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December 31, 2003

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Prepared to gun down Liberty for the New Year

If you thought things couldn't get any worse after the FBI announcement that carrying an almanac makes you a terrorist suspect, you were wrong.

It seems that looking at things, taking pictures, and arguing with authority figures (even flight attendants) could get you locked away as a terrorist detainee. You may also have thought that once things started getting this positively ridiculous in America, people might wake up a little. Wrong again! A Connecticut congressman reveals that he'll be avoiding the Times Square New Year's celebration - as well as flights from Europe to America - due to the terrorist threat.

Richard Perle writes a book! Most sane individuals don't entitle books An End to Evil, but sanity has never been something Perle has worried about. It contains a Manifesto called ... A Manual for Victory, with input from all those villains who have never been to war even though they have a deep and profound love for it. It calls for war, more war, even more war, and declaring France and Saudi Arabia enemies of the state. This is the kind of talk Bush likes, and if followed will be sure to separate many people from this mortal coil, including US citizens. They were just complaining about the economy any way, so it sounds perfect if you are a sadistic, Nazi, psychopathic barbarian. These puppets have their orders after all.

Israel expresses concern that Mordechai Vanunu may spill the beans on Israeli nukes when he's released from prison in April. Given that the whole world already knows Israel has a huge stash of nukes, we're not sure what the big secret is. A Swedish Member of Parliament is arrested for protesting against Israel's apartheid wall, yet he should count himself lucky that he is not a Palestinian, they get shot with glee by Israeli troops for similar infringements.

The International Red Cross would like to get in to check and see how the US is treating Saddam Hussein. They have this right under the Geneva Convention, but we know that the US, like Israel, has a double standard when it comes to international law.

As the Pentagon announces the cancellation of the Halliburton Iraq oil deal, John Ashcroft decides to recuse himself from the CIA leak probe. But it is certainly a strange world when people who used to have a clear idea of the CIA's role as the leading terrorist organization in the world are now defending it in order to find a way to dislodge Bush. The Bush Reich is laying the groundwork for its "trials" of the "terrorists" held illegally in Guantanamo. It includes "stand-alone" justice.

Arizona ties obtaining a driver's license with registration for the draft. Although "business" thinks that the economy is improving, this isn't translating into jobs for ordinary folks. Were Saturn's rings created by a cometary pass by the planet during the age of the dinosaurs? Princess Anne's pit bull bites a royal maid. Bush gets his wish: the Washington Post tells us that al-Qaeda is no longer an organization but a mass movement.

We have an interesting hypothesis on the Iran quake, don't clean your luggage or use hand cream before heading to the airport, or you might be taken into custody and Richard Perle loses his title of World's Largest Snake to a 49 foot boa that has been captured and is now residing in a small zoo in Indonesia.

Today we introduce a new feature exclusive to Signs of the Times - The Picture of the Day.

Pilots Wonder if Odd Conduct Is Terrorism

By LESLIE MILLER, Associated Press Writer
December 31, 2003

WASHINGTON - Every day, a commercial pilot or flight attendant notices something odd on a plane or at an airport that could be a terrorist probing for security weaknesses.

A passenger asks an inordinate number of questions about airline procedures or takes pictures on the plane. Someone follows a pilot at an airport. Young, Middle Eastern-looking men change their seats during a flight or argue with a flight attendant.

Could they be testing the reactions of air marshals or flight attendants? Security experts say it's possible, since terrorists prepare for attacks months and years in advance by following people, looking at things, taking pictures. [...]

Comment: Add looking at things, taking pictures, and arguing with flight attendants to the list of terrorist activities. And for god's sake, don't walk in a straight line anymore, because someone may think you're following them and call the Office of Homeland Security.

POL: SKIP TIMES SQUARE

New York Post
By BILL SANDERSON and ED ROBINSON


December 31, 2003 -- Count on one less out-of-towner at tonight's New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square. Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) offered his regrets yesterday, telling The Post that he'd avoid the Times Square crowd because it's a "tempting target" for terrorists.

"I wouldn't go to Times Square. That is my opinion. It is one based on the reality that the government has declared a Code Orange," said Shays.

Air safety also worries Shays - "I wouldn't be flying from Europe to the U.S. in an airplane," he said. [...]

He especially ripped Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge's suggestion that people go on with their normal lives.

"When I heard someone say, 'There is a Code Orange, there is a high alert, but keep doing everything you are doing,' then why do you bother to tell us?" Shays said. [...]

Comment: Fear. And it seems to be working...

U.S. to Have Tight New Year's Security

Dec 31
MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN

NEW YORK (AP) - Revelers can expect hovering helicopters and bomb-sniffing dogs with their champagne and confetti as cities hunker down for their most heavily guarded New Year's Eve in memory.

From Times Square to the Las Vegas Strip and California's Rose Parade, police were rolling out unprecedented security measures triggered by a hike in the national terrorism alert to orange, its second-highest level.

In New York, workers sealed manhole covers and removed mailboxes to guard against any potential bomb attack in Times Square. More than 750,000 revelers were expected to gather under the guard of counter-sniper teams and seven police helicopters.

Armed helicopters were also to prowl the Las Vegas Strip, where 300,000 people were anticipated.

"I think the level of security this time around within the United States is absolutely unprecedented," Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said on CBS's "The Early Show."

New York police were focusing more heavily than last year on hotels, landmarks and ferry terminals as a result of their analysis of anti-American "chatter" culled from the Internet and other sources, police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

"We think it's prudent for us to do that," he said.

Partygoers headed to New York were warned to expect long delays at bridges and tunnels. Every vehicle on affected routes is subject to a random stop and search, New Jersey officials said. State troopers will be riding the rails to assist transit police on trains going in and out of New York. [...]

Hawks tell Bush how to win war on terror

By David Rennie in Washington
The Telegraph
31/12/2003

President George W Bush was sent a public manifesto yesterday by Washington's hawks, demanding regime change in Syria and Iran and a Cuba-style military blockade of North Korea backed by planning for a pre-emptive strike on its nuclear sites.

The manifesto, presented as a "manual for victory" in the war on terror, also calls for Saudi Arabia and France to be treated not as allies but as rivals and possibly enemies.

The manifesto is contained in a new book by Richard Perle, a Pentagon adviser and "intellectual guru" of the hardline neo-conservative movement , and David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter . They give warning of a faltering of the "will to win" in Washington.

In the battle for the president's ear, the manifesto represents an attempt by hawks to break out of the post-Iraq doldrums and strike back at what they see as a campaign of hostile leaking by their foes in such centres of caution as the State Department or in the military top brass.

Their publication, An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror, coincided with the latest broadside from the hawks' enemy number one, Colin Powell, the secretary of state. [...]

The authors urge Mr Bush to "tell the truth about Saudi Arabia". Wealthy Saudis, some of them royal princes, fund al-Qa'eda, they write. [...]

The book calls for tough action against France and its dreams of offsetting US power. "We should force European governments to choose between Paris and Washington," it states. Britain's independence from Europe should be preserved, perhaps with open access for British arms to American defence markets.

FLASHBACK: Richard Perle Calls Investigative Reporter, Seymour Hersh a Terrorist

CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER
Showdown: Iraq
Aired March 9, 2003

BLITZER:Let me read a quote from the New Yorker article, the March 17th issue, just out now. "There is no question that Perle believes that removing Saddam from power is the right thing to do. At the same time, he has set up a company that may gain from a war."

PERLE: I don't believe that a company would gain from a war. On the contrary, I believe that the successful removal of Saddam Hussein, and I've said this over and over again, will diminish the threat of terrorism. And what he's talking about is investments in homeland defense, which I think are vital and are necessary.

Look, Sy Hersh is the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist, frankly.

BLITZER: Well, on the basis of -- why do you say that? A terrorist?

PERLE: Because he's widely irresponsible. If you read the article, it's first of all, impossible to find any consistent theme in it. But the suggestion that my views are somehow related for the potential for investments in homeland defense is complete nonsense.

BLITZER: But I don't understand. Why do you accuse him of being a terrorist?

PERLE: Because he sets out to do damage and he will do it by whatever innuendo, whatever distortion he can -- look, he hasn't written a serious piece since Maylie (ph).

Comment: So Pearle has a company that makes money from war, calls for more war, and calls anyone a terrorist who points out the obvious.

Syria sold weapons to Saddam

The Scotsman

SYRIA repeatedly breached United Nations embargoes to supply Iraq with arms and military hardware in the run-up to the coalition’s invasion in March, it was reported yesterday.

A Syrian company with close connections to the ruling regime in Damascus funnelled illicit components for surface-to-air missiles, telecommunications equipment and small arms to Saddam Hussein between 2002 and 2003, the Los Angeles Times has revealed.

The private firm SES International was the main channel for the movement of illegal arms to Baghdad.
The company signed contracts to supply millions of dollars in equipment to the Iraqi military, including machine guns and other light weaponry now being used in insurgent action against United States and British forces overseeing reconstruction work.

Last night, the Foreign Office gave warning that it was examining the evidence documented by the Los Angeles Times and was prepared to raise concerns with Syria if appropriate.

The documents unearthed in Iraq also reveal that senior officials in the Syrian government assisted SES in importing a ship full of hardware destined for the Iraqi military.

At the height of the Iraq war, Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, accused the Syrian regime of allowing the shipment of night-vision goggles and other military supplies to Iraq.

At the time, the Syrians said Mr Rumsfeld’s remarks were unfounded and irresponsible. But files unearthed in the Baghdad office of the Al Bashair Trading Company reveal SES signed more than 50 contracts with Baghdad firms as Saddam desperately tried to reinforce his military operation ahead of the invasion.

Among the successful deals were the delivery of 1,000 heavy machine guns and up to 20 million bullets for assault rifles. The documents – 800 pages of signed contracts, export papers, bank deposits and minutes of meetings – offer proof for the first time of the relationship between several states and
the illegal arms trade.

Although there is no evidence of dealings in weapons of mass destruction, the documents show how Syria, North Korea and Iraq were involved to differing extents in the illegal arms trade. Tony Blair argued that one of the main justifications for action in Iraq was the potentially catastrophic consequences of an alliance between rogue states with weapons of mass destruction and international terrorism.

The newspaper found that a Polish company signed four contracts with Iraq and successfully shipped hundreds of surface-to-air Volga/SA-2 missile engines to Baghdad through Syria. In addition, a Russian company signed a £4.96 million contract in September 2002 to supply mostly US-made communications and surveillance gear to Iraq’s intelligence service.

Comment: Naturally there is no mention of the masses of weapons that were sold to Iraq by the US, Britain and many other countries over the past 3 decades. We remind readers of the 12,000 page UN atomic energy commission report earlier this year that was censored by the US government because it contained information indicting many US companies including 5 government agencies.

Hypocrisy and lies is the name of the game currently being played by the US. Their goal, to dominate as much of the world as possible yet the question that no one seems able to answer is, why? It is not enough to say that it is merely a power grab, there is undoubtedly a plan to be implemented after the power has been secured, a NWO based on love and peace and a brotherhood of man? Perhaps, but how exactly do our "leaders" plan to eradicate an unfortunately integral part of human nature, i.e. greed and self interest? To suggest this is possible is as ridiculous as Bush's assertion that he will wipe out "evil".

Israeli soldier sorry for not shooting Arab

By Khalid Amayreh
31 December 2003

An Israeli soldier who three days ago mistakenly shot and seriously wounded a Jewish demonstrator in the northern West Bank has told interrogators he thought he was shooting a Palestinian, not a Jew.

“I am sorry, I never thought I was shooting at Jews, I would never shoot a Jew,” the soldier reportedly said.

The Israeli victim, Gil Nima’ati, was protesting against the construction of the so-called separation wall near the northern West Bank village of Mis-ha north west of Nablus, along with hundreds of Palestinians and international peace activists.

Another protester, a woman from the US, was also lightly wounded in the shooting which sparked off widespread acrimony and recrimination in Israel because a Jew was shot.

The soldier who pulled the trigger - his identity has not been released - reportedly said he could not recognise the identity of the demonstrators, who were protesting against the construction of the “separation wall” in the northern West Bank.

“I thought the protesters were all Palestinians and non-Jews.”

On Tuesday, the Israeli chief of staff and other Israeli officials sought to give the soldier in question the benefit of the doubt, arguing that he would not have opened fire had he known he was shooting at a Jew.

“I am sure, the soldier didn’t know he was shooting at a Jew,” Moshe Ya’alon said in response to a question from a Knesset member.

Shooting Palestinians is "different"

However, when another Knesset member further asked Ya’alon if shooting a Palestinian would have been legitimate under the same circumstances, he sought to dodge the question, arguing that “the army deals differently with the Palestinians.”

“Soldiers feel threatened by Palestinians and open fire when they feel threatened. This is not the same when soldiers deal with Jews.”

Israeli occupation troops have shot and killed hundreds of Palestinians and a number of international activists in controversial circumstances, prompting human rights organisations to accuse the Israeli army of adopting a “shoot-to-kill” policy in the occupied territories.

Earlier this year, the Israeli Hebrew paper Ha’aretz, published a report showing up to 80% of Palestinians killed by the Israeli army since the outbreak of Al-Aqsa Intifada, were either innocent civilians or people who played no role in the hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians.

However, the wanton killings of Palestinian civilians, journalists and international peace activists by the Israeli occupation army arouse little outrage in Israeli society.

Two days ago, a group of Israeli leftists demonstrated in the same area where Na’amati was wounded.

They carried placards reading “first, they shot the Palestinians, and we were silent...

Comment: The above is a reference to a quote by Rev. Martin Niemoller about the apathy of the German people during WWII when faced with the genocidal policies of the Nazis. It applies equally well today for Israelis and Americans alike. He said:

"First they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me" - Rev. Martin Niemoller, 1945

Israel Is Concerned About Whistleblower

By GAVIN RABINOWITZ, Associated Press Writer
Tue Dec 30, 1:23 PM ET

JERUSALEM - Israel is concerned that a whistleblower who spilled Israeli nuclear secrets to a newspaper two decades ago might have more to say after his imminent release from prison, and is looking for ways to silence him, officials said Tuesday.

Mordechai Vanunu, a former nuclear technician, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for espionage after giving dozens of pictures and a description of alleged weapons from Israel's top-secret Dimona nuclear reactor to London's Sunday Times in 1986. He is due to be released in April.

Israel's official policy about nuclear weapons is purposely ambiguous: Officials say only that Israel will not be the first to introduce them into the Middle East.

But based on Vanunu's pictures, experts concluded Israel had the world's sixth-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons. The CIA estimated more recently that Israel has between 200 and 400 nuclear weapons. [...]

British bishop: Israel asking for trouble

Wednesday 31 December 2003

One of Britain's most senior Anglican bishops has said the Israeli government is "asking for trouble" with its treatment of Palestinians.

The Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Tom Wright, told a British newspaper on Monday he was deeply concerned by Israel's treatment of the Palestinian people and called on the Sharon government to work harder to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

"I'm not anti-Israel," he told the Independent.

"But when I see what's been done to the Palestinians over the past 50 years, I say, 'Well I'm sorry, but if you put people behind barbed wire, keep them caged, take their land despite international resolutions, and bulldoze their homes, you are asking for trouble'.

"This is not in any way to excuse or exonerate the horror and enormity of suicide bombing. It is just to say that if you squeeze people that tight sooner or later they'll do drastic things.

"There must be better ways to achieve peace than the road taken by the government of Ariel Sharon." Wright was reported as saying.

Lack of leadership

Earlier in the week, two British church leaders blasted Prime Minister Tony Blair on Monday for going to war in Iraq, with one bishop saying he and US President George Bush had acted like "a bunch of white vigilantes"

The Archbishop of York, David Hope, who is the Church of England's second most senior churchman, said Blair had displayed "a real lack of listening" over Iraq and his claims of fallen dictator Saddam Hussein's arms capability remained unproven.

"Undoubtedly a very wicked leader has been removed, but there are wicked leaders in other parts of the world," he added in an interview with The Times newspaper.

Hope urged British churchgoers to pray for Blair and said he and Bush should remember they would one day answer to God. "I want to say that there is a higher authority before whom one day we all have to give an account," he said.

The Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, was scathing about Blair's military alliance with Bush in Iraq. He likened them to a pair of mavericks fighting crime in multi-racial inner-city London.

"For Bush and Blair to go into Iraq together was like a bunch of white vigilantes going into Brixton to stop drug-dealing. This is not to deny there's a problem to be sorted, just that they are not credible people to deal with it," he told a newspaper.

Israel confirms Golan expansion

BBC online
31 Dec. 2003


Israel has announced a $60m plan to build hundreds of new homes for settlers on the Golan Heights.

Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz says the population will rise by 50% over three years to strengthen Israel's grip on the land seized from Syria in 1967.

Syria has reacted angrily, saying sovereignty should be resolved by international law, not military power.

Recently, Syrian President Bashar al-Asad has called for renewed talks over return of the Golan.

The goal is for al-Assad to see from the windows of his home the Israeli Golan thriving and flourishing

Yisrael Katz

"The aim is to send an unequivocal message: the Golan is an integral part of Israel," Mr Katz told Israeli public radio.

Correspondents called the move a slap in the face to President Assad, whose attempt to restart negotiations comes four years after peace talks broke down.

Damascus "on one hand announces that it is interested in peace, and on the other hand openly supports Palestinian terror," Mr Katz said, in comments published by the Yediot Ahronot daily.

"The goal is for al-Assad to see from the windows of his home the Israeli Golan thriving and flourishing."

There are currently 31 settlements in the territory with about 10,500 inhabitants. [...]

The Heights were seized from Syria during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and were annexed by Israel in 1981.

The Golan Heights is a grassy plateau overlooking north-eastern Israel and south-east Syria. It has important water resources and provides Israel with a third of its water needs.

Israeli troops wound 11 protestors

Wednesday 31 December 2003, 14:07 Makka Time, 11:07 GMT

Ten Palestinians and an Israeli have been wounded when troops used teargas and rubber bullets to break up a protest close to a controversial barrier in the West Bank.

The Israeli troops also arrested Gustav Fridolin, a Swedish member of parliament who was among a group of protesters detained near the village of Budrus, close to Jenin in the northern West Bank.

The incident was the second in five days in which Israeli troops opened fire at demonstrators near the wall.

On 26 December, troops shot and wounded a young Israeli and an American.

Military sources said a policeman was hurt in Wednesday's incident after protesters threw stones and interrupted construction work on the security barrier.

PA critical of order to remove illegal outposts

[...] The Palestinian Authority on Monday criticized Israel's decision to remove the four illegal settlement outposts, saying the move was a publicity stunt that falls below the requirements of a U.S.-backed peace "road map." [...]

Truckers on the Front Lines in Iraq War

By JIM KRANE, Associated Press Writer
Tue Dec 30, 5:05 PM ET

CAMP ANACONDA, Iraq - Spc. Chanss Carpenter was driving his U.S. Army supply truck when a roadside bomb rocked the cab and fired a chunk of shrapnel through the windshield. Flying metal deflected off his M-16 rifle lying across the dashboard, narrowly missing him.

Sunday's blast was the latest of a dozen similar attacks Carpenter has endured in Iraq, where roadside bombs have become the weapon of choice for the anti-American resistance. Convoys seem to be the preferred target. [...]

He and other truckers at this sprawling logistical base north of Baghdad are the lifeline for 130,000 U.S. troops flung across this California-sized country. Despite the attacks, they operate supply lines stretching over 800 miles, hauling food for 475,000 meals per day, as well as a million gallons each of fuel and water. [...]

The truckers have developed defensive driving techniques, like keeping to the center lane and blocking civilian cars from entering the convoy. They watch for suspicious bomb-disguising debris at the roadside.

They're even retrofitting trucks with steel plates and mounted guns that look like something out of Mad Max, the 1979 cult movie about warring gangs who drive customized armored cars. [...]

Iraqi TV Made Video of Lynch, Piestewa

AP
December 31, 2003

NEW YORK - Iraqi state television took graphic footage of badly injured prisoners of war Jessica Lynch and Lori Piestewa, who may have died shortly afterward, following the ambush of the soldiers' convoy, NBC reported.

The video, aired Tuesday on "NBC Nightly News," shows the two Army privates — and best friends — at the hospital where they were taken following the March 23 ambush of the 507th Maintenance Co.

The tape was never aired in Iraq, NBC reported. [...]

"It was a little shocking to see Lori, but it also gave me a little peace to know that they tried, they did their best for her," Johnson, 30, of El Paso, Texas, told the network. "I mean, it was obvious they tried to bandage her up and give her medical care." [...]

US occupation troops on ''high alert'' for New Years festivities as International Red Cross seeks to visit Saddam

31-12-2003,10 :37

US-led occupation forces in Iraq were on high alert for "attacks" timed to coincide with the 2004 New Year holiday.

Iraqi police officials and US soldiers said they tightened security in Baghdad in anticipation of more "insurgent attacks" over the holiday.

[...] In the meantime, in Geneva, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said they have asked the US-led occupation in Iraq for access to ousted leader Saddam Hussein.

According to the Geneva Conventions, the ICRC has the right to contact any prisoner of war or detained civilian, said spokesman Florian Westphal. "Saddam Hussein, as somebody protected by the Geneva Conventions, has a right to ICRC visits," he said.

The agency, which is the internationally recognized guardian of the Geneva Conventions, has asked for access to the former president since his capture by US forces earlier this month, Westphal said.

The ICRC is working under the assumption that Saddam is a prisoner of war and therefore protected by the third Geneva Convention, which details minimum standards of humane treatment, underlining the reponsibility of the "detaining power" - in this case the United States.

It says that prisoners are only bound to give their name, rank, serial number, date of birth and equivalent information, and forbids physical or mental torture, or "any other form of coercion ... to secure from them any kind of information whatever".

"Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind", the convention adds.

'Saddam hid US$40 billion'

www.chinaview.cn 2003-12-31 14:35:32

BEIJING, Dec. 31 (Xinhuanet) -- Saddam Hussein withdrew US$2 billion from Iraqi banks last spring, including a sizable withdrawal a week after the fall of Baghdad, according to a member of the Iraq Governing Council.

[...] Allawi said Saddam admitted he invested stolen Iraqi money -- which the Iraq Governing Council estimates at US$40 billion -- in Switzerland, Japan and Germany, among others, under fictitious company names.

Saddam's confession also included the names of people involved in terrorist attacks against coalition forces, Allawi said. He said hundreds of Iraqis have surrendered in the days since Saddam's capture because they knew he had given interrogators their names.

[...] Allawi said although Saddam's confessions have covered a number of important issues, he can't yet discuss what has been said about weapons of mass destruction.

Allawi was quoted by the Arabic papers saying, "Saddam Hussein's trial would not be public since he could name countries and persons whom he gave money."

Comment: Or is it that Saddam can't be tried in public because he'll name countries and alphabet soup agencies that gave him money? Look at the implications of no public trial for Saddam Hussein. There will not even be the semblance of honesty, of a search for the truth. The Bush Reich feels no compulsion to even present the illusion of justice. This is, unfortunately, not new. Bush lied about the reasons for the war. He lied when he said the war was over in May. He lies when he tells the Palestinians that he is on their side. He lies as he breathes.

U.S. ends Halliburton Iraq oil deal

By JoAnne Allen
Wednesday December 31, 07:27 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. military energy unit has announced that it is taking over the task of providing fuel for Iraq, ending a Pentagon deal with Vice President Dick Cheney's former company Halliburton amid allegations of price gouging by the Texas-based energy services giant.

The Pentagon's Defense Energy Support Center said it had been directed to assume control of rebuilding Iraq's oil industry and that it would award new contracts through a competitive bidding process.

In its Wednesday editions, The Washington Post quoted Pentagon officials as saying that the change had been under discussion for months and that the timing was not related to allegations against Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), which was awarded a no-bid contract in March to rebuild Iraq's oil industry. [...]

Bush signals softer line on Iran in light of earthquake

Brian Whitaker and James Astill in Bam
Wednesday December 31, 2003
The Guardian

The United States yesterday signalled a dramatic shift in its attitude towards Iran, a country previously branded by President George Bush as part of an "axis of evil".

Mr Bush is willing to open a dialogue with the Islamic republic but would like to see some gesture in return, a senior US official said. "This is a chance for Iran to step forward," the official continued, but added: "The burden is on the Iranians."

There was no formal response from the Tehran government last night, although earlier Iran's president, Mohammad Khatami, warned against reading too much into the US-Iranian collaboration in dealing with the devastating Bam earthquake.

"Humanitarian issues should not be intertwined with deep and chronic political problems," he said. "If we see change both in tone and behavior of the US administration, then a new situation will develop in our relations."

The earthquake - which is now thought to have killed up to 50,000 people - has touched off some of the harshest domestic criticism of the theocratic regime since it came to power. Iranian newspapers have been openly critical of the domestic crisis management - in particular the rescue operation, and the failure to take preventive measures despite earlier quakes, including one in 1990 which killed 35,000 people.

[...] The US official, who declined to be identified, said that American humanitarian assistance in response to the earthquake had accelerated discussions within the administration on its policy to wards the Islamic republic. "The earthquake kind of brings it to a head," the official said

What really caused the Iran earthquake?

Rixon Stewart - Updated December 30, 3003

In the past week there have been FIVE major earthquakes, culminating in the most recent one in Iran.

2003/12/26 6.5 Southeastern Iran
2003/12/25 6.0 Southeast Of Loyalty Islands
2003/12/25 6.5 Southeast Of Loyalty Islands
2003/12/25 6.0 South Of Kermadec Islands
2003/12/25 6.5 Panama-Costa Rica Border Region

The media have barely mentioned these other quakes, however such a spate of earthquakes in so brief a period is curious. But what is really unusual is the actual timing of the Iranian quake. Just as Iran was about to challenge Israel’s nuclear supremacy in the Middle East, it is rocked by a devastating quake that could claim up to 50,000 lives and take years to recover from.

Was it a coincidence that Iran was moving into a position to challenge Israel’s nuclear dominance of the region when the tremor struck?

This writer had his suspicions and they have just been echoed in a telephone conversation. The caller and myself have a mutual acquaintance, let's call him Alex, who is endowed with some remarkable psychic gifts. Among other things, he can see beyond the apparent to what is really happening and even what is going to happen.

Nearly two years ago, he was saying that Britain and America were going to “get into trouble” in Iraq, as indeed they now have. A year ago he was saying that Britain and America would invade Iraq but that country was not the ultimate target. Iran was.

Now he is saying that this most recent disaster was not the result of natural forces. The Americans are behind it, probably working at the behest of their Zionist overlords, and using secret high technology, most probably HAARP.

With this in mind the following article, written over two years ago, is more pertinent than ever...

Weapons of the New World Order

“Technology will make available, to the leaders of major nations, techniques for conducting secret warfare, of which only a bare minimum of the security forces will be appraised…Techniques of weather modification could be employed to produce prolonged periods of drought or storm.”
Illuminati strategist and front man Zbigniew Brzezinski writing in “Between Two Ages” 1970.

It sounds like something from Greek legend or Nordic mythology. Harnessing the elements and quite literally using natural forces as a weapon of war: causing earthquakes or storms and maybe even hurling thunderbolts at your opponents. To make it all the more effective the recipients would never see it coming, at least not until it hit them. And then in the aftermath, amidst the ruin and devastation, who would they blame? Unlike a missile attack or a bombing raid the perpetrators wouldn’t be obvious so the victims would end up blaming elemental chaos, not the real culprits.

Unfortunately the above is not just speculation. The ability to trigger earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and even effect peoples brains and the Earth’s own tectonic plates is now a very real possibility; the research has been done, the tests completed and the weaponry has been deployed, and maybe even used.

It’s called HAARP (High-frequency Active Aural Research Program) and was developed as part of the “Star Wars” initiative. According to Dr. Nicholas Begich HAARP is: “A super-powerful radiowave-beaming technology that lifts areas of the ionosphere (upper layer of the atmosphere) by focusing a beam and heating those areas. Electromagnetic waves then bounce back and penetrate everything – living and dead.”

Aside from disrupting normal weather patterns it would also bombard those targeted with deadly radiation. Thus in the words of Dr. Rosalie Bertell, HAARP is: “a gigantic heater that can cause major disruption in the ionosphere, creating not just holes, but long incisions in the protective layer that keeps deadly radiation from bombarding this planet.”

Apart from that HAARP could also be used in communicating with submarines or disorientating specifically targeted segments of the population. Thus in the words of the U.S. 1/96 Air Command and Staff College’s Airpower Journal: … “the U.S. military is developing high-powered micro-wave weapons for use against human beings…They do not simply attack a person’s body, they reach all the way into a person’s mind…They are meant to disorient or upset mental stability.”

Back in the 70’s the Russians aimed a crude form of this technology at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, causing immense physical and mental damage to the occupants. Its origins lie even further back though in the ideas of scientific visionary Nicola Tesla; in 1935 Tesla spoke of creating controlled earthquakes and being able to produce: “rhythmical vibrations to pass through the Earth”. . . and to . . . “convey these mechanical effects to the greatest terrestrial distances and produce all kinds of unique effects.”

Forty years later Tesla’s ideas may well have become a reality. In 1976 as Senator Claiborne Pell chaired a Senate sub-committee he warned: “We need a treaty now…before the military leaders of the world start directing storms, manipulating climates and inducing earthquakes against their enemies.”

However Senator Pell’s warning may have already come too late. On June 5, 1977, New York Times described a huge earthquake in Tangshan, China which killed over 650,000 people. “Just before the first tremor at 3:42am,” the Times reported, “the sky lit up like daylight. The multi-hued lights, mainly white and red, were seen up to 200 miles away. Leaves on many trees were burned to a crisp and growing vegetables were scorched on one side, as if by a fireball.”

Some investigators have concluded that these effects were the product of Tesla-like technology and/or HAARP transmissions. Whatever the real cause though they sound eerily reminiscent of what Tesla himself described as a weapon capable of producing “all kinds of unique effects.”

'No n-test caused Iran quake'

AFP[ WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2003 04:15:21 PM ]

TEHRAN : President Mohammad Khatami has denied that the killer quake which struck southeast Iran on December 26 was caused by a secret nuclear test, newspapers reported Wednesday.

"These allegations have spread, but they are completely unfounded," said the president, who on Monday and Tuesday visited the Bam region at the epicentre of the quake that he estimated had cost 40,000 lives.

"Our religious principles, our security and defence doctrine leave no room for nuclear arms," he said, quoted by the Iranian media.

Tantawi: France has right to ban hijab

Wednesday 31 December 2003, 11:32 Makka Time, 8:32 GMT

One of the leading voices in Sunni Islam has defended France's right to ban Islamic headscarves in state schools.

Before talks with French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday, al-Azhar shaikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi said Muslims living in non-Muslim countries coerced into obeying the law could do so.

"If a Muslim woman is in a non-Muslim country, like France, for example, and the officials there want to pass laws which are contrary (to Islam) on the question of the headscarf as it relates to the Muslim woman, then that is their right which I cannot interfere with as a Muslim," he said. "In that case, if a Muslim woman observes the laws of a non-Muslim state, then from the point of view of Islamic law, she has the status of acting under coercion."

[...] As head of al-Azhar, shaikh Tantawi is one of the world's most influential Islamic leaders.

However, he is also no stranger to controversy.

Appointed to his position by President Mubarak in 1996, many view him as a political stooge charged with rubber stamping the government's domestic and foreign policies.

In the past he has stoked controversy by condemning human bombings in Israel, which many Palestinians say is their most effective way of opposing Israeli occupation.

He also criticised Saddam Hussein for not going into exile and sparing his country the trauma of invasion, and said the US-led war on Iraq was not a crusade against Islam.

On the other hand, the cleric gave his blessing to any volunteers who wanted to help Iraqis fight the invaders, even potential human bombers.

Ayoon wa Azan (Gifts)

Jihad Al Khazen Al-Hayat 2003/12/30

I would like to offer President George Bush a hole similar to Saddam Hussein's, so that he can hide in it when the Americans find out that he led them to two wars and lost them both. I would like to offer Vice President Dick Cheney a single foreign affairs advisor who wouldn't be a neo-conservative. I offer the neo-conservatives themselves a punishment of the kind Robespierre used to give his enemies, in addition to sending their children to Iraq, where they would remain until the end of the fighting.

Ashcroft Removes Self From CIA Leak Probe

By LARRY MARGASAK, Associated Press Writer
Tue Dec 30, 6:13 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Attorney General John Ashcroft removed himself Tuesday from the investigation into whether the Bush administration leaked a CIA operative's name to a newspaper columnist, and a career federal prosecutor from Chicago was named as special counsel to take over.

In a move cheered by Democrats, Deputy Attorney General James Comey announced that Ashcroft had stepped aside to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest after reviewing evidence recently developed in the inquiry. He would not specify the nature of that evidence. [...]

Comey would not specify what prompted Ashcroft's decision, which the administration previously had resisted. But he said "it is not one of actual conflict of interest that arises normally when someone has a financial interest or something. The issue that he was concerned about was one of appearance. And I can't go beyond that." [...]

Signing up for draft to change

By Carol Ann Alaimo
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Tuesday, 30 December 2003

America hasn't had a military draft since 1973, but Arizona intends to be ready if it ever happens again.

Under a new state law that takes effect Jan. 1, men between 18 and 25 will be automatically registered for selective service whenever they apply for driver's licenses or state identification cards. [...]

Bush designates Thailand as major non-NATO ally

CRAWFORD, Texas (AFP) Dec 31, 2003

US President George W. Bush on Tuesday officially designated war-on-terrorism partner Thailand a major US non-NATO ally, a move that will boost security cooperation between the two countries. [...]

Thailand is joining an exclusive club of countries that enjoy a privileged security relationship with the United States.

Its members, which include Japan, Australia, Israel, Egypt, South Korea, Argentina, New Zealand and the Philippines, are granted significant benefits in the area of foreign aid and defense cooperation. [...]

Dollar at Life Low Against Euro

US not worried about dollar's drop

Wednesday 31 December 2003, 9:56 Makka Time, 6:56 GMT

The US dollar's steady decline in value against the euro and other key currencies may cause agony in European capitals, but there is little sign it is rising to the level of a major policy concern in Washington.

Analysts say the steady depreciation not only remains orderly, but also carries the potential to help America get its whopping trade and current account deficits - which are widely criticised in Europe - back into better balance.

No New Jobs Despite Better Mood

The mood among German business is picking up on the coattails of the improved economic situtation in the U.S. But Germans are unlikely to have more jobs as a result, a survey shows.

If the signs on the horizon are to be believed, Germany's economy could be on the cusp of recovery going into 2004, according to a survey of 43 business groups.

Stressing the positive, the IW economic institute said the signals for improvement in the German economy are unmistakable, with 25 of the 43 business groups questioned saying they plan to increase production going into 2004. Only five of the groups said the outlook was worse than a year ago, and 13 said the situation was unchanged.

However, the improved mood is unlikely to create more jobs.

Comment: The veil is dropping more and more from the inhuman, or might we say, anthropoid, system under which we live. "Business groups" are pleased with the economic signs, but the people who are supposed to be served by an economic system, the people who live in it, are not. This comes down to more money for those that run things, less for those who are forced to serve. Greater misery for those struggling to make ends meet, more profits for the neo-liberals who have been "rationalising" the world's economy for the last twenty years. So not only are we in the midst of war in the Middle East, threatening to explode into a regional conflict, we have over 9% unemployed in the US. Preparing the cannon fodder, perhaps? War in Syria and Iran will demand more troops, and, it just so happens that the Bush Reich is bringing back the draft. Coincidence? We think not.

The Dense Web of Al Qaeda

By Peter Bergen
Washington Post

[...] President Bush reportedly keeps photos of the 20 or so top terrorists in his desk, and when one of them is apprehended or killed writes an X through his picture. That might work for a Mafia crime family: Arrest all the key members and the organization will disappear. But al Qaeda is now a movement based on an ideology. Arresting a movement is quite a different proposition from arresting people. [...]

Our So-Called Boom

By PAUL KRUGMAN
New York Times

[...] The bottom line, then, is that for most Americans, current economic growth is a form of reality TV, something interesting that is, however, happening to other people. [...]

US: Major step towards 'terror' trials

Wednesday 31 December 2003, 12:42 Makka Time, 9:42 GMT

The United States has named a retired army general to supervise US military trials of foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

[...] About 660 people, mostly captured in Afghanistan, are held at Guantanamo without being charged.

The trials, to be held before panels called military commissions, will be the first of their kind staged by the US since World War Two.

[...] The [senior defence] official rejected the need for civilian courts to hear appeals.

"I think what we have right now is a complete, fair, stand-alone procedure," the official said.

Comment: "Stand-alone procedure"? Does this mean free from any of the encumbrances of a fair trial?

Opinion: Are World Politics on the Brink of a New Era?

Heinrich Bergstresser
Deutsche Welle

The leadership goals of the United States are colliding with the interests of the rest of the world.

Without a doubt, 2003 was a notable year that the world played out in the best Hollywood style. Especially when it comes to politics. The Iraq war -- sold as the ultimate move in the fight against terror and evil -- has already taken on historical dimensions in the consciousness of protagonists and quiet admirers. And this will have long-term influence on relations between peoples and states.

At the core, this says nothing other than that the United States -- in the future it could be another country -- could change existing rules at its own discretion at any time if it wants to.

If this was really so, then people and nations would be standing on the brink of a new era that would suggest order under a democratically constituted power. In reality, it would be nothing other than the start of an authoritarian team. But luckily we are far away from the introduction of such an order, despite the many apologists (read defenders) and supporters (read admirers) of preventive military hits and simple, transparent team structures.

Divisions are deeper than many believe

There is one thing this eventful year made clear: There are more deep political cracks and graves being dug between people and nations than most want to believe. If one looks at the cracks more closely, one can tell quickly which ones will have long-term consequences. And its is no accident that the ones between "old Europe" and the United States -- symbolized by the Euro -- are on a bad course.

Similar cracks can be found in the relationship between the United States and parts of the new aspiring Asian powers of China, India and Japan -- as well as in relations between Washington and Latin America and Canada.

As diverse as the causes and backgrounds of the cracks might be, they have one thing in common. They represent a political and economic response to the unilateral attempt by the most powerful state. That doesn't require any coordination, because the connecting point -- in this case the United States -- determines the direction of the political march.

U.S. at odds with the world

Whether at the World Trade Organization, in the United Nations or elsewhere: overall in places where internationally binding rules were developed in the past, the desires of the U.S. for absolute leadership are increasingly colliding with the vital interests of the other states. This is an unmistakable sign of a creeping loss of power for the United States, while at the same time indicates the estrangement and emancipation of the politically weak but economically potent states of the super power.

These developments may influence the coming years. And the main event of 2003 -- the Iraq war and its aftermath -- will speed these developments. This is a good thing, because only with power being distributed more broadly can the responsibility in the fight against the world's No. 1 political problem -- international terrorism -- be taken seriously.

Torture claims at care facility (Aus)

By Chris Taylor
December 28, 2003

A Nightmare of alleged abuse and torture has emerged in a major police investigation into staff at a disabled-care institution north of Brisbane.

The police inquiry into Bribie Island's Care Independent Living Services – which coincides with separate investigations by the Crime and Misconduct Commission and the Office of the Adult Guardian – has uncovered claims disabled adults and children were:

Over-medicated and punished with a bread-and-water diet.

Tied to toilets.

Smeared about the lips with raw chillies.

Beaten with fly swats.

Held in a cage called a "time-out room".

"Drenched with garden hoses.

Had their testicles submerged in ice.

Statements given to a team of about 17 Caboolture detectives also allege residents were given cold showers, sprayed with fly spray to treat head lice, had their mouths washed out with soap and were beaten.

It is also claimed staff confiscated prosthetic legs, forcing patients to crawl; and withheld pain medication.

Police are also looking at several reports of sexual abuse.

Politicians charged in Portuguese paedophile ring scandal

By Peter Popham
31 December 2003

Ten people, including members of the political and media elite in Portugal, have been charged in Lisbon with the sexual abuse of children, more than a year after the scandal broke.

It is Portugal's biggest scandal since the collapse of President Salazar's fascist regime nearly 30 years ago. Some Portuguese claim that the two events pack a similar punch for this insular corner of the European Union.

And with a former ambassador, a former senior government minister and two famous television presenters among those charged, Portugal's justice system - much denigrated by the public - faces its biggest challenge since the arrival of democracy.

In November 2002, whistleblowers inside Casa Pia - a state-run institution that cares for 4,600 vulnerable children, many of them blind or deaf mute, in 10 homes - told Portuguese news media that children in the homes were being sexually abused by wealthy paedophiles. [...]

Those arrested and detained for months include two television presenters, Carlo Cruz and Herman Jose, Portugal's former ambassador to South Africa, Jorge Ritto, and a minister of employment in the last socialist government, Paulo Pedroso. Mr Pedroso, who claims that he is the victim of a smear campaign, insisted on having his parliamentary privilege lifted so that he could prove his innocence in court.

Nine of those charged are men. The tenth is a 61-year-old woman who is alleged to have managed a house in the countryside where boys were taken to be sexually abused. [...]

Underlining the challenge the system faces, Marcello Nuno Rebelo de Sousa, a law professor and social commentator, said: "It is not just solving the Casa Pia case, it's believing in democracy. It is believing we belong to Europe, not just because we are in the European Union, but because we have a democratic system where justice works. Portuguese society looked in the mirror and said, 'we are ugly'."

Comment: The gulf between objective reality and personal fantasy (otherwise know as subjective reality) is often so vast as to seemingly negate the possibility of the two ever merging. A scenario that suits very well those holding the reins of power. The desire of the masses for a rosy world view is so fervent that when faced with the horrific nature of the world and those that have sought and obtained power, they are forced to simply shut it out and pretend that it does not exist.

Only the most narcissistic human beings crave power to the extent that they will do whatever is required to attain it, and these are the people that naturally rise to the top, they become our "leaders". They are the paedophiles, the murderers of innocents, women and children, the destroyers of live and love and truth, they are the incurable liars and thieves, and they are our "leaders".

We all so dearly want to believe that things are otherwise, but rational and objective thinking on the matter will reveal that in a world such as ours it cannot be otherwise. We can choose to accept it as it is, or deny its reality. Acceptance gives us the best, and perhaps the only chance of finding a solution to our problem. Denial puts us back to sleep to await whatever fate our "leaders" deem appropriate.

Yukos charged with $3.3bn tax evasion

By Arkady Ostrovsky in Moscow
Published: December 30 2003 18:27 | Last Updated: December 30 2003 18:27

Russia's tax authorities on Tuesday stepped up pressure on Yukos, formally charging it with tax evasion of $3.3bn in a move that could threaten the future of the country's largest oil producer.

Lithuanian president urged to resign after court ruling

www.chinaview.cn 2003-12-31 14:05:18

RIGA, Dec. 30 (Xinhuanet) -- Lithuania's President Rolandas Paksas was urged again to resign on Tuesday after the country's highest court ruled he violated the constitution by granting citizenship to a Russian businessman who funded his presidential election campaign.

Italian police arrest Parmalat fraud suspects

By FT reporters
Published: December 30 2003 20:30 | Last Updated: December 30 2003 20:30

Italian police on Wednesday arrested seven suspects alleged to be involved in one of Europe's largest financial frauds at Parmalat, the Italian food producer.

The arrests involved two former financial directors of Parmalat, two senior partners at the Italian arm of Grant Thornton, the group's auditors, and three Parmalat executives, according to reports.

These follow the arrest on Saturday of Calisto Tanzi, the stricken Italian food group's former chairman and founder, on charges of fraud.

Comment: Anyone remember Enron? That was the big financial scandal in the US prior to Bush diverting everyone's attention with his obsession with Saddam's WMD. While the Italians are putting Parmalat officials in jail, the US simply struck the guilty from Bush's list of friends.

Afghan assembly pushes for consensus under threat of boycott

Afghanistan's loya jirga, or grand assembly, has reconvened after being thrown into disarray as over 100 delegates threatened to boycott voting on the amended constitution which they claimed had been tampered with. Now into its third week, it is not known when the loya jirga will finish. It opened on December 14 and was originally expected to take 10 days. Most of the draft's 160 articles have been accepted without opposition but a few dealing with the power of the president and official languages have provoked heated exchanges. Delegates from former anti-Taliban Northern Alliance factions, who favour a strong parliamentary system, want three vice president posts instead of one to dilute presidential powers. Ethnic Uzbeks also want a vice presidential post to give them better representation.

India makes new peace gestures with Pakistan

www.chinaview.cn 2003-12-31 20:12:33

NEW DELHI, Dec. 31 (Xinhuanet)-- India has proposed talks with Pakistan to ease restrictions on diplomats and start bus services on new routes between the two nations, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.

The announcement comes just four days before Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is due to make a rare trip to Islamabad for a South Asian regional summit.

Musharraf approves bill to end power struggle

www.chinaview.cn 2003-12-31 16:44:20

ISLAMABAD, Dec. 31 (Xinhuanet) -- Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf Wednesday approved a constitutional bill aimed to end a power struggle, the Pakistan TV reported.

Under the new law, Musharraf secures the power to sack the elected government and to dissolve the National Assembly, while he will quit as military chief by December 2004 and will take fresh vote of confidence from the national parliament and provincial assemblies to make him remain as civilian president.

Edmonton plant may be linked to 2 mad cow cases

Last Updated Wed, 31 Dec 2003 5:24:26

EDMONTON - Canadian food safety investigators say there may be a link between an Edmonton rendering plant and two cases of mad cow disease in Canada and the U.S., according to reports.

US warns of 'terror' in Colombia

Wednesday 31 December 2003, 10:26 Makka Time, 7:26 GMT

The United States is warning US citizens in southern Colombia of a heightened threat of anti-American attacks.

Saturn Rings in the New Year

Dec. 12, 2003: When the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31st, heralding the start of 2004, dash outside and look up. Directly overhead you'll see a yellow star outshining the others around it. That star is a planet: Saturn, having its closest encounter with Earth for the next 29 years.

[...] Saturn is a world of great mystery. Consider its rings: Researchers aren't sure what made them or when. Some evidence suggests that the rings are young--only a few hundred million years old. If so, they first encircled Saturn at about the same time dinosaurs took over the Earth. In the cosmic scheme of things, this is recent history.

The Real Lord of the Rings

[...] "After all this time we're still not sure about the origin of Saturn's rings," says Jeff Cuzzi, a planetary scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center. Astronomers once thought that Saturn's rings formed when Saturn did: 4.8 billion years ago as the Sun and planets coalesced from a swirling cloud of interstellar gas. "But lately," Cuzzi says, "there's a growing awareness that Saturn's rings can't be so old."

Cuzzi speculates that some hundreds of millions of years ago -- a time when the earliest dinosaurs roamed our planet -- Saturn had no bright rings. Then, he says, something unlikely happened: "A moon-sized object from the outer solar system might have flown nearby Saturn where tidal forces ripped it apart. Or maybe an asteroid smashed one of Saturn's existing moons." The debris encircled the planet and formed the rings we see today.

Scientists: Earth Travel Time On Schedule

December 30, 2003

BOULDER, Colo. -- In a phenomenon that has scientists puzzled, the Earth is right on schedule for a fifth straight year.

Experts agree that the rate at which the Earth travels through space has slowed ever so slightly for millennia.

To make the world's official time agree with where the Earth actually is in space, scientists in 1972 started adding an extra "leap second" on the last day of the year.

For 28 years, scientists repeated the procedure. But in 1999, they discovered the Earth was no longer lagging behind. [...]

Florence's reign of terror continues

Last Updated Wed, 31 Dec 2003 6:25:59

LONDON - A royal maid is the latest victim of Florence the bull terrier that savaged the Queen's dog.

Buckingham Palace reports that Princess Anne's killer dog bit the maid at the royal Sandringham estate in eastern England, five days after she fatally mauled Pharos the corgi.

False TNT alarm hits airport

San Antonio, Texas
December 31, 2003

Security officials shut down part of San Antonio International Airport after traces of a cleaning solution on a man's luggage were mistaken for the explosive TNT.

One of the airport's two terminals was closed for 30 minutes on Monday after the checked baggage tested positive for the explosive, airport spokeswoman Lisa Burkhardt-Worley said.

The bag was removed for further testing and the man taken into airport custody, she said.

Transportation Security Administration officials scoured the terminal and plane, but it turned out that the suspected TNT was nothing more than a cleaning chemical. [...]

Hand cream triggers terror detector

AIRLINE passengers who use hand cream or aftershave are testing positive to explosives by an anti-terrorist security device at Melbourne Airport. [...]

Snow Blankets Las Vegas Valley

(Dec. 30) -- A sight not often seen in Las Vegas -- snow! The snow started falling at about midnight and continued through the night blanketing most of the city. In some areas, the snow stuck around past noon.

World's longest snake goes on show at Indonesian zoo

JAKARTA : A primitive zoo in Indonesia is holding a 49-foot-python captured in a forest in Sumatra, a report said on Monday.

If its vital statistics are confirmed, the python could be the world's longest snake.

The reptile, which measures 14.85 metres and weighs in at 447 kilogrammes, the Suara Merdeka regional newspaper reported.

The serpent, which staff in the small recreation park have christened Kembang Wangi or Fragrant Flower, was found in a forest in Jambi on Sumatra island and was purchased from its captor before being put on show and could be the largest snake found in nearly 100 years. [...]

The Picture of the Day:


December 26, 2003

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