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December 10, 2003

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Millions of US citizens believe in conspiracy theories, yet they will deny it. Millions of people dutifully believed what their government told them - that there was an international Communist Conspiracy, seeking control over the entire planet - yet, incapable of thinking with any depth these same people deny that conspiracies exist. These same people probably believe that the US outwitted and demolished a conspiracy.

The US used this made up conspiracy to its full advantage and destroyed forty foreign governments, ended the life of millions of people using some of the most brutal methods invented by man, and condemned millions more to a lifetime of disease and misery. Patriotism has come to mean supporting the psychopaths campaign of misery, and keeping your mouth shut, even when those same psychopaths turn their gaze toward the average American, even when those psychopaths use US military for Mengele-like experiments.

A courageous group of Israeli women are protecting Palestinians from the Army at checkpoints.

As six Afghan children die in another US attack, American military sources report that the Taliban suspect Mullah Wazir was not among the nine children and one man killed in Saturday air raids in the Ghazni Province. In Iraq, yet another US helicopter is downed near Fallujah. Paul Wolfowitz declares that countries such as France and Germany that were not willing to participate in the destruction of Iraq will not be allowed to help in reconstructing the war torn country.

Russia accuses the US of involvement in the recent overthrow of Shevardnadze in Georgia, but those Russians must be crazy because there are no conspiracies - right?..

Quakes hit Virginia, Oklahoma, and Taiwan, Australia experiences yet another freak hailstorm, yet another disturbing "sign" of global warming, and fear not, if you missed out on the Flu shot you can still avail yourself of the "Flumist" vaccine that even the FDA won't touch - take it at your peril.

Millions of US citizens are troubled by nightmares and another Ohio shooting is linked to the previous fourteen.

The Introduction from the book Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower

by William Blum
Common Courage Press, 2000

For 70 years, the United States convinced much of the world that there was an international conspiracy out there. An International Communist Conspiracy, seeking no less than control over the entire planet, for purposes which had no socially redeeming values. And the world was made to believe that it somehow needed the United States to save it from communist darkness. "Just buy our weapons," said Washington, "let our military and our corporations roam freely across your land, and give us veto power over whom your leaders will be, and we'll protect you."

It was the cleverest protection racket since men convinced women that they needed men to protect them - if all the men vanished overnight, how many women would be afraid to walk the streets?

And if the people of any foreign land were benighted enough to not realize that they needed to be saved, if they failed to appreciate the underlying nobility of American motives, they were warned that they would burn in Communist Hell. Or a CIA facsimile thereof. And they would be saved nonetheless.

A decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall, America is still saving countries and peoples from one danger or another. The scorecard reads as follows: From 1945 to the end of the century, the United States attempted to overthrow more than 40 foreign governments, and to crush more than 30 populist-nationalist movements struggling against intolerable regimes. In the process, the US caused the end of life for several million people, and condemned many millions more to a life of agony and despair.

[...] Let's have a short look at some modern American history, which may be instructive. A congressional report of 1994 informed us that:

Effects of lewisite on the skin. Lewisite can also be inhaled.

Approximately 60,000 military personnel were used as human subjects in the 1940s to test two chemical agents, mustard gas and lewisite [blister gas]. Most of these subjects were not informed of the nature of the experiments and never received medical follow up after their participation in the research. Additionally, some of these human subjects were threatened with imprisonment at Fort Leavenworth if they discussed these experiments with anyone, including their wives, parents and family doctors. For decades, the Pentagon denied that the research had taken place, resulting in decades of suffering for many veterans who became ill after the secret testing.

Now let's skip ahead to the 1990s. Many thousands of American soldiers came home from the Gulf War with unusual, debilitating ailments. Exposure to harmful chemical or biological agents was suspected, but the Pentagon denied that this had occurred. Years went by while the Gls suffered terribly: neurological problems, chronic fatigue, skin problems, scarred lungs, memory loss, muscle and joint pain, severe headaches, personality changes, passing out and much more. Eventually, the Pentagon, inch by inch, was forced to move away from its denials and admit that, yes, chemical weapon depots had been bombed; then, yes, there probably were releases of the deadly poisons; then, yes, American servicemen were indeed in the vicinity of these poisonous releases, 400 soldiers; then, it might have been 5,000; then, "a very large number", probably more than 15,000 then, finally, a precise number - 20,867; then, "The Pentagon announced that a long awaited computer model estimates that nearly 100,000 U.S. soldiers could have been exposed to trace amounts of sarin gas..."

Soldiers were also forced to take vaccines against anthrax and nerve gas not approved by the FDA as safe and effective, and punished, sometimes treated like criminals, if they refused. (During World War II, US soldiers were forced to take a yellow fever vaccine, with the result that some 330,000 of them were infected with the hepatitis B virus.3) Finally, in late 1999, almost nine years after the Gulf War's end, the Defense Department announced that a drug given to soldiers to protect them against a particular nerve gas, "cannot be ruled out" as a cause of lingering illnesses in some veterans.

The Pentagon brass, moreover, did not warn American soldiers of the grave danger of being in close proximity to expended depleted uranium weapons on the battlefield.

If the Pentagon had been much more forthcoming from the outset about what it knew all along about these various substances and weapons, the soldiers might have had a proper diagnosis early on and received appropriate care sooner. The cost in terms of human suffering was incalculable. One gauge of that cost may lie in the estimate that one-third of the homeless in America are military veterans.

Image taken from a government film showing military testing nuclear blast effects on US soldiers.

And in the decades between the 1940s and 1990s, what do we find? A remarkable variety of government programs, either formally, or in effect, using soldiers as guinea pigs - marched to nuclear explosion sites, with pilots then sent through the mushroom clouds; subjected to chemical and biological weapons experiments; radiation experiments; behavior modification experiments that washed their brains with LSD exposure to the dioxin of Agent Orange in Korea and Vietnam...the list goes on... literally millions of experimental subjects, seldom given a choice or adequate information, often with disastrous effects to their physical and/or mental health, rarely with proper medical care or even monitoring.

The moral of this little slice of history is simple: If the United States government does not care about the health and welfare of its own soldiers, if our leaders are not moved by the prolonged pain and suffering of the wretched warriors enlisted to fight the empire's wars, how can it be argued, how can it be believed, that they care about foreign peoples? At all. [...]

"Let me tell you about the very rich," wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald. "They are different from you and me."

So are our leaders.

Consider Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to Jimmy Carter. In a 1998 interview he admitted that the official story that the US gave military aid to the Afghanistan opposition only after the Soviet invasion in 1979 was a lie. The truth was, he said, that the US began aiding the Islamic fundamentalist Moujahedeen six months before the Russians made their move, even though he believed-and told this to Carter-that "this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention".

Brzezinski was asked whether he regretted this decision.

Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it' The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

Besides the fact that there is no demonstrable connection between the Afghanistan war and the breakup of the Soviet empire, we are faced with the consequences of that war: the defeat of a government committed to bringing the extraordinarily backward nation into the 20th century; the breathtaking carnage; Moujahedeen torture that even US government officials called "indescribable horror"; half the population either dead, disabled or refugees the spawning of thousands of Islamic fundamentalist terrorists who have unleashed atrocities in numerous countries; and the unbelievable repression of women in Afghanistan, instituted by America's wartime allies.

And for playing a key role in causing all this, Zbigniew Brzezinski has no regrets. Regrets? The man is downright proud of it! The kindest thing one can say about such a person-as about a sociopath-is that he's amoral. At least in his public incarnation, which is all we're concerned with here. In medieval times he would have been called Zbigniew the Terrible.

And what does this tell us about Jimmy Carter, whom many people think of as perhaps the only halfway decent person to occupy the White House since Roosevelt? Or is it Lincoln?

The effects of agent orange continue to this day. His name is Tran Minh An. He was 5 years old when the photo was taken in 2000, and he is one of tens of thousands of children born with birth defects resulting from the use of Agent Orange. The effects of depleted uranium may be worse. And it's not just children in Iraq. It's children born to soldiers after they return home.

In 1977, when pressed by journalists about whether the US had a moral obligation to help rebuild Vietnam, President Carter responded: "Well, the destruction was mutual." (Perhaps when he observed the devastation of the South Bronx later that year, he was under the impression that it had been caused by Vietnamese bombing.)

In the now-famous exchange on TV between Madeleine Albright and reporter Lesley Stahl, the latter was speaking of US sanctions against Iraq, and asked the then-US ambassador to the UN: "We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And-and you know, is the price worth it."

Replied Albright: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price-we think the price is worth it."

One can give Albright the absolute full benefit of any doubt and say that she had no choice but to defend administration policy. But what kind of person is it who takes a job appointment knowing full well that she will be an integral part of such ongoing policies and will be expected to defend them without apology? Not long afterwards, Albright was appointed Secretary of State.

Lawrence Summers is another case in point. In December 1991, while chief economist for the World Bank, he wrote an internal memo saying that the Bank should encourage migration of "the dirty industries" to the less-developed countries because, amongst other reasons, health-impairing and death-causing pollution costs would be lower. Inasmuch as these costs are based on the lost earnings of the affected workers, in a country of very low wages the computed costs would be (much lower. "I think," he wrote, "the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest-wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that." Despite this memo receiving wide distribution and condemnation, Summers, in 1999, was appointed Secretary of the Treasury by President Clinton. This was a promotion from being Undersecretary of the Treasury-for international affairs.

We also have Clinton himself, who on day 33 of the aerial devastation of Yugoslavia-33 days and nights of destroying villages, schools, hospitals, apartment buildings, the ecology, separating people from their limbs, from their eyesight, spilling their intestines, traumatizing children for the rest of their days... destroying a life the Serbians will never know again-on day 33 William Jefferson Clinton, cautioning against judging the bombing policy prematurely, saw fit to declare: "This may seem like a long time. [But] I don't think that this air campaign has been going on a particularly long time." And then the man continued it another 45 days.

Clinton's vice president, Albert Gore, appears eminently suitable to succeed him to the throne. In 1998, he put great pressure on South Africa, threatening trade sanctions if the government didn't cancel plans to use much cheaper generic AIDS drugs, which would cut into US companies' sales. South Africa, it should be noted, has about three million HlV-positive persons among its largely impoverished population. When Gore, who at the time had significant ties to the drug industry, was heckled for what he had done during a speech in New York, he declined to respond in substance, but instead called out: "I love this country. I love the First Amendment."

It's interesting to note that when Madeleine Albright was heckled in Columbus, Ohio in February 1998, while defending the administration's Iraq policy, she yelled: "We are the greatest country in the world!"

Patriotism is indeed the last refuge of a scoundrel, though Gore's and Albright's words don't quite have the ring of "Deutschland uber alles" or "Rule Britannia".

In 1985, Ronald Reagan, demonstrating the preeminent intellect for which he was esteemed, tried to show how totalitarian the Soviet Union was by declaring: "I'm no linguist, but I've been told that in the Russian language there isn't even a word for 'freedom'." In light of the above cast of characters and their declarations, can we ask if there's a word in American English for "embarrassment"?

No, it is not simply that power corrupts and dehumanizes.

Neither is it that US foreign policy is cruel because American leaders are cruel.

It's that our leaders are cruel because only those willing to be inordinately cruel and remorseless can hold positions of leadership in the foreign policy establishment;it might as well be written into the job description. People capable of expressing a full human measure of compassion and empathy toward faraway powerless strangers - (let alone American soldiers) - do not become president of the United States, or vice president, or secretary of state, or national security adviser or secretary of the treasury. Nor do they want to.

There's a sort of Peter Principle at work here. Laurence Peter wrote that in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence. Perhaps we can postulate that in a foreign policy establishment committed to imperialist domination by any means necessary, employees tend to rise to the level of cruelty they can live with.

A few days after the bombing of Yugoslavia had ended, the New York Times published as its lead article in the Sunday Week in Review, a piece by Michael Wines, which declared that "Human rights had been elevated to a military priority and a preeminent Western value...The war only underscored the deep ideological divide between an idealistic New World bent on ending inhumanity and an Old World equally fatalistic about unending conflict... there is also a yawning gap between the West and much of the world on the value of a single life."

And so on. A paean to the innate goodness of the West, an ethos unfortunately not shared by much of the rest of the world, who, Wines lamented, "just don't buy into Western notions of rights and responsibilities." The Times fed us this morality tale after "the West" had just completed the most ferocious sustained bombing of a nation in the history of the planet, a small portion of whose dreadful consequences are referred to above.

During the American bombing of Iraq in 1991, the previous record for sustained ferociousness, a civilian air raid shelter was destroyed by a depleted-uranium projectile, incinerating to charred blackness many hundreds of people, a great number of them women and children. White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater, reiterating US military statements that the shelter had been a command-and-control center, said: "We don't know why civilians were at that location, but we do know that Saddam Hussein does not share our value for the sanctity of human life."

Similarly, during the Vietnam War, President Johnson and other government officials assured us that Asians don't have the same high regard for human life as Americans do. We were told this, of course, as American bombs, napalm, Agent Orange and helicopter gun ships were disintegrating the Vietnamese and their highly regarded lives.

And at the same time, on a day in February 1966, David Lawrence, the editor of US News & World Report was moved to put the following words to paper: "What the United States is doing in Vietnam is the most significant example of philanthropy extended by one people to another that we have witnessed in our times."

"There were numerous occasions when you were sent out on missions of 'search and destroy'... in military-speak that means to shoot anything moving and set the village on fire... The results were almost always catastrophic... Lt. Calley was just one of the few who got called on it." - Jim Linnen, U.S. Army platoon leader in Vietnam

I sent Mr. Lawrence a copy of a well-done pamphlet entitled American Atrocities in Vietnam, which gave graphic detail of its subject. To this I attached a note which first repeated Lawrence's quotation with his name below it, then added: "One of us is crazy", followed by my name.

Lawrence responded with a full page letter, at the heart of which was: "I think a careful reading of it [the pamphlet] will prove the point I was trying to make-namely that primitive peoples with savagery in their hearts have to be helped to understand the true basis of a civilized existence."

The American mind-as exemplified by that of Michael Wines and David Lawrence-is, politically, so deeply formed that to liberate it would involve uncommon, and as yet perhaps undiscovered, philosophical and surgical skill. The great majority of Americans, even the most cynical, who need no convincing that the words that come out (of a politician's mouth are a blend of mis-, dis- and non-information, and should always carry a veracity health waning - appear to lose their critical faculties when confronted by "our boys who are risking their lives". If love is blind, patriotism has lost all five senses.

To the extent that the cynicism of these Americans is directed toward their government's habitual foreign adventures, it's to question whether the administration's stated interpretation of a situation is valid, whether the stated goals are worthwhile, and whether the stated goals can be achieved-but not to question the government's motivation. It is assumed a priori that our leaders mean well by the foreign people involved-no matter how much death, destruction and suffering their policies objectively result in.


by Gordon Thomas

President Bush and the European Union are on a head-on collision course over Washington’s plan to introduce the largest surveillance system ever used on civilian populations. The American Civil Liberties Union has called it “a surveillance monster that will not make anyone safer”.

It could have a serious effect on tourism to America. It could see airlines that co-operate with the system facing huge penalties from the European Union. But those airlines who refuse to bow to Washington’s demands will be denied landing rights at all US airports. [...]

CAPPS-II is the updated version of a system introduced in 1996 after TWA flight 800 went down over Long Island Sound, killing 250. Before it was learned that the tragedy was noting to do with terrorism, the Clinton Administration had rushed through CAPPS-I.

It was supposed to single out potential terrorists by vetting them before they boarded flights. Fliers who bought one-way tickets, checked in without tickets or paid in cash for flights were flagged as “potential threats”.

But now, prompted by Bush, Homeland Security wants to introduce in the New Year, CAPPS-II, that goes far beyond the original scheme.

Each airline bringing a passenger to the United States must supply Homeland Security with the name, address, date of birth, home and office telephone number and occupation of each traveller.

There will be no exceptions. Even babies must be logged. Details of a child’s school must be provided. The information will be fed into state-of-the-art computers at Homeland Security’s Transportation Division. Each detail will be checked with data-mining software to cross-reference that information with computerised records already stored. These would contain details of previous flights a passenger has made – along with where and how long he or she stayed in the United States. Any change in marital status will be noted.

The data will then be processed by more computers to determine “the level of security risk to the United States” any passenger poses.

This information will be supplemented by a passenger’s on board food preference, who he travelled with in the past, who he is currently flying with. Details of how, where and when a ticket was purchased, by credit card or cash, will be stored for years.

“For this to work, a huge amount of private information will be needed on each person. But of the 39 separate items of information that the US wants on each traveller, only 19 are permitted to be disclosed under European Union privacy laws”, said Paris based airline industry analyst, Peter Densor.

Colin Wallace, a former British intelligence surveillance operative, said that CAPPS-II is a “further step to what the state does in the name of protecting the individual. There is something sinister in what Homeland Security is proposing. The results of such surveillance can reshape, reform, or at least control, the thinking and behaviour of any individual. Such surveillance is liberated from any legal or moral obligations”.

“The fact is that the US has nothing like the data-protection legislation which exists in Europe and it is very likely that intimate information on private citizens would be sold on from company to company”, predicted Peter Somer, adviser to Britain’s Trade and Industry Department.

Kevin Warwick, professor of Cybernetics at England’s University of Reading, says that “what CAPPS-II will do is to further ensure that surveillance will eventually totally control us. There are already far too many government bodies who are privy to our secrets. They are the watchers. We are the watched”.

A major problem with CAPPS-II – which will trigger confrontation with Washington – is that the European Community want it to have “as minimum” an independent appeals procedure.

A spokesman for the EU said: “If the systems indicate you are a high-risk passenger due to fault information held on computer, or the checks didn’t source enough information on you, then you could end up on a no-fly list forever”.

The supporters of CAPPS-II – led by Israel – say that civil liberties have to be traded for security.

But Richard Tomlinson, a former MI6 officer said, “that argument is knocked on the head by identity theft. For a few hundred dollars a false ID can be obtained. It is relatively easy for a determined terrorist to create a safe passenger profile with easily available documents; credit cards and driving licence. And the internet is flooded with the essentials of any identity; name, date of birth, address and telephone number”.

President Bush is determined, however, to have CAPPS-II up and running for the start of next season’s tourist influx. But how many visitors would want to have their privacy stolen by his latest whim?

Database slip-up exposes millions

Social Security Numbers, other private info revealed

By Robert Lemos

Dec. 9 — A developer mistake left a sensitive database with detailed personal information, including social security numbers, open to public Internet access for a few hours on Tuesday. The database — frequently used by law enforcement, credit agencies and private investigators —was accessible through a simple search form on the Web and contained millions of names, social security numbers, phone records and public records such as residential histories, confirmed, which provides the database service.

The soldiers at my front door

A priest in New Mexico faces intimadation from the militia over his anti-war stance

by John Dear, S. J.
Dateline: Monday, December 08, 2003

I live in a tiny, remote, impoverished, three block long town in the desert of northeastern New Mexico. Everyone in town--and the whole state--knows that I am against the occupation of Iraq, that I have called for the closing of Los Alamos, and that as a priest, I have been preaching, like the Pope, against the bombing of Baghdad.

Last week, it was announced that the local National Guard unit for northeastern New Mexico, based in the nearby Armory, was being deployed to Iraq early next year. I was not surprised when yellow ribbons immediately sprang up after the press conference.

But I was surprised the following morning to hear 75 soldiers singing, shouting and screaming as they jogged down Main Street, passed our St.

Joseph's church, back and forth around town for an hour. It was 6 a.m., and they woke me up with their war slogans, chants like "Kill! Kill! Kill!" and "Swing your guns from left to right; we can kill those guys all night." Their chants were disturbing, but this is war. They have to psyche themselves up for the kill. They have to believe that flying off to some tiny, remote desert town in Iraq where they will march in front of someone's house and kill poor young Iraqis has some greater meaning besides cold-blooded murder. Most of these young reservists have never left our town, and they need our support for the "unpleasant" task before them. I have been to Iraq, and led a delegation of Nobel Peace Prize winners to Baghdad in 1999, and I know that the people there are no different than the people here.

The screaming and chanting went on for one hour. They would march passed the church, down Main Street, back around the post office, and down Main Street again. It was clear they wanted to be seen and heard.

In fact, it was quite scary because the desert is normally a place of perfect peace and silence.

Suddenly, at 7 a.m., the shouting got dramatically louder. I looked out the front window of the house where I live, next door to the church, and there they were--all 75 of them, standing yards away from my front door, in the street right in front of my house and our church, shouting and screaming to the top of their lungs, "Kill! Kill! Kill!" Their commanders had planted them there and were egging them on.

I was astonished and appalled. I suddenly realized that I do not need to go to Iraq; the war had come to my front door. Later, I heard that they had deliberately decided to do their exercises in front of my house and our church because of my outspoken opposition to the war.

They wanted to put me in my place.

This, I think, is a new tactic. Over the years, I have been arrested some 75 times in demonstrations, been imprisoned for a "Plowshares" disarmament action, been bugged, tapped, and harassed, searched at airports, and monitored by police. But this time, the soldiers who will soon march through Baghdad and attack desert homes in Iraq, practiced on me. They confronted me personally, just as the death squad militaries did in Guatemala and El Salvador in the 1980s, which I witnessed there on several occasions.

I decided I had to do something. I put on my winter coat and walked out the front door right into the middle of the street. They stopped shouting and looked at me, so I said loudly, publicly for all to hear, "In the name of God, I order all of you to stop this nonsense, and not to go to Iraq. I want all of you to quit the military, disobey your orders to kill, and not to kill anyone. I do not want you to get killed. I want you to practice the love and nonviolence of Jesus. God does not bless war. God does not want you to kill so Bush and Cheney can get more oil. God does not support war. Stop all this and go home.

God bless you." Their jaws dropped, their eyeballs popped and they stood in shock and silence, looking steadily at me. Then they burst out laughing.

Finally, the commander dismissed them and they left.

Later, military officials spread lies around town that I had disrupted their military exercises at the Armory, so they decided to come to my house and to the church in retaliation. Others appealed to the archbishop to have me kicked out of New Mexico for denouncing their warmaking. Then, a general called the mayor and asked him to mediate "negotiations" with me, saying he did not want the military "in confrontation" with the church. Really, the mayor told me, they fear that I will disrupt the gala send-off next month, just before Christmas, when the soldiers go to Iraq.

This dramatic episode is only the latest in a series of confrontations since I came to the desert of New Mexico in the summer of 2002 to serve as pastor of several poor, desert churches. I have spoken out extensively against the U.S. war on Iraq, and been denounced by people, including church people, across the state. I have organized small Christian peace groups throughout the state. We planned a prayer vigil for nuclear disarmament at Los Alamos on the anniversary of Hiroshima this past August, but when the devout people of Los Alamos, most of them Catholic, heard about it, they appealed to the archbishop to have me expelled if I appeared publicly in their town. In the end, I did not attend the vigil, but the publicity gave me further opportunities to call for the closing of Los Alamos. I receive hate mail, negative phone calls and at least one death threat for daring to criticize our country. But New Mexico is the poorest state in the U.S.

It is also number one in military spending and number one in nuclear weapons. It is the most militarized, the most in need of disarmament, the most in need of nonviolence. It is the first place the Pentagon goes to recruit poor youth into the empire's army.

If we are to change the direction of our country, and turn people against Bush's occupation of Iraq, we are going to have to face the ire and persecution of our local communities. If peace people in every local community insisted that our troops be brought home immediately, that the

U. N. be sent in to restore Iraq, that all U.S. military aid to the Middle East be cut, and that our arsenal of weapons of mass destruction be dismantled, then we might all find soldiers marching at our front doors, trying to intimidate us. If we can face our soldiers, call them to quit the military and urge them to disobey orders to kill, then perhaps some of them will refuse to fight, become conscientious objectors and take up the wisdom of nonviolence. If we can look them in the eye and engage them in personal Satyagraha as Gandhi demonstrated, then we know that the transformation has begun.

In the end, the episode for me was an experience of hope. We must be making a difference if the soldiers have to march at our front doors.

That they failed to convert me or intimidate me, that they had to listen to my side of the story, may haunt their consciences as they travel to Iraq. No matter what happens, they have heard loud and clear the good news that God does not want them to kill anyone. I hope we can all learn the lesson.

Rev. John Dear S.J. is a Jesuit Priest, Peace Activist, Organizer, Member of FoR, Lecturer, Retreat leader, and author/editor of 20 books on peace and nonviolence, including LIVING PEACE, published by Doubleday.

Israel becoming 'leper' state, press warns

December 09 2003

Jerusalem - Israeli newspapers voiced alarm Tuesday at the United Nations General Assembly vote taking the issue of the controversial West Bank separation barrier to the world court, warning that the Jewish state was growing more isolated in the international community.

"The fence, instead of imposing a siege on the Palestinians and on terror, imposes a siege on us. Israel is becoming, slowly but surely, a leper state," said an editorial in the Maariv daily.

The assembly approved an Arab-backed resolution Monday to ask the International Court of Justice at The Hague for a legal opinion on the barrier, with 90 votes for, eight against and 74 abstentions.

Israel's UN ambassador Dan Gillerman said the near-even split between the yes votes and the noes and abstentions was a "moral victory" but Maariv blamed the government for failing to consider the impact on world opinion.

"Hooray for the impressive victory. The thing is that the operation succeeded, but the patient died," the newspaper said.

"Now a media frenzy will begin in which the entire world can watch pictures of the fence and all its horrors, including children who have been cut off from their schools, farmers uprooted from their fields, women who can't get to the maternity wards."

The English-language Jerusalem Post daily argued in a front page analysis that the vote was "A Victory For the Palestinians".

The UN's decision "is creating an impression in the minds of Palestinian Authority and Hamas leaders that the momentum has swung to the Palestinians, and that Israel is now on the defensive," the newspaper said.

The non-binding resolution does not obligate the court to give an opinion on the barrier, a network of fences, trenches, concrete and barbed wire which in places cuts deep into the West Bank.

Comment: It is becoming more and more clear that the Jewish people are being set up by the very leaders that they have put their trust in. Since the inception of the state, Israel's leaders have continually sought to alienate Israel and by implication the Israeli people from the rest of the world. This has been achieved through the repeated assertion and widespread dissemination of the idea that Jews are "special" and somehow above reproach, regardless of what the state does in their name. Indeed people like Sharon have repeatedly justified the brutal treatment of Palestinians in the name of protection of Israeli Jews and their "god given" right to a "homeland" at any cost.

With the shackle of Judaism tight around their necks, the ordinary Jew in Israel is being forced into accepting responsibility for the contemptible acts carried out by a few of their leaders. While it is not true to say that standard "anti-Semitism" (hatred of Jews simply because they are Jews), is growing in Europe, it is perhaps true to say that as a direct result of the concerted and deliberate efforts of so called "Zionists" and fanatics like Sharon, world public opinion is turning against the Jews again because of the acts of their leaders. As is always the case, the agenda of the "elite" of this world is to divide and conquer by way of deception, and in most of sleeping humanity they find willing victims.

The importance of seeing the truth of the situation is of vital importance therefore. Jews in Israel that refuse to recognise that which is before their eyes simply play into the hands of the aforementioned "leaders". If they do not understand that their leaders (religious and political) are essentially creating an environment that may well lead to their destruction, then nothing can be done to prevent it.

Fraud officers expected to question PM soon

Baruch Kra and Yuval Yoaz
December 10, 2003

Court to rule today on Gilad Sharon papers

Overseas depositions have helped the police consolidate the evidence against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, firming their suspicions that Sharon was directly involved in raising illegal campaign contributions for his race for the Likud leadership in 1999.

Sharon will soon be summoned to an interrogation at the National Fraud Squad offices, to answer police questions about shell companies used for raising the money and about the $1.5 million loan from Cyril Kern. The police plan to schedule the questioning in the coming days. The police waited until now for completion of depositions taken overseas and for the Supreme Court decision, due today, on Gilad Sharon's refusal to hand over documents related to the police inquiries, to the authorities.

The fraud squad is investigating Sharon's involvement in alleged violations of campaign financing laws in the 1999 Likud primaries as well as far more serious allegations of bribery in the Kern affair. State attorneys are working on summarizing the material in the other major case being investigated concerning Sharon, the alleged bribery case involving construction magnate David Appel, which is known as the Greek island affair.

The depositions taken overseas strengthened police suspicions that, contrary to Sharon's claims to the state comptroller and previous police investigators, he knew how illegal funding was raised and transferred from overseas through shell companies such as Annex Research Ltd., to pay for his 1999 campaign. [...]

Israeli Women Monitor Army Checkpoints

Wed Dec 10, 2:13 AM ET
Associated Press Writer

QALANDIYA, West Bank - An Israeli woman ran toward a soldier, warning him not to hit a Palestinian teen he had just slammed against a fence at a West Bank roadblock.
The soldier relaxed his grip and eventually let the teen go — another small victory for 53-year-old Sara Alimi, a volunteer for Checkpoint Watch, a group of about 300 Israeli women who seek to stop what they say are abuses by troops at dozens of checkpoints in the West Bank.

Every week, the women fan out, armed with menthol cream to treat the effects of tear gas, and mobile phones to complain to senior commanders about conduct at the checkpoints.

Their efforts aren't universally welcomed in Israel. [...]

Rockets Said to Be Missing in Moldova

The arms are outfitted with dirty bombs, which officials worry could get into terrorists' hands.From Associated Press

December 9, 2003

CHISINAU, Moldova — Dozens of rockets outfitted with so-called dirty bombs — warheads designed to scatter deadly radioactive material — appear to be missing in a breakaway region of Moldova, an expert said Monday.

Oazu Nantoi, a political analyst who works at the nongovernmental Institute for Policy Studies here in the capital, said he had seen photocopies of Russian military documents showing that the dirty bomb warheads — 24 ready to use, 14 dismantled — were missing from a depot near Trans-Dniester Tiraspol military airport.

Nantoi is an expert on Trans-Dniester, which has been policed by thousands of Russian troops since its fight for independence from Moldova in the early 1990s. The possibility the warheads were missing was first published Sunday in the Washington Post.

Nantoi said the documents came from a disgruntled Russian military official who said he had not received compensation for being exposed to radioactive material.

Moldova is a former Soviet republic, and thousands of tons of weapons remained stored in Trans-Dniester after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Nantoi said reports first reached him in 1998 that Alazan rockets had been fitted with warheads modified to carry radioactive material.

Since then, the rockets and warheads appeared to have disappeared from storage, he said.

Saudi authorities arrest 10 people with weapons

RIYADH (AFP) Dec 10, 2003

Saudi security forces arrested in the governate of Al-Mujarada 10 people who had weapons and ammunition in their possession, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

Four Saudi nationals travelled from the province of Taef to the governate of Al Mujarada, and headed to the home of a person named as "Abu Suleiman" to pick up weapons from him, reported Al Watan.

In the early hours of the morning the four accidentally knocked on the door of the man's neighbour, who also goes by the name of Abu Suleiman but is a government employee, asking him to hand over the goods in his possession. He was surprised and asked "What goods?"

When they explained to the neighbor they wanted their weapons depot, he stalled them and called the police who then arrested them. [...]

Nobel Peace Prize winner takes swipe at US

OSLO (AFP) Dec 09, 2003

Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner, implicitly criticised the United States on Tuesday, the eve of her prize-giving ceremony, warning that attempts to introduce democracy through military means were "futile."

Ebadi said she opposed resorting to military force to enforce democracy, in response to a question on how the international community should pressure Iran to open up to democratic freedom and human rights. [...]

Six Afghan Children Killed in U.S. Attack

Dec 10

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Six children were killed during an assault by U.S. forces on a compound in eastern Afghanistan, a U.S. military spokesman said Wednesday, the second time in a week that civilians have died in action against Taliban and al-Qaida suspects.

The children died during an attack on Friday against a complex near the eastern city of Gardez where a renegade Afghan commander, Mullah Jalani, was believed to have stocked weapons, said Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty.

"The next day we discovered the bodies of two adults and six children," he said. "We had no indication there were noncombatants" in the compound. [...]

U.S. says it may not have killed target

By Carlotta Gall
The New York Times
Tue, Dec. 09, 2003

KABUL, Afghanistan - The U.S. military admitted Monday that it may not have killed the Taliban suspect who was its target in an air assault on a village Saturday that left nine children and one man dead.

Soldiers entering the village in a remote area of southern Ghazni Province after the attack found the body of a man along with the dead children. [...]

He conceded that villagers had said the dead man was not the suspect, Mullah Wazir, who is accused by U.S. officials of being behind several kidnappings and attacks on construction workers on a big U.S.-financed road project. Villagers told journalists Sunday that the dead man was Abdul Muhammad, a 25-year-old villager who had returned from working in Iran 10 days earlier. [...]

US helicopter downed near Fallujah

Middle East Online
2003-12-09 16:46:23

FALLUJAH, Iraq - Ground fire forced a US reconnaissance helicopter to make an emergency landing Tuesday, but the two-man crew walked away with minor injuries near the flashpoint Iraqi town of Fallujah, a military spokesman said.

Tax Protester Wins One Over US Government

Growing numbers of “failure to convict” cases have the government worried that the federal income tax system could eventually crumble.

By John Tiffany

Businessman Richard Simkanin, 59, of Bed ford, Texas, recently won a victory against Big Brother. Jurors could not reach a verdict on a 27-count indictment accusing him of failure to withhold taxes from the wages of his employees and of filing fraudulent claims for tax refunds. Jurors said they were deadlocked after eight hours of deliberations.

Simkanin is one of a number of employers who contend that there is no law requiring an employer to withhold from his employees’ wages, although the employees are registered in the Social Security system.

While that argument (known in the “tax honesty movement” as the “861 argument”) has turned out to be problematic, Simkanin’s defense in the case (number 4-03CR-188-A, USA v. Richard M. Simkanin) is that he relied upon the advice of “experts” in good faith. Jurors said they could not reach a verdict in the case.

However, Simkanin remained in federal custody after U.S. District Judge John McBryde in the Northern District of Texas in Dallas declared a mistrial.

Simkanin made the strategic mistake of openly declaring his contempt for the government, in ways that could possibly be construed as threats (although it appears he was really only warning them of the hellfire that would await them in the afterlife). As a result, the judge has treated Simkanin as a dangerous desperado who must be kept in jail until a decision is made what to do with him.

Simkanin once wrote to the Treasury secretary that he had repatriated himself from the United States to the “Republic of Texas,” angering federal employees who consider that any citizen of a state of the union is automatically a citizen of the United States of America and that any argument to the contrary is frivolous.

Simkanin was charged with failing to collect and pay $175,000 in taxes on his employees’ wages from January 2000 through December 2002 and filing fraudulent claims for tax refunds totaling $234,515 for the years 1997 through 1999.

Simkanin testified that he followed the advice of a certified public accountant who told him it was legal to stop withholding taxes from his employees’ paychecks.

Ignorance of federal tax law is a legal defense if a taxpayer unintentionally violates the law after accepting wrong advice in good faith.

He also said his tax views are based on his Christian faith. “I was robbing [the employees] of their opportunity if I withheld the fruits of their labor,” Simkanin told the court.

Had the case been heard by a judge only and not a jury, many people have speculated that Simkanin would most likely have been found guilty.

It is interesting to note that a jury has the right of nullification, which means they can vote “not guilty” simply because they feel the income tax law is unjust, or for any other reason—which could spell doom for the much-hated federal income tax system.

The great Lysander Spooner once wrote: “It is not to be supposed that juries would enforce a tax upon an individual which he had never agreed to pay.”

Corporate emperors still rule, says Enron whistleblower

Terry Macalister
Wednesday December 10, 2003
The Guardian

The "imperial chief executive" who treats the assets of a listed company as if they were his own is as active as ever despite attempts to clean up the corporate world, according to Sherron Watkins, who blew the whistle on her own bosses' excesses at Enron.

Too many accounting rules can still be manipulated and analysts' reports remain "broadly inadequate" for giving the real picture to investors, she argued yesterday.

Legislation such as the Sarbanes-Oxley rules in the US have improved corporate governance but behaviour "has not got much better", the former Enron vice-president said after addressing a London meeting of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.

It is up to institutional investors, who ultimately control most large corporations, to be more active in reining in rogue executives, she said.

"I do think that the imperial chief executive officer is not dead in America. You have a lot of CEOs acting more like dictators from resource-rich African countries treating their companies' assets as their own."

The corporate excess at companies such as Tyco seemed to show a culture where senior executives could not get enough personal reward from their companies, added Ms Watkins, who was made Time magazine's person of the year in 2002 for highlighting wrongdoing at Enron.

She joined Enron in 1993, initially working for Andrew Fastow, who managed Enron's $1bn-plus portfolio of energy investments. In August 2001 she alerted the then chief executive, Kenneth Lay, to accounting irregularities and resigned in November 2002.

Last night she described standing up against corporate excess as a "lonely road to take" and said she disliked the term whistleblower because it had a pejorative ring to it.

Other "corporate sentinels" were treated like pariahs - driven to divorce and alcoholism - and things would not change as long as bosses labelled as troublemakers those who warned of wrongdoing inside businesses.

Ms Watkins said it was symptomatic of the continuing rogue culture that a law firm recently organised a half-day seminar on whistleblowing under the title The Corporation Under Siege.

She said she did not expect to get a job in mainstream corporate life for the time being, given her history, and her earnings on the conference circuit could not last indefinitely

U.S. Shuts Out France, Germany for Iraq Work

By Sue Pleming
Tue Dec 9, 6:15 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Citing national security reasons, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz has ruled that prime contracts to rebuild Iraq will exclude firms from nations such as France and Germany that opposed the U.S. war.

In a policy document released on Tuesday, Wolfowitz said he was limiting competition for 26 reconstruction contracts worth up to $18.6 billion that will be advertised in coming days.

"It is necessary for the protection of the essential security interests of the United States to limit competition for the prime contracts of these procurements to companies from the United States, Iraq, coalition partners and force contributing nations," Wolfowitz said in a notice published on the web site

The move is likely to anger France and Germany and other traditional allies in NATO and the U.N. Security Council who are being blocked out of prime contracts after their opposition to the war. They may bid for sub-contracts.

But the decision will placate countries such as Britain, Italy and Spain, which provided troops to Iraq but whose companies were excluded from the first round of deals that went to U.S. firms. [...]

Wolfowitz is hoping that excluded companies will put pressure on their governments to join the post-war effort.

"Limiting competition for prime contracts will encourage the expansion of international cooperation in Iraq and in future efforts," wrote Wolfowitz. [...]

Comment: In other words, if a country joins America's illegal invasions and thereby agrees to (or takes part in) the slaughtering of innocent lives, they will get a piece of the reconstruction pie. Sounds like a deal with the devil...

Blair holds urgent talks to avoid EU slow lane

By Toby Helm and Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in Brussels

Tony Blair is to have an emergency meeting with his French and German counterparts as Paris and Berlin prepare to leave Britain in Europe's slow lane if it blocks a deal on the EU constitution.

Sources close to the Italian EU presidency said that France and Germany were exploring the idea of a new treaty for a core of fast-lane states if the text is vetoed by Britain, Poland and Spain in Brussels this weekend.[...]

Mr Blair is also insisting that any agreement on defence should not undermine Nato. But a final draft of the constitution issued by the Italian presidency last night appeared to take little notice of Britain's demands.

An Italian-led team of EU lawyers has kept a highly controversial clause - slipped in two weeks ago without debate - that effectively abolishes the veto in broad areas of foreign policy. It also proposes qualified majority voting in areas of taxation and over the British rebate.

Foreign Office experts were poring over the text to see whether an "emergency brake" on social security and criminal law offered watertight safeguards and whether new wording on the energy chapter could prevent a Brussels takeover of North Sea oil reserves.

M Chirac suggested after an hour-long meeting with Mr Schröder at the Elysee Palace yesterday that Europe would not forgive leaders who prevented a successful outcome.

"I simply cannot imagine that one or two countries can block the progress that others want to make," he said.

Mr Schröder made clear that, if the summit broke up without agreement, France and Germany would press ahead with closer European integration on their own.

Franco Frattini, the Italian foreign minister, said that a two-speed Europe would become a "tragic reality" if EU leaders failed to agree.

The plans would relegate Britain to an outer sphere of loosely integrated states, shattering Mr Blair's hopes of remaining a dominant player in Europe.

National anthem for new citizens

Alan Travis, home affairs editor
The Guardian
Wednesday December 10, 2003

The home secretary, David Blunkett, has decided to press ahead with plans to include the national anthem and union flag in new citizenship ceremonies, despite objections from some local authorities.

New citizens will be expected to swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen, make a pledge of loyalty to the UK's "rights, freedoms and democratic values", and sing God Save the Queen. [...]

Egyptian, Iranian presidents to meet over ties in Geneva 2003-12-10 21:03:39

CAIRO, Dec. 10 (Xinhuanet) -- Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is to meet with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Khatami in Geneva on Wednesday, the first such summit in 24 years, an Egyptian official said.

The meeting will be held on the sidelines of a global information gathering, said the official, who is accompanying Mubarak on the visit to the Swiss city.

Chirac pays tribute to 'mon cher Jean'

Last Updated Wed, 10 Dec 2003 4:32:21

PARIS - French President Jacques Chirac praised retiring Prime Minister Jean Chrétien as a "prestigious statesman" at a full state dinner in his honour Tuesday.

In an opening toast at the Paris dinner, Chirac said Chrétien, who is on the final leg of his last international trip as prime minister, has written many great pages of his country's history.

[...] In that speech Chirac repeatedly referred to Chrétien as "mon cher Jean" and said relations between the two countries have never been better.

Chirac spoke of how Canada and France agree on the role of the United Nations. Both countries refused to participate in the U.S. led war on Iraq because it was not sanctioned by the UN.

Chrétien said in an era of globalization, a nation's influence is no longer determined by the number of cannons or missiles in its possession.

"They are measured by the civility and tolerance the nation demonstrates toward its international partners and its openness to dialogue with them."

He said he wasn't directing his comments at any country in particular.

EU Turns Blind Eye to Berlin-Beijing Nuclear Deal

Schröder’s support for easing the EU arms embargo on China and plans to export a plutonium plant may have sparked an outcry in Germany, but other EU heavyweights have long been pursuing similar policies with Beijing.

Premier Wen makes four proposals to promote Sino-US relations 2003-12-10 11:36:59

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9 (Xinhuanet) -- Visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said here Tuesday that China and the United States are friends, not adversaries.

Addressing a dinner hosted by nine American organizations, Wen, who arrived here Monday on his first official visit to the United States since taking the office early this year, put forward a series of proposals aimed at promoting the constructive and cooperative relations between the two countries.

First, he said, the two countries should continue with high-level visits and strategic dialogue.

Second, efforts should be made to facilitate mutually beneficial trade and economic cooperation and establish a sound mechanism to address bilateral issues.

The third proposal he made is for intensifying coordination between the two countries on major international and regional issues.

In the fourth proposal, the premier called for expanding people-to-people exchanges.

U.S. warns Taiwan, China

The Chinese premier got a warm welcome at Andrews Air Force Base.

WASHINGTON -- The United States has warned both Taiwan and China not to make provocative moves towards each other as tensions mount across the Taiwan Strait. [...]

"We don't want to see Taiwan moving toward independence. We don't want to see any unilateral moves in that direction," a senior U.S. official told reporters on Monday. [...]

Blow to nuclear crisis talks as Bush rejects North Korea offer

SEOUL (AFP) Dec 10, 2003

Hopes for a new round of nuclear crisis talks this year diminished Wednesday as US President George W. Bush rejected a North Korean nuclear freeze offer in return for major concessions.

A North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said Pyongyang would attend a new round of talks only after it received rewards including an end to US sanctions and the resumption of suspended US oil deliveries. In return, Pyongyang would freeze its nuclear facilities, the spokesman said. [...]

Sibneft and Yukos to unwind merger

By Arkady Ostrovsky in Moscow and Carola Hoyos in London
December 9 2003

Roman Abramovich, the billionaire Russian oligarch, has called off the biggest merger in Russian corporate history, leaving his Sibneft oil empire free to strike deals with multinational oil giants after the collapse of its merger with Yukos.

The largest shareholders in the two Russian groups agreed to unwind a merger that had, in effect, already taken place, sources close to Sibneft said.

ExxonMobil, the world's largest oil company, is known to be interested, and has kept close contacts with Mr Abramovich. But the break-up of the merger also makes it easier for ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil's smaller rival, to afford a deal. Both companies had been vying for a stake in YukosSibneft.

Total, the French energy company seen as closest to signing a deal with Sibneft before the Yukos merger was announced in April, is also still interested.

Landing a big one

By Roger Fillion
Rocky Mountain News
December 10, 2003

Lockheed Martin Corp. has landed a federal missile contract worth up to $4.6 billion, with the work to be managed at the company's Jefferson County facilities.

The Lockheed missiles will be used as targets in a Pentagon plan to test the nation's missile defense systems. [...]

In another piece of good news for Lockheed and its Colorado work force, the company Tuesday won a $100 million contract to launch a satellite for a government spy agency, the National Reconnaissance Office. The NRO operates the nation's spy satellites. [...]

The Bush administration plans to deploy an embryonic missile-defense system beginning with 10 ground-based interceptor missiles next year and 10 more the following year. [...]

Russia accuses US over Georgia

By Tom Warner
December 8 2003

Russia accused the US at the weekend of having pressured Georgia's former President Eduard Shevardnadze out of office, partly by helping to organise the demonstrations last month that convinced him to resign.

"There are enough facts bearing witness that the events of those days weren't any kind of spontaneous occurrence," Igor Ivanov, Russia's foreign minister, said on his ministry's internet site.

He said western countries bore "a very great responsibility" not to "push" other members of the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States down the same path.

Mr Ivanov said Richard Miles, US ambassador, had helped prepare the protest movement in Georgia, a claim Mr Miles has repeatedly and strongly denied. He also said it was "becoming more obvious" that James Baker and Gen John Shalikashvili, US emissaries who visited before the protests, had tried to persuade Mr Shevardnadze to quit.

Georgia hopes for immediate talks with Russia on military bases 2003-12-10 10:49:03

MOSCOW, Dec. 9 (Xinhuanet) -- The Georgian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday it hopes to hold negotiations immediately with Russia on the handing back of two Russian military bases in Georgia.

A foreign ministry statement said it was completely possible for Russia to hand back its two military bases and other military facilities within three years. Russia's use of political upsets inGeorgia as excuses for suspending negotiations were unacceptable.

Doctors face unprecedented demand for flu shots

Last Updated Tue, 09 Dec 2003 21:31:34

TORONTO - Canada's top health officials are trying to predict and meet demand for influenza vaccine.

The medical officers of health held a conference call on Tuesday to discuss the country's supply of vaccine.

[...] In the United States, officials have begun searching for alternative supplies of flu vaccine.

Last week, two manufacturers in the U.S. said their supplies are sold out. A vaccine company in New York says it is raising production at Washington's urging.

MedImmune Seeks Help In Relaunching FluMist

New Plan to Be Rolled Out in January

By Michael Barbaro
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 25, 2003

MedImmune Inc. hired a consultant to discover why its needle-free flu vaccine FluMist disappointed sales expectations this fall and is considering emphasizing what it says is FluMist's safety as well as its convenience, said an analyst who spoke to the Gaithersburg drug company's managers.

Mark Schoenebaum of Minneapolis investment bankers U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray Inc. said MedImmune executives were surprised to learn that doctors and patients say they believe FluMist, which contains a live but weakened form of the influenza virus, might give them the flu. The company told him "many physicians are actually advising against FluMist," Schoenebaum said. [...]

Comment: And lo and behold, the "help" is provided, despite the fact that even the corrupt FDA has "health concerns" about the vaccine.

Two Flu Shot Makers Run Out of Vaccine

Dec 5 2003

The two makers of flu shots in the United States said Friday they have run out of vaccine and will not be able to meet a surge in demand resulting from fears of a particularly bad flu season.

Nevertheless, the companies said people who have put off getting their shots may still be able to find them, since distributors and doctors' offices may still have some left.

The companies, Chiron and Aventis Pasteur, together made about 80 million doses of the injected vaccine, which ordinarily would be enough to take care of U.S. demand.

"Because of the recent outbreak, we've seen an unprecedented surge of vaccine orders late in the season," said Len Lavenda, an Aventis spokesman. "As a result, we have now shipped all our available supplies."

"It's all been shipped out," said Chiron's John Gallagher. "We began shipping in August. It's all gone at this point."

The companies said they cannot make more vaccine this year, because the process takes four months. By that time, the flu season would be over.

Another alternative is the FluMist, the more expensive inhaled version of the vaccine. Its maker, MedImmune Vaccines, made between 4 million and 5 million doses this year. Spokeswoman Jamie Lacey said that as of Nov. 18, the company had sold 400,000 doses, and "there is still a wide supply available."

Flu Shot Shortage Could Help FluMist

December 09, 2003

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) - Shortages of flu shots could boost disappointing sales of the needle-free vaccine FluMist this winter, but analysts say the drug's long term outlook is dogged by a high price and limits on who can use it.

The news last Friday that the nation's two producers of traditional flu vaccine injections have run out of stock and won't be able to produce more this season has led some health agencies and consumers to turn to FluMist.

There is plenty of the nasal spray vaccine available - only 400,000 doses out of the roughly 4 million doses made by Gaithersburg-based MedImmune and its partner, Wyeth, have been distributed to pharmacies and flu vaccine sites.

State health agencies are recommending that healthy people between the ages of 5 and 49 use FluMist and save what remains of the traditional vaccine for others.

Until last week, MedImmune had a hard time selling FluMist. Its wholesale price of $46 per dose is much higher than the cost of flu shots. And the drug - originally billed as a painless alternative for those scared of needles - hasn't been approved for use by toddlers and seniors.

At pharmacies in 33 Giant Food grocery stores in Virginia, FluMist sales tripled last week over the previous week, company spokesman Jamie Miller said. FluMist sells for $59.95 at Giant, while a flu shot is $20, he said.

"FluMist will probably be the last place to turn," said Philip Nadeau, an analyst with SG Cowen Securities. "I think most physicians would think that FluMist is better than nothing."

MedImmune spokeswoman Jamie Lacey said it was too early to tell how the vaccine shortage would affect FluMist sales.

FluMist, which contains a live but weakened flu virus, is meant to be a painless alternative to the traditional flu injection, which is made from a dead flu virus.

MedImmune hoped FluMist would be a blockbuster drug, much like its childhood respiratory drug Synagis that had $668 million in sales last year. The company pumped $25 million into an ad campaign touting the drug to consumers and another $25 million pitching it to pharmacies.

But the drug's introduction was hampered by several factors.

Citing safety concerns, the Food and Drug Administration did not approve FluMist for children under 5 years and those above 50, the two groups at the greatest risk for the flu. [...]

CDC may buy flu vaccine from Europe

Mild Earthquake Reported in Virginia

Tue Dec 9, 4:58 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Startled East Coast residents from North Carolina to Maryland were shaken Tuesday by an earthquake that registered a preliminary magnitude of 4.5.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake occurred about 28 miles west of Richmond — 104 miles south-southwest of Washington. There were numerous reports from people who felt it in three states and the District of Columbia.

Geological Survey spokeswoman Carolyn Bell said there were no immediate reports of damage. [...]

The quake occurred at 3:59 p.m. EST and was shallow, at about 3 miles below the Earth's surface. [...]

More recently, parts of southwestern Virginia were shaken in 1959.

Minor quakes shake Norman, prompt calls

Josh Rabe
The Oklahoma Daily
December 08, 2003

In a rare turn of seismic events, two minor earthquakes shook Norman on Monday.

The first quake at 9:50 a.m. ranked at a magnitude of 1.7 on the Richter scale and the second at 1:18 p.m. brought a 2.0 magnitude, according to initial data from the Oklahoma Geological Survey, said geologist Kenneth Luza. [...]

Monday’s quake caused a noticeable vibration, but no known damage. According to those who called police, more people felt the vibration in northwest Norman.

Mankin said the earthquake appears to have originated just north of Tuttle, but he said he is uncertain which fault line caused the vibration.

"We haven’t pinned it down to a particular fault," Mankin said.

Earthquake rattles Taiwan

Wed 10 December, 2003 05:01

TAIPEI (Reuters) - A strong earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale has rattled eastern Taiwan but there are no immediate reports of casualties or damage, the weather bureau says.

The epicentre of the quake, which struck at 4:38 a.m. British time on Wednesday, was about two miles west of Cheng Kung in Taitung county on eastern coast, at a depth of six miles, the Central Weather Bureau said in a statement.

Earthquakes occur frequently in Taiwan, which lies on a seismically active stretch of the Pacific basin.

Freak hailstorm lashes city (Australia)

December 10, 2003

A SUDDEN storm has lashed the Queensland city of Gladstone with large hailstones and flash flooding causing widespread damage to property.

The storm late yesterday also brought down powerlines and caused the evacuation of a big shopping centre in the central Queensland industrial city.

The district manager of the counter disaster rescue service, Brad Lutton, said he understood it was the worst storm in a decade to hit the city, but at this stage the extent of damage was not known. [...]

Global Warming Threatens Lake Bursts in Nepal

Sanjaya Dhakal
OneWorld South Asia

KATHMANDU, Dec 9 (OneWorld) - Although Nepal's share in the global emission of greenhouse gases is almost nil, the consequences of global warming and climate change - receding snowlines, lake bursts and flash floods - threaten to wash away vast areas of the country, including the region that's home to Mount Everest. [...]

Going, going, gone: In 1990, this Swiss glacier reached the sign.

Scientists Criticize U.S. Reluctance To Acknowledge Climate Change

The future of the Kyoto protocol on global warming may still be uncertain, but scientists at a Milan conference said this summer’s heat wave showed that climate change is fast becoming a reality.

Evidence of global warming is mounting: The last decade was the warmest in a century, 1998 went down as the hottest year in recorded memory and the trend continues. Scientists estimate that the globe’s average temperature has risen by 0.6 degrees Celsius (1.08 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times.

“It’s very difficult to link each single event and each single variable with actions carried out by human society,” said Rajendra Pachauri, who chairs the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). “But I think the scientific basis is strong enough for us to take action.”

Melting glaciers, rising oceans

The melting of glacial ice would be one result of warmer temperatures. It’s already happening: Alaskan glaciers melted twice as fast during the past five to seven years as before, according to the environmental organization World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Scientists are also alarmed by the situation in the European alps. There, glacial ice has shrunk by 10 to 20 percent during the last two decades.

“We’re talking about disappearing glaciers,” said Jennifer Morgan, WWF’s climate director, adding that according to her organization’s estimates, glaciers would be a thing of the past should temperatures rise by another 4 degrees Celsius. “That’s significant,” Morgan said. “I don’t think that the politicians here have yet come to grasps with what that means.”

According to recent scientific studies, many humans alive today will witness the melting of glaciers in their lifetime unless climate change can be stopped. IPCC scientists predict that temperatures will have risen by 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius by the end of this century.

Large parts of Tokyo could be submerged under water should temperatures continue to rise, scientists say.Should this happen, “dangerous climatic changes” will become “highly probable,” according to a recent report by the German Advisory Council on Global Change. The West Antarctic ice sheet and the Greenland ice cap would begin melting and eventually lead to a rise in sea levels of up to nine meters (30 feet). London, New York, Shanghai and Tokyo, among others, would be largely submerged as a result, according to the government body’s report.

Developing countries hit first and hardest

Coral reefs would die as a result of the rising water temperatures, numerous species would become extinct because they could not move to cooler areas quickly enough. Heat waves, droughts and floods would occur more frequently. Tropical diseases such as malaria, West Nile Virus and dengue fever would appear in regions where they have not been known so far.

Northern and Central Europe will remain relatively untouched by all of this -- at least in the beginning. Poor countries in Africa and Asia will have to bear the brunt of the change.

Developing countries will be hit first and hardest by climate change.“There is an equity issue that is involved over here,” Pachauri said. “The bulk of the problem in increased concentration of greenhouse gases has come from the past patterns of development of the developed countries and unfortunately the worst impacts are likely to be felt by the developing countries.”

Population to reach 9bn in 300 years or 244 billion in 150 years

Wednesday 10 December 2003

In its most distant forecast to date, the United Nations has projected a population of nine billion people by 2300, if the current trend toward smaller families continues.

But if fertility levels in the developing world remain at today's levels, the global population would reach 244 billion in 2150 and 134 trillion in 2300, according to the report, "World Population in 2300”. At present, there are 6.3 billion people.

The report released on Tuesday forecast that the Japanese would live to the age of 108. Africa’s population would explode while the Europeans could turn into a dwindling species, it said.

"It's like the Titanic with an iceberg ahead," said Joseph Chamie, director of the population division. "You sink because the rates are so low or you simply grow too rapidly because the rates are too high. Either way you have to change course."

New Shooting Added to Ohio Highway Probe

Three Missing After Ship Capsizes in N.Y.

By MARK JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer
December 10, 2003

ALBANY, N.Y. - Three crew members of a Dutch cargo ship in the Hudson River were missing after the ship turned on its side when its load of steel turbines apparently shifted, officials said.

The three could be in the river, where temperatures had dipped to about 20 degrees overnight, or in the ship's hull, said authorities, who planned to resume their search Wednesday morning.

Of the crew of 18, eight were thrown into the partly frozen water. All were pulled out. One crew member listed in critical condition was upgraded to serious condition at a hospital Tuesday night. Another was in fair condition. A third was treated and released. Seven others were rescued from the ship, some by helicopter. [...]

Scientists freeze pulse of light

Wednesday 10 December 2003, 14:17 Makka Time, 11:17 GMT

Physicists say they have brought light to a complete halt for a fraction of a second and then sent it on its way, an achievement that could someday help scientists develop powerful new computers.

The research differs from work published in 2001 that was hailed at the time as having brought light to a standstill.

In that work, light pulses were technically "stored" briefly when individual particles or light, or photons, were taken up by atoms in a gas.

Harvard University researchers have now topped that feat by truly holding light and its energy in its tracks - if only for a few hundred-thousandths of a second.

"We have succeeded in holding a light pulse still without taking all the energy away from it," said Mikhail Lukin, a Harvard physicist.

Comment: Now, if they could find a way to do the same thing with "love", they might be able to make freeze-dried "love and light" burgers, sure to be a hit with the New Age crowd who frown on meat.

Four climbers killed in 1,000ft plunge
06:42 Wednesday 10th December 2003

Four Latvian climbers who were roped together have plunged 1,000ft to their deaths near the summit of New Zealand's highest peak.

A Mount Cook guide found the bodies of the three men and one woman. [...]

Police said they did not know whether the four were climbing up or descending the 12,349ft mountain when they fell. [...]

Police say it is too early to speculate on what caused them to fall. Weather conditions had been excellent in the area. At least 95 climbers have died on Mount Cook in the past 75 years.

Nightmares for many are very, very scary

Nearly 14 million US adults suffer recurring nightmares each evening. [...]

Academics attack nursery rhyme injuries
09:23 Wednesday 10th December 2003

Researchers have concluded that nursery rhymes show a cynical disregard for injuries, particularly to children.

Sarah Giles and Sarah Shea, from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, say Humpty Dumpty should have been put on a spinal board immediately after his big fall. In a satirical letter to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, they added the presence of all the King's men suggests a "shocking lack of crowd control".

They ask: "Could the crowded scene explain the inability of the responders to put Humpty Dumpty together again?"

The pair argue that Rock-a-bye baby would have suffered serious injury in the fall from the tree, reports the Daily Telegraph. The fact the child was in the tree in the first place suggests a reprehensible lack of parental responsibility.

They wrote: "Our study shows that not only do many nursery rhymes detail incidents that could have resulted in severe head injury but also that medical opinion is seldom sought."

They also criticise the rhyme about Jack and Jill for vagueness about the children's injuries and say that foul play could have killed off the old man in It's Raining it's Pouring.

Why The Scream's a blast

December 10, 2003

Why is the sky a lurid red in The Scream, Edvard Munch's painting of modern angst? Astronomers have an answer.

They blame it on a volcanic eruption half a world away.

In the first detailed analysis of what inspired the painting, an article published in Sky and Telescope pinpointed the location in Norway where Munch and his friends were walking when the artist saw the blood-red sky depicted in the 1893 painting, and offered an explanation for why the sky seemed to be aflame.

Donald Olson, a physics and astronomy professor at Texas State University, and his colleagues determined that debris thrown into the atmosphere by the great eruption at the island of Krakatoa, in modern Indonesia, created vivid red twilights in Europe from November 1883 through to February 1884.

The local newspaper in what is now Oslo reported that the phenomenon was widely seen, the astronomers said.

Olson and his colleagues suggest that Munch drew his inspiration for the sky in the painting from these volcanic twilights, and not from his own imagination.

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