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Wednesday, January 28, 2004

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Picture of the Day

Waves at Biaritz
©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Many of us seek to control others until we choose to do otherwise it seems. In our clumsy attempts to be the sun while others are the satellites trapped in our gravitational pull, we add to the world's burdens rather than easing them. Motivated by fear, we attempt to change what is out there rather than examining what is within. It is akin to thrashing desperately at the waves, hoping to hold back the tide. Like a blind automaton we crash into the wall over and over again, never finding the open door just a few steps away.

We know, for example, that the manipulator lacks the capacity to enjoy himself, to use his knowledge, and to widen his sense of aliveness and growth. For the manipulator, the understanding of human nature is for just one purpose: control. I am speaking of us all, to one degree or another, you, me the couple down the block. [...]

Another paradox of the modern manipulator is that while his work offers vast opportunities for enrichment and enjoyment, he does not approach the adventure with either excitement or zest, hence, he is the anxious automaton refusing to take responsibility for his failures and constantly blaming someone or something else. He goes through a lot of motions, sad tales, and distracting explanations while his body language blabs the truth. [...] There is the patent lack of real interest in what he is doing and the give-away facial expressions, whether teen-age pout, poker-faced aloofness, or bland, professional smile. The manipulator, being a phony, provides the mask he thinks will please the audience and achieve the goal he wants.

His ways of feigning are endless. [...] [Man, the Manipulator, Everett L. Shostrom, Bantam 1968, pp. 3, 6]

Who among us can deny that we have manipulated or attempted to manipulate someone else for some desired end? Even the times when we justified to ourselves that it was for the other's good? That's some audacity is it not? Attributing some grand omniscience to ourselves, as if we can know what is good for someone else; as if we could peer into the timeline, and know the future for certain. In reality, determining the needs of another in this way, when there is no request for help and help is therefore not needed, amounts to a violation of another's free will. But we are capable of the most elaborate twisting of the truth to ensure we get what we most need and desire - Love. It is the root motivation for most of our manipulations. Any chance of our need for love being expressed openly and honestly is effectively quashed by the process of socialisation, with family members, educators and the mass media all contributing, consciously or unconsciously. The final result is a person who has learned from life that to survive is to manipulate and who merely serves to further the contractile entropic decline of our world.

Precious few are aware of this, and those that catch a glimpse of it, flee into denial.

By refusing to see this role we play in life, we have refused to see reality. By refusing to see what we are capable of doing, even if deep down we want to have the best intentions, we have made ourselves vulnerable to being manipulated in turn. If we who want the best for the world, are unwittingly programmed to manipulate in this way, what then can we expect of those who willingly succumb to the lure of power and the sickness of greed, and who consciously choose manipulation as a way of life?

Jon Rappoport writes in No More Fake News:


[...] At a much higher level than the medical research, there is a political program and an economic program. The political program is to keep the flame of fear burning, so that the individual’s right to travel, to go out of the house, to contradict officials on ANYTHING can be cancelled at any moment without resistance.

The economic program involves damaging various industries (cow farming, chicken farming) directly, and through a combination of spreading panic and issuing travel advisories, ruining other businesses. Gradually, nations are weakened and, in the long run, a globalist program to bring all nations under one system of management is made easier.

Inventing these “viral threats” of course diverts attention from actually creating more HEALTH---and an ill populace, an unhealthy populace, is easier to control.

Of course, people who can only look at events at ground level will reject all these ulterior motives. These people think history is a game of billiards in which there are no players, only balls moving on the table of their own accord.

They assume that a conspiracy would have to involve millions of conscious perps working in concert. In fact, a conspiracy these days takes only a small push in the right direction, because it is the mind set of those millions of people, the prior mind set, that disposes them to act in concert. They don’t have to be conscious of anything. [...]

The whole article is recommended reading, as it is an interesting hypothesis regarding one of the many manipulations going on in our reality. Perhaps our reality is so based on manipulation that we cannot even see it any longer. It is all we know, and many of us may not even be able to imagine another mode of existence. If we can realize that there may be another way, there really is no need for us to continue being the blind automaton. Perhaps as we observe what we are capable of doing, as we learn about ourselves, we also see more clearly what is "out there". We do not have to be so vulnerable to the many manipulations and propaganda perpetuated in a seemingly endless stream. As we have said before, what you see must be important. There are so many resources directed toward convincing you otherwise.

Perhaps some part of our initial denial of the outward reality is bound up in denial of the inward reality. This concept can only be taken so far, and is not applicable in the extreme or in all cases. All of us have been caught up in ignorance, and now is not the time for "self flagellation". All is lessons, and as we learn we can leave behind those motivations that no longer fit our expanded awareness or orientation. For example, the reality of the psychopath is so extreme that there is very little that we can do to prepare ourselves for the shock of seeing:

Albanian child traffickers posing as charity in Montenegro

Sunday Mirror
January 26, 2004

With her big blue eyes and cute smile, four-year-old Angela would tug at the heartstrings of any parent.
But like her five-year-old brother Aco and their friend Jovanna, blonde Angela is up for SALE to anyone with enough cash to buy her.

Incredibly, the head of a British-funded charity is at the centre of this despicable trade.

The children, some as young as three, are snatched from their parents and sold for as little as L300. Some are feared to have been taken as child sex slaves. Others are put up for illegal adoptions by couples, including Britons, desperate to start a family.

These three youngsters all live at a former United Nations refugee camp in Montenegro, part of the old Yugoslavia.

Posing as child traffickers, Sunday Mirror investigators visited the camp outside Montenegro's capital of Podgorica run by Christian charity boss Sinisa Nadazdin to expose the sick trade facilitated.

He receives donations from the British-based evangelical charity Smile International and Catholic aid organisations which are unaware of his "sideline".

Nadazdin, 27, told our reporter: "A hundred kids were trafficked from this camp...any of the children you see here are up for sale... I am willing to do it because of my finances."

The camp was set up by the United Nations after the 1999 Kosovo war and now houses 5,000 refugees in three units.

We were shown children for sale - from L300 for a dark-skinned three-year-old gipsy boy to L3,000 for a blonde girl of four. Nadazdin works closely with two gipsy mafia bosses, Vlasnim and Arton Shkreli, who "harvest" the best-looking ones.

Locals say the brothers use violence to rule the camps and force families to hand over their children before fixing false papers and smuggling them overseas. [...]

Having a psychopath in one's life, or having faced the fact that we have endured the trials from these master manipulators, in our families or places of employment, is not a reflection that there is something wrong with ourselves. Even if we have developed coping mechanisms that are detrimental to ourselves in the long run. We can learn to do something about these situations we find ourselves in as we learn to observe reality as it really is, not as we wish it to be. Indeed we can use the reality of our world as a mirror in which to better observe ourselves and the aspects of the negative nature of this world that we embody. Once identified we must begin the difficult task of uprooting these unconscious programs.

US Warrior Cops

The Ominous Growth of Paramilitarism in American Police Departments

Over the past 20 years Congress has encouraged the U.S. military to supply intelligence, equipment, and training to civilian police. That encouragement has spawned a culture of paramilitarism in American law enforcement. The 1980s and 1990s have seen marked changes in the number of state and local paramilitary units, in their mission and deployment, and in their tactical armament.

According to a recent academic survey, nearly 90 percent of the police departments surveyed in cities with populations over 50,000 had paramilitary units, as did 70 percent of the departments surveyed in communities with populations under 50,000. The Pentagon has been equipping those units with M-16s, armored personnel carriers, and grenade launchers. The police paramilitary units also conduct training exercises with active duty Army Rangers and Navy SEALs.

War 'more justified' now insists Straw

No WMDs have been found in Iraq

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says it is "disappointing" no weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq, but insisted the war was justified. He told BBC Radio 4's Today he believed the world was a safer place as a result of the removal of a "terrible tyrant". [...]

No humanitarian case for Iraq war, says rights group

By Kim Sengupta
27 January 2004

The United States and Britain had no justification for invading Iraq either on the grounds of alleged threats from illicit weapons and terrorism, or as a humanitarian mission, an international civil rights group said yesterday.

The failure to find Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction has left President George Bush and Tony Blair claiming that the invasion was on humanitarian grounds, said a hard-hitting annual report of Human Rights Watch. It said that the West had done nothing when Saddam massacred Kurds and Shias in the past, and there was no evidence of any continuing mass killings at the start of the war in March 2003.

The report claimed that the US and British occupation forces had "sidelined human rights... as a matter of secondary importance. The rule of law has not arrived and Iraq is still beset by the legacy of human rights abuses of the former government, as well as new ones that have emerged under the occupation." The reasons given for war by Mr Bush and Mr Blair - WMD and Saddam's alleged links with international terrorism - hadnot been proved, said Kenneth Roth, executive director of the organisation.

He pointed to recent statements by David Kay, the departing head of the Iraq Survey Group, that WMD were unlikey to be discovered, and said it was unlikely that the Hutton report into the death of David Kelly would say anything different. The document praised the American and British forces for striving to minimise civilian casualties during the air campaign, and also for being much more careful in the use of cluster bombs than in previous conflicts. It condemned the Iraqi resistance for indiscriminately bombing public areas.

The report maintained that it was "irrelevant" that the US had "unclean hands" in its support for Saddam in the past, or that there were other countries which suffered worse internal repression. Neither were good enough arguments against military intervention on proper humanitarian grounds.

However, Human Rights Watch said the US-British attack on Iraq failed to qualify on a number of grounds normally used as a test of justified humanitarian military action.

There were no mass killings going on; war was not the only option - legal, economic and political measures could have been taken; there was no evidence that humanitarian purpose was the main one for launching the invasion; the attack did not have the backing of the United Nations or any other multinational body, and the situation in the country has not got better.

Mr Roth said: "The Bush administration cannot justify the war in Iraq as a humanitarian intervention, and neither can Tony Blair ... such interventions should be reserved for stopping an imminent or ongoing slaughter. They shouldn't be used to address atrocities that were ignored in the past.

"Humanitarianism, even understood broadly as a concern for the welfare of people, was at best a subsidiary motive for the invasion of Iraq."

He said: "Over time, the principal justifications originally given for the Iraq war lost much of their force. More than seven months after the declared end of major hostilities, weapons of mass destruction have not been found. No significant pre-war link between Saddam Hussein and international terrorism has been discovered. The difficulty of establishing stable institutions in Iraq is making the country an increasingly unlikely staging ground for promoting democracy in the Middle East."

Human Rights Watch criticises the US and Britain for not sending in more troops after the invasion. This, says the report, might have prevented the anarchy after the fall of Saddam's regime. Mr Roth said the Pentagon had acted as if it believed that the Iraqis would welcome the soldiers with open arms.

Human Rights Watch is a mainstream body with support across the political spectrum. It does not have a policy of opposing military action.

Comment: Speaking of illegal BioWarfare and hypocrisy...

Plum Island: America's BioWarfare Laboratory

by David Keppel

Plum Island is a legend, but not a myth. Just off Orient Point, Long Island, and six miles from the Connecticut coast, Plum Island is the site of a United States Agriculture Department Animal Disease Research Center. The USDA acquired the island from the War Department at the end of World War II with a charter from Congress to study animal diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease. In surrounding communities, distrust of Plum Island runs deep. Lyme Disease takes its name from a Connecticut town across from the island: many wonder whether birds or swimming animals could have brought the disease from Plum Island. Some suspect this might be the case with West Nile Virus as well. Plum Island officials, of course, dismiss such hypotheses as fantasy.

Therefore, citizens were galvanized by the news, beginning with a September 22, 1999 New York Times article, that the USDA plans to expand its Plum Island laboratory to make it an ultra high-hazard Biosafety Level Four (BSL-4) facility. BSL-4 status would allow the lab to study zoonotic diseases, such as the Nipah Virus, anthrax, and Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis, all lethal to both animals and humans. The Times article, edited by national security correspondent Judith Miller, said that Floyd P. Horn, Administrator of the Agriculture Research Service, had persuaded President Clinton to include Plum Island in his expanded program on bioterrorism. Horn’s reasoning suggested terrorists might target livestock to hurt the US economy.

In stormy public hearings in Connecticut and on Long Island, citizens challenged both the safety and the purpose of the expanded laboratory. Many consider it an intolerable risk in a highly populated area. Though on an island, Plum Island's lab is not truly quarantined. Scientists and other laboratory workers commute to Connecticut and Long Island. At the public hearing in Waterbury, Connecticut, one Plum Island scientist told the audience “we hug our kids every night,” so trying to persuade the audience that he considered the work safe and they should too. The audience was not reassured. In August 1994, a worker at Yale’s Arbovirus Laboratory became infected with Sabia Virus but went home and then to Boston before realizing his symptoms were serious. The risk of accidental exposure would be greater on Plum Island, where instead of cultures in flasks (as at Yale), there are animal populations infected with zoonotic diseases (an illness communicable from animals to humans under natural conditions). Such diseases have incubation times of days: a worker could easily go home or travel without realizing that they had been infected.

Representatives of the laboratory say it has never had a serious accident – although a contractor was fined in 1995 for improperly storing hazardous chemicals. But in high-risk technologies, performance is best judged by examining a detailed record of hazardous errors and near accidents. At public hearings, citizens were told they could obtain these only through the Freedom of Information Act. Officials also refused to discuss their plans for the laboratory and its animals in case of an emergency at the nearby Millstone nuclear reactor – a facility which itself has a notorious safety and cover-up record.

Is Plum Island a quasi-military installation? Sailors who stray too close return with that impression. At hearings, officials treated such concerns as childish myths and said the upgrade to BSL-4 was simply to prepare for naturally emerging zoonotic diseases. Yet the Laboratory’s new Director, Colonel David L. Huxsoll, is the former commander of the Army’s top biological warfare laboratory at Fort Detrick, in Maryland. In the 1980s, Colonel Huxsoll was a leading figure in the Reagan Administration’s drive to apply genetic technologies to biological “defense.” He dismissed concerns that the Army’s program might violate the Biological Weapons Convention of 1975. “We might have enough to kill you,” he told author Charles Piller, “But that’s not a weapon.” Huxsoll thus argued that quantity alone distinguishes legitimate defensive research from prohibited offensive development. (Ed. Note: Huxsoll’s remarks are quoted in Charles Piller and Keith Yamomoto, Gene Wars. New York: Morrow, 1988.)

But with fast breeding germs, quantitative limits alone are far less important than qualitative ones. The Council for Responsible Genetics has argued in the past that genetic engineering of new strains of disease is at least ambiguously offensive. Indeed logic makes offense its most likely use, since its defensive value is questionable. Even if terrorists or “rogue” states were developing genetically engineered diseases, these would be unlikely to match our new, genetically engineered strain. Thus germ and vaccine development makes more sense as a sword and shield pair: the potential attacker vaccinates its own troops or population against the strain of disease it is then free to use offensively. Other nations, seeing such a program of ours, will feel free to embark on their own program.

Even if there were no military dimension to Plum Island, it would be a hazardous facility putting the civilian population at risk in an effort to protect US agribusiness from risks of its own making. It is true that livestock are getting sicker. But this increase in disease may well stem from crowded feedlots, genetically uniform animal populations, antibiotics misused to promote growth, and increased exposure to disease through globalization. The USDA promotes all of these practices. It cannot credibly ask the public to accept the risks while corporations reap the profits.

The Congressional battle over Plum Island – which will be in the next USDA budget request – will give both citizens and activists a chance to air issues of safety and secrecy in American agriculture and germ warfare.

Klayman says Castro has biochemical weapons in Cuba

Associated Press Writer

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Larry Klayman stepped up his call Tuesday to forcibly remove Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, whom he described as "a master terrorist" and a primary threat to U.S. security.

Comment: Would he say that Castro is an "imminent" threat to the US?

US denies ' imminent' threat warning

From correspondents in Washington

January 28, 2004: (The Australian) THE White House today denied it ever warned that Saddam Hussein posed an "imminent" threat to the United States.

It is already smarting from the failure so far to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

"I think some in the media have chosen to use the word 'imminent'. Those were not words we used. We used 'grave and gathering' threat," spokesman Scott McClellan said.

But if US President George W. Bush never called Saddam's Iraq an "imminent threat" in so many words, he said it was "urgent".

Vice President Dick Cheney called it "mortal" and it was "immediate" to Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

In an October 7, 2002 televised speech to the nation, Bush likened the standoff with Iraq to the October 1962 Cuban missile crisis, when Soviet missiles were revealed to be based just 145km off US shores.

In that same speech, he warned that Saddam "could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists" like the al-Qaeda network behind the September 11, 2001, attacks.

"No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq," Rumsfeld testified to lawmakers in September 2002.

Other senior Bush aides shied away from using the word "imminent" but agreed with that characterisation in exchanges with reporters.

On January 26, 2003, CNN television asked White House communications director Dan Bartlett "is he (Saddam) an imminent threat to US interests, either in that part of the world or to Americans right here at home?"

"Well, of course he is," Bartlett replied.

On May 7, 2003, a reporter asked then White House spokesman Ari Fleischer: "We went to war, didn't we, to find these – because we said that these weapons were a direct and imminent threat to the United States? Isn't that true?"

"Absolutely. One of the reasons that we went to war was because of their possession of weapons of mass destruction. And nothing has changed on that front at all," the spokesman replied.

"Another way to look at this is if Saddam Hussein holds a gun to your head even while he denies that he actually owns a gun, how safe should you feel?" Fleischer told reporters on October 9, 2002.

BBC buys up 'Hutton inquiry' Google links

Owen Gibson
Monday January 26, 2004

Just 48 hours before Lord Hutton delivers his verdict on the controversy surrounding the death of Dr David Kelly, the BBC has begun an advertising experiment that involves buying up all internet search terms relating to the inquiry.

Despite being one of the main players in the drama, anyone searching for "Hutton inquiry" or "Hutton report" on the UK's most popular search engine Google is automatically directed to a paid-for link to BBC Online's own news coverage of the inquiry.

No other news broadcaster or any newspaper has paid Google for this facility, leaving the corporation's move even more conspicuous.

As one of the chief "interested parties" in the Hutton inquiry into the apparent suicide of Dr Kelly, the move will strike many as worthy of comment, not least because the BBC's online news pages will not be the most obvious place to go for the most comprehensive coverage, which is bound to include painful criticism of the corporation.

It will also raise questions about the use of licence payers' money at a time when the corporation faces criticism for spending so much money online from private rivals including the Guardian, the Telegraph and the Times newspapers.

Through Google's Ad Words service advertisers can bid to buy up search terms that relate to their business. The more they bid, the higher up their link is shown on the right-hand side of the page next to Google's normal results sorted by relevancy.

The chain of events that led to Dr Kelly's apparent suicide began with Andrew Gilligan's report on the Radio 4's Today programme alleging that the government had "sexed up" an intelligence dossier on Iraq and sparking the corporation's bitter row with the government.

Despite the sensitive climate surrounding the publication of Lord Hutton's report, the BBC's marketing department has decided to focus on the BBC website's in-depth coverage of the inquiry as part of a drive to attract new users.

The BBC is experimenting for the first time with paid-for search advertising, a relatively new form of new media marketing that has given a fillip to internet companies.

Last week internet giant Yahoo! ascribed most of its 62% rise in profits to its purchase of paid-for search company Overture.

Overture and UK company E-Spotting are the main players, while search giant Google offers its own version through Ad Words. In all cases, advertisers bid for key words but only pay when a searcher clicks on the link.

And because the listing is only displayed when a user searches for a specific term, the medium boasts a much higher "click-through rate" than other forms of online advertising.

The two-week trial will come out of the BBC's £63.5m annual marketing budget and a BBC spokesman said that, if successful, the trial would be extended. He added that the corporation was bidding on a number of search terms relating to its news and sports coverage in an effort to drive users to in depth content that they might otherwise miss.

"The idea behind it is to attract people that would not normally come to and add to our 8.4 million existing monthly users. It's very cost effective because we're appealing to people who are already online and looking for information on a specific subject," said the spokesman.

Comment: It is a telling "Sign of the Times" when what essentially amounts to censorship of the internet can be called a "marketing campaign". For those with the ability to see past the lies, it is clear that the result of this maneuver by the BBC will be to inhibit as much independent discussion on the Kelly affair as possible. Anyone searching Google using the terms "Hutton inquiry" or "Hutton report" will go directly to the BBC report, essentially censoring many other pages discussing the affair. At the time of writing the Hutton report has just been released. Blair is vindicated and the BBC "castigated". Perhaps now we can understand better the BBC's attempt at censorship in the name of "marketing".

BBC castigated in Hutton report

The claim in BBC reports that the government "sexed up" its dossier on Iraq's weapons was "unfounded", says Lord Hutton.

The retired law lord is delivering his long-awaited report on the death of weapons expert Dr David Kelly in a televised statement.

He cleared the government of embellishing the September 2002 weapons of dossier with intelligence it thought was unreliable.

And he criticised the BBC's checks before the broadcast the claims about the government and the way it rebutted Downing Street's complaints.

Lord Hutton also said he was satisfied that Dr Kelly had killed himself after being named as the suspected source of the BBC's controversial weapons dossier story.

"I am satisfied that Dr Kelly took his own life by cutting his left wrist," he said.

Comment: And the whitewash is complete. Can we say "Warren Commission"?

More Doctors Dispute Dr. David Kelly's "Suicide"

Rowena Thursby - 26 January 2004

Three highly qualified medical professionals dispute that Dr Kelly could have bled to death from a slashed wrist, as claimed at the Hutton Inquiry. This should be a BIG STORY - but media silence is utterly deafening.

As medical professionals, a trauma & orthopaedic surgeon, a specialist anaesthesiologist, and a diagnostic radiologist, we do not think evidence given at the Hutton Inquiry has demonstrated that Dr David Kelly committed suicide.

Dr Nicholas Hunt, the forensic pathologist who appeared at the Hutton Inquiry, concluded that Dr Kelly bled to death from a self-inflicted wound in his left wrist. We consider this highly improbable. Arteries in the wrist are of matchstick thickness and severing them does not lead to drastic blood loss. Dr Hunt stated that the only artery that had been cut - the ulnar artery - was completely transected. Complete transection means the artery quickly retracts, promoting clotting of the blood:

"When an artery is completely divided, the highly elastic quality of its wall causes it to retract into the tissues, thereby diminishing the calibre of the vessel and promoting clotting."

A Textbook of Surgery by Christopher, Fourth Edition, 1945, p210

It was reported by the ambulance team that blood at the scene was minimal. It is extremely difficult to lose significant amounts of blood at pressure below 50-60 systolic in a subject who is compensating by vaso-constricting. To have died from haemorrhage, Dr Kelly would have had to lose 3 litres of blood; in our view it is unlikely that Dr Kelly would have lost more than a pint from the wound described.

Mr Alexander Allan, the toxicologist testifying at the Inquiry, considered the ingestion of co-proxamol insufficient to cause death. Mr Allan could not show that Dr Kelly had ingested the 29 tablets said to be missing from the packets found. Only a fifth of one tablet was found in his stomach. Although levels of co-proxamol in the blood were higher than therapeutic levels, Mr Allan conceded that the blood level of each of the drug’s two components was <>less than a third<> of what would normally be found in a fatal overdose.

In summary, we dispute that Dr Kelly could have died either from haemorrhage or from co-proxamol ingestion. The coroner, Nicholas Gardiner, has spoken in recent days of resuming the inquest into Dr Kelly’s death. If it does re-open, a clear need exists for further scrutiny into Dr Hunt’s conclusions regarding the cause of death.

Yours sincerely

David Halpin, MB BS FRCS
Trauma & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Dr C Stephen Frost, BSc, MB ChB
Specialist in Diagnostic Radiology (Stockholm, Sweden)

Dr Searle Sennett, BSc, MBChB, FFARCS
Specialist Anaesthesiologist

Dr Kelly 'did not kill himself'

26th January 2004

An American confidante of David Kelly has cast doubt on whether his death was suicide.

Days before Lord Hutton's report into his death is published, Mai Pederson claimed the Government scientist received death threats because of his work in Iraq.

She said she was surprised that he had apparently taken 20 painkillers before slashing his wrist in remote woodland - because he had an aversion to swallowing tablets.

Mrs Pederson, a United States Air Force translator who worked alongside Dr Kelly in Iraq, refused to give evidence to Lord Hutton's inquiry.

But in a statement to police she said Dr Kelly had told her he would "never" commit suicide and that he feared he would be found "dead in the woods".

She rebutted speculation that she had been romantically involved with the 59-year-old married father of three, insisting their relationship was more like "brother and sister".

Mrs Pederson told The Mail on Sunday: "I told the police that the fact that he was found dead in the woods was not surprising.

"The fact that they said he committed suicide was."

Mrs Pederson, who lives in Alabama, is a member of the Baha'i faith which Dr Kelly joined some years ago.

She said Dr Kelly told her how his mother had committed suicide and confided: "Good God no, I couldn't imagine ever doing that? I would never do it."

She added: "His job was dangerous. He knew it could cost him his life."

US-Occupied Iraq Ready To 'Cooperate' With Israel


BAGHDAD ( & News Agencies) -- A minister appointed by the U.S.-handpicked Iraqi Interim Governing Council (IGC) said Sunday, January 25, his "country" was ready to sell electricity to Israel.

Interim Electricity Minister Aiham al-Samarrai was quoted by the Qatari news agency as telling reporters "it was necessary to change the old mindset that banned dealing with them (Israel). It is a democratic world."

Ever since the fall of the Iraqi capital to the U.S.-led occupation force on April 9, several media reports surfaced on Israeli penetration of the Iraqi society, all met by outright denials from U.S.-sanctioned officials.

Adnan Pachachi, the current rotating president of the IGC, had ruled out late July forging diplomatic ties with Israel before a peace agreement crowned by the establishment of a Palestinian state was thrashed out.

Similarly, Adel Abdel Mahdi, another council member, had denied any intention by the body to recognize Israel.

Iraq has never recognized Israel and was seen by Tel Aviv as a major threat to its existence.

Although Interim Planning Minister Mahdi El-Hafez shrugged off in September the possibility of opening the Iraqi market to Israeli investment, witnesses said Israeli companies were already exporting commodities to Iraq under the cover of American firms.

Tons of expired Israeli foodstuffs had flooded Iraqi markets since the first days of U.S.-led occupation, Iraqi Health Ministry sources confirmed on September 18.

In an interview with the Israeli daily Yediot Ahoront on Saturday, June 21, U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary John Taylor invited Israeli companies to join hands in the reconstruction of Iraq.

The American official asserted that the Iraqi market would be always open to Israeli products.

Immediately after the fall of Baghdad, Israeli companies and intelligence elements were reportedly housed in the famous Baghdad Hotel which was rented by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and some American reconstruction firms.

A hotel employee told Tuesday, June 24, on condition of anonymity, there were "increasing whispers that they were here to protect Israeli companies that rented several rooms in the hotel.

"The light guns they were carrying were not U.S.-made but rather appear to be the well-known Iraeli Ouzi machineguns," he said.

A center of the Washington-based and Mossad-linked Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) was opened in Baghdad, in a provocative move seen by Iraqi academics as the beginning of an Israeli scheme to infiltrate the Iraqi society.

Eight Palestinians die in clash

At least eight Palestinians have been killed during an Israeli army raid on the Gaza Strip - the deadliest incursion for weeks.

Fighting erupted as tanks, jeeps and bulldozers went into Gaza City's al-Zeitoun area, witnesses said.

The raid followed an alert about a possible attack on the nearby Netzarim settlement, the Israeli military said.

A spokesman said soldiers were met by Palestinian anti-tank missiles, mortar fire and other explosive devices.

The incursion came just hours before a meeting between the US envoy to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, John Wolf, and Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei.

The BBC's James Reynolds in Jerusalem says the meeting is part of a tentative American effort to revive what is left of the international peace plan known as the roadmap.

Antisemitism in EU: Israel points finger at France

The Israeli government has released figures showing that 47 percent of antisemitic incidents in Western Europe take place in France, according to a report in Le Monde.

The figures, released yesterday (25 January) also showed that while global incidents in general have almost halved, they have almost doubled in France in the past year.

There were 983 incidents of antisemitism in 2003 - a sharp decline from 1,979 in 2002. The downward trend is reflected in the UK (107 incidents compared to 114) and the US (40 incidents, down from 45 last year).

However, in France, the figure has almost doubled from 77 to 141.

Presenting the figures in Jerusalem, Israeli minister Nathan Chtcharansky said, "The situation for Jews in France is very problematic. Last year, the number of antisemitic incidents doubled and 47 percent of antisemitic attacks in Western Europe took place in France". [...]

France dismisses Israeli charges of rising anti-Semitism

By Peter Popham in Rome
27 January 2004

[...] France dismissed Israeli charges of rising anti-Semitism yesterday, saying attacks on Jews and Jewish property had dropped by 36 per cent last year rather than doubled as Natan Sharansky, the Israeli minister for diaspora affairs claimed. He said 47 per cent of all anti-Semitic attacks in Europe last year were in France, a jump to 141 from 77 in 2002. The French interior ministry said: "The number of acts registered dropped from 195 to 125."

French cabinet approves hijab ban

Wednesday 28 January 2004, 14:47 Makka Time, 11:47 GMT

The French cabinet has approved a controversial bill that bans the Islamic headscarf from schools.

Wednesday's cabinet approval opens the way for the bill's passage through parliament before it finally becomes a law.

Hugely controversial and stiffly contested, the proposed law bans religious symbols from schools.

It states that in schools "the wearing of signs or clothes which conspicuously display a pupil's religious affiliation is prohibited."

The bill has its first reading before the National Assembly, parliament's lower house next Tuesday.

Comment: The case of the prohibition of "ostentatious display" of clothing or signs of religious affiliation at French schools sharply illustrates the impossibility of establishing an equitable society that is agreeable to all peoples. Those in favor of the ban argue that it will reinforce France's secular character. By eliminating religious display in the public schools, be it Christian, Jewish, Moslem, Hindu or other, the proponents hope to diffuse the clashes between religions altogther.

Those against the ban argue that it is purely and simply intolerance, infringing individual rights of free expression, and could set a precedent for the suppression of other individual freedoms.

Both sides have a point, and this is where the hopelessness of resolving these issues becomes apparent. Religions by their very nature are intolerant. "Our" Gods are always better than "your" Gods. Each religion claims it represents the only way to salvation; other religions represent only false idols that must be smashed. Religions are constructed in such a way as to blind us to the higher reality that suggests to us that if any of these religions have any grain of truth within them, it is the same truth. That which separates the religions is that which renders them false to this higher truth. We think it is not by chance that religions are one of the primary means by which people are set one against another.

Looking at all the violence and hatred sown by religions throughout history, one could argue that the French law does not go far enough: it should prohibit religions altogether! However, the experience of the communist states demonstrates that this does not work either. It does not work because human beings are not ready to accept the hard truths of scientific spirituality; they want quick fixes, easy solutions, and a savior.

The larger issue is: how does a tolerant state, society or community defend itself from intolerance?

We are not saying that all Christians or Jews or Moslems or Hindus are intolerant. Certainly, the majority of believers in any faith just want to be left alone to live that faith. We are saying that the underlying logic of a religion that focuses material issues as though salvation depends on such, a religion that separates people into "believers" and "non-believers," damning the infidels for their lack of belief, is intolerant and has lost its heart. It is the idea of "specialness" or "chosenness" that expresses intolerance, an idea which if followed to its conclusion, pits man against man, woman against woman, and man and woman against each other. The most evangelical and prosyletizing of the faiths is Christianity; these activities are forms of intolerance, for they ignore the free will of those at whom they preach. It is not the Islamic sects that send out missionaries to North America and Europe to convert the Christians.

Today in France the question of the headscarf is obviously a symbol. It represents many other things: the French colonial past, the plight of Arabs and Moslems in Western countries, the genocide of the Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli state, and it most likely is also an expression of the historic humiliation of the Arabs at the hands of the Crusaders and Christianity and the supplanting of Islamic civilization in Europe. For the French it represents a defence of their own traditions and culture, a mandate that those who enjoy life in France should be "French." You cannot fault them for that. If immigrants want to maintain their ethnic or cultural traditions at home, let them do so; but in France - or anywhere, for that matter - people ought to concentrate on the ways in which they are alike and emphasize those similarities, and minimize their differences.

Some argue the new French law is the result of a failure to integrate the Moslem population into French culture. While it is true that there are many Arabs who are content to live within Arab communities in France, that in some ways this is the result of France's colonial past, the issue of integration is a global issue. The economic system creates differences, creates inequalities, creates haves and have-nots with a wide number of strata between the extremes. Because it is a global issue, the result of global forces, it cannot be solved locally, by one country working alone.

One law passed by one country will have no affect on the larger problems.

We think the underlying cause for this situation is man himself, his lack of self-knowledge. The global predicament is the reflection of the predicament we each face: we are multiple, splintered selves unable to truly act. We are the prisoners of our emotions, apelike creatures with our fingers on the button of mass destruction while deluding ourselves into believing we are acting for some higher good. Until we confront this issue, our fractured selves will continue to focus on petty things such as our clothing, a manifestation of our need to feel superior by displaying our religious affiliations: the fact that WE are saved and others are manifestly NOT.

'Arming America: The Origins Of A National Gun Culture' by Michael Bellesiles

Study shoots down American gun myths

Sunday, October 08, 2000
By Paul Rosenberg

The good people of this world are very far from satisfied with each other & my arms are the best peacemakers.” So wrote Samuel Colt in 1852, the last decade when American guns were scarce and murder rates low.

Colt’s salesmanship contributed to the change, but it was no match for the primary cause of the gun culture: the Civil War. There had long been a myth of universal American gun ownership and proficiency, tied to another myth, that of the citizen militia as the armed bulwark of freedom.

The Civil War, like every war before it, found militias woefully short of arms and even shorter of men familiar with them. Yet, the myth grew stronger than ever in the aftermath of the war and remains so to this day.

This study by historian Michael A. Bellesiles offers overwhelming evidence that until the Mexican-American War in 1846-48, Americans were either indifferent to guns or overtly hostile to them.

Meanwhile: Europeans are not cowards. It's that we know war.

Fletcher Crossman IHT
Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Mt. PLEASANT, South Carolina Listening to Richard Perle on the radio recently was a little hard for a European like me. Perle, a former chairman of the Defense Policy Board, stated that European nations "do not have the most courageous of instincts," with the implication that America has to intervene in international affairs because Europeans are afraid to. Perle's comments take place against a chorus of similar sentiments to be heard on America's airwaves in recent months.

An average listener would be forgiven for believing that Europeans are a cowardly bunch of ungrateful wimps, whose anti-American bombast is a merely a cover for their complicity with evil regimes.

It may be true. But as a European myself - I'm from Britain - it doesn't feel true. And I wonder if our cultural disconnect comes from two very different experiences of war.

Let's be clear: Europeans don't run away from war. Even the most fleeting look at our history will tell you that we love war, we want war, we will find almost any excuse for a war. In 1914 young men from all across Europe jauntily marched off to start yet another one, with flags waving and patriotic songs playing. Young men from my country marched in the knowledge that they represented the greatest nation on Earth, an economic powerhouse, a country blessed by God. Any of this sounding familiar?

Barely one of those men could have clearly explained what the war was about, it was enough that they were fighting for freedom, and against oppression.

Fast forward five years. 1919. A whole generation of young men - over 8.5 million - wiped out in the most disgusting war the world had ever seen. Economies collapsed, vast regions were blighted. No longer was anyone playing patriotic songs. Now poets like Wilfred Owen were bitterly decrying "the old lie" that it is an honorable thing to die for your country. Who was the enemy, anyway? Was it those pathetic, blood-stained bodies strewn across the opposing trenches, or the fat, cigar-smoking politicians that ordered us into this nightmare?

This feeling has never been totally expunged from the European psyche. However clear-cut the rationale sounds at the start of a war, the reality always results in atrocities, injustices and moral ambiguity. Within a few short years we were forced into a World War II, and this time there was none of the flag-waving; instead there was a stunned gasp of: "Are we really going through all this again?"

And this time it was worse. Our cities were flattened, a genocide was committed, a whole civilization was brought to its knees.

But World War II was mercifully different for America. Despite its debilitating losses - and its astonishing selflessness in prioritizing the European theater ahead of its own mission in the Pacific - America emerged from the devastation in a pre-eminent position, its infrastructure intact. Culturally, politically and economically, America stood like a gleaming Colossus above an impoverished world. If America had believed that by use of force, Good could prevail over Evil, then it had been proved right. War had saved Freedom and defeated Tyranny.

And this is now burned into the American psyche in much the same way that cynicism is for the European. America is the brave young soldier, with shining eyes and a firm jaw, marching towards a battle that will make the world a better place. Europe is the bitter old veteran sitting on the sidewalk, his medals collecting dust somewhere, shaking his head knowingly as the young soldier marches by.

Both views are valid and both are forged in the furnace of experience. America has the power and inclination to promote justice in the world, and Richard Perle may indeed be right: Perhaps Europeans don't have the most courageous of instincts. Not anymore. They still live in the shadow of two unthinkable wars, and have learnt that patriotism and courageous instincts have too often resulted in corruption, destruction and death.

Soldiers link suicide attack to recent raid, call it 'payback' for arrests

02:29 PM EST Jan 27

KABUL (CP) - Canadian troops in Kabul were bitter, angry and sad Tuesday upon hearing that a suicide bomber had struck one of their patrols, and some believed the deadly attack was retribution for a recent shift in Canadian tactics.

[...] Some of their comrades said the attack was retaliation for a night-time raid the Canadians carried out early last week, in which several suspected terrorists and alleged drug lords were apprehended.

NATO stresses commitment to Afghan mission after fatal attack on Canadians

02:29 PM EST Jan 27

BRUSSELS, Belgium (CP) - NATO condemned the suicide bombing that killed a Canadian soldier and an Afghan civilian Tuesday in Kabul and pledged that such attacks would not deter the alliance's peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan.

"The attack on these soldiers was a shameful act, but it will not detract from our commitment to help Afghanistan build a better, more hopeful future," said NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

ICC prez urges caution on missile defence

WebPosted Jan 27 2004 08:48 AM CST

IQALUIT - The president of Inuit Circumpolar Conference in Greenland is calling for closer ties with Canada on the proposed U.S. missile defence system.

The United States wants to set up advanced radar systems to intercept ballistic missiles coming from enemy states. But Aqqaluk Lynge says there are concerns about the environmental impact in the Arctic. Lynge says debate has been raging in Greenland since the U.S. formally asked to use the Thule airbase. Lynge, the president of Inuit circumpolar conference Greenland and an elected member of the Homerule government, says Greenlanders first want the Americans to clean up the mess they left at military sites on the island. "Especially in the Thule airbase area, their dumps and toxic materials and things that have damaged the environment," he says. Lynge says as neighbours, Greenland and northern Canada need to be in close contact about the U.S. missile defence program. "We should all be very careful on that issue because what it ends to be the missile defence, is that it will militarize space which is a big problem in the world right now," he says.

Earlier this month, Canada announced it's ready to negotiate an agreement on joint missile defence. Premier Paul Okalik says Nunavut also has concerns. "I support my colleague from Greenland in making sure that the mistakes that were made in the past aren't repeated over again," he says. "So we're cautious because there's PCB sites that we're still trying to clean up." Okalik says all three northern premiers want to be kept up-to-date on the file. He says if the missile defence system goes ahead then Nunavut wants to benefit from possible economic spinoffs. Okalik says one of the territory's abandoned mines might be a potential site for the project.

European Press Review: The Art of Secrecy and Deception

Following the latest revelations regarding the alleged existence of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, several leading European papers examined the implications for the U.S. government and its intelligence services.

The Future of Managed Democracy

By Sergei Markov
Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2004. Page 10

There are three teams in the Kremlin. None of them are opposed to democracy, but each understands democracy in its own way.

Powell calls Chechnya Russia's internal affair 2004-01-27 19:47:51

MOSCOW, Jan. 27 (Xinhuanet) -- Visiting US Secretary of State Colin Powell said Tuesday that Chechnya is Russia's internal affair, but urged the Russian government to observe human rights in the republic.

Chechnya is Russia's internal affair and this republic is an integral part of the country, he told representatives of the Russian non-governmental organizations at the residence of US ambassador in Moscow, the Interfax news agency reported.

Powell reiterates US call on Russia to pull bases out of Georgia 2004-01-27 18:57:49

MOSCOW, Jan. 27 (Xinhuanet) -- Visiting US Secretary of State Colin Powell reaffirmed a US call on Tuesday for Russia's withdrawal of forces from the former Soviet Caucasus republic of Georgia.

"The US position is that those forces should come out in accordance with the Istanbul commitments that the Russian Federation entered into in 1999," Powell said in an interview with the Moscow Echo radio.

He said Washington is willing to provide financial assistance to Russia in the resettlement of the personnel of Russian military bases to be withdrawn from Georgia.

[...] Powell, who is on the second day of his two-day visit to Russia, also assured that new US bases in Europe and US military presence in Central Asia will not threaten Russia.

The United States has been trying to expand its military presence in eastern Europe, Central Asia and some former Soviet territories, causing great concern in Moscow, which has warned of "a corresponding reaction" to the US moves.

Powell told the radio that the number of US troops in Europe will be reduced and the remaining forces will be distributed rationally around Europe.

He added that the new bases in Europe will be temporary and used for exercises, troop transfers and other similar purposes.

He said these bases will not be an army surrounding Russia and warned against a Cold War approach to the problem.

Comment: In other words, the US will pay the Russians to get the heck out of Georgia! Now that they have paid former Soviet Republics to accept US troops and establish US bases, they want to make certain that the new pipeline through Georgia will be in secure hands -- theirs.

As for Powell's assurances that these bases, the home to US troops, will not be "an army surrounding Russia," we wonder how the US would react to the Russians building bases in Canada, Mexico, and the Carribean?

Powell criticizes authoritarian actions under Putin

In a blunt newspaper commentary Monday, Secretary of State Colin Powell expressed concern about the more authoritarian direction of recent Russian policies at home and abroad under President Vladimir Putin. His front-page commentary in Izvestia, appearing on the same day that Powell met with Putin and other top Russian officials, made indirect references to crackdowns on media freedom during parliamentary elections and the Oct. 25 arrest of billionaire oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Tensions emerge in Russia's friendship with 'imperious' US

By Fred Weir in Moscow
27 January 2004

Colin Powell, the United States Secretary of State, issued an unusually blunt criticism of the state of Russian democracy yesterday amid signs of a deepening chill between the two allies in George Bush's "war on terror".

There were many protestations of enduring friendship as General Powell met President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin's ornate Green Room. Mr Putin hailed progress in US-Russia nuclear disarmament and said Moscow looked forward to joining in an American-sponsored bid to put men on Mars by 2020.

Some Russian experts saw things differently after General Powell's outspoken comments in a front-page interview with the daily Izvestia. "The relationship is not at its best," said Alexander Konovalov, director of the independent Institute for Strategic Assessments. "The Americans have become increasingly messianic and want to impose their views of democracy and strategic necessity in every situation."

Only slightly mincing his words in the interview, General Powell put his finger on America's main complaints, suggesting that under Mr Putin, Russia is becoming more authoritarian and increasingly aggressive toward its former Soviet neighbours.

Although General Powell did not mention any post-Soviet states by name, he clearly had in mind recent tensions over Georgia, where the US and Russia have been tussling for influence since the collapse of the USSR. "Certain aspects [of Russian policy] toward neighbours that emerged from the former Soviet Union concern us," he wrote.

"Russia's democratic system seems not yet to have found the essential balance among the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. Political power is not yet fully tethered to law. Key aspects of civil society - free media and development of a political party system, for example - have not yet attained independent reality."

Pro-Kremlin and nationalist parties won more than two-thirds of seats in the State Duma last month, in elections that international observers called deeply flawed. The state's near-total control over the media was cited as a crucial factor in bending the result the Kremlin's way. No major opposition figure has dared to run against Mr Putin in presidential polls slated for 14 March, guaranteeing him an easy walk back to his Kremlin office for four more years.

General Powell also criticised Russia's war against the secessionist republic of Chechnya, though Washington had previously seemed to accept Moscow's contention that the conflict, which has caused tens of thousands of deaths, is part of the common global war on terrorism. After the terror attacks in the US on 11 September 2001, Mr Putin called George Bush and offered Russia's support in the global war against al-Qa'ida. But the relationship began to unravel over the US invasion of Iraq last year, and has worsened amid Bush administration criticism of Kremlin policies.

Moscow has rebuffed US demands that it withdraw Soviet-era military bases from Georgia and Moldova, and said that the troops represent legitimate Russian national interests. At the same time, the US has extended indefinitely the stay of a 400-man military presence in Georgia, ostensibly to protect the western-financed Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which is expected to begin carrying Caspian oil to world markets by next year.

"Why do the Americans think it's OK for them to plant bases all around our borders, while they feel free to criticise every Russian military movement in the former Soviet Union?" said Mr Konovalov.

Russia's Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, said at a joint press conference yesterday that Moscow takes no offence at General Powell's remarks, and that anything can be discussed "in a constructive atmosphere of openness".

But some Russian experts said it is not so much what General Powell said but the imperious cold war tone in which he said it that causes alarm.

EU considers lifting arms embargo on China 2004-01-27 06:23:35

BRUSSELS, Jan. 26 (Xinhuanet) -- The European Union (EU) is considering to lift the ban of arms sale to China, the foreign ministers' meeting of EU members and would-be members revealed Monday.

[...] "It is quite clear the situation in China has changed dramatically and the new leadership represents the next generation," said Patten at a press conference after the meeting.

He noted that China's human rights situation has improved since the EU imposed the ban, though the EU is not fully satisfied with China's human rights record.

Comment: Does anyone else find it peculiar that countries put so much importance on the arms trade? Of course, at first view, it seems normal. Countries need to protect themselves, right? But step back, take a few deep breaths, and consider the nature of a world where the arms trade has such importance.

Based upon 1998 figures, the US was the world leader in arms sales, with 31% of the total arms trade, or $7.1 billion out of a total arms trade of $23 billion. Germany, at $5.5 billion, and France, at $3 billion, lagged behind. However, given their smaller economies, we think they made an impressive effort.

1998 GDP $(trillions)
United Kingdom
United States

You can see that Europe has a vested interest in reopening its arms trade with China, a market closed to them during the period covered here, if they wish to maintain their lead over US arms suppliers in that competitive field.

The defence budget this year of the US alone is close to $500 billion. That is $80 for each person on the planet, or $1600 for each US citizen. If we do some comparisons, we find the following (based upon 1997 figures, that is, before Bush raised dramatically raised US military spending, showing that the Republican concern for a balanced budget was merely a smokescreen, something to be used to crucify Clinton.)

Total $(millions)
Per Capita
of GDP
United States $272 955 $1 018 3.4
33 416
41 545
7 797
11 143
1 917
United Kingdom
35 736
Saudi Arabia
18 151
1 071
3 618
1 681
64 000
36 551
1 250
North Korea
5 409
2 217
4 695

1997 figures in US dollars

One enlightening bit of info that can be gleaned from this table is a comparison of US military spending with those countries it has invaded and occupied, Afghanistan and Iraq. Afghanistan, in 1997, was spending a whopping $10 per person on its military. Iraq, that very personification of evil, was 5.6 times as dangerous as Afghanistan, spending $56 per person, or a mind-boggling .O55 times as much as Uncle Sam! No wonder Washington was nervous! Compare those figures with Iran ($68 per head) and North Korea ($246 per head -- almost as much as the aggressive Canada), and you better understand the rational behind US politics. No wonder Bush wants to negotiate with Pyongyang!

The counterargument that it was the quality of Iraq's weapons that was upsetting the Bush administration can be dismissed as none of these weapons have been found, and the consensus, outside of the Pentagon/White House bunker, is that they were destroyed long before last year's invasion.

The next two countries on the neocon hit list are Syria and Iran. Their combined spending in 1997 was $6,912 billion, or 3% of US arms spending and 62% of Israel's.

The island of Grenada, the site of the first American military victory after the defeat in Vietnam, is not included on the list. With a GDP of $340 million, it served as the perfect foil to boost the morale of the US military. The second overt US invasion of the 1980's was the December, 1989, invasion of Panama to seize Gen. Mañuel Noriega, claimed by many to be a partner with George H. Bush and the CIA in drug-running. Overrunning this Central American country was the second confidence booster for the US military. It was also a lesson that the US was willing to turn on former friends and business associates, a lesson that Saddam Hussein later learned.

Maggie Golston uses a BioPay identification system at Lee's Food King in south Sacramento.

Will that be cash, check or finger?

By Alison Roberts -- Bee Staff Writer
Sunday, January 25, 2004

Biometric devices -- which confirm identification by measuring biological or behavioral features -- have been a staple of police work and science-fiction movies for decades. Now they're moving into the everyday world of airports, workplaces and corner markets.

In the Sacramento area, finger-scan identification systems are showing up in growing numbers at check-cashing windows, many within grocery stores. And in the future, expect to see them at cash registers, allowing customers to pay for goods as well -- no ATM card or wallet needed

The most common biometric measure is fingerprints, but some devices also identify based on a retinal or iris scan, a face or voice. Biometrics promises identities that promoters claim are virtually impossible to steal, impersonate or misplace (the movies "Gattaca" and "Minority Report" notwithstanding).
"Some type of biometric is the only way we'll be able to reliably identify anyone," says Sgt. Greg Fox of the Identity Theft Task Force at the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department. "You can take my name, but you can't take my print."

But critics contend biometrics moves us closer to a world of Big Brother.

"Biometrics is a technology that has a lot of potential that's bad for privacy, although a lot of people consider it a silver bullet," says Lee Tien, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy advocacy group based in San Francisco.

To Valen Lee, biometrics seems like a business-saver for merchants fighting bad checks.

Lee works at his family's grocery store, Lee's Food King, on Franklin Boulevard in south Sacramento. Bad check losses at the store's check-cashing window hit about $30,000 during 2002. "We had to do something," Lee says.

He installed a finger-scan identification system a year ago. It cost about $10,000 for setup and about $80 a month for data and support service for the system.

Now, more than 5,000 transactions later, the system has more than paid for itself by reducing the store's bad-check losses by at least two-thirds.

Blair wins key top-up fees vote

Tuesday, 27 January, 2004

Tony Blair has scraped home by just five votes in a crunch House of Commons test of his controversial plans to introduce university top-up fees.
The Higher Education Bill was backed by 316 votes to 311 after days of intense campaigning by ministers and rebels.

Mr Blair had staked his authority on winning the vote, which was widely seen as his biggest test as prime minister. [...]

Both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats opposed the plans, which would allow universities to charge students £3,000-a-year, payable when they earn £15,000. [...]

UK Student sells virginity on web

Monday, 26 January, 2004

A university student is planning to pay for her degree course by selling her virginity on the internet.
Rosie Reid, 18, from London, decided to auction her virginity on the auction site eBay in order to avoid graduating with huge debts.

The Bristol University social policy student says she would rather sleep with a stranger than face years of comparative poverty.

Ms Reid put herself on offer earlier in January and received more than 400 offers within three days, including one of £10,000.

On the eve of a Commons vote on higher education funding, more than 250 students in the city demonstrated in an attempt to persuade MPs to vote against top up fees.

I am devoting too much time to paid employment and not enough to studying

Can Okar, President of the University's Union, said: "We hope to keep the vote at the forefront of the minds of MPs.

"We want them to vote with their conscience. Education is too important to get tied up with politics."

Speaking about Ms Reid, he said: "We would never condone anyone putting themselves into a dangerous position.

"It is a great stunt but this is a serious issue and this student is setting a bad example to others."

Kerry storms ahead in key US vote

John Kerry has won a huge victory in the New Hampshire state primary, boosting his campaign to become the Democrat challenger to George Bush.

Does the US budget deficit matter?

By Steve Schifferes
BBC News Online economics reporter

How much does Mr Bush want to cut the deficit?
The US will be in the red by almost half a trillion dollars next year - but will the growing budget deficit harm the economy?

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says the US government will run up a budget deficit of nearly $500bn in 2004 - the largest in US history in absolute terms, and, at 5% of GDP, the largest since 1993 as a percentage of the economy.

Brussels set to rule against Microsoft

By Daniel Dombey in Brussels
Published: January 26 2004 21:53 | Last Updated: January 26 2004 21:53

The European Commission has reached a preliminary decision that Microsoft broke European competition law and abused its dominant position in the personal computer market.

People close to the case said Brussels' competition department had concluded the software company should be fined after a three and a half year investigation, a sign that the chances of settling the case are rapidly running out.

Activists Say U.S. Tries to Sap World Obesity Fight

Fri Jan 16
By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) - Consumer groups accused the United States on Friday of trying to sabotage a global fight against obesity targeting junk food and soft drinks.

The World Health Organization (news - web sites) (WHO) executive, which includes the United States and 31 other countries, will debate on Tuesday a plan drawn up by the U.N. agency after talks with member states, nutritional experts and the food industry.

The Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health says poor diets and lack of exercise are the leading cause of illnesses including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. These account for nearly 60 percent of 56.5 million deaths a year deemed preventable.

As well as recommending lower intake of sugar, sodium and artery-clogging trans-fatty acids, the WHO plan urges countries to restrict food and beverage advertisements aimed at children. It also suggests that governments gear their taxation and subsidy policies to encourage healthy eating habits.

But activist groups charged that the U.S. administration, under pressure from the domestic food industry, aims to weaken the plan when it comes before the executive board, which meets from January 19-24.

Senior U.S. health department official William Steiger, who sits on the board, has challenged some of the findings of a nutrition study carried out with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (news - web sites), which forms the basis for the strategy.

In an interview with the Washington Post on Friday, he said: "We have a whole series of potential changes we'd like to see... What's lacking is the notion of personal responsibility as opposed to what the government can do."

Leaked to Activists

In a letter to WHO chief Lee Jong-Wook, which was leaked to activists, Steiger said the WHO-FAO report did not meet U.S. scientific standards, including peer review criteria.

"The assertion that heavy marketing of energy-dense foods or fast food outlets increases the risk of obesity is supported by almost no data," his letter said.

"No data have yet clearly demonstrated that the advertising on children's television causes obesity."

Steiger also said the WHO/FAO Report exceeded the two U.N. agencies' mandates by addressing "broad areas of trade, agricultural subsidies and advertising."

"The Bush Administration is putting the interests of the junk food industry ahead of the health of people -- including children -- on a global scale," Commercial Alert, a non-profit group based in Portland, Oregon, said in a statement.

Comment: One of the benefits of daily, objective observation of our world is that one slowly begins to get the impression that the odds are seriously stacked against us as inhabitants of this planet.

Coke with Yet Another New Twist: Toxic Cola

[..] The ban came as the result of tests, including those by the Indian government, which found high concentrations of pesticides and insecticides, including lindane, DDT, malathion and chlorpyrifos, in the colas, making them unfit for consumption. Some samples tested showed the presence of these toxins to be more than 30 times the standard allowed by the European Union. Tests of samples taken from the US of the same drinks were found to be safe.

Double standards? You bet. An isolated incident? Not quite. Large multinationals are notorious for serving up products that have been banned in the West to new and emerging markets in developing countries. The tobacco industry, faced with dwindling sales after successful anti-tobacco initiatives in the US, is investing heavily in addicting developing countries. Dow Chemical (owner of the Union Carbide company of the Bhopal gas disaster fame) aggressively markets the pesticide Dursban in India, in spite of the US Environmental Protection Agency announcing plans to phase out Dursban in the US because it is harmful to humans [..]

Severe winter weather continues across Canada

Last Updated Tue, 27 Jan 2004 8:29:41

TORONTO - Canadians will face freezing rain, extreme wind chill and heavy snowfall as severe winter weather continues to wallop the country.

A storm slammed Southern Ontario on Monday, and some areas were expecting up to 45 centimetres of snow by Tuesday night.

Environment Canada also predicted the storm would be accompanied by freezing rain and could become the worst in recent memory.

Scientists develop contraceptives to target rats 2004-01-26 16:04:19

CHENGDU, Jan. 26 (Xinhuanet) -- Chinese scientists have found a new type of contraceptive for rats as some believed the rodents might be linked to the first SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) case this winter on the Chinese mainland.

"Only one gram of such contraceptive can sterilize 100 rats," said Ma Lin, one of the pill developers in Sichuan Province, southwest China.

Hong Kong scientist says earlier virus may have set stage for Asian bird flu

02:30 PM EST Jan 27

HONG KONG (AP) - A virus that weakens the immune system of chickens is likely to have set the stage for the rampant spread of bird flu across Asia, a Hong Kong scientist said Tuesday.

Frederick Leung, a zoology professor at the University of Hong Kong, said his studies conducted since 1996 showed that Hong Kong chickens hit by bird flu were usually struck by the infectious bursal disease virus, or IBDV, about six months earlier.

Leung said he believes that disease probably also hit the chicken farms across Asia that are currently suffering from bird flu, although he has no data about that outside Hong Kong.

[...] IBDV, which causes diarrhea and sleepiness in chickens, occurs almost annually around the world. It normally kills fewer than five per cent of infected chickens. But if the death rate jumps to 20 per cent, bird flu is likely to follow, Leung said.

The Ninth Wave

Over the years, Fortean Times has published many first-hand accounts of strange phenomena, but few as terrifying as Gavin Craig’s close encounter with a relatively unknown force of nature – a giant wave.

Fossil find is oldest land animal

Scientists have decided that a fossil found near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire is the remains of the oldest creature ever to live on land.

It is thought that the one-centimetre millipede which was prised out of a siltstone bed is 428-million-years-old.

Experts at the National Museums of Scotland and Yale University have studied the fossil for months.

They say the find is the earliest evidence of a creature living on dry land, rather than in the sea. [...]

Ghost Helps Firefighters Put Out Blaze?

Mystery Bird Discovered On Indonesian Island

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