Today's conditions brought to you by the Bush Junta - marionettes of their hyperdimensional puppet masters - Produced and Directed by the CIA, based on an original script by Henry Kissinger, with a cast of billions.... The "Greatest Shew on Earth," no doubt, and if you don't have a good sense of humor, don't read this page! It is designed to reveal the "unseen."
If you can't stand the heat of Objective Reality, get out of the kitchen!

Saturday, January 31, 2004

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The material presented in the linked articles does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the editors. Research on your own and if you can validate any of the articles, or if you discover deception and/or an obvious agenda, we will appreciate if you drop us a line! We often post such comments along with the article synopses for the benefit of other readers. As always, Caveat Lector!

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©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

We are deluged in a maelstrom of disinformation. It seems that most get caught in the undertow, and do not come up for air. Most may not realize they are drowning. Even worse, partial information, when interpreted in a twisted way, can become disinformation.

The strategy that affords some measure of safety is to assume that everything is disinformation and then proceed to research from there, acquiring mountains of views and facts in order to derive the PROBABLE central idea. This process can be likened to taking the impressions of a thousand blind men about an elephant and then carefully assembling these impressions, with care and patience, acquiring some semblance of an idea what an elephant really looks like. No one published source of information will give you the entire elephant, rather just some small part that has been encountered in some way.

Many researchers have discovered the elephant's tail and assume that it is the entire elephant. One recent example of this kind of research, which has been popping up regularly in the news, is the report that Bush/CIA/FBI had prior knowledge of 9/11. Sure that may very well be part of the story, but not the entire story.

Partial truths are regularly used for disinformation. Those who have not chosen to actually think and research may be satisfied with the tail, and may actually help prevent further truth from being revealed. After examining a mountain of facts and insights, it appears that there is a much deeper reality going on here. News stories regarding prior knowledge of 9/11 may even be useful to the plans of those that pull Bush's strings. This piece of possible truth could certainly be used to obscure any further insights. It is important to remember that disinformation comes from seemingly reliable sources, and disinformation constitutes most of what we hear and read.

Humanity has been deceived because we have allowed ourselves to be deceived. It is easier that way. It is easier to be led than to make choices, research and create, break down, and recreate hypothesis. Disinformation always diverts our attention away from reality making us vulnerable. We conduct ourselves in our realities based on our awareness of the reality in which we are immersed. Subjective understanding not based on fact hinders every aspect of our lives. We are vulnerable. Have we seriously asked ourselves why we are here?

Why are some people great while others are not?
Why is it so that some people lead while others follow?
Why is it that so many people just follow the herd?
Why is it so that some people achieve...
while others only dream?

Why is it so that some people succeed with little effort, while others are doomed to fail no matter how hard they work?

Why do some start with good intentions, but meet insurmountable obstacles on their way? While others make easy progress?

Is the truth really "Out There"? If so, is it possible to discover some part of it?

Human beings are generally so overwhelmed by their everyday lives that they forget the most important thing about life itself: death.

None of us are going to get out of here alive. But nobody really likes to talk - or even think - about that single fact that all life holds in common: We are all going to die.

And then, what? There are many answers to that question depending on who you ask. But are they the "truth?"

Imagine being mysteriously dropped in a sail boat, having no concept of sailing, and no land in sight. The sail is down. What kind of existence can we expect to lead, bobbing up and down in the waves completely at the mercy of forces larger than ourselves? We can have no larger life aim in such conditions.

We may very well accidentally bump into dry land before dying of exposure, but will it be where we really wanted to go? How much better life would be if we understood the concepts of sailing and navigation by the stars. The more knowledge we have the better: geography, tides, radio operation, morse code, sushi preparation, etc.

Far more difficult than drifting aimlessly in one sense, involving much deliberate effort, but what else is life for? We could always seek ease and comfort, attempt to manipulate others motivated by subconscious desires for love, appreciation and validation. We could attempt to be "good" people mostly defined by what we do NOT do, rather than what we actually do, plugging ourselves in to the same programmed behavior that obviously has not been working for humankind. Or we could do what others rarely do, and teach ourselves how to think.

Awakening to the fact that we have been drifting aimlessly, with no land in sight may be so frightening that we immediately create an artificial construct in our imagination that, "god is in heaven and all is well in the world," or "'twas ever so." There must be a way to integrate such feelings and reason in our quest. Perhaps we can be coldly analytical when necessary, maybe even informed to do so via our emotions...

Slouching toward Big Brother

January 30, 2004, 4:00 AM PT
By Bruce Schneier

Bruce Schneier is one of the world's foremost security experts. His latest book , "Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World," has just been published.

Last week the Supreme Court let stand the Justice Department's right to secretly arrest noncitizen residents.

Combined with the government's power to designate foreign prisoners of war as "enemy combatants" in order to ignore international treaties regulating their incarceration, and their power to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens without charge or access to an attorney, the United States is looking more and more like a police state.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the Justice Department has asked for, and largely received, additional powers that allow it to perform an unprecedented amount of surveillance of American citizens and visitors. The USA Patriot Act, passed in haste after Sept. 11, started the ball rolling.

In December, a provision slipped into an appropriations bill allowing the FBI to obtain personal financial information from banks, insurance companies, travel agencies, real estate agents, stockbrokers, the U.S. Postal Service, jewelry stores, casinos and car dealerships without a warrant--because they're all construed as financial institutions. Starting this year, the U.S. government is photographing and fingerprinting foreign visitors coming into this country from all but 27 other countries.

The "Big Brother is watching you" style of total surveillance is slowly becoming a reality.

The litany continues. CAPPS-II, the government's vast computerized system for probing the backgrounds of all passengers boarding flights, will be fielded this year. Total Information Awareness, a program that would link diverse databases and allow the FBI to collate information on all Americans, was halted at the federal level after a huge public outcry, but is continuing at a state level with federal funding. Over New Year's, the FBI collected the names of 260,000 people staying at Las Vegas hotels. More and more, at every level of society, the "Big Brother is watching you" style of total surveillance is slowly becoming a reality. [...]

Houston Braces for Super Security Before Bowl

"Fans want this level of security."

Security for Super Bowl XXXVIII will be as extensive as at previous versions of the NFL's showpiece event since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, officials said on Thursday. But this year the Houston Police Department has been placed in charge of co-coordinating the security plan which will include 25 local, state and government agencies. The National Guard will not be deployed as part of those security efforts but will be available if needed. Every person entering the stadium will pass through one of the 90 state-of-the-art metal detectors and other screening procedures that were described as similar to those now at place in airports. Passengers on planes flying into Houston on Sunday will undergo extensive scrutiny and their names will be checked against lists of known terrorists.

Internet surveillance powers should stand, U.S. officials say

The Bush administration is warning Congress not to tinker with the Internet surveillance powers that the USA Patriot Act awarded to federal police. In a four-page letter to the Senate on Thursday, Attorney General John Ashcroft said that defanging the controversial law, which has been criticized by every major Democratic presidential contender, would "undermine our ongoing campaign to detect and prevent catastrophic terrorist attacks." Were Congress to vote to amend the USA Patriot Act, Ashcroft indicated, President Bush would veto the bill.

Boys suspended for tiny G.I. Joe guns

District's zero-tolerance policy bars inch-long plastic toy

Three boys were suspended for bringing to school miniature toy guns from G.I. Joe action figures. The toys are about one to three inches – about half the size of a pencil – but Bemiss Elementary School in Spokane, Wash., says it stands by its zero-tolerance policy on weapons, which does not specify the type or size, the Spokane Spokesman-Review reported.

Comment: A fine example of the chronic lack of rational independent thinking that typifies modern society.

People Who Lived Through Nazism Say What's Happening in the United States Seems Familiar

Harley Sorensen
San Francisco Chronicle

[...] Here, slightly edited, is one of the more interesting [emails] from last week. It's from Herr Moellers in Germany:

"Dear Mr. Sorensen,

"I have many American friends and used to go on business travel to the U.S. a lot (I stopped doing that after even our European governments have given in to Uncle Sam's appetite for information about individuals traveling to God's Own Country), and I am shocked by the deterioration of democracy in a country that I used to love. This administration is a shame and the destabilization they have brought to the world is scaring the s** out of me.

"My father was a Nazi soldier and he realized during the war what he and most of his generation was led into. I have learned from him that a nation can be guilty and that we must stop the arrogance of the powers at the very beginning. To me, America is becoming truly scary and the parallels to the development in Germany of the thirties (although the reason behind it are totally different) are sickening.

"Thank you for writing about this development. The world is waiting for signs of opposition in the Unilateral States of America!"

Herr Moellers' e-mail is typical of a half dozen or so I've received over the past year from people with intimate knowledge of Nazi Germany.

I respect experience, so I'm inclined to believe what these people are telling me. Perhaps their memories help explain the attitude of Germans toward the Bush administration these days.

They've been there, they've done that. They know what a corrupt government smells like.

But are they "over the top"? Are they overreacting to a normal swing of the pendulum in American politics?

To make a comparison between Germany in the 1930s and America now, I relied on a Web site called "A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust." The passages in quotations below are taken from the site.

"With Adolf Hitler's ascendancy to the chancellorship, the Nazi Party quickly consolidated its power. Hitler managed to maintain a posture of legality throughout the Nazification process."

Whether by chance or design, George W. Bush is the most powerful American president in modern history. Not only does he have both houses of Congress beholden to him, but the majority of the Supreme Court is acting like a quintet of Bush lapdogs. And it all appears legal.

"Domestically, during the next six years, Hitler completely transformed Germany into a police state."

Civil libertarians insist that this is happening here now, with the USA Patriot Act in force and Patriot II on the table.

"Hitler engaged in a 'diplomatic revolution' by negotiating with other European countries and publicly expressing his strong desire for peace."

Nobody can accuse Bush of being overly diplomatic, but, like all political leaders, he is an apostle for peace, even while starting two wars during his brief tenure.

In 1933, the Reichstag, Germany's parliament building, was burned to the ground. Nobody knows for sure who set the fire. The Nazis blamed communists. "This incident prompted Hitler[,then Germany's chancellor,] to convince [German President Paul von] Hindenburg to issue a Decree for the Protection of People and State that granted Nazis sweeping power to deal with the so-called emergency."

The Reichstag fire parallels the Sept. 11 attacks here, and Hindenburg's decree parallels our USA Patriot Act.

Locations of secret prison camps
are marked in black

Within prison walls

Camp 22 is one of a network of prisons in North Korea modelled on the Soviet Gulag where hundreds of thousands of prisoners are held. Most of them have been charged with no crime. They are there because of the "Heredity Rule". In North Korea, " Kwon Hyok explains, "political prisoners are those who say or do something against the dead President Kim Il-sung, or his son Kim Jong-il. But it also includes a wide network of next of kin. It's designed to root out the seeds of those classed as disloyal to North Korea." In prison, says Kwon Hyok, "there is a watchdog system in place between members of five different families. So if I were caught trying to escape, then my family and the four neighbouring families are shot to death out of collective responsibility." [...]

UPDATE: Scientists puzzle over ice from sky

31.01.2004
By STUART DYE
New Zealand Herald

When a mysterious ball of ice crashed through Jan Robertson's house, the 80-year-old had no idea she would plunge New Zealand into the centre of a scientific frenzy.

Geochemists, astrophysicists, meteorologists and geologists in Brazil, China, Spain and Russia believe the intrusion may have been New Zealand's first " megacryometeor".

To the layman that is hailstones - jumbo hailstones.

Early investigations by the Civil Aviation Authority suggest that the ice contained chlorine, an indication that it had been treated by man. [...]

However, inspections of both aircraft have revealed no signs of where the ice could have come from.

Mrs Robertson got used to phone calls from scientists around the world but yesterday, 10 days after the incident, she said things had quietened down.

There have been 50 documented cases around the world. Ice balls have punched holes in roofs, smashed car windshields and whizzed past people's heads.

The group's founder, Jesus Martinez-Frias, a planetary geologist, began investigating the ice falls after a spate in Spain three years ago.

It started with a soccer-ball-sized chunk plummeting from the sky on a sunny Madrid day and smashing through a parked car.

In something resembling a biblical plague, pieces of ice weighing up to 3kg rained on Spain out of cloudless skies for 10 days, then the phenomenon ended as suddenly as it began.

At first, scientists thought the giant hail was unique to Spain. But they have accumulated evidence that megacryometeors are a global event and have documented ice balls falling from cloudless skies everywhere from China to the United States.

They believe the 50 confirmed falls are a fraction of the actual number - most may hit unoccupied areas or melt before discovery.

The average weight is 12 to 15kg, but one whopper in Brazil tipped the scales at 200kg - the size of a V8 car engine.

Alarming as this may be for people's homes, cars and health, the scientists have a different concern.

"I'm not worried that a block of ice may fall on your head," said Professor Martinez-Frias, speaking from Madrid. "I'm worried that great blocks of ice are forming where they shouldn't exist."

The worry is that, if megacryometeors are a result of global warming, they are likely to increase. [...]

Same Skeletons, Different Closet

How Many People Will Die Because of This "Mistake", Senator Kerry?

By SAM HUSSEINI
Counterpunch.org
January 30, 2004

Truth is the only safe ground to stand upon.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton

At the debate last night, John Kerry, asked to give examples of the administration's deceptiveness on the "war on terrorism," said the following:

"Well, 45 minutes deployment of weapons of mass destruction, number one. Aerial vehicles to be able to deliver materials of mass destruction, number two. I mean, I -- nuclear weapons, number three. I could run a long list of clear misleading, clear exaggeration...."

On Oct. 9, 2002 John Kerry participated in "a long list of clear misleading, clear exaggerations," to put it mildly. In his speech on the floor of the Senate just before voting to authorize Bush to invade Iraq, Kerry said:

"Why is Saddam Hussein attempting to develop nuclear weapons when most nations don't even try? ... According to intelligence, Iraq has chemical and biological weapons ... Iraq is developing unmanned aerial vehicles capable of delivering chemical and biological warfare agents..."

Kerry became famous by asking senators "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" Kerry is now himself a senator.

Mr. Kerry: How do you ask someone to die for your support of the invasion of Iraq? How do you ask someone to die for this mistake? More than a "mistake," how do you ask someone to die because you voted for an illegal , unconstitutional invasion? How do you ask Iraqis and Americans and others to die because you backed Bush?

How can you tell us that Bush was deceitful when you uttered many of the same falsehoods? How can you hold him accountable when you refuse to be held accountable yourself? [...]

Comment: The same question could be asked of the American people who originally banged the drums of war along with Bush.

Danger for Bush as doubts grow over prewar intelligence

The Age
January 31, 2004

The President's re-election strategy faces problems as the spy debate gathers strength, writes David Sanger.

The intensifying debate on prewar US intelligence about Iraq presents President George Bush with difficult and risky alternatives as he balances election-year politics with calls to overhaul the intelligence apparatus and restore the nation's credibility around the world.

He could order an inquiry about the performance of intelligence agencies, as Democrats and former chief weapons inspector David Kay have insisted, but his aides fear that could be politically damaging and would almost certainly reopen old wounds with the CIA.

He could keep arguing that military action was justified no matter how immediate a threat Saddam Hussein posed, and push off an examination of US intelligence for another year. But his political team worries that doing so could keep the issue alive through the presidential campaign.

Or Bush and those on his national security team who once described how Saddam could use his stockpiles of weapons to strike at any time could conclude that something went badly wrong during their march to war.

But this is not a White House given to admitting error. And even if Bush vowed to fix what many say is a broken system, his national security aides note, the fix would not be easy.

"They've made a pretty huge mess of it," said one senior Republican who has been talking to Mr Bush's top advisers about what steps they should take next. "They wove this giant story, based on intelligence assessments that in hindsight - and this is hindsight, remember - were wrong. [...]

Comment: Hindsight? We beg to differ.

US irked by Belgian defense minister's election comment

WASHINGTON (AFP) Jan 30, 2004

The United States has complained to Belgium over recent comments made by Belgian Defense Minister Andre Flahaut in which he urged American voters to support President George W. Bush's Democratic rivals in the upcoming US presidential elections, officials said Friday. [...]

Little comfort for Blair as polls view report as a 'whitewash'

By John Curtice
31 January 2004

Tony Blair must have hoped the Hutton report would help persuade the public to trust him once more. He looks set to be disappointed.

According to two polls, one undertaken by NOP, the other by YouGov, around half believe Lord Hutton's report a "whitewash" while only between a third and two-fifths take the opposite view. True, much of this is sour grapes from Conservative and Liberal Democrat supporters, but even among Labour supporters, one-fifth think the report a whitewash.

In particular, Lord Hutton seems to have failed to persuade the public that little or no blame should attach to the Government. Only 36 per cent are convinced it should be cleared of all charges in respect of the naming of Dr Kelly. Only 37 per cent believe the Prime Minister acted properly and just 24 per cent back Alastair Campbell.

But perhaps the most startling barometer of the public's continued distrust of Mr Blair is that two polls found 45 per cent believe the Prime Minister lied when he said he said he did not authorise the leaking of Dr Kelly's name.

On the other hand, Lord Hutton's criticisms of the BBC appear to be widely endorsed. Only 25 per cent think Greg Dyke acted properly over the affair, and faith in the BBC has fallen. In March last year 81 per cent said they trusted BBC journalists to mostly tell the truth. Now only 67 per cent do so. [...]

Bush, Blair Among Nobel Nominees as Deadline Looms

By Alister Doyle
Fri Jan 30, 8:00 AM ET

OSLO (Reuters) - President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair are among nominees for the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize before a Sunday deadline for nominations despite failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. [...]

Among nominees are the European Union to mark its expansion to include former East bloc states. Pope John Paul, the Salvation Army, former Czech President Vaclav Havel, Chinese dissidents are also among nominees. [...]

Nobel watchers say Bush or Blair's chances of winning are close to nil. The 2002 prize went to ex-U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who argued against war. The head of the Nobel committee called the choice a "kick in the legs" to Bush on Iraq. [...]

Lundestad said many people wrongly believed being a "Nobel prize nominee" was itself a kind of honor.

Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler and former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic have made it to the list -- every member of all the world's parliaments, university professors from law to theology, ex-winners and committee members can submit names.

"There are many who do not understand the difference between a nomination and getting the prize," Lundestad said. [...]

Bush seeks big missile defence increase

By Jeremy Pelofsky
Saturday January 31, 03:18 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration will ask Congress to boost spending on missile defence by $1.2 billion (660 million pounds) next year and nearly double funding to modernise the Army in the $401.7 billion U.S. military budget for 2005, according to Pentagon documents.

The defence plan is part of a proposed $2.3 trillion federal budget President George W. Bush will send to lawmakers on Monday. It calls for a 7 percent increase in defence spending over the current level of $375 billion. [...]

The administration seeks to boost funding for its controversial missile defence program by 13 percent to $10.2 billion next year from $9 billion requested for fiscal 2004. [...]

U.S. Won't Raise Level of Terror Alert

By LESLIE MILLER, Associated Press Writer
January 31, 2004

WASHINGTON - The national threat alert level won't be raised despite renewed concerns about terrorist threats against British and French flights headed for the United States.

New intelligence indicates that British Airways flights from London to Washington and Air France flights from Paris to an unspecified U.S. city could be terrorist targets, U.S. officials said Friday. [...]

Grenade Strikes Dutch Embassy in Baghdad

By ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Writer
Fri Jan 30, 9:49 PM ET

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Attackers fired two rocket-propelled grenades at the Dutch Embassy in Iraq on Friday night, hitting the roof with one and setting it on fire. The blaze was quickly extinguished, and there were no injuries. [...]

US fails to get Russia on board in fight against spread of WMD

MOSCOW (AFP) Jan 30, 2004

Russia on Friday rejected an initial US bid to convince it to join countries ready to intercept ships and planes which may be trafficking weapons of mass destruction across the globe.

Undersecretary of State John Bolton spent two days in Moscow meeting top defense and foreign ministry officials, but failed to convince them that Russia should join the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI).

The agreement has been signed by all members of the Group of Eight leading industrial nations except for Russia. Washington would like to see Moscow on board by the time the United States hosts the next G8 summit in June. [...]

Russia fears that the PSI initiative will allow the United States to launch unilateral raids without agreement from international institutions like the UN Security Council, where Russia has veto power. [...]

The LaBarr family

Christian foot soldiers battle for Bush

By Matt Wells
BBC correspondent in Atlanta
30 January, 2004

An increasingly polarised presidential election appears to be in the offing. One of the fault-lines is religion and, in particular, President George W Bush's evangelical faith and how that guides his political beliefs.

Pulling into the parking lot of the evangelical church where the LaBarr family worship, feels more like arriving at a bustling shopping mall.

Jim, Karen and their two children, David and Christie, are four people out of around 4,000 who come to this expanding complex run by the Presbyterian Church In America over the average weekend.

The bustling corridors and array of Sunday school activities on offer here reflects a growing and youthful family-oriented community that is typical of the northern Atlanta suburbs.

Moral agenda

The city is capital of the "New South" and one of the areas where conservative Christians remain steadfastly loyal to their evangelical president, and the Republican party machine that sustains him in the White House.

There was a time when the Democratic Party held sway across the whole Southern Bible Belt, but the party is now seen as dangerously liberal and permissive by people like the LaBarrs. The are Republican stalwarts and also active in the national pressure group, the Christian Coalition.

Their strict moral agenda is based on literal interpretation of the bible. They are anti-abortion, against sex before marriage. They are in favour of greater local control, and lower taxes.

The idea of extending marriage licences to gay couples is particularly repugnant to them.

"Gay men do not live for a long time. They have a lot of disease... It's a moral issue, but also a health issue," says Jim, unconcerned that in the secular world, his views reek of homophobia.

Foot soldiers

Karen is very active in local Republican politics, and she is convinced that George W Bush is their best hope for keeping the deterioration of American society at bay.

"He's the leader of the party that's got the right ideas, particularly for national security, but also for some of these moral issues," she says.

"I don't think he's going to be able to make big changes in reversing the flow of the culture, but I think he can put the breaks on it."

The LaBarrs are the kind of dedicated, focused foot soldiers who helped the Republican Party in Georgia to recapture the governor's mansion in 2002, for the first time in 130 years. The party was also victorious in that year's Senate race. [...]

Comment: Readers are often surprised and a little perplexed to learn that we in no way advocate any attempt to change the world or the social status quo. The above article serves well to clarify the reasons why we take this stance. In a world where much of the population is so forever ignorant, controlled, and anthropocentric, what other choice is there?

A central tenet of our work is that the only person that any of us have any right, or indeed any hope of changing, is our self. Often, we cannot even do that. From many years of collective observation and research, we have come to believe that this assessment is pretty accurate and the fact that most people will gladly attempt to move a mountain before facing the task of objective self observation, would seem to back it up. Of what use is any of our lives anyway? What are the limits of what we can achieve? These are the questions that each must try to answer for him/herself. Each of us must then act as if everything depended on us, we must act in the belief that if we do not do it, no one else will. All may very well depend on you.

"Those who follow that part of themselves that is great become great men. Those who follow that part of themselves that is small Become small men. - Menzius

"Whatever you can do or dream you can do - Begin it." - Goethe

Russia planning maneuvers of its nuclear forces next month

VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, Associated Press Writer
Friday, January 30, 2004

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia's nuclear forces reportedly are preparing their largest maneuvers in two decades, an exercise involving the test-firing of missiles and flights by dozens of bombers in a massive simulation of an all-out nuclear war.

President Vladimir Putin is expected to personally oversee the maneuvers, which are apparently aimed at demonstrating the revival of the nation's military might and come ahead of Russian elections in March.

The business newspaper Kommersant said the exercise was set for mid-February and would closely resemble a 1982 Soviet exercise dubbed the "seven-hour nuclear war" that put the West on edge.

Official comments on the upcoming exercise have been sketchy. The chief of Russia's Strategic Missile Forces, Col.-Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov, was quoted by the Interfax-Military News Agency as saying the planned maneuvers would involve several launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles in various regions of Russia, but he wouldn't give further details. [...]

SARS’s evolution stuns scientists

Their analysis, published Friday in the journal Science, shows that as the virus perfected its human attack mechanism, its potency soared. Early on, it was able to infect only 3 percent of people who came in contact with a patient; a few months later, the infectivity rate was 70 percent. The speed of the transformation indicates the importance of identifying and isolating patients at the earliest possible stage to prevent widespread viral epidemics. Health authorities are now concerned about bird flu, an infection of birds and people, which has spread throughout Asia. [...]

Judge criticizes rapist's taste in women

Judge apologizes for comments

A Seminole judge made a rude remark about the woman's appearance while discussing a sentence
During proceedings in the rape case Monday before the prosecutor and defense attorney, Stephenson looked at a photograph of the battered victim and said, "Why would he want to rape her? She doesn't look like a day at the beach," according to a transcript reviewed by the Orlando Sentinel. [...]

Western Ohio Hit By Small Earthquake

Some Residents Thought It Was Explosion

Minor Earthquake Rattles San Martin, California

SAN MARTIN, Calif. -- A minor earthquake measuring a preliminary magnitude three-point-six has rattled the town of San Martin tonight. [...]

Storm Unearths Prehistoric Whale Fossil

By STEPHEN MANNING, Associated Press Writer
Fri Jan 30,11:03 AM ET

SOLOMONS, Md. - Heavy erosion by Hurricane Isabel pounding on the cliffs that line St. Mary's River uncovered the fossilized skull of what paleontologists say was a whale that swam in the area eight million years ago.

The discovery of the complete skull could help scientists fill a gap in their knowledge of the evolution of Atlantic Ocean whales during the warm Miocene epoch millions of years ago.

"It (the whale) occurs in a 3 million year block of time where we know very little about the whales that were here," said Stephen Godfrey, curator of paleontology for the Calvert Marine Museum. [...]

Avalanche kills four in Poland

Caller Claims to Be Ohio Highway Shooter

By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS, Associated Press Writer
January 31, 2004

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Authorities investigating a string of highway shootings around the city's south side are focusing on the tape of a 911 caller who claimed he was the gunman. [...]

The four 911 calls were made on Monday and are about a minute long in total.

The man said he fired at a car that day but did not claim responsibility for any of the shootings connected by police, including the death of a car passenger in November. Police had no reports of highway shootings Monday. [...]

UFO SPOTTED OVER KINETON

A UFO was spotted by a south Warwickshire mum on Wednesday morning. It hovered over Kineton at 7.50am and a nearby aeroplane seemed to disappear as it approached the object.

Clare Reed, 29, of Lodge Farm near Compton Verney, caught the strange aircraft on her camera as she took her two sons to school.

She said: "It looked really bizarre - like a huge flame with a whispy bit at the top and a black dot in the middle. I've never seen anything like it in my life."

Ms Reed's two sons Jamie, 13, and Jacob, 12, were in the car with her and were equally baffled by the sighting.

Ms Reed said: "They said 'wow, it's an alien', and we sat and watched for two minutes, trying to figure out what it was.

"There could be a perfectly logical explanation, but I don't have a wild imagination. I just don't know what it was. "

Ms Reed drove her car down the lane to try to get a better look, but she lost sight of the UFO.


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