numbers in southern Africa.

But the scientists, from IUCN-The World Conservation Union, are interpreting their findings with extreme caution.

They say one explanation may be that the elephants are fleeing to protected areas to try to escape human pressure, thus giving an unduly hopeful picture.

Dinosaur family footprints found

Bear kills two at theatre

From correspondents in Moscow
The Advertiser

A PERFORMING bear mauled two Moscow theatre workers to death and wounded another after he broke out of his cage overnight, police said.

The bear, named Dodon and a star attraction in the Russian capital's famed animal theatre Ugolok Durova, became enraged and fatally attacked 33-year-old Umar Zakirov, the RIA-Novosti news agency quoted police officials as saying. [...]

Ugolok Durova is one of the most popular attactions for children in the Russian capital.

Exploding black holes rain down on Earth

New Scientist

Are mini black holes raining down through the Earth's atmosphere? It is possible, says a team of physicists. They think this could explain mysterious observations from mountain-top experiments over the past 30 years.

Ordinary black holes form when stars explode at the end of their lives. The heavy stellar core can collapse into a superdense "singularity" whose gravity is so strong that nothing - not even light - can escape.

If some of physicists' favourite theories about extra dimensions are correct, it would also be possible for high-energy cosmic-ray particles from space to create black holes when they collide with molecules in the Earth's atmosphere ( New Scientist print edition, 29 September 2001).

These black holes would be invisibly small, with a mass of only 10 micrograms or so. And they would be so unstable that they would explode in a burst of particles within around a billion-billion-billionth of a second. [...]

NASA split over space station noise

Study Suggests Energy, Not Teens, Made Crop Circles

Bay City News Service

FAIRFIELD, CA - A five-month study has concluded that the mysterious crop circles that appeared in a Solano County wheat field in June were not the work of four teenage boys who claimed they made them as a hoax. [...]

The investigation concludes the 'hoax was a hoax.' [...]

The investigation found statistically significant differences in the elongation of growth nodes of wheat samples taken within and without the crop circle formations.

'Only microwave energies have duplicated the effects shown in the growth nodes of formation samples,' Moreno said.

A ball of light also was reported above the main formation on June 27. Balls of light have previously been reported, photographed and videotaped hovering over crop circles elsewhere, investigators say

The night Sydney went bang, and nobody knew why

By Neil McMahon
December 4, 2003 - 12:51AM

Buildings shook, windows rattled and terrified residents thought their homes were crashing around them - but nobody has any idea what caused a mysterious explosion that shook Sydney's north and west late last night.

Police began receiving phone calls about 10.20 of an enormous explosion, with reports coming from an area stretching from Wiseman's Ferry to the lower Blue Mountains.

In about 20 minutes, Riverstone police station alone received more than 100 calls from worried residents.

Sergeant John King of Riverstone said reports of the noise were widespread but that nothing had been found to indicate its cause. "There's no doubt in the world there was some sort of noise. Everyone thought it was an explosion. It sounded like a bomb."

Police stations at St Marys, Richmond and Mount Druitt were among others swamped by calls. One officer said she had heard and felt the explosion.

"The windows moved and the ground shook," she said.

"I thought it had happened right where I was, in the building I was in.

"Everyone who felt it said it felt like their house was going to implode. We had so many calls it was ridiculous."

Police were still investigating the cause of the explosion but had found no signs of any damage. Neither the Bureau of Meteorology or the Department of Seismology could shed any light on a natural cause.

"I've had a look at the seismic records and there's nothing there," said David Jepsen, the duty seismologist for Geoscience Australia.

He said there was a seismic station at Riverview, which would have registered any unusual activity. "It really could not be an earthquake."

Earlier last night, Sydney had been swamped by a fierce storm accompanied by heavy rain and lightning, but a Bureau of Meteorology spokesman said that the bad weather had cleared long before reports of the explosion.

Comment: These mystery booms have occured before in Australia. See our Signs Supplement: Sonic or "Mystery" Booms.

The Kecks files


Western Pennsylvania town marks UFO anniversary Tuesday

A mysterious object engulfed in a fireball streaked across the dusky sky while making itself visible to many witnesses.

Then it plunged to the ground.

Almost immediately, the U.S. military arrived at the scene to zone off the area around the object's resting place.

Despite the claims of many near the site, a U.S. Government investigation concluded that the phenomenon was most likely due to an un-recovered meteorite.

Comment: Also see Sci-Fi‘s ‘Kecksburg’ Special Is Another Brick In The Cover-Up Wall.

Dog saves 4-year-old boy

Da Vinci's Flyer Comes to Life

Rossella Lorenzi
Discovery News

Dec. 2, 2003 — A flying machine sketched by Leonardo da Vinci 500 years ago, flew gracefully last week, proving that the Renaissance genius could have made flight history long before the Wright brothers.

Angelo D'Arrigo, a former world champion hang glider, made Leonardo's dreams on manned flight come true as he flew the "Piuma" (feather), a flying machine conceived by the Florentine visionary during his studies on ornithopters — planes with bird-like flapping wings.

Sketched in 1510 in a folio of the Madrid manuscripts that was unearthed by chance in 1996, the Piuma bears an extraordinary resemblance to a modern hang-glider. [...]

Goodyear blimp drifts into truck; cameraman injured

The Associated Press
December 04. 2003 3:50AM

CARSON, Calif. -- A cameraman was injured when a Goodyear blimp that came loose from its restraining lines drifted into a parked truck and mulch piles near a closed plant nursery, authorities said.

The cameraman inside the blimp's gondola hurt his knee and was transported to a hospital, said Sgt. Paul Rice of Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. The pilot of the blimp, called the "Spirit of America," was not injured. Nobody else was onboard and there were no other injuries, Rice said.

There was apparently no damage to the blimp or the flatbed truck it struck shortly before 10 p.m. Wednesday. [...]

The blimp drifted 200 to 300 yards away from its landing site and over a fence before coming to a rest. It was partially deflated by the impact of the accident. [...]

Comment: The "Spirit of America" partially deflates while drifting around aimlessly and crashing into things. Coincidence? We think not.

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