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December 30, 2003

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Some days, the news hits harder than others. You just never know what story will give you that "punched in the gut" feeling. The "big" stories always do: 9/11, the Iraq Invasion, or the recent earthquake in Bam. Sometimes it is also the "smaller" reports, that perhaps carry some symbolic weight, such as our lead story today.

The FBI warns that terrorists may be carrying ... Farmer's Almanacs. If you are spotted carrying an Almanac in public, you may find yourself reported to the U.S. Joint Terrorism Task Force. Can you trust that your local bookseller is not a fascist, and won't report you if you purchase one? What if you are stopped by the police for some perceived traffic violation, and one is spotted in your car? Science fiction authors have been warning about the US becoming a fascist state for years. Who would have believed we would watch Bush create it right in front of our eyes?

As always it takes courage to really see it. There is a strong "natural" desire in all of us to want to ameliorate the "terror of the situation", to indulge in some self calming despite the facts. Sadly, this penchant for an illusory, rosy world view at any cost makes it so much easier for our "leaders" to get away with murder, and do those that facilitate "murder" not bear responsibility for it?

An electronic voting firm responsible for security was hacked. If you live in the US, your backyard deck could be killing you. So could your new drug cocktail from Eli Lilly. Multiple power outages in Northern California are blamed on a winter storm. Taiwan has banned US beef for seven years.

The death toll at Bam continues to rise. Today, they are fearing as many as 50,000 people could have died.

Israel claims it will slightly alter the West Bank barrier. It continues its systematic harassment of the Palestinians. The world, as usual, sits by and does nothing.

Syria wants to use its remaining days on the Security Council to get a vote on banning nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in the Middle East. The US says it isn't the time. Didn't they go into Iraq to get rid of the non-existent WMD that Saddam supposedly had? Everyone knows Israel has them. Wonder why the US doesn't say anything about that.

We have the second part of an article on the real reason Khodorkovsky was arrested, Israel needs to prepare itself for an earthquake, a third of the planet's population needs to prepare itself for annihilation at the hands of mother nature and Iraqis need to prepare themselves to be "saved" from their "false religion" by fundie American Christians. Now repeat after us: "It's a miracle!"

FBI urges police to watch for people carrying almanacs

TED BRIDIS
Associated Press Writer
Monday, December 29, 2003

The FBI is warning police nationwide to be alert for people carrying almanacs, cautioning that the popular reference books covering everything from abbreviations to weather trends could be used for terrorist planning.

In a bulletin sent Christmas Eve to about 18,000 police organizations, the FBI said terrorists may use almanacs "to assist with target selection and pre-operational planning."

It urged officers to watch during searches, traffic stops and other investigations for anyone carrying almanacs, especially if the books are annotated in suspicious ways. [...]

The FBI urged police to report such discoveries to the local U.S. Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Comment: For readers not in the US, the Farmers Almanac is a prime example of Americana and a part of the landscape. Many have grown up with with it, and it was a fixture in grandparents' homes across the US. It's one step away from saying the Bill of Rights is a terrorist tool. Actually, that already has been said. Sometimes, kids sell it to raise money for band uniforms. People consult it to know the best time to plant carrots in their garden, not to know the best place to plant a bomb.

Pretty soon, they will pick up people knowledgeable of geography for questioning. Luckily, they stopped teaching that in US schools long ago. This tactic is bogus, carefully scripted and designed, preparing us for increased terrorist activity and removal of freedoms.

The terror threat at home, often overlooked

As the media focus on international terror, a Texan pleads guilty to possessing a weapon of mass destruction

HOUSTON –It began as a misdelivered envelope and developed into the most extensive domestic terrorism investigation since the Oklahoma City bombing.

Last month, an east Texas man pleaded guilty to possession of a weapon of mass destruction. Inside the home and storage facilities of William Krar, investigators found a sodium-cyanide bomb capable of killing thousands, more than a hundred explosives, half a million rounds of ammunition, dozens of illegal weapons, and a mound of white-supremacist and antigovernment literature. [...]

The world hacked by a failed state

Abid Ullah Jan
December 13, 2003

What does the US illegal invasion, occupation and finally capture of Saddam Hussein mean? Someone who thinks the world is now a secure place under the unchallenged power of the United States is extremely misguided.

It rather shows that the world is living at the mercy of a failed state, called the United States of America. The world’s helplessness before the illegitimate use of the US military might is no different than someone’s following every order from a psychopath at gun point.

Although instances of states failure reach deep into history, the “threat” of failed states to international security has become a frequently used concept only in the last decade or so. The objective of over blowing this threat is to give legitimacy to illegal acts and occupations of the super failed state.

We find the US as a failed state by all standards: whether we judge it by expectations from a state or by application of any definition or indicator of a failed state, which could be rise in group/public grievance; uneven economic development along group lines; continuing economic decline; criminalization of the State; suspension or arbitrary application of human rights; loss of civil liberties; security apparatus operating as a "State Within a State"; or rise of factionalized elite.

A reverse state failure

Generally we consider states with collapsed power structures and state institutions as failed. One may wonder how the US could be a failed state when there appears no paralysis of governance, a breakdown of law and order, or general banditry and chaos in the state.

Actually there is a reverse phenomenon of state failure taking place in the US. It needs a shift of focus to see, that instead of an implosion of the weakened structures of power and authority, there is Nazi Germany or Fascist Italy like hardening of specific power structures taking place. The growing fascist tendency makes these structures impermeable and inflexible to any pro-people changes. The US is not just slouching toward Gomorrah, as Robert Bork has written. It is rather slouching toward Rome. Or we may say the state structure and systems in the US have become a combination and consummation of all negative elements that one could find in the most powerful but failed states of the past.

From Political perspective

From political stand point, instead of near breakdown of structures guaranteeing law and order, we witness strengthening of these structures in a negative way. The established institutions such as Congress are approving shifts in the balance of power away from the legislature and the courts to the state agencies.

As a result of this fascist tendency, the notion of the citizen's inviolable right to liberty — the underlying principle of the Declaration of Independence — has practically vanished from the American political landscape.

However, it is increasingly becoming evident that the more than 200 years of written constitution are no guarantee of true freedom, democracy or pro-people policies and systems in the US. To many Americans, they are living under executive tyranny at the moment.

The signs are all around us. Cops are shooting citizens on the street who dare voice their protestations to policies benefiting corporations and harming U.S. citizens. The incidents in Miami are a recent example. John Ashcroft is rolling back constitutional protections in order to "protect" U.S. citizens from "terrorism". General Tommy Franks just stated publicly that one single successful attack using weapons of mass destruction against the U.S. could result in abandonment of the U.S. constitution and installation of a military state in the U.S. itself.

Repercussions for others

Due to the reverse phenomenon of failed states, most of the byproducts of US failure — refugees, killing, mutilation, starvation, and other human rights violations — are not confined within its borders. The tyrannical rigidity in the US political institutions will melt many other states before cracking itself into the dustbin of history.

This tyrannical rigidity is an invisible form of political decay that we do not witness in other failed states where the weakened institutions gradually melt down. This failure is not associated with a particular figure in the US administration or the president. It must be viewed as a process and not as an occurrence that could be reversed with the change of Clinton to Bush and Bush to someone else. [...]

The negative consolidation favors elite. It takes majority at home in a tyrannical grip and goes for unprecedented hegemonic designs abroad. No matter how effective it may seem at the moment, legitimate it is not. And that is the point from where all the rot begins. [...]

So in the progress towards total failure, two processes are going on simultaneously in the US: decreasing political legitimacy and increasing lack of state’s capacity. State’s capacity is not eroding in terms of addressing basic needs of citizens; its resources to address public grievances, or even silencing its critics. It comes under state’s capability.

Here we talk about state’s capacity in terms of its growing isolation from the people. This can be gauged, for example, from comparing public feeling in Italy — where Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi and the Italian cabinet paid respect to the 19 Italians killed in Iraq at official state funeral — with the feelings in the US where administration avoids to even grieving the death of hundreds of American soldiers.

Smokescreens of economic prosperity

Within the US, the state is not governing its people. It is merely coercing them through different means, used by various despots at war with their people in the past. This is not a result of the lag in the development of political institutions behind social and economic change. It is, in fact, due to lack of integration and a pro-people approach.

Instead of integrating social and economic development with political development, the former two have been used as Roman circuses; as smokescreens to keep the people blind to the reality that political adventurism of the governing elite has turned the country into the most consummate police state ever existed.

Tyranny vs. security

A stable state is expected to provide a substantial measure of security to its citizens. Under the banner of providing security, the US launched different wars at home and abroad after carefully calculated dis-information campaigns. As a result of brainwashing the public into various kinds of fears, the state enjoys the monopoly of the authority to use all kinds of force; incarcerates as many people as no other state has ever done before — mostly in the name of “war on drugs” — and occupies many countries in the name of “war on terrorism.”

The US monopoly over the exercise of violence is uncontested. It acts as the protector of norms of political behavior that are not accepted by all important political actors and by the citizenry in the US general. A recent Al-Jazeera poll shows 75 per cent of the respondents believe the US is not acting sensibly. [...]

To day the Bush-must-go campaigns are gaining momentum in the US because the US government knowingly misled the nation into war after wars. It is not one person, George Bush, alone who killed Ten-thousand innocent Iraqi civilians. A couple of presidents and their team alone did not rain down an unprovoked blitz of over 14,000 Tomahawk missiles, at a cost of a million dollars each.

It is the US Congress and Parliament and all its agencies, a cluster of systems and institutions, which ignored international law. The state systems ignored the voices of 40 Nobel Peace prize winners. Against the state system the pleas of heads of all the world's main religions lost their value.

Efforts to oust Bush will yield not much because Bush is not the problem. He is a symptom of the systems and state that feel no problem at all in approving invasions and subsequently approving 100 billion dollars for sustaining occupations.

In this case the state collapse is a direct product of criminal behavior and total loss of legitimacy on the part of the US government. In this case it is impossible to disentangle the sources of governmental and state legitimacy, which is the result of a deliberate policy by governing elites. A careful reading into statements of the US administration helps one find how they encourage loyalty to the state, of which they themselves are the chief beneficiaries. [...]

The US is a failed state by virtue of the strategic incompetence of its leadership in having a role in starting three disastrous wars and because of imposing more than a decade long economic sanctions, which helped the world achieve nothing other than killing civilians. Its infrastructure, wealth and military power are not signs of its perfection but sources of global instability. They did not guarantee peace in the world. Instead these factors tempt its rulers to undertake further military interventions.

Keeping the failure of the US as a state in mind, doctrines of preventive actions against the so-far considered failed states need thorough reevaluation. It is absurd to read Robert I. Rotberg in Foreign Affairs magazine (July/August 2003): “Weak states threaten not only themselves but also their neighbors and even global security. Preventing state failure is thus a strategic and moral imperative. If nation building is done on the cheap, the war against terror will be lost.”

Weak states are in no position at all to undermine global security. Instead it is the strongest of all states that has failed and whose failure is threatening the world peace beyond everyone’s imagination.

Conclusion

It is the consciousness of the people, particularly the Americans, and their re-evaluation of their state to see if the US is going in the right direction; if just changing a president and his team every four years sufficient for course correction, or a mini-revolution is required to purge the system of loopholes and the worst exploiters of freedom and democracy.

Their acts of revolutionary opposition will eventually stop the tyranny at home and the new imperialist drive to war and domination abroad in which the sovereignty and independence of other countries would be destroyed.

It is the millions upon millions of ordinary people who have to triumph because the real security and real interests of the people of the whole world is in their hands.

Abid Ullah Jan’s latest book, The End of Democracy, is just released in Canada

Comment: The final bolded quotes above are important in that they address, albeit briefly, the subject of what, if anything, anyone can do about the deplorable state of our planet and those that control its destiny. Contrary to the opinion that the author seems to be expressing, it is the opinion of the Signs team that the idea of "revolution" vis a vis the governing elite is not to be taken literally. We hold this opinion for one simple reason, it would not be a fair fight with the chances of victory for the masses exceedingly slim. Indeed, there exists the possibility that an attempt at violent opposition on the part of the people is exactly what the elite would like to see and a scenario that they may be planning to precipitate.

The battle has always been for the one thing of real value that may have the potential to effect change on a far greater scale than we can imagine: our minds. Control that, and you control the entire being.

Readers will perhaps admit that it is quite easy to convince someone that a lie is the truth and then have them dismiss the truth as a lie. A much more difficult task is to expose oneself to the truth and then revert to believing the lie.

As such in our opinion, the battle field for any "revolution" remains where it has always been, within. Overthrow the despotic ruler that is our unconscious programs, our self importance, our self centeredness, our complacency, our blindness, and we may afford ourselves the chance to grasp freedom of a sort rarely experienced on this planet, the freedom that comes from embracing "what is". The choice lies, as always, with each individual.

If we consider the truth that bodies are made of matter and will decay and disappear, and if we hypothesize that consciousness might possibly live on, the question then is, what is in your head? What level of truth or illusion are you perceiving and therefore contributing to? The choice can be conscious or unconscious, yet in the final analysis a choice is made, and individually and collectively we bear responsibility for the outcome. To put it another way: "There are no free lunches in the universe, if you think there are, you are lunch!"

U.S. Steps Up Security for World Airlines

Security Stepped Up for Foreign Airlines Over U.S. With New Directive Requiring Air Marshal

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON Dec. 30 — Foreign airlines risk being denied access to American airspace if they don't obey a new U.S. directive that some international flights crossing over or headed to this country must carry an armed law enforcement officer to thwart terrorists, Homeland Secretary officials say.

"Any sovereign government retains the right to revoke the privilege of flying to and from a country or even over their airspace," Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Monday. "So ultimately a denial of access is the leverage that you have."

Ridge also said the nation would remain at orange alert through the New Year's holiday and perhaps beyond. "We are as concerned today as we were yesterday," he said. "We'll be concerned as much this week as we were last week."

The new directive Ridge outlined Monday requires selected international flights that enter U.S. airspace to carry an armed law enforcement officer aboard. The Homeland Security Department will require such officers on airplanes where intelligence information leads to a specific concern about that flight.

For months, U.S. security officials have feared that al-Qaida operatives would again hijack planes to use them as missiles. The most recent concerns centered not on domestic passenger flights, but on airliners or cargo planes that take off from overseas and cross over U.S. airspace, either on their way to a U.S. airport or to a foreign one. [...]

Aviation security experts said the announcement marks a significant change in that, up until now, international security guidelines have been voluntary.

"In the past, no country has ever tried to impose on other countries any measures of aviation security," said Rafi Ron, president of New Age Security Solutions, a Washington-based consultancy, and the former security director for the Israeli Airport Authority.

Ron predicted that despite concerns about armed air marshals expressed by British pilots and others, the measure will be enforced without much resistance because of the huge importance of the U.S. market to foreign carriers.

The next logical step will be for the international community to push for global aviation security standards, including mandated reinforced cockpit doors and better airport perimeter defenses. [...]

Comment: A question: In the aftermath of 9/11, why did the US government not make it compulsory for all US commercial and cargo airliners to have a remote override installed, allowing the plane to be controlled from the ground in the event of an emergency? Most other international carriers could be persuaded to do the same given that they have all jumped on the "terrorism" bandwagon and are so concerned about protecting their citizens from the evil "terrorists".

This technology has existed for years and would have single-handedly taken care of the threat of "terrorists" ever using planes to attack the US again. Of course, we all know the answer to this little brain teaser. The US government simply couldn't do such a thing because without their "credible terrorist threat", how would they scare the pants off everyone and justify attacking other nations killing their civilians and stealing their resources... It's simple when you know how!

Small plane enters LaGuardia airspace, circles Statue of Liberty

Monday, December 29, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) -- Despite the city's high security level and national terrorism warning, a small plane was able to enter LaGuardia Airport airspace without permission, fly along the East River and circle the Statue of Liberty, and a bus was stolen from the city's bus terminal and driven to Kennedy Airport the same day.

A police helicopter with machine-gun armed officers escorted the plane to an airport on Long Island, said the plane's pilot, Richard Langone.

"I was scared to death," Langone, 47, of Atlantic Beach, told the New York Post.

He said he got confused Sunday while returning home from Poughkeepsie and flew through the restricted airspace by mistake. [...]

Airspace over Las Vegas Strip to be closed New Year's Eve

Israel to Tweak Route of Barrier Under Pressure

By Matthew Tostevin
December 30, 2003

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel, under international pressure over a giant separation barrier being built in the West Bank, plans minor changes to the route it says will make life easier for Palestinians, security sources said Tuesday. [...]

The changes will entail widening the existing opening that links the city of Qalqilya, shut within an enclave by the barrier, to the rest of the West Bank. They will also mean the village of Baka al-Sharkiya shifts from the Israeli side to the West Bank.

"This change will not make life easier for Palestinians and this wall will destroy the peace process," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Reuters. [...]

Settler numbers rise 16% under Sharon

Tuesday 30 December 2003, 14:26 Makka Time, 11:26 GMT

The population of Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories has grown by 16% since Prime Minister Ariel Sharon came to power in March 2001.

The overall number of settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip now stands at 236,000, Israel's interior ministry said on Tuesday.

The numbers living in several isolated settlements has grown much more rapidly including at the controversial Netzarim settlement in southern Gaza that is now home to about 65 families and guarded by several hundred troops, after growing by 24% since Sharon's election.

Under the terms of the US-backed road map peace plan, Israel is obliged to freeze settlement activity, but the Israeli government has continued to issue tenders for the building of more apartments in the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel continues West Bank invasion

Tuesday 30 December 2003, 12:48 Makka Time, 9:48 GMT

Israeli occupation soldiers have launched invasions into West Bank towns and cities, imposing curfews and destroying homes.

Early on Tuesday, forces stormed the village of Kafar Malik near the occupied West Bank city of Ram Allah, before slapping a blockade on the area, reported our correspondent.

Soldiers searched homes for resistance fighters, said residents.

In the city of Nablus, soldiers stormed buildings and set-up observation points on rooftops. Troops also barred our correspondent from entering Nablus' Old City.

Residents said clashes erupted in a neighbourhood overnight. There were no immediate reports of casualties, but ambulances were prevented from reaching the area.

And in the Balata refugee camp, Israeli operations have continued for the twelfth day.

Sixteen homes were evacuated overnight as soldiers threatened to demolish the houses, claiming the families were sheltering anti-occupation fighters, said our correspondent.

Sandbag barricades were erected, dividing the camp into half.

Israeli army sources said the invasions were ongoing since they had allegedly received warnings of possible resistance attacks in the areas.

Comment: Day in and day out it continues. The Palestinians are routed out of their homes by Israeli "enforcers." The homes are ransacked if not completely razed. Systematic harassment of a people for the simple reason that they said no to a psychopathic occupier. Day by day by day. Can you imagine what this must be like? Can you feel the suffering caused by living in such insecurity? The mothers who each day must worry if a member of her family will be killed by an Israeli bullet, a young child "accidentally eliminated" for throwing rocks. And the overpowering sense of helplessness in the face of an internationally approved genocide.

The world sits and watches and does not do a thing to stop it. Not the Europeans. Not the Arabs. Not the Chinese. Not the Russians. The Americans will say something nice about the Palestinians one day all the while sending Sharon a blank cheque to continue the slaughter. The slaughter proceeds apace, some days with more overt violence, but every day with acts of harassment designed to force the Palestinians off of their land. The Wall is designed to break up their territories into unlivable subunits, farmers separated from their land, children from their schools, workers from their jobs, individuals from their families.

The Israelis know that they are exempt from law. They can run over Rachel Corrie with a tractor with impunity, demolish houses with rage, keep Arafat under virtual house arrest for three years, bomb Syria with no sanctions, ignore the UN with a sly smile, hoard nuclear weapons without signing any international accords, and develop ethnic specific weapons.

How can they get away with it!?

Against this brutal and relentless force, paid for by the USA, what options do the Palestinians have? Each successive "Peace Plan" offers less and less. The Geneva Accord does not even allow those thrown off of their lands and forced into exile to return home! The "Road Map" generously offers the Palestinians 22% of what they should have by the accords of the 1940s! Yet they are portrayed as asking for too much!

How strong must be their frustration, their resentment, their anger, and to be portrayed as the villains on top of it all! They are accused of being "terrorists" while the terrorists in Israel are now the political leaders, sanctified by international recognition.

There is no end in sight for the Palestinian suffering.

Not only that, but the US is using the Israeli model for its "pacification" of Iraq, as we have reported on these pages.

Syria wants UN vote on Israeli nukes

Tuesday 30 December 2003, 12:40 Makka Time, 9:40 GM

Syria pushed for a ban on nuclear, biological and chemical weapons in the Middle East on Monday, using its final days on the UN Security Council to highlight the issue of Israel's nuclear arms.

Syrian Ambassador Faisal Mikdad, whose two-year term on the 15-nation council expires at midnight on Wednesday, has asked the UN body to take up a resolution drafted by Damascus in April that is intended to rid the Middle East region of all nuclear, biological and chemical arms.

But in a closed-door meeting, diplomats said, a number of the council's member nations including the United States, Britain and Pakistan expressed concerns with the Syrian text and Mikdad said he would not push for a quick vote.

The Syrian draft was "wrong in substance, wrong in timing," Deputy US Ambassador James Cunningham said.

Comment: Wrong in substance because the US does not want a nuclear free Middle East. They want a strong and dangerous Israel. Time will tell if this is because the US wants to preserve Israel, or whether they wish to use Israel to explode the entire region.

Syria was Iraq's top weapons source before war

Tuesday December 30, 09:48 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Syrian firm, headed by a cousin of the country's leader, Bashar Assad, signed contracts to supply millions of dollars in arms and equipment to Iraq before the United States invaded in March, The Los Angeles Times reports.

In the first of a two-part series written from Damascus, The Times reported on Tuesday that "1,000 heavy machine guns and up to 20 million bullets for assault rifles," supplied by SES International, "helped Baghdad's ill-equipped army grow stronger before the war began in March. Some supplies may now be aiding the insurgency against the U.S.-led occupation."

Files cited by the Times were taken from the abandoned office of Al Bashair Trading Company, by a reporter for the German magazine Stern shortly after U.S. troops entered Baghdad.

The newspaper said it had the 800 signed contracts translated from Arabic and sought confirmation internationally during a three-month investigation.

Among the findings The Times reported:

- A Polish company shipped up to 380 surface-to-air missile engines to Baghdad through Syria.

- A South Korean firm shipped $8 million (4.5 million pounds) in telecommunications equipment for "air defence."

- A Slovenian firm shipped 20 battle tank barrels to the Syrian firm early in 2002.

- Two North Korean officials went to Damascus to discuss an Iraqi payment of $10 million for components for ballistic missiles. [...]

Comment: Of course, no mention is made of the military hardware - including chemical weapons - that the US gave Saddam in years past.

Karzai to "rule by decree" - earmarks key roles for Afghan hardliners

DAN MORRISON

AFGHAN President Hamid Karzai has secured backing for his plans to concentrate power on himself from the grand assembly of tribal leaders.

A majority of the 502 delegates of the loya jirga, the country’s constitutional convention, are now in favour of a strong presidential system.

However, analysts and Western diplomats expressed concern about some of Karzai’s new allies, who include religious hardliners such as warlord Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf, and warned that Afghanistan now appeared to be heading towards a dictatorship.

The current draft of the constitution would give the president the power to rule by administrative decree and to appoint judges and governors, with little legislative oversight.

Karzai plans to stand for president next year, but only if the office is not weakened in the final version of the constitution.

His direct appointment of 52 delegates to the loya jirga helped foil an attempt to rewrite the document to distribute power under a parliamentary system.

When a group of delegates, most from the Jamiat Islami party, protested, Sayyaf defended Karzai as the country’s "emir" while convention chairman Sibghatullah Mujaddedi warned delegates that as emir, Karzai had a right to appoint his own delegates. In Arabic, emir means prince, or commander.

A Western diplomat in Kabul said: "Sayyaf is a fundamentalist. He supports a caliphate, he wants an emir, and this system resembles that in a sense. It is inevitable: sooner or later it is going to lead to a dictatorship." [...]

Comment: Remember, "we are coming with a mighty force to liberate your people"? Well, it seems that George would like to make a slight modification to that sentiment. It should have read: "We are coming with a mighty force to install a totalitarian ruler".

In the international edition of "Time" magazine earlier this year, there appeared an article that gave grades to various activities of the Bush administration. For the attack on Afghanistan they were given a "B+" grade, stating that "democracy" had been restored, the evil Taliban routed and women's rights reinstated. Aside from the appalling nature of the reporting that parroted such spurious government propaganda, the entire article was fantasy. Not one statement within it bore any resemblance to reality.

We make this point to highlight the difficulty of the task that stands before humanity, Americans in particular. The lies are everywhere. The world is built on a lie, lies infuse almost every aspect of life, from events on the world stage to our all-important personal interactions. In the end it comes down to a simply question, do you love illusion or do you love the truth?

Iran quake, toll could reach 50,000

Tuesday 30 December 2003, 13:40 Makka Time, 10:40 GMT

The toll from one of the world's deadliest earthquakes in the southeastern city of Bam may reach 50,000.

Iranian government officials made the announcement on Tuesday, as hundreds of bulldozers and recovery workers continued the gruesome task of pulling out rotting corpses.

Such a figure would make the earthquake that hit the ancient Silk Road city one of the most lethal natural disasters of recent times.

[...] The scale of the disaster, which toppled virtually every building in the city and outlying villages, prompted worldwide swift pledges of aid.

EU Chiefs Escape Injury from Suspected Letter Bombs

By Douwe Miedema
Mon Dec 29, 6:06 PM ET

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The heads of the European Union's top institutions and its criminal investigation body received suspected letter bombs in the past three days with few clues as to who was sending the potentially lethal packages.

In Frankfurt, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet was sent a suspected letter bomb, police said on Monday, two days after a parcel exploded in the hands of European Commission President Romano Prodi at his home in the Italian city of Bologna.

Another suspect letter bomb surfaced later on Monday at the headquarters of the EU's police agency, Europol, in the Netherlands, but was intercepted by staff and defused by bomb squad officers before it caused any damage. [...]

On Saturday, a parcel bomb exploded when Prodi opened it at his Bologna home. He was not hurt. [...]

Comment: Prodi opened the parcel bomb and it exploded in his hands, but he wasn't injured?!

Britain shuts embassy in Peru over "security threat"

China, Europe Launch Satellite to Track Space Storms

Tue Dec 30, 1:06 AM ET

BEIJING (Reuters) - Pushing ahead with a space program that has won international acclaim, China launched a satellite on Tuesday as part of its first joint initiative with the European Space Agency to help track storms in space. [...]

China's highest orbiting satellite ever launched, part of the Sino-European Double Star Project, was expected to remain in orbit for 18 months to track space storms and help improve the safety of space missions, it said. [...]

UN nuclear chief: Libyans in early stages of developing nuclear technology

06:33 AM EST Dec 30
MAGGIE MICHAEL

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) - Libya received its nuclear technology from a "sophisticated" international network but not necessarily with the knowledge of any government, the UN nuclear chief said after touring four Libyan atomic sites and meeting with the country's leader, Moammar Gadhafi.

Mohamed ElBaradei also said Libya's technology was of a "familiar design" - meaning its origins would not be hard to trace - and that its nuclear program was not advanced. "What we have seen is a program in the very initial stages of development," he said.

The United States, which believes Libya's weapons programs are more extensive than the UN agency presumes, will send its own experts to help dismantle the programs, a senior administration official told The Associated Press on Monday. The CIA and British intelligence believe there are 11 sites in Libya connected to weapons work, the official said.

US warns Libya of "long process" to normalize ties

www.chinaview.cn 2003-12-30 10:06:47

WASHINGTON, Dec. 29 (Xinhuanet) -- The United States on Monday warned Libya of a "long process" for both sides to normalize relations despite Tripoli's announced decision to abandon weapons of mass destruction (WMD)programs.

"We're looking to Libya to get out of the terrorism game and get out of the WMD game," State Department spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters.

He said that although Libya has made "some very important and noteworthy statements regarding their intention to do so," it needs to follow up the commitments.

"It is a long process. We need to make sure that there is follow through on these commitments," Ereli said. "As there is follow through, we are willing to discuss with them the issue of improved bilateral relations, but we're not there yet," he added.

Comment: The US isn't going to let Libya back into its club without a long series of humiliations. Already, they are disagreeing with ElBaradei on the status of nuclear development in the country. So once US companies are back in Libya pumping oil, the US will need ways to lock Ghadafi under their thumb. These kind of threats would appear to be part of the strategy.

Iran leader: ''US army is vulnerable''

25-12-2003

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei on Thursday attended a military graduation ceremony. In his remarks to the ceremony, Khamenei said there is difference in philosophy of the military might in view of the hegemonic powers and that of the Islamic culture. "In the Islamic culture, the power is in the service of humanity and the humanitarian values as well as the divine aspirations. So that the army which serve the interest of the interventionist powers and their greedy companies are preferred to be ignorant and ruthless, but, the army in the services of the lofty humanitarian aspirations are required to boost their knowledge, understanding and give preference to lofty values and popularity as well."

"The army in which the soldiers enter into the battlefield in the name of God, death for the sake of the Almighty is a great pride. "In case of conflict between the army of the Islamic culture and the army in the service of hegemonic powers, victory will be on side of those who regard their death for the God's sake."

Kremlin Reloading After Shot At Yukos

By Catherine Belton
Staff Writer

Khodorkovsky's courtship of influential Western businessmen, politicians and diplomats irritated the new hawks in the Kremlin.

News of the October arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky was greeted with shock and horror in Washington, which had come to regard the Yukos billionaire as its most influential agent in Moscow -- a position previously held by Anatoly Chubais, the man chiefly responsible for Khodorkovsky's vast wealth.

The United States, like Saudi Arabia, its counterpart on the other side of the global oil equation, was quick to realize that Russia's months-long legal onslaught against its biggest oil company and most powerful pro-Western sympathizer had reached the point of no return.

It became clear that President Vladimir Putin was determined to take the country in a bold, new and fiercely independent direction, and that there was no longer a domestic force strong enough to stand in his way.

[...] To hear the West tell it, the downfall of Russia's richest man was nothing more than political payback for his funding of opposition parties and blatant attempts to buy seats in parliament. But evidence suggests there is more to the story, including questions of Khodorkovsky's allegiances.

Khodorkovsky has spent years pursuing what is essentially a personal, pro-American foreign policy, cultivating contacts with the most influential politicians, diplomats, bankers and public relations specialists in Washington -- actions the siloviki, a group of hawks in the Kremlin made up of former KGB men, consider reprehensible.

Comment: This is the second part of an article we ran yesterday.

Albanian parliament approves proposal for govt reshuffle

Third of planet's population will fall victims to Nature's catastrophes

Pravda - 12/26/2003

According to the World's Meteorological Organization (WMO), there soon might be an unprecedented amount of catastrophic weather anomalies on the Earth.

Third world countries will suffer the most.

A record high number of severe weather conditions has been reported for the past few months. In June of 2003, temperature in south France has reached 40 degrees Centigrade, which exceeds the norm by 5-7 degrees. In Switzerland, this June turned out to be the hottest in 250 year history. Analogues weather abnormalities happen in various countries world wide. America had a record number of tornadoes: 562 have been reported. In June 1992, the number reached 399. In addition, a significant increase in precipitation has been observed in the country. India similar to Europe is currently suffering from intolerable heat. Temperature often reaches 49 degrees Centigrade, which is 5 degrees higher than the usual. Sri-Lanka in the meantime endures massive rainstorms, which already caused mudslides and flooded considerable areas.

WMO representatives claim that despite such climatic records, one should not be convinced that the Earth will soon be devoured by climatic apocalypse. Scientists claim that similar climatic abnormalities have already taken place.

There is an increase of a number of cases concerning weather abnormalities such as temperature increase/decrease, droughts or rain showers. Back then however such abnormalities were rarely recorded. One should also take into account the following factor. Today, information travels at a much faster speed than it used to. Nowadays, people learn about disastrous catastrophes practically the moment they happen. As a result, they form an opinion as though catastrophes happen daily.

Nonetheless, the overall amount of Nature's catastrophes is rising parallel to the global warming. According to WMO, Earth's temperature has been increasing since the mid 19th century. The temperature increased by 0.6 degrees in the past century. Global temperature might increase by 1,4-5,8 degrees by the end of this century.

Russian scientists consider that people contribute only 10-15% to the global warming. The rest is simply a natural trend. WMO predicts that the world's ocean's level will rise by one meter in one hundred years. As a result, our planet might suffer agricultural disasters. Third world countries will be among the first to suffer such dramatic consequences.

Some experts do not predict any major floods.They claim that the planet will have to endure severe cold weather in 5-6 years.

Comment: A "natural trend" indeed, but where exactly is this natural trend going? This is what we want to know. It would appear that "the writing is on the wall", but no one cares enough to read it.

"An earthquake in Israel is a certainty; it's just a question of when"

By Ellis Shuman 
December 30, 2003
Geophysical Institute of Israel

"The Haifa Bay area is a ticking bomb, which will explode if and when an earthquake occurs," said Geological Institute Director Amos Bein yesterday. A former study by the Geophysical Institute of Israel found that a 7.0 Richter scale earthquake at Beit Shean would bring down buildings in Tel Aviv and Haifa. Israeli relief organizations vowed to send aid to earthquake victims in Iran, despite Iran's unwillingness to accept it.

"Nearly the whole of Israel is along the fault line," said Chairwoman of the Knesset Science and Technology Committee MK Meli Polishook-Bloch (Shinui) yesterday. "An earthquake is a certainty; it is just a question of when. It could be in five minutes or 50 years. The whole area is sensitive." [...]

Minor Earthquake Strikes in California

SAN SIMEON, Calif. (AP)--A minor earthquake hit early Monday in the vicinity of last week's deadly quake, but there were no reports of damage or injuries, officials said. [...]

STROMBOLI: VOLCANO LAUNCHING SCORIAE AND LAPILLI

(AGI) - Stromboli, Dec. 29 - A year after the anomalous wave caused by the detachment of lava material along the Sciara del fuoco, the crater of Stromboli has intensified its activity, launching scoriae and lapilli. Technicians and volcano experts, who are constantly monitoring Stromboli, have said that the situation is not alarming.

Around hundred tourists, mainly Italians, set foot on the island over the past few days to spend new year's eve admiring the volcano. Many of them have booked a guided trek, but due to the limits imposed for security reasons after the anomalous wave, they cannot go any higher than an altitude of 400 metres.

Storm cuts power to tens of thousands in Northern California

The Associated Press
7:17 p.m. PST Monday, December 29, 2003

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Tens of thousands of people throughout northern California lost power Monday after stormy weather downed hundreds of power lines statewide.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. said 186,000 of its customers have lost power since the storm hit Sunday night. By Monday evening, 115,000 customers had their power restored, while another 71,000 customers were still without electricity.

The storm caused 427 separate outages in PG&E's territory, which extends from Bakersfield to the Oregon border, said PG&E spokesman Jason Alderman. [...]

Rain and snow were partly to blame, but wind was the main cause of the outages, Alderman said. Winds gusting up to 50 miles an hour knocked trees into power lines and slapped the lines together, causing widespread blackouts. [...]

CDC: Nearly 65 passengers on cruise ship get stomach illness

The Associated Press
December 29, 2003

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Nearly 65 passengers and crew members on a cruise ship suffered from a gastrointestinal illness over the last week, federal officials said Monday.

Fifty-three passengers and 11 crew members on Holland America Line Inc.'s Volendam came down with probable cases of norovirus, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman Tom Skinner said. The cruise line obtained specimens from some of them to verify whether they had the common illness, he said. [...]

U.S. OKs Eli Lilly Bipolar Disorder Drug

By Toni Clarke and Jed Seltzer
Mon Dec 29, 4:23 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Eli Lilly and Co. on Monday said it received U.S. regulatory clearance to sell a drug that treats the depressive phase of bipolar disorder with a combination of Prozac and another Lilly medication.

Symbyax mixes the depression drug Prozac with Zyprexa, used to treat schizophrenia and manic episodes of bipolar disorder. Zyprexa is Lilly's top-seller with more than $4 billion in annual sales, while Prozac, the company's former flagship drug, lost U.S. patent protection in 2001.

Lilly said Symbyax is the first medication approved to treat the depressive phase of bipolar disorder, a condition marked by debilitating mood swings that affects at least 2.5 million Americans. [...]

But taking antidepressants alone can make patients wildly manic and nearly suicidal. So adding Zyprexa can calm those manic tendencies. [...]

Some health care experts said the combination offers little advantage because of the side effects associated with each drug alone. [...]

Comment: Let's see if we have this straight: Eli Lilly loses the patent on their flagship product, Prozac, and then decides to combine that drug with another to treat bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is characterized by swings from mania to depression. To treat the depression, patients are given Prozac, which can cause either manic behavior or suicide. To compensate, Zyprexa is added to treat the manic tendencies. Unfortunately, Zyprexa has also been known to trigger suicidal thoughts. It seems that patients are more likely to be struck by lightning than to be successfully treated by these Nazi experiments.

E-voting firm reports computer break-in

Federal authorities investigating VoteHere intrusion

By Alan Boyle
Science editor
MSNBC

BELLEVUE, Wash. - A company developing encryption-based software for secure electronic voting has itself become the victim of a computer break-in, the company’s top executive told MSNBC.com. Federal authorities have confirmed that the incident is under investigation. [...]

Bible Belt missionaries set out on a 'war for souls' in Iraq

US Christian evangelists want to "save Muslim souls" in Iraq, writes David Rennie in Cleveland

American Christian missionaries have declared a "war for souls" in Iraq, telling supporters that the formal end of the US-led occupation next June will close an historic "window of opportunity".

Organising in secrecy, and emphasising their humanitarian aid work, Christian groups are pouring into the country, which is 97 per cent Muslim, bearing Arabic Bibles, videos and religious tracts designed to "save" Muslims from their "false" religion. [...]

Comment: Yet another invasion in Iraq. A great way to inspire even more hatred toward the US.

When God goes to war

Religions usually espouse peace and goodwill, so why have they sparked so many conflicts?

Karen Armstrong
The Guardian
Monday December 29, 2003

We can be certain of one thing in 2004. Unless there is some unimaginable breakthrough, we will see more religiously inspired terrorism. It often seems that we might be better off without religion. A cursory consideration of the crusades and persecutions of Christian history shows that religious violence is not confined to the Islamic world. If the different faiths really are committed to peace and goodwill, why do they inspire such hatred, and why are their scriptures so aggressive?

Religion is the creation of human beings, who are biologically programmed for aggression. We dream of peace but slaughter our own kind, and from the very start our faith systems have reflected this tragic dualism. In the earliest religions, most gods were militant, including Yahweh, worshipped by Jews, Christians and Muslims. Humans were able to enjoy security only by fighting other groups, so they assumed there was also perpetual warfare in the divine world, in which the gods opposed the forces of disorder.

The world religions that developed during the first millennium BCE rejected this bellicose theology and preached empathy, compassion, even non-violence. But they all emerged in societies devastated by war, and this pervasive aggression seeped into their new scriptures. Judaism, for example, was born out of the wrenching experience of political annihilation, deportation and exile - a trauma that left its mark on the Hebrew Bible. [...]

Comment: Did the aggression of past societies "seep" into the scriptures, or could the aggression have resulted from scriptures purposely manipulated to provoke conflict? For a more in-depth analysis of the history and effects of major religions, see our new series Truth or Lies.

Charges filed in the death of an Oklahoma woman and her unborn child

New details out of Hughes County on the case of a woman killed, authorities believe, for her unborn baby. Murder charges were filed late Monday afternoon against a woman already in jail. [...]

Sometime last Monday night, they believe Goodson drove the victim to a remote field about 20 miles south of Okemah. They say the victim had been shot once in the head, and her baby had been cut out of her stomach with a sharp object, possibly a razor blade. [...]

Chinese woman kills daughter to escape neighbour's scorn

SHANGHAI (AFP) - A woman killed one of her daughters because her neighbours were making snide remarks about the fact that she had three children.

Wang Wenjun, 33, migrated to Shanghai's suburban Fengxian district in the early 1990s and married a local farmer. They had three children - two daughters and a son, the Shanghai Morning Post said Tuesday.

But the woman was constantly harassed by her neighbours in a country that abides by a one-child policy. [...]

Wrongly accused in abuse scandal to hear verdict on $10M suit

Last Updated Tue, 30 Dec 2003 6:03:05

SASKATOON - A judge is set to rule Tuesday on a $10 million malicious prosecution lawsuit by members of an extended foster family originally accused of ritualistic satanic sex abuse.

Twelve members of the extended foster family are suing Saskatoon police Supt. Brian Dueck – a corporal at the time of the case – therapist Carol Bunko-Ruys, and two Crown prosecutors, Matthew Miazga and Sonja Hansen.

In 1991, 16 people were charged in what was called the "scandal of the century" when three children – a boy and his twin sisters – began to tell stories of abuse in their foster home.

Michael Ross and his younger twin sisters Michelle and Kathy, all under 10, said they had been forced to engage in sexual acts, drink blood, eat eyeballs and watch newborns be killed and buried.

One person pleaded guilty to sexual assault. Three others were convicted, but the Supreme Court of Canada later overturned the convictions.

The charges against the other 12 were stayed. The Crown said it wanted to protect the children from further publicity.

But the children have since publicly revealed they made up the stories.

The government has never acknowledged that the children recanted their allegations.

Comment: For a look at one of the reasons why the reports of satanic ritual abuse soared in the 80s, have a look at the article Aliens and Cosmic COINTELPRO, which discusses the way mind control technologies can be used to convince people they have been subjected to abductions, whether by Grey aliens or Satanists.

Safety concerns cut down treated lumber used by millions

By Peter Eisler
USA TODAY

In three days, the pressure-treated lumber used for millions of backyard decks, fences and play sets will head into extinction, its production halted because its arsenic-laced preservatives are considered a cancer risk. [...]

U.S. beef products banned for 7 years

TAIPEI, Taiwan, The China Post Staff
2003/12/30

The Council of Agriculture (COA) yesterday announced that American beef products will be banned for a period of seven years after mad-cow disease was reported in the United States, and importers or retailers who violate the ban will face stiff fines, according to a report by the local Eastern Television.

The COA said retailers who tout American beef products imported after Dec. 24 or label American beef as Australian or New Zealand beef will face a fine between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000. [...]

Night sky offers a winter wonderland

Trace the ‘Great Hexagon’ to identify Saturn and stars

Skydivers trust Homer over President

Ananova.com
07:28 Tuesday 30th December 2003

People considering a tandem skydive would trust cartoon character Homer Simpson over US President George Bush, according to research.

The public voted the daft dad of hit TV show The Simpsons as their number one choice if they were participating in the daredevil stunt.

Homer got 20% of the overall vote in the survey carried out on behalf of disability charity Leonard Cheshire, while President Bush got just 8%.

More than 1,000 adults were asked to rank personalities in order of who they felt was most trustworthy. [...]

Homer was most trusted by people in the North West (31%) but least by those living in the North East (16%). [...]


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